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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Destitsio Williams

Baking, Main, Pasta, Survivor, Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, the merge hit leaving Cole nice and paranoid … and, bless, unable to see the clue to an advantage in plain site. With him busy, the heroes and hustlers got together and plotted to take out the healers, one-by-one. Which commenced at tribal after Joe played him idol needlessly as Jessica became the final pre-Ponderosa boot.

Solewa returned to camp where things were awkward and everyone kind of stood around awkwardly while Cole spoke about being upset and Joe impressed by their move. We then found out that Ben and Lauren had in fact orchestrated the entire blindside, with my namesake hoping they can go all the way to the top seven … though was concerned something would screw it up. Which is totalling going to happen, no?

The next day Mike was still struggling with the loss of tribal before Lauren, out of nowhere, found the clue to the advantage Cole couldn’t see in front of him. The advantage is another variant of the extra vote gig, with Lauren allowed to forgo voting at the next tribal council and stockpile the vote for a later tribal council. Depending on our you feel about saving, it is the ultimate banking game … or way too hard.

Not leaving me to sweat on it too long, my love Jeff returned for the reward challenge where the tribes would be split into two teams to run up a tower and shoot sacks at a target. Aka what the homophobe at my work said every gay person would be doing after Australia voted for marriage equality … which yes, was true for me, but also, have some fucking decorum. The team of Ben, Mike, Lauren, Ashley and Desi got out to a 3-0 lead before Ryan, Chrissy, JP, Cole and Devon’s strategy – to have the worst people go first and no longer have to participate – played of overtaking the others and snagging a spaghetti dinner, with Joe … who won the lottery and got reward without competing.

After the challenge Jeff explained that the spaghetti would be served ‘family style’ meaning there would be one single serve and each would go in to eat alone, not knowing how much the others had had. To further improve Joe’s day, he was given the opportunity to outline their eating order. Given he needs allies, Joe elected to go last sending Devon first – don’t tell Rodney, but it was for his birthday – followed by JP, who also didn’t notice a clue under the plate. Sweet Cole went next and surprisingly found the clue straight away … before using a tea towel to cover the clue. Smart move and also, so fucking dumb. Chrissy and Ryan also found the clue – outlining it was hidden under the tribe flag – before the latter hid the plate in the bushes.

Chrissy and Ryan spoke about the clue and Cole’s dim wit while Joe ate, before the latter proved he wasn’t as dumb as everyone thinks and questioned what they were talking about. This of course set up a three man race to collect the idol, which kind of fizzled out as Ryan snatched the idol while Cole went to pee. Thankfully he tasked Chrissy with covering the hole, leading to Cole diving under the flag with her to fight for the already gone idol. This then caught everyone’s attention, leading to an all in brawl before Ben decided Cole did have the idol. Oh … after the flag fell on top of everyone.

I mean, this was some Benny Hill shit. Praise Probst.

Given Cole was now in desperate need of some actual immunity, Probst returned for the challenge where the castaways were required to stand on a balance beam, while keeping an object up with a long hard pole. So again, pretty much my favourite pastime. Mike and Joe quickly dropped out followed by Devon, Lauren, Ryan – whose heart was literally beating through his chest – Ashley, Chrissy, Ben and Desi. This left Cole and JP to battle it out for immunity and my heart as their chests glistened in the sun. JP couldn’t keep it up long enough, handing Cole immunity … and well, my heart. I mean, he is proven to keep it up longer. How can I go past him?

Cole’s immunity win didn’t sit well with the hero-hustler mega alliance who half-heartedly congratulated him on his victory before quickly locking in a split vote for Joe and Desi. The split vote gave the healers hope, given they only needed to flip one person to their side to take control. Surprisingly this was Cole’s plan. Sadly for Joe he decided to approach Ryan and Devon while Ben lurked in the bushes ala Queen Sandra, leading to Ben blowing up at Joe at camp while Desi, Ryan and Chrissy lazed about in the shelter, nonchalantly wondering if something was happening.

After things cooled down, Lauren pulled Ben aside to share that they can not split the vote tonight otherwise she will lose her advantage. This made Ben nervous forcing him to approach Mike to flip to their side and save him. While Mike wasn’t sure keeping Ben was a good idea, he did think showing loyalty may carry him further.

