Arepomare Fifth

Bread, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under 2, Snack, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Drag Race Down Under the dolls starred in our first acting challenge and while it paid homage to Prisoner, I still wish they went with Homo & A-gay or Gaybours. But when life gives you lemons, it is generally a Drag Race acting challenge or something. Which coincidentally was the plot, as Bev was given the death penalty for writing the franchise’s past acting challenges. While Aubrey and Kween struggled, Spankie was demented and gorgeous, while Minnie and Hannah gave the best criminal duo since Home Alone. Alas, there could only be one winner as Spankie took out her first victory of the season, before Kween destroyed the lip sync and poor Aubrey sashayed away.

Backstage Kween was still feeling disappointed in herself, feeling broken and picking the performance apart. On top of that, she felt bad for poor Aubrey. Thankfully everyone rallied around and gave her a glorious pep talk and she was soon feeling far better. She then congratulated Spankie on her first victory, while Spankie in turn praised Minnie and Hannah for doing so well in the challenge. Hannah then lamented the fact that she has been a bridesmaid in the first two episodes and best believe she was ready to step into the spotlight and take out a victory. Otherwise, why did they invite her to this wedding?

Oh and Minnie offered to suck off and then bottom for Kween – um, get in line lady – and Hannah suggested finding Ru’s trailer and sucking her off for a win. So yeah, maybe this is why Ru called us all ratchet?

The next day Yuri was feeling good, particularly since her outfit saved her last week and this week, she vowed to get out of her head and get back into the top. Ru dropped by before Yuri could top, though thankfully brought the Pit Crew with him and well, my basement was flooded. There was something about a tool stuffed in their pants and the queens had to pick who was packing what. As is oft the case, we all won as the menseses dropped trou over and over. But apparently, in whatever way Ru was keeping score, Molly Poppinz took out the actual victory.

And as the victor, she was able to pair up the queens for this week’s Maxi Challenge, where they would be hosting a 5-minute drag brunch set. She obviously paired up with Hannah, before getting Minnie and Kween together and putting Bev with Pomara, leaving Spankie and Yuri as the final duo. And while Spankie felt like Molly was trying to do a little bit of sabo(tage), I have a feeling in my waters that Spankie and Yuri will shine.

After Ru departed, the pairs split up to workshop their sets with Molly wanting to be natural rather than scripting anything and well, is this a good idea? Spankie then asked Molly if she was trying to be strategic with her pairings, admitting that yes she did, wanting to put a strong queen with a weaker girl. Before basically admitting she was just trying to bring Spankie down. Speaking of Spankie, she was pissed by the decision while Yuri was feeling ready to bring herself up to Spankie’s level and yes Yuri, I love you. Beverly and Pomara meanwhile learnt they are polar opposites with their performance styles, with Bev wanting to script everything and Pomara focused on being off the cuff. Minnie and Kween meanwhile were leaning into the fact they have completely different backgrounds, focusing on racism and privilege.

Oh and they told Hannah about it so Hannah could address her Scarlett Adams-esque background with cultural appropriation and the hurt that it did, has and will cause. And fuck, Kween is so mature and wise, giving Hannah space to apologise and address the scandal while firmly explaining why it is such a problem and how addressing it in a non-performative way proves she is willing to grow.

Spankie and Yuri were first to workshop with Rhys and Chris Parker – who is wearing a super cute shirt – and were very fun with their scripted roast of the queens. Rhys encouraged them to make it a little more Drag Race, while Chris wanted them to take advantage of the fact they are a Kiwi only duo. Molly and Hannah started out with a dry script about Hobbiton, before the mentors told them to make things personal. Where we then learnt Hannah wanted to be a priest, which is a story we all need to hear. Minnie’s energy meanwhile took all the rehearsal space, with Kween encouraged to come up a little while Minnie was told to tone it down a little. While Bev and Pomara just couldn’t figure out where the script was going and who was saying what, while Rhys and Chris reminded them to lift each other up.

Elimination Day rolled around with Yuri MIA with an eye infection, though ugh, Pomara suggested they could all help paint her face when she comes back and maybe they listened when Ru said, everyone say love.

Ru, Michelle and Rhys were joined by the iconic Urzila Carlson on the judges panel as Beverly and Pomara opened the show looking absolutely stunning and going well, until Yuri’s absence appeared to really throw them off because things then became stilted. Backstage, Yuri returned with half vision and a cream and quickly beat her mug while Molly and Hannah took the stage and were so energetic, fun and personable and well, I love it. I mean, “the only balloon I can blow up is when I’m farting in my foreskin in my meaty tuck” is a line that came out of Molly’s mouth. What could you not love? Kween meanwhile was charming and sparkled while Minnie dropped in and brought all the energy, which proved to be a formidable combination as they slayed. Yuri then gagged the dolls as she made her triumphant return with Spankie to close out the show. And I don’t know if she got drugged up at A&E, but Yuri was hilarious and so much fun despite Spankie giving an absolute hosting masterclass.

I mean, they nailed it.

On the Red for Filth runway, Beverly was a stunning goth ready for the boudoir, complete with a chandelier headpiece. Pomara served red earth glamour and looked so damn stunning, Hannah Conda gave Carmen Sandieg-ho does Dallas, Molly was a blooming rose bud with a perfect mug. Kween gave sexy volcano realness while Minnie wore a stunning red dress that just could not stay up and then Spankie looked perfect in a poppy gown in honour of the Anzacs, while Yrui was iconic as a bloody red devil and fuck I love her. But also, is she high?

Ultimately Spankie and Yuri took out victory and sent to untuck before Beverly was praised for giving a stunning runway though read for not really vibing with Pomara while they were on stage. Pomara too received universal praise for her look, but yeah, that vibe wasn’t great. Hannah and Molly were praised for such killer energy and how they bounced off each other, despite not having much of a script. Though their looks were both praised, despite Ru deeming Molly’s trashy. Kween meanwhile received wall-to-wall praise and thanked for bringing the energy she had in lip sync to the challenge and stamping her place in the contest, while Minnie was praised for her energy and despite the dress not fitting, they loved the dedication to the sisters she lost to HIV/AIDS.

Backstage Spankie and Yuri were overjoyed to take out victory, particularly after everything Yuri had to go through this week. And Molly’s sabo attempts. The rest of the girls arrived and congratulated them on their victory, while Pomara and Beverly both started to sob given they were clearly in the bottom. While their sisters tried to rally around them, Bev brokedown over her fears and how she was  terrified of failing herself and the greater Brisbane area. Which thankful doesn’t include Logan for the record, but I digress. Kween then gave her and Pomara an epic peptalk and well, I’ve loved Kween because she is so damn hot, but damn, she has such a beautiful soul too. Begging the question, did Jesse McCartney write it about her? Because he should have.

Ru didn’t beat around the bush this week, telling Bev and Pomara they were in the bottom before sweeping the rest of the girls off stage. Despite the fear and emotion they were showing backstage, they both went off as Years & Years feat. Kylie’s Starstruck kicked off. Both of the dolls hit every damn lyric and gave all the energy but when Bev started splitting and slipping and nearly sliding off stage, it was over. Until Pomara hilariously switched into mocking her opponent. I mean, if ever there was a time for a double shantay, it was this. But alas, they didn’t even have enough time to edit Ru’s stumble on the runway out, so tragically, we had to say goodbye to the iconic Pomara. Who rightly summed up her feelings with a simple, bye cunts.

