Grantbola

Baking, Breakfast, Vegetarian

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Hollywood. I mean, my relationships with the A-list of it inspired this patch of cyberspace … but sometimes it is nice just to hang out with a fellow Australian. And by that, Kiwi we adopted as our own after they became a success.

I first met Granty while working together on Blue Heelers in the ‘90s. You see, I created and wrote for the show, inspired by my experiences in the town of Mt Thomas in the ‘80s. Crime was so rife – 99% of them committed by me – that I knew it would make Aussie TV gold, and a legend was born.

But back to Grant. Grant walked in to audition and I instantly knew that he was the Wayne I had dreamed about and the rest, as I oft say, is history.

Grant was so grateful to me for giving him his big break that he pledged undying allegiance to me and begged me to guide his career. Given he worked on True Blood with Anna and Al, Ugly Betty with Alan Dale, I think you’d agree that my influence truly helped.

No shade to his talent though, obvi.

It was such a delight to hang out together, laugh about the good ol’ days with Sacky, McCune and Johnny Woods, reflect on the tragedy that was the latter seasons of True Blood – minus Skarsy’s peen shot – and devour some nourishing Grantbola for the day ahead.

 

 

Did I not mention we’re both morning people and work out together? We’re sickeningly cute bestos. Inspired by Sarah Wilson’s coconut-nut granola but made infinitely better thanks to the inclusion of fruits and other things you can’t eat after quitting sugar, this is the only granola you want in your life.

Enjoy!

 

 

Grantbola
Serves: 12-ish. Maybe? A soft maybe. I’m not sure, let’s call a shit-tonne and be done.

Ingredients
¼ cup coconut oil
3 cups coconut flakes
½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup cashews, roughly chopped
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup macadamias, roughly chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
½ cup apple puree
½ cup craisins

Method
Preheat oven to 120°C.

Combine everything but the craisins in a large bowl until everything is coated and combined.

Spread across two lined baking sheets and cook for 10 minutes, toss, and cook for a further 10 or so, or until golden. Remove, toss through the craisins and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, devouring daily with yoghurt, fresh berries and, if you want to upset Sarah further, some Mahersharaspberry Coulis.

 

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Viola Halvis

Oscar Gold, Oscar Gold XC: The Goldfather

Once again, I’ve reached the end of my Oscar Gold celebrations and no tea no shade to Diablo, Henry, Kathryn, Brad or Mahershala, I’ve well and truly saved the best to last – current reigning Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis.

And that is not just because we’ve been the best of friends for 17 years. She is the only Black Actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting, and that makes her long overdue for some coverage on this ‘ere patch of cyberspace.

I first met Viola on the set of Kate & Leopold when dropping by to visit Megs (Megs, Megs) and Liev, and while she only had a bit part I knew she was destined for greatness. As such, I sidled up to her at the craft services table and promptly hitched my wagon to her, to achieve greatness by association.

While I also wasn’t able to convince her to bring me along as a date, she did have a surprise up her sleeve … she convinced one of our mutual friends to take me (let’s call her Beryl Strap)!

Anyway, I could talk about her being the only good thing about Fences, slaying in How to Get Away with Murder and realistically should have a couple of Oscars under her belt by now, that isn’t what you came for. You came to hear our opinions on who will snag the female acting gongs.

While we both agree that my dear friend Allison Janney will succeed her as Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya, I desperately wish for a tie between her and fellow TV star Laurie Metcalf who was beautiful in Lady Bird. What is becoming a tradition in this year’s acting categories, we both feel Frances McDormand is a sure thing for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I feel like fellow Gold Coaster Margot Robbie gave the better performance in  I, Tonya and am desperately hoping for an upset.

Like my date with Mahersh, I started to feel down thinking about Margot likely not snagging a win for Karl and Susan. That led to the requirement for something sickly sweet and totally delightful, like my Viola Halvis.

 

 

While there are so many forms of halva, this is obviously the best. Rich and nutty, delicate and floral, all wrapped up in a sickly sweet package, it is the perfect way to honour the ninetieth Oscars and Faye and Warren’s inevitable mis-crowning.

