portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

This portabellini mushroom, pesto and bocconcini flatbread is a super speedy way to get something utterly delicious on the table. The meaty mushrooms add a fabulous umami punch and great texture. Tailor these as much as you like by playing with your favourite toppings and flavour combinations.

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The husband and I have been steadily reducing our intake of animal products and meat specifically. So mushrooms have become a large part of our diets. They’re versatile, delicious and best of all cheap! So they really convince you never to want another piece of steak again. On top of that they’re just really good for you. So when asked by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association whether I wanted to take part in their #festivemushrooms campaign I said hell yes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The brief was to come up with a yummy mushroom recipe using our local cultivated varietals. If you’re looking for yummy then look no further. This meal will very easily become a weeknight staple! Keep up to date with the #festivemushrooms campaign and follow the SAMFA blog for more delicious recipes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

Portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

Makes 2 large flatbreads

Ingredients:

2 flatbreads – homemade or store bought
500g Portabellini mushrooms
1 large white onion, diced
Fresh thyme sprigs
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper
150g Bocconcini mozzarella
Sundried tomatoes
Fresh baby herbs and leaves

For the pesto:
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt
40g fresh basil leaves
40g fresh rocket
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
80ml extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method:

If you aren’t in a massive hurry to get lunch or dinner on the table then I suggest making the flatbread yourself. It’s deeply satisfying making dough with your hands and there’s something super duper rewarding about knowing you’ve made that baby from scratch. Also it really takes a couple of seconds to throw together.

I use a very simple flatbread recipe:
200g self-raising flour
250g full fat Greek yoghurt
1 pinch of salt

In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, flour and salt until it forms a dough.
Transfer dough onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes. Cut into 2 or 4 pieces depending on desired size. Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll out each section of dough using plenty of flour to prevent sticking or tearing.
Cook the flatbread in a dry hot griddle pan. Cook each side for 2-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

For the pesto:
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic clove and teaspoon of sea salt into a puree. Scrape the garlic paste into a food processor for ease; add the basil, rocket, Parmesan and olive oil. Blitz until smooth. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside.
For the flatbreads:
Sauté the diced onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt until gently caramelised. Slice the mushrooms and fry them in batches until golden brown. And a few sprigs of thyme as you fry each batch. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 200C and move the rack to the upper shelf.

Brush flatbreads with the basil pesto. Top each one with half of the mushroom mix. Rip the bocconcini mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the mushrooms. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the flatbread is golden brown.

Top with pieces of sundried tomatoes, a few dollops of pesto and fresh baby leaves. Slice, serve and enjoy!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

spiced nectarine cake

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

I’ve always loved a spiced cake. My gran used to make a phenomenal upside down apple cake and the cinnamon smell would fill the kitchen and waft through the whole house. It was utterly mesmerizing. She served it with softly whipped cream and it was like my kryptonite. So as an homage to granny I made this cake the other day but thanks to leftovers from another shoot I had a crazy amount of nectarines in the house and voilà!

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

This cake is awesome because it really has three layers/textures. As you bake it upside down and then flip it you’ve got the nectarine layer which is super moist and buttery, the middle layer which is your perfect sponge like cake and then the base which has a sublime crunchy crust to it.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

My only warning to you is make this when you have people around to eat it with you. It’s dangerously addictive and ‘just one more sliver’ turned into cake annihilation. It goes as well with a glass of bubbles as it does with a pot of tea. The mother bear and I made sure we did plenty of taste testing and wine pairing!

Spiced Nectarine Cake 

Ingredients:

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4-5 nectarines
  • 315g all-purpose flour
  • 115g sugar
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Brush the melted butter around all sides of a 20cm cake tin. Swirl the butter at the bottom of the pan into an even layer. Sprinkle with the muscavado sugar and mixed spice and set aside.

Slice the nectarines into wedges and arrange neatly over the spiced muscavado.

Combine the flour, sugar, muscavado sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together the softened butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter over the nectarines and gently flatten it out whilst trying to keep them in their arranged pattern.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack with a plate underneath for catching some syrupiness.

Serve with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche if you just wanna be naughty.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Winter has me firmly in her clutches and comfort food is keeping me going. This mushroom ragù with truffle oil is exactly that. It’s rich and comforting and feels like a warm hug. I give this pasta a hefty dose of garlic and pepper. Mushrooms love pepper! And I finish it off with some crispy sage and Parmesan. It’s dead simple but utterly scrumptious.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I like to mix my mushrooms up. I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday and found a gorgeous mix but you can use whatever you can get your hands on. Shiitake, king oyster and shimeji mushrooms all work beautifully in this dish. Just cook your mushrooms in batches if necessary. Mushrooms don’t like being in a crowded pan or they sweat- much like meat. So brown them a few slices at a time and then combine them all together at the end.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I love a good truffle oil and this one from Lemcke is a lovely subtle truffle-enhanced oil. So it’s not one of those that over powers an entire dish. You can use a rather liberal amount and it really makes all the rich earthy mushroom flavours sing. I also made a fried egg using the oil and it was amazing.

Mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 600g mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1/2 lemon
  • truffle oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g fresh tagliatelle
  • handful fresh sage leaves
  • butter for frying
  • Parmesan for serving

Method:

Heat olive oil with a knob of butter and fry mushrooms in batches until golden brown. Set aside.

Heat some fresh olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the crushed garlic, a knob of butter and return the mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the garlic smells fragrant. Add the mushroom stock and simmer until reduced by half. Season well with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and add pasta to the mushrooms. Toss well and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.

In a small saucepan heat a few knobs of butter and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Serve the mushroom ragù topped with the crispy sage leaves, freshly grated Parmesan and a generous drizzle of truffle oil.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Disclaimer: Truffle oil provided by the lovely folks from Lemcke

hot cross bun pudding

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hold onto your hats, cos this one is a goodie. In fact this dish of deliciousness is so good it’ll make you wish it was Easter all year round! Easter brings with it many a public holiday and many an opportunity for lavish brunching, lunching and general munching. This hot cross bun pudding is pretty much perfect for any and every occasion.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do love a hot cross bun all year round. Toasted crisp and then slathered with some farm butter. Bliss. This hot cross bun pudding brings you all of those delicious spicy flavours but in the most comforting way. The vanilla and orange scented custard is rich and creamy and the tops of the buns get a wonderful crispy crust while their bottoms soak up all the custard and become gloriously pudding like.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do not recommend making this while alone at home. It is dangerous. The husband nearly got home to an empty baking dish and a self loathing wife. But fortunately I somehow pulled it together and managed to share this with him and a neighbour who stuck their head in through the kitchen window.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 6 hot cross buns
  • 250ml cream
  • 250ml full cream milk
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 60g sugar
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier *optional
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Softened butter for spreading
  • Maple syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 ̊C. Grease an ovenproof baking dish with softened butter.

Slice hot cross buns in half and butter the insides. Place the bottom half of the buns in the baking dish.

Whisk the cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, Grand Marnier and salt together. Pour half of the mixture over the buns.

Top with the other half of the bun and finish with the remaining mixture. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the custard is set and the buns are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the buns with maple syrup while still warm. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and a glass of bubbles.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

 

*Disclaimer: Delicious bubbles provided by the wonderful folks from Krone.

balsamic beets & goat’s cheese linguine

Balsamic Beet & Goats Cheese Linguine | The Secret Life of Bee

As our weather begins to cool comfort food is coming a knocking. Very few things say comfort to me more than a beautiful pasta. This linguine is just that while remaining light and fresh. Earthy flavours from the beetroot pair so well with the sweet acidity from the balsamic. Top that off with some super creamy goat’s cheese and it’s no wonder this combo is such a classic.

Balsamic Beets & Goats Cheese Linguine | The Secret Life of Bee

I used a mix of gorgeous red, golden and candy striped beets I picked up from the market but you can use whatever you get your hands on. As for the goat’s cheese you want the super creamy kind. I used Chavroux. It’s my achilles heel of the cheese world and if left alone at home with a tub of it i’ll just gobble it up with a spoon.

Market Day Produce | The Secret Life of Bee

Balsamic Beets & Goat’s Cheese Linguine

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 500g wholewheat linguine
  • 8 medium beetroot- mixed
  • handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 45ml olive oil
  • 45ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 150g creamy goats cheese, best quality
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper

To serve: Fresh baby leaves

Method: 

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Wash and scrub the beets well. Cut them into quarters. Place on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the beets. Cover with another layer of aluminium foil and roast for 45-60 minutes until the beets are tender and a knife can easily slip through their flesh. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

In a large saucepan fry the shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Season. Toss in the beets and all their cooking juices. Finally add the pasta and use the pasta water to loosen if necessary. Coat the pasta well with the sauce.

Finish with large dollops of goat’s cheese and some fresh baby leaves tossed in balsamic.

Serve with a cold glass of Krone Chardonnay Pinot Noir.

