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

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

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

 

 

 

broccoli, coconut & chilli soup

broccoli, coconut & chilli soup | The Secret Life of Bee

This is my absolute favourite soup. It’s perfect for autumn weather. The broccoli and chilli keep things light and vibrant, the coconut cream makes it luxuriously silky and the fresh whack of coriander wakes up your palate. I’ve made this soup for years and it takes minutes. All of the ingredients are cheap and cheerful so you can feed your family in no time at all with a delicious meal that is very easy on your wallet! Also broccoli is really really good for you. Don’t believe me? Read this 6000 word ode to broccoli on Well Being Secrets and you’ll be buying it by the ton!

broccoli, coconut & chilli soup | The Secret Life of Bee

This soup is vegetarian/ vegan if you make it as is but you could always use chicken stock or add some crispy fried chorizo bits on top. Shavings of Parmesan cheese would also be an excellent addition or melted cheesy toasts for dipping. I like it as is. The husband and I have drastically reduced our meat intake in any case and loving a more veggie intense diet. If you are going to add meat make sure it’s the very best free-range, organic, grass fed and ethically sourced meat you can find. To add a punch of umami I used half vegetable stock and half mushroom stock. The mushroom stock has exceptional earthy, meaty flavour. If you can’t get your hands on some and don’t feel like making any either straight up veggie stock is perfect.

broccoli, coconut & chilli soup | The Secret Life of Bee

Broccoli, coconut & chilli soup

serves four

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of broccoli (about 500g)
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 2 small bird’s eye chillies
  • 400ml coconut cream (1 tin)
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 250ml mushroom stock
  • handful fresh coriander
  • olive oil
  • organic sesame oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Fioretto stems for garnishing (totally unnecessary but heavens they’re pretty!)

Method:

In a large pot- sauté the red onion and chilli with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and cook until soft and translucent. Remove the broccoli florets from the stem, chop roughly and add to onions. Sauté the broccoli for a couple of minutes and then add a splash of water to your pot and cover with a lid to allow the broccoli to steam until cooked through.

Once the broccoli is cooked add coconut cream and stock. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a few minutes. remove the pot from the heat and add a handful of fresh coriander, stems and all.

Blend the soup while hot using an immersion blender. Be careful. That’s why using a large pot will help keep the swirling liquid in the pot and not on you.

Check seasoning and adjust with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the soup with some crispy fried Fioretto stems, fresh coriander leaves, a drizzle of sesame oil and some crusty bread for dunking.

broccoli, coconut & chilli soup | 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