To The Goldfather, enjoy!

 

 

Viola Halvis
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
250g walnuts
250g blanched almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
500g pitted dates
1 tbsp rosewater
icing sugar, to dust

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Combine the nuts and sesame seeds on a large baking sheet and bake for ten minutes or so, or until toasted and fragrant. Remove and allow to cool.

Place the cooled nuts in a food processor with the dates and rosewater and blitz for about five minutes, or until completely combined.

Pour the mixture into a lined small baking sheet and transfer to the freezer to set for an hour or so. Then remove and cut into squares, dust with icing sugar and devour.

 

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Nannaimurphy Bar

All up in Schitt's Creek Week, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

After a glorious week attending the powerful Golden Globeswith future President Winf- on a table in the front row – and spending time with Eugene, Cath, Em and Dan honouring the triumphant return of Schitt’s Creek, we’ve tragically come to the end of the celebration. And I am so thankful it is with the perennially delightful and delightfully snarky Annie Murphy.

Despite appearing with my friends Mish and Corbs in the TBL pilot, I didn’t connect with Ans until she appeared in an episode of Blue Mountain State. I was part of Denise Richards’ entourage of the time but was quickly taken by her spunky attitude and became the best of friends.

When it came time for Eug and Dan to cast the show, I immediately got Annie on the phone and said – in my best Moira voice – “you simply just have to audition, my dear. It is the role you were born to play!”

I think it goes without saying that I was completely right. Though really, that goes without saying as I’m always right. Just ask my husband!

Like the four that came before her, it was such a treat to get some qual time with my girl – plotting potential ways I could join the cast, laughing about TBL and smashing a tray of my Nannaimurphy Bars.

 

 

A little bit custard, a bit choc and co(conut) – this Canadian classic is near perfection. Sweet, earthy and velvety smooth, I would smear it all over my body if Allez-Vous said it would work.

Enjoy!

 

 

Nannaimurphy Bar
Makes: 16 squares.

Ingredients
250g unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup muscovado sugar
1 ¾ cups Lauren Graham Cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup almonds, finely choppedThis Hour Has 22 Minutes
¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped
¼ cup double cream
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
150g milk chocolate

Method
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Place half the butter, the cocoa and muscovado sugar in a large heatproof bowl and heat over the bubbling water until the butter has melted and the mixture is nice and smooth. Obviously if you have a double boiler, use that, bit I’ve never seen one. So, yeah.

Remove from the heat and fold through the graham crackers, coconut, almonds and walnuts until well combined. Press into a lined square baking dish until firmly packet and smooth. Transfer to the fridge to chill while you work on the filling.

Place the remaining butter – sans the 2 tbsp, obvi – in the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream, custard powder, vanilla and icing sugar, and beat on medium until smooth and fluffy. Dare I say it, hella fluffy even. Smooth it over the base and return to the fridge to set.

Get the old poor-man’s double boiler going again – after cleaning it, of course – and melt the chocolate and butter together until well combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about five minutes before pouring over the slice.

Return to the fridge and chill for a couple of hours.

When it is good to go, slice with a warmed knife and promptly devour.

 

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Speidy Nuts Swedberg

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Side, Snack, Tapas

Let’s be honest, there are only four stars of Seinfeld so not every day of our Festivus celebrations can be filled with the iconic portrayers of TV’s erstwhile George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry. That being said, the character of Susan and her death by out-of-date envelopes is truly iconic and more than earns Heidi Swedberg a trip to Brisbane to help my par-tay.

Plus, as is always the case, she is one of my dearest friends.

I first met Heid in the late ‘80s when she guested on an episode of Matlock. I was Andy Griffith’s stand-in – as we were both older gentleman, at heart – so spent a lot of time with the bit-players. The bond with Heidi was semi-instant and we kept in contact in the years that followed.

When Jase reached out about finding someone to play his love interest on the show, I thought she would be perfect for the role and would fit in well with the cast. While I was completely wrong about the last part, her death storyline was both hilarious and a cautionary tale for those, like me, that hoard Christmas cards year-on-year for later use.

