Vecepia Baowery

Main, Poultry, Street Food, Survivor: Marquesas

Just like the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3, I’m about to be back, back, back, back, back again on a remote(ish) island in Fiji to cook-up some culinary commiserations for the 19 soon to be losers and 39 days, one sole survivor, of Survivor: Ghost Island. As has now become traditional, I am counting down to the premiere by spending time with past victors. And we’re kicking things off with one of my favourites – Vecepia Towery.

Now hold up – did I desperately want Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien to take out Marquesas? Without a doubt. But does that take away from the low-key brilliance that was Vecepia’s win, the likes of which we had never seen up until that point? No.

I mean, not even the kite flying challenge could diminish my love of the underrated Marquesas.

Not only did Vecepia land on the worst tribe in Survivor history at that point, but she overcame a three-seven disadvantage at the merge to lead (with Sean and Kathy, yes) the first ever shake-up in Survivor, rallying the minority to turn on the majority and overthrow the game. For that alone, you can’t count out Vecepia. Particularly when you take into account the journal she kept, that helped her snatch victory in the fallen comrades challenge.

Anyway, as you should probably have guessed by now, V is one of my dearest friends and I will defend her to the end of the earth. Knowing that, she was thrilled to answer my call and drop-by to honour the 36th season of the show … which Marquesas kind of set up to become what it is.

We laughed, we cried, we strategised about ways to get more people from early seasons brought back for returning player seasons and most importantly, we absolutely annihilated some four-weeks-to-go Vecepia Baowery.

 

 

I love me some bao buns. So, so, much. And these spicy little numbers do nothing to reduce said love. Spicy, sweet and a bun slathered in white creamy goodness? Perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Vecepia Baowery
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece ginger, sliced
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 long red chillies, chopped
½ cup Chinese rice wine
⅓ cup dark soy sauce
1L chicken stock
4 chicken thighs
½ cup rice flour
2 tsp Chinese five-spice
vegetable oil
8 buns and the cucumber from Bret LaBao Buns
½ red capsicum, thinly sliced
small handful of coriander leaves, to taste
kewpie mayo, to taste

Method
Prep your buns and cucumber as per Bretty’s recipe.

Place the garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, chillies, rice wine, soy and stock in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, reducing heat to low when rollicking. Add the chicken and simmer for twenty minutes or so. Remove and allow to cool before cutting across the thigh into short 1 inch wide strips.

Combine the rice flour and five spice in a bowl and toss through the cooled pieces of chicken to coat. Place enough vegetable oil to fill a pot up to 1cm and place over a high heat. When shimmery and starting to get that weird dancing appearance, reduce heat to medium and add half the chicken, cooking for a couple of minutes – flipping once – until they’re gloriously crisp. Remove to a paper towel and repeat the process.

To assemble, spread open your buns, slather with some kewpie, top with cucumber, capsicum, chicken, more kewpie and some coriander. Devour immediately.

 

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Pie Float Newton

Gravy, Main, Pie, Snack, Street Food

Oh how bittersweet it was to reconnect with moonface, during the most rare lunar occurance – the super blue blood moon – in our lifetimes. Apparently, anyway. While I can confirm he is doing far better than the media cares to report – he is not on death’s door, nor does he have a gambling prob – he is getting on in age.

And the fact he kept patting me on the back saying, “Ben, my boy.”

You’d think he’d learn, no?

“This is a once in a lifetime event.”

Only served as a reminder that he won’t be around forever. It also further proved the fact eldery people love to bash the media for lies, but also take their word as truth if it suits. I mean, is this super bloody blue balls moon really that rare? Please answer in the comments below.

Anyway, I’ve gone well off topic so will start to work my way back. I first met Bertie in the early ‘60s through my ex-boyfriend Graeme Kennedy, and we became the fastest of friends. While Grae and I didn’t last, my friendship with Bert did and I helped guide his career, from late night, to game shows, to midday and most importantly, morning programming.

So as is oft the case, you’re welcome.

While I couldn’t convince him to make yet another comeback, TV or otherwise, I could convince him to split an iconic Pie Float Newton to toast his contribution to Australian, nay, global culture.

 

 

Now I know these don’t look overly appetising, nor do they look moderately healthy, but daaaaamn are they good. I mean, pie and mash is perfect, pie and gravy is glorious, and pie with peas sings. How can you go wrong by combining them all … with sauce?

Not possible, so enjoy!

 

 

Pie Float Newton
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
4 individual beef pies – you could make a bigger version of Mini Beaf Arthur & Mushroom Pies or Pie-an Ziering without the blue cheese, or you know, go with Four’n’Twenty. I ain’t judging … much
olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups chicken stock
5 washed potatoes, diced
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp flour
2 cups beef stock
tomato – aka tommie – sauce

Method
Cook the pies as per their recipe, or the packet instructions you bloody bludger, strewth cobber.

