Irene Hamdubois Helper

Main, Pasta, RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag Race 15, TV, TV Recap

Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race, which started out as a teeny, tiny show whose first challenge was filmed in the car park behind WoW opposite the Jim Hensen offices – which I’m not sure is a legit fact, but for some reason I think it is so let’s run with it – turned into a global phenomenon. Icons were born, legends were made, moments were gagged, we were left gooped and Ruple and Co. became bonafide Emmy powerhouses. But most importantly, it gave us back rolls, Alyssa’s secret, do-wa, Aja jumping from there, a confession to killing Judy Garland and a Snatch Game throwback to that moment, absolving said veteran of said murder. But that was then and this is now, as Season 15 is ready to take its lap. Sadly without chocolate.

Womp womp.

First to enter for this fifteenth (main franchise) crown was Irene Dubois looking like a ginger COVID virus and well, she is hot out of drag and is Bosco’s drag sister, so I love her. She was followed by Luxx Noir London looking like Bowie and Dynasty era Joan Collins had a baby whose hair was inspired by Ariana Grande. So again, I love her. As the duo got shady, Aura Mayari arrived and gave glamour as she vogued her way into the Werk Room and straight into my heart. And loins, out of drag obviously. Giving cousin IT by Cher from Clueless, we met Marcia Marcia Marcia and after she flicked her hair back to reveal she was rocking the iconic broken nose look, I live for her.

Though not as much as I love people clocking her as looking like (a) Jan.

As she was busy regalling her new sisters with her love of Ariana Grande and serving it on Broadway thanks to her BFA (like Jan, TBH), we were joined by Anetra who is giving off fun punk showgirl vibes and well, I love her energy so much and feel like she is going to slay. Which I hope isn’t the kiss of death because my support usually curses trajectories. They were joined by Malaysia Babydoll Foxx serving the sluttiest depression kitty I have ever seen and I love her. LOVE. She is charming, cute and has a voice like velvet. Princess Poppy arrived serving Art Simone’s twink sister in the best way possible. Though her sticking her ears inside themselves scares me because I’m a child. Then Sasha Colby happened and well, yeah, I stand by what I said earlier, crown her. Now. She was serving as a Hawaiian warrior queen and had the energy that she was ready to have fun and slay.

We then had Ornacia make her triumphant return and ugh, I LIVE. Wait, no it is Ariana Grande. Whistle tone queen, icon, legend and well, let’s just say, I’m as gagged as the dolls.

As Marcia started to hyperventilate, Ariana gave the dolls a hug and thanked them for bringing so much joy to the world. While Luxx in turn thanked her for Break Free which TBH, is correct. Ariana regalled everyone with tales of her previous time on the judging panel and encouraged them to take in every moment and enjoy the journey. Ru then stole her thunder, dropping by to welcome his newest daughters to the race and officially announce the doubled up prize. Oh but first, they would have to compete in a little throwback Mini Challenge doing a sexy photoshoot washing the car. With the Pit Crew, so swoon. 

The boys started spraying themselves as they washed the car before Irene dropped by and bathed in it, living her bukkake dream and TBH, that is the only way to do it. Luxx meanwhile got wet in all the wrong ways though thankfully still served. Aura was ready to touch them all and ugh, it was hot and I love it, while Marcia served good girl gone bad. Backstage Marcia was thirsty for boy Irene while Luxx was scared of her, meanwhile Anetra was drowning out in the carpark and had Ru cackling. Malaysia was heartbroken to ruin her good drag but hot damn did she serve while Poppy got her holes filled and Sasha tried to give supermodel, despite not loving the fact she didn’t get said moment.

As everyone dedragged they all clocked Aura as the trade of the season – including Aura – and were positively shocked that Marcia looks exactly the same in and out of drag. Talk turned to what the other group would look like before Ru interrupted them talking about Irene’s passion for  reading everyone to announce that she took out the win in the Mini Challenge. Much to Luxx’s surprise. Ru then filled the dolls in on the fact their first Maxi Challenge would be a little talent show titled One Night Only (said with jazz hands, obvi). And in addition to their individual performances, they would have to choreograph an opening number together.

The group quickly ventured backstage and talked through their skills, with Marcia pushing to take the reins in the choreography and while Aura tried to add to it, Mother Sasha quietly watched on, knowing that she would end up fixing whatever they came up with and get her new kids over the line. As the kids continued to fight back and forth for control Irene joined Sasha in asking one of them to just back out and let the other take the lead so they don’t get stuck with two different choreographies. 

As Group 1 descended into chaos, the crew reset the Werk Room just in time for Salina EsTitties arrived giving banjie energy and was totally jacked up on Mountain Dew and I live for it. She was quickly joined by Amethyst serving 2000 pop tween, claiming herself as the first viral TikTok queen to make it to Drag Race. Jax arrived ready to cheer the house down and called herself the Simone Biles of drag, so yeah, I stan. They were joined by Loosey LaDuca who looks like a campy, nice version of Sh3rry Pi3 in blonde. Which isn’t a read, despite how it may sound. Mistress Isabelle Brooks was up next serving short, goth Eureka and I love everything about her. Robin Fierce joined them looking like a stunning woman in tan and ugh, I love her. Oh and she and Amethyst have a past and while I was ready to ship, she told me I can’t, so that is that. We then got a double arrival as Sugar and Spice trotted in serving actual dolls and while Amethyst thought she was the TikTok superstar, these girls are the thing.

Though Mistress will not give them the pleasure of knowing she knows them.

As the dolls recovered from learning they are only bedroom queens, Sugar opened up about wanting to be part of the drag community and wanting friends which is equally sweet and heartbreaking. We then got another Ornacia entry, this time with the legit Vivacious who announced Ru’s arrival to welcome the rest of her daughters to the competition and put them to the test in their Mini Challenge, the drag race wind machine photoshoot classic. Salina was up first and served sex and speeding as her face blew away, Amethyst gave Timezone realness while snacking on leaves before Jax was all erotic, no auto. Mistress was smizing the house down, Loosey lived her Tippi Hedron fantasy through feathers while Robin was perfection, whether the fan gave her a beard or not. 

As the twins made it to the stage for their shoot, the other girls kikied about Sugar and Spice being inexperienced with Mistress opening up about how underwhelming they are to her. And while everyone reminded her they were cute and sweet, she felt like not knowing what wig glue is was a mortal sin. And well, I’m here for the shade. Sugar meanwhile was having fun on the bike, serving silly and ridiculous before Spice ripped off her wig against Ru’s advice, serving hairography with a shower cap. They rejoined the dolls as everyone dedragged with Sugar and Spice gagging over their sisters and praising them for looking so different out of drag. Mistress kinda admitted to reading them and threw down a challenge for them to impress her, while they just spewed talk at the girls, trying to make friends and well, I love everything about them despite myself.

Ru made yet another return to announce Loosey took out victory in the Mini Challenge, which emboldened her to declare she will be the first person to win every challenge. Which already ius not the case. Ru then gave them a spiel about the talent show before sending them off to the rehearsal space, where the other dolls finally appeared to be making progress. Well, until Ru dropped by to kiki and threw the two groups together. The factions lined up like the jets and sharks, ready for two to become one and put more choreographers amongst the queens before Ru announced that unlike last year, one of them will be going home before the end of the week.

After Ru departed the groups introduced themselves and sat down to get to know each other, with Sugar and Spice monologuing about their lives and while they annoyed everyone else, I love their lack of self awareness. Also Sugar kinda looks like young(er) Austin Butler minus the lingering accent work. Group 1 then got up to show their newest sisters their choreography with Mistress laughing through it with her soon-to-be-bestie Sugar. While Marcia tried to push through, Malaysia cut her off and then everyone started to fight before Mistress cut them off and asked them to focus on the task at hand because dancing is her weakness and she doesn’t want to bomb. Then she and Irene got sassy and Sugar and Spice started quietly laughing together.

