Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ship swapping

I am back in Miami, just for one night. After one month on a beautiful Cruise Ship, the Constellation, and starting to feel at home there, I am swapping ships here in Miami. I will go for 4 days to a different class, a little smaller than what I have been on till now. It will be the Century. Then I will most probably go up to Fort Lauderdale to join one of our top end ships, the Equinox with around 3200 guest on board. So I have some interesting times ahead, lots of new ships and experiences. The only thing that will stay the same is that they all cruise around the Caribbean. The Constellation, the ship I was on for the past month is sailing of through the Panama Canal and then further on to Hawaii, NICE!

So cruising has been fun, even so it is hard work, I have enjoyed every minute. There is never a dull moment on a ship and sometimes one wishes that the Day had more hours and one wouldn't need any sleep. Apart from learning and getting to know the Millennium Class of ships I had to write recipes, do photo shoots, did hands on training with the chefs and spent quite a bit of time with Sanitation training, en extremely important part of ships life.

People shore side have in general no idea what is involved in ships sanitation, how many hours everybody spends in cleaning and sanitizing, measuring temperatures and filling in logs. Knowing all the rules and regulations of USPH (United States Public Health) Walking around early morning with torches and testers to check that the galleys are really clean. But then again, it is all about food safety here. I can honestly say that when the guys are finished cleaning the galleys, I would happily eat off the floor, that's how clean it is. Of course it is not just about sanitation, but I always feel that it is so much nicer working in a clean environment rather than a messy one.

Now let's go to the fun part, another recipe. I thought today we do some pasta, something vegetarian for a change. I often see these huge pasta shells in the shop and thought that they are just really pretty, so here the recipe

Pasta Shells filled with Ratatouille, Bechamel sauce

90 g (3 oz) Onions
15 g (0.5 oz) Garlic, crushed
90 g (3 oz) Tomatoes
120 g (4oz) Eggplant
120 g (4 oz) Baby Marrows
90 g (3 oz) Red Peppers
60 ml (2 floz) Olive oil
30 g (1 oz) Tomato paste

60 g (2 oz) Onions
40 g (1.5 oz) Strong flour
10 ml (0.5 floz) Olive oil
300 ml (10 floz) Milk
240 ml (8 floz) Cream
Cut all the vegetables in 5 mm (0.3 inch) cubes.
Heat Olive oil in pan, then add first the onions and garlic. Fry without colour till translucent
Then add the other vegetables, except the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, then fry without color for another 5 minute.
Add tomato paste and thyme, fry a little longer.

For the sauce cut onions in stripes, then fry them without colour in the olive oil, add flour and roast for 5 minutes, without giving any color.
Add cold milk and cream, bring to the boil and season.
Strain the sauce to have a smooth, white sauce
Season to taste and add a tiny bit nutmeg at the end

Cook the pasta shells till al dente, cool in ice water.
Fill the shells with the ratatouille, sprinkle with a bit Parmesan and heat in the oven

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Banana Rum Mille Feuille in Curacao

I am in the last port of this cruise, in Willemstad, Curacao. It is really beautiful here, similar to Aruba but with more historic buildings. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and street cafes, the perfect place to just relax a little bit. Of course there is plenty of shopping opportunities here too, but as I am traveling all the time, there is really no space for anymore luggage

There is as well a lovely fruit and vegetable market; I could have gone wild here as all the fruit looked just so fresh and delicious. Bits further down there are a couple of fish stands as well with great fresh local fish. This is the nicest market I have seen so far in the Caribbean, at least on this trip. The cold is still there, but I think I just got used to the constant sniffing and occasional coughing, but think it will go over soon. It seems to go around a bit, I see several other crew member struggling a bit, just one of these things I guess.
Willemstad is the capital of the Netherlands Antilles and Curacao. I really enjoyed walking through the streets here, just taking in the atmosphere and enjoying a little time off. We will be at sea for the next two days, back to Miami where I will sign off, stay for a night and then join the next ship this Monday. I will pop quick in the office for some meetings and to pick up my chef jackets, nicely embroided with my name.......

Now being in Curacao I thought I should do a dessert for a change. I haven’t done too many dessert recipes so it is about time to do one again.

Banana, Rum and Chocolate Mille Feuille

1 ea Puff Pastry Sheets
10 ea Bananas
90 g (3 oz) Butter
90 g (3 oz) Sugar

300 g (10 oz) Dark Chocolate
3 ea Egg yolks
60 ml (2 oz) Rum
500 ml (0.5 quart) Cream
200 g (7 oz) Dark Chocolate
90 ml (3 oz) Cream
60 g (2 oz) Butter

Cut Puff Pastry sheet in half and bake in the oven till golden brown. Cool the puff pastry sheets completely down.

