Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Bye and Thank you!!!!!!

This Blog entry is dedicated to a bunch of mad guys working with me in the galley. I had an amazing 2 month here on the ship and am sad to leave all of you behind. It was great working with you and I will always fondly remember the fun we had together, even so it was not always easy, sometimes we were running short on certain foods, sometimes we had to produce meals for the crew without power like in Dry Dock, and you always made it.

I always say to our guests that it is not me producing the food, it is my dedicated team behind the scene that is putting everything together. If I would be the one doing everything the guest would be lucky to get a sandwich!!!!! It always needs a dedicated team of professionals to do what we do and I am proud of being the chef of this mad bunch!

I think the two photos on the blog say it all, a cool bunch of chefs, but at the same time a mad bunch too. I think it needs both to do what we do.

I wish you guys smooth sailing, quiet seas and loads of adventures, I know you are heading down to Antarctica now and I know how rough it can get. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, many penguins, parties and good times. I am sure that I will be seeing all of you again some times.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Popping over to Miami for an interview and a Stone Crab recipe

I know it is a while ago, but I went quick from Newcastle, north of Sydney over to Miami for an interview with a rather big cruise line. It was a lot of flying for 5 days, actually most of the time. Everything was good, but there is nothing worse than having to sit at airports and wait for a connection. I had the great pleasure sitting in Los Angeles for 7 hours, as the departing plane to Miami was delayed.......Sounds familiar?

I was impressed with the size of Newcastle Airport, I was there at 530 in the morning and it was pumping, it looked like everybody wanted to leave Newcastle. It is a modern airport with all the facilities, not huge, but nice and cosy.
After a quick flight I was for a couple of hours at Brisbane International Airport. Had some lovely coffee there, everything is well organized, just keep in mind when arriving in Brisbane International and you need to take a Domestic flight, the transfer between the airports can take a long time as there is only one train connection every about 20 minutes.

Immigration Los Angeles........anything can happen........I am prepared for a long wait as I usually do.........5 minutes later I was through it, I just can't believe that Immigration took actually less than 5 minutes, including the wait in the queue, which as you can see was non existent. So there is plenty of time to explore the airport. Last time I was here was about 2 years ago and I thought they should be finish with renovating......they are not! I had a breakfast coffee at the International terminal, at 7 AM and was amazed how busy Mac Donald's was......long queues.....let's not go into it! So, no there is not much I can say about Los Angeles Airport except, make sure you are there for as short time as possible.
Now to Miami. I LOVE Miami, it must be the Hispanic influence, the Cuban feel, it is just nice. Staying at Hilton Down Town (the company pays), I had this most amazing view over the City Bowl, all the photos are taken from my room, OK I got upgraded to a Junior Suite, not because I am a nice guy, but the other rooms were fully booked and I only arrived after 10PM. So I had to reside in this Suite with a lounge big enough to accommodate a soccer team. The rest of the hotel was then very much average, breakfast and service even below. I like my breakfast, but what they offered was not even worth taking a photo.

I was lucky enough to be flown in a day early, so I could meet up with some friends and spent a lovely day, driving out to the Everglades National Park. Just amazing to see the sheer size of it. The dinner with some beautiful BBQ Lamb Chops and good wine, life is good.
Then after being so short in Miami I was on my way back, another 20 hours of flying.....yes it started to get sore in some special place of my body! But this time there were no overlays in the airport, no delays, just straight flying. Quantas was lovely, good service, good food, and even good movies. As this flight was on a Monday night, the planes were not that full, on my way here all the seats were taken. So this time I had space and on both long haul flights had a really good sleep.

I thought I give here a little recipe for Stone Crabs, a speciality in Miami when in season.


3 pounds stone crab claws
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-dry vermouth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper


First crack the stone crab claws and remove the shell and pincer. Leave the meat attached to the remaining pincer. Next it is time to heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add Stone crab claws and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the claws are heated through, and turn the crab claws frequently. Turn heat to high; add vermouth, lemon juice, salt and pepper to pan. Cook 1 minute more, spooning vermouth sauce over claws

Oh, by the way, I did get the job and will start mid January, my new Job title is Traveling Executive Chef, fits perfectly to the Gourmet Traveler, doesn't it? So I think there will be plenty more posts to come over the next year. And I better get used to the hotel (not the room of course) as it seems that this is the hotel I will be staying at while in Miami.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Glühwein after a cold walk on Campbell Island

Campbell Island? Yes I am still somewhere out there, but coming slowly back to New Zealand. Actually I am on Dent Island which is part of Campbell Island which is still far south of New Zealand. Not many people come here. Of the 150 people on board only 2 have been here before, the captain and one of the expedition team so I expected it very much deserted, but no, there are quite a few buildings and research is going on.

Campbell is most probably best known for its Campbell Island Teal, a bird which was thought to be extinct for more than 100 years until a small group was rediscovered there in 1975. Of course for most of us it means very little, as we are not Ornithologists or bird lovers. I actually went for our hike here because I simply enjoy a good walk and I wanted to see the Albatross from close. OK, the walk ended up to be about three hours long, but it was just amazing. We walked on a narrow but well made board walk through the hills of the island till we reached the site where the Albatross breed. It is just fantastic to be amongst these beautiful and gracious birds.

On the way back to the ship we came across two very grumpy male fur seals, not something to joke with, so we took a safe way around them, hopped back into the zodiacs and then back to the ship.

After a cold day, there are not many things better than a good, hot Glühwein; and that will be the recipe for today. I love Glühwein and enjoy making it. I always feel that one needs to take special care in making a good Glühwein, it must not boil, just be heated and then at the end a little tot of rum, ohhhhhh yes, now we are getting already warmer. OK, here it is

1 L Red Wine
200 Ml Orange Juice
100 G Sugar
2 Ea Tea Bags
1 Ea Cinnamon Quills
1 Ea Cloves
1 Ea Bay Leaves
3 Ea Juniper berries
1 Ea Star Anise

Rum is optional, but I feel it just gives the kick. Add all ingredients in a pot and heat up, but don't boil. Strain and serve with the rum, drink while hot and see how you slowly warm up from the inside.

