Serena ChaChagine

Main, RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag Race 5, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 6, TV, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on … hang on, wait a minute. Why do I always do this?! I mean, the ads even told us it was a Ru dawn and a Ru day. And now, well, that day is here. At midnight in the US, which honestly is perfect for me Down Under

But I digress.

A’Keria C. Davenport was the first to ru-turn to the Werk Room looking like a vision in all gold, she was joined by Jiggly and ugh, I live for her and am so glad she is back, fully embracing herself as a strong, gorgeous woman, in a little black dress to boot. Next up was Jan, living her Jantasy despite the jandemic and I hate myself for loving her and her jan-do spirit as much as I do. Particularly since she knows she was an 11 at all times last season. She was joined by Ra’Jah O’Hara in a gorgeous purple and blue jumpsuit and she is happy, friendly and ready to prove that she is a damn icon. Then Ginger Minj arrived looking a mess as a toad, but damn am I thrilled to see her back after her sub-par performance in All Stars 2.

Particularly for her warts joke.

Yara Sofia arrived for her third turn, manic, crazed and barking like a dog and OH SHIT, have I missed her. Despite not loving Silky very much, her entry was iconic with a full glass of milk in her titties and ugh, will I actually love them all this season? Supporting that theory, my love Pandora Boxx returned looking stunning, complete with butt puns and gah, it is so good to have her back. Particularly if Rob Anderson manifested her being paired with Serena and there being no other pairs. Scarlet Envy was next to join the fray, with her season 11 nemesis Ra’jah living and well, it makes me so happy. Oh and speaking of Serena, she is back and damn, did she have a glow-up because it is time to cha-cha bitch. 

Sonique finally arrived and owned the entries, quoting the transphobic entry line and reclaiming it as her own. It is powerful, she is funny and damn, I am SO glad to have her back. Next up was Trinity K Bonet, still charming and ready to slay, with Bianca’s encouragement playing in her head this go around rather than her inner saboteur. Last up was Eureka for her sixteenth attempt at the crown, this time with All Stars lips. And thankfully, still serving killer looks.

With that, Ru finally arrived to inform the largest All Stars cast EVER that they would still be a democracy this season, with everyone voting. And then alluding to a game within a game. But then changed the subject to the 14th queen, who it turns out was just the legendary Miss Piggy, who would be overseeing the reading challenge.

Kylie Sonique Love kicked things off reading A’Keria for being another losing Davenport, TKB went in on Ra’Jah for being an early out and Silky for being a mess, Jiggly destroyed Pandora for having no fans and Serena for being an alternate. Ra’Jah then arrived and savaged former-nemesis Scarlet’s beard, Eureka went in on Ginger’s relationship and then Pandora killed reading Eureka for being there. And then Ginger rightly got a supercut of destroying all of them. Serena was given the rattlesnake edit before Yara was demented and delightful, Jan tried to read Sonique but was read back in return before A’Keria was mean about Ra’Jah’s chances in the competition, Scarlet went for A’Keria butt implants and Silky was confusing but eventually got one in on Eureka.

Obviously Ginger took out victory, before Ru announced that they would be competing in the traditional premiere variety show. Which saw them all quickly split up, snatch a station and kiki. Ra’Jah and Serena were both ready to rewrite their narrative this season and prove that they are stars, before Ra’Jah celebrated the diversity of the cast. Besties Ginger and Jiggly caught up and were delightfully ridiculous, with Ginger knowing that she shouldn’t join the bitter old lady brigade again. Silky meanwhile praised Serena’s glow-up and celebrated her return, while Ra’Jah admitted her strategy was to get to the top and then stay there. And I am living for this version of Ra’Jah.

Elimination Day arrived with Eureka sharing that she’d be doing a song about her mother, while Sonique was doing a song to reintroduce herself to the fandom. Meanwhile Trinity K Bonet was just hoping to break the comedy show curse, given it was her choice to do stand-up. As they got ready Scarlet and Sonique spoke about what the game within a game could be, with all the girls derailing it by talking about whether they have a strategy. Silky laid out that she is not planning to play games and wanted to be fair, while TKB was nervous about being a bit of an island in the cast since everyone had friends or former castmates joining them.

