Alan Carrbonara alla Saliccia

Main, Pasta, RuPaul's Drag Race UK, RuPaul's Drag Race UK 1

With Ru and Michelle venturing across the pond for a UK version of Drag Race – no doubt to find out if anyone can lip sync better than Charlie Hides – they’re packing me up and taking me over to the mother country. And reuniting me with my dear friend Alan Carr, who has found his way onto the judging panel.

I’ve known Al for years, after meeting on the Chorlton-cum-Hardy comedy circuit. While I found the name of the suburb to be nothing more than false advertising – except for this one time down the frog and toad at the rub-a-dub-dub, getting a rub-a-tug-tug – I was grateful to find a kindred spirit in the form of Alan. High energy and a little too much, Alan and I became the fastest of friends despite being so similar.

When Ru and Mish were looking to transplant the series, they personally tasked me with finding the right people to join them on the judges panel – after I turned them down – I knew that Al would be absolutely perfect for the role.

He was thrilled to drop by and help me celebrate the imminent arrival of the Brits and agreed that this season is going to be fire. Particularly with an icon like Divina de Campo in the cast. But I’m saying too much, so instead get thee to a kitchen and whip yourself up some Alan Carrbonara alla Saliccia.

 

 

This Jamie Oliver number is one of my favourite meals, despite Jamie’s blatant false advertising. I mean, when have you ever seen him naked? Thankfully this rich salty carb is packed full of so much sausage it makes me willing to forgive him.

Enjoy!

 

 

Alan Carrbonara alla Saliccia
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
320g dried linguine, cooked to packet instructions
olive oil
4 Italian sausages
200g pancetta, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
4 egg yolks
100ml double cream
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated … plus extra to serve. Emphasis on extra.
1 lemon,  zested
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method
Get a pot of water on the boil and cook the pasta as per packet instructions.

Meanwhile heat a lug of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and squeeze small meatballs worth of sausage filling into the pan, and cook for five minutes or so. Add the pancetta and cook for a further couple of minutes, or until crisp.

Whisk the egg yolk, double cream, parmesan, lemon zest and parsley together in a jug.

When you’re ready to bring everything together, drain the pasta, reserving a cup’s worth of the glorious cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the eggy mixture. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir until well combined. Add the meatballs and pancetta and give another good stir.

Serve immediately with a generous mound of parmesan on top. And devour.

 

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Stuffed Shelly Long Bake

Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: Golden Family, Main, Pasta

After spending the last few days catching up with the current shining stars of television – hey there current nominee Christina Applegate, and rising stars Riz and Tatiana! – I decided Emmy Gold: Golden Family needed some gravitas in the form of some TV royalty. So I picked up the phone and invited myself over to celebrate Shelley ma’ fuckin’ Long.

While yes, she is still working hard with killer runs on Modern Family and less recently – and my favourite – playing Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch movies, her Emmy winning turn as Diane in Cheers is truly the stuff of TV legend.

I mean, her and zaddy Ted Danson’s will-they-won’t-they romance is enough to flood my basement even now.

Obviously Shell was honoured to finally get the call up to appear on this patch of cyberspace and introduce herself to a new audience. While our relationship started out quite rocky thanks to the meddling ways of the morally corrupt Kelsey Grammer, Rhea Perlman – the saint that she is – was able to sit us down, make us see sense and finally end our feud in 1987 before Shelley departed Cheers.

Did I mention I was a featured barfly in Cheers? Because I was.

Anyway, given she starred in one of the most iconic comedies of all time, I got her to help me run the odds for Outstanding Comedy Series, hoping that this category provides a well-deserved surprise slash great return on gambling investment. While Veep, Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag are generating the most chatter to take out the win, this is the category that I could honestly make a case for every nominee taking it out. Russian Doll was bold and moving, The Good Place is the greatest exploration of morality ever committed to screen and Schitt’s Creek is a remarkable show filled with hope and joy.

While my heart wants Schit’s Creek to take it out and Shelley thinks The Good Place deserves it, I think it will go to Fleabag. But given Schitt’s has the worst odds, am betting it all on them for a good return on investment. While Shelley tried to suggest I go for a safer bet, I didn’t listen and drowned out her wise words by smashing a big Stuffed Shelly Long Bake.

 

 

There is nothing better than pasta … except kitsch foods, so using that logic, this baby is the holy grail. Large shell pasta bake full of rich, creamy spinach and cheese floating through a sea of spicy tomato sauce like the SS Noms? Sign me up.

Enjoy!

 

 

Stuffed Shelly Long Bake
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
300g jumbo pasta shells, cooked per packet instructions
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
250g spinach, roughly chopped
500g ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly whisked
a small handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups marinara sauce
1 tbsp chilli flakes

Method
Preheat oven to 180C.

Heat a good lug of olive oil in a skillet and sweat the onion and garlic for five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the spinach, remove from heat and cook, stirring for a minute or so, or until the residual heat has wilted the spinach. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Once the onion, garlic and spinach are pretty much tepid, add the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, basil and a good whack of salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

To assemble, pour marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and stir through the chilli flakes. Stuff each shell with the cheese mixture and place randomly in the baking dish. Repeat the process until the pasta and/or cheese is all used up.

Dot with any remaining cheese mixture, sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and transfer to the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Or until gloopy and glorious.

Leave to rest for five minutes before serving and devouring. Triumphantly like an icon.

 

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Pia Mintanda Soup

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, Side, Snack, Soup, TV Recap

After fifty days in the Fijian jungle, after Anastasia was booted from the game first thanks to Pia’s machinations, Laura was booted in lieu of Baden. They were followed by – yep, happening again – Susie, Nova, Steven, E.T., Sam, Sarah, Hannah, Casey, Matt, King RossAndy, Shaun, David, Zaddy John, Daisy, Simon, Janine, Abbey, Luke and Harry, leaving Pia and Baden to battle it out at the final tribal council.

And to say Pia dominated is a bloody understatement.

