Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Glorious Grains of Goodness

Rice is the staple diet of more than two thirds of the planet, with 40,000 varieties grown on every continent except Antarctica. Researchers believe it was cultivated over 7,000 years ago, probably originating from Burma. There are numerous Asian rituals relating to rice – for example, in Japan folklore surrounds its harvesting, planting and preparation: soaking before cooking is thought to release its inner life, giving the recipient a more peaceful soul.

High in complex carbohydrates, rice contains almost no fat, is cholesterol free and low in sodium: all the good things needed for healthy, hard working yachties! With so many varieties of rice available we can keep a wide choice in our galleys. One important thing to remember when using rice onboard is to make sure opened packs are properly sealed before going back in storage. Weavels love and thrive on rice! I suggest vacuum-packing whenever possible. Try to buy vacuum packed rice too, to avoid these dreaded creepy crawlies!

Classic rice pudding with rich poached cherries
Serves 6

130g short grain pudding rice
600ml milk
50g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
60ml thick cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways with
seeds scraped out
A pinch of salt
36 cherries, stones removed
75g butter
75g caster sugar
400ml Banyuls wine (contact Rod at
VSF if you have trouble finding this)
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Rinse the rice in cold water then put
in a saucepan, cover with water and
bring to boil.
2. In another large pan, heat the milk
with the sugar.
3. Drain the rice and add it to the milk
with the salt and the vanilla. Cook
for about ten minutes on a very low
heat, cover and cook for another five
4. Mix the egg yolk and cream. As
soon as the rice is cooked, remove
from the heat and stir in the cream
mixture. Set aside whilst you prepare
the cherries.
5. Heat the butter in a frying pan until
foaming, sprinkle in the cherries and
half the sugar. Toss around in the pan,
adding the rest of the sugar as you go.
6. Flambé the cherries with two-thirds
of the Banyuls. Once the flames die
down, gently poach the fruit for a
couple of minutes then transfer to a
7. Pour the remaining Banyuls into the
pan and reduce to a light syrup.
8. Serve with the cherries scattered
around the warm rice pudding, a good
drizzle of the rich syrup and a pinch of
freshly grated nutmeg.

Herbs and Pesto Vodcast

Galley Gourmet Vodcast - Herbs and Pesto from Mallorca Audio Visual on Vimeo.

Tastes of the Caribbean - Part 3

Seafood plays a vital role in Caribbean cooking, with a huge variety of amazing fish and shellfish on offer, including flying fish, king mackerel (or kingfish), parrotfish, sailfish, hogfish, snappers and mahi mahi to name a few. Lobster is also found throughout the islands, along with juicy oysters, big prawns and sweet scallops.

One type of shellfish that you seem to find everywhere throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas is the conch. These saltwater snails have an interesting history – as well as being tasty as fritters or in chowders and salads. The unusual shells are sold everywhere as tacky souvenirs, but are regularly confiscated at the airport, as it is illegal to export them! Many islanders use the shell as a ceremonial trumpet – as part of religious rites or as a call to battle. One of my friends even used one to call her guests for mealtimes on the boat she was working on! In Buddhism the conch is a symbol of Buddha’s teachings, which spreads in all directions like the sound of the conch trumpet.

Here’s a recipe for conch fritters in beer batter, with a spicy jam dip. The conch meat has to be tenderised before use: you can normally buy it prepared for you. Make the dip first and allow plenty of time to cool.

Conch Fritters in Caribbean Beer Batter, with Tomato
& Hot Chilli Jammin’

For the dip:

300g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
300g red cherry tomatoes, halved
4 green chillies, fi nely sliced
4 red chillies, fi nely sliced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
600g white sugar
125ml white wine vinegar
For the fritters:
500g fresh conch meat, cut into thumb-
sized pieces
125g “00” fl our
30g cornfl our
300ml Kalik or Carib beer
½ teaspoon fi ne sea salt
Oil for frying

1. Remove some of the seeds from the red
chillies to reduce the heat, or use a Scotch
Bonnet chilli if you’re really daring!
2. Put all the ingredients into a thick-
bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil.
3. Turn down to a medium simmer, until
it becomes thick and syrupy, stirring
occasionally to stop it sticking.
4. Allow to cool completely before serving.
5. Meanwhile, sieve the fl our and cornfl our
together, stir in the cold, freshly opened
beer until just smooth – do this as your oil
is heating up.
6. Gently coat the conch pieces in batter
and fry until golden.
Serve the fritters with plenty of freshly
chopped coriander, coarse sea salt and
lime wedges. Present the jam in a small
pot on the side. Use this at your next
limbo party... you be jammin’ and
dippin’, mon!

Pumpkin Power

As quickly as it came, the summer is over for most of us, and the witching hour will soon be upon us. Pumpkin Jack is back and Halloween is around the corner. Here’s how to use your pumpkins for more than just making a lantern.

Pumpkins have been used for thousands of years, by many civilisations. The first European settlers in North America filled them with milk, honey and spices and baked them in ash fires. This was the original pumpkin pie. Pumpkins are a source of real goodness. Just to carve them out and bin the contents is a complete waste. It’s the beta-carotene, an essential source of vitamin A, which gives them their rich orange colour. A lack of this vitamin can cause night blindness, among other ailments.

The seeds, sometimes known as ‘pepitas’, can be dried and eaten as a snack and are extremely good as a preventative for certain types of cancer. They are rich in vitamin E, zinc, iron, potassium and magnesium, which is why pumpkin seed oil is often found in health food shops. This oil is made by pressing the roasted skinless seeds: it has a dark, golden colour and a warm, nutty flavour, and makes a wonderful dressing for a roast pumpkin salad. I think the best way
to retain some of that summer warmth, however, is by serving up some freshly baked pumpkin bread, so why not have a go at the recipe.

