Rio Summers Fruit Tart

America's Next Top Model, America's Next Top Model 24, Baking, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on America’s Next Top Model, the girls created avatars in the ANTM mobile game leading to Jeana being pissed about her lack of personality. Feeling the pressure, she then dived into Shanice and Khrystyana’s shoot, or so they thought, leading to some drama before Director X cleared things up at panel. Sadly it wasn’t enough to save her, with Khrystyana taking out best photo again and Jeana booted from the competition.

The top four returned to the house to celebrate Khrystyana’s 600th first call out, and for Kyla and Shanice, the demise of Jeana. Rio then shared a beautiful note that Jeana left her following her departure, though was thankful she was gone as her odds just got better. Khrystyana offered to have her join them in the other bedroom, though she didn’t want to give up her big bed and while I get it, ugh Rio. Tyra Mail arrived and warned the girls that it was throwback week and they’d have to recreate a past challenge, leading to a shit tonne of speculation and Rio and Shanice sharing their pride about how far they’ve come.

The next day the girls joined Ashley, Drew and Law to learn that they would be recreating the cycle 16 bubble runway of death. Stacey McKenzie returned to help the girls through the challenge before they dropped the bombshell that the eliminated queens – no quitters – would be returning to compete for a place in the new top four. The girls all reconnected, well except for Jeana and Rio as the latter was feeling frosty about her potential return, particularly if it is at the cost of her place. Law then told the girls that only the four best eliminated queens would temporarily move back into the house and compete to return after the shoot.

Rio struggled in the ball according to Jeana, though she did kill it so maybe she is an authority. All of the other girls seemed to struggle, even Queen Khrystyana, except for Christina, Kyla, Erin and Liberty. Erin took out victory in the challenge and was given a ticket back into the house, along with Liberty, Christina and Jeana much to the chagrin of Rio. Lol.

The potential returnees were feeling unloved back at the house, with Jeana really hurt by Rio icing her out as it triggered her memories of being bullied and isolated in school. Christina joined the OG top four from Rio mid-rant, before she vowed to raise hell if she is the one to be eliminated. Rio then took her rage next level, moving out of her beloved big bed and into the room with her fellow never-eliminees behind Jeana’s back. Seriously, Rio is losing it and it is scary but also glorious.

The models then arrived to recreate tarantula shoot from Cycle 3, posing with Eva who won that cycle and shot by former judge, all around babe and noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker. The final four were paired with one of the potential returnees, Erin with Khrystyana, Liberty and Kyla, and obviously the drama pairs of Christina and Shanice – who felt safer with the tarantula – and Rio and Jeana. Liberty didn’t love the spider, though loved the experience with Nige. Erin was terrified and Khrystyana was annoyed that that made her have to suffer through more time with the spider. Erin then pulled out all stops and posed with the spider on her face. Eva pulled Jeana aside to talk her through the shoot, pissing off Rio who felt the entire thing was fake. Jeana then went on to dominate the shoot while Rio couldn’t get out of her head and looked weak as hell. Shanice then struggled the entire shoot while Christina completely dominated.

The girls arrived at panel where Tyra warned them all that Eva looked fierce in all the photos and they had better hope they brought it. Christina and Shanice were up first with Christina’s photo receiving universal praise and Shanice getting read for filth, though she admitted she hated the entire thing and wasn’t surprised. Rio and Jeana were up next with Jeana praised for owning the shoot and coming back to slay, while they felt Rio was lost and just floating through the competition. Liberty was praised for looking rich, while was no competition for Kyla whose photo was gorgeous. Khrystyana had a rare stumble and while Erin’s photo looked terrible, she was praised for owning the runway.

Kyla received best photo – though it kind of felt like it was by default – followed by Khrystyana, leaving Shanice, who has grown throughout the competition, and Rio, who has plateaued. As such Shanice was given a reprieve, despite the weaker photo and poor Rio was eliminated from the competition. With that Tyra turned her attention to the eliminated girls, with Jeana earning her place back in the competition much to rage of Shanice, Kyla and Khrystyana.