Monday, December 7, 2009


OK, now after being away from home for 2 month, I am on my way back soon. I actually can't wait to be back with my friends. It is not always easy to be away for such a long time, especially as in future I will be away for 4 month at the time, but more about it in another blog. So I just wanted to do a little Blog about what to expect at least on the food side!

I am a lucky guy, I love good cured meats and my friend, always wanted to do her own cured meat, and now that is exactly what she has done. We have already the second edition of Pancetta in the fridge, the second one being even better than the first one. The first she actually cured in our fridge, now with the second try she hung it up in the wine cellar for six weeks and, wow, it is absolutely fantastic.

My friend made me look on the Internet as she needed some Prague Powder Nr.2 and of course I had no idea what it is. So off I went to search the net a bit and quickly found a lot of interesting stuff about cures. Then I looked where we can get the goods in South Africa, no problem, she then actually found it in the local shop.

So there it is, our Pancetta in the fridge, just waiting to be eaten, and eaten it will be, this time the spices are just perfectly balanced and the Pancetta is not too dry. We bought a pork belly with more fat, so the result was much better too. Lean is nice, but the fat is carrying the flavours, so it is now just melting on the tongue. The recipe?????? She actually got it from a Blog about cured meat!!!!! Have fun looking for the "Cured Meat Blog"!

My friend really wants to get into the cured meats and hopefully some day one will see her on the local farmer's market selling home made Pancetta.

On a different note, there will be a couple more blogs and then it will get a bit quieter around Christmas time till I start my new job doesn't matter. All it matters is that there is a Christmas holiday on the door step and instead of writing away Blogs I will enjoy some quality time with the family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scones, the recipe

As promised in the last Blog, I have now the recipe for my favoured Scones. The photo above shows them when they just came fresh out of the oven.

Don't we all love them, Scones, Butter, Clotted Cream and Jam. Yes good Scones are gooooood! Once in a while I make them and just love it when they come hot out of the oven, the butter is melting on the scone and then it is topped with a bit of ice cold strawberry jam.
But this time instead of just making Scones I did a little cooking course with Helga, Marvin and Jermaine. They wanted to do some baking so we decided to do two nice and easy recipes. The one was a Zopf (the plated bread I described with a recipe in one of my first Blogs in September) and the other is the Scones. The idea was to make two doughs, similar in ingredients, but completely different in preparation.
Here is the recipe:

560 G Cake Flour
45 G Baking Powder
2 G Salt
80 G Sugar
1 Each Lemon Zest
1 Each Orange Zest
250 Ml Buttermilk
130 G Butter
130 Ml Water
2 Each Eggs

Sift all the dry ingredients
Rub flour and butter together
Mix everything quickly to a dough
Roll the dough out and cut scones
Let the scones rest for at least 1 hour before baking
Bake at 180° C for about 20 to 25 minutes

The flavours of the lemon and orange zest are coming through quite strongly, but give it a lovely different flavour.

Doesn't Helga look more like one of the presenters on the Food Channel?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scones at Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island? Where is that?
It is a small Island south of Tasmania and new Zealand, about half way down to Antarctica. We sailed for two days with good winds and arrived here yesterday, one day early. There are quite a few people living here, mainly for research purpose. Winters are very long and cold and even now in summer it is still chilly and when the wind blows with 30 to 60 knots it is 3 o C, so not a beach holiday destination.
There are many plant species endemic to this island and of course, like so many other islands in the Antarctic have a rather infamous past with humans coming here for whale hunt and boiling down seals and penguins for the oil. People were just dropped off and then hopefully collected again about a year later, sometimes even longer. So to make sure they had a bit variety in their meals, not just seal, penguin and whale, they introduced rabbits, which still today are a pest as they have no predators and there is a big program to get rid of them. Then as a welcome supplement there is a plant called Macquarie Cabbage, now of course under protection. It is very rich in Vitamin C so the people living here had no problems with scurvy. Here on the photo are still the old boilers for the penguins.

Now of course all these people here on the island have to be fed and the man in charge for the kitchen is James. He cooks every day for the crew, including vegetarians and any other special request. He says so, that they are a good bunch and make his life easy, lucky otherwise the year down at Maquarie would not be fun. The young lady next to him is Trish, she is on kitchen duty and helping him today.

Now, how often would he go shopping. There are no shops and a ship makes a delivery only once a year. Yup one delivery every 12 month. So there is a lot of planning to make sure he has enough stuff in the freezer. The kitchen is well equipped and nice and spacious.

There is even a small library of cookbooks, actually quite a big one, so only the sky is the limit for the cooking.......and of course what is in the freezer

We were all treated to Scones with Jam and Cream and of course a cup of hot coffee. How nice after being out in the cold for nearly 2 hours, walking amongst seals and penguins, having very cheeky Giant Petrels walking around and actually just enjoying the roughness of the island with a light drizzle of rain and quite a bit of mist. It is nice to work on a ship that sails on "the path lesser travelled". Now the scone recipe will follow shortly, not the one from Macquarie, but my favoured, I am sure you will enjoy.
We are now on the way north again heading towards Campbell, Auckland and Snares Island, all stunning islands with plenty of wild life

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Espresso Pound Cake

My pastry chef is away for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately his father has passed away and he had to go home to the Philippines, so in the meantime I decided to take over the department

This morning I made amongst a couple of other things an espresso pound cake and really liked it, so I thought I should share the recipe. The basic recipe can be used for other types of pound cake, just leave the instant coffee away

