Chocolate and Peanatalie Andersecake

Baking, Cake, Survivor, Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Winners at War, Sweets, TV, TV Recap

Let’s not even play the cutesie game of acknowledging the previous two seasons of Survivor, because honestly, they ended up with a controversial victor and some real world ugliness dominating the end game. And this is the ultimate battle – Winners at War – and even the inclusion of Edge of Extinction can’t take away from the epic grandeur that is about to unfold before our very eyes. Speaking of unfolded, to begin the season we opened up with the original marooning, followed in quick succession by the current batch of contestants and their victorious maroonings and honestly, if the site of Ethan in Africa spliced with the zaddy riding the Fijian waves in a speed boat doesn’t flood your basement and make you want to cry because you’re so overwhelmed, you’re a terrible person.

I mean, it is fucking Ethan! Fun fact: he is the first person that made me feel ok to embrace my curls. Even funner fact: I now realise that that was me thinking he was hot and wanting to look like him.

But anyway, the ten men sped through the Fijian waters with Tony acknowledging his huge target, though looking around at his fellow victors, he himself was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the season, and his fellow competitors. Meanwhile in another part of the ocean, ten female winners were cruising on their own boat, with Parvati talking about being out of the loop for ten years while building her family, though she was ready to come back and destroy her competition. And honestly, I already have goosebumps. Ethan shared that he is just happy that he lived long enough to play Survivor again after beating cancer. Amber was thrilled to be back and hoped to win again, and more importantly looked forward to beating her husband again.

The men were the first to arrive on the tiny island in the middle of a reef where Probst was waiting to greet them. The women soon followed, with Sandra shocked to see Rob was also there playing against his wife, given she just spent 36 days on the Island of the Idols with her and never once thought to mention that he was playing again. As a newer winner, Wendell was overwhelmed to be facing off against legends, 13 years on Yul knows that the game has changed and Probst acknowledged how much the world has changed since Amber first played 20 years ago and hot damn, I am old. And hot damn, this is amazing.

Probst unveiled a bottle of champagne to toast everyone and 20 years of Survivor before shocking Natalie by splitting everyone into tribes and assuring them that the season is not men versus women. She started on the Sele tribe with Rob, Ethan, Parvati, Ben, Michele, Danni, Denise, her bestie Jeremy and Adam, while Tony, Wendell, Amber, Kim, Sophie, Nick, Sarah, Yul, Sandra and Tyson formed Dakal. Probst announced that this season would feature a currency called Fire Tokens. Each person would start with one and would need to will it to someone else when they are voted out to the Edge of Extinction. Vom. Adding to the excitement, he then said that this season would be a little bit different, in that the victor wouldn’t win $1 million, bu $2 million, to the joy of literally everyone.

Oh and then he surprised everyone by announcing that they would be kicking the season off with a challenge in the water, which isn’t a great idea after booze, but whatever. In pairs, they would race out to collect a ring and then drag the ring towards a coloured pole for their tribe. First to be touching the ring and their pole – my dream night, really – would score a point, with first to securing a flint, rice … AND immunity. Filling Denise with dread, given she has never missed a tribal council in her Survivor career.

First up were Tyson and Yul for Dakal facing off against Jeremy and Ethan for Dakal. Tyson quickly snatched the ring and headed to his pole while Jeremy and Ethan desperately tried to drag him away. Yul joined the fray however and quickly dragged them to their pole, scoring the first point for Dakal. The second round featured Natalie and Parvati versus Kim and Sarah, with Kim pulling hair and Natalie beasting her way against the current as Parvati desperately reach for the pole. Until Kim and Sarah overpowered them and scored the second point for Dakal. Rob and Ben faced off against Wendell and Tony, with the former duo proving too strong and scoring the first point for Sele. The next round featured Denise and Natalie facing off against Amber and Sarah, with Natalie and Amber clawing over the ring, while Sarah and Denise tousled in the water. Eventually the women came together and Mrs Mariano proved that managing four kids builds strength, dragging Natalie and Denise with Sarah to score the third point for Dakal and immunity.

Meaning Queen Sandra escapes being the first boot. Yas yas yas.

After being told that tribal council won’t be until day two, a dejected Sele headed off while a much more relieved Dakal arrived at their island. The tribe hugged and introduced themselves before Nick found a Fire Token menu, explaining what they can buy and how the currency works. And Nick was confident that mastering the currency will prove key to victory in the season. And given he is from a new season, he is used to it to his advantage. Please don’t tell me that is a winner’s quote.

The tribe quickly got to work building their shelter, with Wendell hoping to take a step back so that he isn’t stuck building again like his first season, rather than building relationships and hunting for idols. Meanwhile Sarah and Amber were catching up by the well, with Sarah expressing how shocked she was to see the All Stars’ victor given she and Rob have four kids sitting at home. Talk quickly turned to their kids and the women shared that they each made calendars for their kids to cross off every day until they are home. Tyson stumbled upon the scene and shared that he made a daisy chain for them to rip off a ring each day and hot damn, that is the sweetest. He then spoke about how much winning Survivor meant to him, because now he is able to spend more time with his kids and as such, coming out again is a huge deal. Back at camp Wendell called Sandra the queen, filling her with nerves as she knows that title puts the biggest target on her back. She spoke about her history with Tony and Sarah and how they all voted each other out, but my gut tells me this is all for show and they plan to stick together.

We checked in with Sele where they got to work building a shelter, while getting to know each other and slowly trying to figure out who to vote out the next day. Parvati and Jeremy bonded over their babies at home, with Parvati acknowledging how differently she will play the game as a married parent. Parvati continued to use kids to bond, chatting with Rob about his kids before Rob joined Ethan to check he was doing ok. Ethan shared how scary life after cancer can be, and as such, he is hoping returning to the game will take him back to the younger guy that was carefree and won the game. Denise and Adam went wandering to find the well and continued Denise’s terrible luck in Survivor, by getting lost. While they used the time to align, the rest of the tribe noticed that they had been gone for a ridiculously long time and as such, painted a target squarely on their backs.

