Brian Lakesa

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders, Main, Soup, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor 11 champions, 1 dud-Survivor player and 12 contenders faced off in an epic battle between underdogs and champions before Matt, Russell, Damien, Steve K, Jenna, Moana, Anita, Zach, Paige, Jackie, Tegan, HeathLydia, Robbie, Mat, Sam, Benji, SteveFenella and Monika were voted out. The final four rejoiced in making it as far as they did, though Brian vowed to get revenge on Shonee. Tragically Brian managed to take out immunity after literally everyone dropped their stack, leaving the Shhhhhhs to turn on each other, and Brian as Shonee’s only hope. Try as she might to convince Shane and Sharn to turn on each other to avoid making fire, the Champion women held strong and poor Queen Shonee was brutally taken from us in fourth place, leaving Brian, Sharn and Shane to battle it out for the win.

The final three kicked off the next day with a walk past the torches of all their fallen comrades, with Shane feeling misty about how well she has played and how much she loves the game. She then reminded us she is an icon, and in lieu of Shonella winning, this has to be Shane’s game. Brian spoke about feeling lost after retiring from AFL and that Survivor gave him the chance to clear his head and find out what is important to him, which hits waaaaaay too close to home. Sharn too was proud of her performance, though desperate to make it to the end and do what she does best, close out the case.

They finally ran into Jonathan on the shore where he announced that they would each get a cheer squad for the final immunity challenge. Sharn broke down as her entire family was brought out to visit before casually introducing them to Shane ‘don’t fuck with me’ Gould and Brian. Shane’s husband swaggered out from behind the bushes and damn, I love him too, as they hugged and Shane simply shared how fucking hard it was and that she wanted to kiss him. Jonathan then made Brian cry, offering him the chance to return his daughter’s bunny to her as he brought her, his son and wife out to visit. He then spoke about having a renewed focus of what is important to him, and damn, my cold dead heart is warming up.

Jonathan then explained that the final three would hold on to an idol on top of a pole, bobbing in the middle of the ocean, with the last person standing without removing a hand or foot, would win final immunity and decide who they’ll face off against at final tribal. Brain, Shane and Sharn made their way out to their perches, mounted the pedestals and grabbed their idols. As is oft the case, this isn’t really the most thrilling challenge to write about so after 78 minutes, Shane opted out of the challenge – I assume to pash her husband – leaving Sharn and Brian to battle it out. Though given Sharn looked like a statue and Brian was clearly struggling, it didn’t seem like much of an even fight. After almost two hours Brian tried to even things up, heckling Sharn and making her so confused he could potentially back her into a final two deal. When that didn’t work, he dared her to take him to final tribal which is sadly his only hope after he let go of the idol to take his hat off, handing Sharn final immunity. Making it even worse for Grub, it was his wife that dobbed him in after Jonathan missed him dropping. Poor Brian then broke down about his lapse in concentration, and damn I am finding him way too relatable tonight.

At tribal council Jonathan praised Sharn on winning her fourth immunity challenge before checking in with the losers, with Mat and Steve delighted in Shane lasting as long as she did in the challenge. Sharn admitted to being unsure who was the better option to take, as sticking with loyalty is less of a guaranteed win than going up against Brian, who the jury appear to hate. Shane reminded Sharn that she fought hard and played a sneaky game, though was loyal and played with integrity. Brian said that he had played the better game and as such, he should be taken to the final two … which is kinda not the best argument, though Sharn is totally the kind of person that would buy into beat the best to be the best. After more back and forth between Shane and Brian, Sharn went to cast the sole vote and sent Brain to the jury.

Poor King Grub was pretty disappointed when he arrived at the Jury Villa after dominating the game following Mat’s blindside. Though given that literally happened to everyone that assumed power of the course of the season, he quickly moved on and happily sat down to a soothing, spicy Brian Lakesa.

 

 

Packing as bigger punch as one may allegedly throw in Japan, this laksa is the perfect thing to take away the burn of becoming the final boot. Creaminess, spice and all things nice, you can help but slurp it down joyfully. Despite being crushed to lose.

Enjoy!

