Wai Chimichangas

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn, Main, Poultry, Street Food, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor 18 icons fell by the wayside and only six remained in the game. As one of only two Brawns left in the game, Dani continued her reward streak by winning the ultimate spa reward, where she finally convinced Hayley to flip on George. Before any further discussions could take place, they ventured to the immunity challenge where Wai came from behind and upset everyone to win immunity. And by upset, absolutely delighted as she screamed and cried from the shock of it all like a pure icon. We learnt that Hayley and Wai continued to play the middle, debating between the two remaining pairs to join with to get to the top four. Flick meanwhile found an idol, giving an edge to the Brawns so she held on to it before she and Dani discovered Hayley was not in fact with them and as such, Dani was booted from the game.

The next day Wai and Flick were counting down the sleeps left in the outback while the girls spoke about how cold it is getting overnight. Talk turned to the champagne reward with Flick admitting that she couldn’t shut up in the hot tub, giddy from the excitement, champagne or both. Meanwhile Hayley shared with us that she stuck with the Brains at the last tribal council because Dani and Flick said that they would never vote for Cara, Wai and George at the final tribal and since the former duo have the most friends on the jury, getting rid of them was her priority. Hayley and George caught up and reaffirmed their loyalty to each other, agreeing that like Dani, Flick needs to go otherwise she destroys them all at final tribal.

Speaking of Flick, she was feeling super lonely being the last Brawn standing though given she has a hidden immunity idol, she is at least guaranteed final four. Which is a problem for the Brains, given they are committed to voting her out and no other option. So, someone is about to get burnt.

While Flick knew that she was safe for one night, she realised that she had to plan longer term and as such, pulled Wai aside. Immediately the duo agreed that going to the final three with Hayley makes the most sense for both of their games, given no one can beat the unbreakable Cara and George duo. Wai and Cara caught up while hunting for supplies, with the former admitting that she doesn’t want to play by the rules anymore and wants to make the game her own. And well, part of that includes taking out George as the biggest threat while also calling him out for bordering on mean from time to time.

Next up in the personal recaps was George who was proud of his game, narrowly avoiding the boot week after week and making the biggest moves. He shared that his biggest priority is to make the right choice to get to the end and win, rather than make friends. As such, George caught up with Hayley and shared that his only shot at winning is against Hayley and as such, they need each other. Which is the only real pitch to keep her from flipping on him, so well done George.

My love Jonathan arrived for the final five immunity challenge where they would have to face off crawling across a pole to retrieve sandbags which they would use to knock off blocks, use said blocks to knock off a key and then the key to release a grappling hook. And what happens with the grappling hook, you ask? Well, they use that to retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces before solving said puzzle.

Obviously Hayley and Flick got out to an early lead while poor Wai struggled to cross the log. As the other four started tossing their bags at the blocks, George opted to press pause and help Wai out so they could all continue on in the challenge together. Cara overtook the others and was first to start with the blocks, but was quickly joined by the rest of the tribe. Cara was first to make it to the grappling hook and jagged her puzzle pieces before anyone else joined her. As Cara worked through the puzzle, Hayley quickly won all of her pieces and joined her while the other three languished at the back of the pack. While Cara slowly pulled away, she discovered that one of her pieces was wrong as Hayley closed the gap, before George joined them. But it was all for nought as Hayley figured out the last piece and quickly secured another individual immunity win.

The tribe returned to camp with George thrilled by the outcome of the challenge, given they just needed Flick to not win. As such the Brains were comfortable with piling all the votes on Flick, with George taking it one step further and encouraging her to go find a hidden immunity idol, completely unaware that she already has one. As such, Flick got to work pretending to wander around camp looking for an idol so the Brains don’t get spooked and ruin her plan to get rid of George with her one vote.

Flick reflected on her journey throughout the season, glad that her social game has gotten her to this point. Particularly since she has had to fight against her grief for the last week. Sadly Flick was caught by George sitting quietly by the billabong and as such, deduced that she already found the idol and as such, he needed to switch things up. He quickly ran back to camp and found Cara, sharing his suspicions and suggesting that the two of them stack their votes on Wai instead to guarantee one of them isn’t idolled from the ground. Which is a great plan and shows his killer instincts for the game, but damn, don’t let me lose Wai.

While Cara was all on board with the plan, solely because of her trust in George, she was nervous about splitting the vote without looping Hayley in and thus potentially burning a bridge. After a brief back and forth, Cara put her foot down, very concerned about leaving Hayley out this close to the end and telling George she isn’t just going to blindly follow him and either way they go is risky.

Speaking of said risks, Flick pulled Hayley aside and pointed out that the alliance of four is barrelling towards a 2-2 tie and as such, one of the duos needs her to make it to the final three. Which is classic, logical survivor. But Hayley said that she was only on board if Wai was willing to flip. Which she obviously was, despite the fact George wasted time in the challenge to help her along.

At tribal council Hayley spoke about how grateful she is to be wearing the immunity necklace this close to the end. Wai meanwhile was grateful that George helped her in the immunity challenge, showing a side of him that not many people are seeing in the game. George put it down to just doing the right thing by his friends. As Flick spoke about being out of options, George started whispering to Cara about sticking with the safe vote and not splitting. George admitted that he told Flick that she wasn’t going to make it to Day 45 while Flick gloriously pretended to be down and out.

Jonathan asked Flick what happens when she is gone with Flick suggesting a girls alliance could form to oust George, otherwise they will split down the line of duos with the added complication of Hayley probably wanting to sit next to George at final tribal council. Hayley then suggested that maybe she has an idol and this is all a ploy before Wai admitted this would be a perfect time to leverage Flick however if you don’t pull it off correctly, you risk yourself going home. Hayley was nervous that this vote was make or break for each of them, while George just cautioned everyone to err on the side of caution.

With that, the tribe voted before Flick gagged them all by playing her idol and despite wanting to be the sole vote to finally get rid of George, he and Cara stuck with their plan and loaded two votes on poor Queen Wai who joyously exited the game.

Sweet Wai was an absolute delight as she arrived at the Jury Villa, equal parts disappointed to be out of the game and thrilled by how well she did despite being the obvious first boot. As soon as she saw me she let out the same squeal she did upon winning immunity, thrilled to be united with her dear friend. You see, Wai and I are part of the same literary circles and have been best friends for years and years. Which is why I knew that after 44 days in the bush, she would need a big plate of Wai Chimichangas to help recover.