We returned to Dakal where Tony was chatting to Yul, Nick and Wendell about playing a calmer game than before, knowing that it will only put a target on his back and see him get booted early again, like Game Changers. Speaking of big targets, Amber was feeling nervous about the pace of the game. While everyone was chatting and building the shelter, she wasn’t sure whether she should be out hunting for idols to save herself from the looming fear of she and her husband teaming up. On another part of the island Yul was casually asking Sophie to align and after assuring her that he didn’t view it casually, Yul spoke about the importance of the lesser connected people joining together to counter the larger poker alliance of Kim, Rob, Jeremy and Tyson, with Natalie and Amber roped in by association. Sophie and her nerd shield noticed themselves in the middle with Wendell and Nick, with Tyson, Kim and Amber closely aligned and the gritty Game Changers of Sarah, Tony and Sandra clearly aligned.

Speaking of alliances, over at Sele Rob approached Parvati about working together this season, rather than targeting each other like in Heroes vs. Villains. Knowing that they have the biggest targets on the island, and given Rob has few options, Parvati was all in and they quickly found people to join their old school crew. Speaking off old school, Danni and Ethan were chatting to Adam and Ben about everyone’s out of game connections, with Danni pointing out that Rob is clearly the most connected and as such, needs to go. Sadly for her, Ben went for a walk with Jeremy and Rob and told the latter that his name had been thrown out. In a matter of seconds Rob got the fact Danni was the one throwing his name out from Ben and as such approached Danni to hear it from her. Somehow the iconic Danni used it to her advantage, telling him the truth leading to Rob, Parvati, Danni and Ethan joining together to take on the newbies.

The next day Adam awoke terrified about tribal council as the rest of the tribe woke up and started to scramble. Danni and Denise caught up, Jeremy and Michele were plotting, Ben and Ethan chatted while the latter’s head spun about the speed of the game. Natalie and Jeremy, whom she avenged in San Juan del Sur, caught up by the shore, with Natalie suggesting that Adam should be voted out given he and Denise disappeared on day one. They took the idea to Ben, Ethan and Rob who all seemed open to the idea. Once again Ben took the information straight back to the person that was being targeted, filling Adam with even more nerves. Adam then suggested that Natalie and Jeremy were the most dangerous pair on the tribe and they should maybe focus on Rob and Amber too. Adam then got to work rallying the troops to split up Jeremy and Natalie, roping in Denise, Ethan and the old schoolers, with Rob and Parvati agreeing that it makes sense to split up the pairs ASAP.

Parvati joined Jeremy, Natalie, Danni and Ben to try and get someone to lock in a name, with everyone too scared to be the one to throw out a name. While Danni suggested Adam, everyone was too nervous to lock something in which made Parvati nervous that she is missing something and it is her. She then joined Rob by the shore and icons were in hysterics about the fact that they are sitting pretty and nobody seems to be targeting two of the biggest icons of the game. And the fact the rest of the tribe are heading out for tribal without any plans.

At tribal council Ethan spoke about how differently the pace of the game is from All Stars, which in itself was a step up from Africa. Rob agreed that the game is so different from Marquesas. Talk soon turned to the fact that Denise and Adam disappeared on day one, with Denise reiterating that they got lost before acknowledging that that doesn’t matter because perceptions are everything. Adam then jumped in to remind everyone that being nervous about people that met the day before is absurd given there is a married couple in the game and people that have been friends for decades. Probst asked Natalie whether she was nervous to follow in Nadiya’s footsteps and become the first boot, with her talking about using any excuse to vote someone out first. Parvati said that nobody should feel comfortable, but for some reason most people do. This made Jeremy nervous, though he was hopeful that tribal would show who he can trust. Ben and Michele meanwhile were just sitting there anxiously, overwhelmed by everything. Ethan admitted to being nervous, while Natalie agreed that being all winners put more pressure on them than ever before.

With that the tribe headed out to vote and it proved that Probst was prophetic as my love Natalie found herself following in Nadiya’s footsteps and becoming the first boot. Before he had even finished counting the votes, Natalie had her hair in the bun and was ready to fight, getting her torch snuffed, bequeathing her Fire Token to Jeremy – obviously – and jumping on a boat to head to the Edge of Extinction.

Sike, you know I stopped her before she jumped on the boat and pulled her into a bear hug. Well ever she stopped hitting me and screaming because I scared the shit out of each other. We collapsed in a heap laughing at how terrified she was before I casually suggested that maybe she and Nadiya just aren’t meant to compete in All Stars seasons. Obviously she objected and told me to stop saying silly things, because she is coming back with a vengeance and is going to slay the merge. Well, as soon as she is done fuelling up on her Chocolate and Peanatalie Andersecake.

 

 

This little Nigella number is quite possibly the best cake of all time, I knew it would be perfect for one of my favourite single-season winner’s arc. Revenge, redemption and bold play, calls for a punch of sticky peanut butter and the velvety smooth chocolate topping. Get thee to a kitchen now and praise the Queen. Well Queens – Natalie and Nigella.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chocolate and Peanatalie Andersecake
Serves: 1 lonely twinnie, sitting on an island waiting for Godot, Telstra and/or company.

Ingredients
200g digestive biscuits
50g salted peanuts
100g dark chocolate chips
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
500g cream cheese
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
200g raw caster sugar
1 ½ cups sour cream
250g smooth peanut butter
100g milk chocolate chips
30g muscovado brown sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Chuck the digestives, peanuts, dark chocolate chips and butter in a food processor and blitz until a moist crumb forms and it is clumping together. Transfer to a springform tin and press into the bottom and half-way up the sides. Place the base in the fridge to chill while you get started on the filling.