At tribal Joe and Ben continued their feud with Joe identifying him as a threat, while Ben tried to point out he is a part of a bigger alliance and that he trusted them all. It went back and forth for a while before Chrissy and Ashley joined the fray to point out how annoying Joe is. Desi then gave a confusingly cryptic comment, Mike threw out the fact the Yawa five betrayed him as the last tribal and Ben spoke more about being a vet, which really isn’t making the target on his back any smaller. Desi continued to dig her own grave and Devon spoke about being a bright and beautiful light – seriously, swoon … and out of nowhere – before they headed off to vote.

Notably Lauren was successful in snagging her extra vote before the votes finished up tied with four each on Joe and Desi, with one each on Ben and Lauren for good measure … and no one the wiser that that didn’t add up to 11. More surprisingly the votes piled up on Desi in the revote, sending her out of the game to become the Queen of Ponderosa.

While she was absolutely heartbroken by the turn of events – and let’s be honest, so was I – I was glad to be able to hang with her, cheer her up and decide the tone for this season’s jury over a big ol’ bowl of my Destitsio Williams.

 

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged – right Jules – that pasta will cure all ailments. Add a dickload of spices, a large hunk of meat and a creamy sauce? That is what dreams are made of, right Hiz?

Enjoy!

 

 

Destitsio Williams
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, grated
2 tbsp tomato paste
1kg beef mince
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp dried mint
2 cups passata
500g ziti pasta
¾ cup butter
4 eggs
1 ½ cup parmesan, grated
¼ cups plain flour
2 cups milk, heated
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat before sweating the onion, garlic and carrot for five minutes … or so. Add the paste and mince and cook, breaking up the mince with the wooden spoon, for ten minutes or so, or until starting to brown. Add the allspice, mint and passata with a good whack of salt and pepper. Stir, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

While your meat sauce is cooling, melt ¼ cup butter in a medium saucepan until foamy. Add ¼ cup flour and cooking for a minute or two, or until the roux is coming together. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 cups of milk until smooth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and whisk through the yolks of the eggs, with the nutmeg and ¼ cup parmesan.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cook the pasta as per packet instruction before draining and returning to the pan with the remaining butter, egg whites and parmesan. Stir for a couple of minutes or until everything just comes together.

Press half the coated butter into the base of a large baking dish. Top with the meat sauce, following by the remaining pasta … and then finally, the béchamel. Sprinkle with some extra parmesan and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from the oven, allow to rest for ten minutes … and then devour.

 

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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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Karl Stroganovic

Main, Pasta

While he didn’t explicitly say it, my boy Karl desperately needed a cuddle and a catch-up to pick him up and get him through the final few weeks of the year. Given the stress he’s been under, he hasn’t been the breakfast mainstay that we’ve come to know and love this last year, and I am heartbroken to admit, that that has really gotten him down.

“Ben, my dearest best Ben-friend after Fordo. I just feel like I’ve let my Today family, and everyone, down.”

Gaaaahhhh, how heartbreaking is that?

I held him close and told him that everything would be ok and the public would soon be distracted by another shiny scandal … and that he is beautiful, looks like a model, like Linda Evangelista. Look at that smile etc. While he was confused about that little outburst before I explained that Stan, part of the Nine stable, is Australia’s RPDR champion, he held me for a few moments, soaking in the unconditional love of his dear friend. And surprisingly, that soaking is figuratively. For once.

I’ve known Karl for years, after meeting in the Nine News Brisbane newsroom in the early ‘00s. While the fact we both had the generic appearance of a young Ray Martin pitted us as competition, our sense(s?) of humour brought us together. We’ve been friends ever since and I’ve proudly celebrated his achievements after all these years.

After working through the darker parts of our years – did I ever tell you about the time someone tried to act offended that I didn’t want to attend a work lunch when I hate crowds/people? – we got to work bringing joy back to our lives. And there is nothing more joyful than my Karl Stroganovic.

 

 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I used to have some serious hang-ups about strog due to my mother. While she always tries her best, particularly in the kitchen, ‘90s Tweed Heads was not good for beef strips, nor did she help the sitch with strog. My dear, sweet grandmother used to tell her that me regurgitating the meat was ok because I was masticating the goodness from it, but I wish she just suggested cooking the meat in a manner that made it tender. Like this.

After submerging the beef in the sweet, sweet stroganoff sauce, the meat starts to melt away and make me wish the culinary memories of the ‘90s ent with it. Delicate, tender and oh-so-comforting, this is the perfect dish to get you excited for 2017’s end.

Enjoy!

