Mortadella Reese

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It is always with such mixed feelings that I venture back to see my dearly departed friends, like the divine Della Reese. I mean, it is such a joy to see them again but it is also a reminder that the world has lost them.

And a fear that it will lead to a butterfly effect that will see a sequel to The Butterfly Effect reignite Ashton Kutcher’s career. Which is risky AF.

Lucky I understand that with great power, comes great responsibility and I am adept at keeping things in check. Plus – how can you focus on anything but when spending time with a dear friend like Della.

I first met Della in the ‘60s when I got my start as a production intern on the set of her talk show Della. While some talk-show hosts are actually vicious – apparently – Della was nothing but kind and took me under her wing, and as such, I became her most loyal supporter.

Given my passion for Survivor, I decided to go back to the early ‘00s set of Touched By an Angel as I knew it was me running my mouth about the show, that led to Roma and Mark Burnett getting together. So I couldn’t do too much damage.

Plus – TBAA is such a joyous iconic program, that I wanted to see Della in action just one more time. And boy did she deliver! We laughed, we cried and in between takes, we smashed some glorious slices of Mortadella Reese like it was the good old days.

I guess because it was slash is.

 

 

This may come as a shock given my passion for sausage, however this is the first time I’ve attempted this recipe – thanks SBS – but damn am I glad I did. Salty, sweet and smooth, this has fast become my third favourite meat to have in my mouth.

Enjoy!

 

 

Mortadella Reese
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
1–2 full-length natural ox bung or other disgusting sausage casing which is far more terrifying in theory
1 cup sweet red wine
6g ground coriander
1g ground cinnamon
5g mace
10g standard kwikurit, not to be confused with kiwi fruit like when I went shopping
8g powdered gelatine
450ml chilled water
200g hard back pork fat
4.5kg pork shoulder meat
75g salt
125g skim milk powder
1 cup pitted green olives, sliced
25g dried pepperberries

Method
Soak the ox bung in cold water for 1 hour, then rinse well inside and out. Thread onto a sausage nozzle, put it onto a plate and keep in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile bring the wine to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan with the coriander, cinnamon and mace for 20 minutes, until well reduced. Set aside to cool completely.

While this is getting chill, combine the kwikurit and gelatine in a jug with the chilled water, stirring until dissolved. Set aside.

Now start working on the meat by cutting the fat into a 1cm dice, and putting the meat through a 1cm mincer plate into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and milk powder and scrunch to combine. Add the spicy wine and water mixtures, and stir to thoroughly combined. Return through the mincer using a 6mm plate.

Add the fat, olives and pepperberries to the freshly minced bowl and mix until combined. Place in an airtight container and place in the fridge to chill overnight.

Set up the sanitised sausage cannon and fill the bowl with the forcemeat, ensuring not to leave any air pockets, and attach the nozzle to the end of the sausage cannon. Remove the mixture from the fridge and pump the mixture out the end of the nozzle before you tie off the end.

Slowly start to crank the cannon and fill the sausage, guiding the casing out of the cannon as it fills, using your whole hand, onto a clear sterilised work surface. Once it has reached the desired length, stop and tie off the end. Repeat the process until you finish the mixture.

Place the sausage into a smoker after the temperature has reached about 49°C. Smoke heavily, raising the temperature gradually to about 80°C, and hold until the mortadella reaches about 65°C on a digital thermometer. This can take up to 3–4 hours.

Transfer mortadella to the fridge and chill overnight, before slicing and devouring.

 

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Jane Crackpieski

Baking, Dessert, Hashbrown: The End, Pie, Sweets

Like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt itself, we’ve reached the end of the road of our farewell celebration – Hashbrown: The End – and I am starting to get a bit misty, which is inappropriate when you’re meant to be honouring a hilarious show. But after catching up with Carol, Dylan, Ellie and Tituss I was too emotional, so I reached out to my dear friend and icon Jane Krakowski to see if she was free to drop by.

And she obviously was, since you’re ready this.

As you know I met future EGOT Jane in the 80s while co-starring in Starlight Express until my before I was callously cut. Thankfully it was Jane’s undying love and support that saw we through the tragic loss of my role of a lifetime.

Given Jane is a damn comedy icon, I try to see her as much as possible however it has tragically been well over two years since we last got together. As soon as she walked through customs I ran into her arms and started sobbing – some say it was because I missed her so, but we both knew that it was because at the close of today Jacqueline Voorhees will go the way of Jenna Maroney. And that is hard for me to deal with.

Unless Teens does reboot 30 Rock, I guess.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together long enough to drive home, go to the fridge and pull out the ultimate comfort food in the form of a Jane Crackpieski.

 

 

I feel like I am on a bit of a Milk Bar kick at the moment, but you know, when it’s right, it’s right. Any everything they do is right, even when it is a mistake. If you don’t know the story, Christina Tosi made the pie for staff dinner and while it was undercooked and she felt it was a dud, they couldn’t stop eating it and an sweet, addictive icon was born – the Crack Pie®.

