Choc Berry Muffins

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Snack, Sweets

It has been an extremely busy week celebrating this year’s Grammys with my annual Grammy Gold parties, but as usual, I always push through. Or get by with a little help from my friends, so to speak. And Somebody That I Used to Gold would have been nothing without the love and support of my dear friends Lady Gaga, ONJ, Trey, Tina, Kandi and today, the late, great Chuck Berry.

Given I already had the delorean out to visit Kandi, I decided I should take it out for another spin and seeing Chuck again was high on my list of priorities.

I met Chuck in the ‘40s while studying to become beauticians at the Poro College of Cosmetology. While I wasn’t very good, my boy Chuck was a bloody star and so I quickly helped him rise in the industry. Until I heard his dulcet tones and realised that making him a singing star would be far more beneficial to my bank account.

While in the car, I started pondering about the major Grammy categories that I still needed to run the odds for. Obviously I am backing This is America for Song of the Year, however my gut – or indigestion – is telling me that movies are going to dominate the other two, With Black Panther snagging Album of the Year and Shallow getting Record of the Year, though This is America truly deserves the double.

With that out of the way, I arrived back in the ‘80s to help celebrate his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and boy was it an absolute thing of beauty. His kind, talented soul, and my Choc Berry Muffins, obvi.

 

 

Tart berries and gooey chocolate are quite possibly my favourite flavour combination. Add them into some pillowy cake, and I am in heaven. Heaven I tells, ya! Like my dear friend Chuck, may he rest in peace.

Enjoy!

 

 

Choc Berry Muffins
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
75g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarb of soda
2 tsp baking powder
75g raw caster sugar
200ml buttermilk
1 egg
100g blueberries
100g raspberries
200g milk chocolate, cut into rough chunks

Method
Preheat oven to 160C and line a six-hole Texan muffin pan.

Melt the butter and leave to cool slightly.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk the buttermilk and egg with the melted butter. Fold together with a wooden spoon until just combined before folding through the berries and chocolate.

Divide the batter between the holes and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until risen cooked through and golden.

Allow to cool slightly, though making sure they’re still warm enough for the chocolate to be gooey. When you devour.

 

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Kandi Cane Burruss

Dessert, Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Snack, Sweets

The Grammys are so close that I can almost smell their breath – they believe in mints though, so I like it – and while I’m sad That Somebody That I Used to Gold is almost over, getting to see my dear friend Kandi Burruss sure does dull the pain.

Now I know what you’re thinking – how did you catch up with Kandi, since she is still in the Celebrity Big Brother house? Obviously the answer is time-travel, so let’s not focus on that, ok?

I’ve known Kandi for years after meeting in High School. While she was a star in front of the screen, as her dearest friend – and the OG Don Juan, I’ll have you know – I shone by designing all their outfits and choreographing their BET Teen Summit performance.

Yep – I was pretty much this Tina Knowles of Xscape. Don’t tell Mama Joyce.

Anyway now I feel like I should explain why exactly I’ve got Kandi running the odds for Best Alternative Music Album and Best New Artist. You see, I assumed another nameless artist had won a Grammy, turned up at their house and then, when trying to steal it from her bathroom, discovered she in fact had never won a Grammy.

That led to me jumping in the delorean and quickly back-tracking a couple of months to see my girl Kandi, who agrees that Beck will win Best Alternative Album and Dua Lipa will take out New Artist. I then awkwardly rummaged through my bag and discovered I was in the possession of some Kandi Cane Burruss, and pretended that the visit had been planned all along.

 

 

Even if she knew that my seasonal snack was inappropriate for the visit, she didn’t say because Kandi is literally the nicest person in the world and I am so damn lucky to have her as my friend. And I’m also lucky to have found a recipe for candy canes online, because there is nothing better than homemade.

Enjoy!

 

 

Kandi Cane Burruss
Serves: 2-12.

Ingredients
3 cups caster sugar
1 cup glucose syrup
¼ cup water
2 tsp peppermint extract
red gel food coloring, to taste
white gel food coloring, to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 100C.

Place the sugar, glucose and water in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Crank to medium-high and bring to the boil, without stirring, and cook until it reaches 140-145C on a candy thermometer.

Remove from the pan immediately and let it settle before whisking in the peppermint extract. Divide the syrup between two lined baking sheets, add a few drops of each colouring to each half, stir until well combined and place in the oven to stay warm.

