Blondies

Baking, Dessert, Sweets

I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to see out such a triumphant week. I mean, my ex-turned-friend became an Oscar winner, Shonee slayed and was then saved and the OG version of Survivor debuted its all winners season. That is a lot to take in; overwhelming, exhilarating and inappropriately erotic, so it was wonderful to put icing on the cake in the form of my dear friends Blondie.

I first met Blondie in the ‘70s. They were getting there start at CBGBs – fun fact, both Bs stand for me; Ben and bareback. While they were rocking the stage, I was making my cash in the bathrooms, alleyways and near the dumpster, but it never deterred Debs, Chris and the boys for reaching out and making friends with me.

Was it a friendship based on pity, with them buying me dinner after their set? Sure. But I have zero dignity, and gladly played into their desire to help me. And thankfully it developed into a deep, loving, life long friendship.

We haven’t had the chance to catch-up as one big group lately, so it meant so much to me the Debbie tee-d up all our schedules to facilitate and reunite us as one big happy family.

As soon as they arrived at my door, I pulled them in for a big hug and broke into tears, overwhelmed by how much their love means to me. After crying, we turned things around with a lot of love and light, and a big ol’ batch of our – now weedless – Blondies.

 

 

Sweet and gooey, there is nothing better than anything in the brownie/blondie family. I mean, who doesn’t love eating cake batter? These puppies are as close as you can get without having to fear e-coli. Add in the caramelly goodness of white chocolate and the tart, tang of raspberries and I am well and truly in heaven.

Enjoy!

 

 

Blondies
Serves: 5-7 of the dearest friends, depending on the line-up.

Ingredients
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup muscovado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ½ cups plain flour
150g white chocolate, roughly chopped
100g raspberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 160C.

Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until just combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk in the vanilla. Leave to cool slightly.

Whisk in the eggs and flour until just combined before folding in the white chocolate and raspberry.

Pour the batter into a lined square baking tin and transfer to the oven to back for 30 minutes, or until golden and set around the edge and the centre is just baked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

As soon as they are cold, slice, serve and devour. Greedily.

 

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Macatedamia Blanc-choc Cookie

Baking, Dessert, Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XCII: Gold Basketball, Sweets

Hollywood’s night of nights is tomorrow and as such, this year’s Oscar Gold celebration – Gold Basketball – must come to an end. After a rollercoaster week checking in with Quentin, Nat, Kobe, Di and Bret, I thought I would reach out with my dearest of dear friends, Cate Blanchett.

Because why not wrap up this year’s Oscar Gold with the woman that uttered the most famous line on Australian TV, “a packet of Tim Tams that never run out.”


Is that awkwardly shoehorned in? Sure. But isn’t it great to know that Australia’s Meryl Streep start in the best Australian commercial of the ‘90s. That I still quote every time I walk down the biscuit aisle?

Well anyway, fun fact, it isn’t just my favourite commercial. It is also my favourite co-starring moment with the iconic Ms Blanchett. Yes, I am the famed genie. Which is why I also quote the ad every time I am in the biscuit aisle, desperate to get somebody to recognise me.

Anyway, Cate was thrilled to catch-up and to finally make her debut on this patch of cyberspace. I mean, can you believe she described it as more meaningful than her turn in The Present. Aka her Broadway debut? What an angel!

Despite not being able to translate her Globes nod into an Oscar one, Cate was super keen to run the odds with me. She kicked things off by saying she is obviously backing How to Train Your Dragon 3 for Best Animated Feature and honestly, I stared blankly at her for a full ten  minutes before I realised that a) she must be in it and b) there must be two earlier ones in this alleged series.

Thankfully I laughed her off and told her that as the jewel in my crown, she had the top tier awards. And I don’t let people judge themselves. Though that last one was far less confidently, on account of not being sure whether she was actually in the movie or just a Dragon nut.

With the awkwardness out of the way, we agreed that Little Women will take out Best Costume Design, Bombshell will run away with Best Makeup and Hairstyling, 1917 is as good as any other for Best Cinematography and we find it hard to bet against Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for Production Design.

Then things got slightly more combative, as Cate back Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress while I kept screaming that Margot can and will return the statuette to Australian hands for Bombshell. After she calmed me down, she agreed that our mutual friend Brad will snatch Best Supporting Actor and that Parasite should win Best Picture, but is unlikely to defeat 1917. Which is sad. I mean, Little Women should get it if they don’t give it to Parasite.

With the odds out of the way for another year, we sat back, she made us a couple of cuppas and then, since packets of Tim Tams do always run out, we smashed a Macatedamia Blanc-choc Cookie or two. 

 

 

Almost as quintessentially Australian as a Timmy, a white chocolate and macadamia cookie is arguably better than our chocolate treasure. Big chunks of sweet white chocolate work with the creamy crunch of the macadamia, to form the greatest flavour combination. And perfect afternoon snack.

Enjoy!

 

 

Macatedamia Blanc-choc Cookie
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
125g butter, at room temperature
¾ cup muscovado sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
250g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until thick and creamy. Not juicy, despite what Roxxxy would have you believe. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat for a further minute, or until it just comes together.

