Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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

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

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

 

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Prune Whitfield Tart

Ab Fab’s 25th Birthday, Baking, Dessert, Pie, Sweets

I am absolutely exhausted after realising that our date with Jules as part of our Ab Fab celebrations yesterday coincided with our 500TH FREAKING RECIPE (and Australia doing me proud and voting for love to win). I mean, 500 recipes and no one has offered me a cookbook deal yet?! In any event, the ravages of time are starting to hit me so I decided to get my ol’ girl Dame June Whitfield over for a calm, celebratory occasion.

Oh how I fucking – sorry, forking – love Juney Whits.

I’ve been friends with June for the longest time after quickly becoming best friends on the set of my show, The Benny Hill Show. Did I ever mention my full name is actually Benjamin James Woodley Judd Hill? No? Well soz.

In any event, June and I became the fastest of friends and I’ve supported her all our lives. I mean, from the questionable Carry On films, to the magic of Miss Marple on the gramophone, to the glorious episode of my hit show slash passion project Sooty and of course, Ab Fab, I’ve been by her side to guide and support her. No matter what.

Give the fact travelling is starting to impact as both due to our advanced years, June and I haven’t been able to see as much of each other as I’d like. Thankfully the extended absence we’ve shared has only made the date more meaningful. As did my bowel friendly Prune Whitfield Tart.

 

 

While prunes have some bad, elderly connotations … this tart is actually quite delicious. Super sweet, super rich AND it keeps you super regular. What more could you want?

Enjoy!

 

 

Prune Whitfield Tart
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
3 cups stoned prunes
250g unsalted butter, cubed
250g raw caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
500g flour
½ tsp baking powder
juice of a lemon
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp almond extract

Method
Place the prunes in a bowl and soak in water overnight.

Cut to the next day and combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor, and blitz until the butter is completely soaked. Add the flour and blitz until wet breadcrumbs are formed. Add the eggs and baking powder and blitz until just combined. Remove, shape into a disc, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

While the dough is getting chill, place the prunes in a large saucepan with the muscovado sugar, lemon juice and almond essence and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for half an hour, or until the water is reduced. Blitz using a stick blender and leave to cool slightly.

Split the dough 2:1 and roll the 2 part out until 3mm thick and layer into a pie dish and transfer to the fridge to chill while you prep the lattice. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into 2cm thick strips.

Fill the dish with the prune filling before gently forming a lattice – use the Fiona Apple method – on the top of the pie. Crimp the edges to seal and transfer to the oven to bake for  1 hour and 20 minutes or until brown and crisp.

Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and devour, greedily.

 

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Taratin Reid

Baking, Dessert, Pie, Snack, Sweets

While I am ok at admitting when I’m in the wrong, it is rare for me to admit when I completely got a situation wrong. Like the situation that led to my dogged pursuit of destroying Tara Reid in the media for the last two years.

You see, Tara was trying to protect me. From myself and Hoff, knowing that he and I have long enjoyed a dear friendship and she didn’t want our relationship to flow from the screen to off, and end in Hoff’s third divorce and the end of a beautiful friendship.

Sure – it was a little presumptuous of her but there was a 99% chance of that entire scenario playing out, so there was nothing I could do but breakdown in tears, hold her and be thankful that I have such a dear friend that knows me so well and wants to protect me from myself.

Tara Reid, realistically, should become the first living person to be canonised.

As you know, I got Tara her big break in The Big Lebowski through my boy Philly Sey after me became firm friends during her brief appearance on Days of Our Lives (I was dating Drake Hogestyn at the time). While we were close after Days, our friendship truly blossomed after Lebowski and she dedicated her life to paying me  back for my kindness.

In a plot twist, that devotion is what made her block my Sharknado 3 casting despite knowing it would risk our friendship. See, she is a damn saint.

After putting an end to the feud and apologising profusely for all the horrible things I said about her in the media, things went straight back to normal and we laughed while filling each other in on what was going on in our lives over a Taratin Reid.

 

 

Sweet, rustic and altogether homely, this is the perfect dish to sweeten the deal of an apology … and nourish the rekindling of a beautiful, beautiful friendship.

Enjoy!

 

 

Taratin Reid
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp raw caster sugar
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs
6 apples, peeled, halved and cored
1 lemon, juiced
50g raw caster sugar
50g muscovado sugar
200g butter, at room temperature

Method
Combine the flour, caster sugar and salt in a food processor with the unsalted butter and blitz until it resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and blitz until just coming together. Remove from the processor, shape into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for half an hour.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 180°C. While preparing the apples, add them to the lemon juice to stop them from going brown.

Heat a medium, ovenproof  frying pan over low heat and melt the sugars with three tablespoons of water, stirring until melted. Increase the heat and allow to caramelise, without stirring, until it forms a honey colour. Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add the apples to the pan, curved side down until they are tightly packed. Place in the oven and bake for half an hour. While baking, roll out the dough to the size of the pan and place in the fridge to chill until the apples are done.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly before placing the dough on top, tucking the edges into the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Remove the pan again and allow to cool completely before gently turning the tart out of the pan onto a plate. Serve and devour immediately, with or without ice cream.

 

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Feter Confit Tomato Crostini

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

Previously on Australian Survivor, 24 new Australians were cast into the Samoan wilderness – for the second season of the third attempt of Australian Survivor – before whittling the numbers down to the final three after 53. While they weren’t as flashy as Luke, Henry, Locky or Queens Michelle and Jacqui, Peter, Tara and Jericho have fought hard to make it to the end and survive through a very unpredictable season.

