Caramelised Connieon Stevens Dip

Dip, Party Food, Side, Snack

My time back in, time, got me thinking about all of my old Hollywood friends. That in turn reminded me of the rapidly approaching double anniversary of doom of Deb and Carrie, reminding me that I really need to put in more of an effort with my dear friend Connie Stevens.

While my relationship with Joely was so adversarial – in a friendly way though – enough to inspire the hit film Drop Dead Gorgeous, my bond with Con has been nothing with diamonds. Though sans rosé, that is reserved for the VanderpumpTodds.

Anywho, I first met Con in ‘69 – giggity – while touring with the Bob Hope USO tour to Guam and Southeast Asia. While my sexually aggressive boylesque wasn’t as well received as it would be today, Con took me under her wing and we became the best of friends.

Despite the fact it was my affair with Eddie that ruined her marriage.

Thankfully Con is hella forgiving, and currently hella available, so forgave me and continued our dear friendship … meaning she was super keen to reconnect post-thanksgiving slash pre-Christmas.

While we had a huge falling out in the late noughties – since she refused to cast me in her directorial debut – our mutual losses of the last year melted away the ice between us. Enough to reconcile this holiday season. And boy am I thankful for that.

We laughed, we cried, we lamented why we let such petty things get in the way of our friendship – particularly when me wrecking her home didn’t ruin it – over a big fat bowl of my Caramelised Connieon Stevens Dip.

 

 

While it may not be the best for my gastroenterological system, caramelised onion is damned near perfection. Sweet, tart and earthy, this dip is the perfect accompaniment for a mournful, or triumphant day. Aka it is versatile, which is what everyone wants in a date.

Enjoy!

 

 

Caramelised Connieon Stevens Dip
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sage leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Method
Heat  a good lug of oil in a frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 15 minutes. Stir through the sugar, Worcestershire, Sriracha, paprika, sage and a good whack of salt and pepper, and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

When cool, combine everything in a bowl together and chill for an hour or so before devouring.

 

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Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie

Baking, Side, Snack, Sweets, Thankgiving for being a friend

Despite the fact my girl Betts is the only surviving Golden Girl, I applied yesterday’s logic with Rue – that she’d be upset if I disappeared after catching-up with Bea and Estelle – so decided to stick around in ‘87 to see out this year’s thanksgiving. Well, technically that year’s thanksgiving. But in lieu of this year’s.

Fuck – time travel can be a confusing bitch, no?

I’ve known Bet for years and years, after meeting on the set of Match Game in ‘63. Side note: based on how much fun we had, I suggested Ru do a version on Drag Race … and Snatch Game was born. You’re welcome.

While Betty and I talk on the phone every other day in the present day – I got super paranoid about a Golden curse in 2010/11 after Rue passed away a year after Bea, and she a year after Stell – we weren’t able to see as much of each other as we liked in the ‘80s. I mean, between my various crimes, scams and love affairs and her hit show, we were lucky to catch up once a month.

I rolled up on the lot for the fourth day in a row – talk about deja vu – as Betty raced into my arms for a hug.

“My dear Ben. I’ve missed you! It will be so wonderful to have my turn marking Thanksgiving with you.

“I’ve been so happy all day … Bea wanted to kill me!”

She burst out laughing while a fear gripped me … before I realised it wasn’t the present and she has outlasted the curse thus far. We gossiped and laughed as we drove back to her house. Both thankful, most of all, for each other’s company. And, obviously, my festively approved Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie.

 

 

Yes, cookie. In the singular – this was our first foray into the majesty of the skillet cookie. And dare I say it, we nailed it. Perfect spiced dough combined with the sticky sweet chocolate and pumpkin, and the earthiness of the nuts join together for a perfectly festive dessert.

I mean, how can you not be thankful for nuts in your mouth?

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
½ small butternut pumpkin, cut into a 1cm dice
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup firmly packed muscovado sugar
¼ cup raw caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup plain flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarb soda, sifted
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups white chocolate chips
⅔ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place the pumpkin on a lined baking sheet with a lug of water and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to combine, transfer the tray to the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until golden and sweet. Allow to cool while you get to work on the cookie.

Combine the butter and sugars in a 20cm, ovenproof skillet and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or until the butter has just melted and everything combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk the egg and vanilla into the mixture before folding in the flour, bicarb soda, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin, chocolate and walnuts, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving just warm with ice cream.

 

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Turkey Roulade McLanahan

Main, Poultry, Thankgiving for being a friend

After spending the last couple of days in ‘87 catching up with Bea and Estelle, I wasn’t sure if I should hang around for my date with Rue or go visit her in ‘05 when she was appearing in Wicked. Despite the fact it would likely have lead me to landing a part in the hit musical – and probs my first Tony – I decided to stick with the past.