Now like Jeana last week, I know I’ve been harsh on Rio and while I did scream at her and let her know just how disappointed I was by her attitude, this week kind of showed just how much the competition had gotten to them both. While Jeana had the chance to reflect after her brief elimination, Rio couldn’t process losing and highlighted how desperate she was for the title. She cried, I held her tight – did I mention I was conducting clinical trials in the hospital she received treatment at and motivated her to take up modelling? Because I did – and sweetened the deal of her loss with a big fat slice of Rio Summers Fruit Tart.

 

 

Sweet, fresh and a little bit tart, this is the perfect reflection of her narrative arc on the show. From beloved to reviled, she brought it every week and TBH, this is the kind of tart you’ll want to devour every damn week.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rio Summers Fruit Tart
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
150g cold unsalted butter, plus 115g at room temperature
250g flour
50g icing sugar
salt, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
milk, optional (dependent on size of the egg, really)
½ cup raw caster sugar
1 tbsp spiced rum
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup almond meal
3 peaches, sliced
1 cup blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

To make the pastry, cut the cold butter into cubes and blitz in a food processor with the flour, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla. When resembling wet sand, add the egg and blitz until it just comes together to form a dough. You may need to add some milk if the egg is small, but you should be ok. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling and rest in the fridge for an hour.

Sprinkle some flour in a bench and roll the dough until it is roughly 3mm thick and press it into a 25cm loose bottom – yum – tart case. Trim off an any excess dough and return to the fridge for half an hour or so. When you’re ready, line with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Transfer to the oven and blind bake for ten minutes. Remove the baking weights and cook  for a further ten minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Leave the oven on while you beat the remaining butter and sugar in a stand mixer until it is so light it looks to be pulsating. Add the remaining two eggs, one at a time, followed by the rum and almond extract before removing from the stand mixer and folding through the almond meal. Smear into the tart case and smooth the top.

Press the peaches into the frangipane in any fashion you find aesthetically on point for you – dick and balls would look hella artistic, for instance – before pressing the blueberries around the gaps. Transfer to the oven and bake for half an hour, our until the tart is golden and puffed and the blueberries are blistering.

Devour immediately with some ice cream. Sad model friend optional.

 

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Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

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

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

Unlike Tyra.

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

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

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

 

 

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

Enjoy!

 

 

Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake
Serves: 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Grantbola

Baking, Breakfast, Vegetarian

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Hollywood. I mean, my relationships with the A-list of it inspired this patch of cyberspace … but sometimes it is nice just to hang out with a fellow Australian. And by that, Kiwi we adopted as our own after they became a success.

I first met Granty while working together on Blue Heelers in the ‘90s. You see, I created and wrote for the show, inspired by my experiences in the town of Mt Thomas in the ‘80s. Crime was so rife – 99% of them committed by me – that I knew it would make Aussie TV gold, and a legend was born.

But back to Grant. Grant walked in to audition and I instantly knew that he was the Wayne I had dreamed about and the rest, as I oft say, is history.

Grant was so grateful to me for giving him his big break that he pledged undying allegiance to me and begged me to guide his career. Given he worked on True Blood with Anna and Al, Ugly Betty with Alan Dale, I think you’d agree that my influence truly helped.

No shade to his talent though, obvi.

It was such a delight to hang out together, laugh about the good ol’ days with Sacky, McCune and Johnny Woods, reflect on the tragedy that was the latter seasons of True Blood – minus Skarsy’s peen shot – and devour some nourishing Grantbola for the day ahead.

 

 

Did I not mention we’re both morning people and work out together? We’re sickeningly cute bestos. Inspired by Sarah Wilson’s coconut-nut granola but made infinitely better thanks to the inclusion of fruits and other things you can’t eat after quitting sugar, this is the only granola you want in your life.

Enjoy!

 

 

Grantbola
Serves: 12-ish. Maybe? A soft maybe. I’m not sure, let’s call a shit-tonne and be done.

Ingredients
¼ cup coconut oil
3 cups coconut flakes
½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup cashews, roughly chopped
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup macadamias, roughly chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
½ cup apple puree
½ cup craisins

Method
Preheat oven to 120°C.

Combine everything but the craisins in a large bowl until everything is coated and combined.