We opened up with our final three commencing the fallen comrades – which needs to be brought back on OG Survivor – where Tara and Peter awkwardly had to dance around Joan, while Jericho tried to pretend he knew something about Adam, Kate and Tarzan. We then paid our respects to Aimee – aye – and lovebirds Sam and Mark, before being reminded by how much of a Queen Jacqui is. Tragically she was followed by Kent, then (thankfully) AK, Ben and Odette, the latter two who got more airtime now, than they did during the game. Jarrad then kicked off the jury portion, followed by super-idol victim Anneliese, before they all praised Henry for his game and fauxgi spirit. They then (awkwardly for Jericho) spoke about ex-juror Tessa’s logical, methodical approach to the game, Sarah’s ability to get down and dirty while playing the game and providing for the tribe. Jericho then described Luke as his other half which is a term I absolutely hate given that it implies people are not whole unless they’re in a relationship. We honoured Olympic powerhouse Ziggy, b-b-b-banging Locky – sadly no rehash of the nudity – and the true Queen of the season, Michelle.

Seriously, they flew through that.

The end of their walk led them to the same cliff Kristie dominated Lee and El last year for the final immunity challenge of the season. Tara was shocked to still be in the game, while Peter knew it was do or die and I assume, Jericho was thinking about kittens and puppies being washed out to sea. Jonathan hyped the challenge, telling them that unlike last year’s challenge, this year it will be conducted under the cover of darkness, making it even colder and miserable…r.

Jonathan spent the early stages of the challenge baiting the contestants to remember how uncomfortable the challenge would be, which truly is savage. Darkness fell by the hour mark where Tara took one in the face – I assume she was referring to a wave – before giving the blunt answer that she was feeling completely shit. Jericho then commenced gloating and playing mind-games with Tara and Pete. The latter then tried to channel Kristie, speaking about how much he loved Survivor and wanted to make it to the end.

To distract from the pain and to add some interest, Tara spoke about how diverse all of the castaways are before her emotions started to get the better of her. Showing true kindness and, shudder, mateship, Jericho and Peter tried to give her a pep talk and motivate her to not give up. She tried to talk through the pain while the boys came up with ways to distract her from the pain – and Jericho got some spelling tips – before she ta-ragically couldn’t hold any longer and stepped down from the challenge at the 3 hour mark. The boys managed to last an extra two hours which seemed not to have phased Jericho at all, while Peter was hunched over like a dead body on The Ring. Try as he might, Peter was in too much pain and asked for JLP to help him out of the challenge, handing Jericho immunity … and by the look on his face, the win. While Peter broke down, Jericho and Tara joined him and all sat, hugged together, comforting him by the fire. Then nature proved to be savage, and threw out a huge wave that wiped out their warmth.

Not wanting to waste any time, we lost the entirety of day 54 as the final three arrived at tribal council where Jericho was daunted by the decision in front of him. Jonathan then led the jury in a round of applause for the final three’s effort in the challenge before Jericho was forced to sit between Tara and Peter as they fought for their place in the game. Or to vote them out, I honestly can’t tell, as both their arguments were that they were not the easy one to take out … which is exactly what you want to do to win the game. Tara then proved she is saavier than I gave her credit for, throwing Peter’s logic to get rid of Jericho three days ago against him.

Peter then went all in for Tara’s game, outlining why she is a goat … and again, that is meant to be his case for getting rid of her. A fired up Tara then tore into Pete’s game, saying him winning is disrespectful to the game which is a better pitch when highlighting how easy someone is to beat. With that, Jericho cast his sole vote and sent Peter out of the game as the final juror.

While he was feeling pretty salty when he arrived at tribal council, he freely ran into the arms of his dear friend – me, we’re both totes homo in communications, of course we know each other – and lamented what could have been. I joined him in crying, though thinking about the tragic loss of Michelle at the previous tribal council. Thankfully I cooked through the pain and whipped him up a big, comforting batch of my Feter Confit Tomato Crostini.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of bruschetta … but this is where its at. I love tomatoes, but have always struggled with them in their raw state, so this is the perfect fix to the Italian classic. Rich and caramelised tomato, tart creamy feta and sweet basil? Sign me up!

Enjoy!

 

 

Feter Confit Tomato Crostini
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp raw caster sugar
1 tsp champagne vinegar
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper, to taste
small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
200g feta, whipped
12 thick slices sourdough

Method
Preheat oven to 130°C.

Combine the oil, garlic, fennel, sugar, vinegar and tomato in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. And when I say good, I mean good. Ok? Transfer to a lined baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or until soft and caramelised. Fold through the basil leaves.

Grill the sourdough, spread with the whipped feta and top with the confit tomatoes … before devouring.

 

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Katrina Radaiquiri

Drink, Survivor, Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Sur … hang on, this isn’t Aus-Probst Probst, this is Probst Probst! Yep, Survivor is back after a game changing season – in title, not so much in game play – where Sarah deserved to win, because Cirie was the only person immune at a tribal council. At least Sandra got to prove her naysayers wrong by playing her most dominant game, despite landing as a pre-juror.

Anywho, we’re back in Fiji and Probst is just fanging to make some ball and shaft puns while a new batch of castaways struggle it out for glory and a million dollars. But seriously, how beautiful is Fiji?