 

 

Brian Lakesa
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
vegetable oil
⅓ cup laksa paste (don’t judge me using the jar, we’re feuding)
2 red chillies, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
400ml coconut milk
1.5L chicken stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves
800g chicken breasts, diced
200g flat rice noodles, cooked per packet instructions
coriander leaves, shallots and sliced red chilli, to serve

Method
Heat a lug of oil in a large pan and cook the laksa paste for about five minutes, or until uber fragrant. Add the chillies and shallots, and cook for a further minute before slowing pouring in the coconut milk, while continuously stirring. Once combined, add the stock, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves, and bring to the boil.

Once rollicking, add the diced chicken, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

To serve, place a mound of noodles in the bottom of four bowls, spoon over the laksa and garnish with the coriander and extra shallots and chilli.

Slurp it up, immediately.

 

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Udonathan Hurley

Main, Side, Snack, Soup, Survivor, Survivor: Ghost Island, TV Recap

Following Sebastian’s boot we opened up straight at the next immunity challenge where Probst told them they’d be required to once again complete an obstacle course to collect puzzle piece before solving said four-piece pyramid puzzle. Yep – four piece. Laurel and Wendell got out to an early start – and we got Wendell crack, swoon – followed by Dom, Don and Angela, the latter proving steak isn’t actually helpful. Wendell and Laurel remained neck and neck throughout however everyone managed to catch up and work on the puzzle at the same time before Wendell took out immunity out of nowhere.

Back at camp everyone congratulated Wendell on winning immunity while Dom was gagged by the fact pyramids are not in fact flat on top. Given that Wendell has clawed back two wins, Dom was concerned about needing to find an edge over his rival. He vowed that Angela was a non-event, so decided to see what Donathan would do if he wins the next challenge with him immediately vowing he’d take Dom. While Dom didn’t exactly trust him, he feels that Laurel is more of a threat and decided it may be best to take her out. She joined Wendell and Dom to talk about moving forward, with Dom admitting she is more threatening than the others. Once again she reiterated that her only game plan is to hope they split the votes and she was scrape a win together thanks to the stragglers. Dom and Wendell then pulled himself away to decide what to do, with Wendell suggesting it may be best to get rid of Laurel but he will definitely be using Erik’s Micronesia idol to save someone and he hopes it is a big enough move to snag him a win.

At tribal council Probst shaded Dom’s performance at the last tribal before Yanny lamented the fact that Dom and Wendell are safe thanks to immunity and idols, meaning she, Donathan and Angela were unsafe. Angela admitted they looked like they spent the day decided who to take out before Donathan spoke about his inability to win a challenge. Dom then spoke about the fear of picking the wrong person to take to the end and Wendell brought up his idol and the fact he was undecided whether to play it for someone. Laurel reminded them of her loyalty and hoped it was enough, sparking Don to once again point out he is shit at challenges.  With that, the final five voted before Dom played his idol and Wendell took the chance to showboat for the jury, playing his immunity idol for Laurel since she reminded him of his sister. They then hugged it out, exchanged the idol, played it and sent dear, sweet Donathan from the game as the ninth boot.

Given it was the wonderful most experience of his life, he was pretty damn happy when he arrived at Ponderosa, despite his boot. So after quickly catching up, discussing his game and sassing about Laurel’s ability to ruin all moves, I quickly whipped up an Udonathan Hurley and celebrated his experience.

 

 

Spicy and comforting, this is the perfect representation of sweet Donathan – aka the second recipient of the Sia LGBT player of the season. The sassiness of his tribal council performances are like a whack of chilli in a sea of kind, loving udon noodles. And that is exactly why you love him.

Enjoy!

 

 

Udonathan Hurley
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g pork mince
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 long red chillis, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp cooking sake
1 tbsp soy sauce
5 shallots, sliced with some green reserved to garnish
¼ cup red miso paste
2L chicken stock
500g udon noodles
4 eggs, at room temperature
200g silken tofu, cut into four slices
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

 

Method

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat, add the pork mince and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes while breaking up with a wooden spoon. Add the ginger, garlic chilli and sesame seeds and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, sake, soy, chopped shallots and miso paste and stir for a minute or so, before slowly stirring through the stock. Bring to the boil before reducing to low and leaving to simmer.

 

Prepare the udon noodles as per packet instructions, soft boil the eggs and peel.

 

To serve, place the udon noodles in a bowl, add a slice of tofu and the eggs cut in half and top with a generous heaping of the pork broth. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and the green of the shallots, and devour.

