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

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

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

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

This prawn tagliatelle with chilli and lemon is one of my favourite pastas. It’s right up there with the perfect carbonara. It’s simple and elegant and allows the ingredients to shine. A great pasta dish is about balance. It’s not all about the sauce. The noodle is as much the hero as the delicious bits of garlic and chilli clinging to it.

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

Making your own fresh pasta for this dish is totally worth it. It may seem like a wee bit of admin but you’ll be so pleased you did it and I find kneading to be rather therapeutic. I have a little pasta machine to make rolling out the dough a tad easier. If you don’t, a lot of kneading, a rolling pin or even a good old fashioned wine bottle will do the trick. If elbow grease isn’t your thing of course you can just buy the pasta, fresh or dry.

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

The simplicity of this pasta requires the use of the best ingredients you can get your hands on. The olive oil is really important and a good one makes all the difference. I used the Prince Albert Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Karoo. I love it, it’s delish and it also comes in the prettiest tin ever. Oh and also- very importantly… This dish begs for an exceptional glass of white wine to go with it. So make sure there’s some top notch stuff in the fridge ready to go!

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

Prawn tagliatelle with lemon & chilli 

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 400g ’00’ flour
  • pinch of salt

*if you opt for bought pasta you’ll need about 100g pp

  • 400-500g fresh prawns, deveined & butterflied (from sustainable sources)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced/crushed
  • 2-3 mixed chillis, finely diced (seeds removed)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2-3 handfuls fresh rocket
  • 75g caper berries
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Method:

To make the pasta: Mix the flour and salt together and make a little mound with a well in the centre on a clean kitchen counter. Whisk the eggs and pour into the centre of the flour. Bring together a little bit at a time using your fingers or a fork. Once everything is combined knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. Keep kneading for a few minutes. When you’re tired, your arms ache and you think it’s done- keep going. When the pasta is completely smooth and elastic your job is done and you can wrap it in cling film and let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 min.

*Pour yourself a glass of wine. You deserve it.

Roll out the pasta, dusting generously with flour as you go. If not using a machine, roll small pieces of dough at a time as it will be easier to roll the smaller amounts thinly. Once at desired thickness, cut straight away.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Cook the fresh pasta in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Drain.

Place a large sauté pan onto medium-high heat and add a generous glug of olive oil. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for a minute. Add the prawns and season well with salt and pepper. The prawns only need a minute to cook. When they are almost done add the lemon juice and drained pasta to the pan. Toss well.

Drizzle with some fresh olive oil, toss in the rocket and finish with the lemon zest and caper berries. Adjust seasoning. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and some delightful chilled wine!

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

prawn tagliatelle with chilli & lemon | The Secret Life of Bee

freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

I was recently invited to take part in Faithful to Nature‘s Organic Recipe Challenge. It had to be something vegetarian, seasonal, family-meal friendly and made with organic produce and pantry items from Faithful to Nature‘s online organic shop. Perfect timing then for me to have fallen in love with a new, yet ancient grain. Freekeh. It’s absolutely delicious and so I decided that my recipe would involve it somehow. It’s basically green wheat that gets roasted, rubbed and cracked, creating a smoky, savoury and nutty flavour. It has a very high protein and vitamin B content so I mixed it up with some quinoa, chickpeas and roasted beets and seriously you’ll never need a beef burger again.

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Food and family go hand in hand for me as meal time has always involved everyone in and around the kitchen, chit chatting at the dining room table or perched on the kitchen counter. Burgers were a firm favourite growing up as everyone had a job, did their part and then built their own burger just the way they liked it. They were always deliciously messy and ruined granny’s snow white table cloth every time. This freekeh beet burger is perfect for a family lunch or dinner and is really easy to put together!

OZCF Market | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s difficult not to fall in love with everything at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market where I bought my produce for these burgers. Their gorgeous organic veg is the stuff food porn dreams are made of. I might have gone a little bit wild and ended up with zero space in my fridge for anything other than glorious seasonal veggies. Beetroot is one of my all time favourite veggies and apart from its tremendous colour it’s full of antioxidants, fibre, folic acid and helps lower blood pressure. Could these burgers get any healthier?

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

If bread is not your friend then just enjoy your burger in a lettuce wrap. That’s exactly how the husband and I devoured these! So they’re vegetarian, vegan, low GI, healthy and darn pretty! I used a food processor to make life a tad easier but if you don’t have one no problemo. Just use a fork to mash the roasted beetroot and chickpeas. Same goes for the avonaise. I used a stick blender to combine all the ingredients but you could easily mash them up and have a chunkier guacamole style sauce. So pop on an apron (because beetroot) and get cooking!

Freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

makes 6-8 patties depending on size

Ingredients:

Method:

Preheat oven to 200˚C.

Place the freekeh, quinoa and water in a pot. Bring to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes until the grains are tender. Remove from the pot, drain and place in a bowl to cool completely.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Wash, trim and peel the beetroot. Slice into wedges and place in a roasting dish. Season well with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of BeeRoasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Place beetroot into a food processor and pulse until chunky. Alternatively mash with a fork. If using a food processor add the chickpeas and pulse. Next add the cooled freekeh and quinoa. Pulse gently to mix. Alternatively mash chickpeas and mix grains by hand.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To the grain and beet mix add the garlic, ginger, fresh coriander, fresh parsley, chilli, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried origanum, lemon zest, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Shape the mixture into patties by hand. Place onto a lined and oiled baking tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C and bake the patties for 20 minutes until they have a crisp outer layer.

For the avonaise:

Ingredients:

Method:

Place all the ingredients into a jug. Season well and then blend using a stick blender or mash with a fork for a chunkier texture.

Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeAvonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To serve:

Assemble your burger with a wholewheat bun, fresh organic mixed greens, the freekeh and beet patty, plenty of avonaise and eat with your hands!

These are also super delish served in a lettuce cup. Spread the avonaise onto the lettuce first and then top with greens and the patty.

I also served mine with some delicious dukkah roasted carrots and sweet potatoes. I just seasoned them well with olive oil, salt, pepper, organic dukkah and popped them in a 200˚C oven for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. All that plus a bottle of homemade Kombucha and tummies were very happy indeed!

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Pantry items sponsored by the lovely folks from Faithful to Nature. Go check out their amazing online organic shop!

Faithful to Nature Online Organic Shop | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

 

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

I’ve been Casper the invisible blogger lately but alas sometimes real work has to happen to pay the very real bills! I’ve also been a rather useless wife serving the husband some fairly boring dinners lately so it was time to make up for it. Enter chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes. Yes please.

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

These pockets of joy are truly one of the yummiest and most satisfying meals i’ve ever had. The rich and spicy chili con carne pairs so well with the sweet, smooth flesh of these orange sweet potatoes. You can of course use the white ones as well- I just find them a tad more starchy so tend to use them for creamy bakes or cottage pie like toppings. Either way they are a delicious little nest for the meaty goodness that is a patiently made pot of chili.

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

When making the chili and any dish using mince all I can say is never ever crowd the pan. Use a really large pot and brown your mince in batches. If you put too much in at the same time the meat sweats and boils and goes grey. No bueno. As for the rest of the dish you can really make it your own. Go as heavy or light on the spices and of course the chilli powder as your heart desires. I used rather large heaped teaspoons of all the spices! This recipe makes a really fragrant, spicy dish that gets even better the next day. I had some left overs with a fried egg on top for breakfast and it was sublime!

Chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes

serves 8

Ingredients

  • 8 sweet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 2 red onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed into a paste
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried origanum
  • 1 kg best quality mince
  • 2 x 400g tin Italian chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

To serve: sour cream, tomato & onion salsa, fresh coriander

Method:

Heat oven to 180˚C. Rub sweet potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil. Prick with a fork or small knife, season with a little salt and roast until soft for 40 minutes depending on their size.

In a very large pot brown the mince in batches and remove from the pot. Add a fresh glug of olive oil and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper and garlic. Add the spices and cook until the veg had softened slightly, got some colour and the spices are fragrant.

Add the two tins of chopped tomatoes. Rinse the residual tomato out of each tin with a splash of water and pour into the pot. Bring to the boil and allow the tomatoes to reduce until thick.

Add the mince and kidney beans, season well and simmer for about 1 hour.

To serve- slice the sweet potatoes down the centre and stuff with a generous spoonful of the chili mix. I topped ours with sour cream, tomato & onion salsa, fresh coriander and even a dollop of guacamole.

Enjoy!

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

To be perfectly honest I didn’t even wait for the husband to come home from work before I started tucking in.

chili con carne stuffed sweet potatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom & pulled pork sliders

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

I love sliders. I love pulled pork. I love any cutesy burger that packages itself well with the right ratio of bun, meat and fixings. The bun is a soft little pillow of brioche that is the finest vehicle for theses toppings. The pulled pork is a revelation. The addition of mushrooms is amazing and from now on my pulled pork will only ever be like this. The mushrooms add a punch of umami, moisture and flavour.