A Halloween Tale
Of course, you now have an empty pumpkin, and a chance to demonstrate more of your artistic skills. So what’s with the whole ‘spooky’ pumpkin malarkey anyway? It’s an interesting story to read while you wait for your bread to bake. So light your lantern, pour yourself a glass and enjoy…

The Jack-o-Lantern tradition comes from an old Irish myth about a man called Stingy Jack. He once encouraged the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, though, he didn’t want to pay for it. Knowing the Devil to be just as stingy, he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin, to cover the cost. But then Jack decided to pocket the cash instead. He put the coin in his pocket along with a silver cross to stop the Devil from changing back to his original form.

Stingy Jack then made a deal with the Devil that should he die, his soul would not be taken – as long as he freed the Devil. The Devil agreed, but after gaining his liberty, he got his revenge by convincing Jack to eat an apple – just like Eve of The Bible fame! As Jack was only a short fellow, he couldn’t reach the apple, and the Devil had to climb the tree to get it. Meanwhile, down below, Jack carved a cross into the trunk so that the Devil could not climb back down…

Shortly after this, Jack died. Of course, God refused him entry to heaven on account of his mischief. Trouble was, the Devil was still bound not to take his soul either, so his soul was sent out into the night, with just a piece of glowing charcoal to light his way. Jack put the charcoal into a turnip and carried it with him as his lantern, so becoming Jack-o-Lantern. When Irish migrants reached the US, they found that pumpkins made a much better lantern.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Bread
Serves 8

500 g pumpkin flesh, diced into small pieces (any
type of pumpkin can be used)
One tablespoon olive oil
A good hand full of chopped fresh rosemary
260 g self-raising flour
125 g polenta
40 g grated parmesan cheese
Two eggs
300 g crème fraîche
55 g pumpkin seeds

• Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
• Oil a 14 cm x 21 cm loaf tin and line with
baking paper.
• Place the pumpkin flesh and some of the rosemary
on a tray and roast for about 20 minutes until tender
enough for mashing.
• Spread the mash on a tray and leave to cool
• Reduce the oven to 180°C.
• Stir the sieved flour, polenta, parmesan cheese and
the rest of the rosemary into the pumpkin mash.
• Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche together and
fold into the mixture until just combined.
• Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, sprinkle
over the pumpkin seeds, cover with more baking
paper and bake in the centre of the oven for about
20-25 minutes.
• Leave to stand for a good five minutes, then turn
out onto a wire rack.
• Serve whilst still warm.

Tastes of the Caribbean - Part 2

We all think of ye olde pirates as plunderers of gold, silver and gems, but in reality they were more likely to attack merchant ships for other cargos, especially spices, as these ships were not as heavily armed and the spices could easily be traded throughout the newly colonised islands. Each island has its own hot sauce, made from the many different chillies, and a variety of curry powders can also be found. Marinating, or “seasoning up”, is used on many of the islands and typically starts with chopped chives and oregano, celery leaf, grated onion, mashed garlic, ground chillies, powdered cloves and lime juice. One of the most popular dishes of the Caribbean is definitely goat curry. I persuaded my Jamaican cousin, Leon, to share his amazing recipe with us.

Cousin Leon’s Jamaican Curry Gewt*

1.4kg goat meat – with bones to add flavour
and an element of surprise when you eat it!
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 whole Scotch Bonnet pepper
3–4tbsp basic Caribbean curry powder,
depending on taste (choose one from
whichever island you’re on!)
2 lamb stock cubes
Cooking oil
28g ground black pepper
2tbsp salt
4 sprigs thyme
Juice of 2 limes
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes

1. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, and wash with the lime juice and water.
2. Rub the seasoning (garlic, onion, ground pepper, thyme and salt) into the meat
and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
3. Remove the meat from the refrigerator (retaining the seasoning).
4. In a saucepan, heat the oil on high until fairly hot, then add one tablespoon of
curry powder. Stir more curry powder in until the colour starts to change.
5. Put the goat meat in the saucepan, stirring for two minutes and being careful
not to burn it.
6. Add two tablespoons of water with the lamb stock cubes to the pot. Keep
stirring until the meat looks like the muscles are tightening up.
7. Turn down the heat to medium and add two cups of water to the saucepan. Add
the Scotch Bonnet. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
8. Check on the meat in the pot, stir again and add water to cover the meat.
9. Simmer for another 20 minutes, and then check to see if the meat is medium soft. If it
is, return the seasoning you removed earlier to the pot. Add the potatoes now if desired.
10. Simmer for another 15 minutes on a slightly lower heat.
11. Taste to see if it’s hot enough, if not you’ll have to go hunting for another
Scotch Bonnet pepper. Find, slice up and return to the stove.
12. Cook the stew until most of the water is evaporated, and let the fat and bones
from the goat flavour the stew and add body.
13. Serve with rice, rotis and reggae!
*Seriously, this is how it’s pronounced!

Tastes of the Caribbean - Part 1

The Caribbean has an extremely colourful culinary past as a result of its early American-Indian roots, European invaders and introduction of African slaves. Each of these brought its own style and technique through plants and livestock, as well as incorporating the indigenous ones already in abundance due to the tropical weather and vegetation.
Over the next couple of months I will be providing information on the many unusual fl avours available, together with some interesting trivia to impress your guests! Let’s make a start with the exotic fruits of the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Here’s information on some of the fruits that you may come across:

A beautiful yellow, black and red colour, ackee is about the size of a peach and tastes like scrambled eggs when eaten, traditionally with salt fish for breakfast. When unripe it contains hypoglycin, which is quite poisonous so make sure you get ripe ones!