Mainly to avoid a feud due to me exiting the time period without a word. Though it’s not like it would have lasted long, given how close we were.

I first met Rue on the set of Maude in the ‘70s. I, of course, was there as part of Bea’s entourage but I was fast taken by the delightful Eddi-Rue. We were both thrice divorced by the time we met and it was just such a comfort to have someone to talk to that had been through the same thing.

Rue always felt like the glue that held the girls together, given her warm, loving nature and I am so thankful to be able to experience it firsthand once more.

“My sweet darlin’ Ben, I do say, how I’ve missed you!”

I ran into her arms and held back my tears for her unexpected death in 2010.

“Now my sweet boy. Bea and Stell told me I’m in for a real treat for dinner … like how the men feel when going on a date with that Blanche!”

We laughed long and hard well into the night, talking about all the things we were thankful for – divorce being a big one for us three-timers – before sitting down to a big ol’ orgy of meat in the form of my Turkey Roulade McLanahan.

 

 

Given I was cooking in someone else’s kitchen … in the ‘80s, I couldn’t go around whipping up a big roast. That of course doesn’t take away from the fact this is a show stopper. The crispy pancetta crust keeps the turkey nice and moist. Particularly when you stuff it full of more meat and a good whack of herbs.

Enjoy!

 

 

Turkey Roulade McLanahan
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1 small bunch of sage, roughly chopped
4 pork sausages, casings removed
1 carrot, grated
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup craisins
a small handful of spinach, roughly chopped
freshly grated pepper
800g turkey breast fillets, flatten to 2cm thick with a mallet or rolling pin
200g thinly sliced pancetta

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Combine the sage, sausage, carrot, garlic, parmesan, craisins and spinach in a bowl with a good whack of pepper.

Arrange the pancetta on a sheet of baking paper, slightly overlapping. Line the flattened breasts along one of the long edges, pressing closely or overlapping to form a clean piece of meat. Form the stuffing into a long sausage and place it along the centre of the meat. Using the baking paper as a guide, tightly roll the turkey over to form a long roll, with the pancetta sealing the turkey meat. Tie with a couple of pieces of kitchen twine to secure, transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and beautifully cooked on the inside.

Allow to stand for five minutes or so before carving, serving and, most importantly, devouring.

 

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Sweet Potato Estelle Galetty

Side, Snack, Thankgiving for being a friend, Vegetarian

I know it is hard to pinpoint a more tragic death, particularly when it comes to your friends, but my dear, beautiful Estelle Getty’s was truly heartbreaking. I mean, I miss Bea and Rue just as much, but knowing that she truly suffered in her final years and couldn’t remember how wonderful she and The Golden Girls were will always break my heart.

After Bea and I circled back to the lot after catching-up yesterday it took all my strength not to break down in tears knowing what would happen in a couple of decades. We ran into each other’s arms and held each other close, silently acknowledging the deep love of our friendship.

“Pussycat!” Oh FYI, she used her pet name for me – pussycat – as her term of endearment for Dorothy on the show.

“Pussycat, I’ve missed you! How have you been? Why don’t you come visit me more? Are you well? Can I get you a part on the show? Do you want a snack?”

I’d known Estelle for a couple of years by 1987, having met while she starred in the Torch Song Trilogy which was written about me by my ex-Harves. Our bond was instant and while we never got to spend as much time with each other as we’d like, it always felt like only days between visits.

We drove to her L.A. home, laughing and catching up, despite the fact I knew exactly what she had and would be up to next. It was heartbreaking yet at the same time so wonderful to be able to spend time with her while she was still at her best. The only that made the date every better was chowing down on some Sweet Potato Estelle Galetty.

 

 

Potato bake is the side dish of champions. Be it normal or sweet, there is nothing better than perfectly roasted potatoes covered in dickloads of cheese and a punch of herbs.

Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato Estelle Galetty
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
5 shallots, thinly sliced
500g sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
a small stalk of rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp chilli flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
⅔ cup freshly grated parmesan
200g goat’s cheese

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the potato, shallots and a lug of olive oil in a bowl with the thyme, rosemary, nutmeg and chilli. Toast to coat.

Smear – yes, smear – a lug of olive oil on the base and edges of a small baking dish.

Layer the potato on the base of the dish, slightly overlapping, moving from the outside in, until covered. Sprinkle over a quarter of each of the cheeses, followed by another layer … and a quarter of the cheeses and more potato until it is all gone. Finishing, obvi, with the cheese on top.

