Joanna Rumley Raisin Ice Cream

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

Can you believe it is over already? After marking the 25th anniversary of Ab Fab by catching up with Jen … then Jane, Jules and yesterday June, I can’t believe we’re at the end of our road. And I tell you, I’m struggling to let go … though I am super, super thankful that we’re finishing with my dear friend and ex-lover – when in drag – Joanna Lumley.

I’ve always loved Jo, and not only because we met in ‘69 – giggity – on the set of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I was dating a then unknown George Lazenby and quickly dropped him to form a powerful clique with Diana Rigg and Jo, and we’ve been the best of friends ever since.

When Jen and I were getting to work casting Ab Fab, I knew that Jo was the only person that could possibly play the role – after Jen said I was too beautiful for the role, obvi. While I was at first heartbroken to have missed out on the role of a lifetime, me – did I mentioned Patsy was based on me? – I knew Jo would do me justice, so I uncharacteristically remained friends with her.

Jo has been super busy lately with her film appearances and legitimately amaze documentaries, so we’ve been unable to catch-up since the Ab Fab movie premiere. She ran into my arms as soon as she saw me at the airport, congratulating me on not punching anyone out during our victorious marriage survey. And also because she missed me so terribly.

We laughed, we cried tears of joy, we plotted to convince Jen to write a sequel, we reminisced and most importantly, we made ourselves sick on the huge bowls of Joanna Rumley Raisin Ice Cream.

 

 

You didn’t think I’m get through the date without bringing liquor into the occasion, did you? One of the more underrated ice cream flavours, this perfectly balances the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream, with the punch of the boozed fruit. And everything is better for it.

To Ab Fab – enjoy, sweetie!

 

 

Joanna Rumley Raisin Ice Cream
Makes: 2L.

Ingredients
1 cup raisins
100ml spiced rum
600ml thickened cream
395g condensed milk
2 tbsp vanilla essence

Method
Place the raisins and rum in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Whisk the remaining ingredients together until soft peaks form. And fold through the cooled raisins and sticky liquid.

Transfer to airtight containers and freeze overnight, or for six hours or so.

Then devour, greedily, darling.

 

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Prune Whitfield Tart

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Baking, Dessert, Pie, Sweets

I am absolutely exhausted after realising that our date with Jules as part of our Ab Fab celebrations yesterday coincided with our 500TH FREAKING RECIPE (and Australia doing me proud and voting for love to win). I mean, 500 recipes and no one has offered me a cookbook deal yet?! In any event, the ravages of time are starting to hit me so I decided to get my ol’ girl Dame June Whitfield over for a calm, celebratory occasion.

Oh how I fucking – sorry, forking – love Juney Whits.

I’ve been friends with June for the longest time after quickly becoming best friends on the set of my show, The Benny Hill Show. Did I ever mention my full name is actually Benjamin James Woodley Judd Hill? No? Well soz.

In any event, June and I became the fastest of friends and I’ve supported her all our lives. I mean, from the questionable Carry On films, to the magic of Miss Marple on the gramophone, to the glorious episode of my hit show slash passion project Sooty and of course, Ab Fab, I’ve been by her side to guide and support her. No matter what.

Give the fact travelling is starting to impact as both due to our advanced years, June and I haven’t been able to see as much of each other as I’d like. Thankfully the extended absence we’ve shared has only made the date more meaningful. As did my bowel friendly Prune Whitfield Tart.

 

 

While prunes have some bad, elderly connotations … this tart is actually quite delicious. Super sweet, super rich AND it keeps you super regular. What more could you want?

Enjoy!

 

 

Prune Whitfield Tart
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
3 cups stoned prunes
250g unsalted butter, cubed
250g raw caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
500g flour
½ tsp baking powder
juice of a lemon
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp almond extract

Method
Place the prunes in a bowl and soak in water overnight.

Cut to the next day and combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor, and blitz until the butter is completely soaked. Add the flour and blitz until wet breadcrumbs are formed. Add the eggs and baking powder and blitz until just combined. Remove, shape into a disc, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

While the dough is getting chill, place the prunes in a large saucepan with the muscovado sugar, lemon juice and almond essence and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for half an hour, or until the water is reduced. Blitz using a stick blender and leave to cool slightly.

Split the dough 2:1 and roll the 2 part out until 3mm thick and layer into a pie dish and transfer to the fridge to chill while you prep the lattice. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into 2cm thick strips.

Fill the dish with the prune filling before gently forming a lattice – use the Fiona Apple method – on the top of the pie. Crimp the edges to seal and transfer to the oven to bake for  1 hour and 20 minutes or until brown and crisp.

Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and devour, greedily.

 

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Beef Julia Sawallington

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Main

Just when you thought this week couldn’t get any more celebratory – I mean, celebrating Jen and Jane is a pretty killer start, no? – today also marks our 500th celebrity catch-up. Yes … five freaking hundred. And my dear friend Julia Sawalha is more than worthy of helping my mark this milestone.