Heat the butter and add bananas and sugar. Roast quickly on high heat to caramelize the sugar a bit, then add rum and flambee.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bain marie with the rum till ribbon stage.
Melt the chocolate and fold into the eggs. Cool to room temperature.
Fold in whipped cream carefully.

Lay the bananas on the one puff pastry sheet, then top with chocolate mousse. Press carefully the second puff pastry sheet on top and cool completely in the fridge.

For the Ganache boil up butter and cream. Take off the stove and add chocolate. Cool to room temperature and pour carefully over your mille feuille. Spread the Ganache with a spatula, then cool in the fridge.
Cut your mille feuille just before serving and maybe serve a glass of well aged Caribbean Rum.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blue Cheese and Pear Phyllo Parcel

The travel goes on, I am now in Trinidad Tobago, In Scarborough, Tobago to be exact. I was very much looking forward to getting out of the ship today; I need a bit fresh air. The air-conditioning is not very favorable to me and I caught a little cold, but nothing a little extra dose of Vitamin C and a cold tablet can solve.

The towns main attraction is a well preserved historical site called Fort King George, an 18th century fortification which now hosts a museum. When we anchored I could see where the castle is, not very big and a bit away from town on a hill top. But then when I got out in the afternoon I could see that it is a bit far to walk there so I just had a quick glimpse at town……very quick. Because Scarborough has really not too much to offer, it is very poor, a little dirty and only has some bars and restaurants which didn’t look too inviting to me. It took me a whole of 20 minutes till I was back on the ship for a good session in the gym. Yes I do go to the gym, rather infrequently but better than nothing. The beaches so are apparently really nice with palm trees and fine sand and of course there are some rather beautiful resorts on the island.
Then of course nature is beautiful with lush tropical vegetation and loads of wild life especially for bird watchers, there are great lakes and waterfalls and of course diving is great with plenty reefs

I browsed a little through the little stand, loads of them selling clothes, all sorts of souvenirs but some of them had really nice fruit and vegetables. There are mango and citrus orchards on the island and they are getting sold in the little stands amongst plenty of other fruit and vegetables.

When we sailed away we could see a bit of the rest of the island, especially the part of Scarborough where all the expensive villas are, absolutely beautiful. I had a last good look at the fort shining in the sun set, I think this another island that needs a bit more exploring.

The recipe for today is a lovely and easy to prepare starter, a blue cheese and pear parcel, it is vegetarian and can be made in advance; the blue cheese goes beautifully with the poached pears

Poached Pears
500 ml (17 floz) White wine
75 g (3 oz) Sugar
1 ea Cinnamon Stick
5 ea Fresh pears

Phyllo Squares
10 ea Phyllo dough
200 g (7 oz) Blue Cheese
200 g (7 oz) Poached pears
100 g ( 3.5 oz) Clarified butter

Berry reduction
100 g (3.5 oz) Rasperries, frozen
50 g (2 oz) Sugar
100 ml (3.5 floz) Red wine
100 ml (3.5 floz) Port wine

For the phyllo parcel brush two sheets of phyllo with clarified butter
Cut them into about 7 cm wide stripes
Put the crumbed blue cheese and pears in the middle of the one strip and then roll it, giving it a square shape
Then turn the parcel around and roll on the open sides on a second sheet of phyllo to close the parcel
Then fry it on all sides in a little clarified butter till crisp and keep warm

Boil the berries with the sugar, wine and port and reduce to half, blend and strain.

Plate one parcel per person in the middle of a plate, garnish with a roasted pear wedge and serve with a little salad and the berry port-reduction

And we are back at sea, one whole day to get to the last two stops, Aruba and Curacao, this time I will go out in both places, especially Curacao!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fresh Pea Soup in St. Lucia

Hello everybody, life had been busy here on the ship. Especially days at sea are always full of F&B events, which is of course nice for the guest, but puts a lot of pressure on the crew. There is just so much they can do, from galley tours to cooking shows, wine seminars, whisky tasting and demonstrations of what we serve in the individual restaurants. Of course it is the same with all the other departments, there is a lot happening to keep 2000 passengers happy. Never mind that there are still a lot of them just lying around the pool and getting slowly roasted….
Miami was cold again, the second cold spell they had and it was nice to get back to the Caribbean in the warmth. We just spent some time in Castries, St. Lucia. What a beautiful Island, one just needs to take a taxi and drive out a bit. Town itself has really not much to offer, the usual, loads of shopping and quite a few restaurants, bars and pubs. It is all a bit poor, quite dirty and dilapidated and unfortunately I had not enough time to drive out a bit, never mind, one day I will.

