Quentin Maraschino Cherries

Dessert, Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XCII: Gold Basketball, Sweets

I don’t want to bore you with the details of my time in exile, but I can confirm that there was one big name star that was reaching out to me each week in concern. And that was Academy Award winning multi-hyphenate Quentin Tarantino. As such, I knew he would be the perfect person to kick off this year’s Oscar Gold celebration. Particularly since he directed three of my friends – Margot, Brad and Leo – to nominations this year.

Quents and I have known each other since the ‘80s when we both guested in the same episode of The Golden Girls. Sensing each other’s talents, we were drawn to each other through the sea of Elvis-impersonating extras and became the fastest of friends.

The question has probably struck you – how have two talented writers, such as ourselves, never worked together? It is a combination of unbridled sexual tension – dat chin, yo – and the fact I prefer to act as his muse, rather than tip the balance of our current relationship.

Fun fact: I inspired the characters of Mia Wallace, The Bride, Elle Driver and Daisy Domergue. What can I say? I am a strong, independent woman.

As soon as I say Quentin, I collapsed in a heap, the emotion of seeing him, the director of my beloved Luke Perry’s final film, hitting me like a wave. He ran and scooped me up in his arms, carried me into his home and lay me next to him on the couch to discuss this year’s Oscar odds.

I may have been high on the smelling salts, but we kicked off talking about Best Director and without even thinking about the fact he was nominated, said that Bong Joon-ho would be robbed if he lost for Parasite. And Mendes likely beating him with 1917 may be deserving, but I’d still be heartbroken.

“I assume you’re fucking tipping me for Best Original Screenplay then,” he joked, bringing me back to earth.

“Yes, obvi. But that is a conversation for later in the week. You’ve got some other categories I’d like you to run with me!”

He agreed that Bong has International Film in the bag, despite Pedro being equally deserving for  Pain and Glory. He thinks Documentary Feature will go to American Factory, while I am all in for The Cave. We agreed that Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) should and will win Documentary Short, Film Editing will go to Ford v Ferrari as it is the most technical and Visual Effects should go to Avengers: Endgame but will likely get swept up in a 1917 sweep.

With the formalities out of the way, I acted weak again to distract from my earlier faux pas. And so that I could enjoy being hand fed Quentin Maraschino Cherries by their namesake.

 

 

Some people say that maraschinos are a garnish. A sticky sweet morsel of magic to heighten a cocktail or dessert. But to Quents and I, they’re not a snack. They’re the whole damn meal in and of themselves. And once you make your own, you’ll never go back.

Enjoy!

 

 

Quentin Maraschino Cherries
Serves: 2 talented friends with palpable sexual chemistry.

Ingredients
1kg sweet cherries, pitted
11 cups water
1 tbsp pickling salt
4 1/2  cups raw caster sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp red food colouring
30ml almond extract

Method
Bring 8 cups of water and pickling salt to a boil in a large pot, and cook until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat to cool for about fifteen minutes. Stir in the sweet cherries, cover and leave to brine overnight.

The next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, drain the cherries and rinse under cold water for a couple of minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile combine the remaining water, with the sugar, juice and zest of the lemon and food colouring in a large pot and cook, stirring, for five minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in cherries and almond extract, cover and leave another 24 hours.

The next day when Quentin questions whether the recipe really takes this long or whether you’re just using it as a ploy for sleepovers, pour cherries and juice into hot, sterilized jars and leave in a cool, dark place.

Or devour, instantly. You know the drill.

 

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Rio Summers Fruit Tart

America's Next Top Model, America's Next Top Model 24, Baking, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on America’s Next Top Model, the girls created avatars in the ANTM mobile game leading to Jeana being pissed about her lack of personality. Feeling the pressure, she then dived into Shanice and Khrystyana’s shoot, or so they thought, leading to some drama before Director X cleared things up at panel. Sadly it wasn’t enough to save her, with Khrystyana taking out best photo again and Jeana booted from the competition.

The top four returned to the house to celebrate Khrystyana’s 600th first call out, and for Kyla and Shanice, the demise of Jeana. Rio then shared a beautiful note that Jeana left her following her departure, though was thankful she was gone as her odds just got better. Khrystyana offered to have her join them in the other bedroom, though she didn’t want to give up her big bed and while I get it, ugh Rio. Tyra Mail arrived and warned the girls that it was throwback week and they’d have to recreate a past challenge, leading to a shit tonne of speculation and Rio and Shanice sharing their pride about how far they’ve come.

The next day the girls joined Ashley, Drew and Law to learn that they would be recreating the cycle 16 bubble runway of death. Stacey McKenzie returned to help the girls through the challenge before they dropped the bombshell that the eliminated queens – no quitters – would be returning to compete for a place in the new top four. The girls all reconnected, well except for Jeana and Rio as the latter was feeling frosty about her potential return, particularly if it is at the cost of her place. Law then told the girls that only the four best eliminated queens would temporarily move back into the house and compete to return after the shoot.