Introduced over 100 years ago as an economic way to feed African slaves of sugar plantations. When plantation owners had to free the slaves the sugar cane was left to waste but the newly freed slaves could still enjoy free food as the breadfruit grew happily in abundance.

Acerola or Barbados cherry
This wonderful fruit has the highest vitamin C content of any fruit – the equivalent of 12 oranges! It also retains all of its vitamins after freezing or making jam.

This close relative of the custard apple is a spectacular-looking fruit, used to make soft drinks and sherbets. It is dark green, heart-shaped and covered in spiny thorns. Mature soursop is often used as a vegetable, roasted or fried. Half-grown ones are boiled until tender and have the taste and aroma of corn on the cob.

This small, popular green fruit is quince-like. The chopped fl esh makes a good stuffi ng with rich meats such as duck, pork and game. It is used to make spicy salsas, jams and punches.

Here’s a recipe for Guava Chutney. Originally Indian, it goes so well with many spicy Caribbean dishes like goat curry or jerk chicken:

Guava Chutney

250g fresh guava
1 red chilli, chopped
(seeds can be left in or
out depending on heat
2 cups water
1 cup rice vinegar
2 large cardamom pods
180g cane sugar
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh
ginger, fi nely grated
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons desiccated
A small handful of raisins

1.Peel the guava, cut into four pieces and
remove the seeds.
2.Slice thinly and cook with the ginger,
garlic and water until soft.
3.Add the chilli, coconut, raisins and
sugar, and cook until thick and syrupy.
4.Allow to cool before putting into jars and
serving with your next spicy island feast!


Honey has to be one of the finest natural ingredients in the world. The work that goes into making it is immense. Bees have to tap over two million flowers to make just one kilo of honey, travelling a distance of more than three times round the world! 

Honey is not only a great sweetener, but also an amazing nutritional source. Take a spoonful in your morning tea or coffee instead of sugar to give you a refreshing burst of energy. It is also very high in anti-oxidants, is fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free, so a daily dose is highly recommended for hard-working yachties. 

Honey and beeswax products are used as beauty treatments and
proven health remedies the world over, while gladiators were said to have poured it onto their gaping wounds to aid healing. This method can still be used, as many bacteria cannot survive in honey so wounds can heal, swelling eases and tissue can grow back. 

My favourite thing about honey, though, is that it truly is the food of love – probably the oldest aphrodisiac! Legend has it that Cupid dipped his love arrows in it before firing them. The endearment ‘honey’ is often given to a loved one as a term of affection, while the term ‘honeymoon’ comes from the tradition of what was once called the ‘honey month’ in the times of a lunar calendar. For one month after wedlock the newlyweds would be given lots of mead to drink, which is a honey wine, the oldest known fermented drink. This was said to aid fertility and happiness in the first few weeks of marriage. 

There are so many different varieties of honeys, from so many floras,giving us lots of flavouring options. I buy homemade jars of the stuff whenever I go to local markets. I remember buying a particularly good lavender honey in Croatia. I have found some very good ones all over the Mediterranean and in Turkey: all very different depending on climate and vegetation. Most honey is polyfloral, which means it is made from many different flowers. Sometimes, though, a plant or herb will produce enough pollen in one season for the bees to use as their sole source. This is called ‘monofloral’ honey and is much sought after due to its distinct, individual flavour. Imagine a piece of roast lamb coated in a layer of pure rosemary honey. Delicious!

I have put together a small guide on some different types of honey and some suggestions
on how to use them. I hope you stock your galley with nature’s food of love and make life sweet! Here are some great monofloral honeys: Orange blossom Coat roasted duck breast in this at the end of cooking and add a little more just before serving. Sage Pour generously over freshly barbecued Cumberland sausages. Eucalyptus If you have a cold in the winter, make
yourself a hot lemon and eucalyptus honey tea to soothe your throat and decongest. Rosemary Ideal with any piece of grilled or roast lamb. Honeycomb In this form, the best thing to do is spread it onto fresh, warm toast! Acacia This lovely, clear, mild-tasting honey is great poured on your cereal in the morning or mixed with Greek yoghurt. Lavender If you have trouble sleeping, put a spoon of this into a camomile tea before bedtime.

Honey and Mustard Salad Dressing

4 tablespoons clear, polyfloral honey
2–3 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
½ cup apple-cider vinegar
½ cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons mild olive oil

• Put all ingredients into a plastic bottle
• Pop in two glass marbles
• Put the top on and shake vigorously!
To be demonstrated on

Salty Seadogs

Salt is the most essential seasoning in the history of cooking and a vital component of a healthy diet. It is also used in religious ceremonies and festive traditions the world over. To the ancient Greeks and Jews salt was a symbol of hospitality and union, as it is to Muslims today. In Arab tradition, to receive salt is also a mark of such hospitality and loyalty. The word ‘salary’ is derived from the Latin word for salt, salarium, which was the money given to Roman soldiers to buy salt. Under British rule in India, salt was controlled as a state monopoly and heavily taxed. In 1930 at a beach in Dandi, a young man named Mahatma Gandhi symbolically broke the law by picking up a handful of sea salt. This act sparked a wave of public protest, which forced the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, into negotiations over taxation.