While that is happening, heat a lug of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sweat the shallots for a couple of minutes or so. Add the peas and stock, bring to the boil, reducing to low once rollicking and simmering for half an hour, or until the liquid is reduced. When there is about 1cm of stock left, mash the peas until semi-smooth.

Meanwhile place the potato in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for ten minutes, or until just cooked through. Drain and return to the pot with half the butter, milk, a whack of salt and pepper, and the parmesan. Mash until smooth.

And just to add to your cleaning, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once frothing, add the flour, whisk to combine and cook for a minute or so. Remove from the heat and whisk in the stock before returning to the heat and bringing to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes or until it is your desired consistency. Season and remove from the heat.

To serve, layer a bed of mash on your plate, top with some peas, then the pie … then drown in gravy and squirt with some tommie sauce. Because apparently, that was critical to the floater.

Then devour … or shame eat. Though you shouldn’t feel shame for loving something so damn good.

 

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Jimmychangas Fallon

Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Goldenade, Main, Street Food

To be honest, this marathon month of celebration is really starting to exhaust me and I’m feeling desperate to just relax and have a laugh while celebrating this year’s Grammys. And no tea, no shade to Whits, Burt, Tom or Madge, but there is no friend funnier than my fave chum Jimmy Fallon.

Well no one funnier that had won a Grammy. And was available, at least.

I first met Jimmy whilst loitering around 30 Rock to try and get Lorne Michaels to forgive me and let me join the cast of SNL finally. Whilst that obviously did not occur, I did befriend Jim when he was walking in and out of the studio. Did he mistake me for a beggar for the first six months of our friendship? Yes … but it showed that we truly did have a lovely relationship.

As is oft the case, i made his career my top priority and vowed to make him a star. I started by getting him to dip his toe in the cinematic pond, before making him quit SNL to defend my honour … and ultimately, release a comedy album that would go on to bag him a Grammy.

Since that is his winning category, he was thrilled to sit down and run the odds with me. He agreed that it is Jerry Seinfeld’s Grammy to lose … though can’t bring himself to count out Dave Chappelle. When it came to spoken word, however, we knew that there was no one beating my girl Carrie Fisher. Fuck I miss Caz.

Talking about Carrie got me feeling hella emotional, so it was fortuitous timing that I was already balls deep on making some Jimmychangas Fallon.

 

 

Hot and spicy, fresh and comforting, this usually fried delight is just as perfect when oven baked. But I guess, can you go wrong with something slathered in cheese, sour cream, guac and chilli?

You can’t, so enjoy!

 

 

Jimmychangas Fallon
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 red chillies
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
2 shallots, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1kg brisket
olive oil
1 tbsp ground chilli
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of cinnamon
1L beef stock
12 flour tortillas
grated cheese, to serve
sour cream, to serve
guacamole, to serve
sriracha, to serve

Method
Place the chilli, cumin, coriander seeds, pepper, oregano, shallots and garlic in a food processor and blitz until it forms a paste. Blitz in a good lug of olive oil and transfer to bowl. Add the brisket and rub to coat, cover and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.

The next day, heat a lug of oil in a large skillet seal the meat for a minute or two on each side. Add the chilli, smoked paprika, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for another minute before adding the stock and bringing to the boil. Once rollicking, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for three to four hours.

Remove beef from the pan and rest before bringing the heat back up to reduce the liquid. After about ten minutes of rest, shred the brisket with a couple of forks and return to the sauce. Continue to cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to chill completely.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

To assemble, place a couple of tablespoons of the brisket along one edge of the tortilla. Fold in the sides and roll to form a small burrito and tie in the centre with kitchen string. Repeat the process until done. Brush with olive oil, place on a lined baking sheet and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and remove the string from each. Top with some grated cheese and bake for a further five minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Serve immediately, slathered with sour cream, guac and sriracha. Though be careful when devouring, since they’ll be bloody hot.

 

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Madonna Kebab

Grammy Gold, Grammy Gold: Goldenade, Main, Street Food

After tipping over the halfway point of my Grammy Gold celebration, Goldenade … and just getting back from visiting another deceased friend in the form of Tom – after Whits and the thankfully still alive Burt – I knew I needed to see someone that made me feel all shiny and new. And no one makes me feel like that, quite like my girl Madonna.

Yes ladies and gentleman – I am friends with the icon that is Madonna. Dare I say it, I am actually the person that made her who she is today. And that is not an overstatement in the slightest.