Backstage poor Pomara was still feeling disappointed in her performance, so I pulled her in for a hug and reminded her how charming and talented she is. I then went on a very long-winded rant how this was far and away the strongest challenge of the series, with everyone kinda doing well. Add into that the fact they both slayed the lip sync and well, if there ever was a time to go out, it was when you all did well. Which appeared to do the trick as we slipped back into being silly and joyful as we smashed a fresh batch of Arepomare Fifth.

These gorgeously flavorful South American pita-esque breads are the perfect accompaniment. Or even with a thick layer of butter on their own. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they are so damn good. And more importantly, v. easy to make.

Enjoy!

Arepomare Fifth
Serves: 2 dear friends.

Ingredients
1 tbsp raw caster sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 cups white corn flour
¼ cup sunflower oil (or corn, if you can find it)

Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Combine the sugar, salt, pepper and water in a jug of water until only the pepper is visible. Meanwhile, pop the corn flour in a large bowl. Slowly add the sweet and salty water into the bowl, stirring constantly, until it all comes together.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Pop on a lined plate, cover and leave to rest for about half an hour.

When you’re ready to cook, divide the dough into ¼ cup(ish) sized balls and flatten into 2cm discs. Heat a lug of oil in a skillet over medium heat and add a couple of arepas to the pan. Flatten with a spatula and cook for a couple of minutes before flipping and cooking for another few. Repeat the process until done.

Place them on a lined baking sheet and transfer to the oven to cook for a further 5-10 minutes, or until they sound hollow on the inside. Then devour, either with some eggs or leftover birria, not that either are traditional but they are great.


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Corn, Capsicum and Halomar Zahlad

Main, Salad, Side, Snack, Survivor, Survivor 42, TV, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on Survivor Jeffrey decided to get shady and returned the Do or Die Twist to the game, which yes, we all hate. So thankfully, it was once again a total bust and Queen Lindsay lived to fight another day. Sadly, it wasn’t a good episode for all our queens as Drea trusted Omar with information about her Knowledge is Power advantage. And then our King brutally neutered its power and blocked every single one of her plans before uniting the tribe to get her out of the game.

Back at camp Lindsay was thrilled to have overcome the Do or Die drama, with the tribe all genuinely appearing to be glad she was saved. Though maybe that is because Omar set off some epic drama at tribal council to get rid of Drea and well, that always makes a survivor feel good. None more so than Lindsay, who now  has an idol because the final amulet is gone and Mike feels like he owes Omar, making him grateful. And for everyone else, Omar painted the biggest target on his back since Drea pointed out he is the one that orchestrated her demise, so that is a win for everyone. Oh and Mike has zero intention of protecting Omar, instead wanting to get rid of him before he could cross him too. 

As everyone slept, Mike and Maryanne caught up, with Mike reiterating that Omar is only looking out for Omar. Maryanne meanwhile was already well on the journey of wanting him gone, since the jury had just watched Omar pull off an epic move and now was the frontrunner to win, should he make it. Instead, she planned to use her extra vote to have her moment in the sun and usurp his place in power. And yas, Maryanne, work!

The next day Maryanne caught up with Omar, Lindsay and Romeo, with Maryanne sharing how paranoid Mike was becoming while Lindsay instead focused on how necessary it was to take out Jonathan. Said duo meanwhile were down by the shore to talk through their options before Omar joined them, unaware that Jonathan is well and truly ready to get rid of both him and Lindsay. And put an end to the Taku domination.

Just like that the tribe met up with Jeffrey for another reward challenge where they would have to untangle a spool of rope until they could make it to a series of obstacles, which they would then traverse before, you guessed it, solve a puzzle! Oh and more importantly, the winner could choose between chicken and veggies or a cake and cookies feast.

As the challenge got underway, Jonathan got out to an early lead while Maryanne axed herself multiple times and almost took out a camera person, laughing in delight the whole time. Lindsay started to close the gap with Jonathan before everyone caught up at the puzzle. Because yeah, it is a puzzle. Somehow, out of nowhere, Omar found his rhythm and quickly solved the puzzle, taking out victory. And dare I say it, grew the target on his back. We then got a touching moment where Omar shared that he powered through the challenge to make his niece proud. Sadly though, the joy quickly turned to shade as Jeff told him he could pick two people to join him for chicken, or three if he goes with cake. So he obviously went with cake, selecting Romeo, Maryanne and then Mike.

Which only fired up the challenge beasts even more. (I assume).

The victors disappeared down the beach to enjoy their feast, Romeo in particular, given he has not had a reward all season. While Omar spoke about feeling guilty about not picking Jonathan, he shared with us that he is thrilled to be making things more difficult for the beast. Speaking of Jonathan, he and Lindsay were both pretending to still be aligned as they smashed all their rice. When the two groups came back together, Lindsay and Mike went for a walk, with Lindsay assuring him that as long as Jonathan doesn’t have immunity, he is fine. 

Mike went back to Jonathan to loop him in on Lindsay’s idol – oh, she told him about her idol – and told him that they need to guarantee she doesn’t take out immunity this week so that she can’t use said idol to protect Omar. He then ran to Maryanne to push for her to take out Omar too, assuring her that he would play his idol for her at the final five, unaware that she has her own idol and as such doesn’t need him. But in any event, she is thrilled to get rid of Omar. Mike then told Maryanne about Lindsay’s amulet idol and given she wasn’t aware of things, she was also ready to get rid of her instead since she is clearly just a goat to Lindsay.

The tribe reconnected with Probst for this week’s immunity challenge where they would each race through obstacles collecting puzzle steps, build a ladder, collect a bag of balls and then land said balls on a table maze. Jonathan obviously got out to an early lead, while Lindsay and Romeo nipped at his heels. Lindsay and Omar took over and started to pull away and got to work on their balls, with Lindsay whipping through and starting on the maze ahead of everyone. Eventually Jonathan, Omar and Mike joined her, with Jonathan landing his first ball just ahead of Lindsay. As they tried to manoeuvre their second ball towards the final slot, Lindsay dropped before Jonathan dropped just at the very end. Which gave her enough time to land her ball and take out her second individual immunity.

Back at camp everyone congratulated Lindsay on her win, while she was just thrilled to come out on top of Jonathan. Speaking of Jonathan, he was nervous about Lindsay playing her idol on Omar, so instead, he and Mike planned to take out Romeo. Lindsay assured Jonathan that Mike was the target before she caught up with Maryanne and Romeo to lock in the vote against him. While Omar took care of Mike. The duo then caught up, with Lindsay assuring Omar she has no intention of playing her idol as she doesn’t want it back in circulation.

Sadly for both of them, Maryanne was still pushing ahead with the Omar plan and caught up with Mike to talk through the plan. And Mike had changed his mind and wanted to play it safe and target Romeo and get rid of him instead. As such, Maryanne approached Romeo and looped him in on the extra vote and set in motion the plan to band together to get rid of Omar. Maryanne returned to Mike and Jonathan, telling them that with her extra vote, they could split the vote between Romeo and Omar, blindsiding Lindsay and Omar and sending the latter from the game. Barring any shenanigans at tribal council, obviously.

Right on cue the tribe arrived at tribal where Omar spoke about worrying that this one could be as wild as the last. Romeo spoke about the dynamics changing as everyone looked towards making decisions of who to sit with at the end, rather than how to get there. Lindsay agreed that they need to start looking at threats, while Omar mentioned he has been looking at threats for the entire game and now there are just less places to hide. Maryanne meanwhile spoke about feeling less on the bottom and that she was finally able to think, while Lindsay admitted she is feeling confident with the plans she is involved in. But can never guarantee she is the right plan. 