I know I say this a lot, but I really love Mexican food. Even if my versions err more closely to the Tex Mex side of the equation. In any event, these spicy little numbers are near perfection – hot, rich, earthy and sweet, by the time you add some fresh avo and lime, you’ve got yourself a new favourite meal.

Enjoy!

Wai Chimichangas
Serves: 2 famished friends or 4 regular peeps.

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushin’
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup chicken stock
400g tin diced tomatoes
4 cups shredded roast chicken
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup sour cream, plus more for serving
2 cups refried beans
8 flour tortillas
1 ½ cups Mexican cheese, grated
Lady Guagamole, to serve
small handful coriander leaves, to serve
lime wedges, to serve
hot sauce, to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onions for five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further minute. Stir through the tomato paste before adding the tomatoes, stock and chicken. Season and bring to the boil before reducing to a low and simmering until most of the liquid is reduced. Then stir through the sour cream.

To assemble, place your tortillas on the bench and divide the refried beans between them, smearing in the middle to leave ‘clean’ space around the edges. Add some of the chicken mixture – about half a cup – before a sprinkle of cheese. Fold in the sides and roll like a burrito before transferring to a lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat the process until down.

Brush each chimichanga with some oil and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Serve immediately slathered with guac, sour cream, coriander, hot sauce and a squeeze of lime. Whatever you prefer.

Then, obvi, devour.


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Simon Meeso Ramen

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn, Main, Soup, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Hayley continued to be an absolutely dominant icon, pulling Dani aside to float the idea of booting Simon from the game with an idol in his pocket. Unaware there are actually two idols in his gorgeous pockets. After Brains once again lost immunity, Rachel and Laura tried to get George to see sense and flip back to the Brains to give himself the best shot. He didn’t, which tragically led to Queen Rach leaving and poor Laura left all alone on the Brains tribe.

We checked in with the Brains who were waking up from the coldest night, which honestly is how my heart feels now that the legendary Rachel is gone. But since I wasn’t aligned with her, I guess things were frostier for Laura who was all alone on the tribe with nobody. Though being a determined fighter, she was going to find a crack whether it kills her. After going for a walk to get everyone’s water, George suggested someone should follow her and obviously he then immediately chased after her. He realised that he was almost as screwed as her, so suggested they should finally start working together to take control. Which is really something he should have done when the Brains would have had a majority. And given that, she wasn’t really buying it as an option. Though she was buying into finding an idol.

He then returned to camp and let a massive fart rip which is important, if you ask me.

There was less gas going on at the Brawn camp where Simon was proud to make it to the halfway point of the game and glad that he arguably has the strongest alliance left. An alliance that is working with the Brains and has an easy boot lined up in Flick. Oh and his two hidden immunity idols. And while he looked happy sparring with Dani, the fact that she jabbed him in the gut is meant as foreshadowing, right?

To make me more nervous that we’re about to lose our speedo king, he told Dani and Chelsea about his second hidden immunity idol. And you just know that means Dani is ready to get the ol’ Sandra Bullock going because two idols making the merge in someone’s pocket is a very dangerous thing.

My love Jonathan returned for the latest – or is that last, thanks to TV listings – tribal reward challenge where the tribes would row out to pontoons to collect rings and then race to land said rings on to oars that when flipped, spell out reward. And should they win, they get to visit the survivor candy and store and well, I don’t love sweets but those brownies looked delightful. And the maltesers too, TBH. As is oft the case, Brawn got out to the earliest of leads until Baden straight up snapped his oar due to brute force. Then Emmett happened, coaching everyone through the challenge and pushing himself to the absolute limit. Quite literally, as he pushed them to shore. Both tribes were neck and neck when it came to tossing the rings, until Emmett pulled away, landing all six rings and winning reward for his tribe.

And Laura is finding an idol at the reward, isn’t she?

After arriving at the site of the reward the tribe were gagged to learn that they would each be visiting solo and while George wanted to be strategic, Kez quickly suggested they draw straws. And well, fate was on Laura’s side as she was up second after Cara and that much more likely to find an advantage. Particularly since Cara could only focus on the sweets, quickly smashing everything in sight. Wait, no – she found the advantage in a tube of lollies! And what an advantage it was, giving her a VIP ticket to the next tribal council, including two votes that she could use to swing things in her favour.

By the time Laura made it to the store, she went searching through everything for an idol but tragically came up empty handed and instead, realised that she just needs to guarantee the tribe wins the next immunity challenge. She was followed by Emmett who smeared extra candy over his body for later, Gerald just smashed strawberries, George finger banged every vessel and then Kez straight up destroyed everything in sight.

We returned to camp Brawn the next day where Dani was still focused on blindsiding Simon ASAP, pulling Hayley aside by the billabong to finally get things moving. While Hayley was terrified about the prospect of him making the merge, Dani assured her that they can pull it off. She then suggested they throw the next immunity challenge and Hayley needed to get her troops on board, given Dani has already convinced Chelsea. Aka, her people. Which Hayley quickly did, telling her fellow Brains and Flick about the idols. 

The first pressure point being that they need to throw the immunity challenge without making it obvious.

As such Jonathan made his triumphant return for the immunity challenge where everyone on the tribe would stand on balance beams and hold a rope to keep a disc steady while trying to balance balls on it without dropping. And well, SImon offered to sit out and damn, this is just going to be too easy, isn’t it? And by that, something will go wrong, won’t it. While Brawns were wanting to throw it, they took an early lead in the challenge as Gerald and Kez struggled for the Brains. Thankfully for team ‘throw the challenge’, Chelsea successfully made Brawns need to reset while poor Simon kindly cheered them on from the side, encouraging them to keep focused and not be hard on themselves. Obviously Brains started to pull away as Brawns successfully looked frustrated by their failings before Brains put everyone out of their misery and snatched immunity.

Before they departed the challenge, Cara opted to play her VIP ticket advantage to the upcoming tribal council for her and a friend to cast votes. But obviously not be eligible to receive them. In any event, she chose to bring George along with her and well, you just know this is going to spook Simon into playing his idol, isn’t it?

Back at camp Simon was heartbroken to have lost the challenge, though was glad to finally be able to get rid of his other nemesis Flick. After spotting her chatting to the Brains, Chelsea offered to break up the conversation and stop them from planning something. And by that, she went up to keep Simon calm enough to not play his idol. Simon then went to lock in the Flick vote with Andrew and Baden, though was willing to throw out the fact he will play his idol to keep them scared. When they returned to camp, Flick ran off to hunt for an idol with Chelsea pretending to tail her to make it look more authentic. 