6 Each Eggs
4 Each Egg yolk
200 G Sugar
1 Pinch Salt
1 Each Lemon rind
180 G Flour
120 G Maizena
200 G Butter
Instant coffee

Beat eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, instant coffee and lemon rind in bain marie hot and cold. (40 ° C ax.)
Sieve flour and Maizena together
Carefully fold into egg batter
Then fold in warm, clarified butter
Line a cake form with baking paper.
Pour the batter carefully in the cake form and bake at
190 ° C for about 40 to 45 minutes

Cut the top of the cake with a knife after about 15 minutes
The cake must have a light brown skin before cutting

When the cake is baked keep it for 15 min in the form
then take the cake out carefully without putting it
on its top.
Keep the paper around as the cake dries out quickly

Oh yes and by the way, I have arrived back from Miami, why on earth would someone travel in a plane for 40 hours in 4 days, never mind the time at the airport, but, it was great, the only pity was that I could not go to have the Stone Crab as planned as the interview went on and on and on, talking to 7 people for a total of.....let's just say many hours. I should know in a couple of days what the future is bringing, too many options.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Too much

Ohhhhhhh I spend so much time in the galley and could be writing down so much, but what can I say, there are only so many hours in the day.

Yesterday we had a Gourmet Dinner and I just felt like doing something different so we started with a

Sweet Potato Custard with Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream
Duck Liver Parfait with Foie Gras Pralinés
Rhubarb and Balsamic reduction
Jellied Tomato Broth and Cream
Poached Lobster Tail
Mesclun Endive Leaves, grilled Pear and Prosciutto
Balsamic Reduction
Duo of sparkling Lemon Sorbet
Veal Tenderloin on Cabbage Compote
Butternut Puree, fresh Artichokes, Shiraz Jus
Wild Barramundi and scallop on Wild Mushroom Risotto
Saffron-Bouillabaisse Essence, Ricotta Gnocchi
Fresh, mild Goats Cheese with Truffle Honey and Fruit Bread
Chocolate and Nougatine Tart, Mascarpone Parfait, Berry salad
Coffee and Tea

OK, maybe we went a bit wild, but it was really fun just to cook and enjoy serving good to our guest. We got at the mopment an Opera Cruise between Sydney and Hobart, very nice the combination of Classical Music and Food. Maybe a bit pessure on the Galley, but I must say that I really enjoy that part.
I still have to write down what happened in Miami....just not enough time...but it is in the pipeline...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Flying Again

I am sitting in Airplanes again, I am for a quick interview in Miami......more time in the air than actually here in Florida. This time I had the pleasure to fly Quantas and American Airlines.

Quantas was from Brisbane to Los Angeles, a 13 hour flight, so it better be good. The flight was fully booked, something I am getting used to, yes of course it is nice to have an extra seat, it sleeps so much better, but I think sometimes one must be happy to just get a seat. Service was good, but by far behind Singapore Airlines or Emirates. There is just enough space to sit, luckily I got an average height, so it was fine, tall people would not be too happy.

The food.....airplane food, nothing to rave about, it feeds you but that is about it, rather bland it was some red wine braised beef with peas and potatoes....An ice cream was served as dessert.....anyway, it filled the tummy. Breakfast on the other side was nice again (or I was just really hungry) Omelet with sausage, potatoes and a lovely tomato sauce, nice and chunky. Coffee was very good, so at least the morning started off well and gave me the stamina to go through US Immigration.

Then the second flight, American Airways from LA to Miami. We had already to wait an extra 90 minutes as there were technical problems with the plane which they had to fix first. Then the there anything positive to say about flying in the US? It is just another bus trip, tightly squeezed Sardines going from one place to another. The planes are usually not very clean, like this one, food doesn't exist except one buys it from the service personnel, so I was just happy that I slept most of the way, I think the only way one can survive the 4 and a half hour flight. I think the scary part is of how much these planes fly. The plane arrived in LA then got a minor clean up, got fixed then off to Miami and as soon as we were off the plane it was made ready to go further to Sao Paolo. They are non stop in the air!

So in two days I have the same coming up again, just this time the other way around. I hope especially the flight with Quantas will be a bit nicer, the first one wasn't bad but I had much better flights with this airline (guess I am a spoilt little.....) But first let's have a nice Sunday here in Miami, then interview Monday morning and back to Aussie Monday evening....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fast Food Galore!!!!

Am I into fast food? No, no and no, but sometimes one has no choice and sometimes it is actually not that bad. There are certain spots so I avoid at all cost, not to mention any names but there is a big yellow M....

There is this fast food chain I have never heard about, it is called Jolly Bee. It originates in the Philippines and I was the first time in one on Saipan, a little Island which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands. All the Filipino crew were totally excited that they could finally have food again from a "local" restaurant and we all went there to food. The usual, hamburgers, chickens and Halo Halo, but this time it was all blended up like a milk shake and one would drink it with a thick straw. Halo Halo is a Filipino dessert which I described in an earlier post.

But now what happened 2 days ago.......the ship I work on is in Dry Dock in Newcastle, Australia. Dry Dock is like bringing the car in service, everything gets checked up and fixed....just with the ship it is for 10 days. Usually one looses power for about an hour when the ships generator is switched off and one gets hooked up to shore power.......strangely it took nearly 8 hours get get the power back, which means, we couldn't cook for dinner (lunch was ready cooked mid morning). So at 4 PM we decided that the crew has to be fed and that we will venture out and get KFC. Now that was an idea as everybody loves it, and it is a change from the normal menu served.