There are so many wonderful and colourful varieties of salt available, some of which are expensive and need to be used properly. Learning how to season with salt correctly is a simple skill, but one that can make all the difference to your dishes. You should introduce a little salt at each stage of cooking, dropping it from quite a height for even distribution while tasting along the way, with final adjustments at the end. When you add a little salt in lots of stages, you use less salt than when you chuck it all over your food at the table. At my friend’s restaurant, he is so confident of his seasoning that there are no salt cellars at the table! Personally, I think that we shouldn’t be disappointed when people add salt to a dish that we might think is
perfectly seasoned. The perception of salt is highly personal, based as it is on the salt content of an individual’s saliva.

Here are a few of the salts available and some suggestions of how to use them: 

Maldon Sea Salt 
A light, pyramid-shaped salt from England, ideal for
sprinkling on fresh salad leaves before serving.

Fleur de Sel
Delicate white salt from northern France, ideal for finishing light
seafood plates such as scallops or on freshly seared foie gras.

Sel Gris
Harvested from the same marshes as Fleur de Sel, but has hard, moist
crystals with a slight tang. Ideal on stronger tasting meats such as duck or steak.

Hiwa Kai, Black Hawaiian Sea Salt
This has a striking black colour, as it is combined with charcoal. An obvious choice for finishing anything cooked on a griddle pan for a barbecued effect.

Alaea, Course Hawaiian Sea Salt
This has an incredible red colour from added clay. Apart from being used in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless their canoes, it is rich in trace minerals. It goes brilliantly with sushi.

Celery Salt
A common spiced salt found in all spice racks. This is an essential
condiment for a good Bloody Mary!

These speciality salts are best used just before serving, as their unique flavours will
be lost during cooking.

Why not create your own flavoured seasoning salts?
Here are two suggestions that are very simple to put

Burmese Curry Salt

2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander
2 small dried chillies
3 Kaffir lime leaves, dried
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp turmeric

Just grind them all together in a
coffee grinder and mix with 300 g of
semi-coarse sea salt. This can be used
for sprinkling on Asian-style dishes,
such as tempura prawns or stir-fried

Mediterranean Herb Salt 

4 bay leaves
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme

Again, just grind them all together in
a coffee grinder and mix with 300 g
of semi-coarse sea salt. Brilliant on
barbecued lamb or whole fish!

La Bella Pasta

Dried pasta was used as a key provision on board ships exploring the New World. It is a great source of carbohydrate and it is low in fat, making it an important dietary requirement for any hard-working crew. It is extremely versatile, makes good comfort food in all seasons and is good fun to cook. Its Italian origins go back to the Arab occupation of Sicily, although the Chinese have been making it since 3000 BC. The Sicilian word ‘maccaruni’, which we obviously know as macaroni, means ‘made into dough by force’. The process of kneading pasta dough was originally done using the feet. King Ferdinand the Second of Naples, however, disapproved of this method and so he hired an engineer to invent a machine to do the job more hygienically. Naples was the centre for pasta production due to its ideal climate for drying it.

Making fresh pasta is like being back at kindergarten playing with
Play-DohTM! Each region of Italy has its own speciality pasta dish
with often a story to go with it. The many interesting shapes of pasta
have funky Italian names, which translate into simple English. It’s
a fun way to learn some Italian vocabulary! The shapes are not just
made to look pretty, though. Each is designed to complement the
specific texture of the sauce that it is served with.
Fresh pasta is not better than dried pasta, it’s simply another version
of it. Different shapes have different uses. Essentially, thin, delicate
pastas such as angel hair or fine spaghetti should be used with
lighter sauces, while shapes with holes or ridges are better used
with chunkier sauces.
Pasta is an absolutely essential food item for any galley. Its wonderful
history tells us this.

Here are some of the various shapes:

Capellini -'Fine hair' or 'angel hair'. Goes well with light, cream or oil based sauces.

Acini di pepe - 'Peppercorns'. These tiny pasta shapes are ideal in soups.

Orzo - 'Barley'. This rice-sized pasta is also good for using in soups or can be cooked on it's own and served as a side dish.

Fusilli - 'Screws'. These make brilliant salads, especially if using the Tricolor (three-coloured) ones.

Orecchiette - 'Little Ears'. These are almost like a form of gnocchi and are ideal with chunky sauces. very popular in the Puglia region, the heal part of the boot of Italy, where they serve it with broccoli.

Radiatori - 'Radiators'. Yes, the look like little radiators! The ridges make them ideal for holding on to thick, cheesy sauces.

Gigle - 'Lilies'. These fluted, flowery looking pasta are great in chunky, meatly casserole.

Ditalini - 'Thimbles'. These small ridged tubular pasta are good used in a bake like such as macaroni cheese.

Farfalle - 'Butterflies'. Good in salads or equally good with a light or heavy sauce - very versatile.

Here’s a recipe for a basic fresh pasta dough. You will need a pasta machine for this. I suggest buying a good quality, Italian-made,
heavy-duty one. Once you get into making pasta you will use it a lot – trust me.

Fresh Pasta
Servings dependent on use

550g strong white flour ('Tipo 00' in Italy, 'Extra' in Spain or 'Forte' in France)
6 fresh egg yolks
4 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

>Put the flour into a food processor, put on medium speed and add the egg yolks and oil
slowly until your mixture resembles bread crumbs or a crumble topping.
>Add a small amount of cold water, maybe only a teaspoon, so that it is slightly more sticky.
>Tip this mixture onto a smooth surface
>Squeeze together so it looks like a piece of pastry to make it a tight, smooth ball.
>Wrap tightly in cling film and let it rest for about four hours in the fridge. Take it out one hour before use.
>Set up your pasta machine at one end of a long surface. Dust the length of the surface with strong flour or fine semolina.
>Cut your pasta dough into eight pieces, re-wrapping seven pieces for later use.
>Press your dough out so it's a little but flat.
>With the dial on the side of the machine set on number one, roll the dough through the rollers from top to bottom. Set the dial to number two and repeat the process. Again with number three and so on until you reach seven. The pasta will stretch and flatten out as you go. Observe how flexible it is.