Working one at a time, pour the syrup on a lined piece of marble – I used a platter – and leave to sit until a skin has formed as it firms up. Spray a spatula with olive oil and knead the candy with the spatula as it cools. Once it is cool enough to handle, knead by hand using food-safe gloves – to protect from the molten hot syrup – and start stretching out the candy, bring the ends together and then twist the candy until it is homogeneous and shiny AF. Once it is cool and barely pliable, pull it into a 5cm wide strand, return to the baking tray and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining colour.

This is where I got confused, so hang in there. Cut a 5cm length of each colour – return the rest to the oven – and press them together sideways. Twist and pull the candy to give the spiral pattern until it is about half a centimetre thick. Cut into 20cm lengths, curl into a hook and transfer to a third lined baking sheet to set. Repeat the process until done.

Once set, either devour in one sitting until you vom. Or you can wrap in cling and give them away as gifts. Because there is no way you’d make these any other time than Christmas time.

 

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Tina Turnovers

Baking, Dessert, Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Snack, Sweets

We’ve crossed the halfway point of this year’s Grammy Gold celebration – Somebody That I Used to Gold – and no tea no shade to Gaga, ONJ or Trey Park, but I decided it was about time I enlisted one of my most iconic friends. And thankfully the one, the only Tina Turner was keen to roll down the river for a date.

While I haven’t know Tina as long as most of my celebrity friends, the moment we met in the late ‘80s forged an instant bond and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Though there really is no bond stronger than one built on thirsting over footy players while filming an ad.

I know I haven’t told you about said bond before, but she means so much to me that I wanted to wait sharing our love on this ‘ere patch of cyberspace until there was a special occasion. And there is no occasion specialer than an EGOT contributing award show.

After holding each other close and catching up on what we’ve been up to, Tina being Tina
interrupted our gabfest by saying, “hit me with the odds Ben. And put some stank on it.”

I mean, if that is not the mark of an icon, I don’t know what is. With that we agreed that Arctic Monkeys will take Best Rock Performance, that we’ve never heard of any of the metal performances, Greta Van Fleet feel like the best shot for Best Rock Song and Weezer should take Best Rock Album.

Did I half-arse the running of odds? Sure. But I really wanted to focus my attention on making my Tina Turnovers perfect for my dear friend.

 

 

Creamy, sweet and full of juicy, tart blueberries, these are the perfect snack for any occasion. And are super easy, so you’d be mad not to have a crack.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tina Turnovers
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
250g cream cheese, softened
¼ cup raw caster sugar
2 lemons, zested
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed and quartered
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 egg, whisked
demerara sugar, for sprinklin’

Method
Preheat oven to 220°C.

Combine the cream cheese, caster sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Divide amongst the squares of pastry, dot with the blueberries and seal to form triangles.

Transfer to a lined baking sheet, brush with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Devour immediately.

 

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Tray Baker

Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Main

Like Gaga and ONJ before him today’s Somebody That I Used to Gold visitor, my dear friend Trey Parker dabbles in all corners of the entertainment industry. And if it weren’t for my frenemy Phil Collins, who be a proud EGOT recipient.

#JusticeforBlameCanada.

I’ve known Trey for years when I got hired to model a character on South Park. Sure Big Gay Al was controversial – you don’t need me to tell you that my primary school principal felt compelled to write a four page essay about the horror character in place of a newsletter – but he brought so much joy to my life, and gave me the most beautiful friend in Trey.

While I haven’t seen Trey in years, he was thrilled to catch-up and strategise a way to finally snag himself an Oscar – obviously a Big Gay Al spin-off movie, starring me – and help me run the odds on my favourite Grammy categories – musical theatre, comedy and the big one, SPOKEN WORD!!!!!

Sorry – too many exclamation points. I’m like a chain email from your mother!

Obviously we agree that the erstwhile singing voice behind Jasmine and Mulan, Lea Salonga, will take The Book of Mormon’s Best Musical Theatre Crown for Once on This Island. Comedy I’ve gone with Dave Chappelle while Trey thinks Fred Armisen is the hot money. Obviously my boy David Sedaris is going to take out my fave category Spoken Word and I refused to hear any argument to the contrary. Like how Tiffany Haddish is the darling of the entertainment industry and Jimmy Carter is old, which is why Chad Michaels and Raja won their seasons of Drag Race.

JK Kimora, they both slayed and deserved their victories.