She clearly articulated her game, stood up to people that downplayed her achievements and really drove home to Baden how bad his final decision was as she claimed the first unanimous victory of the series.

Bow down to Pia Miranda, the one true Queen of Australian Survivor. Nay, Australia. Ever since she smacked that bitch Carly Bishop in her film debut, Pia has held a special place in my heart. I first met her on the set of Alibrandi when I was part of Anthony Lapaglia’s entourage slash personal security detail to protect him from Matthew Newton. Pia and I quickly bonded, so I vowed to protect her as well free of charge.

A few months later we were catching up and decided to tune in for the finale of this new little reality show called Survivor, and while watching Rich defeat Wiggles we fell in love and both vowed to both play and win the game some day.

While my moment in the spotlight is yet to come – I am growing my man bun first to make people think I’m relaxed rather than driving my anxiety and strung higher than Everest – I am so proud to have born witness to Pia’s game. From narrowly escaping becoming the first boot, her charm quickly found her solid allies that she could use as a shield while dominating the game socially. Which is ultimately what handed her the game and title of Sole Survivor. And the Pia Mintanda Soup prize that goes along with it.

 

 

While pea and ham soup is enough to make most people shudder at the thought of peas in soup, this baby is so good it will win you over. Like Pia. Glorious sweet peas and a good whack of mint work perfectly with some salty prosciutto to fill your heart with joy and make you feel like a Champion. Again, like Pia.

Enjoy!

 

 

Pia Mintanda Soup
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g frozen peas, defrosted
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
8 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup thickened cream

Method
Combine the peas and stock in a dutch oven and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for half an hour. Add the mint and a good whack of salt and pepper and cook for a further ten minutes. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Heat a lug of oil in a fry pan and cook the prosciutto for a couple of minutes, until glorious and crispy. Transfer to some paper towel to drain.

Meanwhile blitz the soup until nice and smooth. Return to the heat and stir through the cream. Season if required, going lighter on the salt than the pepper, and cook for five minutes.

Serve immediately topped with a cross of prosciutto and devour. Victoriously.

 

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Spicy Macharroni Chills

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, Pasta, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor 24 Australians were dumped in the Fijian jungle, once again split up into tribes of Champions and Contenders with the latter desperate hoping to get revenge on Shane Gould. Who last year taught us that she is not to be fucked with. One by one they were sent from the game with Anastasia, Laura – yep, happening – Susie, Nova, Steven, E.T., Sam, Sarah, Hannah, Casey, Matt, booted before the merge, Ross was tragically medevaced, ultrafan Andy was felled before the jury, while Shaun, David, John, Daisy, Simon, Janine and Abbey were sent to the jury back-to-back. After losing the final four immunity challenge, all hope looked lost for Luke who tried to convince Pia to vote with him and force Baden into a fire making challenge against the returning Champion. Ultimately Pia knew her best shot was to trust in herself to get to the end and joined the Contenders to send Luke to the jury, breaking Australia’s hearts in the process.

The next morning the final three stood by the shore taking in the view, with Harry thrilled to finally be the odds on favourite to win the game. Clearly unaware that pride generally comes before the fall. Pia was lacking Harry’s bravado, struggling with the fact she had to vote out a dear friend to make it to the final three. She listed her impressive resume and hot damn, I need her to win. Baden was sick of being underestimated and honestly, I am just feeling guilty for essentially writing him off as a non-entity in the episode.

Finally they arrived at a clearing where Jonathan’s killer guns welcomed the trio to their final immunity challenge where they were required to stand on two narrow pegs while holding on to two ropes keeping heavy idols aloft, with the last one standing snatching immunity. Before the challenge got underway, Jonathan gave them all a little extra inspiration for the challenge and called out their family. Harry sobbed as his girlfriend and mother were wheeled out, Baden broke down as his parents and brother arrived on the scene, but Pia’s emotional reunion with her husband and kids was the true star of the moment. Pia was crying, her husband was crying, the kids were cute bewildered and desperate for a nap and honestly, my goofy grin couldn’t be wiped off my face. Then I cried happy tears.

After Pia gave an inspiring speech about appreciating her family even more, the families were sent to sit out bench and the final three stood atop their perches. Baden, giddy for the fun ahead. Both Baden and Harry looked wobbly early on the challenge but the trio managed to power on for an hour, which was just long enough for the sun to set and the set to light up in fire in an epic manner. After two hours Baden started talking about stargazing, which his mum pretending to be interested though clearly not giving a fuck. Baden then started running his mouth like Christian Hubicki and honestly, I stan. After 4.5 hours the pain started to get to PIa, before Harry nearly tumbled off the pegs only to be saved by the love of his girlfriend. At five hours Pia buckled in pain, moaning through while her husband covered his eyes from the sidelines and tried to remind her that she could do it. While Pia fought back tears, her husband reminded her that she can drop if she wants however she reiterated that she isn’t ready to go home.

He then went full lamaze class, helping her stay focused, getting her to breathe through the pain and miraculously, she found the strength to pull her idols back to the top. The challenge then ticked over to 6.5 hours, earning the record for the longest challenge in Australian Survivor history. But at what cost, honestly. Harry was shaking and grunting in pain, Pia looked like someone was cursing her with an avada kedavra. Then, out of nowhere, Harry asked Jonathan to come over and help him out of the challenge and honestly, my heart broke for him in that moment and I’m back to loving everyone. Pia then asked for help getting out of the challenge, breaking down in tears and handing Baden final immunity.

Pia, why couldn’t you wait long enough to make a deal with Baden?!

We immediately arrived at tribal council where the jury were shocked to see Baden wearing immunity. He admitted that the power of being the only person voting tonight is really weighing on him, aware that both have played strong games and not sure who the jury will respect more. Pia jumped in to fight for her life, not willing to say Harry doesn’t deserve it and instead reminding Baden that he and Harry have played the entire game together and as such, Harry, the flashier player, already owns them and he won’t be able to claim them. Harry argued that his game is already transparent, while Pia has been stealth and letting her get to the end to argue her case is the bigger risk. Harry then pointed out the majority of the jury are also Champions, so already the odds would be stacked against him.