In many parts of the world it is summer right now, nice and hot whereas in other parts it is freezingly cold, so I thought that it would be nice to have a soup that goes well in both parts of the world, the hot and the cold one. So, there we go, a fresh pea soup. If you are stuck in winter you serve the soup hot and think of summer and if you are in a hot area, just serve it chilled and cool down with this lovely refreshing soup.

Green pea soup for 10 friends

600 g (21 oz) Green peas
1 l (1 quart) Vegetable stock
500 ml (17 floz) Heavy Cream
400 g (13 oz) Potatoes
Salt, pepper
200 g (6.5 oz) Brioche
100 g (3 oz) Streaky Bacon
150 ml (5 oz) Crème Fraiche
Chive for garnish

Blanch peas in plenty salt water till very soft.
When cooked put them immediately into iced water
Bring chicken stock, potatoes and cream to a boil
Simmer till potatoes are very soft
Add peas, season well to taste and blend the soup.
Strain the soup through a chinoise and cool as fast as possible

Cut the brioche in 0.2 inch cubes
Toast them in the oven till golden brown
Cut the bacon in 0.2 inch cubes
Fry in very hot pan without oil till crispy, but not too dark

Re-heat the soup carefully and pour piping hot in soup bowl
Top with Crème Fraiche
Garnish with crispy bacon and croutons

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Angelfood Cake in Aruba!

I am now in Oranjestad, Aruba. It is the Dutch part of the Caribbean Islands. It is the first time that I am here, so of course I was very excited to go out of the ship for a little while and see how everything looks like.

Now at the same time there were three other big cruise ships in Port so there must be a lot of tourists, but the town is actually so big that there is plenty of space, tons and tons of shops. It is actually all about shopping and partying here. Everything is duty free and all the ships are of course promoting the shopping.

Otherwise town is ok, but nothing to write about. It could be anywhere in the world with beaches, discos and plenty of shops. There are some pretty houses some museums and yes….casinos. The island is not so poor like the rest of the West Indies one can see that immediately.

There was one restaurant I saw, nice garden to eat under big trees and quite a funny menu, so I had to make a photo, one doesn’t get served goat every day.

Talking about food, we still need to do our dessert for Valentines. I was debating what would be best and think that most probably just strawberries and cream would be a great choice, easy to do and the perfect food for lovers, but that would be too easy, I like to go just a little wilder than that. So I thought we do a Strawberry Angel Food Cake. Here we go

Strawberry Angel Food Cake

Round sponge sheet (Buy in the shop)
Fresh strawberries
Whipped cream with a little Vanilla Essence and sugar in it

Cut the sponge in small rings (use an empty can like baked bean can)
Then cut the individual rings in about 1 cm (0.3 inch) thick discs.
Add Brandy and sugar in equal proportions in a heavy based pan and bring to the boil to melt the sugar, and then cool the syrup down completely
Put one disc in the bottom of the ring and soak with a little Brandy syrup
Then top with cut strawberries.
Top with a little whipped cream
Repeat with another layer of sponge, berries and cream.
Top with a last layer of sponge, press down gently to compact the cake a bit, cut out a ring of marzipan and put on the sponge, carefully un-mold the cake, garnish with a strawberry.

Serve with Mango puree

So, that was the last part of the Valentines Menu Cycle and I hope it gave you some ideas what one could do. We are busy here with creating recipe cards for the company and I will adapt some of them for you to try out, so there is still so much more to come. We are now on the way back to Miami, will be for two days at sea, then turn around and back to the Caribbean again. I will be on the ship for one more cruise before moving on to the next challenge.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In St. Georges, Grenada

The ship is going on and on, never a rest. We have done a different island nearly every day in the past week. Just two sea days out of Miami and then it just went bang, bang, bang! Like I said, there was not much time to go out at all, but now I just had to hop off for a little while. We are in the centre of Cricket loving people and of course we are following on the net what South Africa is doing in India at the moment....not that everybody loves Cricket, but I must say that I really enjoy it.

I just spent a little time outside in St. George and must say that I have never seen before how poor the West Indies really are. I think without the cruise industry it would be even worse, if that is possible. It is a public holiday today, so everything is closed, restaurants, bars, shops, everything just the market is open, but it is not a huge market anyway.