While Heidi up on a life in Hollywood, she was thrilled to come out of hiding to celebrate Susan and Festivus. On the strict proviso that it was a date with only me, and that I’d be serving up my delightful Speidi Swedberg nuts.

 

 

Sweet, festively spiced and packing a little heat, these little babies are the perfect accompaniment for a festive date. Or for getting rid of the taste of rotten envelope glue.

Enjoy!

 

 

Speidi Swedberg Nuts
Serves: 1. 6-8 in a pinch.

Ingredients
500g mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias and almonds
¼ cup pepitas
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp celery salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
salt, to taste
1 cup craisins

Method
Place a large frying pan over medium heat and line a large baking sheet.

Chuck the nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds in the pan and toss with a wooden spoon for about five minutes. Add the spices and toss to coat. Then add the oil, sugar and rosemary, toss to coat and cook until golden and fragrant.

Transfer them to the lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and leave to to cool completely. Toss through the craisins and decant into bowls to serve immediately or a sterilised jar.

Then, obviously, devour.

 

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Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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

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

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

 

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Bananarama Bread

Baking, Bread, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Enjoy!

 

 

Bananarama Bread
Serves: 8.

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

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

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

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

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

If not, just devour.

 

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Deetroot Harper Salad

Salad, Side, Snack, Survivor NZ: Nicaragua, TV Recap, Vegetarian

Previously on … hang the fuck up, what is this fresh hell. Where am I? It walks like a duck, acts like a duck but sounds like a moa! I’ve been bamboozled, and this is Survivor New Zealand!

In any event we are in Nicoooraaaguuua, where we first met Lou who channelled me and had zero idea about basic global geography. Next up we met the funny and charming Dee which sounds more ironic, and Tony who was cool with spiders and Sala who most definitely was not.

The castaways were trucked on to the beach where Shannon the zookeeper quickly won me over with her super fandom before the host – my frenemy Matt Chisholm – butchered the pronunciation of Nicaragua for the second time, as he welcomed the castaways.

We once again got some facetime with Dee who was thrilled to be here and face a tribal council before announcing she was thrilled to play as the villain, cementing her as my red-hot favourite for first boot.

Mike however wasn’t convinced Dee would (last long enough to) be the villain, Nathan didn’t like his chances in challenges and Tony mumbled his way through something … I think about being a provider but I honestly have no idea.

Immediately overtaking Shannon as my fave, we were introduced to Hannah the plus-sized model, roller derby competitor and power lifter – fucking swoon! Matt then christened her the queen of the Mogotón tribe – in addition to my heart – joined by Avi, Izzy, Lou, spider-fearing Sala, Shay, Tom and spider-loving Tony.

On the flipside, Barb was thrilled to be a part of the purple tribe aka Hermosa, as was Georgia who just felt like it was better for her while poor Nate had zero interest in the tribe since he felt he better connected with people on the other tribe. They were joined by Jak, Lee, Mike, Nate, Shannon and the infamous Dee.

After Tom lamented that all the people he connected with landed on the other tribe also, begging the question – is this actually day one? – my boy kiwi Probst dropped the bomb that both tribes would be joining him later that night to vote out a member each. Dum, dum, duuuummmm – that sounds ominous, no?

Everyone was rightly concerned about the twist, realising they’ve given up more than a month of their lives to spend less time on the island than Jonathan and Wanda. I wonder if one of the first boots will write us a song?

Wanting to give us some instant drama, Matt announced that the tribes could loot as many of the items placed they had scattered around the beach in a set amount of time which I can not for the life of me remember, so let’s say it was two minutes. Or one. I don’t know, I was drunkenly heckling from the back of the truck they just rolled up in.

Izzy was quick to play dirty – or heroically if you frame it like Rupert being a pirate in Pearl Islands – and stole the items from the other tribes’ mat while they weren’t looking which upset Lee … which in turn made me happy as he shared his pain with a camera angle clearly framing his crotch.

