The ChefBeHere Buffet
Time taken: 20 minutes
Ingredients: One pack of falafel mix, a tomato, 50g feta cheese, two chunks of olive focaccia bread, a splash of oil, a little butter & some plain flour.
So, readers, sometimes it’s a cloudy day. Inside and out. You sleep and you wake up, but don’t really feel rested. There’s a grey sky outside. No time for coffee and before you know it you’re on your way to work. Stifling a yawn and then a hundred more. Your iPod shuffles cheerful songs – it’s in a better mood than you. Your news app, meanwhile, is full of death.
One of those days! I had one of them yesterday. Wishing I was anywhere other than working my shift at the airport. Quite wishing I was boarding the plane to Dubai. Or that I was on the settee at home in Sheffield, with the family and a Sudoku for company.
After hours today spent feeling sorry for myself… FINALLY, I got to leave work. And figured out how to (sort of) recreate home up in Newcastle! So, it’s hard to explain, but I think every family has traditions with food. Like stockpiling Pukka Pies for an end of the week ‘Friday Pie-day’, maybe? Or hitting the chippy after work and calling it ‘Fish n Chips Friday’. Or getting Dominoes on the phone for ‘Friday Night Pizza Night’. Every house does something different!
I remember, with my lot, we visited Disneyland Paris when I was 4 and my bro was 2 (we were tiny!) and for yeeears after the trip we would eat croissants for breakfast each week. Without fail. Literally, croissants on a Sunday morning was an institution! The fam went to France and, aside from a little Disney magic and a ton of gift shop merchandise, the MAIN THING we brought back with us was a love for French pastries. Which endures today.
And another big custom at home involves lunch on a Saturday. This is a tradition, really, that was invented by my dad as a way to avoid spending time in the kitchen, and thereby potentially missing football/Formula One/anything on TV in the livingroom. It’s a very tactical idea, but we love it!
Basically, my dad goes shopping on a Saturday morning to Morrisons (often hungover and with no shopping list) and he picks up a selection of random food items that look good. Gets home and unpacks these onto the dining table, along with plates and forks. And that’s it. We have a sort of indoor picnic. It’s an effortless buffet for 3!
Regulars features of our buffet are some form of hot’n’spicy chicken limbs, maybe, but not for me. Perhaps a fresh loaf of bread. Fancy cheese. Olives? Cheese rolls. Tubs of coleslaw-like stuff… you get the picture. It’s a random assortment of stuff but we chuck it all together and eat with plates on our knees, watching Lewis Hamilton go out and risk his life again.
So, yesterday, I got in from work and thought THAT’S IT… it’s Saturday and I’m having a buffet for tea. And I did. A buffet for 1! Basically, it was the best tea ever and this isn’t really a recipe at all but I share this with you, readers, because I feel like everyone should eat as if they were at a buffet. I prescribe this once a week as a boost for the mood when it’s a cloudy day, inside or out!
You can fill your plate with anything you like, but here’s to throw together a buffet plate ChefBeHere-style, in just ten easy steps…
1. Pour 150ml cold water into a measuring jug.
2. Open your packet of falafel mix and tip into the jug. Stir it up! Then leave your mix for 5 minutes to thicken.
3. Meanwhile, slice your tomato into small pieces and chop a few squares from your block of feta cheese.
4. Pop your tomato and cheese chunks onto a dinner plate.
5. Flour your hands and use them to scoop up small amounts of falafel mix, rolling each one into a small ball.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Keep your flour nearby! My falafel mix was very sticky and I needed to re-flour my hands or I’d still have been there today trying to roll the mix without it sticking to my fingers.
6. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.
7. Meanwhile, cut a couple of chunks of bread from your olive focaccia loaf. Butter these and add them to your plate, alongside your cheese and tomato chunks.
8. Spoon your falafel balls into your frying pan and leave to sizzle on one side for a couple of minutes. Then, turn each one over so that they are golden side up and green side down in the pan.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: After a few more minutes in the pan your falafel should start to become firm, warm and crisp to touch.
9. When your falafel are cooked, tip them out onto your plate alongside your other grub.
10. Serve up your crazy plate of food!
Which may look something like this…
So, a Saturday Buffet maybe won’t remind you of home and family in the same way that it does for me. And I realise that this isn’t a ground-breaking recipe! But, as the end piece of an inventive throwing-things-together-and-seeing-what-happens kind of chef session… I think this is pretty damn good. And not as weird as other platefuls of food that I’ve produced. Pesto noodles, anyone? Didn’t think so!
Basically, the items on this plate are all amongst my favourite foods, and plating them up together was a simple stroke of genius. Go forth, readers, and make this happen in your kitchen. It doesn’t have to be Saturday! It doesn’t even have to be cloudy. I think this dish could, in fact, be served with a fruit cider or a crisp glass of wine when the sun is out. Cue day dreams of summer!
Send your thoughts my way, readers, how do rate this ChefBeHere Buffet? In your books, does this recipe make for a taste sensation or for a blog-to-be-forgotten?? I’m intrigued to hear! Fingers crossed, I’ve just introduced you to your new favourite meal EVER.
Today, I head back to work at the airport. Wish me luck.
And survive safely,