Belinda Jeffrey

Sarah the Caterer

5/23/2007 05:34:00 PM

A couple of weeks ago, my good friends Liam and Alistair told me they were making a short film, and if I would be so kind as to cater for their shoot. Never one to say no to feeding large groups of people, I said yes. It was a 5-day shoot, with with 20 - 32 people on set each night. I had a budget of $100 a day, and had to make a proper meal, a set of nibbly snacks and some sweets. At first, I had big plans of making almost everything from scratch - from pasta sauces, to cakes, quiches and pies.


Disaster struck. One week before the shoot was scheduled to begin, I swiftly (and painfully) threw out my back at the gym, and was bedridden for two days. After that, I slowly got better, but I still couldn't go to work or uni for the rest of the week, and couldn't face the idea of standing in the kitchen for hours on end. I scaled back my cooking plans, for instance, buying jarred sauce and dips from the supermarket instead of making everything myself. For the items that I did make, some were from recipes, and some I just improvised (see below). I enlisted the help of my best friend (thank-you!!) and we still managed to feed the crew.

On an aside - hitting Coles with $500 and a trolley is waay too much fun!

Here is what we ended up making...

Day 1 - 21 people

Penne Bolognese (Beef mince, Coles 'Smart Buy' penne, Dolmio tomato sauce)

Vegetarian Pasta (Dolmio tomato sauce, mushrooms, Coles 'Smart Buy" spiral pasta)

Coca Cola Cupcakes (Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess. I used baking powder instead of bicarb, which made them dense and fudgy. I also used less coke in the icing than the recipe states, so the icing was thicker than usual.)

Anzac Biscuits (Belinda Jeffrey, Mix and Bake. Pictured at the top. It was a very good recipe! Anzacs are highly addictive.)

Dips & Crackers & Bread & Cheeses. And a melon!

Day 2 - 20 people
2 Ham & Cheese quiches (Donna Hay, Modern Classics I. I made the pastry very quickly, and ended up with a couple of holes in the base. Whoops! In order to avert this problem, I layed whole pieces of ham across the base, rather than chopping it up. Brilliant!

Layer over the ham...

Sprinkle over cheese and chopped parsley...

Pour over a mixture of cream, eggs and mustard...

And bake!

Cheese/spinach/potato pastries. This is the way my mum makes curry puffs. You just make a filling (in this case, boiled potato cubes, chopped cooked spinach and grated cheese). Then, you heat up your old electric jaffle iron, line it with pastry and fill it with your filling. The jaffle iron shapes and cooks the pastry all in one go. My mum is a genius.

Mmm... Pastry town!

Chocolate & Pecan higgledy piggeldys (Belinda Jeffry's Mix and Bake. To make these you crush up McVitie's digestive biscuits, mix them with butter and sugar, press them into a large tray, and bake for 5 minutes. Then you pour over finely chopped chocolate (which melts), sprinkle over chopped pecans, and let it set. Crunchy and compulsive.

Cheese stars (Nigella Lawson, How to Eat. Made on special request for Alistair. His favourite biscuits. Apparently he was scavenging through the food boxes every night, waiting for these to appear.)

Dips & Crackers & Crudités & Fruits

Day 3 - 20 people

Baguettes! We got 6 large baguettes from Laurent, sliced them in half lengthwise, and filled them with all sorts of things - ham, cheese & mustard; chicken, mayo & salad; mixed roasted veggies & feta; salami, tomato & cheese... We got 6 good-sized sandwiches out of each large baguette, and apparently there was enough to even feed the 30 extras.

More dips, crackers, fruits, crudites and cheese

Little sandwiches ready for the jaffle iron. Liam cleverly invested in his own jaffle machine for the film shoot. This worked out well, because some of the bread we'd bought (4 days earlier) had started to go a little bit stale. (It was still well within its use-by date, but was just starting to dry out). I used that bread for ready-made jaffles, and the bread was saved. There was ham and cheese, plain cheese, and pesto & feta.

Day 4 - 21 people

The same pastas as on Day 1

Leftover sweet treats from the previous days
(Apparently I'd overcatered. Me?)

More dips, cheese, crackers etc etc...

Day 5 - 32 people

Baked pastas. For these I cooked pasta until just underdone, and then layered it in a foil tray with jarred pasta sauce and cheese, before baking them until brown and crispy. I made one vegetarian version, one salami version, and one with minced beef. These went down quite well, proving my theory that everything tastes better with cheese.

Again, there were also leftover sweets to go around, and yet another round of dips/cheese/crackers etc.

And after all of that, my back was fine (thank goodness), but I think another weekend stuck in bed was definitely in order.

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  1. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Curry Puffs in a jaffle maker GENIUS !!! What pastry do you use specifically is it one from scratch or store brought? any fav fillings we love our jaffle maker it can do 4 at a time but I have never thought of putting anything but bread in, Genius I feel like I've had an epiphany wait till my bro finds out about this he'll think he's died and gone to heaven hmmm Perhaps I'm being a bit enthusiastic :) :)
    Everything looked great very ambitious hope your backs on the mend :)

  2. I bet it all tasted as good as it looks!!! Yum!

  3. Anonymous11:34 PM

    Yum, this looks very good!

  4. Amazing!! Well done! It's so impressive that you not only made all that fab food, but also did so on a set budget. Great job, Sarah! And best friend!

  5. ok, I'm off to google jaffle maker. Thats a kitchen thing I've never heard of.

  6. Thanks guys!

    Randi - a jaffle iron is an electric machine thingo, kinda like a waffle iron but with a different shape (you can see the triangular shape in the photos on my blog), and in Australia we use them to make toasted sandwiches with sealed edges. They're usually ham and cheese or tomato and cheese.

    Mel - Lol, my mum just always used store-bought pastry (I'm proud to say I used Coles "Smart Buy" budget pastry this time, and they turned out fine). She usually makes curry puffs in the jaffle iron - minced beef, curry powder, boiled potato cubes, onion - and keeps the cooked puffs in the freezer. I like spinach/potato/cheese. :)

    xox Sarah



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.