Elimination Day arrived with the dolls finally unpacking their gear and finding a station with everyone laughing it up and being silly. Sugar and Spice meanwhile just focused on beating their mugs because they take so damn long. Irene meanwhile measured up her wig against Luxx’s to confirm whether her entry was 40 inches. Defeated, Luxx then joined the twins to get ready, bonding over being social media queens and how it really is the only way they can start when they aren’t old enough to go to a club. Sugar then noticed Mistress and Irene were sitting together and was shocked that the enemies elected to get ready together, leading to the older girls explaining shade and how being a working queen works. Loosey, Anetra and Amethyst meanwhile were talking about their talents with Loosey opening up about her original song, while Anetra was keeping her cards close to her chest. Oh and then we learnt Irene is making ice water.

While Sugar and Spice were still nowhere near being ready to go on while everyone put on their finishing touches.

Ru, Michelle, Ross and Ariana took their places on the panel as the dolls made their debut for the opening number which was a campy, pageant delight and ugh, I’ve missed this show (in the two weeks we went without it). Malaysia meanwhile opened up the individual performances, lip syncing the house down to an original song and while it was repetitive, Bryce came out in gold speedos, so I love it. Spice meanwhile was silly and cute, having Ru and the dolls in hysterics, so well done babe. Luxx hit every line and lyric on her lip sync and was honestly just a delight. Though the gradual split really made me love her. Mistress went boxing for her lip sync which was a win when she pulled out a RuPaul chocolate bar and nearly slid off the stage.

Loosey gave us something different by singing live and while I wanted to live for it, to quote the great Coco Montrese, find a key. Anyone will do. Marcia danced her way into my heart as a horny nerd sexing it up for a portrait of Ross. Robin was energetic and worked every corner of the stage as we went back to lip syncs before Irene bombed, hard, while making a glass of iced water and while I knew what she was going for, that wasn’t it. Anetra then followed it up by bringing the house down as she duck walked all over the stage as she lip synced to her original song – Walk the Duck – before straight up moving into karate chopping through boards. AND THEN KICKING A BOARD IN HALF.

Poor Sugar had to follow that up and while her lip sync was fun and silly like the sweet version of her sisters, she didn’t karate chop. Despite that, the fact she and her sister served it wore down Mistress which is a great win. Princess Poppy meanwhile gave parasite puppet lip syncing realness and it was perfect, before Salina gave red carpet lip sync into street glamour before referencing Will Smith’s slap so if Anetra doesn’t Anetra, I’d say this was a win. Amethyst then won my heart lip syncing to All Around the World as a drunk mum with a baby tethered to her back before Aura gave a fierce lip sync and while she had all the attitude, it felt a little flat by comparison. Mother Colby then lip synced to Zombie in a straight jacket and ugh, she is perfection. It was moody, it was fierce, it was powerful and well, the kids best watch out. And then Jax came out and lip synced before skipping with her own ponytails, which is yet another win for me.

And that was before she backflipped from the back of stage to the front, proving she really is the Simone Biles of drag.

When it came to the Who Is She? runways, Irene came in goth alien dominatrix, Luxx gave glamour pastel vixen going from the races to the boudoir before Aura gave all black Rita Repulsa, in all the right ways. Marcia gave sexy pastel prep, Anetra was an iridescent warrior, Malaysia gave sexy angel lounge singer in the hottest club in heaven before Princess Poppy gave lollipop ballerina delight. On and then Sasha gave the ultimate flex, rocking the gown she won Miss Continental in. Salina gave blue jean baby, Amethyst was a slutty, lilac Sailor Moon, Jax was NYC street in all the right ways before Loosey gave a glamorous gown version of Britney in Toxic. Mistress was iconic in a bejewelled, red cowgirl corset, Robin was an ice queen in shimmering baby blue, Sugar gave slutty Belle and ugh, I hate that I love Spice gave the other side of the look – kinda – with whore Ariel.

Luxx, Aura, Malaysia, Princess Poppy, Sasha, Mistress, Robin, Sugar and Spice were all sent to safety before Irene was praised for looking good on the runway though read for giving absolutely no humour in her performance. Marcia received universal praise for giving humour and dancing perfection, though told to give more than a streak of lip gloss when it comes to make-up. Anetra rightly was universally beloved for being perfection from start to finish, despite only learning to duck walk today. Amethyst was read for showing the baby too early in her performance, though she was praised for looking cute. Despite her lack of padding. Jax too got wall to wall praise, particularly for rolling her eyes while effortlessly doing acrobatics meaning poor Loosey was read for her performance, despite looking stunning.

Backstage the safe girls celebrated making it through the first week, particularly Princess and Robin who were shitting their pants. Talk turned to who was the best with everyone agreeing Anetra owned the show, while Poppy lived for Jax. Robin in turn congratulated the twins for surprising everyone with their sickening performances, with everyone rallying around and finally welcoming them into the drag family. This turned into a conversation about the stigma about the social media dolls and while Luxx pointed out social is a live portfolio, Malaysia explained she only questioned if they could translate their talents to the stage. Talk turned to how great Sasha’s performance was, with her opening up about her trauma while praising her father for raising her.

The dolls started to open up about who they knew before the season which was only an excuse to bring up the fact Robin and Amethyst briefly dated back home. That obviously summoned the tops and bottoms with Irene praising the tops for killing it before Amethyst announced she is definitely in the bottom, though hopefully not against her sister Loosey. That led to Loosey breaking down, heartbroken to have bombed, leading to the girls rallying around and praising her for killing it and pointing out they really only wanted her to lip sync so she could make the performance bigger. That led to Irene admitting that she will totally be the one in the bottom with Amethyst given they just hated her performance.

After everyone agreed that Anetra would totally be winning, Ariana dropped by to kiki with the girls and literally gave them the sweetest advice and well, I guess I’m all in on being an Ariana stan now? She bid the girls adieu, leaving Irene and Amethyst to rehearse their lip syncs and get their heads in the game.

Ultimately Marcia and Jax were sent to safety as Anetra took out the first victory of the season while at the other end of the pack it was Loosey that was saved, leaving Amethyst and Irene to battle it out for safety to my girl Ariana’s 7 Rings. While Irene leant into her alien kooky aesthetic, it was clear the song was perfect for Amethyst and her general vibe. Irene twerked and gave sex, which sadly wasn’t enough as Amethyst was saved and poor Irene joined the Porkchop Club.

Backstage Irene was rightly disappointed to be gone so soon and not get to show the world more, though I reminded her – as I do each season – it is more memorable to be a first boot than saying a mid-comp queen, giving you an air of mystery and an underdog spirit. Which seemed to be the pep talk she needed, thanking me for always supporting her – I am Bosco’s drag great-grandmother thrice removed, so we’re family – as we sat down to smash a heart bowl of Irene Hamdubois Helper.

Not to be confused with Australian hamburger helper – which is essentially seasoned breadcrumbs – this tweaked version of Half Baked Harvest’s take on the American classic is near perfection. Packing a punch of spice (sadly without sugar) and heat, while velvety smooth and creamy, it is an easy mid-week number to warm the cockles of your soul in winter.

Enjoy!

Irene Hamdubois Helper
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
500g beef mince
kosher salt and pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
500g small shell pasta
2 cups beef stock
300ml cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Method
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and saute the onion for five minutes or so, or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the mince and breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned, or about 10 minutes. Season with a good whack of salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the tomato paste, chilli and paprika and cook for a minute before stirring through the zucchini, carrot and pasta to coat. Stir in the beef stock and cream, bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to low to simmer until the pasta is cooked through. Once the pasta is al dente, stir through the cheeses, adjust the seasoning – you’ll probably need more pepper, less salt – and cook until everything has combined.

Serve piping hot with some token parsley for the appearance of health and devour, happily.


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Mike Gabler Cheese Balls

Party Food, Snack, Street Food, Survivor, Survivor 43, Tapas, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor 18 new castaways were marooned on the islands of Fiji to start the (shortened) adventure of a lifetime. After losing back to back – or it is Baka to Baka – challenges, Baka went to tribal and tragically booted sweet Morriah from the competition. That departure set off a chain reaction of females getting targeted, with Justine, Nneka and Lindsay all following her out the door.

After a brief reprieve to blindside Geo from the game, the three tribes were dissolved and we entered the earn-the-merge phase of the game. Gabler led the charge against his nemesis Elie, booting her from the game before the Gaia tribe was formed. At that point Dwight was blindsided, seemingly with Jeanine’s idol in his pocket before Jeanine was booted to become the Queen of the Jury. In a split tribal council James and Ryan were booted back-to-back before Noelle proved too great a threat to leave in the game, before Sami’s double dealing saw him joining the jury right behind her.

