Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everybody

Me at Hubbart Glacier

I hope you all had a great year and wish that the coming one is an even better one.

On my side it has been a very good year. It is the first full year that I am writing the blog and I must say that it is more and more fun, just to write about the travels, the destinations and the recipes. My new Years resolution is that I will have more recipes in the Blog. If there is anything in particular you would like to see, let me know, I know Ilze wanted a chocolate cake recipe from me and has never received it, so I will put it in the Blog, sorry Ilze!
Sunset in Sitka, Alaska

It has been a good year work wise too. I am enjoying my new job with Celebrity Cruises, especially this contract. It will be a bit of a longer contract as we will sell the beautiful Mercury to our sister company TUI at the end of February. We are all a bit sad, but we know that she is in good hands and it looks like that the Mercury (in future Mein Schiff 2) Will look stunning after the revamp in Dry dock is finished.
The least a part of it

That means that I will be on a different ship for my next contract. I have no idea which ship, but we will see, every ship has something that is beautiful, so I don't mind which one it will be.

Anyway, I am off to work, I made already my round this morning at 06.50 AM, had a lovely Latte from Cova Cafe, now just wanted to write my Blog quickly and then the day really starts. Meetings, Cooking show, Special Lunch for our Cruise Critics Guests, Captains Club Celebration, then the formal evening again and after that the New Years Party with Canapes, plenty of Canapes.........
Me in Panama Canal

See you all again "next" year. Keep on reading the blog and any comment is welcome!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everybody. I hope you all have a peaceful time, or at least can relax a little in this usually hectic time.

Here on the beautiful Mercury everything goes well, it is a great 14 day Caribbean Cruise and the guest seem to enjoy very much. We have less guest than expected as a whole big bunch of them got stuck in London, due to the cold weather and loads of snow, but still there are plenty guest on board.

I just want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here some photos from our "Tree Trimmer" Buffet which we served just before Midnight last night

It is amazing to see when a team comes together. We had one hour to set up a full dessert buffet with ice carvings and everybody helped.....then the call comes from the freezer "Chef, the carvings are all stuck to the floor, we can't get them up!" You can imagine my answer and only a couple of minutes later the first carving came up. Then another one and........a Dragon tail? No that is not one of the Christmas carvings, send it back.
Look at how delicate the carvings are. We have a special decorator on the ship who does all the carvings, he is a real master and I did write his name on my "wish list" of the top crew I have worked wit, just in case I have the need one day.....

Our Master Baker from Germany, Bernd, went totally wild and made wonderful Panetone, Stollen and other delicacies. His show pieces are amazing, I love every single one.
Lito, our Executive Sous Chef Pastry did the same on his side, amazing all the good his team produces and they were enjoyed by everybody.
So again to all of you, I wish you a Merry Christmas, enjoy this wonderful time and indulge in cookies and other treats

Friday, December 24, 2010

Braised Veal Cheeks

They are cheeky little things, the veal cheeks (or one can take as well beef cheeks) Not too many attempt cooking them, maybe because they are cheeks?????

Anyway, everybody who had the pleasure in trying cheeks will love them forever. They need to be cooked slow and careful and for a very long time as it is a muscle that is used a lot.....literally, but therefore it is a lot more flavourful than, lets say a fillet or sirloin.

I just love the cuts which have to be cooked slowly and for a long time, they just develop such a beautiful flavour, they get tender, are tasty and even on warmer days they are nice to eat. Apart from that they are the perfect party food as they can easily be cooked a couple of days in advance and then just need to be re-heated, cheeky!!!

And I thought after all the starters and sweets, it is about time to have some nice hearty main course. The combination with the Gnocchi goes really well, just make sure the potatoes are really soft and then dried in the oven for about 10 minutes at 100 o C. To get the best result the flour must be mixed in while the potatoes are still hot .

As for braising the cheeks, I am a bit cheeky too and give approximate weights or just ingredients, I don't believe in exact amounts for braising, sometimes one needs a bit more liquid, sometimes a bit less, just never be stingy!

  • Veal Cheeks
  • Oil
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Tomato paste
  • Red wine
  • Veal stock or jus
  • Pepper corns, bay leaf, 1 clove, rosemary
  • Salt (very little as the sauce will reduce and flavor will intensify
trim and braise beef cheek in red wine and veal stock cook till tender reserve stock to make sauce…make gnocchi …roast celeriac peel and roast carrots peel and roast shallots….pick spinach…

1 kg of cooked mashed desire potato
300gm flour

Gently fold the ingredients together to form soft dough
Blanch in boiling salted water until they float, Then refresh in ice water.