 

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Michelle Douganzola Pizza

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor (2017), Party Food, Pizza, Snack, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, Tara and Locky were going through a tough break-up leading Locky to come up with a plot to use an old note to fake having an idol. He and the remaining castaways then discovered that in addition to immunity, they’d be playing for a car where Michelle – who Ziggy said was the worst physically – beat Locky and challenged the car curse to come down under. Then, tragedy struck, as Locky was unable to convince anyone but Michelle that he had an idol and was sent from the game completely clothed. How dare he not follow Jack from Survivor NZ’s suit, or lack thereof?

Asatoa returned to camp and celebrated making it to the final four, where Tara was feeling free after vanquishing her best friend. Celebrations continued the next day as the remaining castaways were proud to have made it to day 50, with Tara more shocked than anyone. Though not shocked enough to be in the middle pages of a dirty magazine, thankfully. She was proud that as a stay at home mum, she has been able to achieve so much as she has and to get out of her rut, which truly speaks to the crippling fear that controls me.

Jericho too is proud of himself, particularly given the fact no one has ever written his name down in 50 days. Despite this success, he decided that it was best to move on and become Jericho 2.0, which I can only imagine will be as successful as iSnack 2.0. Channelling Keith Nale, Michelle acknowledged that Survivor is not the holiday she was expecting. Obviously she is already spending the half a mil, also speaking directly to my soul. Rounding out the empowering journey section of this first finale week episode, Pete was missing his family and breaking down … which is exactly what I’d be doing on day 1, so I’m extremely proud he lasted 7 weeks before hitting this point.

With that out of the way Michelle turned things strategic, fostering her relationships to ensure everyone wants to take her to the finals. While Tara and Jericho were onboard, the former wasn’t sure how Michelle was feeling about her so whipped out her tub of lollies to sweeten the deal. Let’s not tell her how well knowing about the lolly jar went for Ziggy, right?

Given that the trio is tight, Pete was feeling completely on the outs and in need of immunity which he clearly said in front of a mirror three times because JLP appeared. Though not for immunity, instead the opportunity to eliminate a member of the jury. The challenge involved the final four holding on to numbered pegs on a wall, which Jonathan would tell them to remove one-by-one, until the drop one-by-one until we have a victor. Before even taking a peg out, Tara dropped. After losing a few more pegs, Michelle dropped out leaving the boys to battle it out before Pete dropped off trying to remove his fifth-last peg, giving Jericho the advantage and I assume, a pegging fantasy. Lol, he already had that.

Back at camp everyone was quick to congratulate Jericho before immediately getting to work convincing him to get rid of the juror they assume won’t vote for them. Michelle and Tara had a gentle conversation about who would vote for him in the end, with Tessa seemingly the only one identified as voting for someone else … in the form of Peter. Once again proving himself smarter than I’ve given his credit for, he convened a tribe meeting to see what everyone else was thinking to identify the potential threats they aren’t speaking about, and then getting rid of them.

Peter played – and I hate myself for saying this – right in to Jericho’s hand, trying to convince him that Locky was the best person to get rid of to keep Tessa and Jarrad on the jury, which you just knowing is going to backfire on Peter and a still-underdog-after-being-booted Tessa.

At the special Neal Gottlieb memorial tribal council, where the jury was shocked to discover that one of them would once again be voted out, this time from their luxury booze pad where I act as their personal chef’s. Jericho stupidly acknowledged he was smarter than the other players give him credit for, making his road more difficult moving forward. Jericho then had the opportunity to ask three jurors questions and while Jarrad danced around his answer, Tessa went in and said Tara didn’t deserve to be in the final four and Anneliese spoke about wanting a good person to win, as well as a good game player, proving her gameplay is still underrated, given Jericho’s pious spirit.

Calling his intelligence back into question, Jericho decided to vote out Tessa who just mentioned she would not vote for Tara. That being said, she was a pretty clear Michelle or Pete vote so I guess it makes sense … but she just mentioned she wouldn’t vote for Tara identifying your best goat. But honestly, poor Tessa – this is probably the worst thing that could happen to you on Survivor.