Remove from the mixer and fold through the flour and baking powder. Again, when just together, fold through the chocolate and macadamias.

Using an ice cream scoop, dollop a 2 tablespoon blob of batter on a lined baking sheet, leaving an inch perimeter around. Repeat, going onto multiple sheets if needed, until the batter is gone.

Transfer to the oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until set, puffed, golden and crisp. I know it feels like a lot of things to oversee, but you’ll be right, I promise.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Or devouring immediately while you work up the courage to ask for a plus one to the Oscars, ashamed that you haven’t won yet.

 

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Macaron Howard

Baking, Dessert, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: Golden Family, Snack, Sweets

The Emmys are but a day away and as such, Emmy Gold: Golden Family is coming to an end to allow enough time for me to get ready and sneak in to the auditorium. While it is always tragic to know that our awards season celebrations are coming to an end, having been able to spend time with Chris, Riz, Tat, Shelley and Matt are truly a gift.

And finishing with TV icon and multi-hyphenate Ron Howard is just icing on the bloody cake.

I first met Ron way back when we were starting out with our careers on the set of The Andy Griffith Show. While I was working as Andy Giffith’s stunt double, I was only a young lad – did I mention I suffer from Benjamin button disease? – so little Ronnie and I became the fastest of friends.

And that friendship spanned decades until Apollo 13, when my infamous feud with Tam Honks commenced. While I was cast out of his life for a few years – evil Tam’s doing, obvi – we were brought back together by Jess when Arrested Development was getting up. Thankfully, our friendship hasn’t had a set back since.

Given his status as a powerhouse actor, writer, director, model, I decided to run through the oft forgotten about critical categories of writing and directing. For Limited Series writing, I am backing When They See Us but wouldn’t be shocked to see Escape at Dannemora. Variety we both see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver taking it out again. Drama better go to anything but Game of Thrones with me thinking The Handmaid’s Tale may continue it’s hanging episode streak of wins while Ron thinks Killing Eve will come out victorious. Comedy is where we really struggled. It is always hard to bet against Veep, though Fleabag’s second season was near perfect … and I can see Russian Doll picking up a trophy here.

When it comes to Directing, we see The Late Show with Stephen Colbert taking it out given live shows are truly a feat. I think that this once again comes down to Escape at Dannemora and When They See Us, with Ron backing Ben Stiller for the former, while I think whoever doesn’t win writing will grab this and shut out Chernobyl. I hope The Handmaid’s Tale takes it for Drama, but wouldn’t be shocked to see Adam McKay snag it for Succession, just for being Adam McKay. While Bill Hader is universally beloved, I don’t see him winning Comedy directing given he is up against Daniel Palladino for the majestic Catskills episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which should not be beaten.

With that, I thanked Ron for finally agreeing to appear on this patch of cyberspace and his many years of friendship, handed over a plate of Macaron Howard as I headed out to the awards.

 

 

There is nothing better than a sweet, melt in your mouth macaron. Delicate and delicious, this baby packs a nice blueberry punch that truly fills you with joy.

Enjoy!

 

 

Macaron Howard
Serves: 2 dear friends.

Ingredients
75g almond meal
115g icing sugar
2 egg whites, at room temperature
55g raw caster sugar
a few drops blue food colouring
1 cup freeze-dried blueberries, finely crushed
60g butter, softened
1 ⅓ cup icing sugar
1 ½ tbsp double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat oven to 160C.

Combine the almond meal and icing sugar in a bowl. Meanwhile place the egg whites and raw caster sugar in a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add the food colouring and ¼ cup crushed blueberries and whisk until just combined. Fold through the dry mixture and transfer to a piping bag.

Line two baking sheets and pipe little macarons across the pans until the mixture is gone. Tap each on the bench a couple of times before transferring to the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until puffed, crisp and glorious. Remove to rest for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

While they’re getting hella chill, combine the remaining blueberry with the cup-measure of icing sugar. Meanwhile cream the butter on medium for five minutes, or until pale and fluffy before slowly adding the sugar and blueberry mix in two batches. Once just combined, add the cream and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.

Dollop the icing on the exposed side of a biscuit and sandwich with another. Repeat the process until done.

Devour, regally. Like TV royalty.

 

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Matthew Reeses Pieces

Dessert, Emmy Gold, Emmy Gold: Golden Family, Snack, Sweets

With my dates with Christina, Riz, Tat and Shelley done and dusted, it means that the end of Emmy Gold: Golden Family is almost upon us. And while I know that is something truly tragic for you all, be grateful that you still have these last two dates, one of which is with the iconic Matthew Rhys.

I’ve known Matt for 20 years now, after meeting on the set of Titus. I was having a torrid affair with Alan Cumming at the time, and given the healthy amount of nudity I fast became a fan of his … work.

While we were never intimate ourselves, Matt has always been a strong ally and when he was cast as Kevin Walker he got me a job on Brothers & Sisters as an intimacy coach, so that his relationships would be sincere. What a doll!