Anyway, it was exciting to think that our Big Gay Al movie may sweep the Awards Pool. So much so that we didn’t realise how famished we were until my Tray Barker had filled the house with glorious, happy smells.

 

 

I know I sound like a broken record, but you know I have a passionate love for sausage. You may be surprised to learn, however, that I am just as passionate about apple and sweet potato. Chuck em in a tray, add some booze and you’re in for a glorious meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tray Baker
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
extra virgin olive oil
1kg pork sausages
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
250g sweet potato, cut into chunks
2 red apples, sliced thickly into rounds
300ml apple cider
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
½ parmesan cheese, grated

Method
Preheat oven to 160C.

Heat a decent lug of olive oil in a skillet and cook the sausages until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a baking dish. Add a lug of oil to the frying pan and cook the leek and fennel for five minutes, or until fragrant and soft. Transfer to the aforementioned baking dish.

Add the sweet potato and apple to the baking dish and pour over the stock and cider. Cover with foil and transfer to the oven to bake for half and hour, or until the potato is tender and the liquid reduced.

Sprinkle with sage and parmesan and return to the oven, uncovered, to cook for ten minutes or until the cheese is golden and crisp.

Devour immediately.

 

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Chicken & Olivia Newton John Patties

Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Main, Poultry, Snack

It was such a treat to see this year’s GO recipient Lady Gaga to kick off this year’s Grammy Gold celebration – Somebody That I Used To Gold – that I couldn’t quit the film world completely. As such I grabbed the phone and as a twist of fate, my dear friend Olivia Newton John was free to catch up.

Despite being on death’s door according to the tabloids.

I’ve known Liv since the mid-70s while she and Pat Carroll where working the nightclub scene. Unbeknownst to them, they were once booked for a strip club and while it came as a shock, it led to us meeting. Which gave her “the most beautiful friendship of my life,” so she is pleased by how things turned out.

Given she is most well known for her star making turn in Grease, Liv was thrilled to help me run the Music for Visual Media odds. While she thinks our Hugh will snatch Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, my heart will always for for Call Me by Your Name though the clarinets of Lady Bird do fill my heart with joy. For Best Score Soundtrack I think Black Panther  has it in the bag, while Liv is rooting for The Shape of Water. And rounding things out, we agree that Gaga will continue her sting of wins for Shallow in Best Song, however a Mystery of Love win would make me sob happy tears by a fireplace.

With the most important job of all out of the way, we hung out in the kitchen, laughed, cried and smashed a huge batch of Chicken & Olivia Newton John Patties.

 

 

If you haven’t realised by now, I have a passionate, unadulterated love for rissoles. And these babies are no exception, sweet, tarty and packing a punch, they’re the perfect nourishing mid-week meal that doesn’t make you want to cry. Doesn’t everyone cry during dinner on hump day? No, just me? Awks.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chicken & Olivia Newton John Patties
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g chicken mince
½ cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes

Method
Preheat oven to 160°C.

Combine everything in a bowl, scrunching with your hands until well combined. Divide into 8 patties and place on a lined baking sheet.

Transfer to the oven to bake for fifteen minutes and devour immediately with a salad. Despite not making friends with it.

 

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Lady Gaugamole

Condiment, Dip, Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Vegetarian

Despite the fact that she is slaying the award season game with her film debut, my dear friend Lady Gaga will always be the scrappy little recording artist that could. While I irrationally hated Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta from the first moment I saw her, I am so grateful that Tony Bennett was able to talk sense into me and allow the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I mean, 100 of my fellow celebrities had told me that I would love Gaga’s sweet, creative soul but it took just one to get through to me and for that, I will always be grateful to Tone.

But enough about Tone, this is about thrice Academy and Emmy Award nominated, six time Grammy winning and my dear friend, Gaga. As I said, my own stupidity kept me from years of friendship with Ga – as only her best friends call her – and while that often wakes me in a cold sweat, I am glad at how quickly we developed the beautiful friendship we have.

Given she is busy residenc-ing and attendee literally every single award show on the planet, I decided to swing by for a post Oscar-nominees luncheon date and, you guessed it, run the odds for the Grammys.

Given she has made a splash in the film world I bequeathed her the honour of helping me pick who will take out Best Music Film and while I see merits in Whitney winning like Ga thinks, I can’t go past Quincy. While I am a dear friend of both Jay and Bey, neither of us can see them beating Childish Gambino’s This Is America.