Mike reiterated his passion for trust while Omar agreed that you always run the risk of someone not believing what you’re saying and changing the plan, even when you’re telling the truth. Jonathan spoke about the fact that somebody is being lied to tonight and as such, someone is going to be sad back at camp. Maryanne spoke about the fact that due to the Shot in the Dark, you can no longer rely on a unanimous vote, proving its fundamental weakness. But whatever.

With that, the tribe voted – Maryanne twice – before she pulled off the epic 3-2-2 vote against Omar, getting rid of the biggest threat. And landing a big, juicy entry on her own resume. And while it is always painful to be voted out right before the finale, Omar was still overjoyed as he entered Ponderosa. Because as the victim of an epic move, he is always going to be remembered as the biggest threat of the season that needed a big move to get rid of him. As such, we giddily smashed a Corn, Capsicum and Hallomar Zahlad and started planning his strategy for his inevitable second season.

Salty, sweet and packing a herbaceous punch, this salad hits all the right notes (and then some)! Plus, since it is salad, you never have to feel guilty about smashing a massive bowl. Right?

Enjoy!

Corn, Capsicum and Halomar Zahlad
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
2 corn cobs, husks and silk removed
250g haloumi, thinly sliced
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oregano, roughly chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups rocket, washed and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on the size
⅔ cup chargrilled capsicum, drained and cut into strips

Method
Pop a cast iron griddle pan over a medium heat. Once scorching hot, brush with olive oil and pop the corn on the pan, cooking, turning occasionally, for about ten minutes, or until nice and charred. Remove from pan to cool.

Next, fry the haloumi for a couple of minutes each side. Again, hoping to get a good char. Remove from the pan.

Combine the parsley, coriander, mint and oregano in a jug with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and a good whack of salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

To assemble, pop the rocket in a bowl and sprinkle over the tomatoes and capsicum. Cut the corn off the cobs in chunks and pop over the top, alongside the haloumi. Drizzle with the dressing and devour immediately. Ideally with smug satisfaction.


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Willow Country Poil

Main, RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag Race 14, Seafood, Street Food, TV, TV Recap

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race fourteen news queens entered the Werk Room, again split into two batches of seven. Unlike last season, Ru got a little bit cheeky and implied that Orion Story and Daya Betty were felled in their respective first episodes. Only to gag the dolls by welcoming them back when everyone came together. The gags kept coming in the third episode as all the queens lined up to select a RuPaul chocolate bar with Ru explaining that after a queen loses a lip sync they would each open theirs. If it is chocolate, they sashay away as normal however if it was golden, they would live to slay another day.

So yeah, Ru is in her Wonka era now.

Sadly for June Jambalaya she did not have a golden ticket, making her the third boot that is the official first boot of the season. She was soon followed out the door by Alyssa before Kornbread’s onkle went cleek and she was medically evacuated. Orion then officially exited the competition before we farewelled Maddy and the lovely and iconic Tranos herself, Kerri Colby – that look, OMG.

After what felt like weeks of non-eliminations and the worst Snatch Game on record, Daya was delighted as Jasmine Kennedie was finally sent packing before Bosco found the golden ticket. As we had another non-elim, Ru got crafting and booted DeJa and Jorgeous in a double elimination. Only to decide that neither Angeria nor Willow deserved to miss out on a place in the finale, giving us our first ever top five.

While poor Angeria was eventually cut on finale night, alongside Daya and Bosco, Willow’s reprieve landed her the crown after a mindblowing lip sync against Camden. And well, I am absolutely thrilled for her.

On paper, Camden may have had the stronger track record but Willow’s consistent place among the top queens and her general star power always made her my favourite. In life and for the crown. I mean, list of ten of the most iconic looks of the season and Willow would be half of them. On top of that she is funny, can dance, is kind and just so damn cool. Which is why she more than deserved the crown and the piping hot Willow Country Poil.

I talk a lot of shit about seafood, particularly crustaceans since we all learned from Drop Dead Gorgeous, you just don’t know when they last cleaned their house. But a good ol’ Low Country Boil is a dish I will gladly make an exception for. Spicy, sweet and wholy life affirming, this southern classic is near perfection.

Enjoy!

Willow Country Poil
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
100g old bay or cajun seasoning
2kg small washed potatoes
3 medium red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1kg smoked pork sausage, cut into thick coins
8 corn ears, cut in half
1.5kg prawns

Method
Half-fill a large stockpot with water and stir in the seasoning. Bring to a rollicking boil and add the potatoes to the pot and bring back to the boil, cooking for 5 minutes. Add the onions and sausage and cook for 15 minutes, before adding the corn and cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir in the prawns and cook until they turn pink, aka are cooked. 

Drain the food into a colander, discarding the liquid, and serving on a platter. Or newspaper if you’re less uptight/scared of eating outside due to birds than me.


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KJ South Waustin Chicken Pizza

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Blood V Water, Main, Pizza, Snack, Street Food, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Jordie somehow continued to evade certain doom and levelled up by going all in with Josh. Unaware that Josh was gladly riding the middle to get as far as possible. At the immunity challenge, Chrissy completely gave up on her own chances and instead coached Josh to win yet another immunity challenge, making Mark super nervous given everyone would clearly want to flush the idol. You know, should they ever believe he had that second one. After lying to literally everyone and telling them once more that he didn’t have an idol, he then had made an elaborate song and dance of playing said idol to send Jordie home. Only he never received a vote as the tribe piled them on Jordie instead, meaning it was a waste. And damn was Sam pissed.

Back at camp the final five celebrated making it as far as they have, while Chrissy frankly was just shocked to still be in the game. Which honestly, same, because she thought tribal council was called tribunal at the start. Chrissy meanwhile was thrilled to not only be free of Jordie but also that Mark burnt his idol for no bloody reason. She then explained how everyone left in the game absolutely loves her and wants to work with her, meaning she will gladly continue to stroll all the way to the top three. Meaning she either wins or is getting blindsided as the biggest threat tonight.

The next day the tribe had a joyous sleep in with everyone a little shell shocked to still be sleeping on the ground after 45 days. Mark meanwhile was feeling a little nervous and very stupid to have made such a massive blunder with the idol, admitting that he would be devasated to make it this far only to go home. As the tribe laughed at their luck that he burnt his idol, we got an emotional package about how he only left his son at home to earn the win and yeah, he is winning. Shut. It. Down. He caught up with KJ, Josh and Chrissy with them agreeing that they need to make sure Shay doesn’t win immunity and so they can get rid of her lest they want to be beaten at the final immunity challenge. 

After Josh reiterated just how desperate he was to win, particularly now that his partner is pregnant, we checked in with KJ who knew that Josh and Mark would both be gunning for her next round and as such, got to work locking in an all women alliance. While Chrissy wasn’t sure that she would be able to trust Shay to take her over the boys, KJ reiterated that there is no way either of them wins if the boys are at the end with them and as such, they need to at least try to move forward with Shay. Speaking of Shay, she knew her number would be up unless she wins immunity and as such, she was ready to fight. Because she can’t trust Chrissy to ever turn on the boys.

Just like that, the final five joined up with Jonathan for the second last immunity challenge of the season where they would each have to run up and down some stairs dropping balls into a ramp and catching them at the end before they smash their tile and eliminate them. With the last person standing scoring immunity. Everyone was obviously a-ok only having to manage a single ball, leading to Jonathan to add their second as Shay quietly ran the numbers in her head and damn I hope her maths gives her the win. 

