A Sterling K. Hot Brown waiting to be demolished by Sterling K. Brown himself

Sterling K. Hot Brown

Main, Snack, Street Food

You know how when Randall Pearson is being all dreamy, kind and loving, rather than dismissing Beth and her feelings? Well that is what my dear friend Sterling is like, only better.

I greeted him at the airport, and TBH, it was like a moment out of a rom com. He dropped his bags, ran towards me and lifted me up into the biggest, warmest hug known to man. While I weightlessly spun around the room, I wondered if this was the moment we would fall in love.

He then let me go, patted me on the back and I remembered that we were both happily married, and agreed many years ago, never to let our palpable chemistry get in the way of our beautiful friendship.

We got back to my house where I immediately pummeled him … with questions about This Is Us’ upcoming season, including but not limited to, am I the other parent of Kevin’s child once he comes out and I become his love interest, will Milo show skin like in the pilot and will the Pearsons become less self-absorbed?

He was more non-committal than I liked on the first two, I offended him on the last one, so we agreed to disagree and focus on our beautiful friendship. And smashing a pair of rich, tasty Sterling K. Hot Browns.

 

Sterling K. Brown pensively eating a Sterling K. Hot Brown, pondering our beautiful friendship.

 

While I only recently learned of the majestic hot brown, as soon as it was in my mouth, I knew it had to be dedicated to my lovely Sterl. Warm and comforting, with a big meaty punch (of heart, in his case), there is nothing I want in my mouth more than this. At a meal time.

Enjoy!

 

Sterling K. Brown pensively eating a Sterling K. Hot Brown, pondering our beautiful friendship.

 

Sterling K. Hot Brown
Serves: 2.

Ingredients
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
½ cup milk
1 cup vintage cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, fried until crispy
1 tomato, sliced
4 slices sourdough, toasted
8 thin slices turkey
chives, sliced, to garnish

Method
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, Once foamy, add the flour and cook for a minute or so, or until a glorious roux has formed. Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking, before returning to the heat to bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, still stirring, for five minutes, or until thickened. Add half of each cheese, the nutmeg, hot sauce and a good whack of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.

To assemble, place the bread on a lined baking sheet and arrange the turkey and tomato on top. Spread sauce on top of each and finish with the remaining cheeses. Transfer to a grill and cook on medium for a couple of minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Transfer the sandwiches to a plate, top with bacon and chives and then, finally, devour.

 

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Sterling K. Brown looking beautiful in This Is Us.

I wish this was just us

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Do I have good news for you? Not only have I managed to stick around for a second consecutive week, my dear friend Sterling K. Brown is also making himself available for a quick pre-This Is Us season 4 commencement date.

While most people met and instantly fell in love with Sterl in American Crime Story, I’ve known and loved him since his appearance in the little watched Tarzan series in the early noughts.

I was dating Travis Fimmel at the time – and also part of Lucy Lawless’ entourage – but I was completely blown away by Sterl’s talent. And as is oft the case, I vowed to make him a star.

Given he ending up starring as the son of my dear friends Milo and Mandy, I think you can tell that I was successful. What do I make for my hot, hot friend?

Image source: This Is Us / NBC.

 

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Lena Wafers

Baking, Dessert, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: The Gold Wing, Sweets

It is the second last day of this year’s Emmy Gold celebration The Gold Wing, can you believe? And something something segue Gaz, Marg, Ava, Rami and Rhea something, I am thrilled to catch-up with my dear friend and semi-freshly minted Emmy winner Lena Waithe.

Given she won her Emmy with my (problematic) friend Aziz for the beautiful Thanksgiving episode of Master of None, it should come as no surprise that he is the reason we became friends.

I was visiting the set during season 1 and Lena and I got to talking about our coming out experiences, and Aziz suggested that they write it into the second season. So you’re welcome, because that episode was perfection and he and Lena truly deserved that Emmy and I can’t even begrudge them for not including me in the writing process.