While I only met Jules when she came in to audition for Ab Fab, I knew that she was destined for great things. One day on set she casually mentioned that she was up for the role of Lydia Bennett – in the good not Knightley version of P&P – and as a fan of the work, and a famed period acting and dialect coach, I offered up my services to help her snag the role slash steal the show.

Which I think you could agree, I was more than successful at that.

As seems to be a running theme of growing older, Jules and I aren’t able to catch-up as often as we like so she was thrilled to not only take the time out to honour Ab Fab … but also become our 500th date in the process.

“Ben, I don’t know if I’m worthy of being a milestone date. I mean, I’m no Skarsy, Solange, Meg, Kanye, CeCe – no, I am better than a Survivor that didn’t make the jury – Mischa, Nat Imbrugs, Lin Manuel. Let’s not talk about Purple Ben from this season of Australian Survivor.

“In any event, I’m somewhat worthy of your honour but would like some reassurance,” she coyly admitted.

“You’re a talented actress, one of my dearest friends and owned two iconic series! In addition, you’re beautiful, you’re a model. You look like Linda Evangelista … “

Half way through quoting the now iconic Aja, she accepted the honour and we got to work reconnecting, celebrating and chowing down on a big fat piece of meat. In the form of my Beef Julia Sawallington.

 

 

There is nothing I love more than a big piece of meat. Well, unless it is wrapped in a nice, puffy dough. That is something I’ll never be able to go past. Like Jules or the good version of P&P.

Enjoy!

 

 

Beef Julia Sawallington
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
1kg fillet of beef , trimmed
olive oil
unsalted butter
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
100g pate
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly whisked

Method
Bring a frying pan to heat over a high … heat while you rub the beef fillet with salt, pepper and a good ol’ lug of olive oil. Add another lug to the pan with a knob of butter and a sprig of rosemary, and sear the beef for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove from the pan to rest while we get to work on the rest.

Add the onion and garlic to the still hot pan and sweat for a minute or two. Add the mushrooms with another knob of butter, rosemary and thyme, reduce heat to low and cook for about twenty minutes, or until they’re nice and soft. Remove from the heat, stir through the pate and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Place a sheet of pastry on the bench and the second next to it with a two centimetre overlap. Press them together, smear the pate/mushroom mixture over the middle, top with the fillet and roll and/or fold the pastry to enclose.

Transfer to a lined baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked and blushing like a whore in church. Aka Kiwi hero slash Australian drunk Barnaby Joyce.

Rest for 5 minutes before serving in with gravy and mash. Then, obvi, devour.

 

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Jane Porrocks Pies

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Main, Party Food, Pie, Side, Snack

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d top the delight of catching up with my dear friend Jen, nor am I sure why it has taken us so long to celebrate Ab Fab. In any event, I am filled with joy knowing that my dear friends are finally getting their moment in the sun that is this anthropological endeavour. None more so than the divine, bubbly, little voice herself, Jane Horrocks.

Now Babs – as her closest friends slash anyone that has read her Wikipedia entry know is her real name – and I have been the dearest of friends for close to three decades, after meeting during casting of The Witches.

In his golden years, Roald had asked me to oversee the production of all adaptations of his work, starting with The Witches. As soon as Jane walked in to the audition, I know that she was the only person that could play Susan … and is oft the case, vowed to make her a star.

When Jen mentioned transitioning Ab Fab into a show, she asked me to help assemble a killer cast, the likes of which had never been seen. I knew that Jane would be absolutely perfect for the role of Bubble and immediately drafted a contract and offered the role without Jen ever seeing her.

While she was annoyed by my underhanded tactic, her rage quickly dissipated after laying witness to Babs’ talent. I mean, she was almost nommed for an Oscar, for christsakes!

Given how busy I’ve been, I regret to admit that we haven’t seen as much of each other as we’d usually like. That being said, our friendship is so dear that it is always as though no time as past between our dates.

After a long hug we got to work drinking, laughing and reconnecting … and toasting to Ab Fab’s success with a big batch of Jane Porrocks Pies.

 

 

As British as tea, scones or the Queen – not Sandra, soz – pork pies are not just delicious, they’re comforting … and, dare I say it, life affirming. They just aren’t particularly healthy.

But who really minds about that? Enjoy!

 

 

Jane Porrocks Pies
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
500g Cumberland sausages, skins removed
200g streaky bacon, diced
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp sage, roughly chopped
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
sesame seeds, to top

Method
Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine the sausage, bacon, breadcrumbs, sage, nutmeg and a good whack of pepper in a large bowl, scrunching until well combined.