Pia jumped in to point out that she voted out every Champion but Janine and as such, she has made a lot of enemies and as such, he has the better shot against her. Harry pointed out that Pia makes very convincing arguments and as an actress, knows how to perform for an audience. He then pointed out that he wanted to take Baden before the final immunity challenge and honestly that just proves that he thinks he can beat him. Which Pia rightly pointed out before reminding Baden that everyone has tried desperately to get rid of Harry throughout the game and his final big move, would be taking him out in front of the jury.

With that Baden went off to vote and hot damn, Pia the icon somehow won the battle and Harry was sent from the game with the single vote.

Was Harry as likeable a villain as David? No. Was he as nude as my favourite Contender John? Of course not. Does his half-closed eye fill me with concern about what happened? Undoubtedly. But none of that takes away from his ridiculous staying power in the game. While cockroach sounds like a mean title, I explained that it was true and he should wear the title proudly because there were a lot of other people that didn’t survive their shitty hands – and then I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride – which only prove how strong a player he is. So despite myself and the fact Nick Wilson is his favourite player (a sign of a new fan), I whipped him up a Spicy Macharroni Chills.

 

 

Just when you thought chilli and macaroni cheese couldn’t get any more delicious, I go and mix them up in a vat and bake it with even more cheese. It may not be pretty or elegant, but like Harry’s game, it is effective in filling you with all the happy feels.

Enjoy!

 

 

Spicy Macharroni Chills
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
500g macaroni
olive oil
3 punnets of cherry tomatoes, pricked
salt and pepper, to taste
500g fresh chorizo, casings removed
2 onions, sliced
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups milk
2 cups pepper jack cheese, grated
2 cups vintage cheddar, grated

Method
Heat oven to 150C and put a large pot of salted water over high heat, and cook the pasta as per packet instructions.

Place the cherry tomatoes on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes or so.

Heat a small lug of oil in a dutch oven and cook the chorizo, breaking up with the back of the wooden spoon, until browned and the fat has started to leak out. Add the onions and cook for a further five minutes, or until softened and sweet. Add the butter and cook until melted before dumping in the flour, mustard powder, sriracha and Worcestershire and stirring into a glorious gloop. Cook for a minute or so before bringing off the heat and stirring through the milk. Return to the heat and cook for a further five minutes, or until the milk has started to thicken.

Once the pasta is ready, add it to the dutch oven with the blistered tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of each cheese and stirring until well combined. Decant into a large baking dish, top with the remaining cheese and bake for half an hour, or until golden and bubbly.

Devour immediately, trying hard to avoid the ropes of molten cheese. Like Harry avoided the boot for longer than anticipated.

 

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Abbean Holmes Soup

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Main, Side, Snack, Soup, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Luke and Abbey were playing the middle of the two duos, with the former unaware that everyone – but Abbey – was plotting his demise. When he took out immunity and saved himself, Harry pivoted and put the target back on to his nemesis JaQueen. This put Luke and Abbey back in the middle and try as JaQueen and Pia might, they were unable to swing them back to their side, and JaQueen was tragically beheaded. Not literally, but it felt hard to watch. As Janine is a bloody icon.

Back at camp Pia was disheartened to have lost Janine though explained to the tribe that as an award winning actress, she could tell that it was coming since they’re shit actors. Abbey was proud to make it to the final five, and have the chance to show the jury that she can pull off a big blindside in getting rid of Janine. And since she has grown to enjoy a cheeky blindside, looked forward to rolling Pia next. Which can’t happen as my heart just couldn’t take it.

The next day Harry was thrilled to have Janine’s scalp in his collection like a munted Hannibal Lector. The rest of the tribe lazed about – Abbey not keen on having another bean, don’t tell John – while Harry decided that Luke is the last person left that could beat him in the final two, and as such, needs to go. He pulled Abbey and Baden aside to lock in the vote against Luke, and then quickly lined up the back-up target of Pia should he win another immunity. Given they can all see that she was the mastermind behind the boss lady. Speaking of Pia she wasn’t feeling it after losing her island bestie, though focused on her family who she was fighting for. She then put a smile on her dial, pretended to be happy and got to work winning people back without them noticing that she is coming for revenge.

She knew that Luke was her best shot, so huddled with him in the shelter and assured him that she has no desire to vote him out and as such, is his best bloody shot at staying in the game. He assured Pia that she has nothing to worry about as he knows he will be booted the moment he doesn’t have immunity or an idol. As such he went searching for another idol and after days of meandering the jungle, finally spotted a clue hidden in the tree. It led him to the other end of the beach where another clue was hidden within a coconut. This in turn led him back to camp to grab a machete before heading back to the coconut where he learnt that he didn’t find an idol and instead, won the power to send someone out of tribal council before the vote which makes them safe and robs them of the right to vote. At the final five. Which is fucking huge.

My dear Jonathan and his guns of steel returned for the latest immunity challenge where everyone would stack dominos along a beam tethered to a trip obstacle, with the first person to stack their dominos and have them clang – is clang the right word? – into a gong snatching immunity. Harry and Abbey got out to an early lead, while Luke trailed closely behind. Luke dropped three blocks, followed by Harry dumping a bunch handing Abbey the lead, with Baden close behind. Everyone kinda caught up, while Abbey, Baden and Pia tried to respace their blocks to give them a shot at victory. Baden then knocked all of his off the beam, allowing Abbey the chance to snatch victory however she didn’t space hers enough bringing it down to a fight between Luke and Pia, with Luke actually snatching a record equalling individual immunity.

