Chicken Daniel Francese

Main, Poultry, That Is So Fetch Week

Unlike Mands, I didn’t meet Dan Franzese – or Dan Fran, as I prefer to call him – until we were on the set of Mean Girls. Given it was based on my life story, I had offered Tina support in coaching the three actors whose characters which were based on me; Regina, her mum – when Ames plays your future self, you know you’ve made it – and too gay to function Damian.

After five minutes in the trailer, I noticed that Dan didn’t need any help with the character, instilling Damian with humanity that my teenself couldn’t even fathom having. So instead, we hung-out. And by hung-out, we commenced a torrid affair.

While you will soon find out that out all-too-brief affair ended in a total disaster, we remained friends against all odds and I am so proud of the career that Dan Fran has gone on to have. Despite me vowing to ruin his career, even though I was in the wrong when our relationship ended. Hell, I even suggested him to Jonathan for a role in looking!

Damn – why am I admitting fault?

Given he is busy being a successful boss, we haven’t had the joy of spending as much time together as we would like. As soon as Dan Fran walked into my room, he lit the place up with his beautiful soul. Which off topic reminds me that I need to see Jesse McCartney ASAP.

Anyway … he lit up the room and TBH, that is to be expected when a big plate of Chicken Daniel Francese is awaiting you.

 

 

Lightly coated chicken for optimal crunch, combined with a punch of garlic and lemon works to create a mouthwatering delight. Add in the fresh hit of parsley – which I never thought I would say but it really makes it sing – and I just can’t stop.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chicken Daniel Francese
Serves: 2-4.

Ingredients
flour, salt and pepper, to taste
4 chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
2 eggs, whisked
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon, half sliced and the other half juiced
½ cup dry vermouth
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped

Method
Combine a cup or two of flour in a large bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. In a second bowl whisk the eggs with a couple of tablespoons of water.Flatten the chicken breasts with the back of a frying pan until they’re about 2cm thick.

Heat a good lug of oil in the base of a pan over medium heat. When scorching, dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg and transfer to the skillet to cook for about five minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and leave to rest.

Add a knob of butter to the pan and cook the lemon slices and garlic for a minute or so. Add the vermouth, stock and lemon juice, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and leave to simmer for five minutes, stirring through the parsley towards the end. Return the chicken to the pan for a couple of minutes to heat through.

Serve chicken topped with a slice of lemon and drowned in sauce, for optimal devouring.

 

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Garry Shandyling

Drink, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing

Given it is the 70th anniversary of the Emmys, I decided to kick things off with an icon that has hosted the ceremony before in addition to being a victor. And as such, I also decided it was time to get the time machine back out of the garage and go celebrate Emmys’ milestone by hanging with my dear friend Garry Shandling.

I first met Gaz in the mid-70s; I was working as John Travolta’s stand-in – and definitely not lover – on Welcome Back, Kotter when Gaz wrote an episode. While I was fired during the filming of the episode after a major non-lover’s tiff with Travolts, the final straw really was my inability to stop laughing because it was the funniest episode of all time.

As such, Garry felt bad about me losing my job and took me under his wing. Given I am a crafty Hollywood strategist, the tables turn and I took his career to the next level. That level being working with Johnny Carson, two hit shows and eventually in ‘98, an Emmy.

Now I know the name of this game is to run odds and it is extremely difficult to run odds with a dearly departed friend, but my drive in the delorean gave me enough time for some much needed clarity. While Ted Danson and Bill Hader gave killer – oft literally – performances, I can’t see anyone beating Donald Glover for lead actor, give how freaking creepy he was as Teddy Perkins. And obviously the Fonz is going to score his first Emmy due to being an icon slash robbed some many times. For the Emmys and an Oscar as Principal Arthur Himbry in Scream, may he rest in peace. That being said, if Tituss Burgess doesn’t win an Emmy for Kimmy Schmidt next year, I will riot.

By the time I arrived I back in ‘98, I was ready to celebrate Gaz’s sole Emmy win and catch-up with a clear mind. Well, until the Garry Shandylings kicked in.

 

 

I used to mock my brother mercilessly for enjoying a shandy … until I drank one, and realised how freaky delicious they are. Light, bubbly and a little bit sweet, there is no better drink to toast a friend or while away a summer afternoon.

Enjoy!

 

 

Garry Shandyling
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
1 ½ cups of beer
1 ½ cups lemonade

Method
Split the beer amongst two glasses. Top up with lemonade.