In a clean food processor – aka, sorry you had to clean mid-bake – place the cream cheese, egg and yolks, caster sugar, half a cup of sour cream and the peanut butter and blitz until it forms a cohesive, creamy, caramelly colour. Pour oven the base, marveling as the beauty as it flows in.

Get a kettle boiling and a baking dish that will fit the cake tin out. Wrap the base and side of the springform with a double layer of clingfilm, followed by a double layer of foil to create a protective, waterproof barrier.

Once the kettle has boiled, place the cake in the baking dish and pour water into the dish so that it comes half-way up the side of the tin. Carefully transfer the waterbath and cake into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is set and dry.

Remove from the oven and combine the remaining sour cream, milk chocolate and muscovado sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, whisking, until smooth and combined. Pour over the cake and return to the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes, or until set.

Allow to cool completely before transferring to the fridge to set overnight. Then, devouring immediately.

 

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Breked McKenziti

Main, Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XCII: Gold Basketball, Pasta

After spending the start of Oscar Gold hang with current nominee Quentin Tarantino, icon Nat Port, the inspiration for this year’s name – Gold Basketball – Kobe Bryant and the stunning screenwriter Di, I thought I should celebrate some of my favourite Anzac victors. And there is no victorious Kiwi that I love more than Bret McKenzie.

I first met Bret on the set – am I Dr freaking Zeuss? – of The Lord of the Rings, and we quickly bonded over our passion, and talent, for songwriting.

While our partnership fell through and he found success with Jemaine Clement instead, after a few years of mediation and a brief stint in prison for me, we put aside our differences and once again became friends.

In no small part to my dear Amy Adams, who wanted us to be friends again.

After blowing straight across the ditch into his arms in Wellington, I quickly begged him to use whatever sway he has to convince Jacinda to adopt our entire country and call us West Zealand. While he responded with a wry chuckle, I held his head like Gordon Ramsey calling someone an idiot sandwich, looked him dead in the eye and begged him to save us.

He calmly walked me over to his couch, sat me down and talked me through the shame I was experiencing not having Jacinda as Prime Minister before gently reminding me that we have a job to do. And that job is to run the damn odds.

So run the damn odds we did!

For Sound Mixing and Editing we both agree that 1917 is most likely to take it, since they both seem to favour war movies. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ford v Ferrari snatch one or both away from the teams.

For Original Score Hildur Guðnadóttir should pretty much clear a space for her little man because she is a lock for Joker. And lastly, in Bret’s former category, Elts and Bernie have it in the bag for Rocketman and I am so happy that I can actually be happy for him.

With that out of the way we caught each other up on our lives and spitballed ideas for the next Muppets reboot before sitting down to a big, warm Breked McKenziti.

 

 

Cheesy and gloopy, yet all together comforting and spicy. A baked ziti is one of the most glorious things. Add in some buffalo chicken, and you’ve got perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Breked McKenziti
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g ziti, cooked to packet instructions
3 tbsp butter
500g chicken mince
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
250g cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 tbsp Michelle Branch Dressing
¼ cups chives, roughly chopped
1 cup vintage cheddar, grated

Method
Preheat oven to 160° and cook the pasta as per packet instructions.

Meanwhile place a dutch oven over medium heat and melt the butter until foamy. Add the chicken mince and garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes, breaking up the back of the wooden spoon as you go. Add the flour and cook for a further minute, still stirring, until it is a sticky, gloopy mess.

Remove from the heat and stir in the milk until the sauce comes together. Return to the heat and cook for a further couple of minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add the cream cheese, hot sauce and ranch dressing and stir until coming together. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes, or until thick.

Add the chives, cooked ziti and cheddar. Stir and transfer to a large baking dish. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and goopy.

Serve immediately and devour. Victoriously.

 

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Shancken & Mangould Filo

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: All Stars, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders, Main, Poultry, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, there were two seasons that aired on rival networks that sucked and were swiftly axed. Then, years later, Channel 10 swooped in, powered by the rippling guns of Jonathan Lapaglia and Australian Survivor was reborn, at first coy and filled with mateship, the snakes took control and four epic seasons later, 24 of the best are pack for another shot at the crown.

Well 20ish of the best, some fallen angels – who transcend the title of best – and my nemesis Zach, who’s only redeeming feature was a skinny dip. Though it will never compare to Locky and John’s nude scenes, which live forever in my heart.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. And a little bit distracted. And short of breath.

Deep in the Fijian jungle we see a group of people exiting a swamp led by Daisy while Nick, AK and their snake posse emerged from the grass like the raptor scene of The Lost World. We then finally got some Shon-tent as the fourth place robbed goddesses and Brooke climbed through mangroves like they were searching for Ziggy’s super idol. Tarzan was joined by a duo of runner-ups, in the form of Sharn and Lee. The latter of whom hates me enough to block me on social media. Oh and then the challenge beasts emerged, featuring my nude zaddies, Lydia and Abbey. And oh how I look forward to Lydia’s second blindside.

Speaking of which, the iconic Shane was joined by Jericho and oh how I love Shane. And Jericho’s penchant for butchering a turn of phrase.

Oh and then David, Henry, Mat and Phoebe got to stand on the Fijian equivalent of Pride Rock and damn this is camp. AND I LIVE FOR IT.

Eventually the 24 castaways joined together to meet Jonathan at the shore, with Shonee and Michelle becoming the fastest of friends. And Lydia crapping her dacks at the sight of Shane. After welcoming the crew to their second go around, Tarzan shared it was an honour to play opposite Shane Gould while Lydia tried to play coy about her simmering rage at the aforementioned Olympic hero. David was surprisingly short on words, sharing that he is simply here for revenge. With the brief chit chat out of the way Jonathan separated everyone into their tribes, with Vakama consisting of Daisy, Locky, Mat, David, Flick, Tarzan, Brooke, Moana, Jacqui, Jericho, Phoebe and AK, while the Mokuta tribe featured Shane, Harry, Henry, Lee, Slaychelle, John, Shonee, Sharn, Abbey, Lydia, Nick and Zach.