Chelsea then pretended to be sent back to camp, forcing Simon to follow her instead and unwittingly left everyone else talk and solidify the plan. Dani meanwhile was reminding everyone that if it was her, she would play one of the idols which appeared to make Hayley nervous. Though Baden just gave them the ol’ Gene Cousinaeu, telling them that they just need to give the acting performance of their lives. And honestly, I love him. Almost as much as Hayley, who was nervous Dani was building this up as her star move and as such, wanted to build a counter plan to throw some votes on Dani just in case to guarantee Flick’s safety.

Like the brutal icon she is!

Hayley then caught up with Baden by the billabong and they agreed to load their votes on Dani, with Baden offering to talk to George and Cara as soon as they arrived at tribal council to guarantee they vote for Simon too. Given he is the only person they trust. Baden meanwhile returned to camp and worked to ensure that the Brawns were still feeling good and not realising that he and Hayley were actually staging a coup and guaranteeing the numbers for the Brains post merge.

At tribal council Cara and George admitted that they aren’t sure where their two votes would be going tonight and as such, wanted a full performance from the tribe. Dani being an icon told them that Brawn don’t play like that and as such, they need to calm down and relax because their votes won’t mean anything. As Baden whispered that their votes would make a difference. Flick gave the perfect performance as the woman on the bottom, with Dani and Simon both agreeing that she is going home tonight. As Baden continued to try and get Cara and George’s attention, despite talking about it being a straightforward vote.

Dani continued to play up her confidence in booting Flick from the game, while Hayley spoke about her fears that votes don’t always go where they need them. Baden continued to whisper to Cara and George about Simon and his idols and while things were going well, Simon caught them and asked if they had anything to add. With that Simon spoke about always being nervous and damn, Dani and Chelsea looked like they were ready to snap. Simon continued to talk about blindsides and Flick still having a chance until her torach was snuffed. And damn, this is blowing up, isn’t it?

With that Cara, George and the tribe voted, Hayley continued to be a savage icon who I stan and Simon blew out his thong on the way to cast his, which is super ominous. And while he noted it, he calmly held on to both of his hidden immunity idols as everyone started to smirk. And those smirks turned into full blown smiles as the votes were tallied, piling up on him before Dani was gagged to see three votes come in for her. Ultimately though it was my speedo king who was blindsided with two idols in his pocket.

Given Simon is such a fan of the game, he took his blindside in his stride and was so damn upbeat and kind when he arrived in loser lodge. You know, despite having his dream brutally ended. I pulled him in for a hug and reminded him that while he was booted, it was in an iconic fashion and as such, he will always be remembered in the series. And well, I’d gladly welcome him back next season already.

After catching up – we’re dear friends, training at the same Brisbane gym, obvi – we laughed, cried, plotted out his story for the next All Stars. But most importantly, I then got to work whipping up something nourishing to lift his spirits. Aka my Simon Meeso Ramen.

This take on the Antoni modern classic is near perfectionly, full of umami goodness, but all at once sweet and salty. You know, all of the good things. Add in a kick of chilli and a punch of fresh herbs, you’ve got a dish as perfect as Simon looks.

Enjoy!

Simon Meeso Ramen
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
4 tsp sesame oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
250g pork mince
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup miso paste
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2L chicken stock
4 large eggs
400g udon noodles
2 medium carrots, julienned
4 shallots, sliced
½ cup corn kernels
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
Microgreens, sprouts and coriander, to taste

Method
Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a stock pot over medium heat and cook the garlic for a minute or two. Add the pork and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you go, until browned. Season with salt and pepper before adding the miso, ginger and stock. Stir until well combined before bringing to the boil, then reducing heat to low and simmering.

Meanwhile, soft boil the eggs – aka drop them into rapidly boiling water and cook for 5 minutes – and cook the noodles as per packet instructions.

While the rest is happening, add the carrot, shallow, corn and sriracha to the ramen and stir. When the eggs are done, run them under cold water and peel, and drain the noodles.

To serve, place the noodles in four bowls, top with ramen and then split the eggs and place one in each bowl. Top with microgreens, sprouts and coriander, and if you’re spicy like me and Simo, more sriracha. And edible flowers, which i did before King Simon kindly told me to eat the prettier one, while he takes the ugly dish. Thus, the ugly photos.

I mean, isn’t Simon the sweetest? I mean, he is as sweet as this!


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Coco Jumbalaya

Main, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under 1, TV, TV Recap

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under the queens were put through their paces in the inaugural Down Under Snatch Game. And while Anita slayed the game and stamped herself as a frontrunner, pretty much everyone else bombed. Hard. There was a Dolly without an accent, a Coolidge without the jokes, Lizzo without energy and Bindi Irwin without the Bindi, despite the fact the bogan take was still funny. Ultimately the latter two performances landed Coco and Art in the bottom two, and the remaining girls – and us at home – gagged, gooped and broken as Art was shockingly eliminated from the competition. Sobbing her way out the door.

Backstage the queens were in absolute shock, not only to have lost Art but I assume trying to grapple with the raw emotion they just experienced. Karen was speechless to have lost her bestie slash fellow front-runner, while on the flipside Coco was glad that winning the lip sync proved some drunk bogan lady married to her boss who said she would never compare to Art wrong. The one thing everyone could agree on is how the  departure of such a big name means the competition is well and truly wide open, with Etcetera desperate to leverage that opening – who wouldn’t – to put herself at the front of the pack.

The next day things were less shell shocked as the girls celebrated still being in the competition, with Kita pointing out she is now terrified to lip sync against either Coco or Elektra given they can both turn it the hell out. Bless, Etcetera suggested they could just both land in the bottom together and send each other home and save everyone else the worry!

They were interrupted by Ru who dropped by to put the queens to the test as full-bushed, sexy lifeguards. Etcetera was obviously demented and syched for the Gods before popping her balloon titties mid-rescue. Karen served clown realness with the fullest of full bushes, while Kita was giving the Pit Crew something to suck on. Elektra was hilarious, giving pube reveals as she saved all the lives. Coco meanwhile was giving me life as a slutty lifeguard. Anita then came out as lifeguard Yetta and I still stan her, while Maxi burnt her feet on the sand and Scarlet popped both tits and stole the show as the dumbest lifeguard of all time. 