Since he has been busy working with my sworn enemy Tam Honks, we haven’t seen each other recently but I thought it was appropriate to bury the hatchet this Emmy season as he is a current reigning champ. And obviously he was thrilled, knowing how painful our feud had been on Keri.

Given it was his category, we focused on Drama with both agreeing that my dear Pete Dink will once again snatch Outstanding Supporting Actor, despite Nikolaj really deserving to get some love too. If Billy Porter doesn’t succeed him in Outstanding Lead Actor, we’ve agreed to riot and think that Killing Eve should take out Outstanding Drama since the final season of Game of Thrones doesn’t actually deserve it.

With that we held each other tight as he apologised for working with Tam and assured me that he tried really hard not to befriend him. While that may seem inadequate, I was feeling zen – and hoping to score his plus one – so accepting the apology and smashed a bowl of Matthew Reeses Pieces.

 

 

Crunchy on the outside, smooth and nutty on the inside, these little copycat Reese’s are bloody delightful. Definitely copycat. Promise.

Enjoy!

 

 

Matthew Reeses Pieces
Serves: 2 dear friends.

Ingredients
3 ½ cups raw caster sugar
2 cups muscovado sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1⁄4  tesp salt
1⁄2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp liquid glucose
a few drops orange, yellow and brown food colouring

Method
Combine 2 cups caster sugar, the muscovado sugar, milk, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring infrequently until it reaches 115C. Remove from the heat, add the peanut butter and leave to rest. Not stirring at all.

When the thermometer reads 45C add the vanilla and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture is glossy.

Combine the remaining sugar with ½ a cup of water in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Crank to high and once boiling, quickly stir through the glucose and continue to cook until it reaches 115C. Remove from heat and leave to stand until it is no longer bubbly.

Pour the syrup into a large wet platter and cool until you can bear to touch it. Transfer to a bowl and knead with a wooden spoon, turning it back and forward until it is white and opaque. You can transfer to a bench and continue kneading by hand if that is easier until it is smooth. Form it into a ball and cover with a wet – but wrung – cloth and leave to cure for an hour or so.

Remove the cloth, split it into three and knead each with a few drops of food colouring to give each an orange, brown and yellow.

To assemble, melt the fondant one colour at a time and take a small piece of peanut penuche and dip into the liquid. Transfer to a lined baking sheet to dry, flipping after a few minutes. Repeat the process until you’ve got a bag of candies. That you definitely didn’t just buy.

 

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Simon Black and White Cookie

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders (2019), Baking, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor the Champions continued to extend their lead after getting Daisy to burn yet another idol while Zaddy John was sent to join my harem in the Jury Villa. Jonathan then dropped a bomb at the next tribal council and announced that the next two people voted out would be sent to Exile Island before battling each other for the chance to return to the game, with that Daisy was then voted out to spend a miserable night in the rain. The next day Abbey started to crave a big move for her resume and after Pia secured immunity, joined Harry, Baden and Luke to blindside Simon from the game. Well, temporarily, as he destroyed Daisy in the challenge and sent her to Jury Villa and rejoined the game.

The tribe returned to camp with the same final seven as the day before, with Abbey awkwardly hugging Simon and the silent King finding his voice, talking to us about his rage at being voted out. Instead of finding allies, he decided that an idol would be his best shot so went searching, digging up much of the island and leading to – probably – the deforestation of 90% of Fiji.

The next day Abbey was feeling nervous about her place in the game, knowing Simon would be upset with her and concerned that JaQueen and Pia won’t ever forgive her. Which is a fair judgement, given Pia and JaQueen were seething about her lies and bitching about her by the shore.

Jonathan arrived for the latest immunity challenge where they would each have to balance a platform using a rope and move back and forth up the length of the course collecting letters to spell immunity on said platform. While everyone raced out to start, Baden stayed behind to reorder his blocks. That didn’t seem to slow him down however as he joined Pia, Luke and Abbey at the front of the pack, while poor Simon sat in last. The four continued to power ahead, with Abbey and Luke firmly fighting for first while their platforms slowly swayed. Pia was the first to drop her stack, followed by Baden who was sympathetic to Pia’s loss. Abbey dropped her stack on the last block, allowing Luke to place his last block and slowly make his way back to the start to secure immunity, with Simon now breathing down his neck and Abbey cheering him on. Thankfully he held firm, maintained his stack and snatched immunity, while JaQueen admitted that she was just hoping to pull a Bradbury.

Back at camp Simon recommenced digging up the entire island while Abbey was just thrilled that anyone but Simon took out immunity. She checked in with Harry, Baden and Luke to lock in their latest vote for Simon to guarantee he doesn’t go on an immunity run. Luke and Abbey went for a private chat while Pia and JaQueen sat nearby and saltily speculated what the new duo could be up to. Sick of speculating, they approached them leaving Luke to straight up ask them to join them in getting rid of Simon. Again.

While they sat there strategising JaQueen started to realise that Abbey was the bigger threat and as such, she and Pia went hunting for numbers. JaQueen approached Simon who quickly fell in line, while Pia once again used her acting skills to improvise and pulled Harry aside with JaQueen and played into his desire to make a big, bold move. They outlined that while none of them can win against Luke he is immune and as such, taking out Abbey would be the next biggest move to impress the jury. While Harry agreed that getting rid of Abbey is a logical choice, he was lucky enough to have countless options and just needed to decide whether teaming up with JaQueen and Pia was in his best interests.

