Beef Julia Sawallington

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Main

Just when you thought this week couldn’t get any more celebratory – I mean, celebrating Jen and Jane is a pretty killer start, no? – today also marks our 500th celebrity catch-up. Yes … five freaking hundred. And my dear friend Julia Sawalha is more than worthy of helping my mark this milestone.

While I only met Jules when she came in to audition for Ab Fab, I knew that she was destined for great things. One day on set she casually mentioned that she was up for the role of Lydia Bennett – in the good not Knightley version of P&P – and as a fan of the work, and a famed period acting and dialect coach, I offered up my services to help her snag the role slash steal the show.

Which I think you could agree, I was more than successful at that.

As seems to be a running theme of growing older, Jules and I aren’t able to catch-up as often as we like so she was thrilled to not only take the time out to honour Ab Fab … but also become our 500th date in the process.

“Ben, I don’t know if I’m worthy of being a milestone date. I mean, I’m no Skarsy, Solange, Meg, Kanye, CeCe – no, I am better than a Survivor that didn’t make the jury – Mischa, Nat Imbrugs, Lin Manuel. Let’s not talk about Purple Ben from this season of Australian Survivor.

“In any event, I’m somewhat worthy of your honour but would like some reassurance,” she coyly admitted.

“You’re a talented actress, one of my dearest friends and owned two iconic series! In addition, you’re beautiful, you’re a model. You look like Linda Evangelista … “

Half way through quoting the now iconic Aja, she accepted the honour and we got to work reconnecting, celebrating and chowing down on a big fat piece of meat. In the form of my Beef Julia Sawallington.

 

 

There is nothing I love more than a big piece of meat. Well, unless it is wrapped in a nice, puffy dough. That is something I’ll never be able to go past. Like Jules or the good version of P&P.

Enjoy!

 

 

Beef Julia Sawallington
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
1kg fillet of beef , trimmed
olive oil
unsalted butter
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
100g pate
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly whisked

Method
Bring a frying pan to heat over a high … heat while you rub the beef fillet with salt, pepper and a good ol’ lug of olive oil. Add another lug to the pan with a knob of butter and a sprig of rosemary, and sear the beef for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove from the pan to rest while we get to work on the rest.

Add the onion and garlic to the still hot pan and sweat for a minute or two. Add the mushrooms with another knob of butter, rosemary and thyme, reduce heat to low and cook for about twenty minutes, or until they’re nice and soft. Remove from the heat, stir through the pate and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Place a sheet of pastry on the bench and the second next to it with a two centimetre overlap. Press them together, smear the pate/mushroom mixture over the middle, top with the fillet and roll and/or fold the pastry to enclose.

Transfer to a lined baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked and blushing like a whore in church. Aka Kiwi hero slash Australian drunk Barnaby Joyce.

Rest for 5 minutes before serving in with gravy and mash. Then, obvi, devour.

 

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Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls

Main, Party Food, Snack

While my first two choices were both too busy – being a monarch and a queen, respectively – to catch-up, my old faithful Keira Knightley was free. And it was wonderful to see her again.

I first met Kiz while protesting against her playing Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice – because no one would ever be able to top the sublime Jennifer Ehle. Oh … and I stole Jamie Dornan away from her. It wasn’t a strong start to friendship, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does highlight how sweet dear Kizza can be.

But I guess I wouldn’t hold a grudge if someone bought you your first Academy Award nomination to apologise.

After working through our rocky start, we became the best of friends and I became the toast of ol’ London town. We laughed, we partied and, after she discovered that she didn’t earn her first nom, vowed to secure her a legit Oscar nom. While it took me nine years, her performance in The Imitation Game was exquisite and I was glad to see her get the recognition she deserved … and to clear my debt.

It was such a treat to see her again and catch-up on what she’s been doing since she was in town for the scandal plagued last Pirates movie. Given how thankful we were to see each other, I was inspired to whip up my  Thanksgiving approved Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls.

 

 

Bringing a little bit of festive spirit to the Australian classic, these rolls are near culinary perfection. Flakey pastry, spiced, moist turkey and plump warm cranberries? Delicious and oh so comforting.

Enjoy!

 

 

Turkeira Knightley Sausage Rolls
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g turkey mince
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup craisins, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
⅓ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 eggs, lightly whisked

Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Place the turkey, onion, garlic, craisins, sage, pistachios, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a large bowl and scrunch to combine.

Cut the pastry sheets in half and split the meat mixture into two, shaping into a long sausage to fit the length of the pastry. Place on the pastry, wrap tightly to combine, brushing the seam to help seal the sausage roll.

Slice each into two or three, place on a lined baking sheet and brush with remaining egg. Place in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until cooked through and the pastry is golden.

Devour, festively.

 

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Pirates & Prejudice

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

After an upside down week, I decided I needed something with a little more pomp and circumstance this week. And there is no one I know with more pomp or circumstance, than Keira Knightley.

Well other than Lizzie and the OG (and best) Lizzie.