Lee was not alone, with the entire Hermosa tribe well pissed leaving Izzy to have immediate regret for her actions and attempt to give them a pity knife which Lee tossed back to her … and then Nate told Jak to go get back. It was as odd as it sounds.

Mogotón arrived at camp with their abundance of goods slash collection of throwing knives, where Tony was quick to take on the role of leader and share his wealth of survival knowledge, rubbing his tribe mates the wrong way during his monologue. Avi however wasn’t bothered by his assertive behaviour or the casual sexism, given that it keeps the target off him.

Hannah continued her assault on my heart by killing a crab and complaining about Tom underestimating her because of her weight, rather than trusting that she is strong. Izzy and Shay were also concerned about Tom’s shiftiness and the three agreed to blindside him at tribal that night. She then worked her ass off lugging rocks everywhere and almost single-handedly built the camp. Kween.

Shay then approached Sala to join her and the girls but was swiftly and sadly rebuked, with Sala telling her that Tom and Avi want Hannah or Izzy out at tribal that night and he was on board.

Over at Hermosa, Dee took a leaf out of Tony’s book and decided to appoint herself leader before outlining her extensive preparation – to us – to appear nice. She then got to work aligning with Shannon and Georgia, both of whom had little interest in aligning with her.

Proving that she gives zero fucks for the aforementioned alliance, Georgia immediately approached Mike to form an actual alliance … though was so obvious about it, she spooked Lee. Mike then pulled Nate aside about aligning with Shannon and Georgia, putting the final kibosh on poor Dee’s alliance. Then Barb put the final nail in Dee’s coffin and confirmed that she didn’t trust her and wanted her gone ASAP.

Nate however was less convinced that the alliance would hold due to his age, before being proven right when Shannon and Georgia introduced casual ageism to the episode. Sensing trouble, Dee attempted to channel Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine and told Mike she was willing to vote anyone other than her before throwing Barb’s name out and continuing the ageism.

Back at Mogotón, Shay pulled Hannah aside and told her that the tribe were planning to target either her or Izzy. Izzy pulled Sala aside and gave a less than rousing speech about how Hannah may be weak but she is also strong and that they should target Tom, which is the perfect way to segway into the first tribal councils of Survivor NZ.

Mogotón were first up, where Tom felt it was rough that someone would have to go home on day one which Lou agreed with before adding they’ve barely had the opportunity to get to know people. Hannah continued to win me over, imploring people not to trust a book by its cover while casually dropping all her skills into a single sentence. Avi made an early play for worst deflector at tribal council, saying that he can’t have everyone’s back when asked point blank if he had Hannah’s. Oy.

Tony proved that he was more self-aware than I gave him credit for, saying that people had been biting their lip around him before outing the fact that alliances have been formed despite any and all denials. Sala spoke about his integrity before Izzy spoke about feeling uneasy after giving up the knife that she stole from the other tribe … before Matt reminded us they were playing for the runner-up prize of O.G. Survivor as they headed in to vote, incorrectly folding the parchment.

Sadly as quickly as she won my heart, Hannah became the first boot of Survivor NZ before Matt quickly ushered in Hermosa to claim his next scalp.

Hermosa were quick to address the fact that they were naive to trust the other tribe at the looting before Georgia spoke about how much she loved everyone, to which Matt – winning me back over in the process – called bullshit. Shannon name checked Heroes vs. Villains before Matt checked in with resident villain Dee, who was quick to disassociate herself from her previous assertions. Lee danced around Matt’s questions about alliances before Dee jumped back in to spook the sensors as they went to vote.

As predicted – YAS me – poor Dee became the first person voted out of Hermosa and the second person voted out of Survivor NZ … or is she? Yep, the sound you’re currently hearing is Survivor fans across the globe screaming about the return of redemption island … though yay, Hannah is still here! Silver linings, people!

Anyway back at camp, Hermosa got to work building a fire, blissfully unaware that Dee was still alive in the game, plotting her revenge. Over at Mogotón, Tony wasn’t having as much luck proving his worth slash making fire, while Shay spoke about how guilty she felt for voting against Hannah.