At tribal council Janine spoke about the feeling of deja vu heading into tonight’s tribal council, while Abbey tried to downplay the fact that nothing has changed since the previous vote. Despite the fact her flip was outed and her two closest allies aren’t on board with her anymore. She then pushed for everyone to band together and get rid of Simon again, which led Simon to finding his voice and congratulating Luke, Harry, Baden and Abbey for outwitting him. JaQueen admitted that she too felt blindsided and was paranoid that she would be next, leaving Abbey to assure them that she would have said something if it really would have impacted them.

Harry spoke about the uncertainty of moves at tribal council leading to major, continued change while Pia hoped the flip didn’t leave her on the outs. Simon returned to talk the only thing he has left, the fact that he can be a loyal number, while Harry spoke about everyone’s paths to the end intersecting in different ways. Pia agreed with him and mentioned that that means things will shift a lot more frequently, before JaQueen and Abbey mentioned that they would be voting with their head tonight and honestly I have no idea what it happening.

With that the tribe voted and for the second time in a row, silent Simon was booted from the game. The reason Simon barely appeared in any episodes this season is because all of his confessionals were him talking about how excited he was to get booted, see his dear fellow Brisbanite – not a good episode for Queenslanders, no? – and smash some Simon Black and White Cookies together.

 

 

These classic New York biscuits are a favourite of my husband, who first got Simon to try one when we were travelling to NYC together. Soft and fluffy, almost cake like biscuits, smothered in a thick choc v. sugar crust, they truly are a magical creation. Like Simon, which you would know if he or Sam actually appeared this season.

Enjoy!

 

 

Simon Black and White Cookie
Serves: 6-12.

Ingredients
225g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter plus 2 tsp for the icing, at room temperature
½ cup raw caster sugar
1 egg
2 cups icing sugar mixture
30g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method
Combine the flour, baking powder and a good pinch of salt in a bowl, and whisk the buttermilk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a jug.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

To making the dough, cream the butter and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium for about ten minutes, or until pale, creamy and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low and working slowly and carefully to avoid the kitchen looking like a crime scene, add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in thirds, stirring until just combined.

Place heaped large golf-ball sized dollops on lined baking sheets, allowing plenty of space for spreading. Press them down to flatten a little and transfer to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool on the tray for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, combine the icing butter remaining butter and vanilla in a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of water. Place over a double boiler and stir until combined and soft. Spread the icing over half of each cookie before adding the chocolate to the bowl and heating until combined. Spread the chocolate icing on the other half of each biscuit and leave to set for five minutes.

Then devour, chattily, like Simon is in real life.

 

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Ilana Glazered Donut

Australian Survivor (2017), Baking, Dessert, Four and Three and Two and Done: A Farewell to Broad City, Snack, Street Food, Sweets

We’ve reached the end of the road, and to be honest, I don’t know how I am going to move into this post-Broad City phase of my life. I am thankful that I have my friendships with Abbi, Arturo, Hannibal, John, Paul and finally, Ilana, but I am sad that I won’t be experiencing any new episodes.

Outside of what Abbi promised earlier this week and Ilana agreed to just moments ago.

As soon as she arrived at my house, Ilana knew how much pain I would be in and held me in her arms, reminding me that I will always be a kween and she will always love me.

To say I cried, I cried, I cried. I … cried for hours was an understatement.

But that is what you can do when with your nearest and dearest. I’ve known Il the longest out of the BC crew, attending Smithtown High School together before moving to NYC and living together in BK. Which you may recall is how I met Rach Bloom, as she took over my room.

Look at me! I made a little rhyme.

In any event, I’ve long been a passionate supporter of the goddess that is Ilana and I’m so proud of all that she has achieved over the years. Which is why I couldn’t honour her with anything less than an Ilana Glazered Donut.

 

 

My take on this Krispy Kreme classic isn’t how the giant would traditionally make them – I bake, I bake, I bake, I bake – but I would argue they still taste delicious. Maybe it is the lack of nazi ties? Soft and fluffy on the inside, smooth and sweet on the outside, I wish I knew how to quit them. And Broad City.

Enjoy!

 

 

Ilana Glazered Donut
Serves: 1 sad Broad City fan.

Ingredients
1 batch Shannen Doughertynuts
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups icing sugar, sieved
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup milk

Method
Make the donuts as per Shan’s recipe and leave to rest on a drying rack.

Once almost cool, melt the butter in the microwave and pour into a bowl with the icing sugar and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Dip the donuts in the glaze and return to the rack for an hour, or until set.

Devour. Crying. Watching the finale holding your Bingo Bronson.

 

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Stickeith Date Sowell Pudding

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Survivor, Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Sweets, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor Aubry and Joe were on the outs at Kama given the penchant of returning players to dominate in seasons with newbies. Unless of course they’re up against a trio of queens in the form of Danni, Sophie and Denise. At Manu Kelley and David were feeling a reprieve given Reem and Wendy callously tried to teach Keith to swim – and in turn help the tribe in challenges – moving the target on to them. As such, it was poor Reem that found herself becoming the first person voted out … and electing to go to the Island of Extinction.