Try this very simple classic recipe with farfalle pasta and observe how the texture of the sauce works with the shape.

Classic Carbonara
Serves 6

500g farfalle pasta
300g finely diced pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
10 egg yolks
1/2 litre cream
Flat-leaf parsley

>Fry the pancetta with garlic until nice and crispy.
>Drain off the excess fat and leave to cool.
>Combine the egg yolks, cream and cheese.
>Cook the pasta, drain and add the pancetta and cream mixture to it whilst it's still hot - the residual heat from the pasta will cook the egg yolks and melt the cheese.
>Season well.
>Serve straight away with a good handful of the roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley and lots of freshly ground black pepper - simple!

There are so many uses for this stuff that it’s hard to suggest
what to do with it at this stage! I think the best thing to do is stay
simple. Start off making some simple spaghetti or tagliatelle.
When making ravioli, make a slightly thicker pasta for raw fillings
than you would do for a cooked filling. Enjoy yourself, practise and
get more adventurous as you go; learn a different shape each time
you play! Cooking times differ for every recipe, but fresh pasta
needs to be cooked for a lot less time than dried pasta.

Ice Cream

No one really knows for sure the true origins of ice cream. What we do know for sure is that it has been created as long as people have been able to make ice. In the past this was no easy process, especially in hot Mediterranean countries. Snow from the high mountains had to be collected and packed into deep pits, then covered with straw and sand. The ice that formed then had to be cut into blocks and then carried down to the towns by mule. As you can imagine ice was a costly commodity in days of old.

Being costly to produce, ice cream was only really enjoyed by the wealthy. Then in Victorian times in England, the first ice cream street-vendors used to sell what was called a ‘Penny Lick’. This was a small mouthful of ice cream sold on a small glass cone at the cost of a penny. Unfortunately, because the cone was never cleaned properly, this method of service was soon proven to be a big spreader of tuberculosis and was banned. So they then went on to use a small biscuit, which later on has developed into the ice cream cone we know and love today. The small glass cones can still be found at antique shops and are worth quite a bit to collectors. Over the years, thousands of unique flavours have been developed. One chef in England is serving ‘English Breakfast’ flavoured ice cream. And we’re not talking toast and marmalade – oh no – sausage, bacon and egg!

In Italy it is quite common to have sweet balsamic vinegar with vanilla ice cream. Try it, it’s rather good! The cool thing about ice cream (pardon the pun) is that it is very simple to make and you can use lots of imagination whilst doing so.

Here is a simple idea to make ice lollies. Buy some wooden lollipop sticks and some fruit yoghurts from a supermarket. Pop the sticks into the top of the yoghurts through the lid – without removing it. Freeze overnight and there you go, frozen yoghurt popsicles! Fun for the kids too! Left are two very nice but slightly unusual recipes for sorbet and ice cream. Ice cream machines are not expensive and easy to find, so why not give them a go? There are a couple of different models to choose from. One has a built-in freezer machine and the other one has to be frozen manually before use. All have simple instructions and recipes with them. The advantage of the one with the built-in machine is that you don’t have to wait to make a second batch of ice cream, whereas the other one has to be re-frozen before use.

Avocado Ice Cream 
Serves 4

600ml coconut milk
300ml milk (full fat, semi-
or skimmed)
4 small ripe avocados
8 tablespoons lime juice
10 level tablespoons icing sugar

Gently heat the coconut milk
and milk in a pan;
Transfer to a bowl to cool;
Halve the avocados, peel and
stone them, chop them up a bit
and mix in with the lime juice;
When the coconut milk is cold,
pour into a blender with the
icing sugar, avocados and lime
juice and blend until smooth and
Transfer this to your ice cream
maker and churn for about
20 minutes. Put into a plastic
container and keep it in the
Transfer it to the fridge for about
45 minutes before serving to
allow it to ‘ripen’.

This makes an ideal mid course
when you are serving Asian-
inspired dishes.

Tomato Sorbet
Serves 4

6 medium-ripe
1 tablespoon of
tomato purée
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons chopped
chervil and basil
Salt and pepper

Peel and de-seed
the tomatoes;
Mix in a blender with
the herbs, puree, and
a dash of salt and
Pour into a small
ice cream machine
together with the
lightly beaten egg
Freeze and churn for
about 20 minutes.

This is wonderful served
with freshly baked
cheese straws.

Chocoholics anonymous!

Hello everyone, my name’s Jono and I’m a Chocoholic. It’s okay though, I’ve come to terms with my problem and understand that there are many others like me. If you’re one of these people, maybe I can give you more information regarding your condition. In no way will it help you kick your habit, though, as the power of chocolate is too strong! Scientists have found that humans were already hooked on the stuff over 2,500 years ago.

The Aztecs and Mayans were the first to harvest cacao beans, which we use to make chocolate. They used them to make a foamy drink called xocoatl, from which the word chocolate was derived. It comes from two ancient Mexican Indian words, xoco (pronounced choco) meaning foam and atl meaning water.