Balsamic Beets & Goats Cheese Linguine | The Secret Life of Bee

 

*Disclaimer: This utterly delicious vino was provided by the awesome folks from Krone

zucchini, kale & corn fritters – vegan & gluten free

zucchini, kale & corn fritters | The Secret Life of Bee

These fritters are the business. They’re delicious and jam packed with nourishing goodness. The husband and I have decided to go on a bit of a health kick/ will power experiment and i’m really enjoying making us lots of plant based meals. I made cashew nut mayonnaise the other night and it was a bloody revelation! Mayonnaise out of nuts! I was convinced it was going to be dreadful but the stuff is gold! I have a production line on the go now!

zucchini, kale & corn fritters | The Secret Life of Bee

Unlike many gluten-free vegan recipes out there I am going to be real with you. Nothing beats the binding power of wheat flour and eggs. So don’t expect this mixture to be your run of the mill fritter. You really have to coax these babies into submission. I mix the mixture by hand so that I can really squash the ingredients together and get the “flax eggs” evenly distributed. “Flax eggs” I hear you asking? What on earth? Well up until two weeks ago I had no idea that if you mix 1 Tbsp of flaxseed flour with 3 Tbsp of boiling water you’ll end up with a gloriously sticky egg like binding magic mixture. It’s rather splendid.

zucchini, kale & corn fritters | The Secret Life of Bee

Once you’ve shaped your fritters there will be a few reluctant pieces of corn, kale and bit of the mixture that just didn’t want to become a fritter. This is my absolute favourite part. Fry these little bits off at the end. Get them super crispy and then top your fritters with these little nuggets of joy.

Zucchini, Corn & Kale Fritters

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 400g grated zucchini, about 3 cups
  • 125g fresh corn, 1 cob
  • 50g kale, a large handful
  • 1 x 400g tin organic lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 “flax eggs”*
  • 30g coconut flour
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • coconut oil for frying

*1 flax egg = 1 Tbsp flaxseed flour mixed with 3 Tbsp boiling water. Mix well into a sticky egg like paste.

Method:

Place grated zucchini in a colander lined with a tea towel. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and massage the salt into the zucchini. Leave for 30 min.

Squeeze all the water out of the zucchini and place in a large bowl.

Slice the corn off the cob and finely slice the kale. Add this along with all the other ingredients except the flax eggs. Mix.

Make the “flax eggs”. Add them to the fritter mixture while still hot and mix them in. I find using your hands is the only way to go about mixing this homogeneously. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper.

Shape the mixture into fritters. I get 12.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Fry the fritters in coconut oil until crispy on both sides. Transfer fritters to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, fresh coriander and a crunchy green salad.

zucchini, kale & corn fritters | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

 

 

fluffy vanilla waffles for your valentine

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day and make these fluffy vanilla waffles for someone near and dear to you. I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day and all the fluff and fuss of expensive roses and an over priced meal in a restaurant. What I love about this day is the general message of spreading love and happiness. Doing something at home like cooking a special meal for your other half or drawing a handmade card for your mom- that’s what Valentine’s Day is about for me.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

These vanilla waffles are indeed love at first bite. They have a super crispy crust to them and a fluffy vanilla scented centre. I love them with berries and honey while the husband opts for butter and maple syrup. They are a vehicle for delicious toppings like caramelized cinnamon bananas or plain Jane as they are with a dusting of icing sugar. I had some of the best waffles of my life at a brunch spot in Brooklyn, NY with fried chicken and maple syrup. They were sensational, but that’s a wee bit too much admin for me first thing in the morning! If you don’t have a waffle maker it’s really not a bad little investment. It also makes a mean batch of french toast!

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

Fluffy Vanilla Waffles 

makes 3 large waffles

Ingredients:

  • 170g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 340ml milk, warm
  • 75g melted butter

To serve:  fresh berries, honey, icing sugar, whipped cream or ice cream and of course an ice cold bottle of bubbly

Method:

Heat your waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, vanilla and butter.

Whip the egg white until fluffy. Add in the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.

Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients, and finally fold in the egg whites with a spatula until combined.

Ladle the batter into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar, fresh berries, a drizzle of honey and a cold glass of bubbly.

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

vanilla waffles | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Krone Rosé Cuvée Brut supplied by the lovely folks from Twee Jonge Gezellen.

fig & goat’s cheese salad

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

One of my favourite chefs on earth is Yotam Ottolenghi and the man can write a seriously good cookbook or ten. Plenty is a vegetarian filled masterpiece with an entire chapter dedicated to ‘The Mighty Aubergine.” It is jam packed with inspirational ideas of ways to cook and serve veggies you would never have dreamed of. This fig and goat’s cheese salad hails from this recipe book and is one of the most beautifully simple but flavourful salads.