Not wasting any time, Jonathan explained that they would be competing in their first reward challenge, where they would be required to push a heavy sled through a course, collect firewood, build a massive bonfire and burn through a rope … in exchange for a fully built shelter, complete with flint. Which is the biggest advantage possible on day one. Mokuta got out to an early lead, no doubt thanks to the dream team of Shane and Shonee, and a little bit of help from Zaddy John. Until they were too good at loading up their sled, making it too hard to push and allowing Vakama to close the gap. Mokuta got a second wind however, getting them to the end first, starting working on the fire while Vakama continued to narrow the gap.

With Vakama happy with their bonfire, Henry walked out to collect a torch, light it, found a clue and shoved it in his pants. And just like that, I love Henry again and am moister than an oyster. As he walked back to his tribe he passed Mat and told him where to find a clue, in the hopes that he could make a friend on the other tribe. Meanwhile both tribes continued to build their structures, waiting for the right moment to light their photo. Ultimately Vakama were the first to light their fire, while Mokuta stood firm and waited to build their structure taller. Which proved to be the smart move, as their fire continued to grow and burnt through the rope, handing them palatial digs, while Vakama was desperately on its way to get more firewood.

The game truly kicked off as Mokuta arrived at their swanky home, with Queen Shonee thrilled to have started off with some legit luck. Her fellow Queen Michelle was thrilled by their surroundings and the kumbuya nature of the tribe. And Nick was focused on the fact that everyone is completely built. Speaking of which, John was quick to get down to his speedos and once again, he is my favourite. And hell, my King. Speaking of my Zaddy squad, Henry went for a wander to find out that his clue was for a hidden immunity idol, which he could conveniently snatch from tribal council behind where everyone leaves their torches. However it sadly only was good for the first three tribals, meaning he shouldn’t have pointed the clue out to Mat.

Speaking of Mat, he and the Vakama tribe arrived at their far less palatial digs and got to work turning it into something liveable. Which honestly seems like a ridiculously hard task. OG nude zaddy Locky was quick to take charge, advising everyone to go get bamboo, bring it back and they will try to pull something together. Splitting up to work, David quickly started to make friends, charming his way through the tribe while Tarzan sat back and displayed a surprisingly astute read of where everyone and their egos stood. Fully aware that David’s charm is something he is already falling for.

We returned to Mokuta where Shane was talking John through everyone’s swimming ability, with the zaddy asking the Queen for some lessons and honestly I ship the hell out of the two of them. We then learnt that she is a doctor in chimp studies which led to arguably the greatest 30 seconds of TV highlighting her tribemates acting like primates. Not to be outdone, Shane put that study into practice, apologising to Lydia and charming Shonee – who straight up calls her babes – and Henry. After teeing up a secret alliance with Henry, she went wandering for idols which made Harry feel extremely nervous. As he complained to Zach. Vom.

Over at Vakama AK was trying to bond with David, coining himself the Silver Prince before the duo mocked the other tribe for being so low rent. David continued to charm the tribe, going person to person winning them over and finding that despite painting such a huge target on his back last season, everyone wants to work with him. Before we had the chance to see if any alliances eventuated, Mat interrupted proceedings to read his clue and while he played hard on his first season, I just don’t see him being bold enough to snatch an idol in front of everyone.

That night Mokuta were still loving their palatial digs, sitting around their fire pit while Vakama sat in the cold, dark, windy shore and hot damn, I just saw Moana for the first time. Has she been here this entire time? The next day things weren’t looking much better as the freezing, exhausted castaways stood around as Locky desperately rubbed his stick for fire.

My love Jonathan returned for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes had to race over a set of A-frames and barge through a series of sticks. They then need to carry people down the course on rods before smashing boxes a stone wall to release five balls which they must use to shoot some hoops, with the first to finish snatching immunity. Once again Mokuta got out to an early lead, though Vakama kept close on their heels. In no small part because Mat climbed Locky like the damn sexy tree that he is. Locky then used himself like a battering ram – and you know what I want him to batter – crushing through the second obstacles and handing the lead to Vakama. Well until Mokuta snatched it back on the poles. The lead went back and forth until Vakama found their rhythm and extended their lead, giving David and AK a two person advantage at shooting hoops. Which they needed as AK struggled to shoot. Eventually Mokuta closed the gap, though sadly it was as AK found his eye, shooting basket after basket and snatching the first immunity for Vakama.

Back at camp the Mokuta tribe were well and truly dejected, though quickly tried to pretend they played hard and couldn’t have done any better. Well except for Queen Michelle who didn’t care about getting better in challenges, she just wanted to survive until the next challenge. Before the icon could make her move, we checked in with Lydia who confirmed that she has well and truly held a grudge against Shane since her blindside and as such, plans to get her revenge tonight. As such, she approached Harry and learnt that he too had some issues with Shane. And hopefully could use that to pull together the numbers to blindside her on her behalf.

While Harry respected Shane’s sneaky game, he sadly saw it as a threat rather than an opportunity to be mentored by a freaking Olympic champion. Sneaky or not. While Shane was off openly hunt for idols, Harry tried to deflect his own massive target and instead pull everyone in one by one to vote out everyone’s favourite potty mouthed grandmother. Abbey was in, as were Nick and Shonee, and Henry and Michelle. Well until Shane stumbled upon them and interrupted the planning. While the group dispersed and returned to camp, Henry and Michelle asked who Shane was targeting with the icon straight up pointing to Harry who was IN THE CONVERSATION, TWO STEPS AHEAD. Fucking icon.

This wooed Henry and Michelle, who got to work to flip the numbers on Harry and save our Queen. Henry approached Zach and Nick to see if they would be keen to join them, with Nick wisely cautioning him that it is way too soon to be sticking their necks out and to just follow the numbers for the first vote. Back at camp Lydia was trying to charm Shonee into joining the numbers to get rid of Harry before Nick interrupted and caught them up on the potential change in plans. Which really pissed off Lydia, who couldn’t bear the thought of Shane lasting one more day.