The drinking of xocoatl was thought to give power and wisdom to those who drank it. Because of this, it was only given to tribal chieftains. They used to drink it from solid gold goblets and even used the beans as currency. To them, money really did grow on trees. The botanical name for the cacao bean is Theobrama Cacao, which literally means food of the gods!

For many years after its introduction to Europe in the 16th Century, drinking chocolate was still a very bitter and grainy drink, probably not so different from the Aztec original. Later, two clever Swiss chemists named Rodolphe Lindt and Henri Nestlé developed a grinding method called conching. This smooth result enhanced both the texture and flavour of chocolate, making it ever more popular. These men’s names are, of course, now synonymous with chocolate to this very day. 

In 1657 the first Chocolate House (like a Coffee House, rather than a house made of chocolate) was opened in London. The making of chocolate by conching was a very costly procedure, so the drink was only for Society’s élite. So, again, for many years it remained a mysterious product for the common man. This is not, of course, the case nowadays my fellow Chocoholics! By 2000, the annual world consumption was an average of 600,000 tons of the glorious stuff and still rising! Let’s take comfort knowing that we’re not alone and it’s okay to indulge in one of life’s finest and well-established luxuries.

It’s been scientifically proven that the consumption of chocolate is not bad for us at all. Researchers have found that people who eat chocolate three times a month can add one year to their lives! This is due to the high amount of anti-oxidants it contains. There are more anti-oxidants in high quality Swiss chocolate than a portion of broccoli! Imagine if you eat it three times a day! Scientists have also found that the consumption of chocolate stimulates a mild ‘marijuana-like’ effect (whatever that’s like). It is however, a harmless euphoria that helps to reduce stress! Perfect for a hard-working yachtie.

Here’s a recipe for a drink to give to your guests after a hard day playing on the toys. It’s a spicy, hot chocolate drink, which I think the Aztecs and Mayans would have approved of. I normally drink it after going to a CA meeting to cheer me up! Enjoy!

Please don’t feel guilty drinking this. Enjoy the feeling – it may
even bring you health and wisdom while doing so.
Images courtesy of

Chocolate power
Serves 4

1/2 litre full-fat milk
2 bars (16 oz or 226 g) good-quality
chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod
1 fresh bird’s-eye chilli (split and seeds removed)
1 whole nutmeg.

> Place the cinnamon sticks, vanilla pod and chilli
in a thick-bottomed pan;
> Add the milk and slowly bring to the boil;
> Simmer for five minutes;
> Leave to stand for half an hour to let the flavours
of the spices infuse with the milk;
> Remove the spices (don’t throw them away, they
can be rinsed and dried for further use);
> Put a small cup of the milk aside for a frothy topping
as you would for a cappuccino;
> Bring the flavoured milk back to a simmer and add
the chocolate in pieces;
> Stir with a wooden spoon until it has dissolved completely;
> Pour into four good-sized mugs;
> Add a frothy topping made with the set aside milk;
> Add some freshly grated nutmeg;
>For pure indulgence you can add a shot of whiskey, rum,
brandy or Amaretto.

Healthy BBQs

For those of us working in the Caribbean at the moment, the barbecue season is well and truly under way… lots of big juicy steaks, sausages and burgers sizzling away over hot smoky grills. Where would yachting be without our dock parties and beach barbecues? The only problems are the kilos you pile on and what to do if a guest has requested a low fat diet. It takes the fun out of it, especially for those of us who love our red meat cooked on the old barbie. Well folks, there are alternatives available that don’t involve you having to turn veggie.

I was fortunate to spend a few weeks in Australia earlier this year. Whilst I was Down Under I got to taste kangaroo and emu, and I was really impressed not only with the flavour and versatility of these meats, but also by their health credentials. To learn more, I went to visit an Aussie game farm in Yarra Valley, Victoria. I had a chat with farmer Ken Lang, who was thrilled to share his knowledge and show me some of his fantastic animals – he has over 60 acres full of deer, goats and emus. The Aborigines and the first pioneers were eating kangaroos long before cattle and sheep were brought in from Europe.

Eating kangaroo and emu meat is not only good for you but better for the environment too. These animals do far less damage to their habitats than introduced cattle. As they’re free range and shot in the relative wild, their meat is very tender, while sheep and cattle are herded together for slaughter, causing stress and resulting in poorer meat quality. Only four out of the 48 kangaroo species are harvested commercially – and only within strict quotas.

Farmer Ken loves kangaroos and told me they’d never be extinct. The kangaroo is an incredible animal. It survives droughts by pausing its reproduction system, suspending foetal growth until the rains return. Another cool thing kangaroos – and emus – can do is develop a layer of fat under the skin in winter, which they lose during the mating season. This fat layer is not found in the muscle, thus making it around 98% fat-free. Both kangaroo and emu meat are also extremely high in protein and iron.

Ken introduced me to some of his emus, running around with his Fallow Deer (venison is also a very healthy meat). Emu oil is used for therapeutic uses: it is proven to dissolve cholesterol and is an anti-inflammatory. Emu meat is a by-product, with supply exceeding demand.

The cooking methods and flavourings are endless. It’s important not to overcook these meats: being so low in fat they can dry out easily. And as they don’t need much cooking, they’re ideal for barbecues. Choose emu fan fillet or flat fillet and kangaroo fillet or sirloin. Seal it on a high flame, allowing it to just warm through, then let it rest for a couple of minutes. Simple!

Purely for research purposes, I was forced to have a barbecue and come up with a couple of recipes for your next dock party! If you need any other information just go to – Ken lectures on cuts and muscle definitions, and his wife Mary can also supply more recipes and advice.