Cut each sheet of pastry into 9 even squares and line 18 holes of (two) muffin pans with pastry. Divide the mixture evenly between the holes and tightly packing it in … you know I love that. Fold any extra pastry over the mound of meat, brush with some egg and top each with the remaining squares of pastry. Fold it in on itself – obvi in a decorative fashion – cut a small hole in the top of each, brush with egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and transfer to the oven to bake for 30-40 mins, or until golden and brown and cooked through.

Serve immediately, hot, slathered in caramelised onions.

 

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Ginnifer Saunders

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Drink

I’m sure it comes as absolutely no surprise that we’re kicking off Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday Party by catching up with the Queen of Ab Fab slash my dearest friend of all, Jennifer Saunders.

I’ve known Jen for years, after meeting in college and living together with our mutual friend Dawn. Fun fact: I actually introduced the girls, helped them sort through their issues AND encouraged them to pursue a career in comedy.

Long story short, you’re fucking welcome.

In addition to inspiring, arguably, the greatest comedy duo of all time, I also inspired Jen and Dawn to write the sketch that inspired Ab Fab. And once more with feeling, inspired.

In. Spir. Ed.

While I was, egregiously, never invited to guest in the show, Jen made it up to me eventually by casting me as Kate Moss in the movie. Yes – I played Kate Moss. Not, Kate Moss.

Jen and I have both been super busy over the last year, so it was great to be able to take the time to mark her special occasion, reconnect and down a dickload of Ginnifer Saunders.

 

 

Technically just a gin and tonic, I always find a way to inject some fruit into the festivities and have all cups run over. With joy. Sweet, sweet, voluminous, joy.

Enjoy!

 

 

Ginnifer Saunders
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
60ml gin
120ml tonic
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon slices, for garnish
2 tbsp raspberries
2 tbsp blueberries
dash of bitters
couple of ice cubes

Method
Combine everything in a shaker.

Shake.

Pour.

Drink.

 

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Yeah, cheers, thanks a lot

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Picture it, BBC Two, 12 November 1992. My dear friend Jen’s new show premiered and changed the world.

My friend? Jennifer Saunders. The show? Ab Fab. This wheel? On fire.

So grab the stoli, stock up on some bolli and buckle in as we celebrate Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday!

Image source: BBC.

 

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Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza

Bread, Main, Party Food, Snack

So I know I was kind of rambling the other day – probably still spooked from the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah and the fear that the Sanderson Sisters were coming for my youth, but I have been friends with the delightful Mo Gaffney for years, after meeting her through my childhood friend Kathy Najimy.

Does it make more sense now?

Anyway, I played an integral part Kathy and Mo’s Mo’s success, getting Kath the job in Sister Act and Mo a job on Ab Fab and Drop Dead Gorgeous, the later of which solidified are friendship and made us as close as we are.

As it is universally acknowledged, DDG is the greatest movie ever made and that is in no small part due to the supreme talents of all the friends I cast in the film. However towards the end of the casting process – and this will come as a shock –  I was having difficulty casting the integral cameos of Terry and Colleen but thankfully – praise Jesus – I thought of Mo’s work as Bo and knew there was no one else who could play the role.

The rest, yada yada yada, history.

Mo has been busy lately guesting on Veep, House of Lies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, appearing in the – terrible and I hate to admit it – Ab Fab movie and actively campaigning for my girl HRC on Twitter (remember, I am her campaign manager), so it was so nice of her to take the time out and reconnect as I warm up for the holiday season.

Thankfully Mo is fully supportive of me pretending that Brisbane is in the northern hemisphere and I don’t have sweat dripping off my balls, and was more than into splitting a hot and spicy Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza.

 

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It should probably be apparent to you by now that I am a huge fan of pizza, the love affair being second only my love of burgers. I’m also a massive fan of balls – second only to Probst … and am Australian, so lamb. Put that all together with some hot Moroccan flavour, smooth feta cheese, sweet pumpkin and sharp rocket, and you’ve got yourself a meal worthy of my dear friend Mo and her mo friend.

Enjoy!

 

moroccan-lamb-gaffnizza-2

 

Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
½ butternut pumpkin, diced
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
500g lamb mince
2 tbsp moroccan spice mix
2-3 pizza bases, obviously using Zsa Zsa’s recipe
⅓ cup pine nuts
small red onion, finely sliced
200g feta, diced
grated cheese, optional but advised … who doesn’t want more cheese?
rocket

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spread diced pumpkin on a small tray, coat with a dash of olive oil, sprinkle over the cumin and cinnamon and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, combine the lamb in a bowl with the moroccan spice mix – you can make your own, but I frankly could not be bothered. Heat a lug of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and throw in balls of the spiced meat, not worrying about being too careful with size or form. Cook until browned on the outside, remove to some paper towel and repeat the process until all the meat is cooked.