After removing himself from the peak of a mountain, Probst joined the castaways on a boat in the middle of the ocean where he quickly shoehorned the cast into their tribes. We first met my namesake Ben and the hero tribe, who was a marine and I couldn’t really understand much else. We then met Chrissy who obviously became my instant favourite.

Next up were Cole and the healers tribe. I’m not sure what Cole does, beyond something with disadvantaged youth. He is hella pretty. He is joined by Mike the sex doctor who is neurotic as hell and I love it, unless he goes the David Samson route. Finally we met Ali and the hustlers tribe, which I just learnt wasn’t made up of prostitutes.

Probst then issued the first challenge, that being to pilfer as many supplies from the ship as possible before racing to the shore to light a torch from a suspended fire, or something. As usual, the marooning was utter chaos as the tribes ran around to gather supplies while a hustlin’ Ryan discovered a secret advantage, unbeknownst to everyone else. Probsty boarded a speedboat while the tribes rowed to shore, well two of them, the hustlers were busy trying to film a remake of the Blue Lagoon scene when they’re floating around the ocean. The healers won out and got a pre-made roaring fire waiting for them at their camp, while the heroes got some flint and the hustlers sadly couldn’t finance the remake.

We followed the healers back to their camp where we were introduced to Roark who is my other favourite, low-rent Tony aka Joe and Jessica who is as obsessed with Cole as I am. I mean, dem undies – swoon! At the heroes camp we were introduced to Ashley who is planning to shed her heroic persona, and JP’s pants if she gets her way. They are keen to align with marine Ben however immediately made ex-NFL player Alan paranoid by their closeness. As he was keen to pretend he was in with them, that left the older ladies Queen Chrissy and her fellow ‘mumsquad-er’ Olympian Katrina, on the outs.

Meanwhile over at the hustlers, fisherman Lauren quickly became my favourite on their tribe. Actually, no Patrick is – I can’t go past a ripped redhead – who quickly started to speculate about who found the clue he assumed was on the boat. This then shocked Ryan, who has never experienced anyone trying to get in his pants, where the note was currently hidden. He then wandered into the jungle to find out that his advantage is a super idol – aka one that can be played after the votes have been read, not the Australian version – to be used at only the first tribal council. If the hustlers’ don’t attend said tribal, he has to bequeath it to a member of the losing tribe.

Back at the healers camp we met Desi before Mike told us that his son had told him his priority should be to find an idol, so made an excuse to go looking. Sadly he wasn’t as stealth as he thought, arousing the suspicions of Joe who immediately confronted him and treated him like one of the criminals he rehabilitates, which in turn, made him an instant enemy of Mike’s.

The hustlers were feeling far more harmonious, where we met Devon who is also bangin’. Ryan then decided that he would be the perfect person to align with and told him about the super idol which is either a great idea, or a horrible one … and I really hope it’s the former.

Meanwhile things were deteriorating at the heroes camp where Alan grew even more paranoid about JP and Ashley’s closeness, quickly decided that JP had also found the idol which is a reach, even for me. Alan was not buying any of his denials and proceeded to confront him by the shore and asked to search him. At this point, I don’t know who I love more as JP took off his pants – CBS, why you have to blur … by more like CBS Aus – or Alan for making him take them off and getting a good look at his junk. In any event, they are spooning in the shelter  in my mind and I am moister than an oyster that Kimmi doesn’t want Monica to over-farm in Cambodia (yes, they were clams but whatevs).

Probst finally returned to screen for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes were required to race across a cargo net to the top of a tower and pull a cart to the top. They then jump in said cart, ride it (dirty) to the bottom, select a table maze and then climb a ladder with said table maze to the top and land three balls at the end. The heroes were first to select their maze and for some reason, picked the hardest, followed by the hustlers who had the second hardest, leaving the healers with the easiest … oh, no it isn’t, that is a rail they need to balance it on. Thankfully Roark is a dominant, healing coach and quickly advised them to victory, handing them immunity leaving the hustlers and heroes to battle it out, with the former taking out the win and sending the heroes to tribal council, after Chrissy finished her post-challenge vom.

Back at camp the heroes commenced scrambling where Ashley pointed out that Alan’s strip-search outburst made her question their alliance. On the flipside, Alan was also not feeling the alliance and approached Chrissy and Katrina to form an alliance and save themselves as they all feel vulnerable. Alen tried to bring in Ben, who is already super confused about what is going on. While he is concerned about JP and Ashley’s closeness, he is also concerned about retaining strength. Chrissy then went to grab her bag on the way to tribal where she discovered her vom clearly garnered her some sympathy from Ryan who bequeathed his super idol to her which could make things really interesting.

At tribal council Chrissy and Katrina announced that they felt like they were on the outs in the tribe. Thankfully Ashley brought in some drama, calling out Alan’s stripsearch resulting in the best facial expressions since Eliza Orlins and the hope that mumsquad could live to see another day, with or without the super-idol. Alan continued to paint a target on his back like a male Jennifer Lanzetti, while mumsquad played it cool. Sadly it was all for nought as Katrina was sent from the game as the first boot while Chrissy was in possession of the most legitimate looking fake idol of all time.

As I mentioned earlier, I used to be an Olympic level swimming coach which is where I met and fell in love with my dear, dear friend Katrina aka 1987 Pan Pacific 4 x 200 freestyle champion Trina Radke. While I’m heartbroken by the fact you didn’t get to know how wonderful she is during her short stay, I am grateful that my Katrina Radaiquiri can cure what ails ya. Or me.