The next day Jerkicho and the others met JLP at an abandoned beach, which puzzled them as there was no challenge set up. Given the set-up yesterday, it was crystal clear that we were in for a family reward leading. The castaways broke down as Jonathan brought out Peter’s parents, Michelle’s sister, Jerkicho’s brother and Tara’s entire freaking family. Despite the fact not everyone got an equal number of visitors, I can’t hold it against Tara seeing her kids. We then got a rundown from the family members as the castaways sobbed to varying degrees, Peter being Kim Kardashian and Jericho being Jeffrey Dahmer or any other emotionless psychopath. JLP then gave them all the afternoon off to enjoy their families company instead of making them earn it and potentially cause some drama, the levels we haven’t seen since Brenda and Dawn in Caramoan.

We then got to experience the remaining castaways showing their families around the island. Tara’s kids were shocked and disgusted by the squalor, Jericho and his brother were Jericho and his brother, and of course, Michelle and her sister immediately started strategising. Kweens. Peter’s parents, like Tara’s kids, were shocked by the primitive surroundings and moreso, their loved ones ability to survive.

Breaking up the love fest, Jonathan returned for the most epic individual challenge of the season requiring them to pull themselves in a canoe to a tower in the ocean. They were then required to drop a bucket into the water and fill a tank until they reach a key before swimming to shore, unlock a rope and traverse a balance beam while untangling said rope. Once at the end, they use the weighted rope to try and shoot it through a hoop and pull down a bridge leading to a final puzzle.

Jericho got out to a quick lead, followed closely by Peter, with Michelle and a distant Tara rounding out the field. That is until the shoot portion, where Jericho sucked allowing everyone else to catch him. He finally scored and made his way to the puzzle with Tara and Pete following closely behind before Michelle finally joined them about five minutes later. Being the kween that she is, Michelle closed the gap and the puzzle came down to her and Peter, with Pete ultimately taking out immunity despite a last minute fumble as he lost a piece.

Back at camp the tribe gave their obligatory congratulations to Peter before those that didn’t win started to talk smack about him. Channelling Drag Race All Stars, Peter then had one on ones with each of the remaining castaways. He and Michelle agreed that Jericho needs to go because he already has locked in votes sitting on the jury. Tara was also keen on the plan to get rid of Jericho, offering up her name as the decoy boot for Jerkicho’s go-see with Peter. While he did buy it for a second, Peter and Michelle eventually made Jericho nervous, leading to an epic conversation between Michelle and Jericho where he tried to threaten her and she absolutely destroyed him. Then Tara happened. Despite siding with Pete and Michelle, she went for a walk with Jericho and spilled their entire plans before agreeing to force a tie with Jericho. Which would result in a fire making challenge between Michelle and Jericho.

At tribal council, Peter was extremely thankful to be wearing immunity before Jericho went all in campaigning for someone forcing a tie and going to a fire challenge. Michelle being Michelle defended herself, and gave another stellar tribal council performance and proved how much of a threat she is if she makes it to the end. While Michelle was secure in her scrambling, her trust was misplaced as Tara did in fact force a tie, twice, resulting in a fire making challenge – which is a term we’ve heard 6543 times tonight – between Jericho and Queen Michelle.

Despite a valiant effort from our Queen Michelle, Tara’s questionable decision allowed Jericho to win his way through to the final three and Michelle from the game as the ninth juror. Yes ninth, Tessa’s life still matters. As gut wrenching as it was to see her go, Michelle handled her exit gracefully, with a smile on her face like the killer person she is. We’ve long been friends, both meeting on the nannying circuit, before I was blacklisted for having one too many Irish coffees whilst in charge.

As is oft the case, Michelle stood by me and we’ve been the best of friends ever since. It was hard to see her arrive at the jury villa on the back of Tara’s stupid move, though she was in such good spirits she wouldn’t let me go into camp and burn it down, saying that my Michelle Douganzola Pizza was all she needed.

 

 

There is no better combination that sweetly caramelised onions and the earthy, sharp tang of blue cheese and this pizza is where is truly shines. Throw in some fluffy dough and garlic, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Like Michelle should be. Long live the Queen.

Enjoy!

 

 

Michelle Douganzola Pizza
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 bases as per Pizsa Zsa Gabor
passata and italian herbs, for the aforementioned bases
small knob of butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g gorgonzola, crumbled

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare bases as per Zsa Zsa’s instructions.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When as frothy as my shorts during one of Locky’s nude scenes, reduce heat to low, add the onions and cook until soft and sweet, about ten minutes. Crank up the heat to medium and add the sugar and vinegar and cook until caramelised, aka a further ten minutes or so.