 

 

Karl Stroganovic
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
75g butter
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic
250g white mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
½ cup beef stock
⅔ cup brandy
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
500g beef fillet, cut into strips
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sour cream
small handful parsley, finely chopped

Method
Melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until nice and foamy before adding the onion and garlic, and cooking for three minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of extra minutes. Add the paste, mustard and paprika and cook for a further minute, before stirring through the stock, brandy and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for about five minutes.

Add the beef strips to the bubbling sauce, reduce heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Season, add the sour cream and stir to combine.

Remove from the heat, stir through the parsley and serve on a bed of buttered pasta. Then devour, obvi.

 

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Finnel Wolfhard Cakes

Dessert, Snack, Stranger Feasts, Sweets

It is All Hallows’ Eve eve and as such, I knew we needed to catch-up with the Stranger Things heavy hitter – after Eleven and Joyce, obvi – Finn Wolfhard. Aka Mike. Obviously, no shade to Shan, Mil, Gat, Cal and Noah. It’s just that the Wheelers really drove the entire plot, you know?

While I also didn’t meet Finn until he auditioned for the show, I knew that while his doppelgänger Noah would be best to play the vulnerability of Will, Finn was born to play the strong, dedicated – and this season, brooding – Mike.

Seeing his raw talent in the audition, I gave him free acting lessons on set and vowed to make him a star. Next thing you know, he landed a role in the hit movie It. I may have made some poor decisions that tanked my Hollywood career – not even taking into account the time I told Harvey Weinstein no – but I sure am a talented acting coach and career advisor.

It – no pun intended as it (again, no pun intended) is a basic word that I can barely get through a sentence without using – was such a treat to reconnect, toast to his success and plot where to next for his career. As you know, that is some hunger inducing business, so we were both thrilled when I got to whipping up some Finnel Wolfhard Cakes.

 

 

While they may not looking anything special, funnel cakes sure as, well, fun. Plus, they look like a spider-web that It would weave for that period he is a spider. Which I’m not actually sure happens in the movie, given the entire concept terrifies me.

Anyway, enjoy!

 

 

Finnel Wolfhard Cakes
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

Method
Whisk the milk, egg, vanilla together in a large bowl, and the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar in another. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually add the wet ingredients until a smooth batter forms. Fold through the melted butter and allow to rest for five minutes.

When you’re ready to go, heat 1 inch deep vegetable oil in a large pot until nice and hot. Transfer the batter to a funnel and dribble in a stream into the hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes, or until lightly golden. Flip and cook for a further minute. Repeat the process until the batter is done.

Serve immediately, dusted generously in icing sugar.

 

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Taratin Reid

Baking, Dessert, Pie, Snack, Sweets

While I am ok at admitting when I’m in the wrong, it is rare for me to admit when I completely got a situation wrong. Like the situation that led to my dogged pursuit of destroying Tara Reid in the media for the last two years.

You see, Tara was trying to protect me. From myself and Hoff, knowing that he and I have long enjoyed a dear friendship and she didn’t want our relationship to flow from the screen to off, and end in Hoff’s third divorce and the end of a beautiful friendship.

Sure – it was a little presumptuous of her but there was a 99% chance of that entire scenario playing out, so there was nothing I could do but breakdown in tears, hold her and be thankful that I have such a dear friend that knows me so well and wants to protect me from myself.

Tara Reid, realistically, should become the first living person to be canonised.

As you know, I got Tara her big break in The Big Lebowski through my boy Philly Sey after me became firm friends during her brief appearance on Days of Our Lives (I was dating Drake Hogestyn at the time). While we were close after Days, our friendship truly blossomed after Lebowski and she dedicated her life to paying me  back for my kindness.

In a plot twist, that devotion is what made her block my Sharknado 3 casting despite knowing it would risk our friendship. See, she is a damn saint.

After putting an end to the feud and apologising profusely for all the horrible things I said about her in the media, things went straight back to normal and we laughed while filling each other in on what was going on in our lives over a Taratin Reid.

 

 

Sweet, rustic and altogether homely, this is the perfect dish to sweeten the deal of an apology … and nourish the rekindling of a beautiful, beautiful friendship.

Enjoy!

 

 

Taratin Reid
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp raw caster sugar
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs
6 apples, peeled, halved and cored
1 lemon, juiced
50g raw caster sugar
50g muscovado sugar
200g butter, at room temperature

Method
Combine the flour, caster sugar and salt in a food processor with the unsalted butter and blitz until it resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and blitz until just coming together. Remove from the processor, shape into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for half an hour.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 180°C. While preparing the apples, add them to the lemon juice to stop them from going brown.