At the final six things got feisty as Jesse pulled out Cody’s idol and played it on Owen to spook Karla into playing hers, allowing the tribe to blindside Cody from the game in a brutal fashion. That left Karla in danger at final five after Jesse played Jeanine’s idol to save himself, sending Queen Karla to the jury. Tragically that was as far as Jesse’s journey went though, as Cassidy took out final immunity, pulled Owen to the end with her and left Gabler to eliminate the biggest threat in the fire challenge.

The jury grilled the final three to figure out who they felt was most deserving of the win and while they each argued compelling cases, it was clear they were vibing with Gabler’s charming answers. Which ultimately left Owen finishing in third place and Cassidy as a very capable runner-up.

Thankfully despite sharing his plans to donate the entire prize to charity with us earlier in the episode, Gabler kept it a surprise to the jury meaning people couldn’t use it as a way to invalidate his win. As Gabler clearly articulated throughout the season, he played a stealth game, popping up to take out his rivals when needed and dropping back down to hide when he didn’t need to make a play. And while that isn’t always exciting to watch, it is effective and add in the fact he is a fun character, he makes a worthy entrant in the winner’s circle.

Plus the way he donated the prize to Veterans in Need in his fathers name had me crying. By the time he sweetly dedicated the win to everyone in the cast and how they all gave him something to learn and grow from, which is what compelled him to give back, I was a blubbering mess as I toasted his victory with a piping out tray of Mike Gabler Cheese Balls.

Gloriously gooey mac and cheese formed into perfect balls, chilled, coated and fried until crunchy, these are the perfect dish for providing you with culinary comfort or to mark a hard fought victory.

Enjoy!

Mike Gabler Cheese Balls
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
500g macaroni pasta
¼ cup butter
2 ¼ cups flour
3 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
⅔ cup gruyere cheese, grated
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
3 eggs, whisked
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for fryin’

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C. If you have a go to mac and cheese recipe use that, but I generally bounce between Mickey Rooney Cheese or Rohan Maclaren Cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook macaroni according to packet directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir in ¼ cup of flour to make a roux. Remove from the heat and whisk in milk, cream and mustard before returning to the heat and simmering until thickened. Add ¾ of each of the cheeses and season to taste. Pour into a lined baking sheet and allow to cool before covering and popping in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up.

When you’re ready to go, take ¼ cup of mixture and roll into balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Roll each in the remaining flour, followed by the whisked egg and finally the breadcrumbs.

Pop about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat and once scorching, fry each ball for about five minutes or until golden and crunchy. Remove to drain on some paper towel before repeating the process until done. Then devour, greedily.


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Pumpkin and Zuccassidy Cluiche

Breakfast, Pie, Survivor, Survivor 43, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor after Jesse was felled and sent to the jury by Gabler, the final three awoke on Day 26 and toasted making it to the end. They then obviously pivoted to talking through their strategies when facing the jury before taking their places at the final tribal council. While the jury assured them all their votes were up for grabs, Gabler appeared to be playing into what they wanted to hear and charmed them more and more with each answer. On the flipside, Cassidy’s strong game was called into question by the jury while Owen was ignored for having zero sway over the direction of the season. Which was enough to land him as the second runner-up.

While poor Cassidy scored a sole vote from her ally James, leaving her shocked to finish as the runner-up behind Gabler. Who turned out to really play like the Ali-gabler.

As Probst and Co continued to reset, I pulled Cassidy in for a massive hug and immediately broke down in tears, devastated to have not had another iconic young, pretty, crafty winner join the club. Despite absolutely dominating the season and pulling off a revenge arc third only to Shonee and Arya Stark, the jury weren’t convinced that she was their winner and tragically shut her out of the vote despite her bestie James.

Thankfully despite her disappointment at the outcome, Cass assured me that she truly is proud of herself for all that she achieved throughout the season and for now being her own inspiration and to all the young fans out there. Which was well and truly enough to get us in the festive spirit to toast her success with a hearty, comforting Pumpkin and Zuccassidy Cluiche.

The light eggy ricotta melds perfectly with the sweetness of the veggies to give you a quiche so jam-packed full of flavour, even the most ardent of bacon lovers won’t be able to argue against.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Zuccassidy Cluiche
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 zucchinis, quartered lengthwise and halved
1 sweet potato, diced
1 cup butternut pumpkin, diced
2 sheets shortcrust pastry
8 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper, to season
½ cup vintage cheddar, grated
tomato relish, to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Pop a lug of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions until soft and sweet. About five minutes or so. Place the zucchini, sweet potato and butternut on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and pop them in the oven to roast for about half an hour or until golden. Remove both from the heat to rest.

Cut each pastry sheet in quarters and press into individual pie dishes. Prick the bases with a fork, line with some baking sheet and fill with pastry weights and blind bake for 10 minutes before removing the pastry weights and cooking for a further couple of minutes to brown.

Whisk the eggs, cream and ricotta in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the onion into the prepared dishes, followed by the sweet potato and pumpkin and finally the zucchini. Add in the cheesy egg mixture and sprinkle with a little bit of the cheddar. Transfer the dishes to a baking sheet and pop in the oven to bake for half an hour, or until golden and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before slathering with some tomato relish and devouring through the disappointment.


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Pancetta and Black Peppa Piperade

Breakfast, RuPaul's Drag Race UK, RuPaul's Drag Race UK 4, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Drag Race UK the top four were tasked with their final, epic challenge for the crown. Writing and recording verses on a Ruple mega mix and performing it live on the mainstage alongside their fallen sisters Just May, Starlet, Copper – yep, it’s happening – Sminty, Baby, Le Fil, Dakota and Pixie. After a cheeky kiki with Ru and Michelle, obvi. Despite all four of the dolls killing the final challenge and serving stunning looks on the runway, the judges decided the final lip sync would be a two horse race and as such, kept Danny and Cheddar to fight for the crown and eliminated Jonbers alongside the iconic, lip sync assassin Peppa.

While I was heartbroken to miss out on one final lip sync from Peppa, I understand why the judges kept the final two around given their track records were so evenly matched. That being said, it didn’t make losing Peppa any easier.

Peppa exploded out of the gate in the very first episode, giving an iconic entry, an artistic photoshoot and perfection on the runway. And while she landed in the bottom a couple of times, she was never really bad, leading me to question whether Ru just wanted to see her turn out another show just like Alan and myself.

After shooing Jonbers away to finish off his pity burger, I pulled Peppa in for a hug and thanked her for not just being an icon, but also for gracing us with her presence. Because that honestly feels like the only appropriate way to react to seeing her perform. As such we laughed, held each other tight and toasted her run with a piping hot Pancetta and Black Peppa Piperade.

This little basque brunch number almost is almost the personification of Peppa herself, a little bit fiery with surprises dotted throughout – pancetta, in this case – and ultimately a positively lovely way to spend your time. Though instead of watching her perform, you eat.

Enjoy!

Pancetta and Black Peppa Piperade
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
olive oil
200g pancetta, cut into strips
1 red onion, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 yellow capsicum, diced
800g can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste
4 eggs
¼ cup basil leaves, shredded
crusty bread, to serve

Method
Heat a small lug of olive oil in a deep frying pan or dutch oven and cook the pancetta and onion for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and the pancetta crisp. Add the capsicums, tinned tomato and tomato paste with a good whack of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it has started to reduce slightly.

Make 4 wells in the stew and crack an egg in each. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so, or until the whites are set and the yolks are to your liking. Sprinkle the basil over the top and serve immediately. Before devouring alongside a tonne of bread, because duh!


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Noelle Lambertshranger

Main, Survivor, Survivor 43, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor the tribe was carved back into two for the now-annual split tribe double tribal round. And as we’ve come to learn, chaos well and truly ensued. Over at the losing group Queen Noelle led the charge against James, playing her Steal a Vote on Owen to lull him into a false sense of security before brutally blindsiding him from the game. Over at the winning group, Cassidy and Ryan’s feud came to a head with the former finally coming out on top, blindsiding him from the game with a full bag – and pair of pants – of seafood to boot.