Everyone was still in it on the third before a lapse in concentration led to KJ missing one and dropping out of the challenge. Josh’s bad maths eliminated him, leaving Mark, Shay and Chrissy to battle it out. Chrissy then cooked it as she dropped in her fourth ball, watching two roll back-to-back and eliminate her from the challenge before Mark straight up dropped a ball after catching it, handing Shay immunity. As Mark looked enraged and threw a ball at his tile in frustration, ignoring Shay and not even congratulating her.

Back at camp Shay was thrilled to have managed to save herself while everyone gave her their half-hearted congratulations. Chrissy laughed about how she was a hot mess, while Mark and Josh were straight up enraged to have to come up with another plan. Shay meanwhile told us that the person she does not want to face at final tribal council is Josh and as such, she was going to wield any influence she has left to get rid of him tonight. Josh meanwhile was feeling the pressure and while he knows Mark needs to go, he also would prefer to keep him around at the final four because it makes him the target instead.

Nervous of an all women’s alliance, Mark and Josh suggested their only path forward would be to pull Chrissy in and take out KJ instead. With that Josh pulled Chrissy aside and while he was firm that they need to get rid of KJ, she pointed out that she needs to finally pop something on her resume and as such, needs to make a move on one of the boys rather than follow them. KJ and Shay meanwhile were unsure whether they were able to trust Chrissy to turn on Josh and as such, KJ approached Mark to float the idea of getting rid of Josh. Which he readily agreed to, despite planning to stick with Josh and Chrissy to get rid of KJ instead. Which is bad for one of the boys games, though I’m not sure which one. Feeling uneasy about how quickly Mark jumped to their side, KJ then caught up with Chrissy to float the idea of turning on either of the boys. And while I have little faith, she continued to talk about how important it is for her to make a move and maybe, just maybe, she will finally jump ship and give us the winner we deserve. Ladies and gentleman, her.

Chrissy then caught up with Mark, admitting that Shay hasn’t even spoken to her since the challenge. While she was stuck firmly in the middle between the boys and the girls, Josh was confident he’d be able to convince her to stick with him. Josh and Mark went for a walk in the bush, with Josh admitting to being nervous about trusting in Chrissy this round. Which made Mark more and more nervous. And more and more likely to jump to Shay and KJ to get rid of Josh as the only way to guarantee his safety. Josh started to pop up every time KJ and Shay spoke to Mark, with KJ masterfully asking Mark what Sam would tell him to do at this moment. With Mark rightly pointing out that Sam would want Josh gone immediately.

While Shay still didn’t care who went out of the duo as she just wants all the women to make it to the end.

At tribal council Josh admitted that Shay winning immunity did ruin everyone’s plans, while Shay was obviously thrilled to only have one more endurance challenge – her favourite – between her and the final tribal council. While Mark admitted to being terrified now that he doesn’t have his idol. Chrissy mentioned there is always time for a blindside while Shay opened up about being quite popular back at camp. She then got distracted as Josh and Chrissy whispered behind her, with Josh working overtime to remind her they need to stick together should they have any chance of making it to the end. While Mark whispered to Shay and KJ to just stay firm and not worry.

KJ spoke about how they need to think about the jury management, as Josh reiterated to Chrissy that KJ is far more likely to get votes at the end over Mark. Josh then started whispering to Shay, leading to KJ opening up about feeling nervous though kinda being used to it since she is constantly a target. KJ then whispered to Shay, assuring her that she feels like Mark will stick with them while Josh tried to point out that everyone is a threat going into the final immunity challenge. Though in a sexist way. Chrissy tried to talk to the jury before admitting that there is still time to build a resume, which appeared to make Mark more and more nervous, admitting to Jonathan he will be voting with his gut tonight.

With that the tribe voted and thanks to Chrissy voting for Mark by herself, things were tied up between KJ and Josh meaning Chrissy, Shay and Mark had to revote. And given Chrissy was angry about KJ and Shay changing the vote from Mark and not telling her, she joined Mark in sending KJ from the game. As Josh smugly laughed at the jury.

I was obviously heartbroken to see KJ enter the Jury Villa, given she would have made such a compelling winner. I mean, do I wish she made some moves a little earlier than she did? Sure! But at the end of the day, she has fought from the bottom from early in the game, overcame the chaos of Sophie’s game, voted OUT her sister and then pivoted just one spot up whenever she needed to move herself from being the target. It was a hell of a story and a strong game that played into her strengths, which was more than enough to earn her a KJ South Waustin Chicken Pizza.

Though once again, I felt super guilty that a stinkin’ (great) pizza cost one of my faves the game! That being said, it is packed full over flavour and is oh so calming, it is hard to be angry for too long.

Enjoy!

KJ South Waustin Chicken Pizza
Serves: 2 dear friends.

Ingredients
2 bases as per Pizsa Zsa Gabor
⅓ cup passata
oregano and basil, roughly chopped, to taste
olive oil
400g chicken breast, cut into strips
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tomato, diced
1 red onion, sliced
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tbsp jalapeños
½ cup corn kernels
½ cup black beans
⅓ cup sliced black olives
a small handful coriander, to taste
mozzarella, to taste

Method
Prep the bases as per Zsa Zsa’s instructions. Heat a lug of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken for five minutes, turning, or until golden and crisp. Add the cumin, smoked paprika and chilli powder, stir and cook for a further minute before removing from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Smear passata over the prepared bases, sprinkle with the herbs, tomato, red onion, capsicum, jalapeno, corn kernels, black olives and coriander before topping, generously, with mozzarella.

Transfer to the oven and bake for fifteen minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

Serve and devour immediately, hopefully without burning your mouth.


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Triple Pork, Corndra Cheeaz-Twine

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Blood V Water, Main, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Sophie was feeling her oats as the cockroach of the season, despite the fact she only miraculously dodged the boot twice in a row due to a twist and Alex quitting rather than skill or gameplay. Identifying Khanh as a big threat, she realised aligning with him could be mutually beneficial and approached him about aligning. Which he sadly had zero interest in. With Sophie gone from the tribe, the alphas were outnumbered on Blood, though after losing the immunity challenge miraculously were able to make some new friends. After Amy found an idol, she was ready to make a strike on Sandra and take control, however the Queen had already sadly scooped them up as they banded together to boot Amy’s bestie Jay.

The next day things were very zen over at the Water tribe as Nina shared how well positioned she was in the tribe and how she was excelling at the game. While I would have loved to hear more from Nina, I was just as distracted as the cameraperson was when her ally Jordie started to repeatedly flash his bum. And just like that, I was back to stanning our overall king. Despite the excitement and the joy of hearing how well Nina is playing, I couldn’t help but become filled with dread as she opened up about being confident in her chances of making it to the end.

The two tribes reconvened with Jonathan where Sam spoke about how united their tribe was, which perfectly cued up JLP to tell them to drop their buffs. Yep, it’s tribe swap time! Given there were 19 people remaining, Sandra, Amy, Dave and Jordan were joined by Shay, Nina, Jordie, Josh and Mel on Blood, while Khanh, Chrissy, KJ and Sophie welcomed Sam, Michelle, Croc, Ben and Jesse on Water, leaving poor Mark tribeless. Well, for a moment, as he was given the right to choose which tribe to join, ultimately selecting to join Blood. Much to the absolute rage of his wife Sam, who was SO ready to play with him. Not wanting to play with their loved one however was Nina, who was heartbroken to be on a tribe with her mother given she now has a huge target on her back. And once again, dread.