Spread across two lined baking sheets and cook for 10 minutes, toss, and cook for a further 10 or so, or until golden. Remove, toss through the craisins and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, devouring daily with yoghurt, fresh berries and, if you want to upset Sarah further, some Mahersharaspberry Coulis.

 

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Viola Halvis

Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XC: The Goldfather

Once again, I’ve reached the end of my Oscar Gold celebrations and no tea no shade to Diablo, Henry, Kathryn, Brad or Mahershala, I’ve well and truly saved the best to last – current reigning Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis.

And that is not just because we’ve been the best of friends for 17 years. She is the only Black Actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting, and that makes her long overdue for some coverage on this ‘ere patch of cyberspace.

I first met Viola on the set of Kate & Leopold when dropping by to visit Megs (Megs, Megs) and Liev, and while she only had a bit part I knew she was destined for greatness. As such, I sidled up to her at the craft services table and promptly hitched my wagon to her, to achieve greatness by association.

While I also wasn’t able to convince her to bring me along as a date, she did have a surprise up her sleeve … she convinced one of our mutual friends to take me (let’s call her Beryl Strap)!

Anyway, I could talk about her being the only good thing about Fences, slaying in How to Get Away with Murder and realistically should have a couple of Oscars under her belt by now, that isn’t what you came for. You came to hear our opinions on who will snag the female acting gongs.

While we both agree that my dear friend Allison Janney will succeed her as Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya, I desperately wish for a tie between her and fellow TV star Laurie Metcalf who was beautiful in Lady Bird. What is becoming a tradition in this year’s acting categories, we both feel Frances McDormand is a sure thing for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I feel like fellow Gold Coaster Margot Robbie gave the better performance in  I, Tonya and am desperately hoping for an upset.

Like my date with Mahersh, I started to feel down thinking about Margot likely not snagging a win for Karl and Susan. That led to the requirement for something sickly sweet and totally delightful, like my Viola Halvis.

 

 

While there are so many forms of halva, this is obviously the best. Rich and nutty, delicate and floral, all wrapped up in a sickly sweet package, it is the perfect way to honour the ninetieth Oscars and Faye and Warren’s inevitable mis-crowning.

To The Goldfather, enjoy!

 

 

Viola Halvis
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
250g walnuts
250g blanched almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
500g pitted dates
1 tbsp rosewater
icing sugar, to dust

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Combine the nuts and sesame seeds on a large baking sheet and bake for ten minutes or so, or until toasted and fragrant. Remove and allow to cool.

Place the cooled nuts in a food processor with the dates and rosewater and blitz for about five minutes, or until completely combined.

Pour the mixture into a lined small baking sheet and transfer to the freezer to set for an hour or so. Then remove and cut into squares, dust with icing sugar and devour.

 

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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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Rice Kheer Smith

Dawson's Creek 20th Anniversary, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

I bet you thought, how do you top spending time with Dawson himselfJVDB, obvi – as part of the Dawson’s Creek 20th Anniversary celebration? And not just Dawson – yes, here it comes – but Josh, Katie and Mezzy-B too. The answer, obvi, is the man that first awakened my sexuality on screen Kerr Smith.

While obviously Josh Jacks had well and truly awakened my sexuality by the time Kerr arrived on the set, the character of Jack McPhee – and him posing naked for Joey’s painting – showed me that homosexuality was a thing. And daaaaaaamn boy, paint me like one of your French girls.

Fun fact: seeing that painting scene inspired me to travel back and journey on the Titantic, lure a pleb into a romance and get him to draw me wearing only a locket. Sure he could have fit on the door with me when I was clinging to life, but I wasn’t ready to make that sort of commitment just yet. Anyway, it inspired the movie Titanic and that is why Jack didn’t get on the door.

End. Of. Story.

Anyway, we became the best of friends on set and while it never became romantic between us, his responsibility as a straight white man playing an LGBT character made him feel like he needed to support me out of the closest. He truly is, a sweetheart.

