Marcia Hot Cross Buns

Baking, Bread, Side, Snack, Sweets

With Easter just around the corner, I started thinking about all the wonderful back-from-the-dead – or brink of – performances to ever grace the small screen and it reminded me how long it had been since I caught up with my dear friend Marcia Cross.

While much has been made about it in the media, I was not not the inspiration for the role of Kimberly Shaw in Melrose Place. I was just brought in to coach Marcia to peak craziness. We worked together day and night for months, and that close working relationship quickly developed into a deep and beautiful friendship that no questionable casting choices – I see you Quantico – will ever destroy.

Marcia and I are such wonderful friends, but since we’re both so successful and busy it makes it hard to maintain the day-to-day aspects of friendship, so it was such a treat to make the time to hang out and toast to the future.

Despite the fact she only has Quantico keeping her busy compared to the multiple pies I have my hands in. Not that I’m bitter.

Anyway, easter is the time for miracles etc. so Marsh and I made it work, plotted a return to the A-list – for both of us – and devoured in a shit tonne of Marcia Hot Cross Buns, as is the style of the season.

 

 

Spicy, soft and packing a punch – not to measure a shit tonne of delicious fruits – these make the perfection that is Hot Cross Buns even better.

Not convinced? Make them for yourself … and enjoy!

 

 

Marcia Hot Cross Buns
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
14g dried yeast
1 ¼ cups milk, warmed
¼ cup muscovado sugar
4 cups flour, plus ¼ cup for crossin’
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
¼ cup butter
½ cup sultanas
½ cup raisins
1 cup craisins
2 eggs
½ tsp baking powder

Method
Combine the yeast, milk and muscovado sugar in a jug and set aside in a warm, dry place until it is foamy and glorious.

Meanwhile combine the flour, spices and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and rub through the butter with your fingertips until it resembles dirty sand. Add the fruits, eggs and foamy yeast mixture, and knead in a stand mixer for five to ten minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and allow to prove for an hour or so, or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Knock the dough back, shape into 12 balls and place on a lined baking sheet, leaving 5cm apart. Cover with some cling and allow to prove for another half an hour.

Combine the extra flour with the baking powder and ¼ cup of water. Spoon crosses over the buns and transfer to the oven to bake for ten minutes. Reduce heat to 150°C, rotate the pan and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before serving, slathered in a shit tonne of butter.

 

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Speidy Nuts Swedberg

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Side, Snack, Tapas

Let’s be honest, there are only four stars of Seinfeld so not every day of our Festivus celebrations can be filled with the iconic portrayers of TV’s erstwhile George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry. That being said, the character of Susan and her death by out-of-date envelopes is truly iconic and more than earns Heidi Swedberg a trip to Brisbane to help my par-tay.

Plus, as is always the case, she is one of my dearest friends.

I first met Heid in the late ‘80s when she guested on an episode of Matlock. I was Andy Griffith’s stand-in – as we were both older gentleman, at heart – so spent a lot of time with the bit-players. The bond with Heidi was semi-instant and we kept in contact in the years that followed.

When Jase reached out about finding someone to play his love interest on the show, I thought she would be perfect for the role and would fit in well with the cast. While I was completely wrong about the last part, her death storyline was both hilarious and a cautionary tale for those, like me, that hoard Christmas cards year-on-year for later use.

While Heidi up on a life in Hollywood, she was thrilled to come out of hiding to celebrate Susan and Festivus. On the strict proviso that it was a date with only me, and that I’d be serving up my delightful Speidi Swedberg nuts.

 

 

Sweet, festively spiced and packing a little heat, these little babies are the perfect accompaniment for a festive date. Or for getting rid of the taste of rotten envelope glue.

Enjoy!

 

 

Speidi Swedberg Nuts
Serves: 1. 6-8 in a pinch.

Ingredients
500g mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias and almonds
¼ cup pepitas
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
salt, to taste
1 cup craisins

Method
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and line a large baking sheet.

Chuck the nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds in the pan and toss with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Add the spices and toss to coat. Then add the oil, sugar and rosemary, toss to coat and cook until golden and fragrant.

Transfer them to the lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and leave to to cool completely. Toss through the craisins and decant into bowls to serve immediately or a sterilised jar.

Then, obviously, devour.

