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.
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