Chef Carter #1

Tomorrow Never Dines

I’m now in my forties, and I cannot cook. I can whack some potato waffles under the grill. I can heat soup in a microwave, or occasionally on the hob, if I’m too lazy to clean up the soup that’s exploded in the microwave. I can handle using the toaster. I can make cereal fairly effectively. But otherwise…. that’s about it.

I’ve always been a fussy eater, due to allergies as a kid making me super reluctant to try anything new. Were I living alone, I would quite happily live (albeit not for very long) on a diet of crisps and cornflakes. My first marriage forced me to broaden my taste horizons (to this day I still remember being violently sick on the side of I40 near Richmond, Indiana because I’d not realised how much egg was being used in some ravioli dish I’d eaten at an Italian place a few minutes earlier). My second, and more successful marriage, pushed the horizons even further, and I’ve tried a lot more different foods that Ceri has cooked for me, cos she’s a really good cook – but I’ve never had the drive to actually cook anything myself.

And I still don’t.

However, in an effort to be a good husband, and a somewhat reasonable human being who’s open to new things in some small regard, I am helping to cook our New Year’s meal plan – a plan to get us cooking our own food more, and eating a wee bit healthier each weeknight.

What The Hell Is Falafal?

My first stab at cooking was Falafal Burgers. I’ve heard of falafal. Well, no, that’s bollocks, I’ve heard the word ‘falafal’. Probably because I follow Olaf Falafel on Twitter.

Ceri forwarded me the recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/falafel-burgers-0, and so, nervous and dreading it, I began. The recipe stated a combined prep time and cooking time of 16 mins, and I’m reasonably sure it took me that long to just finish prepping two of the ingredients….

SO. I opened a can of chick peas, drained them in a colander, and then patted them dry with some kitchen roll. Well, dry-ish. I wasn’t going to dry every single chick pea. Was I supposed to? I don’t know. But I dumped that stuff in the food processor, and then tried to chop an onion. Boy, am I shit at chopping onions. I asked (in a non-clear and confusing fashion I admit) for some onion-chopping advice from Ceri, when what I should have done is watched a YouTube tutorial about chopping onions, cos Ceri is far too short-tempered to teach me how to chop onions.

Anywho, after I’d massacred the onion, I dumped that into the food processor too. I then had to put a clove of garlic in there. I thought a bulb of garlic and a clove of garlic where the same thing. They are NOT the same thing. But fortunately, Ceri told me before I made some very garlic-y falafel. Next I threw in some flat-leaf parsley – recipe said a handful. So I dumped a handful in. I think. Next I added in a teaspoon each of ground cumin, and ground coriander, and half a teaspoon of harissa paste. Next, I added in the two tablespoons of plain flour, and then the recipe said to add a ‘little salt’. How much is a little salt? I’ve no idea. This is complete guesswork shit!

So, with all that guff in the food processor, I locked it up, and turned it on! Everything in the processor immediately smushed up to the sides of the bowl, away from the blades. I ended up having to stop, and smush everything back down, then start it up again. Same result. So I did that a few more times, until it was all some sort of gunky paste. I scooped that all out onto a chopping board, and got my hands dirty shaping the goo into four roughly equal sized patties. That bit I didn’t struggle with too much.

The next bit was a big step for me, a huge personal achievement – I had to use a frying pan for the first time. I put some vegetable oil in the pan, and got it heated up. Then I spatula’d the patties into the pan and left those buggers fry.

At this point, I started putting slices of pitta bread into the toaster. Heat apparently makes whatever-the-fuck pitta bread is expand a little bit, and then you have to cut it open to make a sort of bun for these patties. I really wish I’d used a bigger cerated blade to cut those bloody things open, cos I was panicking trying to get them going while the patties were frying. As I struggled with the uncuttable toasted bread, I paused to faff about trying to flip the patties using the spatula (tricky cos I’m afraid of heat and burning myself and the sizzling pan was making me nervous). But after some faffing. I successfully managed to navigate the now-cooked patties into the now-open pitta breads.

The recipe said to serve alongside a tub of tomato salsa and a green salad, but I’d forgotten to prep any of that stuff, so Ceri made do with some mayonnaise, while I splopped a bit of ketchup on mine (and a little bit of salt and vinegar, cos I like that stuff a lot). And by gum, it was edible, and didn’t taste too bad at all! It definitely could have used more… uh… well… flavour? I probably should have a been a bit less stingey with the harissa paste. What is harissa paste? Buggered if I know!

That done, all that was left was the clean up, and that was obviously bloody tedious.

So, all in all, my first cookery experience wasn’t too bad. It didn’t take hugely long, and I made something that was palatable and not horrible, so that’s obviously a good thing.

Next time, I’ll try and take pictures, or maybe make a video, especially if there’s some huge potential for me to cock it all up. So stay tuned for more cookery shenanigans… er… soon!

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