Back at camp emotions were mixed as the groups came together and though Karla was meant to be out of the loop on the James plan, she was glad Sami told her about it. Obviously though, she was nervous. Cassidy meanwhile was thrilled to outplay her nemesis Ryan, particularly when he was still actively targeting her. Jesse on the other hand was feeling super powerful, knowing where all the advantages are and being super well connected with literally everyone in the tribe. Begging the question, is this the pride that comes before a fall or a strong thing to point out for a winner?

My love Jeffrey returned early in the episode for the latest reward challenge where they would each stand in a frame and spin around to wind in a buoy before racing over a cargo net and over a balance beam to collect a sandbag,  untying knots and tossing said sack on a pole. For an epic feast and luxury overnight reward. So yeah, it was a big one. Owen got out to an early lead, followed by Noelle, Cody, Sami and Karla. Eventually everyone made it to the balance beam which is where things got a little hard to watch as Noelle struggled due to her leg. While everyone started tossing their bag however, Noelle persevered as she fought through tears and the suction on her leg giving out before she finally arrived at the end of the challenge and straight up won on her second toss.

Like the damn queen that she is. I mean, oh my god she is amazing.

Everyone rallied around to congratulate her on such an epic come from behind victory before she opened up about how hard she tried and how losing her leg ultimately made her the resilient person she is (and I could only wish to be). Probst then dropped the bomb that in addition to food and a bed, she would also be getting letters from home and she’d be able to take two people to join her. After selecting Sami and Jesse, Jeffrey gave her one more, ultimately selecting Owen, perfectly splitting the tribe in two to no doubt cause some chaos.

At reward the foursome were well and truly thrilled as they sat down to smash the feast before they took time for a little bit of love from home. Owen sobbed, Jesse was brought back to being in juvenile detention and reminded of how far he has come in life and yep, it only took two people to have me crying like a baby. Noelle’s mum was an icon, sharing she was checking the weather and sending good vibes, while Sami’s dad had given up some food in his honour. After bonding over the love, Sami turned the conversation back to the game and suggested getting rid of Cassidy as soon as possible given she is allegedly a flipper. And while Noelle was more concerned about Sami being a flipper, she was onboard with Owen’s plan to split the vote on Karla and Cassidy and for the reward group to take control of the game with Gabler and Cody.

Back at camp the losers were far less energetic and jubilant as they ate a sad coconut over the fire. Not wanting to be left out of the fun chats they were having on reward, Cody tried to get people focused on the game and spoke about how untrustworthy Sami is. Cassidy took him for a walk and the duo spoke about instead targeting Noelle, given she is going from strength to strength in the game and as such, needs to be stopped in her tracks. Cassidy moved over to Gabler and Karla with them equally keen to get rid of Noelle. Though Gabler, TBH, was more excited about the fact he is the one with all the options.

The two groups came together to meet Probst for the latest immunity challenge where they would have to balance a platform with a rope and build a house of cards first. Or, you know, the one to have it highest after a certain amount of time. Noelle and Karla quickly dropped as they found the rhythm of the challenge, followed by literally everyone multiple damn times. And as hilarious as it is to watch the supercut, I’m guessing it isn’t fun to read, so I’ll cut to the chase and let you know that Cassidy won. Well, eventually, after almost winning multiple times before she finally put everyone out of their misery.

Back at camp Noelle was nervous about what to do now that they can’t split the vote, which only got worse when Gabler confirmed that the other women were going for her and tried to flip Cody. Speaking of Cody, he and Jesse caught up about what happened while the tribe was split and while he was grateful to Noelle for giving him the love from home, Jesse also knew she was a threat. And well, the letter reminded him why he is here, and as such, the duo locked in the vote against her. 

Jesse meanwhile was nervous about it all falling apart, so told her the plan was still to get rid of Karla but that they would now split the votes on Sami. He then got busy throwing Sami under the bus by telling Noelle he is going for her on the split. Lastly he went to Karla to lock her in and while she was nervous about it coming together, he approached Gabler to lock in an outright majority to get rid of Noelle. Wisely though, Gabler knew it would be dangerous to burn Owen and Sami so close to the end, leading to Jesse dominating by calmly outlining just how threatening Noelle is. He then looped back to Cody to fill him in, while Gabler approached Karla to assure her that he will be voting Noelle to save her. And then target Jesse and Cody next, given they are clearly the power couple.

At tribal council Noelle spoke about how proud she is to overcome the challenge and prove to other people with a disability that they can do anything. Jesse pivoted to the reward, talking about how grateful he was to hear from home despite his ugly crying now going to be shown on TV. Gabler meanwhile alluded to a shake up, while Noelle admitted it was tough to navigate amongst the confusion while Owen was hopeful that relying on trust would pull him through again. Jesse agreed that trust is the currency, though shared that confirming whether it is real is the hardest part of the game. While Cody was more concerned about timing, given the contents of the conversations change minute by minute and as such, you can never tell whether you’re in power. 

Sami agreed and admitted none of them really know what will happen until they vote. Oh and then Gabler spoke about being snipers, while Karla was hoping to catch people out before it happens. Noelle acknowledged the fact there are still idols in play and as such, they have to play a quiet, sneaky game before Jesse reiterated what his son said, which was to get that money. With that the tribe voted and Karla wisely held on to her idol as the plan came together and Queen Noelle was tragically booted from the game.

Noelle followed the sound of my rage cries to Ponderosa where we pulled each other in for a massive hug. As a fellow famed athlete, I obviously met Noelle while a college athlete and we became the firmest of friends. And while I obviously gave it up due to scandal and laziness, we kept in contact, so I was thrilled to be able to be there to celebrate her killer game post-boot. And commence plotting how she will win her inevitable All Stars season over a piping hot Noelle Lambertshranger.

While a bushranger isn’t exactly a famed pastry dish, I spotted it in a local butcher and immediately knew I had to try my hand at a little copycat version. The rich, earthy lamb works perfectly with the mustard and SOMETHING ELSE to give you a light, hearty dish that will have you coming back for more.

Enjoy!

Noelle Lambertshranger
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine
2 sprigs rosemary leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4 small boneless lamb steaks, flattened to about 1cm thick
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, whisked

Method
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring, for about five minutes or until soft and sweet. Add in the garlic and cook it off for about a minute before stirring in the mustard, red wine, most of the rosemary and a good whack of salt and pepper. Cook stirring for another couple of minutes or so, or until the mixture thickens and becomea little claggy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

To assemble the bushrangers, place the steaks on a board and divide the mixture amongst them to form a line across the middle. Cut the pastry into quarters and place the lamb parcel on one side. Brush the edges and cover with another piece of pastry, getting as creative as you like with crimping of using offcuts to decorate. 

Brush the parcels with egg, sprinkle with the leftover rosemary and transfer to the oven to backe for 20-3 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve with either a creamy mash or a fresh salad, then devour. Like a Queen.


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Ryan Wedgranos

Side, Snack, Street Food, Survivor, Survivor 43, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor the tribe was split into two groups as has become tradition – not back to two tribes – for a little double tribal council. Probst then threw down a challenge for reward, with the person that could last the longest in the immunity challenge winning PB&Js for the tribe. And try as Karla might, her stitched up hand proved too much to overcome as she took out immunity but left her group hungry as they headed to the first tribal council. While James quickly locked in everyone against his nemesis Owen, things weren’t so simply as Noelle played him, stealing Owen’s vote and using it to join with Sami – and a reluctant Karla – to blindside James from the game.

But first, let’s take a little step back.

We followed the winning team back to camp where they quickly got to work making their PB&Js and greedily devouring them. With that out of the way, Ryan pulled Gabler aside to quickly lock in the vote against Cassidy. They went to Cody to float the idea and while he pretended to be keen, he immediately went to catch up with Jesse and Cassidy, admitting that he really likes her and as such, wants her to stay. She then went all in, assuring them that they already have a good bond and can trust each other and as such, it makes sense they go to the end together. She then opened up to us about her love for her family and how she is playing in honour of her deceased sister, who she used to watch the show with, and well, if they eliminate her after this beautiful personal content, I will be very very angry.

Cody and Jesse caught up solo to talk through the best move for their game moving forward, unsure whether it was a good idea to keep Ryan around as a meat shield despite the risk that voting out Cassidy could potentially piss off her allies Karla and James. Jesse rightly pointed out that going to tribal council second gives them more options, suggesting that if Owen goes out they keep Cassidy around to keep James and Karla happy, while if James is gone, they could be safe to take a shot. Locking in their options, they approached Gabler to get him on board and well, this could really be interesting!