At tribal council Michelle spoke about the polar opposites of day one and two in the game, with the first spent smugly enjoying their palatial digs while day two was about fights tooth and nail to find friends. Lydia tried to play it calm, while obviously telling everyone to stick to the plan like our version of Keith Nale. Shane immediately took issue with the idea of going with the simple plan, saying the game is more complex and they are all better than getting rid of a former winner for that simple reason. Nick preached the virtues of taking a backseat, earning Jonathan’s wrath for changing his tune between seasons. Henry joined the fray admitting that letting somebody do the dirty work is always a great option, while Harry tried to again sell the vote as an easy one.

Jonathan asked Lydia straight up whether she was out for revenge tonight, giving one of the least convincing assurances that she and Shane had kissed and made up. While Shane pretended that she believed they had healed their wounds, her reminder that it is a new game and everyone has a clean slate says that she is nervous. We finally heard from Sharn, who casually tried to protect the woman that bested her before Henry turned the talk to idols while looking over his shoulder at the one in the tree. Harry tried to call out Shane for looking for an idol, though the icon was unashamed about the fact she is desperate for any form of protection. Lydia tried to return the focus to loyalty and sticking to the plan before Jonathan sent them all off to vote.

Shocking absolutely nobody, Lydia went with the revenge vote and led the tribe to get rid of Shane, the woman that destroyed her while she failed to win immunity at the merge. While I started to shake with rage, Shane held her head high and exited with class … before throwing some shade, playing dumb about not knowing what to do when it comes to getting your torch snuffed.

Oh and I should mention that Henry successfully snatched the hidden immunity idol without anyone but Jonathan noticing.

I was sobbing uncontrollably by the time Shane arrived at Loser Lodge and like Quentin before her, she scooped me up in her arms and told me that everything was going to be ok.

“Ben, don’t fuck with me. I am ok, you are ok, the season will be ok – Shonee is still there, and Lydia will soon be bested once again. Just by a different icon. Be thankful that I am following in the footsteps of the great Tina Wesson – first to worst, and if I get the chance to play again, I promise you that I will be the fourth place robbed goddess.”

And with that near soliloquy – as I languished between awake and blinded by pain – I came to, perked up and got to work whipping up a triumphant Shancken & Mangould Filo. First boot placing, be damned!

 

 

While goulash felt like the right way to honour her victory, I felt this little number was the perfect mix of spicy and sweet like the queen, icon, legend that is Shane Gould. The flaky pastry melts away leaving you with a punch of chilli that glides over our taste buds on a oozy, creamy boat of cheese.

Like Shane, it is perfection. 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Shancken & Mangould Filo
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts, sliced in half and beaten into 1cm thick steaks
1 cup cream cheese
2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced pieces
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
16 sheets filo pastry
¼ cup melted butter

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C.

Lay the flattened breasts out and lay a slice of cream cheese in the middle. Add a couple of pieces of mango on top and drizzle with a bit of sweet chilli. Season with salt and pepper and fold the breast over to enclose the filling, like a big, meaty cigar.

To assemble, place two filo sheets on a clean surface and place a piece of chicken in the centre of one end. Roll the pastry over to cover, fold in each end and then wrap the rest of the sheet up. Repeat the process until you have eight parcels.

Brush with butter and place on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until they are golden and crisp. Oh and cooked through.

 

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Florgeres Welch

Baking, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

I know it is stupid and I sound so whiny – I am a diva, so like Britney, leave me alone – but damn did I need this time with Florence to perk myself back up – sorry, raise – and focus on what is important in life.

I mean, as soon as Florence got off the plane and held me in her arms it was like happiness hit me like a train on the track.

It should really come as no surprise to me, given we’ve known each other since attending Thomas’s London Day School as young kids. Fun fact: I was the one that suggested Kathy and Will send my godson George there.

While it has been a few years since we’ve had the time to catch-up, it felt like not a day had gone by since our last date. We laughed – even about the fact I was outside her door for Grammy Gold before realising she is just a nominee – we cried and she cheered me the fuck up over a big plate of my Florgeres Welch.

 

 

Crunchy on the outside, delicate and creamy on the inside, these sweet cigars are the perfect treat to bring people together and turn around your mood. Am I putting too much power into food? Sure. But what else am I meant to do?

Enjoy!

 

 

Florgeres Welch
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
125g cream cheese, softened
250g ricotta
250g cottage cheese
2 tbsp raw caster sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinklin’
24 sheets filo pastry
unsalted butter, melted

Method
Preheat oven to 180C.

Blitz the cheeses, caster sugar and cinnamon in a blender or stand mixer until well combined.

Place a sheet of filo on the bench, brush with some butter and top with a second slice of filo. More butter, more filo, more butter and a fourth and final piece of filo.

Cut the filo tower into quarters and spoon 1 tbsp of filling along the short edge. Roll over to just cover the filling, fold in the edges and then continue rolling to form a small cigar, brush with butter and place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat the process until the four are done. Then repeat the process with the remaining filo.

Transfer to the oven to bake for ten minutes, or until golden and crispy. Devour immediately, sprinkled with some cinnamon.

 

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Tina Turnovers

Baking, Dessert, Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Somebody That I Used to Gold, Snack, Sweets

We’ve crossed the halfway point of this year’s Grammy Gold celebration – Somebody That I Used to Gold – and no tea no shade to Gaga, ONJ or Trey Park, but I decided it was about time I enlisted one of my most iconic friends. And thankfully the one, the only Tina Turner was keen to roll down the river for a date.

While I haven’t know Tina as long as most of my celebrity friends, the moment we met in the late ‘80s forged an instant bond and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Though there really is no bond stronger than one built on thirsting over footy players while filming an ad.

I know I haven’t told you about said bond before, but she means so much to me that I wanted to wait sharing our love on this ‘ere patch of cyberspace until there was a special occasion. And there is no occasion specialer than an EGOT contributing award show.