So off we go, running already late as the port agent was tied up with custom clearance issues and other stuff, but finally we went off. The port agent, being Greek, drove worse than half the drivers in Athens, putting foot. I was never faster in putting my seat belt on! We got into evening traffic, then found a fast food selling chicken. I asked them where the next KFC is, but the ladies couldn't really give me we just slowly asked our way through till we found one.....which was shut down! I really strated to have my doupts about Newcastle but I have an entire crew who is getting a bit un easy with no food so we shoot off and after some search actually found another outlet. We phoned them ahead with the order, but I think they thought it was a joke....I ordered 10 buckets of chicken pieces. So when I arrived I had to explain that it is not 110 pieces I need, but 210 pieces (Mathematics is not everybodies forte), plus 20 Fries and 20 large 3 twisters, grilled not fried!

The face I got from the lady behind the counter was priceless, for everything else there is Mastercard!!!!! With big eyes she asked me how many mouth I would feed ad I answered, 70 crew and I should have fed them 20 minutes ago. No she was a little nervous as she told me that it would take 45 minutes as they had to prepare it.....and as I had no choice, we waited, and waited.....and waited. I guess fast food does not apply for orders more than 50 people and considering the amount of crew I ordered for, the average per person was less than one minute of wait! There are nicer things than waiting in a KFC which is somewhere in the middle of nowhere for my 210 pieces of chicken, but anyway, we made it.....nearly 2 hours late and fed all 70, by now starving, happy crew.

Here is a recipe I got from an undisclosed source for the "real" KFC Chicken

KFC Original Fried Chicken

1 frying chicken, cut into frying pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Pkt. (dry) Good Seasons Italian Dressing (THE 11 herbs and spices!)
1 Envelope Lipton (or other brand) Tomato Cup of Soup
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup milk
Vegetable oil to cover bottom of your skillet; about 1/2 inch deep.

1. Combine eggs and milk. Set aside.
2. Combine flour with the Italian dressing and soup mix.
3. Dip chicken pieces in milk-egg mixture and roll them in the
flour-seasoning mixture. Repeat procedure.
4. Fry pieces over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, turning often.
5. Remove from fire. Drain and serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken Galantine

Chicken what???

A chicken galantine, but let me explain exactly what it is. The galantine is the queen of terrines, some might say it is a bit out dated, but it is still beautiful to eat. Why it is not done that often anymore? Because it is actually a lot of work. To make a chicken galantine one has to take a whole chicken and then carefully debone it from the back, without cutting the skin where the breasts are. Then one makes a farce or filling, one has to tie the galantine, then poach for about an hour, let it cool down and only then, after all this work, it is sliced, plated and eaten.

I feel so that it is absolutely worth the effort making a galantine from time to time. Sometimes the chicken is formed back to it's original shape and then it is coated with a sauce "chaud-froid" which is a creamy sauce, hot at first (chaud is hot in French) and then is gets cold on the chicken and coats it (froid meaning cold in French) Now that is really classical and I must honestly say that I haven't seen anybody doing that for a very long time. I sometimes might still play around with it, as it is a fantastic show piece on a buffet.
The recipe is enough to make one galantine
1 whole chicken, medium sized
100 g fresh spinach, blanched

Chicken Mousse
200 g chicken breast
200 ml cream
Salt, Pepper
50 g Pistachio nuts, peeled

Puree chicken breast in food processor and pass through drum sieve. Make sure it stays nice and cold.
Work in ice cold cream and season and add chopped pistachio nuts

Debone the chicken like on the photo......yes not that easy but just to explain it as simply as possible:
Start cutting the chicken from the back and follow the bones with a very sharp knife. Like this you will be able to debone the chicken without cutting the skin. Careful with the legs and wing bones, one can cut though nicely where the bones are attached to the body. Be especially careful when coming to the breast, that there is no cut into the skin. The one has to carefully debone the legs.. again not that easy to explain, but if anybosy is interested, hen I will write a blog just about deboning a chicken properly. It is like with everything else, seems difficult the first time but then gets easier each time one does it. I just did 6 chickens this morning, filled them, finished off all under one hour, then again, it is not the first time I did it.
When the chicken is deboned, lay it flat on som plastic wrap, enough that you can roll it tightly together. Lay the blanched spinach on the chicken pipe in mousse roll chicken in plastic so as each person gets a piece of breast and leg i.e. roll head to tail….poach in salted water submerged till internal temperature is 65 degrees…approx 1 hour and 10 minutes at 80 degrees….once cooked let cool in its own liquid…toss the celeriac in remoulade sauce and garnish with fine herbs sit the galantine on the carrot puree season well and drizzle pistachio oil on plate…
Carrot Puree
10 carrots
1 leek
2 eschalots

Chop carrots finely reserve two carrots and juice…sweat eschalots and leek at carrots and sweat no colour add sugar and juice cook till very soft process adding more carrot juice to desired consistency if required season….
Sauce remoulade
1 egg yolks
50 ml chard vinegar
20 g Dijon mustard
20 g horse radish relish
30 g shallots
20 g capers
1 ea anchovy
200 ml grape seed oil
1 stem picked tarragon
1 stem picked dill
5 g sugar

Place the vinegar the egg yolk, horse radish relish Dijon mustard and anchovy in a food processor blitz the mixture. Slowly trickle the oil into the machine while running.
Chop the herbs.
Transfer to a bowl; add the rest of the ingredients.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is actually such an easy dessert, but easily a boring one too. It is all in the presentation, and of course in the taste. I have here a recipe that is very easy to make and a guaranteed success. One can prepare everything already a day in advance, making the day of the party a breeze

Ingredients for 10 people

500 ml cream
150 ml milk
65 gm caster sugar
6 gelatine leaves
1 vanilla pods

Soften the gelatine sheets; bring the cream, milk, caster sugar and vanilla to the boil. Take off the heat add the gelatine sheets to the mix, pass. Allow the mix to cool down and to start to set. Whisk the mix so the vanilla pods spread through the mix. Pipe the mix into creme caramel dishes ¾ full. Allow to set over night