At tribal council they were positively shocked to see James sitting on the jury, though also a little bit delighted, TBH. Jesse spoke about how James clearly was in a powerful position before the split while Ryan was concerned about what his boot meant for any alliances he was in. Cassidy made Probst very happy, talking about the monster coming to get for them, particularly given they are now back to a small tribe dynamic. Ryan too was concerned, given it only takes three votes to be out of the game. We flipped back to Cassidy who spoke about how difficult it is to handle having conversations and then see the people you just spoke to disappearing to talk to other people.

Cody meanwhile loved being safe, though felt it came with the heavy price of having a little power and feeling like he was in the driver’s seat for the night. Ryan agreed that people spent more time talking to Cody than him, though he had 30 pounds of clams in his bag and well, should they vote him out, he is happy to walk out with them. While Cassidy was just nervous about how the vote will reverberate through the dynamics when the groups come back together. With that the tribe voted and tragically booted zaddy Ryan – and his clams – from the game.

After quickly dishing up James his jam, I ran to find Ryan in Ponderosa and pulled him in for a massive hug, assuring him that he played a great game. But more importantly, reminded him that he is such an inspiration and is SUPER hot to boot and as such, if he isn’t invited back to the very next possible All Stars season, I will riot, or something. He obviously thought I was joking about everything, so we laughed and celebrated his success with a big, fat bowl of Ryan Wedgranos.

You know I have a passion for fried potato in all their forms, but there is something super special about wedges. I mean, a little spiced, chunky enough to give you the perfect balance of crunch and fluff, AND their frequent collaboration with sour cream. How could you go wrong?

Enjoy!

Ryan Wedgranos
Serves: 2 dear friends that would make a glorious couple.

Ingredients
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut each into 8 wedges
3 tbsp olive oil
sour cream and sweet chilli, to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano and parmesan in a bowl. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle over the spice mix. Toss until well coated.

Spread the wedges out in a single layer on lined baking sheets, ensuring one of the cut sides are face down. Bake for 30-45 minutes, turning once halfway through to the other cut edge, and bake until browned and crisp.

Then devour them with a vat of sour cream and sweet chilli, which is customary in a pub.


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Pork Jeanine Schzheng

Main, Survivor, Survivor 43, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor the non-merged tribe officially merged and immediately new factions were formed. Jeanine was feeling left out given her closest ally was blindsided, though Noelle and Dwight assured her that it will only free her up to play a better game. Sadly for her though, Jesse and Cody were becoming nervous of their fellow Vesi’s growing power and were ready to make a move. After Gabler took out immunity and James found the Knowledge is Power advantage, chaos ensued leading to many a name being thrown out and advantages trading hands to avoid being stolen by James, resulting in Dwight’s exit.

With poor Jeanine’s idol in her pocket, no less!

Back at camp Cody and Jesse were thrilled to have taken control with the Cocos, but were kinda shocked that Sami had joined them. Unaware that he is somehow now in the majority. Talk turned to the fact that James’ Knowledge is Power led to a game of advantage roulette and how confusing it was, with Jeanine particularly heartbroken to lose not just an ally but her idol. Sami tried to play damage control with Owen and Jeanine, assuring them that he only flipped because he knew it was a done deal and as such, he wanted to earn the majority’s trust. Oh and he assured Jeanine that now she is idolless it only makes working with her more enticing. Sami then spread the word that Jeanine’s idol went out of the game alongside Dwight before Jesse surprised us by announcing that he had actually collected Jeanine’s idol and given he also has Cody’s, he is holding all the power now. Specifically two idols.

Secretly, which is important given the Knowledge is Power is in play.

The next day Karla and Jesse were bonding over their Latino heritage before Owen opened up to them about how he was originally born in Korea and adopted at 4 months old. He spoke about how growing up he felt like an outsider and that being left out of two votes in a row, it was bringing up trauma. Though trust and believe he was going to try and find those cracks and take control with some other underdogs. He immediately caught up with Noelle and Jeanine to talk about who to align with, with Jeanine hopeful in their chances with Gabler while Noelle wasn’t so sure the seven that voted together the night before will stick together for long. Jesse, Karla, Cassidy and James caught up, hopeful that they would be able to stick together, with James wanting them to target Owen next given he voted for him at the first merge tribal.

The groups game together, with Karla opening up about her dreams about Probst making ramen during a gross food challenge and then crowd surfing. While it was weird, it got everyone talking about food and how damn hungry they were, fantasising about new food combinations and well, this is why Probst drags me to Fiji twice a year, I guess. Rather than just talking about food, Ryan went to go find some, fishing for hours to feed the tribe and make sure everyone was well fed. And therefore a little reliant on him. He opened up to Gabler about how proud of himself he is, particularly for a kid that grew up with CP and as such he is hopeful being a provider counteracts the fact he is a massive physical threat. After locking in his place in the alliance of seven, Sami approached the outsiders to try and align with them, given going to the end with the others is far more risky. He then returned to Jesse and James to keep them feeling about aligning with him, but trust, he was ready to make a move.

The tribe reconnected with Jeffrey where they would each have to balance a ball on a disc on the end of a tall pole, with the last one standing taking out immunity and guaranteeing their place in the top ten. Before getting to the challenge though, Jeff offered the tribe a bag of rice if five people were to sit out of the challenge and if nobody takes it, it will only be more expensive. Thankfully James, Sami, Jesse, Cassidy and Karla opted to sit out for the rice, despite James trying to assure Owen that he is TOTALLY safe if he were to sit out. Which is definitely not the case. The six players lined up for the challenge with Jeanine and Noelle dropping back to back when adding their third length of pole. Gabler dropped on the next round, Ryan dropped on the next before Cody dropped out of nowhere on the next transition, handing Owen a much needed victory.

Back at camp Owen was thrilled to have some much needed safety because despite the fact the 7 may not stay aligned, he is still on the bottom. As evidenced by James assuring him he is good. Gabler meanwhile was just trying to keep himself safe, hanging around Ryan and James as they locked in the vote against Jeanine. Ryan went person to person to fill them in on the vote, trying to get things unanimous before disappearing to fish for everyone to remind them how great eating is. Cody and Jesse meanwhile were confident that getting rid of Jeanine was the best for everyone, while Sami kicked it into high gear to save his fellow Baka, as such, floating Ryan as another option.

Knowing he had to play things carefully, he floated whether getting rid of Ryan makes sense to Karla. And while she was obviously keen, she knew it would be a tough sell with the rest of the alliance. Particularly since he is spending his afternoon fishing, rather than strategising with his allies. The Ryan vote spread like wildfire with Jeanine growing hopeful that she would be saved, until Cody and James started to turn things back around. James then went person to person, with Cassidy in particular frustrated to see yet another woman voted out particularly since she is clearly a sitting duck  and they will be able to get rid of her whenever. Oh and Ryan has burnt her multiple times, whereas Jeanine hasn’t.

At tribal council Jeff spoke about how each season has a unique vibe, with Gabler talking about theirs being focused on the social connections. While Karla countered that while the social games have been subtle, eventually someone has to make moves to claim victory. Ryan meanwhile suggested everyone was laying low for now and just enjoying themselves, while Owen admitted he doesn’t care what happens as long as he is voting with the group. Sami pointed out that the last two votes have been blindsides, while Cassidy reminded everyone that subtle games aren’t weak and James suggested everything is fluid within the game.

Jeanine opened up about trying to go with the momentum and keep navigating around the uncertainty, while Gabler was concerned about how quickly things change. Cody admitted he is nervous whenever he feels safe, while Ryan reminded everyone he caught 21 fish today. Jeanine spoke about not feeling safe, at all, given she was on the bottom last tribal, though was hopeful to trust her gut before Cody spoke about distances and reading body language and well, I was confused. As was Sami, given he was expecting everything to blow up pretty soon whether they were feeling safe or not. With that the tribe voted and despite their best efforts to feel Ryan, poor Jeanine found herself exiting the game as the Queen of the Jury.

Which, as you know, is my favourite placing.