After holding each other close and catching up on what we’ve been up to, Tina being Tina
interrupted our gabfest by saying, “hit me with the odds Ben. And put some stank on it.”

I mean, if that is not the mark of an icon, I don’t know what is. With that we agreed that Arctic Monkeys will take Best Rock Performance, that we’ve never heard of any of the metal performances, Greta Van Fleet feel like the best shot for Best Rock Song and Weezer should take Best Rock Album.

Did I half-arse the running of odds? Sure. But I really wanted to focus my attention on making my Tina Turnovers perfect for my dear friend.

 

 

Creamy, sweet and full of juicy, tart blueberries, these are the perfect snack for any occasion. And are super easy, so you’d be mad not to have a crack.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tina Turnovers
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
250g cream cheese, softened
¼ cup raw caster sugar
2 lemons, zested
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed and quartered
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 egg, whisked
demerara sugar, for sprinklin’

Method
Preheat oven to 220°C.

Combine the cream cheese, caster sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Divide amongst the squares of pastry, dot with the blueberries and seal to form triangles.

Transfer to a lined baking sheet, brush with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Devour immediately.

 

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Nick Blintzon

Baking, Dessert, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: David vs. Goliath, Sweets, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on Survivor twenty Americans were marooned on a cyclone ravaged Fijian Island and separated into two biblically themed tribes based on whether they were successful or not. Ironically – I think, Alanis help me out – the first boot wasn’t taken out by a vote but instead Pat was felled by an act of God as a wave sent their arc flying and cracked his back. He was followed out the door by Jessica – after my pizza curse struck again – and Jeremy before Bi up and quit – due to a torn ACL, but don’t tell Jeff –  just as the tribes were switching.

Despite being in a Goliath majority on her newly formed tribe, Natalia became the second and final victim of my pizza curse before Natalie became a victim of herself, exiting without so much as turning to face Angelina as she begged for a jacket, followed by poor Lyrsa who was wondering how in the hell she would tolerate the pre-jury vacay with the boss.

With that the tribes merged and Elizabeth started to accrue a Harem of Hunks, as she was followed into Ponderosa by John, Dan, Alec and Carl before Gabby broke the drought after trying to turn on Christian. Turns out she was one vote too soon, as he followed her out the door before Davie, Alison and Kara arrived to round out the jury.

The final three plead their case to the jury with Angelina completely shut out, no doubt in part because she opted to humiliate Alison on her way out the door – but she gave up her shot at immunity for rice, guys! Despite a strong game Mike proved that Goliath’s always have a weakness, as Nick overpowered him at final tribal council and snatched the title of Sole Survivor slash $1M.

While poor Nick struggled to find his feet in the first few days, Pat’s medevac saved him from the fate of becoming the first one out and allowed him to reset his game. And reset he did, taking control of the original David tribe with Christian, and then manoeuvring out of a minority position on the post-swap Jabeni tribe.

By the time he was playing a pivotal role in snatching back the majority on the merge tribe, keeping a meat shield long enough to avoid being targeted and snatching a string of late game immunity challenges, he pretty much had the game on lock. And what an exciting game it was. And by game, I mean season. This season was great. So great, the only way I could toast his success was splitting a big plate of Nick Blintzon.

 

 

Picture it: crepes, rolled into cheese filled tubes and then fried (or baked). Still with me? Then you dust with icing sugar and go to heaven. Because these are delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

Nick Blintzon
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
4 eggs
400ml milk
250g flour
1 tsp salt
butter, to grease
1 cup ricotta cheese
250g cream cheese
⅓ cup raw caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp vanilla
icing sugar, to garnish

Method
Whisk three of the eggs and milk together in a small bowl, and the flour and salt in another. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, whisking continuously, until smooth and combined.

Melt a good knob of butter in a skillet and pour ⅓ cup of mixture into the pan to make a crepe. Repeat the process until the batter is all used. Leave them to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Beat the remaining egg, ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth and combined.

Place a couple of tablespoons in the centre of each crepe and fold like a burrito. Brush with some melted butter, place on a lined baking sheet and transfer to the oven to bake for twenty minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Devour immediately, dusted heavily with icing sugar.

 

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Matt Cheeseballm

Main, Party Food, Snack, Survivor NZ, Survivor NZ: Thailand

Good news everyone! Survivor NZ returns in less than a week, and while Thailand is far less likely to result some butchered pronunciations – remember Knee-Coo-Argh-Goo-Ah? – my dear, dear, dearest friend Matty Chisholm is back on the case to carry the show to greatness once again.

While sure, it felt very old school compared to what we’re used to these days … and both Tom and Barb were egregiously robbed of a deserved win, Survivor NZ had its moments of greatness. And had the ability to fix some of its mistakes heading into the second season.

Or so Matty assured me before I was whisked away to share a villa with him in the Thai jungle for 40 days whilst cooking for the latest cast-offs.

(“I’d be too nervous unless we share Matt!” I lied through my teeth).

Anyway, as a fellow, classically trained journalist, Matt and I have been close friends for years. I was working on the 20/20 crew that was interviewing his family about his inspirational brother’s story, and took Matt under my wing after spotting a fellow storyteller.

While Matt is hella busy with press and the impending arrival of his second child, he was thrilled to be able to follow in Probst and Jonathan LaPaglia’s footsteps and countdown to the latest season / celebrate all things Survivor.

Obviously we can’t spoil too much other other than to say that this season is nik livil – dare I say it, school yard pick tribes are on the horizon to start – though after a belly full of my Matt Cheeseballm, why wouldn’t you be happy?

 

 

Now first things first, yes, this recipe sounds like jizz ball. But I will counter by saying, how doesn’t that sound appetising? Creamy, salty, meaty and packing a kick, what more do you want to smear on a cracker? I’m talking about the dip FYI. And a cracker, not a SAO.