Heat a medium, ovenproof  frying pan over low heat and melt the sugars with three tablespoons of water, stirring until melted. Increase the heat and allow to caramelise, without stirring, until it forms a honey colour. Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add the apples to the pan, curved side down until they are tightly packed. Place in the oven and bake for half an hour. While baking, roll out the dough to the size of the pan and place in the fridge to chill until the apples are done.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly before placing the dough on top, tucking the edges into the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Remove the pan again and allow to cool completely before gently turning the tart out of the pan onto a plate. Serve and devour immediately, with or without ice cream.

 

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Michelle Douganzola Pizza

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor (2017), Party Food, Pizza, Snack, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, Tara and Locky were going through a tough break-up leading Locky to come up with a plot to use an old note to fake having an idol. He and the remaining castaways then discovered that in addition to immunity, they’d be playing for a car where Michelle – who Ziggy said was the worst physically – beat Locky and challenged the car curse to come down under. Then, tragedy struck, as Locky was unable to convince anyone but Michelle that he had an idol and was sent from the game completely clothed. How dare he not follow Jack from Survivor NZ’s suit, or lack thereof?

Asatoa returned to camp and celebrated making it to the final four, where Tara was feeling free after vanquishing her best friend. Celebrations continued the next day as the remaining castaways were proud to have made it to day 50, with Tara more shocked than anyone. Though not shocked enough to be in the middle pages of a dirty magazine, thankfully. She was proud that as a stay at home mum, she has been able to achieve so much as she has and to get out of her rut, which truly speaks to the crippling fear that controls me.

Jericho too is proud of himself, particularly given the fact no one has ever written his name down in 50 days. Despite this success, he decided that it was best to move on and become Jericho 2.0, which I can only imagine will be as successful as iSnack 2.0. Channelling Keith Nale, Michelle acknowledged that Survivor is not the holiday she was expecting. Obviously she is already spending the half a mil, also speaking directly to my soul. Rounding out the empowering journey section of this first finale week episode, Pete was missing his family and breaking down … which is exactly what I’d be doing on day 1, so I’m extremely proud he lasted 7 weeks before hitting this point.

With that out of the way Michelle turned things strategic, fostering her relationships to ensure everyone wants to take her to the finals. While Tara and Jericho were onboard, the former wasn’t sure how Michelle was feeling about her so whipped out her tub of lollies to sweeten the deal. Let’s not tell her how well knowing about the lolly jar went for Ziggy, right?

Given that the trio is tight, Pete was feeling completely on the outs and in need of immunity which he clearly said in front of a mirror three times because JLP appeared. Though not for immunity, instead the opportunity to eliminate a member of the jury. The challenge involved the final four holding on to numbered pegs on a wall, which Jonathan would tell them to remove one-by-one, until the drop one-by-one until we have a victor. Before even taking a peg out, Tara dropped. After losing a few more pegs, Michelle dropped out leaving the boys to battle it out before Pete dropped off trying to remove his fifth-last peg, giving Jericho the advantage and I assume, a pegging fantasy. Lol, he already had that.

Back at camp everyone was quick to congratulate Jericho before immediately getting to work convincing him to get rid of the juror they assume won’t vote for them. Michelle and Tara had a gentle conversation about who would vote for him in the end, with Tessa seemingly the only one identified as voting for someone else … in the form of Peter. Once again proving himself smarter than I’ve given his credit for, he convened a tribe meeting to see what everyone else was thinking to identify the potential threats they aren’t speaking about, and then getting rid of them.

Peter played – and I hate myself for saying this – right in to Jericho’s hand, trying to convince him that Locky was the best person to get rid of to keep Tessa and Jarrad on the jury, which you just knowing is going to backfire on Peter and a still-underdog-after-being-booted Tessa.

At the special Neal Gottlieb memorial tribal council, where the jury was shocked to discover that one of them would once again be voted out, this time from their luxury booze pad where I act as their personal chef’s. Jericho stupidly acknowledged he was smarter than the other players give him credit for, making his road more difficult moving forward. Jericho then had the opportunity to ask three jurors questions and while Jarrad danced around his answer, Tessa went in and said Tara didn’t deserve to be in the final four and Anneliese spoke about wanting a good person to win, as well as a good game player, proving her gameplay is still underrated, given Jericho’s pious spirit.