 

 

While my years of sneaking into venues on the Gold Coast as part of my misspent youth had me believing it was mandatory for daiquiris to be frozen, our friendship drink of choice taught me otherwise. The warmth of the bacardi – I mean, dang, is it my birthday, cause I’m sipping it like it is – mixed with the hit of citrus is perfect to wash away the pain of being the first boot.

Enjoy!

 

 

Katrina Radaiquiri
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
1 part lime juice
2 tsp raw caster sugar
3 parts bacardi
cubed ice

Method
Place the lime juice and sugar in a cocktail and leave it to dissolve for a minute or so before adding the bacardi and ice and shaking, hard, preferably like a polaroid picture.

Strain into a glass and down, greedily.

 

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Sarinnamon Tillcake

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor (2017), Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, Luke’s completely original, not stolen spy shack finally played dividends with him catching Tessa plotting against Jericho with Ziggy. Luke then rallied his troops – minus Michelle who was too friendly with Tessa – to take out the latter in the most divided tribal council of the season. I know Jonathan just said that, but four different people received votes and there were nine left … it was madness.

Back at camp everyone was kind of confused as to what happened at tribal before Michelle quickly exploded and proved the point, hell hath no fury like a person scorned. She went in for Luke, questioned their terrible timing and was ultimately thrilled that she won’t have to feel guilty when cutting them from the game.

The next day everyone was enjoying a meal together, even Michelle who was still well pissed. Luke congratulated himself, Jericho, Sarah and Michelle on clawing back the numbers after merging with a 4-8 deficit, though admitted that their is a lot of work to do to fix the crack in their alliance. While Sarah and Jericho calmly tried to explain the last tribal to Michelle, she really wasn’t having a bar of it and vowed to play an individual game.

Meanwhile Locky came to the realisation that Ziggy voted for him at the last tribal council, though was smart enough to also realise that it is a death sentence for any of the OG Samatauns to join the Asagans. He then approached Ziggy and Pete to join together for the next two tribal councils to chip away at the Asaga alliance. They quickly caught Tara up before each getting to work pulling Michelle over to their side.

JoJo arrived to oversee the reward challenge where Michelle let him know that she was completely blindsided at the last tribal. The challenge involved the tribe being split into two teams of four for a game of charades … for a beach picnic involving KFC. I would just like to say, Dirty Bird is my favourite of all fast foods so this would make me cream my shorts if I were out there. The purple team of Pete, Michelle, Jericho and Tara got out to a 3-0 lead, before Locky, Luke, Sarah and Ziggy pulled off an epic comeback and secured reward for their team.

The victors arrived at their KFC feast, which was decidedly lacking chips and Hot’n’Spicy. Ziggy described the entire thing as heaven in her mouth – which let me tell you will be ironic one day – before Sarah decided to get things strategic, rationalising that they were arguably the biggest threats in the game. The four decided to share who they each think needs to go next, with the Samataus listing Jericho and the Asagans going for Pete. After a back and forth trying to find some common ground, Sarah suggested getting rid of her new nemesis Michelle and while everyone was on board, though it makes me feel extremely nervous for my girl Sarah’s safety.

The victors returned back to camp where Ziggy quickly let us know that the #PopcornChickenAlliance was completely fake before heading off to fill Tara in on what happened at the reward. They decided to take the information that Sarah and Luke were willing to get rid of her to Michelle, which obviously worked a treat as Ziggy, followed by Ziggy, Locky and Pete spilled the tea and solidified Sarah as Michelle’s target forevermore. Sadly though Jericho wandered around in the bushes – eavesdropping on the conversation sans a spy shack – spooking him, Luke and Sarah, who apparently desperately needs to pull out her first immunity win.

Right on cue lil’ JoJo arrived for the immunity challenge, a log rolling battle royale which you would assume Tara would be a shoo-in for given her barrel racing experience. Sarah and Luke were first up, with Luke taking out the win over the model. Ziggy defeated Pete, Locky defeated Michelle and Jericho proving me wrong by defeating Tara. In the second round, Luke defied odds to beat Jericho before Locky made easy work of Ziggy. In the final, Locky finally took out an individual immunity after a hard fought battle against Luke.

Things deteriorated quickly when Asatoa returned to camp, with the Samatau four plus Michelle locking in their vote for Sarah. Despite this Ziggy was starting to get paranoid about Asaga turning on her, before talking to Jericho about who they were planning to target which he assumed was Michelle. Luke and Jericho however then approached Michelle to see if there was a chance for them to realign. Everyone but Tara and Sarah met up in the jungle to talk about getting rid of Sarah, leading Sarah to then talk to Locky about join her with Tara, Luke and Jericho to get rid of Michelle. That five then locked in the vote for Michelle before they headed off to tribal leaving me extremely confused about who is actually locked in with who.

Once there things started to get messier, with Michelle talking about being blindsided by the previous tribal council and how her alliance was over. Sarah calmly tried to explain herself, however Michelle was still acting emotionally and wasn’t interested in hearing about it. Sarah and Michelle were both feeling nervous before Jericho spoke about leaving a cat to drown, horrifying everyone as they headed out to vote. The votes rolled in for Sarah and Michelle before Ziggy played her idol for herself, rather than Michelle much to Pete’s chagrin. Tragically and yet altogether thankfully it wasn’t necessary, as the votes piled up on Sarah and sent her from the game and into my loving arms at the jury villa.