Down. Repeat.

 

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Egg Yoko Raviono

14th Annual Easter Meggstravaganza, Main, Pasta

After a busy and ritualistically labour intensive week catching up with Megs, Shirley, Gabs and Alan, I’ve finally arrived at the crescendo with my hero Yoko Ono.

While most people incorrectly attribute her with breaking up The Beatles – instead of male egos etc. – she is a talented artist, singer, songwriter and general multi-hyphenate, and I hate the hate she so often gets.

Plus – as a peace activist, we need more people like her in the world.

I gave her a call last week to see if she was up for the honour, and while she was confused about what a Meggstravaganza was – or even Meg, for that matter – I had her at shamanic ritual. We obviously met through John, but fast became friends in our own rite with me becoming her de facto muse.

After a quick stint reconnecting and catching-up about our current artistic endeavours – FYI, Bed-In Brisbane is likely to happen soon, we threw on the ritualistic robe for the last time this year and got to work sacrificing my Egg Yoko Raviono.

 

 

Using the still fresh Alan Pastarkin, this egg yolk raviolo is near perfection. Melting cheese and delicately cooked yolk, ensconced in perfect pasta … with burnt butter, sage and prosciutto? I’m in heaven, as you will be after you make it. Plus – it looks difficult but is super easy, so what is there to lose?

Enjoy!

 

 

Egg Yoko Raviono
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 batch of Alan Pastarkin
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
8 eggs, separated
6 slices of pancetta, cut into strips
150g unsalted butter
sage leaves, to taste

Method
Combine the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. Lay out your sheets of pasta – they should look like long, thin lasagne – and cut them into large, even squares.

Divide the cheese mixture between 8 pieces of pasta, forming into a neat mound in the centre. Top with an egg yolk and cover with a remaining piece of pasta, push out any excess air and sealing to close. Transfer to a piece of baking paper.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and heat a frying pan over medium heat. In the frying pan, cook the pancetta until crisp and delicious. Add the butter and – I advise – a shit tonne of sage leaves, and cook until crisp and fragrant.

When the water is rollicking, add the ravioli and cook for a couple of minutes, or until they float and the cheese is melted but the yolk is still runny.

Serve immediately, drowned in butter, pancetta and sage and devour. Giddily.

 

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Alan Pastarkin

14th Annual Easter Meggstravaganza, Pasta

After kicking things off with Megs, a drop-in from the delightful Shirley Bassey and catching up with Gabourey Sidibe yesterday, I’m thrilled to arrive at my favourite day of the Meggstravaganza – seeing a shockingly still living legend. And no tea no shade … but there is no one more worthy of the honour than my dear Alan Arkin.

While we didn’t meet until relatively late in his career, we’ve grown to become the best of friends. Making it so exciting every time I realise he isn’t close to death.

I first met Al on the set of Edward Scissorhands through my gal-pal Winona, but we didn’t solidify our relationship until the best-friend party that became Glengarry Glen Ross with Jack, Al Pac and Alec Baldy. After that, I was hooked and I made it my duty to become his muse.

My crowning achievement, obviously, was convincing him to join Little Miss Sunshine and finally snagging him an Oscar.

He was thrilled to drop by and see me again, particularly when it came with a side order of helping a fellow thespian make a good comeback. I ran straight into his arms as soon as I saw him at the arrivals gate and don’t think I let go until it was time to pop on our Meggstravaganza robes and make some Alan Pastarkin.

 

 

Making pasta at home is probably the easiest thing you’ve been too terrified to try. And let me promise you, it is so worth the effort. Which is minimal. Light, delicate and fresh – it is perfect for any and all occasions.

Enjoy!

 

 

Alan Pastarkin
Serves: 1-.

Ingredients
400g 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
4 eggs
salt, to taste
*So yeah, basically to make pasta 1 egg to 100g of flour, ok?

Method
Chuck the flour and eggs into a food processor with a pinch of salt, and blitz until a dough forms. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Form into a disc, wrap with cling and leave to rest for an hour. Oh, at room temp, FYI.

When you’re ready, cut the dough into four and working one at a time, feed it through a pasta roller, working from the thickest to thinnest, dusting with flour as you go. Fold in half and the half again, then feed through the shortest end at the widest setting and work to your desired thickness.

Once it is at your desired consistency, cut to shape – if required – and cook immediately. Or devour raw like us. Though don’t, because of food poisoning.