Soy marinated fillet

500 g emu or kangaroo fillet
100 ml dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Half a thumb-sized piece of fresh
ginger, chopped

> Make sure your meat is perfectly dry and
free of blood before use;
> Combine all the other ingredients together
and leave to infuse for a couple of hours;
> Pour the marinade over your fillet and leave
for about an hour;
> Use a high heat to seal the meat well –
remember not to overcook it;
> Slice thinly and serve with some shredded
spring onions and a squeeze of lime juice.

roo burgers

800 g minced kangaroo meat (sirloin or fillet)
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bunch of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bunch of fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 egg white

> Fry the garlic, onion, herbs and paprika and
leave to cool;
> Mix it into your mince with the egg white and
season with pepper – but no salt until just before
you cook it;
> Shape into four meat patties – don’t make
them too thick as you don’t want to cook them
too much;
> Place between burger buns with salad and
whatever relishes you desire.

Spice it up

The word ‘curry’ originates from the Tamil word ‘kari’, which is a simple dish made with spices cooked in oil, and using a sauce made from onions, garlic and ginger. It’s one of the oldest dishes in the world. One of the earliest known recipes for meat in a similar spicy sauce appeared on tablets found near Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia, dating from about 1700BC. I think it’s fair to say that most of us love a good curry – in London alone there are more Indian restaurants than in either Mumbai or Delhi.

I am fortunate enough to have grown up with an Asian background, as my Grandfather was Burmese. He used to cook the most amazing fish curries for us. Years ago he even cooked for a Maharaja and other visiting dignitaries in London!

It’s more fun to make a good curry from scratch, rather than use those ready-made jars and powders that can be found in every supermarket. The aroma of a fresh spice mixture on the go has to be one of the best smells in any galley. There are so many different curries, ranging from mild to hot, hot, hot from all over the world, giving us a vast range of options for different occasions. As long as you’re well stocked with a good range of spices, you’ll be fine.

My suggestion is that you start off buying the specific spices needed to cook a selected dish, and then slowly increase your spice rack as the need arises. Like a painter’s palette, start with primary colours – the better known curry spices – and work up from this, building your palette (and palate!) with growing confidence with each new recipe. Good ones to start with are garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger. And you’ll need chillies for heat. In this way you’ll not only learn to create classic Asian dishes, but in time – by adding your own inspiration – create your own masterpieces.

It’s always better to buy your spices whole, and then grind them as needed with an electric coffee grinder or a pestle and mortar. The more freshly ground the spices, the better the flavour. If you only have space for ground ones, then buy them in small quantities. I’ve put together a Burmese ‘Jungle’ curry paste, which can be used with many different things. It’s absolutely ideal with any fish that you may have in your freezer, caught on a crossing, or you can rub it over any meat as a spicy grill ‘marinade’. I recommend freezing whatever paste you don’t use in an ice cube tray and putting the frozen cubes into a zip-lock. They will keep for about three months this way. Some of the ingredients may sound unusual, but they can all be found at
any good Asian supermarket.

Traditionally, dishes made with this paste should all be eaten by hand – but good luck getting your guests to part with their silver cutlery! I know it’s slipped from headlines, but Burma’s political situation is still causing much suffering for the Burmese people, and much anguish for their friends and relatives outside Burma. To find out what you can do to help, please visit
Thanks, Jono

Grandad’s Jungle Curry Paste
Makes 300 ml

2-6 green or red bird’s-eye chillies, finely chopped
1 green or red pepper, deseeded and chopped
6 shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons chopped lemongrass
2 teaspoons chopped galangal or ginger
2 teaspoons chopped coriander root
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste
Half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppers
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind water
2 tablespoons groundnut oil

>Blend all the ingredients until smooth >Transfer the paste
to a saucepan >Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring often
for 4-6 minutes >Add coconut milk for a milder dish

Well Oiled

Olive oil is an absolute must for every galley. Top quality supplies are usually easy to find, especially if you’re working in the Mediterranean, and as the Med season will soon be upon us, now’s the time to really get to grips with this versatile liquid. Olive oil has been used worldwide for thousands of years, and has many uses. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Incas used it as fuel for their lamps as well as for the cooking and preservation of foodstuffs.

Of course, it’s just as popular today, helped by boffins who have scientifically proven its anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties, as well as its ability to lower cholesterol. As well as a health food, it’s found in soaps, skin cream and medical lotions. On occasion I’ve used it as an alternative to shaving cream! It is also said to be an excellent cure for snoring: take a good tablespoon before sleeping and it will lubricate your throat, giving you and your partner a restful sleep. It also contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient and has been proven to act as a natural pain reliever.

Olive oil is produced around most of the Mediterranean basin, with Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Israel and Croatia all producing very high standards of oil. It is also produced in Australia and New Zealand as well as South America. Just as with wine, the flavours of each harvest differ greatly, depending on the climate and soil of each particular region. Umbria in Italy is said to produce the highest quality.

The choice of oil, especially in producing countries, is huge. It can be daunting as to which to buy for particular uses, so I’ve compiled a simple guide to help. Essentially, oil is graded according to its acidity: the lower the level, the more aromatic – and refined – it will be.

When you go to the supermarket, especially in Spain and Italy, you’ll find olive oil has its own aisle designated to it. Take time to browse this aisle and get to know what’s on offer. Pay attention to the massive variations in price too: just like the wine aisle this does help to indicate its quality. Just as you shouldn’t ever use a cheap, poor quality wine to cook with, never fall for using a cheap, low grade oil to cook with, as the resulting flavour will be impaired.