I haven’t seen Kerr in a couple of years so was pleasantly surprised when he sauntered through the arrivals AND COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED INTO A ZADDY. After fainting in his arms, I pulled myself together and got to work celebrating his masterful work as Jack and slurping up a big bowl of Rice Kheer Smith.

 

 

Is this just a gussied up rice pudding? Sure. Is it also just fucking delicious? Of course. Lightly spiced, delicately sweet and now requirement for teeth. It is, truly, perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rice Kheer Smith
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
3 cups milk
½ cup rice, rinsed and drained
½ cup muscovado sugar
4 cardamom pods
¼ cup raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
slivered almonds, to garnish

Method
Place the milk and rice in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add the cardamom pods and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the milk is starting to thicken.

Add the sugar, raisins and cinnamon, and cook until the sugar has dissolved and everything is well incorporated.

Remove the cardamom pods and serve, or refrigerate until cold. I, personally, prefer it cold … but you can devour straight away if you prefer. With almonds scattered atop, obvi.

 

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Speidy Nuts Swedberg

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Side, Snack, Tapas

Let’s be honest, there are only four stars of Seinfeld so not every day of our Festivus celebrations can be filled with the iconic portrayers of TV’s erstwhile George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry. That being said, the character of Susan and her death by out-of-date envelopes is truly iconic and more than earns Heidi Swedberg a trip to Brisbane to help my par-tay.

Plus, as is always the case, she is one of my dearest friends.

I first met Heid in the late ‘80s when she guested on an episode of Matlock. I was Andy Griffith’s stand-in – as we were both older gentleman, at heart – so spent a lot of time with the bit-players. The bond with Heidi was semi-instant and we kept in contact in the years that followed.

When Jase reached out about finding someone to play his love interest on the show, I thought she would be perfect for the role and would fit in well with the cast. While I was completely wrong about the last part, her death storyline was both hilarious and a cautionary tale for those, like me, that hoard Christmas cards year-on-year for later use.

While Heidi up on a life in Hollywood, she was thrilled to come out of hiding to celebrate Susan and Festivus. On the strict proviso that it was a date with only me, and that I’d be serving up my delightful Speidi Swedberg nuts.

 

 

Sweet, festively spiced and packing a little heat, these little babies are the perfect accompaniment for a festive date. Or for getting rid of the taste of rotten envelope glue.

Enjoy!

 

 

Speidi Swedberg Nuts
Serves: 1. 6-8 in a pinch.

Ingredients
500g mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias and almonds
¼ cup pepitas
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
salt, to taste
1 cup craisins

Method
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and line a large baking sheet.

Chuck the nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds in the pan and toss with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Add the spices and toss to coat. Then add the oil, sugar and rosemary, toss to coat and cook until golden and fragrant.

Transfer them to the lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and leave to to cool completely. Toss through the craisins and decant into bowls to serve immediately or a sterilised jar.

Then, obviously, devour.

 

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Yule Log Kwon

12 Days of Survivor Christmas, Baking, Cake, Dessert, Survivor, Sweets

This year Christmas decided it didn’t want to play ball with our scheduling, so instead of leaving you hanging for a couple of days I decided to do a couple of throwback slash additional 12 Days of Survivor Christmas recipes to fill the gap. And no that isn’t a reference to them being zaddies.

But then again, it’s not not a reference to them being zaddies.

Despite kind of disappearing from the Survivor world after his dominant – even without the God idol – performance in Cook Islands, I can never imagine a yuletide without my dear friend Yul Kwon.

You see, I first met my dear friend Yul while he was attending Yale Law School. As is oft the case, I was running a scam – different to the Vice Chancellor one Hiz caught me out on – Yul figured it out and I returned to priz to find my ciggies and barter my way to greatness slash escaping priz.

Given he was such a babe and was so damn nice, I couldn’t help but stay in contact with him and guilt him into helping me become a better person. While you can question his success, I did love how hard he tried and so recruited him for Survivor to say thanks.

While Ozzy gets a lot of credit for his Cook Islands performance and the triumph of the Aitu 4, Yul is the glue that held everything together and successfully kept them in the game and carried them to success. I was in Los Angeles for his pre-Christmas victory and we were both desperate for something celebratory AND festive, which led to the birth of my famed Yule Log Kwon.