Then you need the following vegetables, but feel free to swap and change (root veggies are good so for this dish)
  • Baby Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Spinach
  • Shallots
To Serve reheat cheek in some of reserved liquid…pan fry gnocchi adding finely chiffonnade sage heat shalots carrots and roast celeriac sautéed spinach slice cheek into 3 pieces construct dish and sauce liberally….

Now if you like to know exactly how to braise properly, watch this space I as I will over time part with some chef short cuts so, that I am not fond of short cuts

And then of course.....enjoy the meal, best with friends and maybe a nice bottle of Brunello, especially the Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino...just drink it with good friends, it is not the cheapest wine available, but man, it is gooooooooood!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beauty Contest in St. Maarten

I just have to tell you about this one, a beauty contest in a different way. St. Maarten or Philipsburg was packed, totally packed as 4 cruise ships were there and to of the latest and most beautiful ones were next to each other, tell me which one you like more. Is it the Norwegian Cruise Line’s EPIC or Celebrity’s ECLIPSE?
I am totally hooked by one of them. I call them the beauty and the beast, the beauty being the ECLIPSE. I think her forms are a lot nicer, slimmer, and sexier, what do you think? I was on the Equinox for 20 days, she has the same interior like the Eclipse and have to say that at the moment it is most probably one of the nicest ships on the seven seas, not just because I work for Celebrity, but being a Foodie and seeing what they have on offer in the Specialty Restaurants is just fantastic. No Franchise Restaurants, but all in house with home made goods.
Of course there was as well the Disney Magic. She would win any beauty contest hands down. The shape of the ship reminds me a bit of the Nautilus from a book of Jules Vernes. Then the small ship between all of them, yes that is us!!!!! The other ships are a lot bigger than we are, I mean a lot.

I made some more photos of St. Maarten, just to show you the beauty of this island; it is the Dutch side with Phillipsburg.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Celebrity Mercury, Formal Evening

Just a quick Blog today, we are on the way back to Baltimore and I believe it is snowing there. The whole cruise was a bit on the fresh side as there was a huge cold front everywhere, even in the Caribbean. So if it is snowing or we see snow in Baltimore I will make some photos and post it on the blog

But today's entry is all about the formal evening on the beautiful Celebrity Mercury. It is a big event with the baked Alaska Parade where all the waiters are coming down the stairs and having the burning Baked Alaska trays in their hands. I is always something special and I thought I will NOT put a photo in it, not because I don't want to, but because I am part of the parade, standing on the stairs as I get introduced, together with my second in charge and the Pastry Chef with his second in charge.

But why I mention that evening is that my Culinary Administrator told me that there is plenty of videos on You Tube about that evening, so all you have to do is go on to You Tube and search for Celebrity Mercury, Formal Evening and you will be surprised how many videos there are.

The evening is like the Grand Finale of the Cruise, we serve a lovely menu with Lobster Tails, Fillet Mignon with Foie Gras and many more delicious meals.....hungry? stay tuned for more to come

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Key Lime Pie in Key West, Florida

Yes, we are in Key West, it has been a long time since I have been here last and I still have fond memories of this place, going through town to buy fresh fish early in the morning when everybody is still sleeping and there are no tourists around.

This time it was a little different, I am here in the afternoon, it is boiling hot and the streets are full of tourists and I just want to go back to the ship where it is beautifully air-conditioned. But I still enjoyed the capital of the Conch Republic, the epicenter of the world famous Key Lime Pie.

There is a difference in the Lime Pie compared to other lime pies. The Key Lime is a little smaller and extremely fragrant, so the pie is of course very fragrant too. I will give you my recipe of a Key Lime Pie, one I know it works and is tasty. The Pie is very light and easy to prepare.
Key West is a lovely town, humid at times, but beautiful and tropical at the same time. Amongst other the famous writer Ernest Hemingway lived here for a long time and many other
There is a lot to see, many museums, restaurants, the butterfly farm, the southern most point and so much more. It is such a relaxed place, just to put your feet up and enjoy your time here. It is quite a way to drive from Miami but worth it and if you have time, make an overnight stop and drive back the next day as night life here is fantastic, exciting and plentiful, something for every taste.


16 graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cube (1/4 lb) margarine or butter

4 large or extra large egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (approximately 12 Key limes)
2 teaspoons grated lime peel, green portion only

4 Egg whites
6 oz Castor Sugar

Mix the ingredients and press them into a 9" pie plate. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned. Place on a rack to cool.