Back at camp Harry was super grumpy about Luke’s winning streak, knowing full well that he and his fake son don’t stand a chance against him in the final two. He and Abbey went for a walk to lock in the plan B to take out Pia, with Harry sure that there is no way she will win anything and as such, will not help them get rid of Luke. Baden joined the duo and they all locked in the plan, worried about getting caught and then straight up giving each other pinky promises under the watchful eye of Pia and Luke. Pia laughed about them clearly planning to vote her out, though vowed not to go down without a fight. Unaware that she was charming the shit out of her biggest hope.

Abbey caught up with Luke, completely unaware that he knows she is gunning for him and Pia. He assured Baden, Harry and Abbey that he was with them until the end, though he was hopeful that he would be able to swing something to save Pia. He approached her and promised that no matter how it looks at tribal council, to trust him and she will be safe. He told us that his plan is to send Baden back to camp and force Harry into turning on Abbey with him and Pia. Knowing they needed to lull her into a false sense of security, Pia and Luke approached Abbey to float getting rid of Harry. Pia said she would be putting her acting skills to use at tribal, Abbey was unaware of the plot against her and Luke was honestly so far down a rabbithole that he worried that he would end up blindsiding himself.

Again, like a fucking icon.

At tribal council Luke interrupted Jonathan’s praise of his immunity streak by standing up, handing over the note and immediately sending Baden straight back to camp. He exited in utter confusion, thrilled to make it to the final four but shocked about what will go down in his absence. Abbey and Harry were shocked about the turn of events, while Pia pretended to be disappointed that he didn’t choose to save her. Luke then started whispering to Pia, which made Harry and Abbey nervous, though Harry admitted that it is unlikely that Luke would leave his plan to the very last minute and as such, it was all for show. Jonathan tried to rub salt in their wounds about being left out, leading to Luke whispering to Abbey while Pia whispered that Harry was awesome.

Sensing his imminent doom, Harry started to burn everything down and told them all that Luke is in control and unbeatable. He then mentioned that there is one way that they can save themselves, unaware that he is only burning himself given Luke isn’t going to flip on Pia to keep a fellow immunity threat around. Pia reminded everyone that staying focused on Luke is forcing others to make stupid decisions, while Luke said that only one person needs to worry this tribal council and it is about time they take the garbage out. Pia admitted that she is kind of shocked to potentially making it through the tribal and Harry tried to remind everyone that he is not the biggest threat left in the game.

With that the tribe voted and Luke and Pia’s hail Mary plan worked perfectly, with Abbey voting Harry, Harry voting Pia and Pia and Luke banding together to blindside Abbey from the game. And impressing the hell out of the jury with their flashy move. While she was overshadowed by her former closest allies Pia and Janine’s dominant games, she formed one third of Australian Survivor’s answer to the Black Widow Brigade and that is something that makes me immensely proud. Particularly after she blindsided her childhood hero and one of the aforementioned closest allies slash queens. In any event, she did me proud and surprisingly I told her that, took her in my arms and gave her a clearly island appropriate bowl of Abbean Holmes Soup. Despite the fact she wished to never eat another bean.

 

 

Essentially flavoured just like a can of refried beans, this isn’t going to be something that everyone loves. But if you love refried beans like Ab (used to) and I, roll right up. Earthy, spiced and pack with simple charm, this baby proves that sometimes plain(ish) can be your favourite flavour.

Enjoy!

 

 

Abbean Holmes Soup
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 chipotles in adobo
800g canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1L chicken stock
1 tbsp thyme leaves
a small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
100g queso fresco, crumbled

Method
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat for five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic, tomatoes and chipotles, and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the pinto beans and cook off any excess liquid from the rinsing before adding the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce to low and simmer for half an hour, stirring infrequently.

Once the liquid has reduced to be just under the solids, add the herbs and cook for a further five minutes. Remove from heat, season and blitz until smooth.

Return to the heat and cook for another five minutes, adding some extra stock if it is too thick. Serve, top with queso and devour through the tears of your life.

 

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Garlic Janine Halloumis Fries

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Side, Snack, Street Food, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor Daisy and Simon were sent to exile beach before facing off to return to the game, with the queen of green grass and rain exiting the game for good. After Luke took out immunity, Simon once again found himself as the target with Abbey, Luke, Baden and Harry planning to send him out of the game again. JaQueen and Pia weren’t so keen on that idea however, trying to woo Simon and the Contenders to their side to take out Abbey instead. When it became obvious that their backs were against the wall and the plan was a bust, they joined the rest of the tribe to send Simon out of the game. Unanimously. Again.

The next day the tribe awoke to wish Pia a happy birthday before reminiscing about what she would normally do on her birthday. She then spoke about how hard the game has been and how much she has missed her family. She then wrestled with Harry to celebrate and vowed to overcome the overwhelming minority she has found herself in since Abbey flipped the script on her and JaQueen.

Abbey, Pia and Luke then went fishing together while the latter regaled us with tales of how far he has come in the game and most importantly, how proud of himself he is. He then welled up and honestly, swoon – he is too pure for this world. And that is before he even mentioned his daughter having cystic fibrosis. We then checked in with Harry who reiterated that he is a cockroach before he and Baden caught up to come up with their next plan, deciding to join with Pia and JaQueen at the next tribal council and take out Luke. Speaking of JaQueen she shared that she signed up for Survivor to challenge herself and honestly, she is just a bloody icon. She then reminded us that while she is now on the bottom of the tribe, she believes in herself and Pia to make it through. Speaking of Pia, she was still out fishing with Abbey and Luke, charming the shit out of them and looking for another in while JaQueen approached Baden who floated the idea of joining together to get rid of Luke.

My boy Jonathan arrived for the latest immunity challenge where the castaways would need to untangle themselves from a rope that is looped over a log, crossing a balance beam, tossing sacks to release a key and unlocking themselves and, wait for it … solving a puzzle. Luke and Abbey got out to an early lead while Harry looked to be nearing a heartattack which honestly, is not something I want to witness on TV tonight. JaQueen started to chastise herself as Luke and Abbey started to navigate the balance beam, with the AFL champion snatching the lead. Well until Luke proved more adept at tossing sacks. Luke started solving his puzzle while Abbey tried to close the gap and the rest of the crew slowly made their way to the sack tossing portion of the game. Harry joined Abbey and Luke on the puzzle, with JaQueen and Baden soon following. While Harry desperately tried to close the gap, Luke started to panic before getting his eye in and snatching immunity for the third time.