As soon as she arrived at the freshly transformed Ponderosa, I pulled her in for a massive hug and congratulated her on a game well played. I told her that I was concerned that the women were having such a tough time this season due to the back-to-back success of Erika and Maryanne, and as such, there is an element of her being screwed by what was fresh in everyone’s mind. Which proved to be enough to dull the pain. Although maybe it was the piping hot Pork Jeanine Schzheng that made her feel better?

Delicate, melt in your mouth pork, coated in a gloriously crunchy crust, this little schnitty is perfect – particularly with some Dwight Moorshroom Gravy to wash it down! Add in a little mash and you have a comforting meal, easy enough to slot into your mid-week rotation.

Enjoy!

Pork Jeanine Schzheng
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
2 pork steaks, flattened to about 2cm thick
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, whisked
flour, for dredging
olive oil, for fryin’
lemon, mash and Dwight Moorshroom Gravy, to serve

Method
Take the pork out of the fridge and leave to come to room temperature while you prepare your crumb. Combine the breadcrumbs, rosemary, thyme and garlic in one bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper, the egg in another and flour in a third.

Dip the pork in the flour, followed by the egg and finally the crumb.

Heat a lug of oil in a large skillet and cook the schnitzels for a few minutes, or until golden and crisp. Flip and cook for a further few minutes or until golden, crisp and perfectly cooked through.

Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon, some mash and a generous amount of Dwight’s gravy. And then devour.


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Dwight Moorshroom Gravy

Condiment, Gravy, Sauce, Survivor, Survivor 43, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor the three tribes came together for not the merge, but the now traditional non-merge-but-earn-your-place-in-the-real-one-a-palooza. Now, thankfully, gloriously hourglass free. After Elie, Owen and Sami were left vulnerable, the Baka’s worked overtime to put the target on Cassidy or James. Though obviously told them to target Cody. Sadly as hard as they worked to get rid of anyone else, Gabler decided to air their dirty laundry at the merge feast and outed Elie for going through his bag earlier in the season (when it was in fact Jeanine). And while she valiantly kicked it into overdrive to save herself, it was all it took to unite the rest of the group against Elie and boot her from the game as the final pre-merger.

Tragically, for my drama loving heart.

We returned to camp where the Gaia Tribe were reeling from what happened at tribal council, specifically Jeanine who was ready to rise from the ashes despite being left out. Noelle pulled her aside and assured her that despite what happened to her closest ally, she is still safe and if her experience with being left out of the Justine vote is anything to go by, it may actually help things. As such Jeanine went person to person, assuring them that there are no hard feelings and she is glad to lose her partner. Though in private, she still kinda just wanted to just cry.

The next day everyone ventured down to the beach for sunrise where Owen and Dwight quietly strategised about how to proceed, with Owen admitting he just doesn’t see himself working with Gabler any more given he is too unpredictable. Speaking of Gabler, he was busy talking to Cody about how chill he feels now that Elie is gone. He explained to us that he planned to continue playing like an ali-gabler. Aka duck back under water to chill until he next needs to strike.

Owen and Dwight continued their double act, collecting treemail which they thought was for art supplies to paint the tribe flag. Instead they learnt that the tribe would need to split into pairs for the upcoming challenge. And how those pairs were formed is completely up to them. While everyone obviously was desperate to get Ryan or Cody though, nobody outright said it and instead they decided to draw rocks.

We quickly pivoted to said epic challenge where Jeffrey confirmed it was for immunity and explained that the pairs would only be pairs for the first two stages of the challenge and after that, it was everyone for themselves. In the first stage, the pairs would race through a tangled net tube before digging up planks and a flag, with the first four back to their mat moving on. For stage two, they would race up a cargo net and cross a rope bridge and race to a mat with the last two pairs moving forward to the final stage, where they would each have to hold a bucket containing 25% of their starting weight. Last one holding the bucket jagging immunity.

Ryan and James were first through their tube followed by Karla and Cassidy. After Ryan and James moved on to the final round, Owen and Gabler and Cody and Dwight joined them, while Karla and Cassidy secured their spot in the next round with the other duos making it to the end as Noelle and Sami, and Jesse and Jeanine were eliminated without even exiting the tube. Before moving on to a new round, Probst gave a speech praising how hard Noelle fought in the challenge and while she was down on herself, seeing Sami and the rest of the tribe rally around her was heartwarming.

We then did a hard pivot as Probst set the second round in motion as Dwight and Cody blitzed through the competition and secured their place in the final round before Owen and Gabler narrowly joined them as the Coco duos dropped as they tried to rush to the finish. The four men took their place holding the buckets for the final round. Almost instantly Dwight dropped out as the other trio shared what was inspiring them before Owen lost concentration and dropped his bucket. Oh and then after 37 minutes of Gabler dedicating minutes to random people – which was far sweeter than I just made it sound – Cody put us out of our misery as he dropped his bucket and handed immunity to Gabler.

Back at camp Gabler opened up how much the veteran community means to him while the rest of the tribe washed the mud of themselves. In the water everyone started scrambling with the Baka and Vesi crew looking to stick together to get rid of James or Ryan. That is until James, Dwight, Owen and Sami went to get water and found a clue in the well, telling them an advantage was hidden under the shelter. While James assured them he wouldn’t take it until after tribal council, he obviously made a beeline for it. Dwight then went and looped Noelle in, who in turn went and told everyone about the advantage, rallying the troops against James.

Jesse and Karla meanwhile were spooked by how quickly Noelle was able to get everyone on side and as such, wanted to weaken her. When Jesse approached Cody about getting rid of Noelle, Cody suggested that getting rid of Dwight would be the better option, given Dwight is better at challenges and has always been sketchy to him. James meanwhile learnt that he had found the Knowledge Is Power advantage, fresh from Geo’s pocket. And rather than keep things quiet, he thought it could help build trust with people and as such, told his potential allies. Who were immediately spooked and started trading out idols and advantages so that he couldn’t snatch them. Jeanine gave her idol to Dwight, Owen scored Noelle’s extra vote and Jesse ended up in possession of Cody’s idol. Meaning everyone was nervous and mildly confused by the end of the day.

At tribal council Karla spoke about how reflective the immunity challenge was of the game, while Jesse felt like today truly levelled up the competition. Dwight spoke about how everyone has kicked in to playing their own game while Noelle felt like they needed a steady stream of plans to make sure they and their allies survive. James spoke about how advantages are only useful when played correctly and as such, people needed to spend less time focussing on them and, instead, just play the game. Cody spoke about surfing at Probst’s request, while most people admitted they were feeling confident they were on the right side of the numbers. Except for Sami who knew that there was always a risk and as such, they just needed to all play balls to the wall. Basically.

With that the tribe voted and despite a solid 7 out of 10 he was sure he was on the right side of the numbers, Dwight was shocked to be voted out of the game. With Jeanine’s idol in his pocket, no less! Despite being crushingly blindsided as the final pre-juror, Dwight was in pretty good form and took his boot like an absolute champion. While he played a low-key game – at least in the edit, given he was on a tribe with Cody – it was clear he was a strong contender, having relationships across all the OG tribes and dare I say it, should he had survived the vote, had what it takes to go all the way. And given that was a super upbeat and nice assessment from me, he was feeling pretty happy with himself and as such, gladly drank a jug of Dwight Moorshroom Gravy to toast his success.

The earthy nuttiness of the mushroom and the punch of wine work perfectly with the cream to form a warm, soulful gravy. Pop it with chicken, steak or maybe even something coming up later this season, and you’re alway left with the same result. An empty plate and a happy belly.

Enjoy!

Dwight Moorshroom Gravy
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
extra virgin olive oil
500g mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup white wine
⅔ cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method
Pop a lug of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat and saute for five minutes or until golden, soft and the liquid has reabsorbed. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Pour in the wine and leave to bubble up, cooking till it’s almost all absorbed before stirring in the cream. Leave to bubble for a couple of minutes until it slightly thickens before seasoning to taste, alongside the parsley.

Then devour, either pour onto a protein or into a glass. No judgement.