Before we could enjoy any drama, Jonathan explained that to take out the reward four people at a time from each tribe would battle in a boat tug-o-war competition to capture a flag, with the first new tribe to three scoring a reward of hot dogs and soda, so you know I would have died to win if I was out there. First up Ben, Croc, Chrissy and Sophie faced off against Mark, Jordan, Mel and Sandra, with the new Water tribe quickly scoring the first point. Josh, Mark, David and Jordie methodically then worked together to tie things up over Croc, Khanh, Jesse and Ben. Sandra, Mel, Shay and Nina worked hard on the third round though were eventually overpowered by Sophie, Sam, KJ and Michelle who scored the second point. Oh and then Ben, Sophie, Croc and Chrissy blitzed through the next round, jagging reward for their tribe. And most importantly, we got to see Ben cheering in his speedo, so everyone is truly a winner.

Back at camp the new Water tribe were delighted to find their hot dog cart, quickly getting to work smashing their snacks and soft drinks. While Sam was thrilled they proved themselves as a new tribe, Chrissy was just thrilled to finally have Croc by her side before talk turned to the fact that Mark was given a choice to join the tribe with Sam and instead opted to keep themselves separated a little longer. Which Sam admitted was a strong strategic decision, despite it hurting. After Croc spoke about feeling bad for those that couldn’t reunite with their pair, Sam and Sophie went for a walk to clear the air and while Sophie promised there were no hard feelings, Sam was very sure that she couldn’t be trusted.

Chrissy interrupted the calm celebrations when she noticed a clue hidden in the side of the cart, quickly rushing to it to snatch it without anyone noticing as she shoved it up her pants. Successfully managing to keep it there, unlike Sharn. Well, until she and Croc awkwardly hugged and she handed it off to him. Back at camp, they went for a walk together where they read their clue and upon Chrissy figuring out where their idol would be, darted off to the river to jag it without anyone noticing. With Croc planning to keep it secret, given that is the advice Sandra gave him and ugh, I now love Croc.

We finally checked in on the new Blood tribe where Jordie was thrilled by how the swap played out for him, keeping him with all of his closest allies and in the majority on the new tribe. And well, to say he was confident is an understatement. Jordie immediately identified Sandra as the biggest threat and vowed to get rid of her ASAP. Essentially. Mark opened up about deciding to stay away from Sam, knowing it was the safest option for them, despite it not being what he truly wanted. As everyone washed off in the water and formed quick bonds, poor Sandra was left alone with Dave back at camp and attempted to try and start over with him, given it is her only option. While she was hopeful Nina’s strong bonds and likability would be able to help her out, she was still very nervous.

Speaking of Nina, she was thrilled to still be on a tribe with all of her allies but sadly – though wisely for her – she approached them to assure them that should they want to vote out her mum, she will be ok with it. While she quietly wondered to us whether she could really bring herself to break her mum’s trust, she also felt it would be hard to cross her allies too.

The tribes reconvened for the immunity challenge where Jonathan explained they would chop through a rope to release a net, climb said net to cross a tower, collect some boxes on balance beams, climb up another tower where they would drop the boxes over the side in an attempt to release a ball. And then use said ball to solve a table maze. Josh got Blood out to the earliest of leads, though they were quickly overtaken by Water who whipped up the nets. After Michelle fell on the balance beams, Blood managed to pull ahead again. Well until they struggled to smash their boxes, giving Water a huge lead while solving their table maze. Sadly, they couldn’t get it together as Nina started to talk her tribe through the puzzle. Though not quickly enough, as Water narrowly took out immunity.

And left Sandra to contend with her Day 16 curse. Much to my mildly simmering rage.

Back at camp Nina quickly apologised for choking while calling the challenge while the rest of the tribe tried to rally and raise her up. Sandra meanwhile stressed about having to go to tribal council on Day 16, though she was hopeful Nina’s connections may be able to keep around for another few days and break said curse. Not wanting to rest on her laurels though, Sandra caught up with Mark and pointed out she has issues with Dave should they be looking for a target, while Dave, Jordie and the cousins hung out to lock in the vote for Mel. Nina went for a walk with Shay and Josh with them filling Nina in on the plan to get rid of Mel, given she is clumsy and may be a liability in future challenges. Which was music to Nina’s, and importantly my ears. 

Sandra meanwhile was back in the water with Jordan, Dave and Amy, with them shocked by the fact Water are willing to get rid of one of their own despite being in the minority. Sadly it was at that moment that Jordie decided they really should have some fun with the vote and instead take out one of the weaker OG Blood women in the form of Sandra, and then at a whisper, Amy.

Jordie, Josh and Mark giddily locked in the vote for Sandra given she is not only weaker and from the rival tribe but most importantly, a massive threat. While Jordie and Josh wanted to give Nina a heads up, Mark assured them it was too dangerous given she could get Shay to play her idol to save her mother and ruin not only their plans but their alliance. Speaking of which, Nina, Sandra and Shay were catching up and well, this better end with an idol play otherwise I’ll be heartbroken. While the trio felt the vote was still going Mel’s way, Sandra worried about what would happen after that given there is nowhere else for her to hide. Even though she isn’t even hiding anymore.

Mark, Jordie and Josh caught up with the other former OG Blood members and Mel to float the Sandra plan and tragically everyone seemed thrilled to jump on board. Thankfully though Nina could tell that Mark and Mel were acting weird with her and as such, felt like something was up. While Jordie caught up with Sandra and assured him the plan was still on Mel, desperate to claim the scalp of Sandra in a blindside.

At tribal council Sandra spoke about being happy with the new tribe, reiterating how proud she is to still be in the game. Mel opened up about being nervous about the upcoming vote, while Mark tried to downplay the fact the original Water tribe hold the majority in this new tribe. Which Jordie reiterated, though far less eloquently. Shay mentioned that she would be voting on strength, given she is desperate for some food and to get another win. This got Sandra fired up, announcing that is not how Survivor works or how it is played, given one person is not a deciding factor in losing a challenge. Sandra then doubled down and pointed out that alliances are more important because come merge, the weak will outnumber the strong and once the strong people start losing immunity, they are immediately booted. Unless they have allies willing to protect them.

This speech spooked Shay, given she thought she knew what would be playing out while Jordie spoke about every season being a clean slate and kinda pretending like Sandra isn’t a damn icon that could wash each and every one of them any day of the week. And well, he better moon us tomorrow if he gets his way tonight because I am growing tired. Nina admitted she is nervous about the upcoming vote, with Jordie pretty much saying he isn’t looking forward to facing a loved one back at camp which narrows down the boot to one of four people, but really only Sandra. Speaking of the Queen, she admitted that she is definitely expecting to receive a couple of votes at tribal council, though continued to speak strongly, reiterating that being a pair is strong and as such, made Josh and Jordan nervous about potentially being the only pair left in the tribe.

Jonathan then asked Nina whether she felt being a pair was important and when Sandra tried to look her in the eye, she told her to look at Jonathan instead as her eyes welled up. This well and truly got Sandra nervous as she spoke about knowing what she signed up for, though she still looked gutted. Before reminding us that the queen stays queen.

With that the tribe voted and tragically, there were no miracles as Shay played her idol for herself – not sure why, though – and Queen Sandra was unanimously booted from the tribe. Once again swap-screwed on Day 16. Which is why I threw the most epic tantrum Charters Towers had ever seen when I got word that Sandra’s curse had completed its hat trick before she claimed her triple crown. 

My tantrum wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice and it wasn’t cute, though I would argue it was completely justified.

Sandra is a complete and utter icon and if her new tribes would only stop losing the first challenge after a swap, she should be a lock for the merge after enough time to endear herself with her new people. Instead, we’re left with the brutal tragedy that one again, Sandra is not on a jury at the worst but more ideally addressing one.

While I was heartbroken by her placement on paper, her run on Australian Survivor has only managed to cement her status as the best to ever play the game. Her strategy is simple and logical, but one that not many people could pull off season after season with her finesse.