We opened up with poor Reem who was bored and confused, unsure where she is and what she will have to do for her shot back into the game. No timeline and no instructions truly are the cruelest mindfuck and I already feel less angry about the twist. Though it was super hard watching Reem break down over how hard it was sitting isolated on a desolate island thinking about everything she left behind.

Meanwhile at Manu the tribe were laughing it up comparing their wrinkly hands before Wendy explained to Rick, and sadly David, about wanting to take out Kelley given she has had two shots. And she believes is the ringleader that has sent her to the bottom of the totem pole. While Kelley was befriended everyone else, Wendy’s words started to penetrate David and Rick as Wentworth’s power appeared to grow. Kelley was understanding of her position, given she spent most of Second Chances on the bottom – that Savage blindside though – and knew how dangerous it was to her game, so suggested the tribe went on a group idol hunt to mitigate the risk of Wendy finding one.

We jumped over to Kama where I shit you not, Ron was leading the tribe in some choreography which truly highlighted the need to get Alyssa Edwards on this show in full drag ASAP. Everyone was enjoying his high energy, except for zaddy Eric who was MIA and Aubry who wasn’t enjoying the kumbaya nature of a tribe that has not gone to tribal. But hold her drink, because she is about to approach the newbies one by one to find out how they feel about returning players which no one was interested in talking about. Proving the fact that they are totally screwed. Victoria, Ron and Julia swapped stories by the shore and realised that everyone has been told the same thing and as such, Victoria wants her out yesterday.

Over at Manu Kelley and Lauren were searching for an idol, while Rick and David speculated that the group hunt plan is the perfect may to hide the fact that idol-whisperer Kelley has one. They agreed that they were happy working with Kelley at the moment, but David knows that Kelley won’t let him get to the merge and as such, it isn’t the worst idea to join with Wendy who has zero allies and will be loyal. Wendy rejoined them to reiterate her pitch and point out her vote last week proved her loyalty to an ally, and with her gone, that is up for grabs.

Oh and Rick and David are all in and I kinda love it. And the fact that David is in the best position of the returnees, despite being the weakest.

Back at Kama Gavin and Eric commenced the idol hunting on their tribe, and damn, I got distracted by Eric. Zeric. Zadderic? Eraddy? Anyway this didn’t go unnoticed by Julie, who channeled Angelina and highlighted that men always find idols, while women don’t. While it was super confusing that she complained about not looking for idols instead of doing it, I do love that it was low-key pushing a women’s alliance with Victoria. I also love that she is as clueless about hunter-gatherer roles as I am.

Speaking of idols, Lauren was still searching over on Manu and followed in the footsteps of her heroes Wentworth and Parvati and found said idol. And proved that a guaranteed way to not find an idol is not looking for an idol.

My dear Probst returned to the fray for this week’s immunity challenge – a Game Changers classic – where the tribes were required to swim out to a cage, climb over it, release a big, fat snake, take it back to shore, release numbered tiles to solve a combination and release rings that they need to land on paddles to spell immunity. I think, I focused on snakes and rings. Given Keith wasn’t given enough time to learn to swim, Kama got out to a huge lead while Chris desperately tried to help him along. Keith also struggled with climbing as damn, Chris’ wet jocks look good. Despite it looking like it was going to be a blowout, Manu closed the gap as Keith rolled around in the sand. Both tribes were neck and neck as Joe and Keith tossed rings and sorry, distracted again. Despite a brief interlude of Keith showing that he couldn’t throw, Chris desperately tried to snatch victory to no avail, as Kama once again won immunity.

And Aubry reversed the curse. If that’s allowed without Ghost Island? I don’t know.

Back at camp the Kelley vs. Wendy war started to heat up, while Wardog – still a thing – suggested that Keith’s failure should be making him their number one target. He pushed that plan with Lauren, Kelley and Rick, which Kelley was not into as he is a threat to no one and Wendy is a threat to her, so needs to go. David too was disappointed, though because the plan to take out Kelley would have to be put on hold. Poor Chris also wasn’t loving the plan given he had apparently formed a close bond with him and didn’t want to lose his loyal idol.

Chris approached Rick to float the idea of getting rid of Kelley, which Rick was obviously thrilled about given that has been his goal the entire episode. He took the tea back to David, who was thrilled at how things were shaping up and to get the chance to get her before she gets him. They roped in Keith, who was obvi keen, before Wardog single handedly shut down the plan, convincing Chris that keeping Kelley would be the perfect meat shield should they get screwed by a swap. He then channeled Cirie and pointed out that keep goats around means it could take their spot, so they need to get him out before they realise he is an easy win. Kelley approached Chris and Wardog, and immediately knew something was up and rightly worried that she was about to be voted out.