Calling his intelligence back into question, Jericho decided to vote out Tessa who just mentioned she would not vote for Tara. That being said, she was a pretty clear Michelle or Pete vote so I guess it makes sense … but she just mentioned she wouldn’t vote for Tara identifying your best goat. But honestly, poor Tessa – this is probably the worst thing that could happen to you on Survivor.

The next day Jerkicho and the others met JLP at an abandoned beach, which puzzled them as there was no challenge set up. Given the set-up yesterday, it was crystal clear that we were in for a family reward leading. The castaways broke down as Jonathan brought out Peter’s parents, Michelle’s sister, Jerkicho’s brother and Tara’s entire freaking family. Despite the fact not everyone got an equal number of visitors, I can’t hold it against Tara seeing her kids. We then got a rundown from the family members as the castaways sobbed to varying degrees, Peter being Kim Kardashian and Jericho being Jeffrey Dahmer or any other emotionless psychopath. JLP then gave them all the afternoon off to enjoy their families company instead of making them earn it and potentially cause some drama, the levels we haven’t seen since Brenda and Dawn in Caramoan.

We then got to experience the remaining castaways showing their families around the island. Tara’s kids were shocked and disgusted by the squalor, Jericho and his brother were Jericho and his brother, and of course, Michelle and her sister immediately started strategising. Kweens. Peter’s parents, like Tara’s kids, were shocked by the primitive surroundings and moreso, their loved ones ability to survive.

Breaking up the love fest, Jonathan returned for the most epic individual challenge of the season requiring them to pull themselves in a canoe to a tower in the ocean. They were then required to drop a bucket into the water and fill a tank until they reach a key before swimming to shore, unlock a rope and traverse a balance beam while untangling said rope. Once at the end, they use the weighted rope to try and shoot it through a hoop and pull down a bridge leading to a final puzzle.

Jericho got out to a quick lead, followed closely by Peter, with Michelle and a distant Tara rounding out the field. That is until the shoot portion, where Jericho sucked allowing everyone else to catch him. He finally scored and made his way to the puzzle with Tara and Pete following closely behind before Michelle finally joined them about five minutes later. Being the kween that she is, Michelle closed the gap and the puzzle came down to her and Peter, with Pete ultimately taking out immunity despite a last minute fumble as he lost a piece.

Back at camp the tribe gave their obligatory congratulations to Peter before those that didn’t win started to talk smack about him. Channelling Drag Race All Stars, Peter then had one on ones with each of the remaining castaways. He and Michelle agreed that Jericho needs to go because he already has locked in votes sitting on the jury. Tara was also keen on the plan to get rid of Jericho, offering up her name as the decoy boot for Jerkicho’s go-see with Peter. While he did buy it for a second, Peter and Michelle eventually made Jericho nervous, leading to an epic conversation between Michelle and Jericho where he tried to threaten her and she absolutely destroyed him. Then Tara happened. Despite siding with Pete and Michelle, she went for a walk with Jericho and spilled their entire plans before agreeing to force a tie with Jericho. Which would result in a fire making challenge between Michelle and Jericho.

At tribal council, Peter was extremely thankful to be wearing immunity before Jericho went all in campaigning for someone forcing a tie and going to a fire challenge. Michelle being Michelle defended herself, and gave another stellar tribal council performance and proved how much of a threat she is if she makes it to the end. While Michelle was secure in her scrambling, her trust was misplaced as Tara did in fact force a tie, twice, resulting in a fire making challenge – which is a term we’ve heard 6543 times tonight – between Jericho and Queen Michelle.

Despite a valiant effort from our Queen Michelle, Tara’s questionable decision allowed Jericho to win his way through to the final three and Michelle from the game as the ninth juror. Yes ninth, Tessa’s life still matters. As gut wrenching as it was to see her go, Michelle handled her exit gracefully, with a smile on her face like the killer person she is. We’ve long been friends, both meeting on the nannying circuit, before I was blacklisted for having one too many Irish coffees whilst in charge.

As is oft the case, Michelle stood by me and we’ve been the best of friends ever since. It was hard to see her arrive at the jury villa on the back of Tara’s stupid move, though she was in such good spirits she wouldn’t let me go into camp and burn it down, saying that my Michelle Douganzola Pizza was all she needed.

 

 

There is no better combination that sweetly caramelised onions and the earthy, sharp tang of blue cheese and this pizza is where is truly shines. Throw in some fluffy dough and garlic, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Like Michelle should be. Long live the Queen.

Enjoy!