You’ll often find it available in plastic bottles as well as glass: the former is obviously a sensible choice if you’re working on a sail yacht. Always store your oil in a cool, dark place: air, heat and light will cause the oil to turn rancid. In hot weather it can be stored in a refrigerator: you’ll find it’ll go cloudy and may even solidify, but it will turn clear again at room temperature. Some people in the Mediterranean chill their oil so that it can be spread onto bread. Should you buy your oil in bulk, transfer it into smaller containers.


Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin
The finest oil, with only 1%
maximum acidity. This is best
served on its own with some
fresh bread to dip it in, before
and during dinner.

Extra Virgin
Good to use in dressings,
but also suitable to serve on
its own.

Fine Virgin
Made with slightly riper olives
than those used for extra virgin,
with a maximum acidity of
1.5%. Use in dressings where
you are adding other flavours.

A good all-round cooking oil,
with a maximum acidity of 3%.
Can be used for frying meat or
fish. Blend it with other oils,
such as corn or sunflower, for
a more neutral flavour. Try not
to heat it too much as it will
turn slightly bitter.

Mild (Suave, Delicante)
Great for cooking chicken, veal,
pork or fish.

Strong (Fuerte, Forte)
Use for cooking dark meat
or game.

Pictured is a bottle of home-made chilli oil – ideal for pouring
on pizzas.
To make:
>Wash an attractive glass bottle – a Galliano bottle makes
a stunning choice;
>Sterilise it by heating it in the oven, which also makes sure
it’s completely dry;
>Throw in a handful of dried chillies, some dried herbs and
maybe a few coriander seeds;
>Heat some mild olive oil to 90oC and pour into the bottle;
>Leave for about a week to properly infuse and pick up some
heat from the chillies.

Baby Veg

How many times have you been into your local market,
seen the wonderful selection of perfect baby vegetables
and wondered how you could use them to impress
guests? Sure, they’re great to use for presentational purposes, but
there really is so much more that can be achieved with them. If you’re put off by not knowing exactly what to do with them or which ones to choose, here’s a quick insight to help you realise their full potential.

Before we start, there’s one thing all you eco-warriors out there
should know. These little beauties are rarely organic and
sometimes not even babies! A lot of the time they are fully grown,
genetically modified miniature vegetables, produced solely to suit
the ever more exotic demands of luxury cuisine. Others are just
immature vegetables, picked before they’re fully grown. However
they are produced, they are just as nutritious as regular-sized
vegetables and most of them are sweeter and more tender.

There are around 50 varieties, the most common of which are detailed below. Your supplier should be able to provide them at any time of year. You may even find some of them in supermarkets, although do bear in  mind food miles accrued by demand for produce not locally sourced. 

It’s important to note that special rules apply when handling baby vegetables. They’re babies, so look after them like babies – with kid gloves. They are also often expensive, so don’t waste them! The packaging alone is costly, as they’re often shipped in waxed cartons that can withstand moisture from outside as well as inside. Most baby vegetables should be kept at a relative humidity of 90-95 percent. Ideal temperatures vary: squash and baby tomatoes should
be maintained at 8-10 degrees C to avoid chilling and spoilage.

As far as cooking goes, the normal rule that anything grown below ground can be cooked in water starting cold, and that anything grown above ground should always be cooked in already boiling water, does not always apply to baby vegetables. With baby carrots, for example, you should always cook them in boiling water, and immediately after cooking you should refresh them in ice-cold water to maintain their colour. 

The recipe demonstrates an easy way to prepare and serve baby vegetables – why not get stuck in and give it a go?

Baby Carrots 
These are very sweet and should be prepared by 
leaving a little of their stems at the end. They can be peeled and
left raw to be used as crudités or cooked and served alongside
another dish.
Baby Fennel
Superb served raw as a snack, or cooked in a variety
of ways. Goes well with all grilled fish. A good idea is to first cook
in boiling water and refresh in cold – then brush with olive oil,
season and grill alongside your fish!

Baby Peppers
A nice simple thing to do with these is to stuff them
in exactly the same way you would with their adult cousins, with rice, couscous, cheese or fish. Reduce your cooking time by half and use them as an attractive starter.

Baby Asparagus 
These need no preparation and are ready to be
cooked, without peeling. They are so sweet that it’s best to
preserve this quality by keeping things simple. Cook them for a
couple of minutes in boiling water and serve immediately with
melted butter, coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Baby Tomatoes
There are many varieties available. One particular
type in the spotlight at the moment is the Tigerella or Tiger tomato.
They can be bought in their unripe green stage and used to make
amazing chutney.

Tempura Baby Courgettes with Sweet Chilli Dip

The Sauce

6 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves
3 small red chillies, finely chopped

> Heat the sugar and vinegar together in a small saucepan until
dissolved >Add the salt and simmer until it thickens >Remove
from heat and pour into a bowl with the chopped garlic and
chillies >Leave to cool before serving. 

The Courgettes

8-10 baby courgettes with flowers
Vegetable oil
125 g “00” flour
30 g cornflour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
150 ml ale or lager
150 ml Perrier water

> Separate the courgette stalks and cut in half lengthways
> Sieve the flour and cornflower together > Heat the vegetable,
ready for frying >Stir the beer and water into the flour mix until
just smooth >Dip the courgettes and flowers into the batter,
then fry for one minute until crisp and puffed – only cook a
couple at a time to avoid them sticking together>Place them on
kitchen towel to drain off excess oil >Sprinkle with a little salt.