At tribal council Wendy and Kelley admitted to being nervous after getting votes at the previous tribal council, as Kelley elaborated that being a returning player is a blessing and a curse. She then reiterated that she would be a perfect shield and is strong enough to help them win challenges, which is pretty much her only play. Probst shaded Keith’s challenge performance, with him obviously trying to point out good relationships mean more. But given they’re two-nil, I’d find it hard not to focus on strength since they’ll keep coming back and lose numbers – and potentially find themselves out – should they not think about it. Wardog was hopeful that a blindside may be coming, and after the vote, he will know whether he has placed his trust with the right people. David agreed a blindside is coming, which Keith agreed with because everyone ran the numbers and should be confident heading in to tribal.

Talk turned to ticking off the checklist of the Survivor experience, which blindsides are a part of while Wardog cautioned everyone that focus on a checklist rather than rational gameplay isn’t a great move. And just like that, I’m ok with calling him Wardog again. With that the tribe voted and they piled up on Keith who they either really did a number on convincing him he was safe, or was desperately playing for the camera as he walked out of the tribal council. And played for the back of the theatre as he deliberated over going to the Island of Extinction. Which, spoiler alert, he obviously does but not before a verbal beatdown from me telling him to cut the theatrics and a big bowl of Stickeith Date Sowell Pudding.

 

 

Sticky date pudding would have to be one of my favourite desserts. Light and fluffy yet rich and sticky, it melts in your mouth and fills you with joy. Add in some ice cream and well, consider my shorts creamed themselves.

Enjoy!

 

 

Stickeith Date Sowell Pudding
Serves: 12.

Ingredients
250g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
185g butter, softened
2 cups muscovado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
300ml thickened cream

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C and line the base of a 22cm cake pan.

Combine the dates and bicarb in a bowl with 1 ½ cups boiling water and leave to steep for half an hour.

Once the dates are foamy and glorious, cream 125g of the butter, 1 cup of the sugar and 2 tsp vanilla in a stand mixer on medium. Once it’s light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined before removing and folding through the date mixture, flour and baking powder.

Spoon in the pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to rest while you make the sauce.

Speaking of which, combine the remaining sugar, vanilla, butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sauce comes to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Invert pudding onto a serving plate and stab wildly with a skewer. Slowly pour over ½-1 cup of sauce, allowing it to soak in but not flow over the edge. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before serving, slathered in more sauce and a generous heap of Vanilla Ice Cream.

 

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Irish Creem Daly

Drink, Survivor, Survivor: Edge of Extinction, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor wait, no, what – when will I learn? New season, new rules, same ol’ chain of Fijian Islands. While last season we went biblical to distract from the fact Survivor lives in Fiji, leading to a glorious season with David toppling Goliath, this time we’re journeying to the Edge of Extinction which I have numerous reservations about. But you know what else I thought would suck? David vs. Goliath and look how wrong I was.

We ominously open on a barren island with a lone figure walking around before finding 14 newbies on a sailboat in the middle of the Fijian ocean. We first meet Wardog who I want to like but no I will struggle with for the first few episodes since we’re going to be calling him Wardog. In any event, he is from the military but is now on his way to being a lawyer and, obvi, plans to keep that hush, hush, hush. Swap meet vendor Wendy is super excited to be here as a super mega best value fan, before even finding out that she will be competing against David, Aubry, Kelley and Joe who are returning for another shot at the title. Joe finally realising that being a challenge beast is intimidating and as such, he plans to lay low and uplift people. And TBH, as much as I want to hate him, I can’t help but love him.

I am basic and I don’t care.

Joining them in making their triumphant return is a hybrid of the Outcast and Redemption Island twists, where once you’re voted out you can either sit on the aforementioned island and wait around for a chance to compete to reenter the game, or continue on your merry way into Ponderosa. In any event, this season is a logistical nightmare for me and I appreciate your care and concern.

Foregoing any form of introductions, Probst welcomed the newbies to Survivor and then told them that someone is going to be booted within 72. He then elaborated and tried to sneak in the twist by telling them they’re always on the edge of being booted, or extinction if you will, before reminding them that even good players can’t win. And as a matter of fact, he has four past contestants that have lost 7 times between them back to the competition for another shot.

We then met Lauren who is a superfan of Kelley and like me, thirsts for Joe, so she was thrilled to see them. Ron loves David, Julia loves Aubry and everyone was jumping out of their skin with excitement before Probst ran through the returnees’ report cards, filling Kelley with rage given he made her and Aubry sound like the biggest threats. Kelley and David were sent to join the Manu tribe, featuring Wentworth superfan Lauren while Aubry and Joe will lead the Kama tribe. From the very first moment, given the tribes were tasked with looting the ship before making it to their boats. Amongst the madness Ron from the Kama tribe found a secret advantage and poor little Keith came close to drowning until Lauren, thankfully,  saved him.

We arrived at the Manu tribe where everyone introduced themselves and congratulated themselves on surviving the marooning. They then started to wonder whether they will survive Rick, who started telling themselves about his life as a news anchor and made a bunch of jokes that it appeared no one actually found funny. Amongst the introductions, the tribe got to work setting up the camp with Kelley and David lamenting that it is so hard to trust anyone. Instead of making an alliance with each other, Kelley got to work approaching Lauren to form an alliance and generally make as many bonds as possible. David and his newfound confidence seemed to be finding his footing, as did Wendy who shared the fact she had tourettes with the tribe and instantly endeared herself to literally everyone. Myself included. Wendy 4 lyf.