 

 

Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s take on the holiday classic, there is no better way to celebratory the holidays than with a thick, fat, nutty yule log. Which sounds a lot like I’m talking about scat … but I’m not, because this is delicious.

Enjoy!

It’s not scat.

 

 

Yule Log Kwon
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
6 eggs, consciously uncoupled
150g muscovado sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract, plus 1 tbsp for the buttercream
½ cup hazelnuts, peeled, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
225g butter, at room temperature

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Uncouple the eggs into two separate bowls – the whites into a large, clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks in a medium bowl. In should also be clean, FYI. Whisk the whites at medium speed, until they’re forming thick peaks. Sprinkle in about a third of the sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks are holding.

Now focus on the yolk bowl, whisking in the cocoa, vanilla and remaining sugar until it forms a moussy consistency. Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of egg whites before folding the rest through in thirds, followed by the hazelnuts, making sure to retain as much air as possible.

Transfer to a lined swiss roll pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for about five minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack until completely cooled.

While things are chilling, melt the chocolate in the microwave and set aside before beating the icing sugar, butter and tablespoon of vanilla in a stand mixer on medium, or until pale and fluffy. Fold through the cooled chocolate until smooth.

To assemble, place the sheet of cake on lined, flat surface and trim the edges. Smear a thin layer of icing over the top of the cake – all the way to the edges – before rolling tightly along the longer side. Cut the ends on an angle to make it look more loggy and place the off-cuts on the side, setting with some additional icing. Generously ice the complete log, covering all the surfaces, before scratching in some wood marks using a skewer or fork. Make sure you don’t forget the rings at the end.

Dust with a light flurry of icing sugar before devouring.

 

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Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie

Baking, Side, Snack, Sweets, Thankgiving for being a friend

Despite the fact my girl Betts is the only surviving Golden Girl, I applied yesterday’s logic with Rue – that she’d be upset if I disappeared after catching-up with Bea and Estelle – so decided to stick around in ‘87 to see out this year’s thanksgiving. Well, technically that year’s thanksgiving. But in lieu of this year’s.

Fuck – time travel can be a confusing bitch, no?

I’ve known Bet for years and years, after meeting on the set of Match Game in ‘63. Side note: based on how much fun we had, I suggested Ru do a version on Drag Race … and Snatch Game was born. You’re welcome.

While Betty and I talk on the phone every other day in the present day – I got super paranoid about a Golden curse in 2010/11 after Rue passed away a year after Bea, and she a year after Stell – we weren’t able to see as much of each other as we liked in the ‘80s. I mean, between my various crimes, scams and love affairs and her hit show, we were lucky to catch up once a month.

I rolled up on the lot for the fourth day in a row – talk about deja vu – as Betty raced into my arms for a hug.

“My dear Ben. I’ve missed you! It will be so wonderful to have my turn marking Thanksgiving with you.

“I’ve been so happy all day … Bea wanted to kill me!”

She burst out laughing while a fear gripped me … before I realised it wasn’t the present and she has outlasted the curse thus far. We gossiped and laughed as we drove back to her house. Both thankful, most of all, for each other’s company. And, obviously, my festively approved Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie.

 

 

Yes, cookie. In the singular – this was our first foray into the majesty of the skillet cookie. And dare I say it, we nailed it. Perfect spiced dough combined with the sticky sweet chocolate and pumpkin, and the earthiness of the nuts join together for a perfectly festive dessert.

I mean, how can you not be thankful for nuts in your mouth?

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
½ small butternut pumpkin, cut into a 1cm dice
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup firmly packed muscovado sugar
¼ cup raw caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup plain flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarb soda, sifted
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups white chocolate chips
⅔ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place the pumpkin on a lined baking sheet with a lug of water and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to combine, transfer the tray to the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until golden and sweet. Allow to cool while you get to work on the cookie.

Combine the butter and sugars in a 20cm, ovenproof skillet and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or until the butter has just melted and everything combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk the egg and vanilla into the mixture before folding in the flour, bicarb soda, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin, chocolate and walnuts, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving just warm with ice cream.

 

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