And if that doesn’t offer you hope in a post-Kimmy Schmidt world, I don’t know what does.

Enjoy!

 

 

Jane Crackpieski
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
Oat Cookie
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g muscovado sugar
40g raw caster sugar
1 egg yolk
½ cup flour
120g rolled oats
⅛ tsp baking powder
pinch of baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt

Assembly and filling
180g muscovado sugar, plus 1 tbsp for the base
1 tsp kosher salt, plus ¼ tsp for the base
280g butter, melted – 55g for the base, the rest for the filling
300g raw caster sugar
20g milk powder
24g corn powder
¾ cup double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
8 egg yolks, separated with military precision
icing sugar, for dusting

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Kick things off by working on the oat cookie. Cream the butter and sugars using the paddle attachment on a stand-mixer on medium-high for 3 minutes or so, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the egg, before increasing speed and beat for a further couple of minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and using the paddle, mix by hand until moist enough to return to the mixer to beat on low until just combined.

Dollop the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and flatten into a 1cm thick splat. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until caramelised, puffed and firmly set. Allow to cool completely.

When you’re ready to get to work on the final product, preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the cookie in a food processor with a tablespoon of muscovado sugar and ¼ tsp of salt, and blitz until it is the consistency of wet sand. Add 55g of melted butter and blitz until it comes together as a ball. Transfer the ball into a pie dish and firmly pack to cover the edges in an even thickness.

To make the filling, combine the remaining sugars, with the milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended. Still going, add the remaining butter and mix for 3 minutes or until all the ingredients are moist. Add the double cream and vanilla and continuing mixing for 3 minutes, or until completely combined. Scrape down the side and add the egg yolks, mixing on low speed until it is glossy and combined.

Pour the filling into the pie dish and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown but still jiggly.

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and close the door once it has cooled to that temperature. Cook for a further ten minutes, or until firming around the edge but jiggly in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before covering in cling and transferring to the freezer to set. Remove to defrost a couple of hours before you’re ready to serve.

When you’re ready for your mind to be blown, dust with icing sugar, grab a spoon and devour. Greedily. Thankful that we exist at the same time that Milk Bar does.

 

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Slash Browns

Breakfast, Side, Snack

Despite the doomsday and dramatic names of his albums, my dear friend Slash is the kind of person that fills me with an overwhelming sense of calm. Given everything I’ve done over the years, it is quite clear that is rare as well as a good thing.

While … except there was that one time Slash wasn’t able to keep my epic temper in check which ultimately led to him leaving Guns N’ Roses.

But I should probably take you back a bit further right?

I first met Slash many years ago in England when part of Bowie’s entourage. Slash’s mother used to design costumes for Dave and when we’d drop by I was always drawn to the beautiful sound of guitar in the other room.

From those very first days, I knew that he was destined for greatness and as such made my first attempt at momagering him.

(Oh FYI, I tried to adopt him … thus my plan failing, despite his success).

I then introduced him to Axl in the ‘80s and, as you know, designed what would become the majesty that in Guns N’ Roses. You’re welcome.

While I was a diligent Chief Groupie Advisor and muse – when not in prison – I did get angry with Ax when he opted not to sleep with me after a gig and swiftly went to Slash to quit the band. I was irate, he was loyal – and probably scared – and stepped away. All’s well that ends well though, as I was able to convince him to rejoin the band last year.

Given how busy the boys have been since reforming, I haven’t been able to see much of Slash so it was such a treat to spend a bit of time with him. While we sadly didn’t reconnect in the physical persuasion, I still made him our morning after Slash Browns and for that he is forever grateful.

 

 

Make no mistake, Slash is comforting and delightful … but that pales in comparison to how potato makes you feel. Particularly – and I feel like I say this for any potato recipe – when it comes in the form of a hash brown. Crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside … and complete perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Slash Browns
Makes: 8.

Ingredients
4 potatoes, peeled and parboiled
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tbsp milk powder
⅓ cup flour
¼ tsp smoked paprika
salt, pepper and caster sugar, to taste
butter or vegetable oil, for frying

Method
Grate the parboiled potatoes and press in a sieve to remove as much liquid as possible. Once dry(ish), place the potato in a bowl to cool.

Once cool, add the egg, milk powder, flour, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, and scrunch with your hands to combine.

Press a small handful of mixture into a hash brown shape, place on a lined baking sheet and continue until done. Cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so.

Once the hash browns have chilled, heat a good knob of butter or lug of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it is nice and hot, place a couple of hash browns in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes either side, or until golden and crisp.

Repeat until done, then devour. With or without eggs and/or Slash.

 

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Bret LaBao Buns

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X

Previously on Survivor, we opened the finale with Jay’s killer blindside. Or maybe it wasn’t, I’m still not sure if we were meant to know that the idol was fake and I can’t be bothered rewatching yet.

Not wanting to dwell on the last tribal too much, we arrived at the next immunity involving swimming, traversing a ball through some obstacles, hard poles – yay – and a puzzle, which terrified David on account of his questionable swimming ability.