Since her victory, Len’s career has absolutely exploded and while it means we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, I’m so proud of her. And it makes our fleeting dates even more special. As a fellow writer, I knew that she would be best placed to go through the writing categories with me. Obviously she agreed that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s auteur Amy Sherman-Palladino would snag it for Comedy. Continuing our agreeance, we both backed Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Killing Eve, Steve Martin and Martin Short for their Netflix special and William Bridges and Charlie Brooker will snag it for USS Callister.

With the formalities out of the way, we toasted her success and got to work demolishing a big batch of Lena Wafers.

 

 

Not your childhood’s technicolour crosshatched biscuits, these wafers may not look as perfect but damn they are delicious. Light, sweet and delightfully crisp, they are the only thing worthy of honouring my girl Lena.

Enjoy!

 

 

Lena Wafers
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g raw caster sugar
1 egg, whisked
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
200g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of kosher salt

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Still going, add the egg, vanilla and milk and continue beating until just combined.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl before folding through the wet ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge for half an hour.

When you’re ready to bake, place teaspoon sized bowls on lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space for spread. Flatten each ball to form a thin disc and transfer to the oven to bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once set, devour.

 

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Alan Thicke Cut Marmalade

Condiment, Snack

It has been a very long week and as is often the case, that meant I had a few wines … which in turn meant I got feeling wistful for the days of old. And when I think about the good old days, I remember my dearly departed friends like Alan.

As you know, the documentation of my celebrity catch-ups potentially killed off some of Hollywood’s biggest heavyweights in the last year, though thankfully Alan was not my fault.

Despite not killing Al, we didn’t get to catch-up before he died last year and I wasn’t able to go to the funeral due to my feud with Robin … and the whole banned from the U.S. by Trump thing. Given that, my wistful feelings lead to getting out the time machine and having some closure with my boy.

I first met Alan on the set of Growing Pains – I’m actually the one that got Leo the job – when I was working as a bodyguard for Tracey Gold who I met on the set of CHiPs. Given my penchant for fine older gents, Al and became fast friends and he grew to become a Hollywood father figure to me.

Given that his death was quite surprising, I only went back six months because there wasn’t much risk of spoiling anything. While he was a bit confused by my sporadic tears, he completely bought my excuse of feeling hurt by Kirk Cameron being a complete dick.

I didn’t want to run the risk of letting any information slip, so when he called our catch-up to a close and asked me to play hockey with him and his son in a few weeks, I wiped a solitary tear and made him promise to finish off his Alan Thicke Cut Marmalade as quickly as possible.

 

 

Full disclosure, I absolutely hate, hate, HATE marmalade, but it is Alan’s favourite … and it goes well in things (like glazing a ham or something). Plus, this one is so fresh and delicious that it is hard to hate, even when it isn’t your jam.

Because it is marmalade.

Enjoy!

 

 

Alan Thicke-Cut Marmalade
Makes: 2-3 cups.

Ingredients
1kg oranges
1 lemon
cinnamon quill
1kg muscovado sugar
1kg raw caster sugar

Method
Juice the oranges and lemon, and pour through a sieve into a large pot.

Cut the peel into chunks and add to the pot with the cinnamon – despite this being thick-cut marmalade, I erred on the side of caution and went thinner. Add two litres of water and bring to the boil over high heat, before reducing to a simmer for a couple of hours.

Add the sugar and stir to combine. Bring back up to a rapid boil and cook until thickened and set (this is when it is around 100°C), though I don’t mind it a bit thinner.

Once done, allow to rest for twenty minutes or so before removing the cinnamon quill and transferring to sterilised jars.

Or devouring.

 

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Mandy S’mores

A decade of saying so, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

Can you believe we have made it to the end of our decade of saying so celebrations? I know that my enthusiasm for the masterpiece will help foster a cult-like love for the film and therefore, this won’t be the single last instance of someone celebrating the classic … but can you believe this beautiful soiree is over?

Tragic.

Almost as tragic as every episode of my dear friend Mandy Moore’s new show, who coincidentally is the final piece of the celebratory puzzle.

Mand is one of my top ten best friends now (and second favourite Mandy, behind Patinkin), but our relationship got off to an extremely rocky start due to our status as rival pop divas. While it never got as bad as things between Ashlee Simpson and I – you know I sabotaged her SNL appearance – she did steal two songs that I had rejected and made them hits AND had a song about pockets against Alanis and my will, meaning it was quite frosty between us.