I first met Madge when she was a bit player in bands in the late ‘70s before inspiring her to drop her last name and head off on a solo career. Badda bing, badda boom, ‘83 rolled around and her debut album was released … thanks to me.

I then co-wrote all the songs on Like a Virgin, inspired her to parlay her music career into an acting one and most importantly, gave her the idea for – not to mention 90% of the poses – her hit book Sex. Fun fact: I have the only copy of outtakes which even I deemed too explicit for publication. But damn, Vanilla sure could ice me, baby …

Anyway, Madge was thrilled to drop by and celebrate the Grammys – on the proviso that her superfan and my fellow friend Michelle Visage came nowhere near her – and run the odds on this year’s pop performances.

She agreed – albeit begrudgingly – that Ed Sheeran will win Best Solo Pop Performance (because everyone loves white bread), Despacito will take out Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Seth MacFarlane will snag Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album over Bob Dylan and Ke$ha will snag her first Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Such exhausting and necessary work required something that packed enough energy, comfort and booze-sopping ability, so I quickly hauled-arse to the kitchen and whipped up a delightful Madonna Kebab.

 

 

Rich, spicy and fresh, there is nothing better than a kebab to fill your heart with joy. Or song even, I guess. Add in some fresh salad and a slather of natural yoghurt and I feel like life is no longer a mystery, as like a prayer, this kebab can take you there.

Enjoy!

 

 

Madonna Kebab
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
olive oil
500g lamb mince
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and pepper, to taste
8 Pita Andre Bread
iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
Greek yoghurt, to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Combine the mince in a large bowl with the garlic, spices, and salt and pepper, and scrunch together in your hands until smooth. Shape into 24 meatballs and place on a lined baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Toast pitas, split in half – and those halves open – and fill with lettuce, onion and capsicum, top with a couple of meatballs, slather in Greek yoghurt before devouring, greedily.

 

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James Van Detray Bake

Baking, Dawson's Creek 20th Anniversary, Main, Poultry

After starting things off with the dreamy Josh Jackson, followed up with the liberated Katie Holmes and my dear old friend Mary Beth Peil, we’ve arrived at the owner of the Creek. Yep – today is all about Dawth-son, my boy JVDB.

As you know – since this isn’t his first time on my patch of cyber-space – JVDB and I were lovers and then the best of friends. And most importantly, he is the reason I am married. Well technically it is thanks to the words of Fauxy on the series finale of Dawson’s Creek … but he made me watch it and as such, gets the points.

Given we’ve only recently caught up on the record – we have a monthly date and it is seminal to my happiness … this time, my meaning of seminal flies – I was surprised that he was able to make the trip down under. But I guess, how could you say no to honouring the 20th anniversary of the greatest role of your career?

JVDB has been hella busy of late, so was thrilled to be able to take some time to honour his work, while enjoying some R&R. Plus – I promised to cook up his second favourite food, my James Van Detray Bake.

 

 

Inspired by Nigella’s tray bake in Nigellissima, this little number – and I hate to say it – is even better than the OG. I mean, how do you go wrong with the addition of chilli and garlic?

Enjoy!

 

 

James Van Detray Bake
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
4 washed potatoes, cut into chunks
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
6 sprigs of rosemary
6 few sprigs of thyme
small handful of sage, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tbsp chilli flakes
10 chicken thighs, bone in
8 Italian sausages
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Chuck the potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon juice and zest and chilli in a large baking dish and toss together. Add the thighs and sausages, pushing them into holes, burying some and leaving others all exposed.

Drizzle with a good lug of olive oil, season generously and transfer to the oven to bake for about an hour, checking after 45 minutes to avoid burning the meat.

Once cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to stand for about ten minutes before serving. And in turn, devouring.

 

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.

Pierogene Levy

All up in Schitt's Creek Week, Main, Party Food, Snack, Street Food, Tapas, Vegetarian

Given I am close with the entire cast of Schitt’s Creek, it was extremely difficult to decide who to bestow the honour of kicking off my celebration honouring their return to the screen. But like my girl Hizza Clinton before me, I am known for making hard choices when I need to, so picked up the phone to call the delightful Eugene Levy first.

I mean, it is only fitting that I kicked off the party with Eugene as he is the person I have known the longest. Eug and I first met whilst a part of Second City, Toronto and by a part of, I was his stand in when blocking performances given our eerily similar appearances.

While we drifted apart when I was deported from Canada – and therefore unable to appear on SCTV – we reconnected again in the ‘90s through my dear friend Tars. I was part of her entourage on the set of American Pie to get closer to Chris Klein – it was the ‘90s – but I was so thrilled to see Eug again that I abandoned my lust for Chris, and instead focused on making up for the lost years of our friendship.