 

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Turkey Roulade McLanahan

Main, Poultry, Thankgiving for being a friend

After spending the last couple of days in ‘87 catching up with Bea and Estelle, I wasn’t sure if I should hang around for my date with Rue or go visit her in ‘05 when she was appearing in Wicked. Despite the fact it would likely have lead me to landing a part in the hit musical – and probs my first Tony – I decided to stick with the past.

Mainly to avoid a feud due to me exiting the time period without a word. Though it’s not like it would have lasted long, given how close we were.

I first met Rue on the set of Maude in the ‘70s. I, of course, was there as part of Bea’s entourage but I was fast taken by the delightful Eddi-Rue. We were both thrice divorced by the time we met and it was just such a comfort to have someone to talk to that had been through the same thing.

Rue always felt like the glue that held the girls together, given her warm, loving nature and I am so thankful to be able to experience it firsthand once more.

“My sweet darlin’ Ben, I do say, how I’ve missed you!”

I ran into her arms and held back my tears for her unexpected death in 2010.

“Now my sweet boy. Bea and Stell told me I’m in for a real treat for dinner … like how the men feel when going on a date with that Blanche!”

We laughed long and hard well into the night, talking about all the things we were thankful for – divorce being a big one for us three-timers – before sitting down to a big ol’ orgy of meat in the form of my Turkey Roulade McLanahan.

 

 

Given I was cooking in someone else’s kitchen … in the ‘80s, I couldn’t go around whipping up a big roast. That of course doesn’t take away from the fact this is a show stopper. The crispy pancetta crust keeps the turkey nice and moist. Particularly when you stuff it full of more meat and a good whack of herbs.

Enjoy!

 

 

Turkey Roulade McLanahan
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1 small bunch of sage, roughly chopped
4 pork sausages, casings removed
1 carrot, grated
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup craisins
a small handful of spinach, roughly chopped
freshly grated pepper
800g turkey breast fillets, flatten to 2cm thick with a mallet or rolling pin
200g thinly sliced pancetta

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Combine the sage, sausage, carrot, garlic, parmesan, craisins and spinach in a bowl with a good whack of pepper.

Arrange the pancetta on a sheet of baking paper, slightly overlapping. Line the flattened breasts along one of the long edges, pressing closely or overlapping to form a clean piece of meat. Form the stuffing into a long sausage and place it along the centre of the meat. Using the baking paper as a guide, tightly roll the turkey over to form a long roll, with the pancetta sealing the turkey meat. Tie with a couple of pieces of kitchen twine to secure, transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and beautifully cooked on the inside.

Allow to stand for five minutes or so before carving, serving and, most importantly, devouring.

 

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Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls

Main, Party Food, Snack

While my first two choices were both too busy – being a monarch and a queen, respectively – to catch-up, my old faithful Keira Knightley was free. And it was wonderful to see her again.

I first met Kiz while protesting against her playing Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice – because no one would ever be able to top the sublime Jennifer Ehle. Oh … and I stole Jamie Dornan away from her. It wasn’t a strong start to friendship, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does highlight how sweet dear Kizza can be.

But I guess I wouldn’t hold a grudge if someone bought you your first Academy Award nomination to apologise.

After working through our rocky start, we became the best of friends and I became the toast of ol’ London town. We laughed, we partied and, after she discovered that she didn’t earn her first nom, vowed to secure her a legit Oscar nom. While it took me nine years, her performance in The Imitation Game was exquisite and I was glad to see her get the recognition she deserved … and to clear my debt.

It was such a treat to see her again and catch-up on what she’s been doing since she was in town for the scandal plagued last Pirates movie. Given how thankful we were to see each other, I was inspired to whip up my  Thanksgiving approved Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls.

 

 

Bringing a little bit of festive spirit to the Australian classic, these rolls are near culinary perfection. Flakey pastry, spiced, moist turkey and plump warm cranberries? Delicious and oh so comforting.

Enjoy!

 

 

Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g turkey mince
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup craisins, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
⅓ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 eggs, lightly whisked

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Place the turkey, onion, garlic, craisins, sage, pistachios, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a large bowl and scrunch to combine.

Cut the pastry sheets in half and split the meat mixture into two, shaping into a long sausage to fit the length of the pastry. Place on the pastry, wrap tightly to combine, brushing the seam to help seal the sausage roll.

Slice each into two or three, place on a lined baking sheet and brush with remaining egg. Place in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until cooked through and the pastry is golden.