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

The folks at The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association have got a cool concept called ‘blendability’. They’re encouraging people to eat less meat and more veg by subbing in 50% of your meat dish with 50% mushrooms. It’s rather nifty as mushrooms are yum but also packed with nutrients, they’re cheap and best of all low in calories. If this dish is anything to go by then they’re seriously on to something!

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

Mushrooms are like meat in more ways than one. Don’t crowd the pan or they’ll sweat. So cook them on a very high heat with a dash of olive oil and salt and they’ll brown beautifully. This sauce is delicious but you can add as much or as little to the pork and mushroom mix as you like. Reserve any leftovers in the fridge to spice up another dinner. I find the pork and the bun are rich and flavourful enough so I went with a clean and crisp slaw using just vinegar and seasoning as opposed to the American mayonnaise style slaws but you can always add some if you like. Most importantly just make sure you invite some friends over when you make this. It’s a little bit effort intensive but it’s so worth it and you’ll be so chuffed with yourself you’ll want to share this!

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom & pulled pork sliders

makes 12 sliders

Ingredients:

  • 500g Portabella mushrooms
  • 500g pork shoulder meat (so with bone in & fat cap: +- 1kg)

Buns:

  • 250ml warm water
  • 45 ml warm milk
  • 8,5g dry yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 13g salt
  • 55g butter, softened

Rub:

  • 1Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml beer
  • 1 tsp garlic flakes
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

BBQ Sauce:

  • 180ml tomato sauce
  • 25g Demerara sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 60ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Tabasco to taste

Slaw:

  • 1 baby red cabbage
  • 1 baby green cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 green apple
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

For the buns: Preheat oven to 200˚C. Mix the warm water, milk, sugar and yeast together and leave to get frothy and foamy for about 5-10minutes. Mix the two flours, salt and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture as well as one of the eggs, beaten, to the flour mixture and let the mixer do the work for you on medium speed for about 7-10 minutes until a silky, elastic dough has formed. Place in a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm. Once the dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured work surface and divide into twelve. Roll into balls and place onto a lined baking sheet. Once again let them double in size. Don’t rush this second rise! It’s super important. When the buns have doubled in size brush them with an egg wash. Mix the remaining one egg with a teaspoon of water and brush all over the surface of the buns. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the pork: Preheat oven to 225˚C. Score the fat of the pork shoulder. Combine all the rub ingredients well. Massage the pork with the rub making sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. Discard excess. Place the pork in a roasting tin lined with tinfoil. (leave some excess tinfoil hanging over the edge)

Place the pork on the tinfoil and roast at 225˚C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Turn the oven down to 125˚C. Add the beer, garlic flakes and liquid smoke to the roasting pan. Seal the pork into a parcel with the tinfoil and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours. Remove and let it rest for 30 minutes before pulling it apart using a fork.

Clean the mushrooms by brushing them with a damp pastry brush. Slice them very finely into long strips. Fry the mushrooms on high heat in several batches with a touch of olive oil and sea salt until golden brown.

Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

For the slaw- slice the cabbage very finely. I use a spiralizer and it works like a charm. Grate the carrots and julienne the apple. Mix everything, drizzle with apple cider vinegar and season well.

Mix the pulled pork with the mushroom slices. Add some BBQ sauce and mix well. Serve on the buns topped with the crunchy coleslaw.

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom & pulled pork sliders | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

lentil “risotto” with basil pistou

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

I make a LOT of lentils. They are super cheap and incredibly versatile. A lentil dish will provide you with a great amount of protein, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and lots of other minerals and vitamins.  This dish is an easy weeknight supper that you do not need to fuss over and requires no stirring! So it’s not really risotto. It’s my healthy attempt at tricking my mind into thinking it’s eating a bowl of carbs. That being said it’s a delicious meal in it’s own right and sometimes you just need the practical meals in life which you can prepare after a long day at work.  The pistou can even be made in advance and if there are any leftovers lentils keep well!

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Pistou is pesto’s French cousin. Originating in Provence, pistou excludes pine nuts and cheese in the making and is simply garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. Some more modern versions do add Parmesan or Pecorino. This entire recipe can be vegan or vegetarian if you simply use vegetable stock and leave out the Parmesan at the end.

lentil “risotto” with basil pistou

serves 4

Ingredients:

Pistou:

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 30g basil
  • 30g rocket
  • 30g baby spinach
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • micro herbs
  • Parmesan

Method:

Preheat oven to 200˚C.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

For the pistou: 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 and speed and add the basil, rocket, spinach and olive oil. Blitz until smooth.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt and place into the oven for 15 minutes until cooked.

blistered cherry tomatoes | The Secret Life of Bee

For the lentils: Finely chop the onion and fry gently in a drizzle of olive oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the cup of lentils and ‘toast’ them on the heat with the onion. Add the three cups of stock, stir and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the lentils simmer for a further 30-40 minutes until tender but not mushy. You should be left with little to no stock, just enough to keep the lentils slightly moist and risotto like.