250 g Mixed frozen berries
75 g Sugar
20 g Corn starch
150 g Strawberries
150 g Blueberries
150 g Raspberries

120 ml egg whites (approx. 3)
130 grams icing sugar
130 grams plain flour
130 grams butter, melted
vanilla essence

Combine the egg whites, icing sugar and flour, add the melted butter and a drop of vanilla essence and mix well. Refrigerate until cold.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Spread the mixture thinly onto a buttered baking tray. Bake until golden. While still warm and soft, use a knife to cut out 11 x 7cm rectangles. Allow to cool.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Working in the Galley

I thought I give everybody a little glimpse into my working life here on board, at least the fun part of it, the cooking, service, pressure, sending the food out to the guest. That is the part I like most of being a chef, I like the hustle and bustle in the kitchen, the heat, the pressure, the organizing, having to prepare food for 100 guest which usually come into the restaurant within 15 minutes and then...action! On the photo on top are my guys busy plating during evening service. I have no idea how I had time to make a photo, but that is how it looks during service.

Now, of course I am not on my own here, I have a great team of dedicated chefs who are busy whole day long preparing everything. We are a team of 12 in total, two of which are our pot and dish washer, then there is a baker, a pastry chef, a crew cook and breakfast cook. I got one sous chef who is in charge of preparing all the meat and fish and then the rest are chefs working on the different stations.
Unfortunately I usually have a lot of office work to do, ordering, new menus, inventories and, and, and so I am not as much in the kitchen as I would like to be, but am still there quite a bit.

And at the moment we have our consulting chef, Serge Dansereau from Bather's Pavilion in Sydney on board; all you Aussie food lovers, take that! He brings every year a couple of new menus on board which we use in a special section dedicated to him. Then the on board chef is designing some alternative choices and creates all the lunches, buffets and a gourmet dinner once a cruise, so still plenty of room for my creativity! At the moment we have a special cruise, so he and one of his sous chef, Ben are traveling with us and we are having some new dishes on the menu.
Lucky me, as I am really enjoying his style of cooking, I am happily taking in all the new recipes and dishes, one is never too old to learn and of course with his experience one can draw a lot and at the same time find some new suppliers with speciality goods. I was able as well to spend a week at Bather's Pavilion, cooking with the guys and get a whole lot of new ideas, especially in the pastry. One can never have enough recipes.

So I thought I will be parting with some of the recipes which he bought on board just for this cruise, so they are sort of limited edition recipes! We all sat together, Serge, Ben his sous chef, me and Rannie, my sous chef, and we put the thinking caps on. The limitation we have on board are on this cruise mainly the quarantine coming into Australia, so we all went through the fridges and freezers, looked at what is available and took it from there. The menus needed to be inspired by Asia, but still reflect Serge's style as well. One of these recipes was actually the salmon salad, I featured a short while ago and some recipes will follow, like a braised beef cheek.

I feel very privileged to work with my galley team, they are all fantastic guys, very dedicated and hard working and still a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poached Salmon Salad

I love salmon, especially a good and fresh quality, or salmon trout, especially from Tasmania, lovely stuff. I was living and working for a year in Seattle and was there for the Salmon Run, what an experience to stand at the Locks and watch them jump, then go home and cook some of this lovely fish. For me salmon should be just cooked, I eat is of course as well raw as Sashimi, but when I cook it it has to be moist inside. The recipe today will poach the salmon at 65 o C or 150 0 F. This will just cook the salmon, but leave it tender and moist.

It is actually difficult to believe that about 100 years ago in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries staff was fed salmon daily and they had to make a law regulating the amount of times salmon was fed to staff. In Basel, Switzerland one was not allowed to feed staff more than 5 times a week they don't exist anymore in the river Rhine.

There are different types of quality, the main ones being wild salmon and farmed salmon. Wild salmon beats the farmed one hands down, it is slightly leaner and has more flavour, but is a bit more expensive. Then of course there is the salmon trout, smaller than the salmon, but still with the pink meat. Salmon, salmon trout and the common trout are all from the Salmon family.

But now to the recipe, it is a very easy one, but one has to be careful with the cooking of the salmon as it over cooks quickly.
  • Salmon fillet
  • Rocket leaves
  • Fennel, shredded
  • Capers
  • Oranges
  • Raddicchio Rosso leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Champagne vinegar

Cut the salmon in 120 g pieces and wrap them tightly with plastic or cling wrap. Heat water to 65 o C/150 o F. Poach the wrapped salmon for about 10 to 12 minutes, take them out of the water and let them cool down slightly

In the mean time clean the salad leaves, peel the oranges and cut in segments. Then mix the salad with a bit olive oil, vinegar, season with salt and pepper.

Plate a bit salad on the bottom, hen carefully pull the warm salmon apart and dress on the salad, then top with the rest of the leaves. Drizzle a bit olive oil around and sprinkle salmon pieces with a bit sea salt, best take Maldon Sea Salt.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Indonesia and the Forgotten Islands

I spent the last 14 days traveling along the coast of Indonesia, all the way from Singapore to the the "Forgotten Islands" which are the islands east of Bali and north of East Timor. There is not too much here anymore except nature, but that at least is beautiful. We just went past Alor, OK we had to drop of a Medivac, but it gave us at least some time to enjoy the beauty of the island a bit. There is a lot of farming going on, bananas, exotic fruit and tomatoes. Of course I was able to taste a lot of local cuisine, the local fruit and cooked a lot. What didn't happen? I never got an upset stomach, everything was fresh and nice, so surely I was lucky there! Unfortunately I had no time to get out to the markets lately but I believe the next market on a small island is the size of a square 5 by 5 meters! We will see!