As soon as I saw her enter the Pre-Jury Villa – no Loser Lodge for MY queen – I immediately started sobbing and ran into her arms. While she wasn’t receptive to my ideas for her to disown Nina and adopt me in her place, or to find Jonathan and production and force them to re-shoot tribal council, or even add a new version of Redemption Rock where Sandra is automatically given the win; she was grateful for my enduring love and support and glad that I was once again by her side on Day 16 to eat our feelings, this time with a Triple Pork, Corndra Cheeaz-Twine. A meal I had tragically thought would manifest the third win, rather than enacting her curse for a third time.

Now I can not take ownership of this recipe – that is Jock Zonfrillo, with some minor tweaks for my preferences – I knew Sandra’s return from retirement needed to be marked with something decadent and regal, worthy of her legacy. This very baconny, very cheesy number is near perfection – smokey and umami, sweet and salty, it is the only glorious meal worthy of someone as glorious as the Survivor GOAT.

Enjoy!

Triple Pork, Corndra Cheeaz-Twine
Jock Zonfrillo’s original recipe
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
50g thinly sliced smoked pancetta
25g smoked salt
25g dark muscovado sugar
10g ground black pepper, to season
10g hot smoked paprika
10g ground star anise
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.2kg pork belly
1 cup cloudy apple juice
150g sourdough, blitzed to form crumbs
230g sharp aged smoked cheddar, coarsely grated
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
120g unsalted butter, diced
60g flour
2 ½ cups milk
130g blue cheese, diced
130g Fontina, coarsely grated
130g Talleggio, coarsely grated
salt and white pepper, to taste
400g smoked bacon lardons
1 bunch shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
3 x 400g cans sweetcorn, drained
¼ cup sour cream

Method
Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Start by working on your bacon rub by placing the pancetta on a lined baking sheet and cooking in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to remove grease and allow it to cool. Once chill, combine the pancetta with the smoked salt, muscovado sugar, black pepper, paprika and star anise in a food processor or blender and blitz until crumbed.

Next, score the skin of your pork belly and rub it with oil followed by all but 2 tbsp of the bacon rub, getting it on the meat and skin until it is gorgeously marooned. Pop the pork belly on a rack in a baking dish, skin side up, and pour the apple juice into the dish. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes, before reducing the heat to 180C and cooking for a further hour. Keeping an eye on the apple juice in the pan and topping up with more, or water, should it run dry. Remove from the oven and leave to rest.

While the pork is getting gorgeously browned, combine the bread crumbs, 100g of the smoked cheddar, parsley and the remaining bacon rub in a bowl until combined.

Next step – FYI, there are a lot of steps and it is what Sandra deserves, so deal – melt half the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add the flour, whisk and cook for a minute or so. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk to combine before returning to the heat and bringing to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining cheeses and cooking for a further couple of minutes, or until well combined. Season and keep warm.

In another saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat and cook the lardons for five minutes or until starting to caramelise. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme and cook for further five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the corn and stir until warmed through.

When the smells have you more than ready to eat, cut the pork belly into a dice, reserving the crackling for a side or to top. Combine the corn and lardon mixture with the cheese sauce, before folding through the pork belly and sour cream.

Transfer to a baking dish, top with the crumb and pop in the oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve immediately and devour, eating all your feelings away before the next episode.

And remember, the Queen will always stay Queen. Day 16 curse be damned!


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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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Jason Porkstein Chow Mein

Main, Street Food, Survivor South Africa, Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island, TV, TV Recap

After the longest, darkest off season Survivor is back. No not the Jiffy Pop brand of Survivor but a Survivor, and since Nico my love is super hot, you’re going to buckle in. Whether you like it or not, ok? Because this is Survivor SA.

We opened with my dear Nico, perilously close to a cliff face on the southern tip of Africa, filling me with fear and dread since we’ve all lived through enough in the last 18 months. I mean, that was worse than the Game of Thrones series finale. Anyway, my mood perked up when we met Tyson who is a babe and just like that, I love him. We followed him with Jason who is thrilled to have a homeground advantage being in SA, despite everyone having the same advantage. Though it turns out Amy kinda proved Jason may actually be correct, since she has no idea what to fear IN HER OWN COUNTRY.

Though maybe that is because in Australia, we just assume all bugs and snakes will kill you.

My hair twin Qieän was living for lady Rupert who we learnt is called Santoni. She in turn is scared by how built Marisha is and Anesu was intimidated by a shirtless old zaddy called Shaun. Nicole is looking forward to being underestimated, shirtless zaddy was shirtless so I didn’t absorb much information aside from his passion for backstabbing while sweet Pinty was pumped to be honest – no Queen Pinty. Nico then introduced us to the conceptImmunity Island which appears to be the same as Island of Secrets, which was fun and not overpowered, so I’ll let it slide.

Oh and Thoriso is ready to win, Wardah is ready to practice her mindfulness and Renier is excited to prove himself. And Tyson swung back around to tell us he will win. So I’m going to say he actually will win. As much as I love most of the cast.

The castaways finally joined Nico for an official welcome to the game where Santoni spoke about her weird and whimsical ways and damn, I love her. Tyson again reminded us he is here to win and again, I’ll listen. Until I realised Chappies was showing off his beautiful gams because now he has won something. My heart. Oh and Marisha the strong was charming and iconic, and I feel deep within my waters that I’m really going to enjoy her.

Nico explained that someone will head to Immunity Island after losing an immunity challenge. Once there they will be faced with a challenge offering them advantages and disadvantages. But that is all he was willing to share at this stage.

Nico instead announced that they would be split into two tribes based on random draw with Amy, Anela, Dino, Jason, Marisha, Nicole, Qieän, Renier, Shaun and Thoriso landing on Zamba and Vuna made up of Anesu, Carla, Chappies, Kiran, Mike, Pinty, Paul, Santoni, Tyson and Wardah. Nicole was thrilled to be on the tribe with buff queen Marisha, while Paul was annoyed to be the only buff guy on the weaker looking Vuna tribe. Though Anesu thinks orange is a colour of abundance and therefore, didn’t care. And now, I vote for her to win. Oh and Thoriso was annoyed to be with the buff squad while Amy was thrilled to be with them, as Wardah was loving the energetics of her tribe. And then Jason talked smack about his rivals’ chill ways.

But enough set-up, the tribes were immediately tasked with running into the jungle to grab as many supplies as possible in two minutes. Oh and to make things more complicated, there were two immunity necklaces for each tribe that are good for their first tribal. As they ran off Renier knew not to go for immunity and instead to look out for an advantage amongst the loot, while everyone ran around like mad for the fruit and snacks. While Dino it turns out, was the one to make a run for his tribe’s immunity necklace. And nobody from Vuna snagged one. Dino was thrilled to not become the first boot, though was nervous about what it could potentially mean for his game. Nico then announced that there was also a brown envelope with a tribe advantage in it, but the person had to reveal who they were to receive it. With Renier thrilling his tribe by the fact that he grabbed it, but I can’t help but feel the secrecy may come back to bite him. And you guessed it, I love him.

Particularly since Nico told them that Renier is a game player. Though he did win the tribe camp comfort supplies, so maybe they won’t worry too much.

With that the tribes grabbed their maps and headed off to their camps, ready to start the game. We first checked in with Zamba where Dino was apologising for grabbing the immunity necklace before the tribe went on a group trip through the jungle to get water and to get to know each other. Meanwhile at Vuna they was far more chill about things as they got to work and hanging as a pack, talking about not working too hard and just doing a temporary shelter to get them going. Chappies meanwhile was wooing me as he rubbed two sticks together in his undies to try and make fire.