Enjoy!

 

 

Matt Cheeseballm
Serves: I say one, you say 6-8.

Ingredients
250g cream cheese
1 ½ cup vintage cheese
1 red capsicum, diced
4 shallots, sliced
6 rashers streaky bacon, diced, fried and drained
a handful of chives, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
a handful of parsley, roughly chopped

Method
Blitz the cheese together in a food processor until well combined.

Remove to a bowl, fold through the capsicum, shallots, bacon, chives and a good whack of salt and pepper. Transfer to the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Once chilled, remove from the fridge, shape into a ball and roll through the roughly chopped parsley to coat. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge to fully set for an hour or so.

After that, it is open slather so demolish with you fave crackers.

 

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Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

After the debacle of catching up with my frenemy, the worst winner of Drag Race and – my honest opinion only – all around garbage person Tyra Sanchez, it was so nice to spend time with my kind friend Engelbert Humperdinck.

Kind, warm, funny, charming and best of all, kind and open with his fans … friend.

Unlike Tyra.

Anyway, I first met the Dinck and his – well, you know – back in the ‘60s when he was still getting his career off the ground. My dear friend Tom Jones’ manager was his former roommate and one night while we were out partying, we decided his name was holding him back. Ten minutes later Engelbert was born and Arnold was no more.

With that, I earned his complete and unequivocal trust, shaping his career ever since. Well until yesterday, when he tragically declined my offer to coach him to another Eurovision berth. Which no doubt would have been more successful.

While I was upset he didn’t trust me, I respect his wishes like a friend – unlike say, Tyra would – and we instead focused on reconnecting and havin’ a laff. Though that is kind of the go to reaction to splitting an Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake between two best friends.

 

 

Moist, sweet and perfectly spiced, hummingbird cake is like a carrot cake on crack. In all the right ways. Add in some cream cheese icing and my shorts are creamed, culinarily speaking obvi.

Enjoy!

 

 

Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup, muscovado sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
2 ripe bananas, mashed
450g crushed pineapple (in juice), drained with juice reserved
2 eggs, lightly whisked
¾ cup sunflower oil, plus extra to grease
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar mixture

Method
Preheat oven to 160°C and grease 2 x 25cm cake tins.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices in a large bowl. Fold through the muscovado sugar, coconut and walnuts. In another bowl, combine the banana, pineapple, eggs, oil and ⅓ of the pineapple juice. While stirring pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and continue to fold until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the lined tins, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, checking after half an hour. You want it golden brown on the outside and an inserted skewer to just come out clean. Allow to cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until it is light, fluffy and just combined. Don’t overbeat as the icing will become too soft.

To assemble, smear a third of the icing on top of one of the cakes. Top with the second cake, and smear the rest of the icing on top and around the edges. Press the remaining walnuts into the icing and transfer to the fridge to set for an hour or so, removing ten minutes before serving … and devouring.

 

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Jacob Dipwin

Bread, Condiment, Dip, Party Food, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Ghost Island, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, thirty-five seasons of bad decisions culminated in a new island chain popping up in Fiji known as (the) Ghost Island(s). Twenty new Americans were marooned on the island, challenged with one task … reverse the curse of these epic fails. Oh … and the usual battle each other until only three are left to fight for the chance to become the sole Survivor. After forming two tribes, Naviti and Malolo, they competed in a reward challenge. Well, until leader Chris from the Naviti tribe felt they were going to lose, making the Malolo tribe rich by Survivor standards. Tragically that didn’t translate to victory in the immunity challenge, after which Jacob saved himself by becoming the first inhabitant of Ghost Island and Gonzalez made a speedy exit from the game.

Over at Naviti, Dom was staying awake and creepily watched over his tribe as they slept. Feeling paranoid and on the outs, he used his alone time to search for idols which he miraculously did. Well he thinks, since he couldn’t read the note in the middle of the night. The next day however, he discovered it was authentic. In fact, it was authentically the idol that Andrea was blindsided with in Caramoan.

Feeling a little bit more secure, Dom used the time to get to know Morgan, Sea Bass and Bradley, while they discussed Ghost Island and how best to play it. Morgan excused herself to find the legacy advantage that Jacob willed to her during his stay on the aforementioned island.

Speaking of which, Jacob was using his solo time to do some arts and crafts to fashion a hidden immunity idol that he could use to bluff his way through the next tribal council, should he attend. He returned to camp where Donathan looked adorably happy to see him, and he was shocked to discover that Gonzalez had become the first boot. He then got to work sharing news of his (fake) idol with the tribe. Obviously no one believed his story that he lost the note that accompanied said idol on Ghost Island, with Brendan and Jenna leading the charge to take him out ASAP. Stephanie however, bless her, decided that him knowingly being on the bottom provided her with the opportunity to add him to her brood of reliant allies.

Over at Naviti Dom was showing the tribe his power snatch – no joke – and used his new found safety to continue forming bonds. Further still, he decided to pull Chris aside to clear the air and wipe the slate clean between them. Chris asked if he had found the idol, which he quickly bought. Wanting to solidify their keep your enemies closer alliance, Dominic made a fake idol, hid it with his real note and showed it to Chris. Surprisingly Chris did not buy it, though I think was more concerned about him lying about not having it earlier more so than realising it is fake.

Wanting to keep things moving, Jiffy Pop returned for the second immunity challenge of the season where they would be required to race through some watersport obstacles, release some balls and shoot them into a basket. Sounds fun, no? In addition, the victors would win a tonne of comfort items, which I assume Wendell has already fashioned for his tribe from reeds and grass as he is the best.

Once again, Naviti got off to an early lead and continued to extend it bit by bit. To the point where poor James was left to struggle to release Malolo’s finally batch of buoys, while Naviti started shoots their hoops. Donathan was beckoned back to at least try to release the balls for his tribe and after a motivational pep talk from Probst, pulled it out and got Malolo back into the challenge. Tragically though it wasn’t enough, as Naviti continued to shoot their baskets and secure immunity before Malolo even got one. After his heroic moment, Naviti opted to send Donathan to experience Ghost Island … which is good, since his defeatist attitude could have bitten him and he is too cute.