I’ve known Sez for years after being her modelling coaching – I’m Australia’s Miss J – leading to her first stint on reality TV opposite me dearest friend from anger management, Naomi Campbell. While I tried to put in a good word for Sarah, Naom and I got into an insanely brutal brawl before I could help which ultimately allowed Sarah to win her over on her lonesome, making me insanely proud in the process. While she was gutted to be out of the game, she was impressed with how she played and giddily devoured my Sarinnamon Tillcake.

 

 

There is something about cinnamon I can just never go past, and this cake is the perfect example of why. Sweet and spicy, cinnamon truly can make even the most basic of teacakes sing. And I should know, as I’m a basic bitch.

Enjoy!

 

 

Sarinnamon Tillcake
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
125g butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tbsp extra for toppin’ and some more extra for greasin’
1 cup raw caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra for toppin’
⅔ cup milk
2 eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour, plus extra for greasin’
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method
Preheat oven to 160°C, and grease and flour a bundt tin.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium for two minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Lightly whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together in a jug, and the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in half the flour. When just combined, add half the milk … and when that is combined, add the remaining flour and the remaining milk.

Pour the batter into the tin, flatten the top and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden, puffed and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool in the pan for five-ten minutes before removing.

Meanwhile quickly melt the topping butter and combine the topping sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Lightly brush the bundt with butter and coat with the cinnamon sugar. Transfer to a cake stand and devour, while still warm.

 

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Henry Snickerson

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor (2017), Baking, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, Locky flipped on Samatau at the first post-merge tribal, though tried to pin it on Anneliese to save himself. This pitted the two against each other, with Anneliese trying to rally the troops to vote Locky and play her idol to save herself. Sadly, Ziggy opted to play the super-idol and keep a fellow meat shield in the game, sending Anneliese to the jury.

Back at camp, Tessa was feeling pretty annoyed by Ziggy’s play and she and Pete were questioning their entire alliance. While Tessa was doing a far better job of playing it cool, Ziggy rightfully pointed out that it was futile to stick with a dying alliance and was best to make a power move to win over her new alliance. Elsewhere in camp Henry was loving that not only did his plan play off, it also eliminated the other two idols in the game.

The next day Ziggy continued to bond with her new alliance while Tara was shocked at how far she has made it, how few people are left and how much she misses her family. If it didn’t cut straight to a Henry scene about his sole idol in the game, I would have assumed a family visit was imminent. Pulling me back to reality, Henry and Locky spoke about how much they love each other and working (with) each other.

Tessa conveniently reminded us that once again, she was back on the bottom before Jonathan returned to lord over the Survivor auction. Luke, Jericho and Ziggy got into a bidding war for a covered dish, which ended up being a message to leave the auction immediately … and instead receive everything that people win. Fuck me dead, that sounds amazing. Ziggy then dropped all her cash for smashed avo and Henry blew his wad (of cash) for champagne and cheesecake like the golden girl (fan) I so desperately want him to be. Before the next uncovered item was even on the bench, Sarah spent all her money on a nice chilled coconut … which Luke actually enjoyed. Locky and Michelle spent all their cash for the chance to pull rocks for a burrito and margaritas – not of the Moreno variety, sadly – before Pete threw $20 at the chance to speak to her family which Tara immediately topped for $500.

Her talking to her kids was adorable and emotional and if you’re not crying, you’re a jerk. (Also – told ya so). Luke then also got to speak to his kids and I lost it even more, as he struggled to talk to his son (who has autism) … and finished his journey to winning me back over.

After all that excitement, Jericho and Pete had a bidding war for burgers, fries and soft drink which juvenile Jericho loved. This left Pete to spend $320 – Tessa, you have all your cash – for an advantage at the next immunity challenge, for he and Luke. Jericho then gave Dr Tessa some sick burns while forcing her to pay $320 for an overnight reward with all the trimmings for her, rock-winning Michelle and obviously, Luke. This of course pissed off Sarah who was as equally screwed by the auction and wasn’t accepting that as the reason Michelle was selected. Hell hath no fury like a person scorned – I know the phrase is woman, but I am also no slouch when scorned – and gurl. Is. Scorned.

Michelle and Luke joined Tessa at reward where they all gloated about their luck. Tessa then explained that the decision was completely strategy, wanting to talk them into getting out Henry, Locky, Ziggy and Tara. I love Tara, but one of those things is not like the other. Back at camp Sarah continued to seethe which Henry continued to utilise to stoke the flames of rage against Tessa. Poor Pete tried his best to run damage control, but it truly was not going well.

At the reward it took about five seconds before Tessa got the intel that Henry had the idol, while we also learned that Ziggy’s regular part of idol was still in play after he move last tribal. While Michelle was all in with Tessa’s plan to blindside Henry followed by Ziggy, Luke was reticent, knowing that big moves are only worth it if they are to your benefit. I fucking hate when people not only prove my judgemental expectations wrong, but damn he is having a good episode.