Place the galette in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, covering with foil after half an hour if the top is getting to crispy.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes. Then devour, ferociously.

 

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BeaBQ Arthur Corn Salad

Salad, Side, Snack, Thankgiving for being a friend

While The Golden Girls were one of the best sitcom ensembles ever assembled, the heart and soul of the show was my dear friend and comedy icon Bea Arthur. At the very least, she was the de facto lead given she was what brought Sophia into the mix.

Though speaking of Soph, she was the soul … and so were Rose and Blanche. Fuck.

In any event, my dear friend Bea is the first girl I’m checking in on … given the controversial meeting we had last time I ventured back in time. I mean, sure, she doesn’t know it since that date occurs in ‘89 and I’ve opted to visit during Thanksgiving ‘87. But I know, and guilt is a pretty big motivator.

Bea was thrilled to see me as I pulled up to the studio in the delorean.

“Quick Ben, quick. Fucking get out of here – we don’t need Betty to spot us and want to third wheel our friendship.”

“I’m fucking trying Bea, I’m  driving as fast as I fucking can,” I screamed, not wanting to hurt my friend Bet, or upset Bea by being sympathetic.

I sped through the Hills, down past Carney’s on sunset and eventually landed at her home in Brentwood – which will eventually become a Golden Girls museum, depending on how her will turns out following my next journey back in time – to reconnect, discuss a potential sequel to Mame – which you all know, does NOT eventuate – and devour a festively appropriate BeaBQ Arthur Corn Salad.

 

 

Fresh and zingy are not words that are oft thrown around when it comes to discussing dinner on turkey day. Though I can promise, it is more than worth it. The fresh, charred corn works perfectly with the zing of the tomato and lime, and the sweet delight that is basil.

Praise be … I mean, give thanks. Aka enjoy!

 

 

BeaBQ Arthur Corn Salad
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
6 corn cobs, de-husked and scorched over the flame of a stove
olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
a small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Combine everything in a bowl.

Toss.

Devour.

 

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The golden age of giving thanks

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Thankgiving for being a friend

While it feels like only a couple of days since we finished up celebrating Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday – because it was – we’re doubling down in honour of Thanksgiving.

Yep – we’re throwing a party and inviting everyone we (care to) know. And they will see, the biggest gift will be from me and the place-card attached will say … I give thanks for being a friend.

That’s right, I’m pulling the time machine out of storage – again in Bea’s case – packing up my resort wear and travelling down the road and back again to celebrate Thanksgiving on the lanai with The Golden Girls.

Controversially, cheesecake is not included. Though I promise, it is a Thanksgiving not to be missed.

I mean, it’s THE Golden Girls for f&^ksakes.

Image source: The Golden Girls / NBC.

 

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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.

 

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 and Tumblr.

Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls

Main, Party Food, Snack

While my first two choices were both too busy – being a monarch and a queen, respectively – to catch-up, my old faithful Keira Knightley was free. And it was wonderful to see her again.

I first met Kiz while protesting against her playing Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice – because no one would ever be able to top the sublime Jennifer Ehle. Oh … and I stole Jamie Dornan away from her. It wasn’t a strong start to friendship, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does highlight how sweet dear Kizza can be.

But I guess I wouldn’t hold a grudge if someone bought you your first Academy Award nomination to apologise.

After working through our rocky start, we became the best of friends and I became the toast of ol’ London town. We laughed, we partied and, after she discovered that she didn’t earn her first nom, vowed to secure her a legit Oscar nom. While it took me nine years, her performance in The Imitation Game was exquisite and I was glad to see her get the recognition she deserved … and to clear my debt.

It was such a treat to see her again and catch-up on what she’s been doing since she was in town for the scandal plagued last Pirates movie. Given how thankful we were to see each other, I was inspired to whip up my  Thanksgiving approved Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls.

 

 

Bringing a little bit of festive spirit to the Australian classic, these rolls are near culinary perfection. Flakey pastry, spiced, moist turkey and plump warm cranberries? Delicious and oh so comforting.

Enjoy!

 

 

Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g turkey mince
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup craisins, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
⅓ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 eggs, lightly whisked

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Place the turkey, onion, garlic, craisins, sage, pistachios, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a large bowl and scrunch to combine.

Cut the pastry sheets in half and split the meat mixture into two, shaping into a long sausage to fit the length of the pastry. Place on the pastry, wrap tightly to combine, brushing the seam to help seal the sausage roll.

Slice each into two or three, place on a lined baking sheet and brush with remaining egg. Place in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until cooked through and the pastry is golden.

Devour, festively.

 

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