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Dutch Baby

Breakfast, Main, RuPaul's Drag Race UK, RuPaul's Drag Race UK 4, Snack, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Drag Race UK the dolls starred in the brand new chat show, Catty Man. After Pixie won the power to select teams, she, Danny and Cheddar all shone brightly. While she designed a meh team and a bomb team, to kinda guarantee their win. Sadly for her, it only worked out for Danny who joined Dakota in the two badge club. Sminty meanwhile appeared to completely black out during the challenge while Baby was a bit of a mess. Baby though was a phoenix, dominating the lip sync and saving herself. And while it was tragic to see Sminty go, she took out our hearts as she sad-twerked her way into the best exit since Vanjie.

Backstage Baby felt guilty about sending Sminty home, though reiterated that if you come against her in the lip sync, you will be losing. As they sat down to kiki Pixie opened up about always feeling like the bridesmaid, so wasn’t shocked that she was beaten at the final hurdle of the challenge. Dakota and Danny tried to remind her how much the judges loved her and while she doesn’t have a badge, they still love her and she needs to focus on that. Talk returned to Baby with everyone reiterating that Ru gave her some great feedback and she should still be proud of herself. Though Danny admitted to us that Ru is after a superstar and well, she – and Cheddar – is a powerhouse, so they best watch out. Essentially.

The next day everyone had processed the last judging, with everyone ready for another week. Baby opened up about still being a little in her feels and as such, admitted that she is really doubting herself, but best believe she is ready to rally. Pixie led the girls in praising Danny on her second win, with her admitting that she is speechless. Which doesn’t happen often. At the other end of the spectrum, the dolls pointed out Jonbers is the only one without a badge and well, she was not having it and I live. Before the shade escalated to any drama, Ru dropped by – dressed in high street, not H&M – to open the library. Because reading is, what? Fundamental.

Up first was Cheddar who calmly and devilishly savaged her sisters in a sweet, playful way. Baby was witty and nasty in equal, perfect measure, Dakota was hit and miss but so charming while Peppa was a delight. Pixie was smart, brutal and oh so silly, Le Fil owned it calling Jonbers Mr Smithers, Danny was Danny in all the right ways before Jonbers closed the show giving classic reads and being a total cutie. But obviously, victory went to Pixie Polite. For ironically being anything but.

Before Ru departed she announced that for this week’s Maxi Challenge they would be singing live in Lairy Poppins: The Rusical. And as the winner of the mini challenge, it was up to Pixie to cast the show before they received some vocal coaching with THE voice, Miselle Visage. The dolls sat down to read through the script as Dakota disappointed everyone with the news she had NOT seen Mary Poppins and also hates musicals. Le Fil was cast as OG Mary, Lick Van Dick went to Danny, The Bird Lady went to Jonbers, Mother Prude went to Baby and Rochelle La Roach went to Cheddar leaving the Prude Twins to be played by Peppa and Dakota. Much to Dakota’s disappointment. All the girls offered to trade out to make her feel better, but she admitted she isn’t really confident about any of the roles, so was just going to suck it up. Oh and Pixie obviously snatched the lead for herself.

Everyone split up to work through the script with Cheddar going method while Peppa tried to perk Dakota up and encouraged her to slay with the role she landed, rather than being frustrated. Pixie meanwhile started to get nervous, realising that Lairy Poppins is not the role for her and as such went to talk it through with Danny. Who graciously offered to swap.

The dolls dropped by the mainstage to work through the songs with Michelle as Dakota and Peppa were a bit flat, while Baby joyously embraced her inner Britney. Danny meanwhile was an absolute disaster given she only just took over the role, and while Pixie fared a little better, she was lacking confidence, Cheddar was pitch perfect which made her feel worse and worse. Jonbers was living her best life and was oh so fun, despite the lack of key. While Le Fil, obviously, was a delight. And given everyone was feeling kinda strong, Baby started to worry that she was not enough. Which is just heartbreaking.

Michelle tagged out with zaddy Giovanni Pernice for the choreography with Dakota getting more and more nervous, while Baby sweetly helped her get through all the steps. While Peppa just wanted her to pull it together and not bring her down. Danny too was a ball of nerves, though given Giovanni was flirty, she worked overtime to impress. Cheddar too struggled to get it down while Pixie nailed it all and Jonbers was ridiculously perfect. And Le Fil was simply a star, but will no doubt be under appreciated.

Elimination Day arrived with everyone full of energy and ready to put on the best rusical of all time. As they split up to beat their mugs, the dolls spoke about their pre-show routines, with everyone agreeing it is just nice to be able to kiki with sisters while prepping on the show. Oh and everyone was desperate and ready for another badge, except for Dakota, who just wanted to make it through and hope for the best.

Ru, Michelle and Alan were joined by the legend herself Hannah Waddingham to witness the spectacle that was Lairy Poppins. And hot damn, was it not one of the greatest rusicals of all time. The script was on point, the lyrics and music were so much fun and the performances were all great. Baby was a diva, Peppa was charming and even Dakota was holding her own. Well until Danny arrived on scene as Lairy and let’s just say, Pixie is probably going to regret swapping rolls because she was demented and sooooo damn good. Jonbers was wacky, weird and living her best life, as the judges laughed hysterically. Pixie was silly and charming, Cheddar was delightful and fun before Le Fil closed the show as the perfect spoil to everyone’s fun before she ultimately let loose and experienced joy, stealing my heart and the show.

On the West End Wonders runway, Pixie slayed as Tracy Turnblad, serving charm, reveals and of course, hairspray everywhere. Jonbers was so damn sexy, inspired by Singing In The Rain, Black Peppa gave the sexiest Lion King known to man while Dakota gave Funny Girl as done by Sharon Tate. Cheddar was stunning serving Hedwig, Le Fil was full glamour in honour of The King and I and Baby was inspired by the first black Juliet on the West End in And Juliet and was STUN. NING. Oh and then Danny stole the show as The Little Shop of Horrors and well, shut it down, she wins.

Black Peppa and Cheddar – aka Cacio e Pepe – were sent to safety before the judges lavished praise on Pixie despite how poorly she did in rehearsals. Everyone thought her performance was stunning and lived for how she nailed the look on the runway. Jonbers too received universal praise for her demented bird lady and they loved the runway, despite the mismatched cages. Poor Dakota was read for being very nervous, particularly next to how energetic Peppa was. That being said, Ru assured her she was good, just everyone else was also so strong. Le Fil for some reason was told she could have gone further with the role, despite being perfect AND having a stunning runway. Baby too was read for her nerves, though praised for her energy and magnetism. Baby started to break down as Hannah told her she wants her to see how great she is, while Baby opened up about how hard it is to be in the competition and how she doesn’t know she can handle it mentally. But bless, Ru gave her a delightful pep talk.

Oh and then Danny received top marks for everything, from the performance to the runway. And well, condragulations again, Danny.

Backstage Cheddar was thrilled to be safe while Peppa was just glad she avoided the bottom. As the tops and bottoms joined them, Dakota opened up about how disappointed she is to clearly be in the bottom and while everyone tried to encourage her, she admitted it is even harder to process given she was told she was good but clearly, two girls have to land in the bottom. Baby meanwhile opened up more about how much she is struggling with her mental health and admitted that while she will kill a lip sync, it won’t change things. But thankfully, all her sisters rallied around and encouraged her to keep opening up and sharing. Le Fil too was struggling with being in the bottom despite nailing it before talk turned to the tops, with Jonbers giddy, Pixie just glad to have rallied and Danny, obviously, thrilled about nailing the assignment.

Ultimately Jonbers was deemed safe, leaving Pixie to once again be the bridesmaid to Danny Beard who rightly took out her third win of the season. At the alleged other end of the pack, Le Fil narrowly avoided the bottom leaving Dakota and Baby to battle it out to No Way from Six. And damn did they fight. Baby was obviously Baby, a star who hit every lyric and nailed the vibe and all the moves, while Dakota was an absolute firecracker as she valiantly fought for her life and turned the show. Sadly though before Ru had the chance to announce who had won the lip sync, Baby popped up her hand and announced that that was her farewell performance and like Adore and DeLa before her, she would like to tap out of the competition.

Thankfully, Ru didn’t make her feel bad about things, praising her for not only being a star and for knowing when to take herself out of the situation to look after herself. And well, while Ru kinda stole my entire speech to the icon that is Baby, it was so true and necessary, that I didn’t burn Ru’s dressing room to the ground. Instead, I pulled Baby in for a massive hug as she made it backstage and assured it that it was the right decision. And that even in those five short weeks, she proved she is a star. And oh so worthy of a warm, nourishing Dutch Baby.