The next day Hermosa got to work expanding their shelter before sitting down to an ill-advised meal of rotten fruit. Meanwhile Izzy had fallen ill at Mogotón and was questioning quitting on day two – maybe she ate some of the rotten fruit – proving once again that they should have kept Hannah in the game.

Speaking of Hannah, both tribes were finally clued in to the fact that she and Dee were not out of the game – yet – and that they were about to compete in the first redemption island duel, a classic where they both had to work a big strong pole, stick it into a hole and release themselves from behind a cage.

Hannah got out to an early lead, snagging the first two keys before Dee had even managed to work up a pole. Despite a valiant effort from Dee to even things up, Hannah secured the third and final key, released herself and sent Dee packing as the first official elimination of the season.

Despite feeling upset to become the first boot, Dee was ok with the fact when she spotted me in loser lodge. You see, I connected with Survivor superfan Dee when she briefly stalked this here patch of cyber-space as part of her weekly Survivor media coverage. Being desperate for even the faintest whiff of positive attention, I started a Fame Hungry fan club for her and made her the president and founding member.

The dish we served at her inauguration brunch – and to cheer her up post boot? Obvi my roasted Deetroot Harper Salad.

 

 

This little baby goes a long way to proving the ancient Australian proverb “you can beat an egg, but ya’ can’t beat a root” correct because these roots are bloody stunning. Sweet, warm beetroot, creamy feta and the tart balsamic are perfectly complemented by the crunch of walnut and pepitas.

To the kitchen, ya … enjoy!

 

 

Deetroot Harper Salad
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
2 large beetroot
200g danish feta, crumbled
½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
⅓ cup pepitas, roasted
2 cups baby spinach
a lug of balsamic vinegar, to taste
a lug of olive oil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 200°C.

Wash the beetroot, roughing up the skin a bit as you go. Wrap each in foil, place on a lined baking tray and bake for an hour.

While the beetroot is cooking, combine the feta, walnuts, pepitas and spinach in a large bowl. Add a lug of balsamic and olive oil, season and toss.

When the beetroot are done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Unwrap the foil and gently rub the skin away from the beetroot – which it should do, but if not peel them now – cut into large chunks and toss through the salad.

Serve with the beetroot still warm and devour.

 

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Appelly Bishop Salad

Oy with the turkeys already!, Salad, Side, Snack, Vegetarian

Make no mistake, Emily Gilmore – and well, Paris too – is the true heart and aggressive soul of Gilmore Girls, and that all comes down to the exquisite (too much? Never!) performance of my dear friend Kell.

As you could probably guess, I first met Kell in the mid-70s during my stint trolling Broadway for fame, stardom and studs. While I couldn’t lock down the latter – or either of the former, for that matter – I did connect with Kell, which is the ultimate win.

She was starring in her Tony Award winning role of Sheila in A Chorus Line at the time, and I was working as a fluffer / male’s costume cleaner. Obviously I was going through a man-musk fetish at the time but somehow Kell worked her way into my heart and we quickly formed a close bond.

While we didn’t speak for a decade after she didn’t thank my fluffing skills in the speech – “But you were only interested in positioning the men in their tights” – we were eventually brought back together on the set of Dirty Dancing.

Again obviously, I was involved in a torrid affair with Swayze at the time.

I don’t know if I was swayed by the love of Swayz or having a rare moment of rational thought but I apologised to Kell for my behaviour and we built the strong, beautiful friendship that we both hold so dear.

When ASP and I were trying to find a sparring partner for Lorelai, that could equal Ed’s majesty, while providing the emotional backbone of the show and instilling fear maids globally, I knew that Kell was the only person for the job … and the rest, as they say, is history.

I sadly haven’t been able to spend much time with Kell since Bunheads was axed – what with her being a reminder of two beautiful shows axed before their time – so I was elated to be able to finally see her again thanks to the revival.

Which obviously called for my famed Appelly Bishop Salad.