Obviously I couldn’t bet against Gaga for Best Pop Solo Performance or Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, so we focused on me betting the house on Tony Bennett and Diana Krall’s Love Is Here to Stay for BEst Traditional Pop Vocal Album – though Babs is my most likely spoiler – and my love for Kelly Clarkson isn’t enough to make me bet against Camila Cabello’s creatively titled Camila taking out Best Pop Vocal Album.

While running all those odds can be hungry work, I know that the Academy serves calorie rich food at the nominees luncheon – checky during awards season, no? – so I opted to keep it light with a delicious Lady Gaugamole.

 

 

Nobody loves avocados more than I – excluding Queer Eye’s Antony, obviously – however I had never tasted guac perfection until I encountered Chipotle. Oh Chipotle, how I love you so! The spicy, glorious guac bursting from a burrito and washed down with some Pibb Extreme is my idea of heaven. But this is not an add, focus on their guac – fresh and zingy, it is perfect all by itself.

Enjoy!

 

 

Lady Gaugamole
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 ripe avocados
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tbsp coriander
1 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
¼ tsp kosher salt
Tortea Leoni Chips, to serve

Method
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and mash the flesh.

Fold through the remaining ingredients.

Devour, with a big bowl of Tortea Leoni Chips.

 

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Somebody That I Used to Gold

Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

While it probably seems like I am limping through this little marathon called life – I am sorry about the sporadic social media, I have a sick puppy and I am a dutiful parent – I am trying to slip on my lycra, go to Yogalates and get my tri-weekly blowouts – that’s three times a week, right? – whilst maintaining an aggressive regiment of Hollywood catch-ups.

I don’t want to say I’m father of the year, but I’m totally father of the year.

Anyway, this isn’t about me … because once again the suits at the Recording Academy didn’t see fit to nominate my album of covers while impersonating either Celine or Kenny for record of the year – it’s all about the Grammys.

(Hey, I may be bitter but I still know the best way to get awards is to schmooze and mingle).

So dust off the ol’ gramophone, grab a Whitskey Houston Sour – because this is a dry year, FYI – and prepare to get acquainted with Somebody That I Used to Gold.

Who will be joining me to kick off this year’s celebrations?

Image source: The Recording Academy.

 

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Choc Peanut Butter Aaron Spelting Cookies

Baking, Dessert, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing, Snack

And now, the end of The Gold Wing is here and I thought it best to once again go back in time and celebrate with someone that has faced their final curtain – Toto that into My Way, would you? – my dear friend Aaron Spelling.

As you know, I’ve long been a friend of the Spelling Dynasty and my catch-up with Loni – who played Candy in Tori’s hit show So Notorious – reminded me that Aaron has a couple of Emmys to his name, despite creating some of the most iconic TV shows of our time.

I used my time in the purring delorean to finalise my tips for the best series gongs, settling on an ASP clean sweep as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel takes Comedy, The Handmaid’s Tale goes back-to-back for Drama and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is honoured for Limited Series. I found things more difficult for Talk and Sketch Series, eventually decided Variety Talk would go to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and At Home with Amy Sedaris will/should surprise for Variety Sketch.

Oh and I obviously am backing RuPaul’s Drag Race but that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.

By the time I arrived at the epic Spelling Compound, I was so overjoyed to see Aaron one last time that I didn’t want to let him go. I desperately danced around filling him in on what I had been up to, lest I set off a butterfly effect, eventually shoving Choc Peanut Butter Aaron Spelting Cookies into our mouths to avoid any issues.

 

 

Inspired by a delicious Nigella classic, these babies are decadent, rich and a little bit healthy – yay spelt! – so you can devour them without feeling to guilty. And while that is a total lie, just buy it … because they are worth it.

Enjoy!

 

 

Choc Peanut Butter Aaron Spelting Cookies
Serves: 2 nostalgic friends, or 6-8 normal people.

Ingredients
150g peanut butter chips
125g dark chocolate
125g spelt flour
25g cocoa
½ tsp bicarb soda
pinch of kosher salt
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, still cold

Method
Chuck the peanut butter chips in the freezer and preheat the oven to 160°C.

Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl and leave to cool a little, and combine the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt in another bowl. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla for a couple of minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled chocolate until well combined before adding the cold egg. Scrape down the sides, reduce speed to low and carefully add in the dry ingredients, avoiding a mushroom cloud of flour at all costs. Remove from the stand and fold through the peanut butter chips until combined.