At the variety show Jan mocked her face crack moment after being announced safe, then slayed her vocal performance about living her Jantasy. Pandora was charming and stupid and ugh, THIS is the Pandora I love, as she lip synced like a maniac, complete with titty confetti. Jiggly’s song and dance, to her own Jiggly-centric rap was a bop, Kylie was GORGEOUS as a golden burlesque singer – sans Wagon Wheel Watusi.

Oh AND THEN RA’JAH SEWED A DRESS IN 60s, I SHIT YOU NOT. I CAN’T GET OVER IT.

A’Keria gave a technicolour lip sync that had Michelle gagging, despite the green lighting. And then, ugh, Trinity bombed her comedy show. Badly, despite reading her grandma for filth. Eureka had a surprisingly good voice while singing live, complete with projections on her dress. Scarlet then dazzled with a bubble burlesque number which was both fresh and iconic. Silky then straight up played piano and sang gospel, Serena promoted her wig line, Ginger gave a poppy performance of perfection and then Yara was ridiculous as she bounced her titties all over the stage. Which was iconic, despite nobody knowing what was happening.

After Ru reiterated the rules, Eureka, A’Keria, Jiggly, Jan, Kylie, Scarlet and Ginger were sent to safety. As the dolls untucked backstage, Jiggly was thrilled to have survived the first week while Ginger was happy to at least have won the reading challenge and to prove herself. Again. Jan threw out another Jan pun, while Eureka asked the girls to help her strip off to take a seat. She then charmed the girls by saying that she was shocked they weren’t the tops, while Ginger expected Silky to win despite Scarlet being sure it was Yara’s on lock, giving how much Ru was living.

Jiggly identified TKB as a bottom, while Eureka felt Pandora would be joining her along with Serena. Ginger loved that she got a plug in for her wig line, before Jan celebrated that she wasn’t even annoyed about being safe. And Scarlet was thrilled to be feeling joy this time, as was A’Keria. Kylie shared that she was sprialling before starting the competition, though was ready to show that she had grown thanks to Ru. Eureka then broke down about losing her mum and was so endearing, leading to Jiggly talking about how much Eureka’s tribute to her mum meant to her. 

Jiggly then spoke about how she spent so long doing sex work to survive, that she didn’t even realise that she was broken on her first season. She and Kylie told the group about growing after coming out as trans and it was such a beautiful, loving conversation to have and I am so glad they are so open to sharing. Ginger spoke about how she didn’t even recognise who she was on Season 7, talking about how much hate she got that she still doesn’t even know how she processed it. Eureka praised her for being a trailblazer for big girls, before Sonique gave them all a pep talk about how them being so vulnerable and open is what makes them special. 

Oh and Ginger then spoke about the positives of meeting fans, with Scarlet admitting that she was one such fan of Ginger’s in the past. And then Jan reminded us that season 12 really had the worst experience, given she hasn’t even toured as a Ru girl so is still waiting to meet fans.

Back on the mainstage,  Silky was read for not fully taking it there in her performance, despite looking gorgeous and literally playing the piano live. Trinity’s look was praised though she was read for her obvious bomb. Ra’Jah received universal praise for her dress in 60 seconds number, as did Yara for her ridiculous tiddy-shaking performance. And I am so happy for her. Pandora’s joyous brand of ridiculous was praised for serving comedy, while poor Serena was read for not exactly executing the performance given everything else looked so beautiful and polished. Ultimately Yara took out the first victory of the season, while Pandora and Ra’Jah were deemed safe, as was Silky. Meaning either TKB or Serena were going home.