And unwittingly blowing up everyone’s plans.

Back at camp Abbey was the only person that wasn’t completely bummed that Luke had won yet another immunity challenge. JaQueen quickly pulled Baden and Harry aside to flip the vote on Abbey instead, given she is the next biggest challenge threat. Sadly for her Harry was more interested in targeting her instead, so pulled Abbey aside with Baden to float booting JaQueen instead. The boys then mentioned that Janine and Pia had suggesting voting her out to try and seal the deal, however, that only seemed to make her less likely to join them. Abbey then took the intel back to Luke and mentioned that she caught the girls getting frustrated after he won immunity, and while they agreed they need to stick together, they weren’t sure which duo to side with. We then returned to JaQueen who told us that her and Pia have no intention of siding with Harry and that their plan is actually to reconnect with Luke and Abbey to get rid of Baden. Which everyone agreed on as he stumbled upon the scene.

At tribal council Harry spoke about the likelihood that a Champion will take out the game, though did vow to fight until the very end. Baden praised them for staying tight and holding firm on their Champion strong mantra. JaQueen spoke about how tight their group remains and how she wants one of them to take out the game. Preferably her. Harry tried to pitch that the Champions who feel most likely to be blindsided should join him and Baden to make a move first. Abbey spoke about the generic confusion of the game, unsure which side was telling her the truth and she should trust moving forward. Baden continued to point out that it is always better to make a move sooner rather than later, rather than regretting their choices from the jury. Luke and Abbey spoke about the safe option sometimes being the smartest.

Harry was disheartened, Pia mentioned that making a move at the wrong time was just as bad as not making one while Luke mentioned that the vote ahead will be straightforward and simple. With that the tribe voted and it turns out that the vote was straightforward for Luke and Abbey, as they flipped on Janine and Pia and sent the godmother from the game. While the tragedy of JaQueen exiting the game is something that I will carry with me for the next few months, I am grateful that we could honour her spirit with some Garlic Janine Halloumis Fries.

 

 

 

Now I know we’ve already experienced the majesty of haloumi fries in the Australian Survivor context – oh, hi Mark! – the addition of lemon and garlic is enough to give them a boost. Crisp on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth in the centre and packing a major punch of garlic, these are proof that you can always do better. Which I imagine is what Janine would remind us in a killer inspirational speech.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Garlic Janine Halloumis Fries
Serves: 1 powerful CEO and her dear pal.

Ingredients
½ cup flour
2 garlic cloves, minced plus 2 extra finely sliced
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp chilli flakes
400g Halloumi Holbrook, sliced into long chip shapes and patted dry
vegetable oil, for fryin’
1 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Combine flour, garlic, dried oregano and chilli in a bowl.

Pour 2cm worthy of oil into a large pan and place over medium heat.

Once nice and hot, coat the haloumi in the flour mixture, shake off the excess and transfer to the oil to cook for a couple of minutes, turning once, until golden and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat the process until the haloumi is done.

To serve, combine fresh oregano, lemon zest and a good whack of salt and pepper and sprinkle over the hot chips. Squeeze some lemon juice and devour, hoping to work through the confusing trauma of losing one of our Queens at the hand of another.

 

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Sosie Bacon Jam

Condiment, Gravy, Sauce

Wellity wellity, look who is back for some Sunday sauciness! Wait, no, shit, like Patty Hogg, I’ve said too much, I’ve said too much. Let me backpedal, I was on the phone to my love Kev last weekend – it was Daddy’s day, after all – and my god-daughter Sosie yelled out to send her love and talk about how much she missed me.

After Kev and I were done letting each other know how much we love each other, I got him to put Sose on the line and told her to get out here and visit with me some time. Ten minutes later she told me the flights were booked and to get baking.

So obviously I have known Sosie for her entire life and as her godfather have always tried to help her out when she needed it. I then got her cast in the Scream TV show, in an HBO vehicle and opposite three of my boyfriends in 13 Reasons Why, so I think you would agree I’ve been quite successful.

I was feeling super nostalgic spending time with Sosie, so told her how proud I am of her ad nauseum. Before whipping her up a vat of Sosie Bacon Jam.

 

 

Sticky, sweet and with a gloriously salty kick, bacon jam is quite possibly one of my favourite things. Chuck it on a burger, a sandy, with some cheese, in a quiche, hell even a shoe Old Gregg style, I will eat it.

Enjoy!

 

 

Sosie Bacon Jam
Serves: 1-2 cups.

Ingredients
olive oil
500g streaky bacon, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup bourbon
⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup muscovado sugar
2 tbsp thyme leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Heat a small lug of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the bacon over medium heat for about fifteen minutes, or until crispy, caramelised and straight up glorious. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Add the bourbon and cook the alcohol off for a minute before stirring through the apple cider, muscovado and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and leave to simmer, stirring semi-frequently, for 20 minutes, or until thick and sticky.

Season to taste and transfer to a sterilised jar. Or just eat with a spoon like a true member of the Bacon clan would.

It can keep for a week or so refrigerated, but I don’t think you’ll have any left over. Just sayin’.

 

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Tex Mex van den Burger

Burgers, Main, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Africa, Survivor: All Stars

There are less than three weeks until the new season of Survivor kicks off and we almost have an official cast – remember the good old days when the pre-season lasted four weeks, swoon – and as such, I convinced my boy Lex van den Berghe to drop by and help me celebrate.

Sandra, not Rob. Obviously.

I’ve known Lex for decades, doing his first tattoo. Like Phoebe Buffay’s, it was a single dot after I broke down in tears admitting that I had no idea what I was doing, nor could I draw. While it was the end of my time posing as a tattooist as part of a grift, Lex appreciated my honesty and we became the best of friends.