Ultimately – and somewhat obviously – Scarlet and Elektra took out joint victory in the mini challenge. As such, the duo were team captains in a girl group battle for the premiere of the maybe-gonna-be-a-hit song Queens Down Under. You know, the iconic one from the one trailer the show got. Not that I’m bitter or anything. With the two pulled aside, Scarlet grabbed Etcetera Etcetera, Coco Jumbo and Anita for her team while Elektra went with Karen and Kita, with Maxi joining them by default. Which didn’t bother her in the slightest. Like a damn icon. Anyway the queens would write their own verses, record them with Michelle and then debut them on the mainstage with their own choreo. Because we are not ready for Jamal Simms to land Down Under, as much as I want him to.

The groups quickly split up with Elektra desperate to prove why she is here and show off her dance background, while over on team Scarlet she was focused on killing it with sharp choreography despite Etcetera and Anita wanting to take it easy so they could all shine. That being said the choreography is the least of their problems, given Coco was on struggle street with the first part of the process, her lyrics. Things were then interrupted by a massive blow up between Karen, Elektra and Kita but psych, it was fake to get into the other girls heads. But nobody really batted an eyelid after the initial excitement died down.

Another siren went off with Drag Race songwriter Leland and Troye Sivan Zooming in to encourage the girls. And just as I was about to write it off as a boring way of including celebrity guests in this COVID world, Troye Sivan dropped all the ways he wants it up the arse in such a filthy way, I blushed, flooded my basement, took notes on new positions and then silently pledged to stan that hero until the end of times. They then encouraged everyone to give all the personality in their performances, but nothing will ever show more personality than the mouth of my King.

Team Elektra – aka Three and a Half Men – was first to record their lyrics with Michelle. Karen kicked things off very flat, before Kita absolutely blew Michelle away with her energy and lyrics before Elektra knocked out some hilariously self-deprecating lyrics ripping on her basic drag. And then Maxi, girl, you in danger – she struggled to find a beat, let alone stay on the beat. Instantly making her teammates shit themselves. Though not in the Scaredy Kat way.

Team Scarlet introduced themselves as the Outback Fake-Hoes – is that a play on Queen Sandra’s favourite chain?! – with Anita continuing to knock everything out of the park, Etcetera feeling her oats while working her way further into my heart. Scarlet too was great but then again, anyway looks perfect next to Coco who really struggled to find any key, despite how much I love her charm and how hot she is as a boy.

Three and a Half Men were first to learn the choreography with everyone feeling great about Elektra’s work and grateful about how patient she was while teaching everyone. Backstage she shared that she hasn’t taught dancing in such a long time, opening up about how she lost her dance studio and then her home. The rest of the dolls rallied around her as she broke down about her pain and loss and ugh, now I am an Elektra stan as well as my lusting after her.

The Outback Fake-Hoes were less streamlined in their rehearsal process as Scarlet tried to be nice and let everyone have an opinion. Etcetera used the opportunity to help by leading from behind, which led to them spending most of the time fighting over what to do while poor Coco and Anita stood off to the side of stage, looking on in utter confusion.

But will it all be a massive fake out?!

Elimination Day rolled around with Etcetera stumbling upon a note in Coco’s workstation telling her to ‘watch out.’ While everyone was speculating about who could possibly have written it, Kita lamented sadly that she wished it was her to cause some drama. That being said, it was painfully obvious that it was Art. Which is the perfect kind of messy I love and now miss.

UPDATE: Art has confirmed it was she who left the note. Like a shady little producing icon!

Ru, Michelle and Rhys strapped themselves in – with Rhys fearlessly ripping on Ru and Michelle with hilarious results, swoon – as Outback Fake-Hoes took the stage. Anita’s filthy lyrics delighted the judges, Scarlet hit every beat of the choreography, Etcetera oozed charm and Coco really kicked it into gear from rehearsal, though still seemed out paced by her team. Three and A Half Men kept things more even as Karen served Australian Trixie, Kita was an absolute high-energy delight, Elektra was an absolute star and Maxi was the exact right kind of slutty-demented, working around any of her perceived weaknesses with ease thanks to her killer characterisation.

Am I now a Maxi stan as well? This is getting exhausting.

On the Bogan Prom Realness runway Etcetera was a total slapper in a pink juicy tracksuit fresh from gittin’ her nails done. Coco was full bush after pulling herself away from the man she was doing in the shrubs, Anita was demented and truly sold bogen chic. Scarlet slayed in a goon sack gown with ciggie necklace, offering gobbies to her teacher to further lock up this week’s victory in my eyes. Elektra was a total golden bogan babe with a tonne of accessories and then some. Kita meanwhile went a different route, serving neon rocker realness. Maxi was a damn star as the bogan chaperone, while Karen was a mess as her ruffly daughter, in the greatest way possible.

Ultimately Etcetera and Karen were sent to safety, leaving the judges to read Coco for messing up the performance despite looking like perfection. Ru liked her look on the runway but wished it was more elevated. Anita meanwhile was praised for not letting her stumbles in the performance hold her back and therefore slaying from start to finish. Particularly with her filthy lyrics. Scarlet received universal praise for everything she did, with Ru feeling more in touch with Australiana from witnessing her runway. Elektra was read for trying to be the Beyonce of the group, with them not loving the fact she is continuing to be basic on the runway. Kita was universally beloved, despite the fact she didn’t really serve the category. Maxi was read for struggling with the record, though praised for being so damn stunning and magnetic. With Michelle reminding her she is so much more than funny to boot, and encouraging her to lean into her beauty.

As the queens untucked Coco resigned herself to her fate in the bottom two, while Elektra gagged her team with the knowledge that she too is in the bottom. The only thing more annoying than being in the bottom for Elektra though, was how smug Scarlet was to receive universal praise.

Back on the Mainstage Anita and Kita were quickly sent to safety as Scarlet took out her first victory of the season, despite the fact Ru made it sound like she had already won multiple. Meanwhile Elektra was gagged to find herself in the bottom with Coco, thanks to her basic runways while a shocked Maxi was sent to safety. And as suggested at the start of the episode by Etcetera, both of the potential assassins were ready to fight tooth and nail to survive to Peaches & Herb’s Shake Your Groove Thing. Elektra once again let out her full Beyonce while Coco felt the song and damn they bounced off each other so damn well. Elektra gave the most fluid death drops to ever grace the mainstage, was high-kicking and an absolute ridiculous delight and damn, this is where she shines as the hilarious, scrappy fighter.