Since those two were busy, I swallowed my pride, got rid of my prejudice and bent my calendar like Beckham to fit her in.

What says I’ve missed you the last couple of years and not, get your lesbian feet out of my shoes Jesminder?

Image source: Focus Features.

 

As you can probably tell, we are very social but the fun isn’t only limited to celebrities! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Basil Gnudi Dench

Main

Dame Judi ‘J-dawg’ Dench is an absolute, deadset legend of a person and is, quite frankly, the best gambling partner a young chap could ask for.

After working through her rage of being egged in the late 60s, Jude worked on fulfilling her My Fair Laddy fantasy by turning me into an upstanding citizen who wore pants that covered his arse. Sadly my powers were too strong for her and we went through a reverse of the tale, where I systematically worked through making Jude as debaucherous, raucous and offensive as possible.

That is where her love of black-market gambling first came about.

While some may argue that the awards season are an excuse for famous people to either turn up to receive trophies from aging journalists and critics that want a good photo-op or for them to masturbate about their gripping performances, Judes and I are firmly of the belief that aside from being more important than Nobel prizes etc. they are a fantastic betting opportunity.

Yes, we will always be team Cate, Kate and Fassy – for obvious (NSFW) reasons, with the last one – we have to follow the money during awards season and spent most of our catch-up discussing the pros and cons of each nominee and whose bookie had the better odds.

Obviously we needed serious sustenance for such a consequential discussion, enter stage left my Basil Gnudi Dench.

 

basil-gnudi-dench-1

 

Gnudi is gnocchi’s easier to make cousin, being that you don’t have to bother with mashing any potatoes … because let’s be honest, you never leave the potatoes to cool long enough and end up with third degree burns when rolling them. Or is that just me?

Either way, they were perfect for our catch-up as nothing says illegal gambling quite like a delicate dish with fresh basil, tangy lemon and creamy cheese.

Enjoy!

 

basil-gnudi-dench-2

 

Basil Gnudi Dench
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 large bunches of basil, leaves picked
250g ricotta
125g grated parmesan
2 large eggs, plus 1 eggstra yolk
100g plain flour, plus a little extra
Semolina, for dusting
15g butter
1 lemon
2 tsp chilli flakes
30g grated pecorino, to serve

Method
Heat a pan over a low heat and add a splash of water with two-thirds of the basil leaves and heat until wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, squeezing out any excess water.

Chuck the leaves in a blender with about a quarter of the ricotta and blitz to a purée. Empty into a large bowl and combine with the remaining ricotta, parmesan and eggs, and whisk vigorously, until light and fluffy.

Fold the flour into the ricotta mixture using a large, metal spoon until it is soft and moist. If it is too wet (nothing suss), add a bit more flour and relax. Trust your judgement.

Meanwhile, spread a layer of semolina over a baking tray and fill a piping bag with a 1.5cm opening with the ricotta mixture. Pipe long strips of the gnudi the length of the tray, leaving about a centimetre in between.

Dust the strips with a thick layer of semolina, cut them into 2–3cm pieces, making sure they are well coated in the flour. Cover the tray with cling film and pop it in the fridge for a few hours or ideally overnight, but who ever remembers to do that?

To cook your gnudi, remove the tray from the fridge and let it to come up to room temperature.

While nature is heating things up again, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and the reserved basil leaves. Cook for 1–2 minutes, until the butter starts to foam and the leaves have crisped up. Finely grate in the zest of the lemon, add the chilli flakes and season well. Remove from the heat to rest.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat and gently place the gnudi into the pan. When they float to the surface, they’re cooked.

Drain the gnudi and gently toss in the chilli lemon basil butter. Divide between bowls and serve with grated pecorino with lemon halves on the side to squeeze over.

 

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Notes on a scandalous friendship

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Awards season is now in full swing, with Giuliana desperately combing her scripts to avoid racially offensive jokes and Brad Goreski commandeering all loafers in the Southern Cali area while Gary attempts to make him witty. As such, it is well and truly time for me to start connecting with some of my fellow lauded friends.

FYI, I win an Academy Award in 2036.

The Baftas are this weekend, so I thought it best to make a quick jaunt across the pond and catch up with my dear friend, Academy Award winner and survivor of co-starring with Gwyneth, Dame Judi Dench.

I first met Judes in the late 60s where I suffered my first crushing rebuke at playing a highly sexualised version of the Emcee, in the original West End production of Cabaret. While I am sure constantly being pummeled by eggs when entering or exiting the theatre wasn’t fun, Judi was a good sport and took me under her wing and tried to teach me to tone down my sexuality.

While it clearly didn’t work, we’ve remained close for the last half century and are the first to be there for each other whenever there is a milestone to celebrate or an awards season to gossip about.

What is worthy of a Dame while we run the odds of the upcoming Academy Awards?

Picture source: Anthony Harvey / Getty Images.

 

As you can probably tell, we are very social but the fun isn’t only limited to celebrities! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.