I walked from the cruise terminal up to the castle, quite steep but one has a lovely view from up there. Then I went through the old city to the harbor, that is when I thought it would be nice to just sit under the shade, have something cool to drink and simply enjoy a moment of peace……next time when we are here I will do that (hopefully in 2 weeks)
There is as well the fish market at the Carenage Harbor, today I just saw all the vessels lying there and the crew having a sleepy time, so I hope next time I am more lucky.

The city itself is actually quite beautiful with many old houses, some of them unfortunately in disrepair, like some of the beautiful churches. Just a little about the history here. After Columbus “discovered” The Island, like many others he found, the French settled in 1650 from Martinique and one can still see a strong French influence. The British came and after lots of feuding the British took control in 1783. Only in 1974the island got its independence.

The Island is as well known as the Spice Island, Grenada has plenty of them. Walking though the market one gets all the beautiful smells especially from Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves.

Then of course I have here the promised recipe, this time a fish, nice and simple, less labour intensive than the meat in the past blog. Enjoy it!


120 g (4 oz) Cauliflower
30 g (1 oz) Onions
30 g (1oz) Butter
55 ml (2 oz) Cream
30 ml (1 oz) Hazelnut oil
30 g (1 oz) Hazelnuts
Salt, pepper

1) Heat butter in heavy based pan
2) Add onions and fry without color till translucent
3) Add Cauliflower, saute for 5 minutes
4) Add cream and season, simmer till tender
5) Blend the puree, add hazelnut oil
6) Just before serving add the chopped, roasted hazelnuts
7) Season again to make sure it is nice


30 g (1oz) Butter
30 g (1oz) Onions
5 g (0.3 oz) Garlic
200 g (7 oz) Spinach
Salt, pepper

1) Heat butter to medium heat
2) Fry onions till translucent, then add garlic.
3) Add spinach, season to taste, saute quickly
4) Press out any additional juice


300 g (10 oz) Sea bass
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

1) Heat skillet to medium to high heat
2) Add olive oil and heat to nearly smoking point
3) Fry the fish, skin down first till golden brown and crisp turn the fish around and fry on the other side
4) Season to taste
5) Finish the cooking of the fish in a moderately hot oven at 290 F

100 g (3 oz) Apples Granny Smith
30 g (1 oz) Red Onions
Chili red
Wasabi Paste
Palm sugar
Lime juice

1) Cut apples and Onions with mandolin in fine julienne
2) Marinate with the other ingredients for two hours
3) Season to taste

Plate the cauliflower puree on a hot plate, add spinach
Set the fish on top of the spinach
Garnish with the apple relish and thyme

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Valentines Main Course

OK, now after we have a great soup, we do something nice for main course. I am not sure which dish to choose as there is such a variety one could do to impress the loved one. So I thought lets go save and do a surf and turf....boring? OK, then we go for a veal tenderloin on root vegetables. Something not too difficult and nice. But for all the non meat eaters, next blog will be a fish dish which goes well on Valentine.

But before the recipe a little update of what happened in the past couple of days. Yes we have been busy, what else do you expect with 2000 guest on board, but I was able to hop off the ship for a short while in St. John and will go off again tomorrow in Barbados. The weather is great and it is nice and warm. I have to say so that St. John is very touristy, at least were all the cruise lines anchor, but otherwise beautiful. Even with all the work we have there is time to explore a little bit, usually an hour or two in the afternoon. Today we were in Castries, St. Lucia, I had no time to go out as we were busy with photographing food, but I remembered that an old friend of mine is living here, so I sent him an email and hopefully in 2 weeks, when we are back here I can meet up with him and have a drink.

Anyway, lets go back to the recipe:

Valentines Surf and Turf
360 g (15 oz) Potatoes
80 ml (3oz) Milk
80 ml (3 oz) Cream
4 g (0.2 oz) salt
5 g (0.2 oz) Garlic
25 g (1 oz) Parmesan
25 g (1 oz) Gruyere
15 g (0.5 oz) Butter

1) Put potatoes in heavy based pot
2) Add milk, cream, garlic and seasoning
3) Bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the times
4) Transfer into gratin form and bake in oven 365 F for 30 min
5) Top with Parmesan and bake another 30 min at 365 F
6) Cool in blast chiller
7) Cut rounds of 1.5 inch, re heat in the oven as required

100 g (3 oz) Baby green beans
50 g (1.5 oz) Bacon, streaky
100 g (3 oz) Carrots
30 g (1 oz) Onions
30 g (1 oz) Butter
10 g (0.3 oz)Sugar
30 ml (1 oz) Vegetable stock
Salt, pepper