Thankfully we connected on the set of The Princess Diaries over a mutual hate of my completely insufferable frenemy Anne Hathaway. I’ve said it a thousand times, mutual hate really unites people – I mean, just look at Trump uniting communities against him.

Anyway, Mandy has finally found herself a on successful TV show – which bagged her a Golden Globe nomination to boot – so has been super hard to pin down for a catch up but when I told her it was to celebrate the gem that is Because I Said So, she agreed to take a brief production hiatus on This Is Us and head on over to split some Many S’mores with me.

 

mandy-smores-1

 

Being Australian, I didn’t grow up knowing the wonder of devouring a s’more. Deep down I think I always knew that life was missing something and that that something was a s’more, but it wasn’t until I had a deconstructed one for dessert at Saxon + Parole that I truly understood how futile my life had been until that point.

Knowing Mands would love me to make her a camping from s’more experience – YAS YAS YAS smoking liquid – I popped in the time machine and made some to accompany our Hathahate.

And she loved them, obviously – enjoy!

 

mandy-smores-2

 

Mandy S’mores
Makes: 6.

Ingredients
12 Lauren Graham Crackers
Hickory smoke essence, to taste
150g mini marshmallows
3 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars

Method
Preheat a grill (aka a broiler) on medium heat.

Lay six crackers on a lined baking sheet.

Brush with smoking essence.

Top with mini ‘mallows.

Place under the grill until golden and gooey.

Top each with half a chocolate bar and a remaining biscuit.

Devour.

 

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AJ PecLean Pie

Backstreet's back give thanks!, Dessert, Pie, Sweets

When it comes to all-round awesomeness, it is safe to say we have left the best of the BSBs until last. AJ McLean has achieved so many things in his life that we desire, it is hard to be thankful for AJ’s success and not a tad envious.

Ben and I met AJ in the typical fashion – rehab. He was in for a stint for alcohol addiction after bandmate Kevs organised an intervention. We were in there for psychiatric assistance after trying to bump off Jonathan Lipnicki on the premise he had a punchable face.

While we bonded through finger painting and group bingo, AJ shared the tale of his incredible life. Not only had he lived close to Walt Disney World, he had also appeared on the legendary Nickelodeon classics GUTS and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Swoon.

AJ, thanks for putting our somewhat mediocre lives into perspective. It’s always good to remember that if you haven’t made it on GUTS (or better yet, legends of the hidden temple) you are an unlovable loser who doesn’t deserve happiness.

 

IMG_5588

 

Today we give thanks for the Gods that are the Backstreet Boys! And for a valid reason to eat delicious, delicious AJ PecLean Pie.

 

IMG_5594

 

AJ PecLean Pie
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
1 9″ deep dish pie shell
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups golden syrup
⅓ cup melted salted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups pecans

Method
Preheat oven  to 180C. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and golden syrup and gently boil for approximately 3 minutes.

While syrup and sugar is cooking, break eggs into bowl of stand mixer and very gently beat until yolks and whites are combined.

Once syrup mixture is ready, set stand mixer with eggs on lowest mixing speed. Gently pour in syrup while eggs are mixing, allowing them to temper. Do not let mixture froth up.

Once syrup and eggs are combined, stir in melted butter, vanilla and pecans. Pour filling into prepared pie shell and bake for 40-45 minutes or until just set. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until cool. Serve with whipped cream and no regrets.

 

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Brined Littrell Turkey

Backstreet's back give thanks!, Main

While our relationship with his cousin Kevs started off strained, there has never been anything but love between us and Brian. That probably had something to do with the fact we were wooing him to bring Kevs down.

Despite our nefarious plot to use Brian as our pawn, the sweet, delightful guy won us over and helped us heal our issues with Kevin and our broken dreams.

Brian has always had to struggle what with his heart defect and vocal cord dysphonia, yet he has always handled himself with such grace and kindness. Being our polar opposite, we find that intriguing and exciting and have endeavoured to stay close ever since.

Don’t tell him, but we secretly tried to bring down Nick after he bullied him due to his vocal cord issues – no one messes with our sweet, delicate angel. (We made up though obviously, we had to find someone to help us bring Bindi down).