Oh, I am lucky. The market was actually not too bad, there wasn't a lot of food, but it will get us by the next couple of days. Of course nobody spoke English but somehow we managed to get what we needed. I know that we have been ripped off, but the fruit and vegetables were still very cheap for western standards, A whole Papaya, weighing about 3 kg was just 1 USD, so no complain. Of course we did not have enough Indonesian Rupia, so I thought I could change in the local bank.....I was asked to leave as they did not want to change. So, what now? There was a little shop next to the bank and to my luck, it was Chinese owned and I was offered an extremely bad exchange rate, but luckily after a bit of negotiating it was not that bad anymore.

We spent all our money (60USD) and went back to the ship. All the bags were hanging on a hook on the motor bike, which was at the same time our taxi..... There are not many cars on the island and it is actually fun to travel on the motor bikes.

There are small islands everywhere and many of them are actually inhabited. This part if Indonesia is more Catholic not as much Muslim as the rest of the country. Except Bali of course where people are mainly Hindu.

Yamdena is another island we visited, really in the middle of nowhere, but beautiful beaches and extremely friendly people. It is such a pleasure to be here, it is a bit like time stood still, there are the old traditions and no one is in a hurry. Many guests bought souvenirs here...mainly wood carvings....they will not have a lot of fun coming back to Australia as the quarantine regulations are so strict and one is not allowed to import any wooden carvings, or wood in general for this matter. They will have to either dump them or get them gassed, at a fairly high cost of course.

Overall I think Indonesia is worth a visit, a long visit. Food is fantastic, the markets are beautiful, nature amazing, there are world heritage sited like Komodo Island and Borobudur, an amazing temple, there is Bali and so many lovely spots, an absolutely amazing country. Many people travel on Ferries like the one in the picture, I am not sure how safe it is, but am not so sure about the safety. I am now on my way down south to Australia, first Thursday Islands and then Cairns, but more about that and a lot more recipes later

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't Palm us off!

I just got an email from my friend Mick, he is an expedition leader and very much engaged in promoting sustainable food, amongst other things. He would not eat fish on board our vessel if he is not 100% sure that the fish is from a sustainable source. This time it is about Palm Oil......something we all eat a lot more of than we think and it is shocking what is done in Indonesia with the forests just to produce the oil. I have seen it myself on how much of the forest is being burnt all the times, as we sail past the islands...and I was wondering what they are doing!!

I know that this campaign is mainly for Australia and New Zealand, but it can only be good if everybody hears about it. We are consuming Palm Oil everywhere and I think it is like with anything else, just to be aware of it is a good thing.

Here his email:

Hi All,

I just wanted to draw attention to the “Don’t palm us off” campaign being run by the Melbourne Zoo. I will be talking about this to guests in my lecture and I wanted all onboard to be aware of it. It is simply a matter of us being able to make an informed choice and have standards of food labelling that enable us to make such informed choices regarding sustainable oil palm products.


•Over 85% of the world's palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.
•Today, the most common cause of deforestation and fragmentation in Indonesia is related to palm oil development.
•An estimated 40% of food on our supermarket shelves contains palm oil.
•In SE Asia alone, the equivalent of 300 football fields are deforested every hour for palm oil production.
•Palm oil typically costs the lives of up to 50 Orang-utans each week.
•Australians unknowingly consume on average 10 kilograms of palm oil each year because we do not currently have the ability to exercise consumer choice.
• Sustainable Palm Oil Plantations are a possibility however you need you to tell FSANZ you want palm oil labelling if they are to become a reality.
•Once palm oil is labelled, consumers can actually drive a market for proper certified sustainable palm oil because they can demand it of manufacturers (as we’ve seen with Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance products).
•Palm oil from certified sustainable RSPO sources only accounts for 8 percent of the global supply of palm oil.
•90% of Orang-utan habitat has been lost already. If all of it is lost then so are the livelihoods of many people.
•The industry needs to increase yields on land that has already been cleared but right now there is very little incentive for them to do this.
•We share 97% of our DNA with Orang-utans. You could say they are our wild cousins.

The 'Don't Palm Us Off' campaign is pushing for Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to change legislation to have palm oil labelled on all food products.

Please follow this link to participate in the campaign

In the words of Jane Goodall “A Reason for Hope”;

“Let us remember, always, that we are the consumers. By exercising free choice, by choosing what to buy, what not to buy, we have the power, collectively to change the ethics of the business of industry. We have the potential to exert immense power for good – we each carry it with us, in our purses, cheque books, and credit cards.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuna Sashimi

OK, now we do something really simple, a Tuna Sashimi, but we change it just a little bit, serve it with a nice marinade and a fried soft shell crab some jelly (very "El Bulli") and some blanched squid. This gives a bit of crunch to the dish, a different dimension and some extra flavour! When the whole dish is finished it actually looks like a lot of work, but the secret is.....very simple. One doesn't have to use all the ingredients and make the dish a bit simpler, but I like to show off a little bit from time to time.

  • Wasabi oil
  • Wasabi flying fish roe
  • Clean soft shell crab
  • Clean blanched squid
  • Hydashi seaweed or seaweed salad
  • Lemon dice
  • Portion tuna
  • Ponzu jelly
  • Tempura batter
  • Salt and pepper

  • 100ml sugar syrup
  • 400 ml ajitsuke Ponzu
  • 5gm agar agar
Bring ingredients to boil for 2 minutes then cool in fridge
For the soft shell crab mix the tempura batter as per recipe on the tempura flower packet, then dip the crab in it and shallow fry till crispy, serve immediately when the crab is cooked.