Well until he found a pair of brothers in Africa and I stopped talking to him for a couple of years out of jealousy. Until he explained that he only aligned with Ethan because we had matching hair, after which I felt really awful for bribing Rob to eliminate him in All Stars.

(Please don’t tell him I played a part in that, it really turned out worse than I expected and I feel so guilty).

But anyway, I avoided talking too much about this seasons returnees and instead we focused on the amazing diversity of the cast we’ll learn about in the coming days and the fact that they err on the side of older. Which is something I always prefer.

Obviously Lex agrees that Janet is going to be the break-out star of the season and our dream final three is Karishma, Kellee and Noura. Oh and he is super keen to set me up with Tommy, Vince and Ronnie. Emphasis on and. With the formalities out of the way, we toasted to a good season and the dream that season 41 will be a fan voted Third Time’s the Charm on which he can dominate before smashing a Tex Mex van den Burger.

 

 

Less burger and more chilli sloppy joe, these babies are super simple and delicious enough to look impressive. Hot and spicy, sprinkled with a generous helping of cheese and piled high with all the tex-mex fixins’, there is no better way to spend time with one of your besties.

Enjoy!

 

 

Tex Mex van den Burger
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
4 Kirsten Bunst
1 serve of Chilli con Kim Carnes
1 avocado
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 shallots, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup vintage cheddar, grated
sour cream, to taste
sriracha, to taste

Method
Cook the buns and chilli as per Kirsten and Kim’s recipes respectively.

Combine the avocado, juice and zest of the lime, shallots and a tsp of sour cream in a bowl and mash to combine. Season and leave aside.

To serve, split the buns and toast before ladle some chilli on the base. Sprinkle with cheese, dollop on some guac and sour cream and drizzle with sriracha, close the burger and devour. Joyously.

 

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Pear, Datesy & Richardson Salad

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Salad, Side, Snack, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on Australian Survivor the Champion girls were riding high after blindsiding David, with JaQueen pointing out that they need to get rid of one more Contender to solidify their game. Daisy found a second idol and was hopeful it would be able to turn things around for her, though sadly found it in front of Luke and Pia. As the Champs plotted who to vote against at tribal council, Luke and Pia spilled the beans about the idol and gave the Champs an upper hand in the latest head-to-head battle. Despite Daisy trying to play it cool, JaQueen scared her into playing the idol for herself, which didn’t help to save her as the Champions banded together to take out my king, John who was booted by the rest of the tribe.

Fully clothed.

The next day JaQueen and Baden were bantering over the fire, with Baden happily hacking at a coconut and proud that he has learnt to communicate with others. He haphazardly tried to slice breakfast, almost becoming a double amputee in the process, which further endeared him to his tribemates. I mean, the hilarity almost killed Pia who is killing the game and honestly, that is his best plan ATM. Otherwise, he is not winning.

Later that day JaQueen was riding high from John’s boot, given it means that the Champion majority has without a doubt taken control. And as such, she was feeling confident and planned to push her allies to get rid of another Contender next. Speaking of the Contenders Daisy and Harry were sitting by the shore heartbroken about their predicament, though shocked about how close everyone had gotten. Daisy was rightly feeling stupid about misplaying a second idol, before hunting for a third idol to keep herself safe, her allies be damned. She and Harry went searching, desperately, followed by Luke and Simon who were tasked with keeping an eye on them, Daisy started to get strategic, pointing out that Luke told everyone about her idol and that some told her it happened. While it was fake, that made Luke and Simon feel very anxious about their place in the tribe, immediately blaming Pia and vowing to get their own form of revenge.

Before Luke could take a shot at the one true Queen of Australian Survivor, Jonathan returned for the next reward challenge where everyone was split into duos to do an upright version of Twister. It was for an overnight spa getaway, so everyone was shitting their pants at the thought of winning. Pia and Daisy found themselves as one pair, Luke and Baden another, Abbey and Harry together versus JaQueen and Simon. One person was responsible to remove the even numbered pegs, while the other had the odds with everyone surviving the first round before Luke almost gave Baden a wristy and flooded my basement. While that didn’t happen, he did reach around before Harry fell from the wall and eliminated himself and Abbey. Everyone survived the next few rounds while Luke and Baden plotted about how they will survive the next few rounds of votes in the niche they’ve created in the middle … while JaQueen’s bush-feet dominated. Out of nowhere Baden fell out, while his father Luke tried to keep his spirits up. The remaining pairs kept a dominant pace before Pia slid off, handing Simon and JaQueen the win. Jonthan then gave them the chance to invite another duo to share the reward, with JaQueen rightly sharing the spa to their runners-up.

At the spa the victors were shocked by how opulent the reward was, despite the fact the weather was miserable and Simon like JaQueen believes that it is palm frong, not frond. Daisy was the most hopeful, feeling like Luke being left back at camp is the best chance for her to make a dent at the Champions numbers with JaQueen. Speaking of JaQueen, she was wise and asked everyone to go through the remaining castaways and list their pros and cons, pointing out why Harry and Luke are dangerous, with nobody able to point how dangerous she is. Simon then shared that Luke was annoyed that Pia allegedly told everyone that he knew about Daisy’s idol, filling her with nerves and unsure who to trust moving forward. Simon then doubled down and pointed out that Luke needs to go ASAP, with Daisy jumping on board and sharing it is her best chance to survive.

Back at camp Luke was feeling salty about Daisy’s lie, pulling Abbey aside and sharing that that intel made its way back to the Contenders. Knowing he would be screwed if he sticks with the Champs, Luke pulled Harry and Baden aside to find out who was spilling the tea and low-key, how does he orchestrate a blindside with them. Harry knew what he was trying, so lied that Pia is the one that shared the idol intel. Harry and Baden made quick work of pulling him in, identifying JaQueen and Pia as the biggest threats before the trio plotted to get the rest to split the votes, while the three of them band together to take someone out. Someone named JaQueen.