When ready to assemble, cover the base with some tomato paste and some miscellaneous herbs, throw over some meatballs, spice pumpkin, pinenuts, spanish onion and cheese/s. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crisp and delicious.

Remove from the oven, top with some fresh rocket and allow to stand for five minutes before serving / devouring.

 

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The important thing is we have a winner

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Outside of a Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, Halloween always gets me thinking of the classic Hocus Pocus and the wonderful Sanderson Sisters. Fun fact, their penchant for murder and sucking the life out of things was inspired by a cult I started.

Not the one with Andrew Keegan though, to be clear.

Anyway, since I didn’t stay a virgin long enough to light the black flame candle and greenlight – well blacklight … but that is semantics – a sequel, I simply couldn’t bare to face Bette, SJP or my dear friend Kathy Najimy over Halloween … so I reached out to Kath and my mutual friend Mo Gaffney.

So what do I make that says does Kathy hate me for not getting the job done … but also says Drop Dead Gorgeous is the greatest movie of all time and thank you? Praise Jesus.

Image source: Still from Ab Fab.

 

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Dawn French Toast

Breakfast, Main

To be blunt, a TV comedy vicar is quite possibly the best person to go to for spiritual guidance and emotional sustenance.

The Meggstravaganza really takes a lot out of me, not even taking into account the post ritual peyote withdrawals I suffer. I really needed something to provide me with support and love, and thankfully Dawny is always up to act as my human bra. Both literally and figuratively.

She likes soft pecs, that’s for sure.

But I’ve digressed – it was such a thrill to see Dawn and recharge the batteries with such a close friend.

We gossiped over the upcoming Ab Fab movie  in which we both have cameos and my ongoing feud with Ruby Wax (she knows what she did and a saint like Dawn won’t change my mind – this girl is going to stay on top), before she begged me to pass on a script she had worked on to star in alongside Judi Dench.

While I told her I would, I am clearly going to doctor the script, re-write her role to be for me and pass it off as my own work before Judi’s deteriorating eyes never get a chance to see it.

I’ll write in a cameo for her though, as I am such a bloody delight.

We all know that Dawny has a very well publicised obsession/love for pasties and as much as I enjoy being antagonistic with my friends, I just couldn’t bring myself to make one based solely on carrots. Plus, they act like whoopee in my guts and that would just be a disgusting disaster … thus I went with her second favourite meal, my Dawn French Toast.

 

dawn-french-toast-1

 

This may come as a shock but sweet breakfasts aren’t really my thing, as who can go past bacon. Now I know that bacon goes well with sweet things, like French Toast, but I generally opt for haloumi and/or mushroom and/or (who am I kidding … they are all ands) hash browns.

Once again, I’ve digressed. Given that Dawn is one of my sweetest friends and she starred in an hilarious and underrated comedy named after a Marie Antoinette misquote that should have referenced brioche, I felt it was appropriate to dip my toe in the sweet breakfast pool and slather the fluffy, custardy bread in a good, hearty dollop of Cinnamonica Seles Apples.

Oh, and carrots … but I don’t think she actually noticed them. Enjoy!

 

dawn-french-toast-2

 

Dawn French Toast
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
2 eggs
⅓ cup cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp brown sugar
4-6 thick slices Briocher Bünsberg (but in loaf form, ok?)
30g butter

Method
Whisk the eggs, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a large, flat bowl.

Melt the butter in a large non-stick pan over medium heat until it is foamy and beautiful.

Dip the brioche into egg mixture, flip over and allow excess to dip off before placing into the hot pan. Cook for a minute or so, flip and cook for a further minute, or until golden and crisp.

Serve and slather with the condiments of your choosing, bacon and some maple is good … but the Cinnamonica Seles Apples are better.

 

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The Visit of Dibley

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

After a busy week focusing on the ritual to rebirth Meg Ryan’s career, I started to crave a religious experience and since I’ve been blacklisted from six niche religions I felt the smartest move would be to reach out to my dear friend, the Vicar of Dibley herself – Dawn French.

Obviously I met Frenchie in the 70s while attending the Central School of Speech and Drama with Jenny Saunds, obviously we became the best of friends (they are part of my European best friend trio – the British equivalent of Amy and Teens), obviously I inspired numerous of the characters they created on French & Saunders and obviously they have stood by during my countless scandals.

It has been a few years since last catching up with Frenchie. You see, Dawn had tried to assist me in rigging Australia’s Got Talent but when I realised that I actually had no talent that could transfer to TV, I orchestrated the show’s second axing. Feeling awkward, I’ve kept a low profile with Dawn, JIC she holds it against me.

Given some of the other things she has forgiven though, I doubt she will.

What says sorry I got AGT axed for a year resulting in you spending time with Timomatic for no real reason?

Also, what is a Timomatic?

Picture source: BBC.

 

As you can probably tell, we are very social but the fun isn’t only limited to celebrities! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.