Despite Coco’s magnetism, Elektra bouncing in a split for an entire verse was too fierce to overcome as she once again saved herself, sending my love Coco out of the competition. While my arms were wide open ready to embrace my northern-ish NSW friend, she was less happy to see me on account of the fact I forced her to dress as a gorilla in week one.

As one of her dearest friends, Coco came to me for advice on how best to impress Ru, Michelle and my king Rhys, and I suggested celebrating the jewel of Coffs, the big banana. Other than the iconic Maccas you’d stop at on a drive to Sydney at Christmas when it was still in the ‘90s location, but I digress. You see, my young gay loins were well and truly girded in the coastal hub when I saw the Wallabies in the pool while staying at a resort in Coffs Harbour. The moment went on to inspire the scene in the second Sex and the City movie but also washed away any doubts of potential heterosexuality and ignite my passion for a big banana.

It was a truly touching coming of age story, in more ways than one, and Coco agreed to do me proud. And well, we all watched episode one so the less I say about it the better, though I do think the judges would have loved to hear my touching story. 

After apologising profusely for being out of touch – who knows how to do human interaction after COVID?! – Coco warmed to my tears and was just grateful to have a friend by her side. I reminded her that she gave good talking-head for the three episodes she was in and was a babe out of drag and as such, will always be beloved by the fandom. And will probs win an All Stars season if and when it happens, I can just feel it in me waters. With that, we sat down to dinner hand in hand and giddily ate up our friendship while smashing a fresh Coco Jumbalaya.

Ya ya yi, you thought I was going to cocoa our jumbo, didn’t you? While it was the more obvious option when creating a recipe for a friend as sweet as Coco, I instead wanted to highlight her spicier side. Like Coco, this baby as the rich velvety sweetness of the tomato and capsicum with some delightful depths from the chorizo and chilli kicking it into gear.

Enjoy!

Coco Jumbalaya
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red capsicum, sliced
2 chorizos, skin removed and filling pinched out into small meatballs
500g chicken breasts, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp chilli flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup basmati rice
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and saute the onions and capsicum for five minutes or so, or until soft and sweet. Add the chorizo and cook for a further couple of minutes, or until they release some of their flavourful oils. Stir the chicken through the pan and cook for another five minutes, or until starting to brown on the outside.

Add the garlic, spice, chilli and a good whack of salt and pepper – more so off the pepper, but that’s my preference – to the pan and stir for a minute or so before stirring in the rice. Pour in the tomatoes and stock, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is plump and rouged.

Serve immediately and devour, thinking of the biggest bananas you’ve been lucky enough to see.

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Pia Mintanda Soup

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, Side, Snack, Soup, TV Recap

After fifty days in the Fijian jungle, after Anastasia was booted from the game first thanks to Pia’s machinations, Laura was booted in lieu of Baden. They were followed by – yep, happening again – Susie, Nova, Steven, E.T., Sam, Sarah, Hannah, Casey, Matt, King RossAndy, Shaun, David, Zaddy John, Daisy, Simon, Janine, Abbey, Luke and Harry, leaving Pia and Baden to battle it out at the final tribal council.

And to say Pia dominated is a bloody understatement.

She clearly articulated her game, stood up to people that downplayed her achievements and really drove home to Baden how bad his final decision was as she claimed the first unanimous victory of the series.

Bow down to Pia Miranda, the one true Queen of Australian Survivor. Nay, Australia. Ever since she smacked that bitch Carly Bishop in her film debut, Pia has held a special place in my heart. I first met her on the set of Alibrandi when I was part of Anthony Lapaglia’s entourage slash personal security detail to protect him from Matthew Newton. Pia and I quickly bonded, so I vowed to protect her as well free of charge.

A few months later we were catching up and decided to tune in for the finale of this new little reality show called Survivor, and while watching Rich defeat Wiggles we fell in love and both vowed to both play and win the game some day.

While my moment in the spotlight is yet to come – I am growing my man bun first to make people think I’m relaxed rather than driving my anxiety and strung higher than Everest – I am so proud to have born witness to Pia’s game. From narrowly escaping becoming the first boot, her charm quickly found her solid allies that she could use as a shield while dominating the game socially. Which is ultimately what handed her the game and title of Sole Survivor. And the Pia Mintanda Soup prize that goes along with it.

 

 

While pea and ham soup is enough to make most people shudder at the thought of peas in soup, this baby is so good it will win you over. Like Pia. Glorious sweet peas and a good whack of mint work perfectly with some salty prosciutto to fill your heart with joy and make you feel like a Champion. Again, like Pia.

Enjoy!

 

 

Pia Mintanda Soup
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g frozen peas, defrosted
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
8 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup thickened cream

Method
Combine the peas and stock in a dutch oven and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for half an hour. Add the mint and a good whack of salt and pepper and cook for a further ten minutes. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Heat a lug of oil in a fry pan and cook the prosciutto for a couple of minutes, until glorious and crispy. Transfer to some paper towel to drain.

Meanwhile blitz the soup until nice and smooth. Return to the heat and stir through the cream. Season if required, going lighter on the salt than the pepper, and cook for five minutes.

Serve immediately topped with a cross of prosciutto and devour. Victoriously.

 

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Abbean Holmes Soup

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, Side, Snack, Soup, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Luke and Abbey were playing the middle of the two duos, with the former unaware that everyone – but Abbey – was plotting his demise. When he took out immunity and saved himself, Harry pivoted and put the target back on to his nemesis JaQueen. This put Luke and Abbey back in the middle and try as JaQueen and Pia might, they were unable to swing them back to their side, and JaQueen was tragically beheaded. Not literally, but it felt hard to watch. As Janine is a bloody icon.

Back at camp Pia was disheartened to have lost Janine though explained to the tribe that as an award winning actress, she could tell that it was coming since they’re shit actors. Abbey was proud to make it to the final five, and have the chance to show the jury that she can pull off a big blindside in getting rid of Janine. And since she has grown to enjoy a cheeky blindside, looked forward to rolling Pia next. Which can’t happen as my heart just couldn’t take it.

The next day Harry was thrilled to have Janine’s scalp in his collection like a munted Hannibal Lector. The rest of the tribe lazed about – Abbey not keen on having another bean, don’t tell John – while Harry decided that Luke is the last person left that could beat him in the final two, and as such, needs to go. He pulled Abbey and Baden aside to lock in the vote against Luke, and then quickly lined up the back-up target of Pia should he win another immunity. Given they can all see that she was the mastermind behind the boss lady. Speaking of Pia she wasn’t feeling it after losing her island bestie, though focused on her family who she was fighting for. She then put a smile on her dial, pretended to be happy and got to work winning people back without them noticing that she is coming for revenge.