Rio struggled in the ball according to Jeana, though she did kill it so maybe she is an authority. All of the other girls seemed to struggle, even Queen Khrystyana, except for Christina, Kyla, Erin and Liberty. Erin took out victory in the challenge and was given a ticket back into the house, along with Liberty, Christina and Jeana much to the chagrin of Rio. Lol.

The potential returnees were feeling unloved back at the house, with Jeana really hurt by Rio icing her out as it triggered her memories of being bullied and isolated in school. Christina joined the OG top four from Rio mid-rant, before she vowed to raise hell if she is the one to be eliminated. Rio then took her rage next level, moving out of her beloved big bed and into the room with her fellow never-eliminees behind Jeana’s back. Seriously, Rio is losing it and it is scary but also glorious.

The models then arrived to recreate tarantula shoot from Cycle 3, posing with Eva who won that cycle and shot by former judge, all around babe and noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker. The final four were paired with one of the potential returnees, Erin with Khrystyana, Liberty and Kyla, and obviously the drama pairs of Christina and Shanice – who felt safer with the tarantula – and Rio and Jeana. Liberty didn’t love the spider, though loved the experience with Nige. Erin was terrified and Khrystyana was annoyed that that made her have to suffer through more time with the spider. Erin then pulled out all stops and posed with the spider on her face. Eva pulled Jeana aside to talk her through the shoot, pissing off Rio who felt the entire thing was fake. Jeana then went on to dominate the shoot while Rio couldn’t get out of her head and looked weak as hell. Shanice then struggled the entire shoot while Christina completely dominated.

The girls arrived at panel where Tyra warned them all that Eva looked fierce in all the photos and they had better hope they brought it. Christina and Shanice were up first with Christina’s photo receiving universal praise and Shanice getting read for filth, though she admitted she hated the entire thing and wasn’t surprised. Rio and Jeana were up next with Jeana praised for owning the shoot and coming back to slay, while they felt Rio was lost and just floating through the competition. Liberty was praised for looking rich, while was no competition for Kyla whose photo was gorgeous. Khrystyana had a rare stumble and while Erin’s photo looked terrible, she was praised for owning the runway.

Kyla received best photo – though it kind of felt like it was by default – followed by Khrystyana, leaving Shanice, who has grown throughout the competition, and Rio, who has plateaued. As such Shanice was given a reprieve, despite the weaker photo and poor Rio was eliminated from the competition. With that Tyra turned her attention to the eliminated girls, with Jeana earning her place back in the competition much to rage of Shanice, Kyla and Khrystyana.

Now like Jeana last week, I know I’ve been harsh on Rio and while I did scream at her and let her know just how disappointed I was by her attitude, this week kind of showed just how much the competition had gotten to them both. While Jeana had the chance to reflect after her brief elimination, Rio couldn’t process losing and highlighted how desperate she was for the title. She cried, I held her tight – did I mention I was conducting clinical trials in the hospital she received treatment at and motivated her to take up modelling? Because I did – and sweetened the deal of her loss with a big fat slice of Rio Summers Fruit Tart.

 

 

Sweet, fresh and a little bit tart, this is the perfect reflection of her narrative arc on the show. From beloved to reviled, she brought it every week and TBH, this is the kind of tart you’ll want to devour every damn week.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rio Summers Fruit Tart
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
150g cold unsalted butter, plus 115g at room temperature
250g flour
50g icing sugar
salt, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
milk, optional (dependent on size of the egg, really)
½ cup raw caster sugar
1 tbsp spiced rum
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup almond meal
3 peaches, sliced
1 cup blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

To make the pastry, cut the cold butter into cubes and blitz in a food processor with the flour, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla. When resembling wet sand, add the egg and blitz until it just comes together to form a dough. You may need to add some milk if the egg is small, but you should be ok. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling and rest in the fridge for an hour.

Sprinkle some flour in a bench and roll the dough until it is roughly 3mm thick and press it into a 25cm loose bottom – yum – tart case. Trim off an any excess dough and return to the fridge for half an hour or so. When you’re ready, line with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Transfer to the oven and blind bake for ten minutes. Remove the baking weights and cook  for a further ten minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Leave the oven on while you beat the remaining butter and sugar in a stand mixer until it is so light it looks to be pulsating. Add the remaining two eggs, one at a time, followed by the rum and almond extract before removing from the stand mixer and folding through the almond meal. Smear into the tart case and smooth the top.

Press the peaches into the frangipane in any fashion you find aesthetically on point for you – dick and balls would look hella artistic, for instance – before pressing the blueberries around the gaps. Transfer to the oven and bake for half an hour, our until the tart is golden and puffed and the blueberries are blistering.

Devour immediately with some ice cream. Sad model friend optional.

 

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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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