At Ghost Island, Donathan smashed the second urn to discover there would be no chance for him to win an advantage today. He then shared about his upbringing and being an outcast as an out gay man in the south, though he was proud for people to see his performance in the challenge and living alone on Ghost Island.

Meanwhile over at Malolo, James was quick to own the fact he blew the challenge for everyone and hoped that people would be able to look past it. Stephanie, Brendan and Michael discussed the merits of voting out Jacob or James, ultimately deciding to throw votes on the latter to protect against Jacob’s potential idol. Wanting to play the game, Stephanie approached Jacob about mixing things up, with Jacob throwing out Michael as potential boot to protect against a potential tribe swap. Jacob was confident that he had found an allie, so then spilled all the tea to Stephanie – the idol was fake, he found a legacy advantage and gifted it to Morgan. So now, Stephanie is all powerful and while he trusts her and that is good for her, being the only other person to know about the legacy advantage would be good for her.

Stephanie then floated the Jacob alliance with Jenna, who was open to the idea if that is what she wants but would rather keep strength, rather than booting Michael. Meanwhile Jacob approached Laurel and James who seemed open to taking out the beautiful people, while Michael, Brendan and Libby noticed all the talk and started to get anxious before heading off for tribal.

Once there Jacob received his torch and then got confused about which show he was on, lip syncing for his life to Probst’s introduction. James quickly took the chance to own his challenge loss again before Jacob continued to talk about his advantage he was trying to pass off as an idol. While James didn’t love the information imbalance – like Jiff, I loved the phrase – he was glad it was his tribe that held the knowledge and not Navitit. Jacob still believed his tribe where the greatest, earning an eye roll from Michael, before they started to talk about the shifting alliances.

Jacob, unwittingly or not, spoke about feeling like the tribe could have conspired before he returned to camp to make him feel good and blindside him, which appeared to make Stephanie feel guilty. Meanwhile Brendan said he wasn’t feeling safe despite being BUILT, and Michael just wanted to reverse the curse that is fast becoming their tribe. As the votes rolled in, Jacob elected not to play his fake idol … and tragically found himself becoming the second boot.

While Jacob was completely bummed to be out of the game so soon, as a super fan he was thrilled to be living out his dream of having me whip up a commiseratory meal. Seeing me, obviously, perked him right up. Though maybe it was the sight of the Jacob Dipwin.

 

 

There is no way that any cob would ever be perceived as terrible, so this is no shade to the others. But hands down, this is the best you will ever eat. Creamy, rich and tangy, this is the perfect way to sop up your post boot pain.

Enjoy!

 

 

Jacob Dipwin
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
250g cream cheese
300ml sour cream
500g frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed of all moisture
1 packet French Onion Soup Mix
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
1 cob, hollowed out
1 breadstick, sliced

Method
Put the cream cheese, sour cream, spinach, soup mix and tasty cheese in a large saucepan over low heat and cook until thick and juicysludgey.

While that is cooking, hollow out the cob and slice the breadstick.

Pour the dip into the hollowed cob, scatter the chunks of bread around it and devour, greedily. Thankful no socks were harmed in the making of this cob.

 

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Cherry Seinfeld Cheesecake

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

After what feels like a marathon finish to an epic year – kicking off with the supreme Diana Ross, experiencing the highest of highs honouring the 10th anniversary of Because I Said So, and the lowest of lows witnessing queen Sandra Diaz-Twine’s torch being snuffed for the first time, learning that Nicaragua can be pronounced Knee-Coo-Arrr-Ohhh-Goo-A, seeing the glorious buns of Locky Gilbert on the killer second/fourth season of Australian Survivor, the glorious crowning of Sasha Velour, catching Milk post-All Stars 3 filming and a breathtaking end to the oddly titled Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers – we’ve finally hit day 12 of the 12 Days of Festivus.

You know, after catching up with Jase, Heids, Barn, Liz, Wayne, Mike, Pat, John, J-Lou, Stel and Jez.

It should come as absolutely zero surprise what with the process of elimination and the fact the show is named after him, that we’re rounding out our Fete de Festivus with a date with my dear friend slash protege, Jerry Seinfeld. What – you didn’t know I taught him everything he knows?

He first caught my eye during his appearances on Benson and I took him under my wing, guiding his career from Johnny Carson, to Letterman and eventually introduced him to Larry David. The rest, as they say, is history.

Given how busy Seiny has been with his Netflix deal, we haven’t seen much of each other lately so it was such a treat to pop on our puffy shirts and ring in Christmas – by way of Festivus, of course – with a big fat Cherry Seinfeld Cheesecake.

 

 

Tart and sweet, creamy, rich and packed full of spice, this cheesecake is festive perfection. And super simple, which is perfect if you want to focus on your drinking. And who doesn’t?

Enjoy!

Oh, and from our crazy family to yours, Merry Christmas! We’re taking a short break and will be back in the new year … or maybe a bit before. Dun dun DUUUUNNNN!

 

 

Cherry Seinfeld Cheesecake
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
¼ cup muscovado sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
200g butternut snap biscuits, crushed
100g butter, melted
500g cream cheese
½ cup raw caster sugar
½ cup thickened cream
3 tsp gelatine powder, dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water

Method
Place the cherries, muscovado sugar, cinnamon and mixed spice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for about fifteen minutes, or until it beautifully scented and reduced. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and place in the fridge to cool.

Combine the biscuit crumbs and melted butter, and press into the base of a 20cm springform pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add in the sugar, cream and gelatine until smooth and combined.

Fold through the chilled cherries, and pour the mixture into the chilling pan and return to the fridge for a few hours to set.

Remove from the fridge half an hour before serving and devour.

 

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