She knew that Luke was her best shot, so huddled with him in the shelter and assured him that she has no desire to vote him out and as such, is his best bloody shot at staying in the game. He assured Pia that she has nothing to worry about as he knows he will be booted the moment he doesn’t have immunity or an idol. As such he went searching for another idol and after days of meandering the jungle, finally spotted a clue hidden in the tree. It led him to the other end of the beach where another clue was hidden within a coconut. This in turn led him back to camp to grab a machete before heading back to the coconut where he learnt that he didn’t find an idol and instead, won the power to send someone out of tribal council before the vote which makes them safe and robs them of the right to vote. At the final five. Which is fucking huge.

My dear Jonathan and his guns of steel returned for the latest immunity challenge where everyone would stack dominos along a beam tethered to a trip obstacle, with the first person to stack their dominos and have them clang – is clang the right word? – into a gong snatching immunity. Harry and Abbey got out to an early lead, while Luke trailed closely behind. Luke dropped three blocks, followed by Harry dumping a bunch handing Abbey the lead, with Baden close behind. Everyone kinda caught up, while Abbey, Baden and Pia tried to respace their blocks to give them a shot at victory. Baden then knocked all of his off the beam, allowing Abbey the chance to snatch victory however she didn’t space hers enough bringing it down to a fight between Luke and Pia, with Luke actually snatching a record equalling individual immunity.

Back at camp Harry was super grumpy about Luke’s winning streak, knowing full well that he and his fake son don’t stand a chance against him in the final two. He and Abbey went for a walk to lock in the plan B to take out Pia, with Harry sure that there is no way she will win anything and as such, will not help them get rid of Luke. Baden joined the duo and they all locked in the plan, worried about getting caught and then straight up giving each other pinky promises under the watchful eye of Pia and Luke. Pia laughed about them clearly planning to vote her out, though vowed not to go down without a fight. Unaware that she was charming the shit out of her biggest hope.

Abbey caught up with Luke, completely unaware that he knows she is gunning for him and Pia. He assured Baden, Harry and Abbey that he was with them until the end, though he was hopeful that he would be able to swing something to save Pia. He approached her and promised that no matter how it looks at tribal council, to trust him and she will be safe. He told us that his plan is to send Baden back to camp and force Harry into turning on Abbey with him and Pia. Knowing they needed to lull her into a false sense of security, Pia and Luke approached Abbey to float getting rid of Harry. Pia said she would be putting her acting skills to use at tribal, Abbey was unaware of the plot against her and Luke was honestly so far down a rabbithole that he worried that he would end up blindsiding himself.

Again, like a fucking icon.

At tribal council Luke interrupted Jonathan’s praise of his immunity streak by standing up, handing over the note and immediately sending Baden straight back to camp. He exited in utter confusion, thrilled to make it to the final four but shocked about what will go down in his absence. Abbey and Harry were shocked about the turn of events, while Pia pretended to be disappointed that he didn’t choose to save her. Luke then started whispering to Pia, which made Harry and Abbey nervous, though Harry admitted that it is unlikely that Luke would leave his plan to the very last minute and as such, it was all for show. Jonathan tried to rub salt in their wounds about being left out, leading to Luke whispering to Abbey while Pia whispered that Harry was awesome.

Sensing his imminent doom, Harry started to burn everything down and told them all that Luke is in control and unbeatable. He then mentioned that there is one way that they can save themselves, unaware that he is only burning himself given Luke isn’t going to flip on Pia to keep a fellow immunity threat around. Pia reminded everyone that staying focused on Luke is forcing others to make stupid decisions, while Luke said that only one person needs to worry this tribal council and it is about time they take the garbage out. Pia admitted that she is kind of shocked to potentially making it through the tribal and Harry tried to remind everyone that he is not the biggest threat left in the game.

With that the tribe voted and Luke and Pia’s hail Mary plan worked perfectly, with Abbey voting Harry, Harry voting Pia and Pia and Luke banding together to blindside Abbey from the game. And impressing the hell out of the jury with their flashy move. While she was overshadowed by her former closest allies Pia and Janine’s dominant games, she formed one third of Australian Survivor’s answer to the Black Widow Brigade and that is something that makes me immensely proud. Particularly after she blindsided her childhood hero and one of the aforementioned closest allies slash queens. In any event, she did me proud and surprisingly I told her that, took her in my arms and gave her a clearly island appropriate bowl of Abbean Holmes Soup. Despite the fact she wished to never eat another bean.

 

 

Essentially flavoured just like a can of refried beans, this isn’t going to be something that everyone loves. But if you love refried beans like Ab (used to) and I, roll right up. Earthy, spiced and pack with simple charm, this baby proves that sometimes plain(ish) can be your favourite flavour.

Enjoy!

 

 

Abbean Holmes Soup
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 chipotles in adobo
800g canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1L chicken stock
1 tbsp thyme leaves
a small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
100g queso fresco, crumbled

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat for five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic, tomatoes and chipotles, and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the pinto beans and cook off any excess liquid from the rinsing before adding the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce to low and simmer for half an hour, stirring infrequently.

Once the liquid has reduced to be just under the solids, add the herbs and cook for a further five minutes. Remove from heat, season and blitz until smooth.

Return to the heat and cook for another five minutes, adding some extra stock if it is too thick. Serve, top with queso and devour through the tears of your life.

 

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Chickenico Panangio Curry

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Main, Poultry, Survivor South Africa, Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets

Well, well, well, look what we have here! Another international version of Survivor with a hot host – hi Jeff, Jono and Matt! – is begging for me to head to the filming location to provide culinary comfort for their crushed castaways.

Yes, Nico Panagio has finally reached out to me to see if he could leverage our close personal relationship to get me out to Samoa for the latest season of Survivor SA.

While I played hard to get for a couple of minutes, I knew there was no way I could say no to such a dear friend. Particularly when they are as hot as Nico and the tropical location is always conducive to some shirtless action.

I’ve known Nico for a couple of years after fleeing to South Africa and trying to break into the entertainment industry over there. While all my scenes were cut from our co starring vehicle Semi-Soet, I couldn’t be too mad given it brought us together.

I invited him over to Australia on his way to Samoa to formally give him my answer, bringing him to tears of joy that I would be joining him on set of Survivor SA over a big vat bowl of delicious Chickenico Panangio Curry.