Pie Filling
Use an electric mixer and beat the egg yolks until they are thick and turn to a light yellow, don't over mix. Turn the mixer off and add the sweetened condensed milk. Turn speed to low and mix in half of the lime juice. Once the juice is incorporated add the other half of the juice and the zest, continue to mix until blended (just a few seconds). Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake at 350F for 12 minutes to set the yolks

Beat the egg whites with a quarter of the sugar to soft peak in an electric beater, add the rest of the sugar and beat till all the sugar has dissolved and the mix is nice and solid.
Pipe the mix on the cold pie and then burn the top with a torch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cold Weather in Baltimore

Yes you see right, we are back in Baltimore, just for a turn around and then off for the next cruise, 9 days this time with some exciting stops, one of them will be Key West and I think there will be a nice recipe. As for now I am freezing nearly to death, it is just too cold and I have to check all the produce that has arrived. At least there is no wind, so I am just ok. You can imagine how much it needs to feed everybody for 9 days, this is loads of food. Just Hamburger patties for example, I will use around 1400 lbs (700 kg) in this cruise. That is a lot of Hamburgers, let me tell you. The Pool Grill is a very busy place to be and as it is open from around 11 AM till at least 6 PM, there are a lot of guest (and crew) coming to enjoy our burgers.

So yes, it is freezing cold here and I can't wait to be back south where the sun shines and it is nice and warm. When we went to Baltimore we had 3 days at sea and it got colder every single day.

Anyway, just another couple of days and you will get the latest news about Key West.......yes the recipe will be a love key lime pie, mmmmmm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrity in St. Maarten

St. Maarten, a beautiful Island in the Caribbean, beautiful and different to many other Islands as it belongs to two countries, France and Holland and everybody lives in peace next to each other. The beauty is that there are two very different cultures so close to each other living in harmony and giving so much Charm to this Island.

Due to the size of our ship we are in Phillipsburg, the Dutch side. Only smaller ships are allowed to dock on the French side but I have to say, I love it over there, it is like France in the Caribbean, small coffee shops, nice shopping and the French flair.

Philipsburg is a bit more commercial, there are plenty of electronic shops and all sorts of duty free shops, but be careful and shop around. We looked for a cell phone and the same phone cost anything between $160 with free chip and pouch to $190 with no extras..... I never bought a cell phone and most probably never will, but it just shows that it is really important to compare the prices.

The restaurants are plentiful here and mostly average, but one can always find something nice if one looks around a little bit. Last time we had this lovely sandwiches, Prosciutto and goats cheese, ah was that good. I love being out there and have some different food.

Of course there is plenty to do here on St. Maarten like para sailing and our favorite, Jet ski. I love to go full speed over the waves, it relaxes very much and all one can think of is the thrill of riding the Jet Ski, yes St.

Maarten is a special place. I am glad that we will be back here a couple more times.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Celebrity Mercury at Sea

It takes us 3 days to sail from Baltimore down to the Caribbean to our first Destination, the beautiful Island of St. Thomas. You might think that 3 days is  along time but it passes so quickly as there is much to do on board the beautiful Mercury.

This time I want to elaborate a bit more on what is happening on the second day of the cruise, still everybody is new on the ship and many guest walk around a little bit like lost sheep. That is when any of the crew members jump in and help the guest, usually with a "How may I assist you?" and then we guide everybody to their final destination.

That morning we have as well the galley tour, or heart beat of the operation as we like to call it. Usually we have around 250 to 300 guests joining us, first for a glass of Champagne and then for the tour. The galley is stainless steel from top to bottom, so it is really nice and shiny, imagine, even the walls and ceiling are polished stainless steel. Of course it is not just for prettiness, but a USPH (United States Public health) requirement as it is easy to clean. So we get all the guest happy through the galley and they can see where we actually prepare all the 9000 meals every day. And it is heart beat as there are many chefs in the galley working away and producing all the dishes for the day. Usually the guest are really impressed with what they see.

Then there is one event after the other, Bingo, Life Music up at the Pool, there is the buffet for lunch on deck 11, or the possibility to have a small a la carte in the dining room, Pizza station, Pool grill and, and, and.....the eating frenzy begins

In the evening we have Captains Toast in the Theatre, so all the top officers have to go on stage.....yes me too and we get introduced to our guest, we do that twice this evening, one time for each seating in the restaurant, so usually the day ends around 2300. So yes, they are long days, but of course I still have my break to relax a little, usually the day starts for me around 730 in the morning, then it is still nice and quiet in the galley and then slowly the noise level rises for breakfast, then goes down a bit, goes up high during lunch, gets very quiet during the afternoon (my break time) and then culminates in the evening service when we push out all the meals, cooking, the waiters getting the plates and of course the dish wash getting everything clean again, a total mad house, but for me the best time of the day

Anyway, next time I tell you more about one of the ports we go to!

I am off to bed as it is usual, but I had just another good day in Paradise, so there is no complaints
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