 

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Chickthryn Bigemole Tacos

Main, Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XC: The Goldfather, Snack, Street Food

From the hilarious highs of my date with Diabs to the soulful melancholy of the songs I discussed with myself on my way to visiting Henry Mancini, this year’s Oscar Gold celebration, the Goldfather is off to a killer start. If I do say so myself. Which I just did.

There has been a lot of talk about the diversity of directors in the last few years – and some killer shade from Natalie Portman at the Globes this year – so I decided to mark the Academy getting it right this year, by inviting my dear friend and only female to ever take Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow, to drop by, celebrate and of course, run the odds.

I first met Kath in the early ‘90s while I was a part of Keanu Reeves’ entourage. He was – and TBH still is – being a total babe in Point Break, and she was slaying behind the camera. Fun fact: I inspired her to commision the rewrite which led to Johnny Utah cracking the case because of a butt. Because Keanu could crack my case anyday.

But I’ve digressed. We became the best of friends, I chose her in the split from Jim Cameron (though still secretly stayed friends with him on the DL) and she eventually took home an Oscar.

Anyway, the Best Director is arguably one of the most up in the air heading into the Oscars. While Guillermo del Toro has taken all of the precursors, I could make a case for anyone but Paul Thomas Anderson. And not just because like Jennifer Lawrence and my three year old niece, I hated it. I feel like Christopher Nolan was lucky to snag his first overdue nomination, so rule him out and like OG Screenplay, I am left to decide between Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig. Sooooooo, shit. I am hella confused, but I’m picking Greta Gerwig as the surprise victor (sorry for jinxing you Greta). Oh and Kath thinks Guillermo won’t be beaten, Greta will take the screenplay and Get Out will get Jord Best Picture. Everyone’s a winner it seems … and someone clearly ignored the memo that she only got to talk about directors.

Given it is a highly contentious slash contended category, Kath and I were positively famished by the end of our discussions. Which was so convenient, since I had whipped up a shit tonne of my Chickthryn Bigemole Tacos.

 

 

If I learnt anything from Austin Powers – and let’s be honest, I learnt a shit tonne from it – it was the moles are bad. However this quick – and highly anglicised – version is near perfection. Hot, spicy and little bit sweet, a squeeze of lime and this baby truly sings.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chickthryn Bigemole Tacos
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
500g chicken thighs, diced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp chilli
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped almonds
800g can chopped tomatoes
2 chipotle chillis, dripping in adobo sauce and roughly chopped
2 cups chicken stock
100g dark dark chocolate, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
12 corn tortillas
queso fresco, coriander and lime, to serve

Method
Heat a lug of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sweat for about five minutes or until just becoming translucent. Add the thighs, cumin, chilli and cinnamon, and cook for a further ten minutes, or until the chicken in cooked through. Add the raisins, almonds, tomatoes, chillis and chicken stock, and bring to the boil. Once rollicking, reduce heat to low and simmer for about half an hour. Stir through the chocolate, season and cook for a couple of minutes more.

To serve, heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over high heat for a minute or so. Dollop on the mole, sprinkle with cheese and coriander, and devour with a big whack of fresh lime juice.

 

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El Diablo Cody

Drink, Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XC: The Goldfather

The last year has been an exciting time for cinema – and I’m not just talking about the peach scene that I will never stop talking about from Call Me By Your Name – and it feels like there is an electricity in the air. Though maybe that has something to do with the fact I’m kicking off this year’s Oscar Gold celebration – The Goldfather, FYI – with the delightful Diablo Cody.

Despite the fact I’m yet to win a screenwriting Oscar, or well, even be credited as writing a screenplay, Diablo and I are essentially the same person. She studied media, I studied journalism in the same class as Sylvia Jeffreys. She got her start on blogs, I am the only person willing to publish my work. She quit her job to become a fulltime stripper, I am a fulltime, unpaid stipper (you say flasher, I say stripper).

On and on and on the similarities go. I mean, when I have a blog turn into a book – just let that marinate – I am two years off an Oscar.

Anyway, circling back – I met Diablo while working together at The Skyway Lounge and while I wasn’t able to parlay my appearance on the ameteur night into a paying gig, we became the best of friends. And I would argue that I played an integral part in pushing her to write the majesty that would become Juno and inspired the Meryl starring Ricki and The Flash.