 

 

Michelle Douganzola Pizza
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 bases as per Pizsa Zsa Gabor
passata and italian herbs, for the aforementioned bases
small knob of butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g gorgonzola, crumbled

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare bases as per Zsa Zsa’s instructions.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When as frothy as my shorts during one of Locky’s nude scenes, reduce heat to low, add the onions and cook until soft and sweet, about ten minutes. Crank up the heat to medium and add the sugar and vinegar and cook until caramelised, aka a further ten minutes or so.

Smear the dough with the passata and italian herbs and dollop out the caramelised onions. Sprinkle over the garlic and gorgonzola and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Devour immediately.

 

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Apple Cinnamone Nguyen Waffles

Baking, Dessert, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, Jeffy Pop and 18 brand new castaways returned to our screens, I assume concerned by my growing … passion for JLP and Locky’s buns. And boy did they work overtime! The healers tribe served up a feud between Faux-ny and the peen-doctor who I think is called Mike, while the hustlers were not in fact prostitutes though Patrick could totally slip his bolt in me – his last name is bolt, keep up. Oh and the very dapper Ryan found a one-night only super idol that he had to give away if his tribe won immunity, which they did. Meanwhile the heroes were where it was at as Alan went nuts about the idol, forcing JP to get his out to prove he wasn’t hiding an idol anywhere, while Chrissy kept a hold on the super idol as Olympian Katrina exited the game as the first boot.

Back at camp Chrissy was happy about all the drama that unfolded at tribal council, highlighting some big cracks in the four man alliance. In addition to the crack JP had to show Alan to prove he was idol-less. Alan then spoke about how awful and intense tribal council was, despite being the one to cause it, though was glad about the fact he highlighted a crack in his alliance. I think? Ashley, thankfully, saw it as a bad thing, though I don’t see how she can get herself out of the mess with Ben looking to make a move away from the ‘core four’ which lasted sub four days.

Meanwhile over at the hustlers camp, Simone was on struggle street which is exactly how I’d feel if I were playing the game. On the flipside, Ryan and Devon were still going strong and it truly is an alliance I can get behind. Speaking of behinds, Simone was thrilled to have taken an aqua-dump, and announced it to the tribe before complaining about the outdoors which is not a great idea. Bless her though, she offered to clean out the fish and prove she was willing to try. She and Ali then went for a walk to the well where a power-player emerged in Ali, who was busy making a connection by giving Simone a pep talk … so she can use her later in the game.

Finally we arrived at the healers tribe which is actually called Soko for those playing at home. Whatever name they go by isn’t the point though, we have a showmance forming between Cole and Jessica … if he can get past how old she is at 30! Desi then spoke about being a beauty queen, while Fauxny started to soften his stance on Mike though continued to tell everyone he thought he had the idol, whilst trying to find the idol for himself. Fauxny aka Joe then found an idol clue though couldn’t figure it out, so instead took it to Cole to see if he could make sense of it which he did in sub five seconds. He then gloated about helping Joe find the idol like it wasn’t a bone-headed decision to do that, rather than swipe it for himself.

Back at Levu – *coughs* heroes – we were treated to some glorious, though tragically clothed, bun action from JP while he caught a lobster. He then complained about being called out as a power couple the night before as he wasn’t getting any of the fringe benefits of that coupledom. He then went for a walk with Chrissy where he tried to downplay his alliance with Ashley and she commenced analysing everyone on the tribe to see who best to align with. Like Goldilocks, JP was too dumb, Ashley was too shifty, Alan was too crazy, but thankfully Ben is just right – his charm, meshing perfectly with her strategic side.

Over at camp Yawa, Devon’s calm yoga session was interrupted by Patrick’s fear of crabs which brought out his wild banshee side. He then continued to grate on Lauren, and while I agree that his Australian accent was annoying, his buns were thick … and glorious. Feeling on the outs as the oldest member of the tribe, Lauren got to work connecting with the Queen of the Hustlers Ali. The latter was concerned that Lauren wasn’t loving Patrick, given they were aligned … though did agree he was kind of annoying.

Dem cakes though.

Jeff finally appeared for the next immunity challenge – and reward for fishing gear – requiring three members of each tribe to swim out, dive underwater and maneuver puzzle pieces to the end of a cage before bringing them to a platform where the remaining castaways completed a sign-puzzle. The hustlers got out to an early lead followed closely by the heroes, with the healers stuck in last place. Devon continued to extend the hustlers’ lead, getting the third well ahead of the others. The heroes got their third bundle of puzzle pieces as the hustlers made it to the puzzle pontoon, where we were again treated to some glorious Patrick buns. The healers eventually closed the gap, dominating the puzzle and taking out immunity. The heroes and hustlers started to panic, with the heroes also overtaking the hustlers to take out immunity.