 

appelly-bishop-salad-1

 

I know I say it pretty much every damn time I post, but this recipe truly is the perfect representation of Kell … well, Emily Gilmore at least. Sweet, robust and complex, the flavours work together to provide a salad that works both as a support dish or a star.

Enjoy!

 

appelly-bishop-salad-2

Appelly Bishop Salad
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 green apples, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2 red apples, unpeeled and thinly sliced
100g gruyere, peeled into thin slices
a sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
stalk of celery, finely sliced
½ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
sea salt and black pepper

Method
Place cider vinegar, oil, yoghurt, maple syrup and garlic in a jug and stir to combine.

Combine everything else in a bowl, pour over the dressing and toss thoroughly.

Devour.

 

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Jack McGraveyard

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Halloween, Side, Snack, Sweets, Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

As you would have picked up by now, I have long been a support and inspiration to Teens over the years. None more so than when creating / fleshing out the life and times of one Kenneth Parcell aka my dear Jack McBrayer’s opus.

I first met Jack in the late 90s while he was attending the University of Evansville where I was lecturing in Theatre Administration. Shockingly, this was the one time I was actually qualified to teach what I was hired to do.

Jack always had an overabundance of talent, so I took him under my wing and mentored him to greatness. More importantly, since this is the one job I haven’t been run out of due to a scandalo, we have always remained close. After he graduated, I quickly convinced him to take up improv, got him a job at Second City and the rest, as they say, is history.

Or HERstory.

When Teens was developing 30 Rock, she was having trouble coming up with the Kenneth character so I regaled her with tales of my dear Jack and she developed the role with him in mind.

Obviously the whole Kenneth as an immortal being thing was inspired by my own apparent immortality – she thinks my time-travel is actually a sign of my own immortality – and the character of Hazel was based on my own horrid ways.

Jack has been busy lately, what with also starring in a modern Disney icon Wreck-It Ralph and its upcoming sequel, so we haven’t had much time to catch-up. Thankfully he was eager to clear his schedule for the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah and to split a big ole Jack McGraveyard.

 

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Full disclosure – let’s pretend you haven’t noticed before, ok – presentation / themed edible situations are not my forte … but when they taste this good, you should just look past that.

With a brownie base as black as a lost soul, littered with walnut brains and rotten (cranberry) flesh and topped with a cream cheese grass, this is a graveyard that will make you happy.

Plus, Trump has a tombstone … that counts for something, right?

Enjoy!

 

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Jack McGraveyard
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
225g dark chocolate
225g butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup fresh coffee
200g raw caster sugar
3 large eggs, whisked
150g almond meal
100g walnuts, chopped
100g craisins, chopped
½ cup icing sugar
1 tsp milk
black food colouring
4 oval biscuits
250g cream cheese
1 tbsp double dream
green food colouring
extra 100g chocolate, melted, for decorating – I used a combination

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Remove from the heat, mix in the vanilla, coffee and sugar, and allow to cool slightly.

Once it has had time to chill, beat in the eggs, almond meal, walnuts and craisins. Transfer to a lined, square baking tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until set but still a little gooey. Allow to cool completely.

While the brownies are cooling, combine half the icing sugar and milk in a small bowl with a drop of black food icing to make your tombstone lacquer. Dip the oval biscuits in and allow to set on a lined baking sheet, repeating a couple of times to build up the layers – clearly it was too hot for it to set properly in my house.

Meanwhile beat the cream cheese, remaining icing sugar and double cream in a stand mixture until smooth. Add in enough green colouring to turn it into grass, or slime, whatever you’d rather. I also added black, because spooky.

By now the brownie should be adequately chilled so flip it over onto a serving plate, and dig out space for four graves. Ice around the graves, chuck in the tombstones and return the dug-out dirt to create freshly buried mounds.

Drizzle with melted chocolate, adorn your tombstones and devour. Edible glitter and other kitsch decorative things are highly encouraged – this isn’t a low-rent cemetery!