 

 

Given how delicious this sweet, spicy curry tastes, maybe the tears of joy were related to such a glorious meal? I mean, delicately cooked juicy chicken with the earthy peanuts, a kick of chilli and the zing of lime? There is nothing better.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chickenico Panangio Curry
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
coconut oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 yellow capsicum, diced
½ cup panang curry paste
2 tsp chilli paste
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
12 kaffir lime leaves
400ml coconut cream
1 cup chicken stock
750g chicken thighs, roughly diced
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped

Method
Heat a good lug of coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sweat the onion and garlic for five minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add the capsicums and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir in the curry paste, chilli, peanut butter and kaffir lime leaves and cook for a further minute.

Stir through the coconut cream and stock, bring to the boil and add the chicken. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through and the sauce has thickened up.

Add the fish sauce and cook for a further minute before adding the Thai basil leaves. Remove from heat and serve immediately on a bed of fluffy rice. Then devour, with your favourite, sexiest friend.

 

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Chickwendy Empanadiaz

Main, Party Food, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Tapas, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, two became three but the OG Manu’s still couldn’t seem to catch a break, with Wendy isolated with only her chickens for comfort, while the rest were shipped off to a new island and promptly continued their losing streak. When all hope appeared lost, David managed to snatch a come from behind immunity win, sending NuManu back to tribal council. And while it appeared Big Wendy was down for the count, Victoria pulled off an epic blindside by sending Queen Aubry to the Island of Extinction with an extra vote and idol in her pocket. And quickly ascended the throne to become Queen Victoria.

Or Queen Vicky, I can’t decide.

On the Island of Extinction Aubry was feeling the pain of following in JT’s footsteps, by being blindsided with some many advantages in his pocket. Despite being broken, she was hopeful as the only way is up for her, and she is going to wait around and get back when she can.

Before we could learn anything else, Jeff returned for this week’s reward challenge where the tribes would leap over tables, release some sandbags and then throw them at a target until flags are released. Given it is for coffee and snacks, I would literally destroy everyone if I was on that island. Surprisingly all three tribes were neck and neck by the time it came to tossing the sandbags, though hold Wardog’s beer, because he cannot throw and Lesu are back in last. Obviously Joe snagged Kama first place, while Gavin just snatched victory for Manu despite a late push from Lauren.

Back at Kama the tribe continued their vacation courtesy of Joe with Julie really struggling to comprehend what it would mean to lose. She then praised him for being so damn amazing, though reiterated to us that she has zero interest in working with him and is just blowing smoke up his arse. Speaking of Joe, he was breaking down about Aubry being voted out, knowing that the returnees are public enemy number one and he feels super alone. Unlike at home, where fan favourite, game changer SDT is waiting for him. Joe caught up with Julia and pointed out that he isn’t the only threat and that all the strong people will need to band together if they want to have any hope of staying around. Particularly since their winning streak has no doubt pissed people off.

Speaking of which, Lesu were lamenting their loss and wishing that they could be Joe for just one minute. While David was keen to go try and kind food, Lauren and Wardog opted to sit around and complain about being starving and over their shitty camp. If only they could muster enough energy to help him get the massive clam that is on the shore! Instead of helping, Wardog pulled Kelley and David aside to talk about getting rid of Lauren, which made the returnees nervous given he just won’t pick a lane. The only glorious thing to come out of it, is the fact that Kelley and David are now aligned.

Back on the Edge of Extinction, Chris discovered a basket with five maps full of holes. Reem requested everyone stay calm which Keith agreed to however it is Keith, so who knows. After folding the maps, the tribes wandered up the hill before Rick figured out that the reward was back on the beach and that they’ve wasted their time. Despite his location was wrong, Reem discovered the reward in the beach … only for Keith to snatch it from under her, earning him the chance to penalising someone in the upcoming returnee challenge. Pray circle (jerk) for Chris. Particularly after he pointed out that Reem gave the reward away, setting her off on a tirade against him which may get physical. All I know is, I feel sorry for Rick, Chris and Aubry.

Probst returned for this week’s immunity challenge where the tribes would be required to climb a ladder, manoeuvre a bag through a frame, open said bag, release a ball and open a gate. Then solve a puzzle, obvi. Oh and only one tribe would secure immunity, and the other two forced to attend tribal together and get rid of a single player. I have Malcolm PTSD. No surprises Kama snatched an early lead however they all eventually caught up at the puzzle. Despite David thinking he was close to victory, Joe proved adept at puzzles too and solved it just in the knick of time, handing Kama immunity and sending the other tribe to tribal council.

Back at Manu Eric was feeling the loss hard, concerned about the potential for a tied vote and no doubt, concerned Wendy will flip back to her original tribe. Victoria rallied the troops and told them to stick together, while Wendy suggested they don’t target David since he doesn’t have any allies and as such, they should go for Lauren, Kelley or Wentworth. Eric then changed his no rock stance, and told everyone to stick together and threaten to go the rocks, since returnees aren’t likely to waste their shot. Eric and Gavin then went for a chat, reconfirming their relationship and locking in the rocks option. Sadly for them, Victoria is less inclined to go to rocks for these bozos as she is a Queen and wants to win. But thankfully for her, no one appears to have figured that out yet.

Meanwhile over at Lesu Kelley was confident that the other tribe would stick four strong and while targeting the big guys is the best idea, Victoria could be the safest move given they won’t expect it. Wardog had other ideas however, saying that they should vote Wendy because in the event of a time, the others will likely flip on her given they haven’t been together that long. While this is the only correct move for the tribe – outside of pulling Wendy over to their side – Kelley was annoyed that Wardog continues to ignore everyone else and push forward with his ideas. David suggested that he should tell Wendy to vote for someone and hope that it doesn’t go to rocks, while Lauren was confident that they will vote for her and as such she was worried. Even though being the person locked in the tie is literally best case for rocks, which the tribe were keen on.

Wardog went to relax by the beach and questioned going to rocks for Lauren, who is clearly breaking down and as such, went hunting for an idol. The other three figured it out and grew more frustrated with him, deciding they needed to find the idol first. Which Wentworth did, while right next to Wardog. Kelley ran back and filled in Lauren, while Wardog continued to climb trees desperate for the idol. Lauren too wanted to share some intel, sharing that she won’t go to rocks for Wardog and will flip if it comes to it.