1) Wrap the beans in bacon, trim on both sides
2) Cut carrots slightly diagonal in 0.1 inch slices
3) Melt butter in a pan, add onions and fry till translucent
4) Add carrots and sugar, glace for 5 minutes
5) Add vegetable stock, boil up and cook till carrots are soft
The cooking liquid should be nearly evaporated and creamy
6) Season to taste

1) Saute vegetables in butter without getting any color
2) Add white wine, reduce to half
3) Add fish stock, clam juice and cream
4) Simmer for 20 minutes
5) Mix corn starch with a little water, thicken the sauce.
6) Season to taste
7) Strain through Chinoise strainer
8) Fry shallots in a little oil without butter
9) Add red wine and reduce to half
10) Add demi glace, boil up and season to taste
11) Strain through Chinoise strainer and thicken if needed
with corn starch

Beef fillet
Oil, cooking
Salt, pepper

Jumbo Shrimp
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

1) Sear the fillet on all sides
2) Season to taste
3) Finish the cooking in the oven as required by guest

4) Peel the tail, leaving the head and tail end
5) Fry in olive oil and season to taste

Plate the gratin slightly off centre on hot plate
Next to it place the two vegetables
Then plate the meat and the prawn
Add the two sauces for both meat and prawn

Garnish the beef with thyme, the prawn with dill and enjoy!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentines cooking

Yes I am back cooking and having fun. With all the other work, the training, the checking the walking through the ship and making sure all the food is looking good, we still have time to cook.

At the moment we are concentrating on Valentines, as it is just around the corner and I will give you a couple of examples. Now imagine we always make the recipe for 100 people, and usually make easy up to 600 of one portion, but no worry, I have changed the recipes that one can cook them for 2, especially for Valentines.

By the way, we are at the moment in Barbados, so far I had only time to pop out quick in St. John, Antigua as we are a bit busy at the moment with the photos and I need to get settled into the job, but there will be soon photos from the different ports.

Baked Potato and Lobster Soup

150 g (5 oz) Potatoes
60 g (2 oz) Leeks
60 g (2 oz) Onions
10 g (0.5 oz) Olive oil
400 ml (13 oz) Vegetable stock
120 ml (4 oz) Cream
Salt, pepper

1 ea Lobster tail

Puff pastry sheet

Peel and cut the potatoes in dices, wash the leeks and cut the same, peel the onions and cut in dices.

Heat the butter and fry the vegetables on low heat till onions become translucent.

Add vegetable stock, season lightly

Simmer till potatoes are very soft, add the cream and bring to the boil

Blend the soup and strain.

Poach lobster tail and cut in small dices

Pour the warm soup in soup cups, top with lobster pieces.

Cut the puff pastry in discs big enough to cover the soup cup.

Paint with egg wash and bake in the pre-heated oven at 180 C (350 F) till puff pastry is golden brown and crispy.

Enjoy the soup with your loved one and a glass of Rose Champagne, a good start for a great Valentines!

Next entry will be concentrating on main course, something special is waiting!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Good news

I just have to give you the good news. I love my new job. I am getting nicely into it and getting to know the ship. F&B is really a very important part of it. Today we are arriving at St. Thomas and we have USPH, meaning United States public heath. This is a tough one, the chefs have cleaned the galley for an extra hour and we are all meeting at 7 AM for a walk through the galleys to ensure that everything is perfect. It is all about Logs and cleanliness. The restaurants and hotels shore side would learn a lot about hygiene here on ship. I will go into it a bit more on an other Blog but basically it is to ensure that everything is perfectly clean, food gets held at the right temperature and not for too long, there is nothing that gets old on a ship.
Then I am getting more and more into cooking, you will see the results very soon. I have to make recipes for Valentines and will do the photos in the next couple of days, stay tuned to the Blog!!!!
Otherwise it is a great challenge, let me just give you some fact about the ship I am on at the moment.
2000 plus guest
119 chefs and cooks
10'000 meals per day
Loads of fun and work, I think I will be able to bring loads of recipes, you will see.
Tomorrow we will be in St. Thomas, the town is called Charlotte Amalie. It is in the Virgin Island and of course I will try to get out for an hour or two, make some photos and post it on the blog.
Anyway off to bed now, I had dinner with the corporate f&b Manager, I had some lovely Scallops on Mango Sauce, then some Chilean Seabass which was perfectly cooked......yes recipe is to follow.
So, anyway I can't wait to write the recipes, I promise, there are loads to come soon!!!!
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