pumpkin puttanesca

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

I should probably say upfront this is a Puttanesca ish pasta. This little tart went a tad rogue. Well in my book the addition of a some smoked chipotle, shallots & olive caviar is hardly all that rogue but some peeps takes the classics very seriously. I was delighted so many people also love this classic combo and wanted the recipe after I made it on an insta-story the other night. Full disclosure- the husband does NOT!

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

The other blindingly obvious thing here is the bright orange pasta. Its a fabulous pumpkin noodle situation that allows me to pretend i’m enjoying a bowl full of carbs. You can of course make this with whatever pasta or zoodle your heart desires. Spaghetti being the classic choice for Puttanesca.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

One of the reasons I adore this pasta ever so much is because you can always find capers, olives, anchovies and tomatoes in our household. Oh and an excessive amount of garlic. Like actually ludicrous. Vampires beware. These simple ingredients pack quite the punch when put together. No wonder Neapolitan prostitutes lead customers to their doors with this little number. Jokes.

This mighty combo also takes minutes to whip together and is utterly scrumptious. Do not salt it until the very very end IF necessary. You shouldn’t need to with all the salty goodness that goes into it, just lots of freshly ground black pepper is your friend here. Pepper and a generous glass of something delightful like a well chilled Pinot Noir to wash it all down.

Pumpkin Puttanesca

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g veggie noodles of your choosing or of course +- 400g dried spaghetti
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced (or ½ red onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked chipotle flakes
  • 100g capers, drained
  • 100g pitted black olives, chopped if desired
  • 2 x 390g boxes Italian crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh Italian/ flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive caviar for serving

Method:

Cook pasta according to package instructions until quite al dente as you are going to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.

Meanwhile, combine a generous glug of olive oil with the onion, garlic, anchovies, red chilli and chipotle flakes. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies are broken up into bits.

Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatoes reduce and the sauce thickens.

Add the capers and olives and stir to combine.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce. If using vegetables noodles add them into the sauce now.

Cook, stirring and shaking the pan until the pasta is perfectly al dente, or the veggie noodles are tender. Stir in the freshly chopped parsley and season well with plenty of black pepper and taste for salt if necessary.

Serve straight away with freshly grated Parmesan or some crusty bread because carbs on carbs are the way forward in life.

And if you want to be a little bit extra a sprinkle of olive caviar is just the greatest thing ever on this delicious little number.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

This isn’t a sponsored post but if you want to know where to find the delicious olive caviar I buy click HERE and then click HERE for the pumpkin noodles.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

oysters 3 ways

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

When I was tiny a family friend paid me R20 (which was A LOT back then) to eat an oyster because I thought they were the nastiest things i’d ever seen. Today the husband has to stop me ordering more before we have to declare bankruptcy.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

My favourite places to eat oysters in Cape Town are Chefs Warehouse and The Duchess of Wisbeach. So this weekend after many an oyster and many a bottle of wine I called up my favourite fish shop to place an order for some fresh oysters that we could enjoy at home.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

I am a big fan of just a squeeze of lemon and a tiny dash of Tabasco. But for the sake of some fun i’ve done them three ways. Mignonette which is a classic, a punchy Asian style sauce and Bloody Mary oysters. I got the idea of the Bloody Mary oyster from Sweet Paul Magazine and had to try it. I did mine a bit differently but it’s definitely a winning idea.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

Oysters 3 ways

each recipe makes enough for a dozen oysters

Mignonette: 

  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and allow to to sit for at least an hour before drizzling over freshly shucked oysters.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

Asian:

  • 1 Tbsp pickled ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • dash of Sriracha
  • finely sliced spring onions

Combine all the ingredients and spoon onto freshly shucked oysters.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

Bloody Mary:

  • 60ml tomato juice
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • about 10 good dashes of Tabasco
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 celery stick, finely diced

Combine everything except the celery. Dress oysters with the sauce and then finish with a sprinkle of the diced celery.

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

If shucking your own oysters is a tad daunting head over to Serious Eats for the very best oyster shucking step-by-step guide i’ve ever come across. (picture a big thumbs up emoji)

Bon appétit!

oysters 3 ways | The Secret Life of Bee

oysters 3 ways | 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

 

 

ground almond seed bread

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

Finally. It’s a miracle. I made gluten free, guilt free, low carb seed bread that doesn’t taste like bird food and cardboard had a baby.

I’ve made quite a few low carb seed breads and they never seem to satisfy me or trick my mind into believing I’ve just had a piece of bread.

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

This one happened by pure accident, a lack of ingredients and an attempt to say no to dough. I’ve always freshly ground my own flax seeds into a faux flour and used that as the base for my seed breads. Yesterday morning was a tad different as recently being back from the holidays our cupboards were looking rather sad and empty and I was craving a piece of toast for breakfast. So all I had as the main ‘flour source’ was ground almonds and some psyllium husks to bind things together.

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

It looked a bit dodge while mixing and trying to get the consistency right but once it baked and cooled I was so surprised at this little loaf. Real bready flavour, great texture and most of all a healthy and nutritious loaf that is delicious with a myriad of toppings!

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

Ground Almond Seed Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1 cup mixed seeds (I used a mix of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds and pumpkin seeds)
  • 3 tbsp psyllium husks
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup water

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease a small loaf tin.

Quite simply mix all of your ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Scrape mixture into the greased loaf tin and place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes.

When cool enough to handle turn the loaf out of the tin and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Serve with your choice of meal or toppings.

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

My breakfast that I was craving. A simple fried egg on the fresh out of the oven seed bread with a generous swish of butter.

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

Smoked salmon and cream cheese is always a winning combo with a generous squeeze of lemon and some freshly ground black pepper.

Another delight is fresh avocado on a base of rocket pesto with sumac and toasted seeds. Sumac is a spectacular Middle Eastern spice that is normally used to top hummus and other meze style dishes. It’s slightly lemony in flavour and adds a kick to many a dish!

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee

This bread is so versatile you can use it with sweet toppings too. Cream cheese with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey hits the spot with your afternoon tea. And for the husband- peanut butter and honey. One of his favs.

Almond & Seed Bread | The Secret Life of Bee