Anywho, enough about D and my best friendship, which is what it is. You came here for the running of the Oscar odds and bi George, you’re going to get it, gurl … (sorry, I was possessed by Jonathan Van Ness).

Given she won an Oscar on her first attempt at a screenplay we’re obviously tackling the screenwriting portion of the show. There is no doubt in either of our minds that James Ivory deservedly has the Adapted Screenplay gong on lock for Call Me by Your Name because the movie truly does the book justice, captures all the long and removes the distractions … not including cutting out eating the peach which should have stayed put. My apologies to my dear friend Sorki, obvi.

The OG Screenplay category is where we ran into trouble. McDonogh took the Globe and BAFTA while Peele took the WAG and Critic’s Choice Award. While I’d love Gerwig to pull out a surprise victory, I feel like her best shot is as a director … so I settled on Jordan Peele. D, thankfully is tipping Gerwig to triumph and with it, give me the opportunity to pretend I was letting her have it. It being victory in the non-existent tipping competition.

As is oft the case, it was some thirsty work which made it super convenient when I sidled up to the bar and whipped us up a pair of my El Diablo Cody.

 

 

Like me, Diablo likes a devilishly good time and with it, a devilishly good drink. And well, as the name suggests, this baby fits the bill perfectly. Spicy and tart with a bit of a kick, its everything I like, TBH.

Enjoy!

 

 

El Diablo Cody
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
ice
2 shots tequila
4 shots ginger ale
1 tsp crème de cassis
1 lime wedge

Method
Combine ice and tequila in a highball.

Add the ginger ale and crème de cassis, and stir to combine.

Add a wedge of lime and down.

Lather, rinse and repeat.

 

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Hot Todrick Hall

Drink

After seeing the – and I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist – downright riggery of the Divas Live Lip Sync episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, I decided to give me good frenemy Todrick Hall a call to discuss why he would do that to Thorgy.

And likely yell at him a while, because that is just how I roll.

Obviously he wasn’t aware he was coming over for a good ol’ fashioned interrogation. I was all, “Todrick, babes, come over … it has been forever since we’ve caught up!”

Yep, I use babes when trying to lure someone into a trap.

The poor thing naively trusted, jumped on the next plane … and was then accosted at arrivals with my irate screaming.

“I was rooting for you! We was all rooting for …” hang on, that was Ty-Ty. I greeted Todrick like a true frenemy, air kissing and you looking swells with the face of that little girl in the back of the car meme.

But then he just came right out and said it.

“Ben, I think I done fucked up drag … race. I mean, I wanted to give all the girls star turns, but I couldn’t. And then the fans came after me with the fire, rage and vitriol I expect from you on our worst days.”

He then broke down crying in my arms, and my cold dead couldn’t give him any of the aforementioned vitriol. Yes – the challenge was tougher for Thorgy to shine, but Todrick was sorry … so I bundled him up in a blankie, gave him a quick hug and made us both some Hot Todrick Hall.

 

 

Spicy, sweet and packing a punch, this little baby is the perfect thing for the miserable weather we’re experiencing in Brisbane. And lift up the most broken of nemesi.

Enjoy!

 

 

Hot Todrick Hall
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
1 shot bourbon
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup just boiled water
lemon slices, to garnish

Method
Combine everything, but the slices, in a glass.

Stir, garnish, down, repeat.

 

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Pierogene Levy

All up in Schitt's Creek Week, Main, Party Food, Snack, Street Food, Tapas, Vegetarian

Given I am close with the entire cast of Schitt’s Creek, it was extremely difficult to decide who to bestow the honour of kicking off my celebration honouring their return to the screen. But like my girl Hizza Clinton before me, I am known for making hard choices when I need to, so picked up the phone to call the delightful Eugene Levy first.

I mean, it is only fitting that I kicked off the party with Eugene as he is the person I have known the longest. Eug and I first met whilst a part of Second City, Toronto and by a part of, I was his stand in when blocking performances given our eerily similar appearances.

While we drifted apart when I was deported from Canada – and therefore unable to appear on SCTV – we reconnected again in the ‘90s through my dear friend Tars. I was part of her entourage on the set of American Pie to get closer to Chris Klein – it was the ‘90s – but I was so thrilled to see Eug again that I abandoned my lust for Chris, and instead focused on making up for the lost years of our friendship.

Despite being extremely busy with other publicity commitments, he was so excited to come down under and mark season four in culinary form with his dearest friend.