The hustlers did as their tribe designation suggests and got to work hustlin’, with Simone apologising for stuffing up the puzzle, anxious that she would be voted out. Seeing that Lauren was irritated by Patrick, she took Lauren and Ali for a walk to float the idea of getting him out of the game. While that was happening, Patrick spoke to Ryan and Devon about getting rid of Simone putting Ali firmly in the middle. She then went to Ryan to try and decide what the best move is, debating the merits of getting rid of Simone or Patrick. Ryan then decided that Patrick’s unpredictability was a detriment, and started to think that maybe Simone was the better option, despite not doing much around camp or being good in challenges.

At tribal council Ryan threw some shade at Jeff, likening tribal to being forced into a child’s birthday party for that kid you don’t like. Ali spoke about the importance of keeping the right person, not just for the tribe but her/their game/s. Patrick wanted to keep the tribe strong and Simone wanted to keep the tribe strong in the loyalty sense, while Patrick spoke about trusting most of the people in attendance … freaking everyone out. He then tried his hardest to backpedal, though earnt a lot of eye rolls from Lauren in the process. Thankfully Simone reiterated how much she hated nature before saying she wants to stay, which was less convincing to the tribe and she quickly found herself becoming the second boot.

As you can probably guess from the countless universities I scammed into believing I was a lawyer, I met my girl Simone while working together at the Asian American Bar Association of New York. I was also pulling some Rachel Dolezal levels of scamming at the time, which also shouldn’t be a shock. Despite my journey at the association ending in a similar manner to Rach’s at NAACP, Simone and I kept in touch and I mentored her before the show. Tragically the pre-Survivor training didn’t seem to work, though once again she didn’t hold it against me when she arrived at loser lodge. Though my Apple Cinnamone Nguyen Waffles probs had something to do with that.

 

 

Spicy and sweet, crunchy and melt in your mouth – these waffles are perfection. Particularly for someone that just suffered the crushing pain of becoming the second boot after – gasp – living in the wilderness for six days WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING.

Enjoy!

 

 

Apple Cinnamone Nguyen Waffles
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1 ¼ cup flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted, plus extra for cooking
2 apples, peeled, grated and squeezed of excess liquid

Method
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk the eggs, milk and melted butter together in a jug.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stir until smooth before folding through the apples.

Heat a waffle iron over medium heat.

Melt some butter into the waffle iron to grease, scoop the batter into the waffle iron and close. Cook for a couple of minutes per side, remove and repeat. Then devour.

 

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Sarinnamon Tillcake

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor (2017), Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, Luke’s completely original, not stolen spy shack finally played dividends with him catching Tessa plotting against Jericho with Ziggy. Luke then rallied his troops – minus Michelle who was too friendly with Tessa – to take out the latter in the most divided tribal council of the season. I know Jonathan just said that, but four different people received votes and there were nine left … it was madness.

Back at camp everyone was kind of confused as to what happened at tribal before Michelle quickly exploded and proved the point, hell hath no fury like a person scorned. She went in for Luke, questioned their terrible timing and was ultimately thrilled that she won’t have to feel guilty when cutting them from the game.

The next day everyone was enjoying a meal together, even Michelle who was still well pissed. Luke congratulated himself, Jericho, Sarah and Michelle on clawing back the numbers after merging with a 4-8 deficit, though admitted that their is a lot of work to do to fix the crack in their alliance. While Sarah and Jericho calmly tried to explain the last tribal to Michelle, she really wasn’t having a bar of it and vowed to play an individual game.

Meanwhile Locky came to the realisation that Ziggy voted for him at the last tribal council, though was smart enough to also realise that it is a death sentence for any of the OG Samatauns to join the Asagans. He then approached Ziggy and Pete to join together for the next two tribal councils to chip away at the Asaga alliance. They quickly caught Tara up before each getting to work pulling Michelle over to their side.

JoJo arrived to oversee the reward challenge where Michelle let him know that she was completely blindsided at the last tribal. The challenge involved the tribe being split into two teams of four for a game of charades … for a beach picnic involving KFC. I would just like to say, Dirty Bird is my favourite of all fast foods so this would make me cream my shorts if I were out there. The purple team of Pete, Michelle, Jericho and Tara got out to a 3-0 lead, before Locky, Luke, Sarah and Ziggy pulled off an epic comeback and secured reward for their team.