Despite being extremely busy with other publicity commitments, he was so excited to come down under and mark season four in culinary form with his dearest friend.

“Ben, you really need to come visit when we’re filming next season. I could see Alexis having a long-lost twin and you have the perfect nature to pull off the role!”

“Eug, my love, I don’t know. I’m super busy at the moment, but it truly makes a lot of sense.”

Now I can’t tell you how that conversation ended for upcoming contractual reasons – hell, I shouldn’t have even mentioned how it began – I can tell you that my v. Canadian Pierogene Levy were the perfect snack to toast season four … and beyond.

 

 

Like Eugene, these babies are the perfect comforting slash celebratory snack. Warm and fluffy, and packed full of carb-y, cheesy goodness, you need to get these in your belly ASAP.

Warm apple pie my arse (… which is another embarrassing story of mine for another time).

Enjoy!

 

 

Pierogene Levy
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1.5kg potato
6 shallots, roughly cut
200g ricotta cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
40 gow gee wrappers

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Peel and cut the potatoes quarters and place in a saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender, about five-ten minutes depending on their size. Drain the potatoes, transfer to a lined baking tray with the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, or until all the moisture is gone. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for about fifteen minutes.

When the aggressive heat from the potatoes has gone, mash them until their mostly smooth. Add the ricotta, cheddar, eggs and a good whack of salt and pepper, and mix until thoroughly combined.

To make the pierogis, place the gow gee wrappers on a clean, dry bench and place a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre. Brush the edges with water and press the edges together, pleating as you go … to make them look as flash as a rat with gold teeth. Because, obvi.

When they’re all done, bring a large pot with about 1-inch of water to the boil and steam the pierogis for about ten minutes, give or take, or until they’re cooked through.

Devour, greedily, with sour cream or some hot sauce.

 

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Bento Driebergen Box

Burgers, Main, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, 18 strangers were stranded in Fiji before Katrina, Simone and Patrick were sent packing before the triple H’s were split into three new tribes. After the little switch, Alan, Roark and Ali found themselves on the wrong side of the numbers. At the merge, sweet Jessica found herself becoming the final pre-juror before Desi, Cole, JP, Joe, Lauren, Ashley, Mike and Devon found their way to the jury, and they vote Ryan and Chrissy as the runner-ups of the season.

Ben got an absolute roasting from the jury when they spoke about how he outwitted and outplayed the rest, seemingly giving up after being the underdog for the last few weeks of the game.

When it came time for Ben to wrap up his game, he spoke about being involved in booting each member of the jury as they were hurdles to his victory. That of course puzzled everyone, as Mike was booted thanks to Devon throwing a vote as insurance, Ashley would have been booted no matter how Ben voted. Mike called bullshit and asked him why he should win, rather than why he booted them. Joe then used the d-word – disappointed – as he said that for someone that had their back against the wall since day one, he seems to have given up. He then spoke about overcoming PTSD and broke down, earning back some respect from the jury … enough to secure five votes and hand him the title of Sole Survivor.

While you could argue about the ease with which Ben found idols and then, when they were no longer valid, was saved by a new last-minute twist, he evidently did enough to convince the jury that he was the most deserving player. Plus – his ability to fool everyone when playing the double agent was amazing and truly changed the course of the game.

That alone is worthy of a Bento Driebergen Box.

 

 

First up, yes, I am aware that this is not served in a bento box but the principles remain the same … so just stay quiet ok? In any event, these babies are delicious so use your imagine if you’re concerned about it. I mean, how do you go past bacon, beef, sweet potato fries and some delightful aioli – and dare I say it, all the fixin’s – in any combination you want.

Congratulations on a game well played Ben and to everyone at home, enjoy!

 

 

Bento Driebergen Box
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g beef mince
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices streaky bacon
1 onion, roughly diced
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 slices high-melt American cheese, cut into quarters
1 tomato, thinly slice
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
4-8 pickles, sliced
4-8 mini Kirsten Bunst, split open
Coolaioli, to serve

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place the sweet potato on a lined baking sheet and toss through some extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for twenty minutes or so, or until crisp and golden.

Combine the mince in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper until well combined. Form into 16 balls and flatten to form small patties. Place on a lined baking sheet with the bacon and cook them all together for fifteen minutes, or until the mini-patties are just cooked through.

Heat a lug olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the onion over medium heat, or until soft and sweet. Add the sugar and muscovado, and caramelise for about five minutes. Remove from heat.

Now to serve you could use an actual bento box to help the name of the recipe make sense … but where is the fun in that? So scatter everything into tiny mounds on a plate, assembling as you see fit as you eat with your hands … like a toddler. One man’s bento is another man’s deconstructed slider. Either way, they’re good for devouring.

 

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.