Everyone reconveened for the immunity challenge where they would each have to do a bicep curl to hold a ball, with the last one standing without their ball on the floor, snatching immunity. As they speculated who would win, Baden dropped his ball and pretend to be shocked. Though I feel like he meant to drop. Harry almost drop is, before Daisy’s fell out of nowhere while JaQueen threw some casual shade. Like the icon she is.Out of nowhere Pia dropped, followed closely by Harry, who should have been the first to go. Abbey was the next to go, thanks to a former broken wrist while JaQueen, Simon and Luke battled into their second hour. JaQueen then felt a spider on her knee, requesting that Baden remove it for her. Baden being an icon chose to ignore her request, leading to Daisy getting up to help as Luke eliminated himself. JaQueen and Simon battled out with the former desperately trying to get Simon to drop and give her a win.Harry used this to his advantage, telling Simon that he would drop if her felt safe which backfired, led Simon to barter for a reward – should JaQueen win one – and hand JaQueen a well earned victory.

Back at camp Harry was feeling super nervous, given his number one target had immunity. This made him feel super salty and since he couldn’t get rid of her, he was hopeful that Daisy would have formulated a plan at the reward. She joined with Baden and Harry to point out that they were all planning on voting out Luke at their next chance, and while they like Luke, they were just hopeful it would be enough to save them. Meanwhile JaQueen was nervous about Simon wanting to get rid of Luke and since Daisy was on board with his plan, JaQueen wanted her gone as she could predict everyone else’s moves.

Simon and JaQueen went for a wander into the jungle to lock in the plan to take out Daisy and while Simone didn’t want to, JaQueen barrelled through and told him that they would take her out and tell her that Harry would be going. Daisy stumbled on the scene and while they tried to lie and tell her Harry would be going, she knew it was a lie. With that, she approached Luke and floated the idea of getting rid of Pia and him joining the Contenders.

Pia too was feeling nervous, worried about Daisy’s lie ruining her relationship with Luke slash the game. With that she approached Luke to clear the air, and pledge their undying allegiance. The entire Champion alliance then got together to lock in the Daisy vote, though Luke’s growing nervousness started to make JaQueen anxious and hot damn, we have a vote coming. Baden and Luke then caught up with JaQueen, Pia and Simon watching on and let’s just say Alibrandi was only looking for a reason to flip the vote, convincing the other two to get rid of Luke to guarantee their numbers.

At tribal council Luke acknowledged that the post reward divide could have impacted the game, given half the tribe were left out feeling like shit. Pia admitted it was pretty sweet, while Daisy was hopeful after making friends in the jacuzzi. She continued to push that the spa crew formulated a plan, hopeful that they could pull in one other for a blindside. Luke said that making a plan and missing is very dangerous before JaQueen jumped in and CEO’d to say that the reward plan was just misdirection, while Daisy sharing that it was a lie and they were planning. She then spoke about mopping and flopping, before Janine double down on saving her allies.

Pia joined the fray, assuring everyone that everyone was at least floating everyone else’s name and TBH they all agree with the plans, whether they intend to follow through or not. Harry thought that was bullshit, Luke was nervous, Abbey continued to espouse loyalty, Daisy was nervous and Janine wanted everyone to stay solid. Then Jonathan dropped the bombshell that they would not actually be voting someone out of the game and instead, the person would be sent to exile beach to await the next person to be booted from the game before they battle it out for a chance to return. With that the tribe voted and Daisy found herself sent to exile, filled with nerves about what she was going to face while awaiting her next opponent.

The next day we did a welfare check of Daisy on Exile Beach and honestly it looked pretty desolate and I would have been absolutely terrified. She then kind of broke down from loneliness, despite being grateful to still be in the game. To make it worse the rain started to bucket down which is usually her favourite thing. But then she lit a fire, steeled herself and vowed to not just return but win the game.

We dropped by camp where the tribe were busy doing chores and running errands, while Pia, JaQueen and Abbey joked about the lack of Instagram with their lives and whether they are actually in Fiji if they can’t prove it. Pia spoke about how strong their alliance is, though knew that she will have to channel her inner Joe Pesci in Goodfellas ASAP and start whacking people. Speaking of people that need to be whacked, we checked in with Harry who was nervous about joining Daisy on Exile and tried to find a way to send literally anyone else. He was hopeful that his chats with Luke are the key to fracturing the dominant Champion tribe, so rallied Baden to join him and try to fracture the alliance. And send his nemesis JaQueen to Exile … and out of the game.

Harry approached Luke and played into his nerves, explaining that as soon as they can, his allies will blindside him. He admitted that he has more trust in Harry at this point in time, and was keen to flip things up and make a move. They then laughed about JaQueen and Daisy spending time alone on Exile, given JaQueen was tiring of Daisy. Harry then approached Abbey to see what she is thinking, before pointing out why it is the stupidest move for her. This started to make her nervous, realising that riding coattails will not pay off in the end and hot damn, may she actually flip on her closest allies? Again.

Don’t tell Nova.

Jonathan returned for the latest immunity challenge where everyone would lay on a steep ramp above the water, holding on to a pole. With the last one left hanging winning immunity. Almost immediately Baden dropped into the water – with a joyous weeeeee – before quickly being joined by Janine. Everyone else made it to 30 minutes before Harry couldn’t hold out anymore. Jonathan clearly grew bored, so after 45 minutes he forced everyone down to just one arm which made quick work of Abbey. After 90 minutes – which is honestly insane – Simon and Luke dropped one after the other, handing Pia her first individual immunity win. Which is just as ridiculously amazing as you would expect.

Back at camp Pia was relishing in her role as a challenge beast, thankful that she won’t have to suffer through Exile. Janine too was thrilled that Pia won immunity, as that meant they can power ahead with their plans and send Baden to exile to eliminate Daisy once and for all. She rallied her fellow Champs and told them that they have the numbers to split the vote and not worry, which made Abbey more sure that making a move against her was a good idea. Well when she wasn’t riddled with fear about Janine coming back to the game and destroying her. Abbey approached Harry and Baden to float flipping the vote to Simon, given the girls will be more forgiving of that deception. While Harry admitted that he would prefer JaQueen out of the game, he straight up didn’t mind so approached Luke to see whether he would be ok with voting out Simon. And you know he was.