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

I’ve put my own spin on this classic combination and it’s a winner. I also added some apple cider vinegar to his dressing as the acidity is perfectly balanced by the sweet figs and cuts through the richness of the goat’s cheese. This aint no ordinary goat’s cheese either. This is the good stuff. Super creamy and luxurious, Chavroux is my favourite brand of goat’s cheese. Treat yourself to the Aston Martin of goat’s cheeses! I’m a wee bit obsessed. Can you tell?

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

Fig & Goat’s Cheese Salad

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 80g mixed baby leaves
  • 10 ripe figs
  • 150g creamy goat’s cheese
  • 20g mixed purple and green basil
  • mixed sprouts
  • edible flowers

For the dressing:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Combine all dressing ingredients except for the olive oil.

Slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk until the dressing comes together homogeneously.

Mix the baby leaves and basil together in a large serving dish. Cut the figs into quarters and arrange over the leaves. Scatter dollops of goat’s cheese around the figs as well as the mixed sprouts and edible flowers.

Drizzle the salad with the dressing and some fresh olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

Fig & Goat's Cheese Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Sexy salad bowl courtesy of Sugar and Vice

Bubbly Sorbet

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Nothing says celebration like an ice cold glass of bubbles. Now you can have your bubbles and eat it too! Champagne or MCC sorbet is one of my favourite summertime indulgences. It tastes delicious, sounds glam and it feels extra special because well, bubbles. Obvs.

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

This bubbles in particular is something special. Krone recently released the R.D. after after having spent 15 years on the lees before disgorgement. I popped a bottle of this to try it out with my toes in the sand and a magical sunset in front of me and… WOW. Just wow. I can quite honestly say it is one of the most spectacular bottles of bubbles I have ever tasted. It’s up there with the Krug and Doms of the world. In general I think we produce some of the most outstanding wine and MCC in the world and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on earth! My proximity to wine farms is crucial for my mental and physical well being! It’s a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away right?

Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

Bubbly Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 200ml water
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 300ml Méthode Cap Classique
  • 1 lemon, juice & zest

Method:

Bring the water, sugar and glucose to the boil. Cook until syrupy and remove from the heat.

Add the MCC, lemon juice and lemon zest. Allow to cool.

Once cool strain out the zest with a sieve and pour into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine pour the mixture into a ziplock bag. Freeze. Remove frozen sorbet, break into pieces and blitz until smooth using a blender or food processor.

Serve with some ice cold bubbles on the side!

 Bubbly Sorbet | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: This utterly fabulous bubbles was sponsored by the awesome folks from Krone.

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax | The Secret Life of Bee

Gravlax or Gravadlax is the most gloriously simple cured salmon using a little salt, sugar and fresh herbs. I love the addition of the beetroot because of the earthy flavour and most of all the exquisite colour. This is such a luxurious meal and such a treat to prepare for special occasions.

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax | The Secret Life of Bee

The salmon must be extremely fresh and of really high quality. Ask your fish monger for a side of the freshest sushi-grade salmon. That’s really the only expense here. The rest of the ingredients are super affordable and most importantly you’ll have some bubbles to sip on during the preparation! Remember to plan ahead if this is for a special occasion as the salmon takes 48 hours to cure.

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax | The Secret Life of Bee

Beetroot & Bubbles Salmon Gravadlax

Ingredients:

  • 700-800g sushi-grade side of salmon, skin on
  • 3 large beetroot, grated
  • 150g coarse Kosher rock salt
  • 1 large orange, zested
  • 2 large lemons, zested
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 large handful dill
  • 75g Muscavado sugar
  • 75ml Méthode Cap Classique

Method:

Remove all pin bones from the salmon and place skin side down on a large baking tray lined with an oversized piece of baking paper.

Crush juniper berries in a mortar and pestle. Mix the crushed juniper berries and all the other ingredients together in a large bowl. Encrust the side of salmon with the cure.

Fold the baking paper tightly around the salmon. Cling wrap the salmon and tray very well so no air can get in. Place in the fridge for 48 hours to cure.

Remove from the fridge. Carefully drain off any liquid and gently remove the cure from the salmon. 

Slice thinly at an angle, avoiding the skin.

Serve with toasted bread, crème fraîche, fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon.

Preserve your salmon in the fridge tightly wrapped in cling film for 3-5 days.

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax | The Secret Life of Bee

Beetroot & Bubbly Salmon Gravlax | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Méthode Cap Classique provided by the fabulous folks from Krone Twee Jonge Gezellen