Red Tim Curry

Main, Poultry

I don’t know how to truly describe my friendship with the divine Tim Curry, other than to say we just have, well, IT. We get each other, we love each other and he truly is one of the most dearest friends I am lucky to have.

We first connected in the ‘70s when I was trying to make a name for myself on the West End stage. While I made a name for myself in the back-alleys and in casting, I could never compete with the talent of Tim.

While this is the point I would usually vow to destroy his life, he made me laff and I could never bring myself to bring him down. So instead, I did what I do third best and vowed to make him a star.

I marched him in to casting for Rocky Horror, he snagged Frank N. Furter, he parlayed that onto the film roll, the film was followed by ClueFern Gully and Home Alone 2 – opposite my dear friend Cath O’Hara. By the time he was up for the egregiously Oscar-snubbed Muppet Treasure Island, I knew I had succeeded in my goal.

Tim and I haven’t had the pleasure of catching up as often following his stroke in 2012, so it was such an absolute treat to welcome him down-under and reconnect. We laughed, we cried, we gossiped – Trump was a dick on the Home Alone 2 set, obvi – and most importantly, we demolished a big ol’ Red Tim Curry.

 

 

While I feel like we’re in a bit of an oversupply of curries this week, when they taste this good, I won’t complain. Hot and spicy, rich and creamy with a punch of all the best Thai flavours, there is no better way to see out the week.

Enjoy!

 

 

Red Tim Curry
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup red curry paste
800ml coconut milk
600g chicken thighs, cut into a large dice
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp muscovado sugar
small handful Thai basil
small handful coriander, plus extra to serve
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
rice, to serve

Method
Heat a lug of oil over medium heat and cook the ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes, or until fragrant. Add the curry paste and cook for a minute before slowly stirring through the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and carefully add the chicken and lime leaves. Cover and cook simmering for half an hour, or until cooked through.

Add the fish sauce and muscovado sugar and bring back to the boil and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, stir through the Thai basil, coriander and chilli.

Serve immediately on a bed of rice, with a sprinkling of coriander. Then, obviously, devour.

 

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Shiver with antici …

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

It’s astounding, time is fleeting and let me tell you, this week … madness is taking its toll. But listen closely, not for very much longer because my boy Tim Curry is dropping by to help me keep control.

You know, I remember doing the time warp, way back when, drinking those moments when the blackness would hit me. And the void would be calling. And well, Tim was the only thing that kept me going to do the time warp again.

So I called, and he couldn’t resist me begging to do the time warp again!

What says it’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, with your hands on your hips and you bring your knees in tight … but it’s the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane?

Let’s do the time warp again!

Image source: Still from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

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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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Pita Andre Bread

Baking, Bread, Side, Snack

With Halloween now a distant memory, I’m balls deep in preparations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, which of course means I’m desperately trying to fit in as many catch-ups as possible. Thankfully, I was able to fit in some time with my dear friend, fellow Gold Coaster and ex-lover Peter Andre.

Pete and I have known each other since the late ‘80s, after I hitched my wagon to his after his appearance on New Faces. I enrolled myself at Benowa State High, became his dearest friend and set him up to become the pop star of the ‘90s that he was destined to be. We also fell into a passionate love affair.

Our relationship was so beautiful and pure – well as pure as it could be – that he wrote a love song for me.

The song? Mysterious Guy.

Our break-up when he succumbed to the record company’s pressure to change the gender of his protagonist? Swift, brutal … and as vitriolic as the vengeful rage of Taylor Swift. For years after I couldn’t go to Thailand – where the film clip was made and we planned to holiday after – or the Gold Coast, as they triggered the painful memory of my broken heart.

Cut to a few years later and Pete, desperate to return to my good graces – flew down under to see me on the Tweed and try and reconcile. While he got lost while we went hiking on Mount Warning, stumbled on the set of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here and fell in love with Jordan, that few days we spent together before the show healed our wounds. And we’ve been the best of friends ever since.

Pete has been super busy with his young family the last year or so, so it was such a treat for him to take the time to catch-up before we got too busy with festive celebrations. We laughed, we cried and most importantly, devoured a shit tonne of Pita Andre Bread.

 

 

Light, soft and oh so good, these are the perfect thing for when you’re done with eating buns and what a carb alternative. I mean, who doesn’t love to stuff a good Peter?

Enjoy!

 

 

Pita Andre Bread
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
7g dry yeast
1 ½ tsp muscovado sugar
450g flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper
⅔ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing if/as needed

Method
Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and place in a warm spot for about ten minutes, or until foamy.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture and oil and stir with the dough hook until all the flour is wet. Turn the mixer on and knead on medium for about five minutes, or until smooth.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with cling and leave to prove for half an hour.

When it’s nice and puffy, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Punch back the dough and divide it into 12 balls. Roll them out into flat thin discs – a few millimetres max. Place a disc on the frying pan and cook for about 20-30 seconds, or until puffed. Flip and cook for another 20-30 seconds or so. Remove from the pan and repeat the process until done.

Then, devour.

 

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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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