Talk turned to the voting backstage, with the girls talking about their strategies with Kylie admitting that she knows well enough not to share her strategy. They were interrupted by the tops and bottoms returning from their critiques, with Yara giddy to announce her victory to the safe girls, before Trinity and Serena shared they were in the bottom. Yara pulled Serena aside, with the latter sharing that she is heartbroken to be in the bottom after all these years. Meanwhile TKB shared that she doesn’t even know what happened at the variety show, though plead her case to the girls, reminding them she is here to prove herself. The bottoms switched places – how versatile – with Serena telling the girls she is here to fight too, while TKB reminded Yara about how much she wants to be there.

And Yara was just straight up confused. 

With that, the dolls voted and Yara made her way to the mainstage where she learnt that she would be facing off against Coco Montrese and oooooh, gurl – you in danger Yara! As soon as Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk started, both the dolls were ready to fight, but honestly, Coco is just SO good at lip syncing. Even while Yara was stripping and bouncing her titties, Coco was hitting every letter and proving why she is arguably THE lip sync assassin of the franchise. Again, she is just so good. With that, she took out victory and had to reveal that the group had voted to eliminate the delightfully redeemed Serena ChaCha.

Serena was crushed to unanimously be booted from the game by the group, particularly since Yara voted for Trinity and could have changed things with her victory. That being said, my dear Serena was delightful as she wrote her farewell message, before breaking down to discover the other queens’ notes praising her for her growth and charm. Oh and seeing the massive Serena ChaChagine I had waiting to celebrate her rudemption.

Rich and hearty, despite not having a meat in sight, this tagine is a pure delight. And while that was an accidental rhyme, you know I deliberately left that in. Because like the tagine, it is fun and full of flavour. Right?

Enjoy!

Serena ChaChagine
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
1 pinch of saffron
olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ras el hanout
1 tbsp tomato paste
¼ butternut pumpkin, diced
1 eggplant, diced
2 carrots, sliced into coins
1 onion, cut into segments
1 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 yellow capsicum, cut into strips
1 potato, cut into eighths
salt and pepper, to taste
400g tin diced tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
couscous, mint, flaked almonds, yoghurt and harissa, to serve

Method
Place the saffron in a cup measure and infuse in 1 cup of boiling water.

Meanwhile, heat a lug of oil in a tagine over a medium heat and sweat the garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon and ras el hanout for a minute or two, or until nice and fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook it off for a few minutes before loosening with the saffron infused water.

Stir in the myriad of diced and sliced veg before adding the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and apricots with a good whack of salt and pepper. Give a good stir, bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for half an hour or so, or until the veg are tender.

To serve, layer your bowl with a dollop of couscous, followed by the tagine and whatever combination of herbs, yoghurt, harissa and almonds float your boat. And then devour, like a rudeemed champion.


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Ellie Kemparmigana Rissoles

Hashbrown: The End, Main

After kicking off my celebration of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Hashbrown: The End –  catching up with Carol and Dylan, I realised that I needed to circle back to the point and celebrate the titular Kimmy. Aka my dear friend Ellie Kemper.

While I haven’t known Ellie as long as some of the other cast members – I met her in 2011 while visiting Melissa on the set of Bridesmaids – we quickly bonded over our passion for writing and became the best of friends.

Despite being a close personal friend of Tina, I shockingly didn’t organise the casting. It was such a delight to pick up the phone from Tina who was giddy to have found her Kimmy, only to discover it was my dearest friend.

I haven’t seen Ellie since the last Emmys – where I refused to believe the news that Kimmy’s end was nigh – so it was wonderful to spend some time together and absorb the fact that this delightful, quirky show is ending and the world will never be the same.

And our hearts will become a blackened void.

Though I guess that’s where my Ellie Kemparmigana Rissoles come into play.

 

 

Chargrilled eggplant topped with a juicy, braised rissole, covered in tomato sauce and cheese? You can’t go wrong, even for the staunchest of anti-eggplanters – the veggie only, obvs – like me.

Enjoy!