The victors arrived at their KFC feast, which was decidedly lacking chips and Hot’n’Spicy. Ziggy described the entire thing as heaven in her mouth – which let me tell you will be ironic one day – before Sarah decided to get things strategic, rationalising that they were arguably the biggest threats in the game. The four decided to share who they each think needs to go next, with the Samataus listing Jericho and the Asagans going for Pete. After a back and forth trying to find some common ground, Sarah suggested getting rid of her new nemesis Michelle and while everyone was on board, though it makes me feel extremely nervous for my girl Sarah’s safety.

The victors returned back to camp where Ziggy quickly let us know that the #PopcornChickenAlliance was completely fake before heading off to fill Tara in on what happened at the reward. They decided to take the information that Sarah and Luke were willing to get rid of her to Michelle, which obviously worked a treat as Ziggy, followed by Ziggy, Locky and Pete spilled the tea and solidified Sarah as Michelle’s target forevermore. Sadly though Jericho wandered around in the bushes – eavesdropping on the conversation sans a spy shack – spooking him, Luke and Sarah, who apparently desperately needs to pull out her first immunity win.

Right on cue lil’ JoJo arrived for the immunity challenge, a log rolling battle royale which you would assume Tara would be a shoo-in for given her barrel racing experience. Sarah and Luke were first up, with Luke taking out the win over the model. Ziggy defeated Pete, Locky defeated Michelle and Jericho proving me wrong by defeating Tara. In the second round, Luke defied odds to beat Jericho before Locky made easy work of Ziggy. In the final, Locky finally took out an individual immunity after a hard fought battle against Luke.

Things deteriorated quickly when Asatoa returned to camp, with the Samatau four plus Michelle locking in their vote for Sarah. Despite this Ziggy was starting to get paranoid about Asaga turning on her, before talking to Jericho about who they were planning to target which he assumed was Michelle. Luke and Jericho however then approached Michelle to see if there was a chance for them to realign. Everyone but Tara and Sarah met up in the jungle to talk about getting rid of Sarah, leading Sarah to then talk to Locky about join her with Tara, Luke and Jericho to get rid of Michelle. That five then locked in the vote for Michelle before they headed off to tribal leaving me extremely confused about who is actually locked in with who.

Once there things started to get messier, with Michelle talking about being blindsided by the previous tribal council and how her alliance was over. Sarah calmly tried to explain herself, however Michelle was still acting emotionally and wasn’t interested in hearing about it. Sarah and Michelle were both feeling nervous before Jericho spoke about leaving a cat to drown, horrifying everyone as they headed out to vote. The votes rolled in for Sarah and Michelle before Ziggy played her idol for herself, rather than Michelle much to Pete’s chagrin. Tragically and yet altogether thankfully it wasn’t necessary, as the votes piled up on Sarah and sent her from the game and into my loving arms at the jury villa.

I’ve known Sez for years after being her modelling coaching – I’m Australia’s Miss J – leading to her first stint on reality TV opposite me dearest friend from anger management, Naomi Campbell. While I tried to put in a good word for Sarah, Naom and I got into an insanely brutal brawl before I could help which ultimately allowed Sarah to win her over on her lonesome, making me insanely proud in the process. While she was gutted to be out of the game, she was impressed with how she played and giddily devoured my Sarinnamon Tillcake.

 

 

There is something about cinnamon I can just never go past, and this cake is the perfect example of why. Sweet and spicy, cinnamon truly can make even the most basic of teacakes sing. And I should know, as I’m a basic bitch.

Enjoy!

 

 

Sarinnamon Tillcake
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
125g butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tbsp extra for toppin’ and some more extra for greasin’
1 cup raw caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra for toppin’
⅔ cup milk
2 eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour, plus extra for greasin’
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method
Preheat oven to 160°C, and grease and flour a bundt tin.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium for two minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Lightly whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together in a jug, and the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in half the flour. When just combined, add half the milk … and when that is combined, add the remaining flour and the remaining milk.

Pour the batter into the tin, flatten the top and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden, puffed and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool in the pan for five-ten minutes before removing.

Meanwhile quickly melt the topping butter and combine the topping sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Lightly brush the bundt with butter and coat with the cinnamon sugar. Transfer to a cake stand and devour, while still warm.

 

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