Devour, festively.

 

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Fruit Mince Pylie Jenner

Dessert, Keeping it Kardashian Khristmas, Snack, Sweets

As the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner empire, Kylie has a lot of fantastic role models to look up to but she still looks to us for guidance and support, as her beloved god-parents.

Kylie was such a sweet angel when she was born and you just knew she was destined for greatness.

When Annelie was contemplating pursuing medicine, it was only Kyles who was able to provide her with a rational ear, great advice and the lips to see if she would be interested in going into plastics.

You see, she actually only lied about having surgery to avoid getting Annelie in trouble for using C-grade construction cement before even getting into med. Talk about a ride or (nearly) die friend!

Kyles was only able to take a brief amount  of time out of her busy hair-extension and lip contouring schedule to drop by and celebrate Khristmas with her godparents, so we opted for a sweet treat of our Fruite Mince Pylie Jenners.

 

Fruit Mince Pylie Jenner_1

 

I used to loathe fruit mince pies on account of their odd mouth feel and the irrational decision that they were filled with just dried fruit and beef or aspic; then I had fresh ones and my life was changed.

These pillowy delights are heavenly, sweet and full of tart cranberries that make them sing. But well, not like Kris.

Enjoy!

 

Fruit Mince Pylie Jenner_2

 

Fruit Mince Pylie Jenner
Makes: 48(ish). Aka heaps.

Ingredients
Mincemeat
60ml brandy
75g muscovado sugar
300g cranberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
75g currants
75g raisins
30g dried cranberries
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
25ml brandy
3 drops almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey

Pastry
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
milk (splash)

Method
Mincemeat
In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the brandy (60ml) over a gentle heat before adding the fresh (aka frozen in Australia) cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, currants, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the orange.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has started to soften and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Add the remaining brandy, almond extract, vanilla extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars (you know the drill thanks to Meryl) and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Pastry
Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Using your fingertips, gently rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it starts to resemble wet sand.

Add the egg and a dash of milk, and work together until you have a ball. Be careful not to overwork it.

Pat the ball into a thick round disc, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pies
To make the pies you will need a mini tart tin, a small circular object for cutting (we use an upturned shot glass) and a miniature star cutter (just to be like Nigella).

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

When the 30 minutes is up, remove it from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly dusted surface until it is roughly 5mm thick.

Cut out the circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins, so that they are tall enough in the tart tins, gently pressing them into shape as you go. Once the tray is full of pastry, add roughly a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pie before topping with a mini pastry star.

Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, keeping an eye on them to avoid burning.

Remove from the oven and empty the pies out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. Continue the process until you run out of pastry, storing the leftover mincemeat for future baking or to have with icecream.

When they are all done and cooled, whack some icing sugar in a tea ball and make it look like a winter wonderland … or L.A. in the 80s. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

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White Kristmas Jenner

Keeping it Kardashian Khristmas, Snack, Sweets

While publicity whoring is something we clearly have in common with the Kardashian-Jenner klan, naturally our history goes back quite some way with mother hen, Kris.

Ben and I first met Kris when we were trying to start yet another ponzi scheme, this time involving somewhat controversial and unorthodox dieting methods. Kris was entering the mainstream after that whole O.J Simpson thing, looking to leverage her personal fame and attempting to launch her new identity, LudaKris.

Ben, LudaKris and I formed a magical business partnership fondly known as Jenny Kraig. Lose 10 pounds in 10 days? That’s LudaKris! Alas, it was ludicrous and we quickly went out of business.

Despite our early failures, LudaKris eventually decided to go sans-Luda and embrace the momager she was destined to be. What klassy treat can we share with our klassy pal?

 

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White Kristmas is everything a festive treat should be – klassic, kolourful and full of kflavour.

 

IMG_5663

 

White Kristmas
Serves: 16

Ingredients
1 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
500g white chocolate
2 cups rice bubbles
1 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
Half fill a medium saucepan with water and place on medium heat. Line and grease a rectangular slice tray.

Combine pistachios, cranberries, rice bubbles and coconut in a large bowl.

Place a heatproof metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Add white chocolate to bowl and melt over gentle heat. Once just melted stir in vanilla.

Add chocolate and vanilla mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate until set.

 

As you can probably tell, we are very social but the fun isn’t only limited to celebrities! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.