Dollop a tablespoon of dough on a lined baking sheet, leaving a large rim for spread, until full. Place the remaining dough in the fridge while you transfer the baking sheet to the oven for ten minutes and bake until just set. Leave to rest on the warm pan for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Repeat the process until the batter is done, and then devour.

 

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Lena Wafers

Baking, Dessert, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing, Sweets

It is the second last day of this year’s Emmy Gold celebration The Gold Wing, can you believe? And something something segue Gaz, Marg, Ava, Rami and Rhea something, I am thrilled to catch-up with my dear friend and semi-freshly minted Emmy winner Lena Waithe.

Given she won her Emmy with my (problematic) friend Aziz for the beautiful Thanksgiving episode of Master of None, it should come as no surprise that he is the reason we became friends.

I was visiting the set during season 1 and Lena and I got to talking about our coming out experiences, and Aziz suggested that they write it into the second season. So you’re welcome, because that episode was perfection and he and Lena truly deserved that Emmy and I can’t even begrudge them for not including me in the writing process.

Since her victory, Len’s career has absolutely exploded and while it means we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, I’m so proud of her. And it makes our fleeting dates even more special. As a fellow writer, I knew that she would be best placed to go through the writing categories with me. Obviously she agreed that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s auteur Amy Sherman-Palladino would snag it for Comedy. Continuing our agreeance, we both backed Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Killing Eve, Steve Martin and Martin Short for their Netflix special and William Bridges and Charlie Brooker will snag it for USS Callister.

With the formalities out of the way, we toasted her success and got to work demolishing a big batch of Lena Wafers.

 

 

Not your childhood’s technicolour crosshatched biscuits, these wafers may not look as perfect but damn they are delicious. Light, sweet and delightfully crisp, they are the only thing worthy of honouring my girl Lena.

Enjoy!

 

 

Lena Wafers
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g raw caster sugar
1 egg, whisked
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
200g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of kosher salt

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Still going, add the egg, vanilla and milk and continue beating until just combined.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl before folding through the wet ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge for half an hour.

When you’re ready to bake, place teaspoon sized bowls on lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space for spread. Flatten each ball to form a thin disc and transfer to the oven to bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once set, devour.

 

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Tandoorhea Perlman

Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing, Main, Snack

We’re hurtling towards the end of this year’s Emmy Gold celebration, The Gold Wing, and I knew that after catching up with Gaz, Marg, Av and Ram, that Rhea Perlman was the perfect person to help me round out the acting categories. I mean, she has four Emmys and is a TV legend. What more could you want?

As you probably are expecting, I first met Rhea on the set of Cheers when I was visiting my friend Kirstie Alley. Given Rhe was an absolute laugh riot, I gravitated towards her and we slowly became the best of friends.

In the decades since, she has continued to dominate the small screen and brought boundless joy into my life. And the lives of anyone with a TV. Or those that have seen her egregiously Oscar snubbed turn in Matilda.

Anyway, I catch-up with the De Vito-Perlman’s on the reg, however it has taken me this long to convince one of them to drop by on the record. Which I assume is on account of Danson’s nom and me telling her that her refusal would bring him bad karma in his category?

Thankfully it wasn’t awkward when I arrived at their mansion and we quickly caught up and got to work running the odds. Obviously I am still on the The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so forced her to agree that Rachel Brosnahan is guaranteed the Lead Actress win, despite agreeing Pamela Adlon and Issa Rae are both worthy victors. When it came to her former category of Supporting Actor we deviated, with her backing Zazie Beetz for Atlanta and me going with Betty Gilpin for GLOW. With that out of the way, we went out to their lanai and smashed a shit tonne of my Tandoorhea Pearlman.

 

 

Packed full of spice, these little koftas are the perfect way to heat up a boring school-night meal and fill you full of joy. Like sweet Rhea does with all that she … does.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tandoorhea Perlman
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g lamb mince
2 tbsp tandoori paste
2 tbsp natural yogurt
2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minces
1 lime, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
salad, Michael Flatley Bread and Raita Mitchell, to serve

Method
Preheat oven to 180C.

Chuck everything – but the salad, Michael and Radha, obvi – in a large bowl and scrunch until well combined.

Shape into koftas and place on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Devour with salad, bread and raita.

 

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