Place the seasoned tuna on the bottom put. Season Hydashi and place on top of tuna. Put wasabi roe, the small pieces of jelly and lemon pieces around the fish. Put the crispy fried crab on top and sprinkle the plate with the blanched squid and drizzle a bit wasabi oil around.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leek and Goats Cheese Tart

OK everybody, get better your helmets on, now we start cooking. I think I am on a roll. Today we are doing a leek and goats cheese tarte with baby leaves, asparagus and tomatoes. This is another favorite starter of mine, like the sun-dried tomato tart I described a while ago.

I like if a starter is easy to prepare, tasty and different than the usual stuff. The goats tart is perfect as well as a light main course during summer and of course one can play around a bit with the garnishes, dressing, salad. But enough talking, here is the recipe:

600 g Puff Pastry
800 g Leeks
300 g Goats Fresh Cheese (Chevre)
250 ml Cream
150 ml Milk
4 ea Eggs

40 ea green Asparagus tips
30 ea Cocktail Tomatoes
250 g mixed baby leaves

Roll out puff pastry and layer in 10 cm diameter tart forms, blind bake pastry case.
Cut the leeks in small squares and sweat leeks in Olive oil. Add into tart shells.
Crumble goats cheese and add to tarts
Combine Cream, milk and eggs, season and add to tarts, bake till cooked
Peel and blanch asparagus, roast cherry tomatoes in hot oven till skin blisters, wash and spin lettuce

Hazelnut Dressing
150 ml Sherry vinegar
1 ea clove garlic
1 ea shallot
70 g chopped roasted hazelnuts
200ml extra virgin olive oil
200ml hazelnut oil
10 g sea salt
5 g black pepper, from the mill

Crush garlic and shallot in mortar, add the vinegars. Season with salt and pepper, gently whisk in the oils. Adjust the seasoning. Strain out the shallot and garlic, then add chopped hazelnuts

To serve… heat tart, warm roasted tomatoes and steamed asparagus, season…dress salad construct drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Rich Chocolate Tart

Yes I am baking again and this time I am playing with a new recipe for a chocolate tart. It is a chocolate ganache tart with praline inside. Everything contains chocolate, the dough, then the filling and to finish it off I have a different chocolate ganache on top. The whole tarte is very rich and is best served with some fresh berries or tropical fruit, just to cut the richness a bit.

Chocolate Pastry
200 G Flour
60 G Icing sugar
30 G Cocoa
100 G Butter
2 Ea Egg yolks

For the pastry combine all items except eggs in a food
processor till you have fine crumbs, work quickly
Add egg yolks and combine quickly to a dough
Rest for a couple of hours
Roll out 3 mm thick and blindbake in 28 cm round tart tin
Cool down completely

Praline Filling
150 G Hazelnuts, roasted
175 G Raw sugar
300 Ml Cream
400 G Milk chocolate

Make a caramel with the sugar and pour over the roast nuts
Cool down, then blend till fine
Boil up cream and milk, add to chopped chocolate.
Mix well, then add 3 thirds of nut mix to it, reserve the
rest for garnish.
Pour the praline mix in the bottom of the tart
Ganache topping
160 Ml Cream
200 G Dark Chocolate

Boil up milk and cream, then add to chopped chocolate
Mix well and pour on top of the tarte

Refridgerate over night to let the chocolate set nicely. A perfect dessert to make a bit in advance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Food Presents from Bali

Food as a souvenir or a present? No that is not possible with all the restrictions of traveling, the quarantine regulations and the weight food why am I always buying food to take home? Because it depends what one buys. OK, last time from the Greek Islands I had 6 bottles of wine in the suitcase and boy, was that heavy. But there are other souvenirs one can bring and there is no problems with either transport or quarantine.

I found here on Bali some really stunning goods I got and just want to tell everybody how nice they are. Firstly I think with shopping it is like with eating, the eye eats as well! So packaging is important for me and I think it is one of the reasons I got them. Now what is it? Is is sea salt, local pepper corns and palm now, what is so special with these products? At first they were just really appealing to my eye, then I of course liked the product and after I bought them, I looked at their website and was just dazzled by the way everything is grown and harvested. It is in true "Slow Food" style, all organic and with an emphasis on sustainable. All the packaging is made of recycled paper and they make sure the local farmers are involved and make a living out of it. The companies name????? Of course there I am talking about this wonderful product and I am not telling anybody who makes it.....Big Tree Farm, Ubud, Bali.

Then I saw that the products are actually online available and in quite a few places in the US. OK, that takes maybe a bit of the "souvenir" status away, but otherwise it is still the same product. Then again, in the rest of the world it is not really available.

I always love it when I find a new product which I think is hip and modern, just to find out how green and sustainable it is. I feel very strongly in supporting producers like this because I think it needs a lot of enthusiasm to start organic farming and selling locally grown and harvested products. I am very fond of the "Slow Food" movement and when I find something in that direction I always try to support it as much as I can.

What do I use it for? Often just for garnish, a lovely red snapper grilled and then just a pinch of the sea salt on it before serving, or having the actual container on the table with a little spoon for serving. I use the sugar simply as a substitute, but must say that it is especially nice on fresh strawberries with whipped cream. Such a simple dish but like this the flavour of the palm sugar really comes out beautifully. The pepper I use for a typical steak au poivre, then garnished with the lovely Balinese Long Pepper. It is not as peppery as the normal pepper and of course looks great as well in a glass pepper mill.

What else did I buy? Coffee from Java, one of the famous regions renowned for making top quality coffee. That one I bought mainly because a good family friend at home is an absolute coffee lover and now after he has retired he bought himself a coffee roasting machine and started selling freshly roasted coffee in Cape Town. There are of course plenty of brands one can buy, so just for the convenient sake I bought a bit of the same brand we got for the ship, Caswell's so I just hope the coffee is nice, lol!