Meanwhile over at Kama we met Victoria who desperately loves survivor. Speaking of loves, Joe tried to hide the fact that he is amazing, however proceeded to feed everyone and start fire with Aubry as soon as they landed on the beach. I mean, he even stole Aurora’s heart and she is gay. Julie proved to be the most relatable, hating the outdoors and totally struggling in nature. Well until she started chopping wood and vowed not to be perceived as the weak older woman trope. Sorry Wendy, but you’ve been usurped.

Wait, no. I love them both.

We then caught up with Ron who vowed that Kama was the greatest tribe of all time, which let’s be honest, didn’t bode well for, I want to say Jacob on Ghost Island. Though given they had a tonne of food next to a roaring fire, he is kinda right. He took a quick moment away from the dream tribe to read the note to his advantage, which he followed to the well and dug up to discover he won himself a menu, where he can either steal a reward, get an extra vote or get immunity … but it expires by the third tribal council.

Joe joined fellow zaddy Eric and Gavin to discuss what the hell Edge of Extinction could mean before checking in with Aubry to see how she felt. While she agreed that they’re both getting good vibes, they won’t need them around to make fire forever and as such she needs to lay low until the right time to strike. And I feel like I’ve already seen more of Aubry this episode than we did during all of Game Changers. Gavin and Eric meanwhile were discussing how long they will need to keep the returnees around, vowing to get rid of Aubry ASAP and keeping Joe around as a shield for as long as required.

Back at Manu Reem went to check on the washing she put on the shore to dry, which she thought was helpful but was actually pissing everyone off. Except Keith who tried to bond with Reem because she is a mother figure and he is a literal kid, however she didn’t want to be seen that way and kinda shut him down. Though she then taught him to swim with Wendy and I love them so much. As did Lauren who was proud of Keith learning to swim. That didn’t stop her from being thrilled by the fact they isolated themselves, allowing the other six – featuring a total zaddy who I think is Chris – to joke about being the majority.

My boy Jeffrey returned to the screen for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes were required to run through a rope obstacle before someone rings a bell and everyone crosses a balance beam, release a bar to make the beam wider, climb a crows nest, drop a slide and then, obvi, solve a giant slide puzzle.

Chris hopped through the ropes in his jocks – swoon – before battling Joe to climb a rope and ring the bell and let me tell you, these boys are ringing my damn bell. Joe made quick work of the balance beam giving Kama an early lead while Manu floundered, except for challenge beast David who got across while everyone else struggled. Kelley in particular who fell off the beam and literally smashed her damn face. Kama continued to extended their lead, working on the puzzle before Manu even crossed the rope bridge. Despite David’s best efforts to guide Manu through the puzzle, their comeback was too late as Julia – I think, she hasn’t been shown otherwise – figured out the puzzle and coached her tribe to victory.

Back at camp Kelley was devastated to be heading to her second first tribal council, knowing that one tiny thing can send you home when you’ve only been around people a couple of days. Keith, Reem, Wendy and Rick caught up by the well, with Reem pushing hard to take out Lauren or Kelley whose bond was obvious. Though given how hard she is pushing the point, it got Keith offside, who them went and told both the girls, Wardog, David and Eric about the plan. Which solidified their plans to get rid of Reem, given Wendy is stronger in challenges.

Speaking of Wendy, she approached Wardog – I’m trying to get into it – and David about getting rid of Lauren, though they told her that they will be getting rid of Reem tonight. Wendy told them that no matter what, she will vote with Reem out of loyalty which rubbed Wardog the wrong way, as he said it was proof of her being stubborn rather than a super loyal ally he could pick up the next day. Wendy then took the information back to Reem, who got super angry and approached David to save herself though was holding a machete and kind looked wild.

At tribal council Rick spoke about factions quickly forming based off which jobs they were doing before Reem immediately started to spit fire, pissed that her name has been thrown out there. Kelley explained that is part of the game and her name had been thrown out, before Reem explained that it was because she was a legend and she should be honoured. Kelley countered that being voted out doesn’t make it an honour, while Reem continued to dig a hole for herself, saying that she is a target due to age discrimination and would like to wrestle to prove her strength. Probst then questioned whether she has a passion for confrontation before Zaddy Chris said that she may be a little too much and it is pissing people off, which she immediately got defensive about before Wardog – who I will now write without cringing – said he felt she was too much and wished she would just stop moving people’s shit.

She defended trying to help everyone out and while Wardog agreed him clothes were dry thanks to her, she needs to stop dwelling on the one issue. Wendy admitted that she likes Reem for all the reasons everyone else is struggling with her, due to her close bond with her mum. Reem continued to rage, wondering why they didn’t just ask her not to touch their stuff. Probst admitted that it seems like everyone is pretty much against her, and Wendy agreed that they’re likely losing Reem tonight which lead to Reem talking about how painful it would be and while I feel sorry for her, she should be in for a pleasant suprise if it comes to fruition. Which it did, making her the first person voted out.