We bounced back to Zamba where Renier was happy to let other people take a leadership role in the tribe and paint a target on their backs. And given how the tribe grew more and more frustrated as they attempted to build their shelter, Jason girl, you’re in trouble. Well other than Shaun and Qieän who were desperately searching through the supplies for a flint or an idol. Which Amy noticed and immediately reported to Renier, Dino, Jason and Anela. And all of them were thrilled to have a target on someone else’s back. Oh and during the conversation we learnt that Nicole and Marisha were also aligned, apparently.

At Vuna Pinty and Chappie waded in the shores and quickly aligned, Kiran and Anesu aligned in the shrubs due to attending the same university before Kiran roped Carla, Mike and Tyson into their alliance. Oh and Anesu was quick to align with Wardah, given they are both influencers and Wardah thinks Anesu should keep her career as a doctor secret. And then Wardah caught up with Tyson and aligned with him too as Chappies and Pinty tried to recruit Anseu. But let’s be honest the main take away is that everyone wants to align with Anesu. And who wouldn’t because she is now my winner’s pick.

That night Zamba were sleeping under their shelter on the ground while Vuna struggled to stay dry in the rain. Though Carla proved herself to be a damn icon and that truly matters to me.

Zamba woke up dry and comfortable on day two, ready to finish their shelter and make things more comfortable while Thoriso worried about getting herself up from the bottom of the totem pole. As such, she set her sights on Shaun and his brash lack of people skills and turning people against him.

Before she could get to that, treemail arrived tasking each tribe with sending one champion to go and battle creating fire using a flint, with the winner securing a fire making kit for their tribe. Chappies and Jason were each nominated, with Thoriso quickly surmising that by nominating Jason the tribe appear to trust him and as such, she had another target in her sights. In any event, Jason and Chappies joined Nico with the latter trying to intimidate Jason by pretending they already have fire. Which Jason rightly called bullshit on. But more importantly, I think they should date. In any event, both of the boys were quick to get a flame but Chappie ultimately smoked the competition and secured reward for his tribe.

Oh and then Nico gave them diplomatic immunity, meaning both of them now have the power to mutiny from their tribe after losing immunity but only before the merge. Which could be really interesting.

Back at camp Chappies was quick to share his victory with the tribe though wisely kept quiet about his power to defect, should he need it. While Mike pondered whether something else happened at the challenge, Chappies invoked Zaddy John and got naked and ran into the water as a dick-straction. So basically, I love Chappies and would die for him. Meanwhile at Zamba, Jason was heartbroken to have lost and he too kept his mouth shut about his immutinity. Queen Thoriso meanwhile was frustrated by the fact the loss won’t really change anything for Jason and right on cue, he wandered off to align with Shaun.

That night at Vuna, the tribe joyously gathered around fire and basked in the warmth and victory as they roasted their veggies.

The next day Nico returned for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes would swim out to retrieve rope rungs from buoys before using them to build a rope ladder to get to a second level of a tower where they would need to solve a rope ladder puzzle and then venture to the top floor and wait wait wait, I’ve missed this, solve a puzzle. Renier got Zamba off to a slight lead over Chappies, which Paul quickly closed as Jason was felled by knots. Vuna continued to hold on to their lead, building their ladder while Zamba desperately tried to close the gap. Until Santoni struggled and the tribes became neck and neck. Zamba got their start on the second ladder first, getting to the final level while Vuna languished on the second. But then the puzzle happened, as Vuna smoked them and snatched the first immunity thanks to Queen Anesu. As Dino begged Paul to save him and send him to immunity island.

Sadly for him, the tribe went with my Queen Thoriso. Which is the only answer I was willing for them to make.

We followed Thoriso off to Immunity Island where she learnt that she had earned immunity for herself, as well as food, shelter and fire. But obviously there was a cost, where she could face a challenge for another advantage and risk losing her vote at the next tribal. Though if she doesn’t play, she has to return to the tribe and hand over the immunity necklace to someone else. Obviously she opted for the challenge and got digging in a sandpit to find a red ball within a couple of minutes, which she sadly failed at and ended up losing her vote.

Back at camp Shaun was annoyed by Dino trying to align with the other tribe while Amy languished over being the reason they lost the challenge. Dino acknowledged that he was trying to woo the other tribe and Rinna it (aka owning it) to his advantage. Thankfully for him, Amy, Nicole and Marisha didn’t care as they desperately wanted Qieän gone first and were willing to join him. Meanwhile Jason and Anela – aka Smash – were catching up about who best to target and focused on the scramblers, which made Jason nervous given he is aligned with Shaun. In fact, it made Jason so nervous while trying to protect Shaun that Anela started to think Jason needed to go. 

Shaun meanwhile was busy searching everywhere for the idol.

Renier joined Jason to talk plans and while they were aligned, Renier grew nervous about Jason’s unpredictability. And immediately got to work turning the vote on Jason. The girls quickly got on board, but only if Smash was willing to join them. Then Jason and Renier spoke to Dino about the vote, with Renier earning icon status by pointing at Jason to let Dino know to vote for him. While Jason was confused as to why he was holding his hand up the entire conversation. Meanwhile Shaun was desperately trying to get Anela to protect him, surmising that since nobody has given him a name, he is clearly the name. Which really upset Qieän, given it was a sign that she will be an early boot.

At tribal council Thoriso rejoined her tribe, completely unaware that even without immunity she would have been safe tonight. Shaun spoke about the nervousness caused by the backstabbing of the previous day as people were looking to build their alliances. Jason spoke about the beautiful friendships they are already forming, before Shaun cut in to tell them that friendship is nothing and they need strength to make it to the merge. Amy spoke about focusing on trust as her deciding factor while Shaun continued to try and cut in, this time talking about working hard and being above board with everything. With Anela cutting him off to point out the target was on his back because he was searching through the food for an advantage.

Shaun said he was actually trying to find bad fruit to dispose of it before it ruins the rest of their food. Shaun told them that if they felt he had an idol, they should have gone through his bags or at least asked him. Because that is how you build trust. Thoriso was thrilled to have immunity amongst such uncertainty, while Shaun pointed out that he would always be the target. And then instead opted to remind everyone that Dino is trying to build bonds with people on the other tribe. Thankfully that was brushed over as Thoriso was forced to announce that she doesn’t have a vote at tribal, which didn’t bother Jason because one vote doesn’t really matter should you have the numbers.

Which he tragically learnt he didn’t as he was blindsided – genuinely, I might add – as the first boot. Much to the shock and delight of Shaun, who didn’t receive a single vote. He was gutted but delightful, given he is such a babe and as such, I was thrilled to fill me, hard, to the brim with some Jason Porkstein Chow Mein.

Spicy, sticky and oh so sweet, these noodles are near perfection. A little bit of hit, full of fresh veggies and packed with my other other favourite white meat. Noodles and stir fry are always a winner, particularly if you’re the first boot.

Enjoy!

Jason Porkstein Chow Mein
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp minced ginger
¼ cup shao hsing
⅓ cup oyster sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g pork mince
1 onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
400g tin baby corn
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
2 tbsp minced chilli
440g fresh chow mein noodles
1 cup wombok, sliced
4 shallots, sliced green

Method
Mix the garlic, ginger, shao hsing, oyster sauce, soy sauce and pepper together in a jug and leave to rest.

Place a wok over medium-high heat and add half the vegetable oil and quickly stir fry the mince until cooked through. Add half the sauce and cook until sticky and browned. Transfer to a bowl to cook.