Our friendship with Brian, and I don’t think I am overstating this, has been the most nourishing, fulfilling and generous (non-sexual) relationship in our lives which made our thanksgiving menu planning a breeze.

I mean, what is more nourishing and fulfilling than a Brined Littrell Turkey?

 

Brined Littrell Turkey_1

 

While turkey and the rest of its friends in the poultry family have a nasty habit of going dry, a perfectly brined bird maintains the moistness of the meat and infuses it with a flavour you can’t resist.

Enjoy!

 

Brined Littrell Turkey_2

 

Brined Littrell Turkey
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
4 cups water
¾ cup maldon salt
½ cup honey
4 cups salt-reduced chicken stock
1 tbsp peppercorns
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, to brine
fresh turkey, size 50, neck and giblets removed for the gravy (discard liver)
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 fuji apple, quartered
1 bulb garlic, halved
4 sprigs rosemary, for baking
⅓ cup olive oil

Method
The day before you plan to eat, make the brine by bringing the water, salt, honey, stock, peppercorns and rosemary to the boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve salt. Cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, place brine mixture in a large clean bucket or pot and add 4 litres of iced water. Place turkey in the liquid, breast side down to avoid tit-soup, cover and refrigerate overnight, ensuring the turkey is fully submerged. You may need to add more cold water.

To roast the turkey, preheat oven to 160C.

Remove turkey from brine (discard the liquid, definitely don’t drink it) and rinse thoroughly, inside and out, with cool water and dry thoroughly. Season the turkey cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with onion, apple, garlic and rosemary. Place on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan, tucking the wings back. Rub the turkey with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover the breast portion with foil and place on the lowest rack in oven (aka the only one that will allow it to fit) and roast for two hours.

Remove the foil and increase the heat up to 220C and roast for a further 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and insert a thermometer between the breast and thigh (avoiding bones), if it is 75C it is ready.

Remove turkey from the pan, place on a large platter and tent with foil to rest for 20 minutes. Carve, devour, etc.

 

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Howie Doriesling Gravy

Backstreet's back give thanks!, Condiment, Dip, Side

Oh em gee – where do I start telling you about our friendship with Howie D? While most people spent the 90s jonesing for our rehab-roomie Nicky Carts, I spent my time lusting after the sexiest Puerto Rican this side of EPCOT.

Our relationship started like a passionate, gender-flipped version of West Side Story until Howie discovered I wasn’t a woman and gently explained that he didn’t reciprocate my love.

After a brief period apart, we were reunited by Annelie (who was more successful in bedding him) and our close bond was restored – fun fact, As Long As You Love Me is about my friendship with Howie.

Lacking any meaning in his life after his break-up with Annelie, we helped Howie back on the right path (not stuff) and introduced him to some of our friends and ta-dah, that is how Backstreet Boys were formed.

As a reminder, you really should be thankful for our work in building a boy band!

While Howie and my love fizzled out, nothing could come between us and our passionate love of guzzling sweet, salty, creamy liquid … like our Howie Doriesling Gravy.

 

Howie Doriesling Gravy_1

 

While riesling is literally the worst wine excluding moscato, it works in the gravy by cutting through the salty pan juices and bone broth. It is so good, you’ll even consider having it with meat rather than in a glass.

Enjoy!

 

Howie Doriesling Gravy_2

 

Howie Doriesling Gravy
Makes: 2-3 cups.

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
turkey neck and giblets (from the turkey we are yet to cook)
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Riesling
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 stems rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped

Method
Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry the turkey neck and giblets with the onions and carrots until lightly browned. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and refrigerate until ready to use.

While the turkey (which we are about to make) rests, empty the pan drippings into a measuring cup and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and skim off the fat.

Use the riesling to deglaze the roasting pan over medium heat. Add in both the giblet stock and pan drippings and bring to a simmer. Once bubbling as vigorously as a Backstreet concert, whisk in the butter and the flour. Continue stirring until the gravy is thickened and remove from heat.

Stir in chopped herbs and add salt and pepper to taste. Drink … or serve with turkey.