Smear the dough with the passata and italian herbs and dollop out the caramelised onions. Sprinkle over the garlic and gorgonzola and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Devour immediately.

 

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Aubry Bracco Vin

Main, Poultry, Survivor: Game Changers – Mamanuca Islands, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, advantagemageddon occurred meaning five of the six people were immune, eliminating kween Cirie by default.

She better be the first – and only – five time player.

Not wanting to remind us of another painful Cirie exit, Probst returned for the second immunity of the night – the classic dropping balls, balancing them on your hard rods and guiding them through tight holes. Aubry and Troyzan struggled dearly while Brad and Sarah took an early lead. Sarah choked at the last minute of the first run, giving Brad a clear outright lead … from which no one else could catch-up, giving him his fourth individual immunity of the season.

With Brad immune, Aubry was particularly scared given he has zero interest in ever working with her. Confirming her fears, Brad felt victory was in sight and quickly locked in the Aubry vote with Troyzan and Brad.

Aubry tried to work over Tai and Sarah, knowing that Brad was dragging Troyzan to the end as a goat no matter what. Sarah pulled Tai aside to see whether she could trust him again, trepidatiously asking what they should do … with even Tai locking in the vote against Aubry.

Tai then joined Brad in the hammock, where Brad continued to bully him saying that he had no choice and had to vote with him no matter what for the rest of the game. This spooked Tai, who returned to Sarah and confirmed that they should get of Brad’s right hand Troyzan.

We returned to tribal to be reminded that Cirie was eliminated by default, breaking hearts globally.

Probst got his man-boner out to gush over Brad’s immunity run, with Troyzan hopefully he could snag a win the next time. As expected, Aubry wasn’t feeling confident … but boy did she try to convince Sarah and Tai to boot Troyzan and free up another seat at the final tribal. Sarah tellingly said that Aubry’s pitch was great, if that is what is best for all of them. Everyone but Troyzan was feeling concerned about who they could beat in the final, which is crazy since he is the least likely to win. Sadly Aubry’s pitch fell on deaf ears – or at least ones that didn’t have interests that align with hers – as she found herself booted from the game in fifth place.

Hey – at least she actually got votes before getting her torch snuffed, I guess?

As you know, Aubs and I attended Brown with Summer Roberts, and the three off us have been the best of friends ever since. Thankfully this post-boot catch-up was less heartbreaking than our last, given that she was robbed the last time and this one I’m surprised she stayed as long as she did with as large (and as recent) a target as she did.

I’m even more thankful that Aubs is so easily pleased by any food on offer – coleslaw, anyone – because it means that she completely goes nuts on our dates, particularly if it means she gets Aubry Braccos Vin.

 

 

Straight up, there is bacon, chicken, mushroom and red wine – do you need me to say anything more?

Yes? Go fuck yourself. Sorry, that’s aggressive. But kinda deserved.

No? Exactly – enjoy.

 

 

Aubry Bracco Vin
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
250g smoked streaky bacon, roughly diced
olive oil
2kg chicken breasts, cut into a large dice
¼ cup Cognac
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
6 onions, sliced
3 tbsp flour
2 cups Côtes du Rhône ( … or any red wine, though how good are all those accents?)
2 cups chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
400g mushrooms, quartered

Method
Start by heating a lug of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken and cook for a further ten minutes, or until sealed on the outside. Add the Cognac, let it bubble up and stir for a few minutes. You could light the cognac and let it burn off the alcohol, but I’m scared of fire and would totally lose the final four tie-breaker.

Add a good whack of salt and pepper, the bay leaf, thyme and onions, stir and cook for a further fifteen minutes. Sprinkle in the flour while stirring and cook for a minute or so before adding the wine, stock, garlic and tomato paste to the pan. Bring pot to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about half an hour, stirring as you see fit.

Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for a further fifteen minutes, or until soft and glorious.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately on a bed of mashed potatoes, or with thick chunks of crusty bread.

 

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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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Coffee El Scrowlands

Australian Survivor, Baking, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, 24 Australians were marooned in Samoa where 21 had been voted out leading to what could be the most biege final three in Survivor history.

Thankfully I wasn’t allowed to dwell on this for very long, as we opened up on day 54 where El, Lee and Kristie were already on the way to the final immunity challenge where the producers finally did something right, and brought back fallen comrades.