The light and fluffy boat warmly hugs the earthy, nutty sweet filling to give you a gloriously hearty breakfast. Or a comforting way to work through the trauma of an intense competition series that makes you question your talent, which should never happen because you’re a star. Ok?

Enjoy!

Dutch Baby
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
4 eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup milk, at room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup flour
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
3 mushrooms, peeled and sliced
6 slices ham, roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped

Method
Place a medium cast iron skillet in the centre of the oven and preheat to 200° for about 15 minutes, or until it is a hunk, a hunk of burning love.

Pop the eggs and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the balloon whisk attachment, whisk vigorously until light and frothy. Whisk in 2 tbsp of the melted butter, followed by the flour, salt and pepper until well combined and voluminous.

Pop on some oven mitts and carefully remove from the oven swirl the remaining butter to coat. Pour the batter into the skillet and immediately return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and brown.

Carefully remove from the oven, sprinkle with some cheese, followed by the mushrooms, ham and the rest of the cheese and pop into the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Then sprinkle with the shallots and devour, like a wholesome, loveable, talented icon!


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Geo Bustamantea Soaked Chicken

Main, Poultry, Survivor, Survivor 43

Previously on Survivor the Vesi tribe finally started to turn things around with a dominating win in the reward challenge. Sick of seeing Coco win, they opted to use their reward to steal from them, setting off their downfall. At the immunity challenge Vesi continued their streak and then helped Baka solve their puzzle, sending Coco to their first tribal council. That set off a chain of events where paranoia got the best of Lindsay as she spiralled and despite the target being between Cassidy and Geo, the tribe opted for calm and booted her from the game. Thankfully earning her a place in Second Chances due to her iconic flame out.

Back at camp the tribe rallied together as Cassidy reflected on how Lindsay’s nerves alone caused her downfall. That being said, she was super disappointed to have received one vote and requested that whoever did it talk to her to explain their process. And while mastermind Ryan wanted to smooth things over, Geo owned up and went for a walk and straight up made the entire situation worse, accusing her of voting against him – despite Lindsay clearly being the one to do it – and showing no remorse. After debriefing with Karla however, the girls were galvanised and once again ready to take out Ryan or Geo.

The next day Elie and Jeanine were busy hunting for the Baka hidden immunity idol, finally finding it, covered in ants. Jeanine threw caution to the wind and grabbed the Beware Advantage, learning that she now had to go through the bead saga. While filling in Elie though, they were caught by Owen, their second option for third place in their alliance. As such, they filled him in and while he considered holding on to his bead to screw her out of her vote and take control with Gabler, he ultimately handed it over to build trust. Elie then took the information straight to Sami, pointing out that he is actually the one they trust over Owen. Sami meanwhile was feeling safe with his place in the tribe, though he was concerned for Gabler, who had no idea what was going on. 

Oh and despite Gabler wanting to hang on to his special bead, he ultimately gave it over to Jeanine and powered her idol. Thankfully, Sami woke up and chose chaos this morning, pulling Gabler aside and pointing out that he just powered Jeanine’s idol and um, is Sami actually a savvy player that is going to win this?

The tribes reconnected with Jeffrey for the next immunity challenge where they would be tethered together to run through a series of obstacles carrying buckets of water to release a gate. And then, instead of the usual puzzle, they would roll three balls up a ramp and land them on a platform. Oh and the victors would get a tarp each. While Coco got out to an early, massive lead, they struggled to roll the balls, leaving Vesi and Baka plenty of time to close the gap. As the three tribes faced off, Dwight and Sami quickly got their eye in, overtaking Ryan – who knocked off his two balls – and secured immunity for Vesi, followed by Baka. Kinda proving Vesi’s strategy to weaken Coco was a good idea, given they would now be down two people by the end of the episode. Before heading out, Vesi was given the power to send people on this week’s journey, opting for Geo, Jeanine and Jesse. 

Oh and we then learnt that Ryan threw the challenge to get rid of Cassidy. Back at camp however, he pretended to be disappointed in himself while locking in the vote against Cassidy with James and Karla. Sadly for him, James took that information straight back to Cassidy and assured her that they can load their votes on Geo with Karla and get rid of him without Ryan noticing. Cassidy approached him to talk things through, with each pretending that Ryan would be the next one out, with neither of them deviating from their supposed scripts. And while Ryan thought he was playing it all expertly, it was looking more and more like the group would be targeting him and Geo, just in case he gets an advantage on the journey.

Speaking of which, we caught up with Jesse, Jeanine and Geo where they discovered they had to row a boat through very rough seas until they reached an island to get their risk options. Geo used the very long row to talk about how close he was to being voted out the night before to garner sympathy and while Jeanine didn’t buy his story, the fact that Geo was confirmed to be risking his vote, makes it dangerous for them to play. Sadly for Geo, neither of his fellow journey-ers cared about him and ended up taking the risk. But turns out, he did get lucky, given he was the one that jagged the Knowledge Is Power advantage on his return to camp.

While Jesse and Jeanine sadly discovered they were now without votes at the next tribal council, Jesse reading his note in public while Jeanine learned the news in private. And then admitted what happened to the rest of the tribe, though pretended it was her first time reading it. Which annoyed Sami, given they all knew she already risked her vote the day before to secure an idol and now they know just how hard she is willing to play.

We ventured back to Coco where Geo filled the tribe in on the journey, lying to them and explaining he didn’t risk his vote. Before pulling each of his allies aside to share the truth, showing them his Knowledge Is Power advantage and while he thought it would build trust, it made Karla and James nervous enough to turn their attention to him, rather than Ryan, who had somehow become the actual target. While filling in Cassidy, she then started to get nervous about her doing a Lindsay and starting to spiral, which made them actually consider voting out one of their allies. Again.

At tribal council Cassidy spoke about the fact that while their momentum has waned, she believes they can swing it back. Ryan spoke about synergy – corporate buzzwords for the win, I guess – before opening up (in lie form) about feeling like he is the target tonight, given he bombed the challenge. Which Cassidy pointed out was noble, but kind of hard to believe. As he continued to play the aw shucks role, Karla admitted that easy votes are always tempting and given he offered himself up, it could make things good for the rest of them. Geo spoke about feeling uneasy given he missed so much potential scrambling time though was hopeful he had done enough, while James praised him for being so honest after the journey.

Probst then made Geo nervous about how to vote, while Karla – after a brief mental blank – slyly told him that he should trust in his alliance rather than being nervous. Oh and then Ryan asked everyone to say what they liked best about him as they voted, while Cassidy was just looking forward to having another chance for the tribe to prove trust by doing what they planned. With that the tribe voted before Ryan and Geo were shocked as the latter was booted from the game, with an advantage barely in his pocket.

While Geo was both surprised and disappointed to find himself booted from the game, he is such a delight that he took it all in his stride. I pulled him in for a massive hug as soon as he arrived at Loser Lodge, assuring him that he played a strong game and while I love the three tribe format, it truly is the hardest one to navigate given there is no room to hide. So between that and his personal story, I was thrilled to be able to toast his success with a big fat bowl of Geo Bustamantea Soaked Chicken.

I am normally a basic girl that lives for a good old honey chicken or something of that ilk when it comes to Chinese take away, but this little number has that trumped. Complex, spicy and sweet, it is the perfect comforting dish to eat through your feelings or finish out the week.

Enjoy!

Geo Bustamantea Soaked Chicken
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
2 star anise
3 tbsp coriander seeds
4 cups water
2 cups soy sauce
¼ cup kosher salt
8 black tea bags
1kg chicken breast or thighs, diced
2 shallots, sliced, to garnish

Method
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Once shimmering, add the ginger, garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the peppercorns, star anise and coriander seeds and stir until fragrant, before stirring in the water, soy and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and add the tea to steep for ten minutes or so. Remove the tea bags and the brine to cool completely. Pop the chicken in the large bowl and pour over the chilled brine. Cover and pop in the fridge to marinate overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, drain the chicken and heat the remaining oil in a wok over high heat. In batches stir fry the chicken until cooked through and repeat the process. Serve piping hot with a garnish of shallots and devour, regally.


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