About that …

 

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Kevin SwissChardson

Backstreet's back give thanks!, Side

Second only to our love of reality TV is our love of all things Disney. It is a little known secret that Ben and I actually first met Kevin Richardson working at Disney World.

You see, Kevin was a character actor at the esteemed Walt Disney World (before they banned facial hair). And he was not just any character, he was Aladdin AND also appeared as several of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As you would know, Ben and I had previously failed to secure roles in the Lifetime straight to TV Turtles movie, with our nemesis Woo Hwang stealing the roles from under our noses.

In order to secure the coveted character parts, I was working on a machine that would ensure Kevin met a somewhat un-glamorous end. Meanwhile, Ben was moonlighting as the Little Mermaid in an attempt to get closer to Kevin and lure him into our creepy, dark and terrifying contraption. Kevin eventually took the bait, but instead of smashing his beautiful face into a million pieces he had a fantastic time. Yes – the ride now known as space mountain began as a covert mission to nix Kevsy Richardson.

Anyways, once Kevsy had experienced the thrill of space mountain, he was set on a path of enlightment and purpose. He was recruited into the Backstreet Boys shortly thereafter.

 

IMG_5570

 

For Thanksgiving, we wanted to transport Kevs back to his days as a caped green crusader. While it isn’t a pepperoni pizza, the Kevin SwissChardson is a verdant tribute to our mutual love of TMNT.

 

IMG_5573

 

Kevin SwissChardson
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 large bunch swiss chard
2 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons slivered almonds

Method
Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the stems of the chard and discard

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add butter. Once melted, add the chard and gently saute until just wilted and tender.

Mix through almonds and serve.

 

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Nick Ciabatta Stuffing

Backstreet's back give thanks!, Side

While we have all had countless stints in rehab, we surprisingly didn’t meet our dear friend, 90s teen heart-throb Nick Carter, while receiving treatment.

It was 1990 and we were all on the set of Edward Scissorhands – I was coaching Winona to shoplift and Annelie, at the time, was Vincent Price’s lover when a young Nick Carter appeared on the set as an extra.

While Annelie and I initially felt superior to the young extra, a chance meeting while waiting for our mutual dealer on the studio backlot bonded us for life and we became inseparable.

Over the coming months, we helped foster young Nicky’s talent and encouraged him to start a boyband to rival our frenemies NKOTB (I had a messy break-up with Jonathan). I am not overstating it when I say that we are the reason for the Backstreet Boys. You’re welcome.

Nicky has had many ups and downs over the years, none lower than when he lost Hizza Duff as a future sister-in-law, but we have always stayed close to him and offered him questionable guidance, love and support.

As a finalist in Dancing with the Stars, Nick was only able to stay and celebrate Thanksgiving with us for a short time but knew that the catch-up could prove handy in defeating our soul-less teen compatriate Bindi-Sue.

Thankfully our Nick Ciabatta Stuffing was a dream to whip up – hopefully it is enough to bring Bindi (by name and nature) down.

 

Nick Ciabatta Stuffing_1

 

While Christmas is the time most people want to whip out their (chest)nuts for a roasting, there is nothing better than this rich, creamy stuffing thanks to those beautiful nuts.

So give thanks, for Nick being a babe and beautiful nuts – enjoy!

 

Nick Ciabatta Stuffing_2

 

Nick Ciabatta Stuffing
Serves: 6

Ingredients
85g butter
230g pancetta, cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 large onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
455g portabello mushrooms, finely diced
salt and black pepper, to taste
420g roasted, peeled chestnuts, coarsely chopped
⅔ cup parmesan cheese, grated
455g day old ciabatta bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 cup chicken stock, plus more if needed
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Melt 30g of butter in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan and add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and mushrooms. Seasoning to taste. Sauté until the onions are soft, sweet and tender.

In a large bowl, add the sautéed vegetables, chopped chestnuts, parmesan and bread. Pour in the stock to moisten everything before adding the cooked pancetta and eggs. Season the stuffing to taste and add the parsley. Stir to completely combine all the ingredients.

Pour all of the stuffing in a large baking dish and bake until the top is golden and crisp, about 30 minutes.

 

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+.