Then of course I had to get a little bit of Chocolate. Again, Java is well known for its top quality cocoa beans. The chocolate is made by a Belgian Chocolatier in Yogyakarta and has either Cashew nuts or Ginger in it. Especially the ginger chocolate is fantastic, the bitterness of dark chocolate combined with the spicyness of the ginger, beautiful. The company's name is Cokelat Monggo.

I am now since good 10 days on the ship suitcase is getting already full.....and I still have a long way to go before going back home!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eating in Benoa, Bali

Unfortunately I have only very little time here in Benoa, it is a turn over port for the ship and the whole morning is already booked with loading and I have to see a supplier for some extra and speciality goods, but then I am meeting up with my old friend Dietrich, who is living here for quite a while now and has started his own Recruitment agency, specializing in Hotels and restaurants We worked together a couple of years ago on the luxury cruise liner "The World" and he decided to call Bali home.

Firstly I had to get used to Bali time, the supplier said that they will be with us at 830 in the morning, but after a couple of calls forth and back they finally appeard at 930.....anyway, it was worth the wait as the shop we went to is just fantastic, an Expat heaven, stunning home made ice cream (I especially loved the mango-chili sorbet). loads of cold meat, lovely butchery section and they have even a local Wagyu beef, very nice, and imported cheeses. Of course one can get the whole range of exotic fruit and then a load of organic salads and leaves. There is a big wine section and I got as well some special Balinese Sea Salt and Peppercorn. The shop is actually a food distributor for the top hotels in Bali, but luckily open to the public. It is called Lotus Distribution and one can find the shop in Jl. Bantas Kangin No 2, Jimbaran Bali. (62-361)701 650. I think especially if one is for a longer time in Bali, it is worth popping in and getting a fix of Western Products.

Then for lunch with Dietrich and his girlfrien Daisy I had the choice of local, around the corner or more upmarket at Kuta Beach. Now being a Foodie, I opted without hesitation for the local option and Dietrich just ordered some of their favorite foods, as you can see they like a lot of food. Especially stunning was the prawns with water spinach or Kang Kong, which came sizzling to the table, then we had whole prawns, onion rings, spicy fried rice with squid, Kang Kong with chicken and noodles (Pad) with chinese cabbage and fried egg. All the food was absolutely delicious and cooked right next to us in the open air kitchen. I have to say the restaurant was very clean and full, apparently even fuller in the evening, which is a good sign.

The restaurant is called Warung Malang and is......somewhere closish to Kuta Beach....actually no idea where it really is, but it is worthwhile to go through the trouble and find it. If someone really wants to go there, I am happy to get the exact address.
After lunch we had a small sight seeing tour through the most important tourist spots, the famous shopping and party avenue were we visited the place were the terrorist attack was on the night club. OK, not really a touristy thing to do, but it just makes one think a bit that not everything in this world is hunky dory.

Then we went off to Kuta Beach and I was warned that they will try to sell me anything there.......which they did try, but Dietrich saved the whole situation with telling them in Indonesian that they won't need to worry, we will be back tomorrow, yes right! Anyway, Kuta beach is a must see for everybody, it is actually a lovely and long beach, beautiful sand and we had this stunning little sea breeze that made the heat a bit less. A lovely cool beer in the shade of the palm trees and we were happy chappies.....for the short while at least we were there as we had to move on, back to the ship.

As for the travel in Bali......Bike, that is all I can say, traffic can be horrendous and one spends far too much time stuck somewhere, so catch a ride on one of the bikes or hire one, they don't cost much

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do we need the rat race?

We are so used to just running around, stressing, having hectic times, staying in traffic jams, the list could go on and on, but do we really need this rat race?

Being here on the ship and chatting with my hands and feet (at least till an Indonesian official helped me) with this fisherman from Komodo Island I see a more peaceful live style. His daily job is to get fresh fish, the family with him on board and hopefully sell enough to be able to buy some other goods necessary to live. His job is the actual fishing, throwing out the net and get the net back in...and of course he is the captain of the little fishing vessel. His wife's job is to get the fish out of the net, make sure the water gets scooped out of the boat (seems to be leaking quite a bit as she throws out a full bucket ever 5 minutes) and to make sure there is fuel in the engine. And I think the little boy just has a good time. If I could do it myself? I doubt it as I do like a little bit the hectic live, action around me....but I do enjoy time out, very much so

Seeing all that fresh fish we decided to buy his whole catch and after a very short negotiation we agreed on a set price, 100'000 Rupee, the equivalent to 10 USD. He wanted more, but that was actually all the money I had left and we mutually agreed that he can have my last money. We got about 7 kg of really fresh fish for it, all small, some mackerel, bass and snapper. Not that I just wanted small fish, but it is just what they have here. The lady next to him tried to sell us some fresh squid, but unfortunately there was no money left, I first have to change again in Bali.
The choice is nice here, the next fisherman came about an hour later with three stunning trevally for sale....yes we bought them all. Ian, the hotel manager bought two and donated them to the crew. We will cook them whole, but I will write about that later. As usual there will be a fight of who will get the head, my opinion is that the honour should go to Ian! And then the carpenter bought one as well for the deck guys, this one will be cut in steaks and then fried. I think today everybody will be feasting somewhere on the ship.

The small fish I cook very simple, just sea salt and pepper, then fried in olive oil, just delicious. We gutted it first and rubbed a little bit lemon juice on it, just to give it a bit more flavour.

With that we made a simple chunky tomato sauce, onions, garlic, capers, olives, fresh and very ripe tomatoes, just all roughly diced, then fried in a bit olive oil, add a pinch of sea salt, basil and black pepper from the mill and let it simmer for 5 minutes. It must be cooked quickly to preserve the freshness and acidity of the tomatoes, it is just gorgeous.

I got some baked potatoes, so we serve that with the fish, a simple Mediterranean feast.

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