Ken got out to an early lead thanks to his exquisite ball play, his wet torso glistening beautifully in the sun.  As he lay me down on the sand and leant gently beside me and ki … sorry, tangent.

Sadly Ken wasn’t kissing me, now was he as good with those hard poles – he’ll learn, I have faith – with Bret overtaking him and snatching the lead. Despite Bret’s lead, the rest of the castaways caught up allowing Ken to snatch individual immunity with one of Jeff’s favourite phrases to say to the millennials, “not a participation trophy.

Can we just pause here to enjoy how pretty Ken looks whenever Jeff gives him immunity?

The tribe arrived back at camp where Adam got Bret to run interference for him while he scoured the island for the hidden immunity idol. With Adam away, David went to Hannah and Ken to reconfirm their final three alliance and the plan to boot Adam.

Sadly for David, Adam was successful in finding the actual hidden immunity idol, at least I think … right now.

With Adam busy celebrating his find, David and Ken pulled Bret aside to get him to join the plan to boot Adam. Bret then went to Adam to let him know David and Ken’s plan, while Adam shared his idol secret with Bret and then shared his news with Hannah who announced that she was in control of the outcome at the next tribal council.

Which generally doesn’t bode well for the person that said that.

Vinegar, sorry Vinaka, arrived at tribal and discussed the hunt for the idols, before Bret – this time – sparred with David about their threat status’, statuses, stati?

Whatever the plural of status, Hannah did control the outcome of the tribal and made the worst possible move – at least from the viewers’ perspective – sending Bret out of the game in fifth place as the ninth juror.

Obviously I know Bret, given my love of beer, Boston, bars, bars in Boston and picking up cops who are trying to arrest me for drunk and disorderly behaviour after drinking too much beer in bars in Boston.

The love affair was brief but we remained friends ever since (and I will cherish splitting Ben & Jerry’s after sleeping together through Peter Pan Live!), meaning I knew there was only one thing I could make to dull his post boot pain – Bret LaBao Buns. Emphasis on buns, that foxy minx.

 

bret-labao-buns-1

 

I love pork buns more than life itself. I also love bao buns and David Chang (and The Bun Mobile as well), but i’ve always been scared to try making them at home myself (until Cumberbitch) … but the Momofuku recipe is easy and put my mind at ease.

So yes, this is not my recipe … but I put enough love into it to make Bret happy.

Enjoy!

 

bret-labao-buns-2

 

Bret LaBao Buns
Makes: 12.

Ingredients
hoisin sauce, to serve
sliced shallot, to serve
sriracha, to serve

Steamed buns
7g dry yeast
⅔ cup water, at room temperature
1 cup bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp milk powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
pinch of baking powder
pinch of baking soda
30ml vegetable shortening

Pickled cucumbers
2 thick, juicy lebanese cucumbers, cut into thin disks
1 tbsp raw caster sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Pork
1.5kg slab skinless pork belly
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar

Method
To start, place the pork belly into a roasting pan. Combine the salt and sugar and rub all over the meat, erotically if you want but that is a bit weird. Cover in cling and allow to rest overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 225°C and discard any juices – or discharges if you will. Once the oven is piping hot, place the pork in the oven, fat side up and cook for an hour, basting with the rendering fat throughout.

While that is getting as hot as Bret, my husband and I were while Walken sang his heart out, combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and fat, and mix on the lowest speed possible, just above a stir, for 8–10 minutes. Once it has formed a nice, not-too-sticky ball, turn it out into a lightly lubricated bowl, cover with a wet tea towel and leave to prove in a warm, dry place for an hour or so.

Reduce the pork to 110°C and leave to cook for a further hour and a half, by which point it is tender, pillowy and glorious. Once that is done, remove from the oven, transfer to a plate and allow to rest.

Get back to the buns by punching back the dough. Turn it out onto a clean work surface and divide it in half, and half again and then each piece into three. Roll them into balls, cover in cling and allow to rest for half an hour.

While the dough is proving, prep the cucumbers by combining them in a small mixing bowl with the sugar and salt. Toss to coat and leave to rest – feel free to adjust the sugar and salt levels, to taste.

Then cut out 12 generous squares of baking paper and coat a chopstick in some shortening. When the balls are fully engorged, take them in your hand – and left turn – and flatten them into a long oval shape. Place the chopstick in the middle and fold over to make the bao bun, pulling the chopstick out the end to make the flaps nice and moist and place on the baking paper.

Yes – that sentence was deliberate.

Cover with cling and leave the buns to rest for half an hour.

While taking the final chance to prove themselves, cut the pork belly into 1cm thick slices.

When the buns have proven themselves, get a large pot with a steamer on the stove and bring just enough water to the boil. Working a couple at a time, place the buns in the steamer, cover and steam, for ten minutes or until puffed and beautiful.

To build the bun, place one on your plate, slather with hoisin, top with the pickles and a few slices of pork belly. Top with shallots and sriracha, and devour.

 

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