 

 

Ellie Kemparmigana Rissoles
Serves: 6-8, depending on the size of your eggplant.

Ingredients
olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 1cm slices
1kg beef mince
1 tbsp oregano, chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups passata
½ cup – or more, obvi – mozzarella cheese, grated

Method
Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the slices of eggplant on a lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for half an hour, flipping once. Remove and drain on some kitchen towel.

Reduce oven to 180°C.

Combine the mince, oregano, basil, garlic and parmesan in a bowl and shape into 16 rissoles.

Place the eggplant slices in the bottom of a baking dish and top each with a rissole. Pour over the passata and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Transfer to the oven to bake for half an hour, or until the cheese is golden and the rissoles cooked through.

Serve immediately with a big heaping of Gabriel Mash or on their own. Or with salad. I don’t mind, the most important thing is you devour.

 

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Jenna Moussaka

Main, Survivor: Game Changers – Mamanuca Islands

Guys – it is less than two weeks until my girl Sandra returns for her third crown … or to at least block Tony and JT from equaling her record.

Not that I don’t have faith in her ability to snatch the crown again. Can you tell I’m excited for Survivor and Sandy’s return?

Given that my girl is an underrated goddess, despite her perfect game record, I felt it best to honour her third attempt by holding court with another underrated victor, my dear friend Jenna Morasca.

Like Sandy, I would defend Jen and her gameplay to the ends of the earth. Sure she ended Rob C’s hope of ever winning the game and feuded with a deaf person but she also stripped for peanut butter – who wouldn’t TBH – went on an immunity run and even gave away immunity without it sending her home.

Plus, she was sassy as fuck, gives a good sound bite and was probably the best appointed winner to make it far in All Stars hadn’t had to quit to be with her mother.

I first met Jen way back when we were both attending University of Pittsburgh studying zoology – I was going through a weird Brendan Fraser/George of the Jungle phase and thought that a knowledge of animals could help.

Given our sassy attitude and good looks we were immediately drawn to one another and became the best of friends. I was her Heidi before Heidi existed, basically. After my many run-ins with Burnett, I kept our friendship quiet as she auditioned which I would argue got her cast meaning I played an integral part in her victory.

We are such busy little bees that we haven’t been able to see as much of each other as we like, so it was such a treat to sit down, gab about the upcoming season and dreams for her eventual return.

Speaking of dreams, my Jenna Moussaka is most definitely one.

 

jenna-moussaka-1

 

Spicy, rich and creamy – this little baby is the ultimate comfort food. Plus, eggplant makes it healthy, so you barely have to feel guilty about the cheesy goodness clogging up your arteries.

Enjoy!

 

jenna-moussaka-2

 

Jenna Moussaka
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
a generous lug of olive oil
3 eggplants, cut into half centimetre discs
2 red capsicums, cored and halved
500g beef mince
500g lamb mince
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
800g tinned tomatoes
100g unsalted butter
75g plain flour
3 cups milk
120g parmesan, roughly grated

Method
Preheat the oven to 220˚C.

Place the eggplant discs on a wire rack, over a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about half an hour, or until crisp, charred and drying out. Add the capsicum for the last ten minutes to blister their skins.

Reduce oven to 160°C.

While they are cooking, heat a lug of oil in a large pan and cook the mince over medium heat, or until browned. Add the spices, oregano, onion and garlic and cook for a further few minutes. Meanwhile diced up the charred capsicum and add to the pan with the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about fifteen minutes. Season and allow to rest.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once foaming, add in the flour and cook until lightly browned and not resembling either butter or flour. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk until all combined. Return to the heat and cook for a minute or two, or until thickened. Remove from the heat, season and leave to rest.

To assemble, place a third of the meat mixture on the base of a large baking dish. Top with a third of the dried, charred eggplant and repeat the process until both are all gone. Pour over the bechamel, top with the cheese and bake for half an hour, or until golden and bubbly on top. Remove and allow to rest for five minutes before devouring.

 

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