Abbey approached Pia and JaQueen to do some yoga and allow JaQueen to continue the push to get rid of Baden. Getting nervous about Abbey’s movements, Harry approached JaQueen and Abbey to talk about the dwindling time remaining in the game and as such, the need to start locking in the right path to the end.

At tribal council Pia continued to be thrilled about her immunity win, particularly since it means that she won’t have to suffer through Exile. JaQueen spoke about the complexity of the vote ahead, assuming that should a Champ get booted and come back, they will be furious, almost talking directly into Abbey’s soul. Baden spoke about being nervous before Harry pushed hard for the Champions to finally make a move and take control of the game. Simon admitted that Harry’s pitch sounds good, though planned to stay solid. JaQueen agreed that she didn’t see anyone budging, before Harry said that they have the luxury of not feeling nervous. JaQueen then grew sassy and pointed out that the Contenders only have themselves to blame. Abbey tried to play coy, Simon admitted that somebody strong needs to face off against Daisy, with Luke, Pia and Abbey all agreeing that they fear an angry Daisy returning to the game.

Luke was confident that he was in on the real plan, Simon said that he was feeling confident while Abbey crushed Baden and Harry’s spirits, saying that the numbers speak for themselves. JaQueen mentioned the vote won’t really impact the tribe, and that the main concern it what happens the next day. With that the tribe voted, Abbey and Luke flipped to the Contenders and Simon found himself heading to Exile.

After randomly voting for Abbey.

Later that night Daisy was shocked to be joined by Simon, who was well and truly shocked himself. They caught up and Simon filled him in on Harry, Luke and Baden flipping the script, while Daisy silently started to panic about facing off against a former athlete in the upcoming duel.

The next day Daisy awoke and put her game face on, while Simon spoke about how difficult Exile was despite not having to spend any time there alone. My boy Jonathan and the remaining tribe waited for them to arrive at the duel, with Daisy talking about how difficult it actually was to be by herself for a couple of days while Jonathan threw some casual shade at Luke and Harry. Jonathan then told the duo that their battle would see them guiding ten discs through a suspended maze and balance them on top with the first person to build their tower returning to the game and the loser out for good. Simon got out to an early lead while Daisy took a slow and steady approach. Simon then dropped a disc, allowing Daisy to take a slight lead before she dropped a disc and handed the lead back to him. Just. They stayed neck and neck for much of the challenge before they both dropped on their eighth disc, leaving them both to start over. Since Daisy dropped first, she had a small lead on the second build however dropped at the last minute, allowing Simon to snatch victory and return to the game.

Daisy was pretty gutted to lose the challenge at the very last moment, but was thrilled to finally be in the arms of a warm, loving fellow Queenslander like me. Not wanting to kick her while she is down, I avoided pointing out that the wasted two idols which could have really helped her game, so instead served her a big ol’ Pear, Datesy & Richardson Salad to perk her up.

 

 

I know, I know, you don’t make friends with salad. But when they taste this good, you can surely make an exception. The sweet, sticky dates work perfectly with the creamy cheese and earthy walnuts to make this salad something really special.

Enjoy!

 

 

Pear, Datesy & Richardson Salad
Serves: 4, or one broken exiled castaway and her besto.

Ingredients
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp seeded mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
250g baby spinach or swiss chard, sliced
½ cup walnuts, roasted and chopped
6 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced thin
1 pear, cored and sliced
⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese

Method
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and a good whack of salt and pepper in a jug and whisk well to combine.

To make the salad, toss the dressing through the shard – or spinach – until everything is nicely coated. Add the remaining ingredients, toss again and serve immediately.

Then, obvi, devour.

 

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Alicia Caraway Meatballs

Side, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: All Stars, Survivor: The Australian Outback, Tapas

Get your flagging finger ready and sidle up to my face because Survivor: Island of the Idols is back in less than four weeks and my girl Alicia Calaway is finally making her triumphant debut on this here anthropological study.

I’ve known Alicia for years after training as personal trainers together in NYC and when Probst was casting Australian Outback, I knew she would be a perfect fit. While her epic finger-waving fight with Kimmi made our friendship difficult for a couple of years, we eventually buried the hatchet as I aggressively tried to help pre-game for All Stars.

While Alicia’s most famous moves in the game are the aforementioned fight and providing a break to the Mogo Mogo pagoning in All Stars, she also holds the joint distinction of being the first person to vote for the winner of two seasons.

Given she has a history with Rob, I thought it would be entertaining to bring her over to celebrate his return with Sandra to pal around Gilligan’s Island style. Though tragically, they had moved on from their All Stars dramas and instead she was excited to see him back. And hopes it isn’t as long between this season and his next.

Again, I won’t say anything here about warring winners.

We laughed and caught up on life, toasted to the ongoing success of the show despite its ever worsening twists and gorged on Alicia Caraway Meatballs in the hope that Island of the Idols will follow David vs. Goliath and be a killer season despite the shitty title.

 

 

I stumbled upon this recipe on Taste.com.au in a desperate hunt for something quick, easy and featuring caraway, and it quickly won my heart. Delicate meatballs, with a good whack of spice and sticky sweetness? They’re now the second favourite balls I like in and around my mouth.

Enjoy!

 

 

Alicia Caraway Meatballs

Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g beef mince
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup

Method
Combine the mince, breadcrumbs, egg, caraway, chilli and garlic in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. Scrunch with your hands until well combined and form into golf sized balls.

Heat a good lug of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and once hot, toss through the balls and cook for ten minutes, or until cooked through. Add the maple syrup and toss to coat.

Serve immediately and devour, careful not to wag the balls near my face. Though there would go my social life.

 

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