The luxurious crew awoke the next day to a champagne breakfast complete with donuts and pastries, while back at camp Locky was freaking out that they would have aligned. Which they did, forming the champagne alliance. That being said, Henry was not so concerned, given the fact he has a ropable Sarah on side. Or so I thought, as she pointed out the fact that she was playing up her rage to put some distance between them so that she can pull off a blindside of Henry. That is some next level inception shit right there. She then got to work, pulling Jericho aside to tell him that their idol find last episode was a complete fake and he actually found it way back in the first week. This fired up Jericho and makes me extremely anxious for Henry.

With all the key players for tonight’s tribal lined up, Jonathan returned for the immunity challenge where Tessa and Michele tried their best at downplaying the majesty of their reward. We then got to the challenge where everyone had to hold up a ball on top of a curved rim while balancing on rapidly shrinking platformed, with Pete and Luke’s advantage being to start 30 seconds on a stage of their choosing. Michelle was out before Luke even began – after electing to take said advantage on the first stage – quickly followed by Tara before Sarah and Ziggy dropped. After round two kicked off, Jericho dropped out before Pete finally used his advantage on the final stage, before dropping out, followed closely by Luke and Henry. While Locky and Tessa both put in a huge effort – dug deep, if you will – her steady doctored hands pulled off a miracle and won Tessa immunity.

Returning to camp Henry and Locky were disappointed by Tessa’s victory which was further exacerbated by the fact it was pouring rain and they couldn’t go out and scramble. After waiting a sum total of five minutes, Tessa pulled Pete out into the rain to talk about her (slash their) new alliance with Luke and Michelle and that Henry would be going home, if they make him feel comfortable enough. This left Luke and Michelle to pretend that Tessa didn’t win them over, which wasn’t making Locky feel very comfortable. He and Henry then approached Tessa and Pete about voting literally anyone but them, while Pete gave Sarah up as another option. Tessa was feeling confident in her plan, Henry was feeling confident Pete would be going before Michelle pulled Sarah aside to get her onboard with the Henry vote, as did Luke with Jericho which legitimately left me feeling extremely confused as they headed off to tribal. I mean, he has to be smart enough to play his idol, right?

Everyone played tribal council hella vaguely, aside from Tessa and Michelle’s glamping gloat-fest. While Locky and Ziggy spoke up and acknowledged that Tessa was gunning for them, Ziggy wasn’t overly concerned that anything would come of it. Luke was able to use his dopey demeanour to his advantage, brushing off speculation of an alliance. Sarah was also unconvinced anything would come of Tessa’s scrambling before Pete dropped the bomb that there was a very powerful group of players in the game, which Tessa concurred with before Michelle acknowledged them by name – hey Locky, Henry and Ziggy – and kind of defused the suspicion of a blindside.

While Sarah, Tara and Henry were all expecting a straightforward Peter vote, Henry ignored Locky’s plea for him to play the idol resulting in him exiting the game and becoming the third member of the jury. He may not have been my number one – swoon Locky, swoon – but I still found him to be a total babe, and while we may not have known each other for very long – I met while running a con as a fake yoga attendee at his fake yoga studio – I felt our bond – and his dominant gameplay – more than earned him arguably the recipe of the season, my Henry Snickerson.

 

 

I say this about homemade burgers and pizzas, but the rule also applies to chocolate bars and biscuits – homemade copycats are always better than the OG. (Well, except for Shake Shack and In’n’Out). This homemade snickers is more kingsize than Luke’s ego and is more delicious than Locky – spongey nougat, salty nuts and dripping caramel … I’m now both horny and hungry.

Enjoy!

 

 

Henry Snickerson
Makes: 12-16.

Ingredients
¾ cup raw caster sugar
½ cup liquid glucose
¼ cup water
1 egg white, at room temperature
generous pinch of salt
½ cup natural crunchy peanut butter
60g butter
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
395g condensed milk
1 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
600g milk chocolate

Method
Line a 20x30cm baking pan with some baking paper.

Combine the caster sugar, glucose and water in a small pan over high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. While you bring the syrup to the boil, whisk the egg white in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. When the sugar reaches 135°C, remove from the boil and very slowly add to the eggs with the whisk still on high. Continue whisking until the nougat comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove from the mixer and fold through the peanut butter with an oiled spatula, emphasis on oiled, until it is thick, combined and spongy. Turn into the lined baking pan, spreading mixture evenly, and leave to rest while you make the caramel.

Combine the butter, muscovado sugar and condensed milk in a clean saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook until it is thick and has started to turn a caramel colour. Remove from the heat and fold through the chopped peanuts before spreading over the setting nougat. Cover and place in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

When you’re ready to assemble, line a baking sheet with paper and cut the nougat and caramel into chocolate bar sized … bars. Melt the chocolate in the microwave – 30s on high, followed by 10s intervals until done – and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Dip the bars into the melted chocolate and place them on the lined baking sheet. Once done, brush the remaining chocolate over the bars to completely enclose them. Transfer to the fridge for a few hours to set, before devouring with your favourite marriage celebrant / fauxgi.

 

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Zac Efriands

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Side, Snack, Sweets

Holy hell, am I emotionally spent from my time with my friend come ex come *spoiler alert* friend again, Zachary David Alexander Efron. So as you know, my dear friend Corbin Bleu came up with a foolproof three-point plan to facilitate a reconciliation between Zac and I, but I never shared what it was … and it will blow your mind with its intricacy.

1. Call Zac on the phone and tell him I want to have him over to talk about where we left things.
2. Apologise for any of the nastiness I caused (minimal, but sure).
3. Listen to his feelings and accept that maybe he is hurt, vowing to move on if you’re both willing to forgive.