 

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Julia Sokolowsquinoa Salad

Main, Salad, Side, Snack, Survivor: Kaôh Rōng

Previously on Survivor, Tai escaped from the hold of the dark ones … who technically would be the Dark Two, but whatever, semantics. Tai went back to the heroes and gave us a classic Tribal Council moment when he nah bro’d Scot to the jury.

Everyone but Jason/Kyle/Sarge and the beauty girls seemed happy about the switch, particularly Tai and Aubry who spent, what I assume was the entire night making out.

Poor Caleb, first being brutally medevaced, now cheated on by Tai? Tragic.

We then heard Jason/Kyle/Sarge repeat the same confessional sixteen times before we headed to reward where luck was not on what’s-his-face’s side again, missing the opportunity to compete for fried chicken and wine, aka my foreplay. While the castaways were happy, I’m pretty sure that production stole a romantic date Probst had planned for us, so I’m obviously suing CBS.

While the third/second coming of the Black Widow Brigade and The Witches Coven respectively were away on reward with a random dog, no joke, Sargsonle once again spoke about how screwed he was while Julia salivated at the thought of booting Tai and murdering fan-favourite Mark the Chicken – who has had more screentime than Rudy 2.0 all season.

Little did she know how soon she’d be getting to eat as, once again, the castaways went a bit crazy and turned on my dear friend and protege, Julia Sokolowski after Tai dotted his T and crossed his I to save himself. Well technically, Aubs has kind of had it out for her for a few weeks now. But she was legitimately #Blindsided, so I still chalk it up to a bit of Kaoh Rong cuckoo.

Oh and Michelle won immunity spelling blindside before blindsided her closest ally and the second place finisher of the challenge, so that is pretty ironic. Maybe. More than Alanis’ examples were.

Probably.

I first met Jules last year and despite not knowing her for long, she has quickly become one of my closest friends and I am endeavouring to mould her into being a kind, rational and completed grounded person, just like me!

You see, JuJuSki is lucky enough to not only attend my Alma Mater, Boston University, but also to have pledged my sorority Alpha Phi.

As a former president of Alpha Phi in the mid-90s (there was a campus serial killer at the time which inspired both Scream 2 and Scream Queens … but I’ll tell you about it later), I like to provide support and guidance to my new sisters and help shape the minds of the future. JuJu is a shining star and as soon as I saw her, I knew that she had to be my latest mentee.

Ju was sad to make her way to Ponderosa, but as a super fan, was able to respect the gameplay. Plus I had a big bowl of my Julia Sokolowsquinoa Salad on hand to distract her from her boot slash not eating Mark the Chicken.

 

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Full disclosure, I spilt some wine and Julia shed some tears into the pot while cooking the quinoa so it is a bit soggier than normal. Obviously, we expect no judgement. Plus, even if you tried, Julia would just straight up turn around and walk out mid-way through your sentence like she did to Jeff mid-snuff. Girl is tough.

Despite the hiccup, this salad is seriously good! The sweetness of the pumpkin works perfectly with the nuttiness of the goat’s cheese and the tang on the orange. Plus, quinoa is healthy so you can feel totally smug after eating it.

Enjoy!

 

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Julia Sokolowsquinoa Salad
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
450g can whole baby beetroot, rinsed and drained (You could use fresh, trimmed, scrubbed, wrapped in foil and baked for 30mins. But who can be bothered in the middle of the Cambodian jungle?)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
800g pumpkin, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh thyme
400g white quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2 oranges
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
½ cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
120g goat’s cheese, crumbled

Method
Preheat oven to 180C. Spread pumpkin out on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with extra oil, the cumin, a good whack of salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes, or golden and cooked through.

Cook quinoa following packet directions, avoiding to overcook or drown in booze/tears like we did – maybe you like mushy, soggy food? Either way, when it is cooked to your liking, set it aside to cool.

Peel and segment the oranges over a large bowl to catch all of the juice and combine with the honey, mustard and oil. Stirring to combine.

Cut beetroot into wedges and add to the orange and dressing with the pumpkin, quinoa, parsley, walnuts and cheese.

Devour and let your post blindside rage disappear.

 

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+.