“Ben, you really need to come visit when we’re filming next season. I could see Alexis having a long-lost twin and you have the perfect nature to pull off the role!”

“Eug, my love, I don’t know. I’m super busy at the moment, but it truly makes a lot of sense.”

Now I can’t tell you how that conversation ended for upcoming contractual reasons – hell, I shouldn’t have even mentioned how it began – I can tell you that my v. Canadian Pierogene Levy were the perfect snack to toast season four … and beyond.

 

 

Like Eugene, these babies are the perfect comforting slash celebratory snack. Warm and fluffy, and packed full of carb-y, cheesy goodness, you need to get these in your belly ASAP.

Warm apple pie my arse (… which is another embarrassing story of mine for another time).

Enjoy!

 

 

Pierogene Levy
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1.5kg potato
6 shallots, roughly cut
200g ricotta cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
40 gow gee wrappers

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Peel and cut the potatoes quarters and place in a saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender, about five-ten minutes depending on their size. Drain the potatoes, transfer to a lined baking tray with the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, or until all the moisture is gone. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for about fifteen minutes.

When the aggressive heat from the potatoes has gone, mash them until their mostly smooth. Add the ricotta, cheddar, eggs and a good whack of salt and pepper, and mix until thoroughly combined.

To make the pierogis, place the gow gee wrappers on a clean, dry bench and place a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre. Brush the edges with water and press the edges together, pleating as you go … to make them look as flash as a rat with gold teeth. Because, obvi.

When they’re all done, bring a large pot with about 1-inch of water to the boil and steam the pierogis for about ten minutes, give or take, or until they’re cooked through.

Devour, greedily, with sour cream or some hot sauce.

 

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Cecil B. DeMille-Feuille

Baking, Dessert, Golden Globe Gold, Golden Globe Gold: Goldhood, Snack, Sweets

After such a rushed week celebrating my first ever Golden Globe Gold and running the odds and/or reconnecting with Rach, Az, Nay, Ids and Nat, I knew I needed a Globes legend to finish off the party. And there is no one more legendary than Cecil B. DeMille.

I mean, he has a dang award named after him – he owns the Golden Globes!

I first met Cec while working in the silent movies together and we became the fastest of friends, let me tell you old sport. Given people didn’t have to hear my horrific voice, it was the most successful my career has ever been though alas, under the pseudonym Monroe Salisbury … before I faked my death in the ‘30s.

While I didn’t enjoy much success after the talkies kicked in – leading to my stint in the sanitarium before faking my death – Cec and I remained the best of friends and me, his most frequent silent collaborator. Ironically – or maybe not, again, Alanis ruined the word for me – I was the one to inspire The Greatest Show on Earth which I decided had itself inspired The Greatest Showman.

I jumped in the delorean once again and decided to run the odds solo to wrap up my Globes coverage. Rounding out my predictions, I can’t go past Coco snagging Best Animated Feature though Loving Vincent may sneak in as the HFPA are wont to feel superior to the other industry bodies. Alexandre Desplat will take out Best Score for The Shape of Water, with it also snagging Best Director for Guillermo del Toro.

Despite the emotion that surrounds visiting with a dear friend in the past, it was such a treat to reconnect and help him celebrate winning the first ever Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 1952 Globes. And I mean, how can you be sad when there are Cecil B. DeMille-Feuille around.

 

 

Light, flaky pastry and the creamy delicate custard perfectly support the tart raspberries, leaving you with the perfect dessert to honour the start of awards season.

Enjoy!

 

 

Cecil B. DeMille-Feuille
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
1 tbsp custard powder
1 cup milk
1 tbsp raw caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 ½ sheets puff pastry, thawed
⅔ cup thickened cream
250g fresh berries, I went with blueberries and raspberries because I’m wild
2 tbsp raspberry coulis

Method
Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine the custard powder and a quarter of the milk in a saucepan until well combined. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla and remaining milk and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl, cover with a piece of cling directly touching the surface and chill for a couple of hours for an hour or so.

While the custard is gettin’ chill, place the pastry on a lined a baking sheet and top with a second piece of baking paper and a second baking tray, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the trays over and bake for a further five minutes, or until golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

When you’re almost ready to start assembling, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form and fold it through the custard mixture.

Cut the pastry in half using a serrated knife and place one piece on a platter. Spread with half the custard cream and half the berries. Top with another sheet of pastry, the remaining berries and cream and top with the last piece of pastry. Drizzle with the coulis and devour immediately.

 

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