Seriously – have you ever read such a wild plan? And more importantly, would you ever, in a million years, think that it would work?

I am shook, still.

I first met Zac in 2004 while visiting my then boyfriends Jesse McCartney and Ryan Kwanten – I was in a polyamorous phase – and my dear friend Merrin Dungey on the set of Summerland, and we quickly bonded over our love of theatre and surfing. As I oft do, I knew that he was destined for greatness, dropped Jess and vowed to make him a star.

Two years later, I made good on said promise when I cast him in High School Musical. The rest, as they say, is history … but I assume you’d like to know that part of that history involved him thanking me with two years of passionate kissing and tender love-making.

Then tragedy struck when he opted to star in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. I was livid, we broke it off immediately and we haven’t spoken since. (Despite the best efforts of my dear Sethy Roges).

While it was quite awkward to start, my constant run-ins with the law and multiple Hollywood feuds have seemingly given me the ability to deliver an apology that appears genuine and he forgave me for all that I’d done. He also apologised, but for nothing specific. While I found that odd, a quick Google search supports his claim that he never dragged me through the tabloids.

With that as proof, I kindly forgave him for all the pain that he caused and we caught each other up on life and laughed about the good old days … of my famed Zac Efriands.

 

 

Tart, earthy and sickeningly sweet, these delicate beauties are the perfect thing to facilitate meaningful reconciliation and solve all your problems. Take that, banana bread!

Enjoy!

 

 

Zac Efriands
Makes: 12.

Ingredients
200g icing sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 ⅔ cups almond meal
3 lemons, zested and juiced
200g unsalted butter, melted
6 egg whites
2 tbsp poppy seeds
¾ cup raw caster sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 160°C and grease a 12-hole friand pan.

Sift the icing sugar, flour and almond meal into a mixing bowl. Slowly incorporate the zest, melted butter, egg whites and poppy seeds, until just combined.

Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until puffed, golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for five minutes, before turning out and cooling completely.

When you’re almost ready to serve, combine the lemon juice and raw caster sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes or until slightly thickened.

Prick the friands – ahhhh, the memories with Zac – and poor over the sweet tangy liquid, filling up the friands – again, memories.

Devour immediately.

 

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Bananarama Bread

Baking, Bread, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to reconnect with my girls, Sara, Keren and Siobhan – aka Bananarama. Late last year I started receiving voicemails from all of the girls individually, asking to drop by and talk.

“Hey Ben, it’s Sar! Give me a call, I’d love to reconnect. Don’t make me Bobby D for you!”

“Ben – its Kez. I hear its been a Cruel Summer in Brisbane, call me back we need to talk.”

By the time Sio-b-han called to confess her guilt of love in the first degree, I knew what they were playing at and was equal parts excited and terrified. As you should already know, Siobhan returned to the group earlier this year and as the other founding member of Bananarama, I knew they’d be desperate to get me back.

I attended St. George’s School for Girls with Sez and Kez, and we became the fastest of friends. Sara and I then met Siobhan while studying fashion journalism and the band was quickly formed. Fun fact: I convinced them to name the band after my passion for penis … which ultimately led to me leaving the group.

Oh, I should clarify – I convinced them to name it Bananarama without explaining that it was also a festival I held in the West Village in the late 50s / early 60s.

The truth got me kicked out of the group in the early 80s for lying to them – they loved it, thus keeping it, but the betrayal cut deep – and we didn’t speak until 1987 when they wrote the hit song Love in the First Degree as an apology. While our friendship was renewed, I couldn’t rejoin the group as Maggie Thatch had banned me from the U.K.

While we’ve stayed in contact throughout the years, we haven’t seen each other in close to a decade. I guess there was always a part of me that knew that they’d want to reform but due to the nodules I shared with Julie Andrews, I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to sing again.

After holding each other for what felt like hours, we quickly caught up on life and laughed the night away. Sure the girls were disappointed that I couldn’t bring myself to rejoin the band – they don’t have to know I’m a bee’s dick away from convincing Celine Dion to start a duo – they were just thrilled to see me and share a delicious Bananarama Bread.

 

 

Like Apu and Mandula, I am a firm, firm believer that banana bread solves all of life’s problems. Throw in some walnuts and chocolate? Well I guess you’re in for a damn delightful treat.

Enjoy!

 

 

Bananarama Bread
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
4 very ripe bananas
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
150ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
150g raw caster sugar
¼ cup fresh espresso, cooled
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarb soda
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ roughly chopped milk chocolate

Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a loaf tin.

Mash the bananas in the bowl of an electric mixer with the vanilla and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low while adding the oil. Add the eggs one by one, still mixing, before adding the sugar and coffee.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour and bicarb and quickly stir with the paddle until the mixture binds. Return to the mixer and stir on medium for a minute. Remove again, fold through the walnuts and chocolate, and pour into the loaf tin.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until golden, risen and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for fifteen minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely … if you can wait.

If not, just devour.

 

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Rhubarb Raos & Apple Pie

Baking, Dessert, Pie, Snack, Survivor NZ: Nicaragua, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor New Zealand, 16 kiwis were dumped in the Nic-ar-ag-ew-arn jungle, where they were surprised by a tribal council on day one, where Dee and Hannah were each voted out of their tribes. While it felt like all hope was lost, Matt introduced redemption island where Hannah won the first duel … only to be bested by Tony in the next. She was followed out of the game by Tony, Izzy, the medically evacuated Lou, and Georgia who was beaten by Shay who returned to the game at the merge.