While I normally love this segment – that Probsty cut from OG Survivor – this just served as another reminder of the wonderful people we could have had sitting in the final three. I mean, Des was hilariously misguided, as was Bianca, Evan never got to tell the cast about his secret career as a drama teacher, Pete … well he would have been a worse option, Barry was loveable, Tegan trained Becks, Rohan rocks a speedo and Kat is just fucking amazing.

Hell, even Andrew would have been more interesting.

Then we went through the darkest timeline where we were reminded that Craig, Phoebe, Conner and Kate were booted back-to-back-to-back-to-back, breaking more hearts than Rohan’s skimpy instagrams.

We obvs recapped the jury but given the fact I am hoping they will provide us with some entertainment later we’ll skip them, ok?

We arrived at the edge of a cliff – sadly not for a suicide pact resulting in Flick getting the title by default – for the most epically staged Hands on a Hard Idol of all time. And that includes watching Mama Kim dominate in Africa.

Before they got around to gripping the pole, JLP pulled out one final twist and whipped out the Final Three’s family. There were tears and proof that El is not the least eloquent person alive, Kristie is the only person left that knows who Richard Hatch is and Lee had major back surgery.

After getting some love, JoJo sent the Final Three over to the edge of the cliff where the tribe had to perch on small, stiff poles and grip an even thicker, harder pole – so yeah, it is completely in my element.

Sadly for the family members, it isn’t a great spectator sport – kind of like cricket, to be honest – and to make matters worse, it went for over 6 hours before El couldn’t go any further and had to be carried away, Bodyguard style (almost) by JLP.

Swoon.

With El out of the way, Kristie got to work making a deal. And by that, point blank told him to give her the challenge and cried … until he did stumble off, either from fatigue or mateship. Let’s be honest, mateship. After winning her first individual challenge, Kristie then appeared to finally snap before Lee apologised to El for ruining their shot at being Australia’s Romber.

Forgoing any form of scrambling, we then arrived at tribal council where the jury were in absolute shock and disbelief to see that Kristie had actually won the final immunity challenge. JoJo gave Lee a rundown of why he and El wouldn’t be voting tonight, before they both had an opportunity to make their case to Kristie. Obviously she gave El – who was actually playing the game – the boot, sending her into my loving arms at loser lodge.

Once again, yeah I’ve been hard on my beaut, mate El – we met in the army where she dobbed in my lewd behaviour, getting me dishonorably discharged – for making this season quite boring … but sometimes the best games are boring to watch (see: One World) and I quickly worked on forgiving her as she arrived for a commiserations cuppa and my favourite, an El Coffee Scrowland.

 

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El and I discovered this recipe on Sweet Perfection Cakes after lamenting the brutal way that – I want to say Arnott’s – removed these beauties from the shelves and ruined lives and the 90s arvo cuppa of Blend 43 my mum and I would share while waiting for my siblings to get home from school.

Yes – I snuck coffee at five, thus being so short. It really does stunt growth, yo.

Despite the fact I’ve tried to tinker with this to make it my own, it is perfection and takes you back to the joys of childhood. Arnotts, bring back my scrolls! And in the meantime, bake these – enjoy!

 

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Coffee El Scrowlands
Makes: 48.
Ingredients
3 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup muscovado sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ cup small dried black currants
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
375g white chocolate
few drops of red food colouring (the OG recipe called for oil colouring, but I used the generic water based and it worked a treat)

Method
Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and spices on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and mix in the egg on low speed. Remove from mixer, fold in the flour and baking powder and return to mixer on low speed until combined. The removal and folding is solely because when I don’t, I flour bomb my own kitchen.

Remove from the mixer and fold through the currants. Roll into a disc, wrap in cling and leave to rest for 30 minutes in fridge and preheat the oven to 160C.

Cut the dough into thirds and roll out between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Cut into mug sized(-ish) rounds and place on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat the process until all the dough is gone.

Using a spiral egg whisk, press into the top of each biscuit to give the scroll design. Obviously I did not have a spiral whisk so tried my best to be handy. D- for execution, B+ for effort – stay off my back, ok?

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays for a couple of minutes before loosening and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While they are cooling, melt your chocolate – double boiler, microwave, I don’t mind, do what you think it right – until smooth. Stir through a few drops of food colouring and dollop on to the centre of the biscuits when cooled.

Leave to set. Devour.

 

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