The tribes arrived at tribal council and both admitted that they all planned to stick with their tribe, Wardog reiterated that he is ready to battle for his group while Eric admitted that neither knows the others dynamics and as such, it is going to be unpredictable. Kelley offered Manu loyalty were they to flip, which Gavin too offered. Wendy shared that she feels trapped in the middle, with David talking about his love for Wendy while Eric mentioned that Wendy told them otherwise. Kelley started whispering to Wardog while David reminded everyone that he has no qualms going to rocks, which Victoria thought was bullshit. Wendy whispered to David that if he flipped, he’ll be safe, Wardog whispered to David, Gavin whispered to Eric and David asked Wendy to go aside for a little chat. With that the tribes voted and despite all the whispers, the votes rolled in four a piece for Lauren and Wendy. With that the whispering started again, this time with Eric joining Lesu while Kelley and Lauren spoke to Victoria and Gavin to come up with a plan, while poor Wendy sat alone in the middle. Before being booted unanimously.

While she was upbeat upon discovering the Edge of Extinction sign and discovering that she would get a meal to accompany her boat ride, her mood soon deflated.

“This is delicious Ben, what are we eating?”

“Well Big Wendy, I wasn’t sure what to make you originally however I found three chickens wandering the island and was hit with a brain wave.”

You could pinpoint the exact moment her heart broke, and while I kind of feel bad that her rescue was only temporary, when it tastes as good as my Chickwendy Empanadiaz, she can’t really hold a grudge. Right?

 

 

In my defense, since Annelie got cage-fight induced amnesia, I have been unable to make another empanada, but when I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to make some tweaks and move past my fears. And oh how glad I am that I did, smokey, sweet and packing a hell of a punch, they’re the kind of thing you can’t stop eating. Ever.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chickwendy Empanadiaz
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1kg chicken thighs, diced
2 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
4 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, whisked

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onions for five minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and chicken, and cook for a further five minutes. Add the stock, bay leaves, capsicum, tomato pastes, paprikas, oregano and cayenne, with a good whack of salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for half an hour, or until the sauce is thickened. Leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Cut each piece of pastry into 9 equal squares.  Place 1 tbsp of filling in each and scrunch the egse to form little half moon pockets. Place on a lined baking sheet, brush with the egg and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden, puffed and crisp.

Devour immediately, in honour of those poor, briefly freed chickens I cooked.

Don’t tell Sia.

 

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Bacon, Mushroom and Nataleek Andersotto

Main, Survivor, Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water

I know I have been a bit of a Debbie Downer when it comes to the twist of the upcoming season of Survivor but I am still excited because, well, it is Survivor. And for every One World or Redemption Island, there is a China or Heroes vs. Villians, which is something I am eternally grateful for. Plus – One World gave us Kim and Redemption Island gave us Russell’s pimpled, ingrown-haired armpits.

But I’ve been waylaid – I am here to celebrate one of my favourite Sole Survivors slash two-time The Amazing Race contestant and the cherry on top of San Juan Del Sur’s twinnie bookends, my girl Natalie Anderson.

Like Bob before her, I didn’t meet Nat until after her first reality TV stint – I am a close, personal friend of the Beekman’s – however the friendship quickly blossomed. And I played a critical role in getting her a spot on San Juan Del Sur and her well deserved win.

While people tire of the constant bartering and handing out rewards as treats, San Juan Del Sur is an unpredictable season and Natalie’s arc from wounded surviving Twinnie to vengeful powerplayer after Jeremy’s boot is one of the greats.

Add to that a beautiful idol play, a masterful ‘accidental’ blindside to save Keith and dragging him along as a meatshield to guarantee a path to the end puts her in my top ten favourite winners. And more than worthy of a hearty Bacon, Mushroom and Nataleek Andersotto whenever she damn wants!

 

 

There is nothing quite as comforting and glorious as a risotto. I don’t know if it is the creamy rice or the liquor, but it always fills me with joy when I’m feeling blue. Add in mushies and bacon, and I’m in heaven.

Enjoy!

 

 

Bacon, Mushroom and Nataleek Andersotto
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
1L chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 rashers streaky bacon, diced
1 ⅓ cups arborio rice
250g mushrooms, thinly sliced
200g baby spinach leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup shredded parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Bring the stock to a simmer over low heat and heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Once nice and foamy, add the leek and garlic and sweat for five minutes. Add the bacon and cook for a further couple of minutes or until the kitchen is fragrant and glorious.

Add the rice to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, or until starting to get translucent around the edges. Working a ladleful at a time, add the stock to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, waiting until the stock has been absorbed before adding the next.

Once all the stock has been used up, add the mushrooms, spinach and thyme, and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the parmesan and a good whack of salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, slathered in more cheese and then devour.

 

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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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Novak Gnoccovich

Main, Pasta, Vegetarian

Oh my goodness, Novie is just the sweetest damn thing in the world.

He ran into my arms at the secret security exit of Brisbane Airport – the one made famous by Schapelle Corby, FYI – and said, “I’m so glad you invited me to appear on your anthropological study! I feel like time spent with you will be what pushes me to another grand slam victory.”

I mean, come on. That is adorable and brings a tear to my cold dead heart.

I’ve known Novak for years, meeting in 2005 at the Australian Open. As you know, I am well respected in the tennis community and I was on hand to offer unsolicited advice to people that lost their matches. To help them be better, you know?

While most people balked at my advice and labelled it useless, ill conceived and offensive, Novak appreciated my efforts and we became the best of friends. Well second-best of friends, because Rog.

Nov hasn’t had the best run at the last couple of Opens so was excited by the prospect of my magic touch helping him to glory and hand him the Male Singles record outright. And given how magical my Novak Gnoccovich is, I have a good feeling he’ll be taking out the win.

 

 

Earthy mushrooms and delicate gnocchi bathed in a rich creamy sauce … and THEN covered by a tonne of parmesan and cut by lemon juice. It is heaven. HEAVEN I tell you!

Enjoy!

 

 

Novak Gnoccovich
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
3 tbsp butter
500g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup ricotta
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp sage, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chilli flakes
500g fresh gnocchi
parmesan, to garnish

Method
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally for ten minutes or so, or until the liquid has all absorbed. Add the remaining butter and flour and cook for a minute, or until it has lost its flouriness.

Remove from the heat and slowly stir through the chicken stock. Return to heat and bring to the boil, before reducing heat to low and simmering for ten minutes. Add the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, sage and chilli, and cook for a further five minutes.

At this point, cook the gnocchi as per the packet instructions or recipe. Once done, drain and add to the creamy sauce. Serve immediately and top with a generous handful of parmesan.

Devour!

 

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