Shannon flipped on the young boys at the merge, sending Lee and Mike to redemption island where the latter went on a streak, sending Lee, Sala, Shannon, Shay and Jak to the jury, returning to the game with Nate … before both being voted out again, leaving Queen Barbs in the final three with Tom and Avi.

The finalists returned to camp where they congratulated each other on a game well played, and marvelled at how surreal an experience it has been. Barb then quickly filled us in that the only reason she made it to the end, is because Nate told her she needed to back herself and that she deserved to make it to the end.

Conversation quickly turned to the jury where Avi was concerned that keeping Barb means he is down one guaranteed votes, Barb felt all the jurors hated her and Tom felt it was going to come down closely between him and Avi.

The next day the final three were feeling calm and noticing the beauty of their soon-to-be-former jungle home, before Avi went into an extended monologue, speaking about playing Survivor being a high school dream of his, making it feel like victory is rapidly approaching. They soon discovered a final three breakfast set up by the beach … leading into Barbs’ monologue about deserving the win and playing the game to prove that she could do it and to focus on herself, rather than just being someone’s wife or mother.

What happened next? You guessed it – Tom had a monologue! Talking about how Survivor was also a childhood dream of his and that he fought to stay in the game the entire time, though was concerned that Avi being a nice guy will soak up a large number of votes.

At final tribal council, the finalists kicked off the show by telling the jury why they deserved to win. Tom spoke about his lifelong love of the game and wanting to be a role model for his students. Avi told them he gave it his all in the game and he fulfilled all of his goals, which sounds arrogant … as does telling the jury he trusts them.

Then came Barbs, who went for the jugular telling them she achieved her goal of sitting opposite them, rather than next to them, and navigated the huge personalities, survived the noose around her neck and played the best game of the three, whilst being underestimated by their inability to be perceptive.

I love queen Barbs, but fuck – no one is going to give her the votes she deserves.

Shay kicked off the jury portion asking Barb if she is kind – she thinks so, which shocked the jury – she asked Avi what he wants the children of New Zealand to know from his game before Shay used the opportunity to clear the air between her and Tom, turning it into Dr Phil.

While I thought Jak would bring some humour to the occasion, he sadly didn’t, instead applauding Avi for being nice, Tom bro, for being a great bro friend bro … and then told Barb he was impressed by her, but felt disrespected by her the entire season.

Mike threw Barb a ditto, what Jak said before telling Avi he doesn’t feel he wants to win the game and needs to be convinced. I’d love to say it was a good question, but it wasn’t, nor was asking Tom to convince him he has morals … despite being a teacher which is probably the noblest profession known to man.

Nate congratulated the final three before reminding them that they all took the opportunity to vote him out twice before asking why Avi didn’t take him to the final three. Spoiler alert, he never committed to the plan. Shannon as a superfan was disappointingly bitter, telling Barb there was nothing she should say to make her vote for her, asked Avi why being nice deserves a win and whether Tom was carried to the end by Avi … despite dominating challenges.

Then came Sala. While he started out being his usual, sweet self by congratulating Tom and Avi for being nice guys that he is proud to have played with. He then lay into Barb, calling her disrespectful, selfish and lazy – just observation, soz not soz – shat on people and was rude. What a sanctimonious dick.

Lee then told them all that they only made it to the end because of luck, despite Tom dominating the game physically, Avi dominating socially and Barb dominating strategically.

As was expected after the roasting she got from the jury, my girl Barb couldn’t muster a single vote from the jury finishing in third place. Despite being destroyed by the bitter Bettys of the jury, she was thrilled to see a friendly face in loser lodge. Particularly one holding a freshly baked Rhubarb Raos & Apple Pie.

 

 

A little bit sweet and a little bit tart, this pie is the perfect culinary representation of my dear equine loving friend. Wrap it in some soft pillowy dough and you have pie-fection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rhubarb Raos & Apple Pie
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
450g plain flour
125g icing sugar, sieved
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, 2 for the dough and 1 lightly beaten for the glaze
325g butter, diced, 225g for the dough, 100g for the filling
1kg Granny Smith apples, cored, thickly sliced
1kg rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3cm lengths
500g raw caster sugar
2 cinnamon quills
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
2 lemons, rind and juice
60g panko breadcrumbs
20g demerara sugar

Method
Combine the flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine, add butter, vanilla and 1 tsp of cinnamon and blitz until it resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and blitz until the dough just comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Melt the remaining butter in a pot over medium heat, add the apples and stir for about five minutes. Add the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon quills and vanilla paste, and cook for a further ten minutes before adding the lemon juice and rind, stirring and removing from the heat. Once the mixture is cool and you’re just about to make the pie, stir in the breadcrumbs.

Roll out two thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 3-5mm thick. Drape over a pie dish, and shape the pastry into the dish. Trim the edges and pour in the filling.

Roll out the remaining dough, drape over the top and press the edges to enclose. Poke a hole in the centre for steam, brush with the remaining egg and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Chuck it – not literally – in the oven and bake for an hour, or until golden and cooked through. You may need to cover with foil for the last twenty minutes, but trust your gut.

Once ready, allow to cool in the dish for a couple of hours – preferably on a window sill, obvi – before devouring with fresh vanilla ice cream, or a spice custard.

 

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