Off the heat- stir in the pistou. You can add all of it for a big punch of flavour or as much as you like to taste and save the rest for delicious bruschetta. Finally add the zest of 1 lemon.

Serve with the blistered cherry tomatoes and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.

lentil "risotto" with basil pistou | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

the ultimate lamb burger

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Yum. Just yum. That’s all that comes to mind. These lamb burgers are just one of those meals that satisfy your tastebuds on every level. They’re a sensory experience. It starts right as you begin making the brioche dough. The pride you feel when your dough rises beautifully and the enormous pleasure of working a perfectly elastic, silky and bouncy dough. Bliss.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

You can of course buy buns from the supermarket if you so wish but where’s the fun in that? Also- half of the pleasure of these brioche buns is the smell emanating from your oven while they’re cooking. I had a neighbour stick her nose straight through my kitchen window and ask me what on earth I was baking. Obvs she got a sample when they were ready. The trick is to butter up the neighbours with baked goods so when our dinner parties get too rowdy they’re less likely to report us to the supervisor. #threedayhangover

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Anyhoo- back to food. Apart from the bun being pretty darn important, the quality of your meat is paramount. I believe in eating as many veggies as can fit on your plate, but when eating meat it is so important to purchase only the best meat that you can afford and enjoy it as a real treat. Support local farmers and nearby markets, buy free-range, organic, pasture reared etc… I bought my free-range lamb from Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants. All their meat is of the highest quality and you can be sure they know exactly where it’s coming from. So arm yourself with some great meat, roll up your sleeves and get cooking!

The Ultimate Lamb Burger

Ingredients:

serves 6 with some extra buns

Brioche buns:

makes 10

  • 250 ml warm water
  • 45 ml warm milk
  • 8,5g dry yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 60g all-pupose flour
  • 13g salt
  • 55g butter, softened
  • sesame seeds

Method:

For the buns: 

Mix the warm water, milk, sugar and yeast together and leave to get frothy and foamy for about 5-10minutes.

Mix the two flours, salt and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Add the yeast mixture as well as one of the eggs, beaten, to the flour mixture and let the mixer do the work for you on medium speed for about 7-10 minutes until a beautiful silky, elastic dough has formed. If you do not have a stand mixer you can combine the wet ingredients with the dry, mix well and then work the dough by stretching it, smacking it onto the counter and kneading it. You need to do this until your arms want to fall off. This is not a dough for the weak. ‘Throw’ the dough down onto the counter so that it stretches out like a slinky. Pull it back together, knead and repeat. Once the dough is at the correct consistency place it into a greased bowl covered with a dish cloth and leave to rise for 3 hours in a warm spot.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Once the dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured work surface and divide into ten. Roll into balls and place onto a lined baking sheet or silicon mat. Cover the dough balls with greased cling wrap and once again let them double in size. Don’t rush this second rise! It’s super important.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

When the buns have doubled in size brush them with an egg wash. Mix the remaining one egg with a teaspoon of water and brush all over the surface of the buns.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Beet & onion pickle:

  • 3 large beetroot
  • 2 red onions
  • 250ml white wine vinegar
  • 250ml water
  • 50g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 all spice berries
  • 5 peppercorns

For the pickle:

Julienne the onion and beetroot, or in other words slice them very finely into ribbons/ sticks/ strips. Place into a heatproof bowl.

Place the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices into a small pot. Bring to the boil and the pour the boiling liquid over the beetroot and onion. Let it cool, cover and place in the fridge.

Patty:

makes 6

  • 1kg free-range lamb mince
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp origanum
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the burger:

Mix the mince and spices together and shape into 6 patties. If you want to be pedantic like me thats 166 grams per burger. Yes, I weighed each one. Grill them on the braai for a few minutes each side.

Assemble the burger. Start by toasting the brioche bun with a swish of butter. Make some tzatziki with Greek yoghurt, Mediterranean cucumbers, garlic, salt and pepper. Then whip some Danish style feta cheese until soft and creamy. Add this to your tzatziki and start salivating. Top the burger with fresh rocket, the beet and onion pickle and a dollop of feta tzatziki. Serve with crispy roasted rosemary potato wedges and a glass of ice cold wine.

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee

Lamb burger | The Secret Life of Bee