And potentially the winner if she makes it back in. Who knows.

While the smart of ironically – is it Alanis? – being reemed by her tribe and becoming the first boot was dulled by discovering she has a chance to return to the game, it wasn’t until I was tucking an icy cold bottle of Irish Creem Daly in her bag – don’t tell Abi, but I think Peih-Gee tried to steal it – to get her through the first few days alone that I saw a fire return to her belly. No doubt because of the alcohol.

 

 

Like Old Gregg before me, I am quite partial to drinking Baileys, though preferably not from a shoe. Though I totally would in a pinch, or Tom Schwartz level blackout. Packing a punch of whisky, a hit of coffee and the sweet, sweet nectar known as condensed milk, there is no better way to usher in retired life.

I can retire at 32, right? You know what, so what, who cares – enjoy!

 

 

Irish Creem Daly
Serves: 1 lonely first boot sitting on an island alone in a downpour.

Ingredients
1 cup double cream
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1⅔ cup Irish whiskey
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp fresh espresso, cooled

Method
Chuck everything in a blender – or a magic bullet or something if they were so inclined to sponsor me, but they’re not – and blitz for a minute or so, or until smooth.

Transfer to a bottle and leave to chill in the fridge before downing.

 

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Jane Crackpieski

Baking, Dessert, Hashbrown: The End, Pie, Sweets

Like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt itself, we’ve reached the end of the road of our farewell celebration – Hashbrown: The End – and I am starting to get a bit misty, which is inappropriate when you’re meant to be honouring a hilarious show. But after catching up with Carol, Dylan, Ellie and Tituss I was too emotional, so I reached out to my dear friend and icon Jane Krakowski to see if she was free to drop by.

And she obviously was, since you’re ready this.

As you know I met future EGOT Jane in the 80s while co-starring in Starlight Express until my before I was callously cut. Thankfully it was Jane’s undying love and support that saw we through the tragic loss of my role of a lifetime.

Given Jane is a damn comedy icon, I try to see her as much as possible however it has tragically been well over two years since we last got together. As soon as she walked through customs I ran into her arms and started sobbing – some say it was because I missed her so, but we both knew that it was because at the close of today Jacqueline Voorhees will go the way of Jenna Maroney. And that is hard for me to deal with.

Unless Teens does reboot 30 Rock, I guess.

Somehow I managed to pull myself together long enough to drive home, go to the fridge and pull out the ultimate comfort food in the form of a Jane Crackpieski.

 

 

I feel like I am on a bit of a Milk Bar kick at the moment, but you know, when it’s right, it’s right. Any everything they do is right, even when it is a mistake. If you don’t know the story, Christina Tosi made the pie for staff dinner and while it was undercooked and she felt it was a dud, they couldn’t stop eating it and an sweet, addictive icon was born – the Crack Pie®.

And if that doesn’t offer you hope in a post-Kimmy Schmidt world, I don’t know what does.

Enjoy!

 

 

Jane Crackpieski
Serves: 8.

Ingredients
Oat Cookie
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g muscovado sugar
40g raw caster sugar
1 egg yolk
½ cup flour
120g rolled oats
⅛ tsp baking powder
pinch of baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt

Assembly and filling
180g muscovado sugar, plus 1 tbsp for the base
1 tsp kosher salt, plus ¼ tsp for the base
280g butter, melted – 55g for the base, the rest for the filling
300g raw caster sugar
20g milk powder
24g corn powder
¾ cup double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
8 egg yolks, separated with military precision
icing sugar, for dusting

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Kick things off by working on the oat cookie. Cream the butter and sugars using the paddle attachment on a stand-mixer on medium-high for 3 minutes or so, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the egg, before increasing speed and beat for a further couple of minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and using the paddle, mix by hand until moist enough to return to the mixer to beat on low until just combined.

Dollop the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and flatten into a 1cm thick splat. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until caramelised, puffed and firmly set. Allow to cool completely.

When you’re ready to get to work on the final product, preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the cookie in a food processor with a tablespoon of muscovado sugar and ¼ tsp of salt, and blitz until it is the consistency of wet sand. Add 55g of melted butter and blitz until it comes together as a ball. Transfer the ball into a pie dish and firmly pack to cover the edges in an even thickness.

To make the filling, combine the remaining sugars, with the milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended. Still going, add the remaining butter and mix for 3 minutes or until all the ingredients are moist. Add the double cream and vanilla and continuing mixing for 3 minutes, or until completely combined. Scrape down the side and add the egg yolks, mixing on low speed until it is glossy and combined.

Pour the filling into the pie dish and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown but still jiggly.

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and close the door once it has cooled to that temperature. Cook for a further ten minutes, or until firming around the edge but jiggly in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before covering in cling and transferring to the freezer to set. Remove to defrost a couple of hours before you’re ready to serve.

When you’re ready for your mind to be blown, dust with icing sugar, grab a spoon and devour. Greedily. Thankful that we exist at the same time that Milk Bar does.

 

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