Heat the rest of the oil in the wok and add literally everything but the noodles, wombok and shallots. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the remaining ingredients and cook for a few minutes.

Remove from heat, serve immediately and devour. Joyously. Because a Survivor is back and Jason is as gorgeous as a stir fry.


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Popcorn Wells

Party Food, Side, Snack

While we’ve both grown older since first becoming friends in ‘60s, the sweet, sparkle was well and truly still in her eye as I spotted her coming through the international arrivals gate. We gingerly – no pun intended – ran across the crowded room and straight into each other’s arms.

She held my face in her hands and said something that shocked me to my very core.

“I can’t believe it has been 16 years since we’ve seen each other!?”

Somehow I managed to have a mouthful of water, did a spit take and then fainted from shock. Well shock and my passion for causing a scene.

As I was roused awake by a hunky security guard and his less-so offsider, I locked eyes with Dawn once more and like a less selfish old Rose, whispered “it’s been 16 years? 16 years,” I then inserted a dramatic pause, “since the inaugural Spudfest?!”

 

 

“Yes my dear, and I’ve missed you each and every day,” said my dear friend and Idaho potatoes spokeswoman.

After the security guards carried us to our car – princess style, of course – we ventured back to my house and quickly got to catching each other up on the past decade and a half. We held hands, laughed, cried and wondered what the rest of the island gang would think seeing us together again.

Too worked up from the emotion of the day, neither of us felt like gorging on a rich, comforting meal. Which was convenient, because I was hella keen to nosh on some Popcorn Wells like in the good old days.

 

 

While it is hard to make popcorn that tastes as good as the stuff at the movies – I think the butter and salt needs the hours sitting in the warmed, glass case of emotion to fully release their flavours – this little number is pretty good fresh. Generously buttered, lightly salted, it has your stomach craving more, more, more. That’s how it likes it. That’s how it likes it.

Enjoy!

 

 

Popcorn Wells
Serves: 2 dear friends.

Ingredients
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup popping corn
salt, to taste
melted butter, to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat until the oil is shimmering.

Add a kernel and if it starts spinning, or better still pops, add the rest of the corn. Immediately pop on the lid and shake the pan. Return to the heat and once the popping kicks off, agitate the pot semi-frequently to keep the unpopped pieces shimmying down to the bottom.

Once the popping has all but stopped, remove from the heat and season with salt. Cover again and give a good shake before pouring in melted butter to taste, covering again and giving a more aggressive shake to ensure it is all coated.

Then devour. At SpudFest, or at home. Your choice.

 

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South West ShickAnn Huanger

Burgers, Main, Street Food, Survivor, Survivor: All Stars, Survivor: Thailand

This time next week we will have ventured to an island featuring absurdly large busts of Survivor icons Sandra and Rob, Jeffrey will no doubt have spoken about balls and poles and our first boot will have eaten their feelings with me in Ponderosa.

But more importantly, that means I have one more icon to celebrate as we anticipate the return. Which is where my dear, dear, Shii Ann comes in to play.

While All Stars cops a lot of flack because of the ugly, bitterness there was one shining light and that was the iconic underdog herself Shi Ann. I mean, name a more iconic moment than her winning immunity at the exact moment she so desperately needed it and then proceed to rub it in the faces of everyone that she was up against.

It was that spitfire moment that truly solidified her place in my heart and I was honoured that she accepted the invite to be the showstopper of this season’s countdown. Particularly since she is busy with her real estate career in NYC.

Obviously we gossiped about the cast and the upcoming season – she agrees that Janet and Elaine are icons that need to be protected at all cost – but mostly we caught up on how she has been (great), whether she would come back for another season (yes) and most importantly, whether my ex Frederick still pines after me (of course).

We then sat down to a plate of piping hot South West ShickAnn Huangers and toasted to the season ahead.

 

 

A little kick of chilli, a punch of lime and the creamy guacamole work together to make this burger sing. I mean, only stupid, stupid people wouldn’t agree that it is perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

South West ShickAnn Huanger
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g chicken mince
½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup corn, rinsed and drained
3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 lime, zested and juiced
4 Kirsten Bunst
olive oil
1 tomato, sliced
a handful butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained
1 batch Lady Guagamole
hot sauce, to serve

Method
Start by combining the mince, black beans, corn, shallots, garlic, chilli, cumin and lime in a bowl, and scrunching with your hands until well combined. Split into four patties.

Place a skillet over medium heat and add the split buns to toast for a couple of minutes.

Add a good lug of oil to the pan and cook the patties for a few minutes before flipping and cooking for a remaining five minutes, or until cooked through.

To assemble, place a hearty dollop of guacamole on the base of the roll. Add a few slices of tomato, lettuce, the patty, hot sauce and another dollop of guac. Just because.

Then devour, greedily, rubbing it in the faces of those that didn’t get a burg.

 

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Caramel Popcorey Haim Cupcakes

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

Aaaaaahhhh, my heart! Spending the last few days with Corey Haim has got me feeling all sad and nostalgic.

Despite what Feldman would say, Haim and I were the absolute best of friends after meeting in the 80s and while we both struggled with addiction issues, were always trying to help the other back on to the wagon – on is non-alcoholic, yeah? – even while we were failing ourselves.

It truly was such a beautiful friendship.

While there have been a lot of stories coming out about what Corey experienced in the industry, I was tragically too drunk and out of it to ever see anything beyond myself and our friendship. And as a friend, he truly was the best. Warm, caring and generously, we always had fun together and brought light into each other’s life and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

Given we met during The Lost Boys, I set the time machine for filming and dropped back, roofied myself and headed into the kitchen with ‘80s Annelie to whip up a big ol batch of her famed Caramel Popcorey Haim Cupcakes.

 

 

Make no mistake, these are the best cupcakes you will ever taste. Even better, they are so super easy to make, that anyone struggling with their sobriety/the demands of Jami Gertz can make them. Sweet, fluffy and most importantly, moist, they are everything you need … outside of having your friends back in your life.

Enjoy!

 

 

Caramel Popcorey Haim Cupcakes
Serves: 12. But really, 3 of the best friends.

Ingredients
1 cup flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder, sifted with the flour
1 ½ cup raw caster sugar, split in two
2 eggs
Roughly ¾ cup thickened cream
2 tsp vanilla
¼ vegetable oil
⅓ cup popping corn kernels
3 tbsp honey
250g butter, split in two
120g white chocolate, melted
2-3 cups pure icing sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C.

Crack the eggs into a measuring jug and fill with the thickened cream up to the one-cup line and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for 3 minutes. Add half the caster sugar and vanilla in thirds, beating well after each addition. Remove from the mixer and fold through the flour and baking powder.

Divided the batter between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Just.

With the cakes sorted, line a baking sheet with baking paper and heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based saucepan over a hot heat. When searing, add a kernel and if it starts to move, you’re ready to go – acting quickly, reduce heat to medium, add the remaining kernels, cover firmly with a lid and cook, shaking semi-frequently, until the popping starts to subside. Remove from the heat and discard any un-popped kernels.

Combine the remaining caster sugar, half the butter and honey in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, swirling, until mixture is boiling. Allow to boil, without stirring – which I know is super hard – until golden brown. Pour over the popcorn, quickly mix together and transfer to the lined baking sheet, pressing to form a single layer. Allow to cool.

Finally, beat the remaining butter in a stand mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Slowly add the icing sugar and white chocolate, continuously mixing, until a light buttercream that will hold it’s shape – just – is achieved.

Top each cupcake with a delicate dollop of icing and whack of caramel popcorn … before devouring, greedily.

 

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