Return of the Galley Wag

Gosh its been awhile!

J'adore, Je t'aime

J’adore, Je t’aime

Since Easter I have been back on board the boat I was cooking on last year and boy is it good to be back in the galley. I’ve had starving boys to feed everyday and I’m loving it!

This weekend is the first that the owner has been down to stay since last year and I am pleased to say the food is going well. Coming back to something familiar has made the world of difference to my cooking, and just six months of pootling about in my own kitchen is beginning to show.

The first boat recipe I’m going to share is a remarkably simple, simply delicious salad. Now I’m sure if you’ve been following my boaty adventures on here you’ll understand how I came to be friends with salad last year. I am continually amazed that I now serve more salad than probably any other meal….

This particular recipe is a side salad, perfect for serving with a pasta dish or perhaps as an accompaniment to fish on a sunny summer’s evening (hahaha, I’m in the sunny South of France again…).

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Courgette (or Zucchini), rocket and baby spinach leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper, Parmesan

Using a peeler, thinly slice the zucchini. Griddle the slices until char lines form, this will give the zucchini a lovely nutty flavour. Toss slices in olive oil and then mix well with salad leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle over some Parmesan shaving and then top with toasted pine nuts.

Super easy, super simple, super flavour.

 

 

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Crock Pot Chicken

It has been aaaaagggess since I last wrote a post but due to some fairly big upheavals I haven’t had much time to write recently!

I am back in the UK for a spell, so am enjoying a little spring time weather. Spring calls for a mixture of culinary delights as the temperatures can vary so much, with super sunny days like today, mixed up with grey days that crop up to remind you its England…and its cold.

At the moment I am also kitchenless, as Mum’s kitchen has been taken out ready for a replacement…in four weeks time. Crock pot it is then!

Crock Pot Chicken

Whole chicken (size it right for your crock pot/slow cooker), carrot, leek, mushrooms, green beans, half a glass white wine (optional), seasoning.

Slice up the vegetables and place in the bottom of the crock pot. Put the chicken on top. Stuff a few slices of leek in the cavity of the chicken then pour the wine in. Season the top of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice – a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary would be excellent, dried is fine also. Turn your slow cooker to hot and leave for 6-8 hours. A lot of liquid will come out of the chicken to provide a stock for gravy or a thin sauce if you prefer.

If you have any left overs, blitz with a stick blender and serve as soup for lunch the following day (week…it was a big chicken…)

For The Love of Blog

My laptop is still broken. I am currently borrowing one; its like my fix of methadone while waiting for my dealer to get back off holidays…or not, really. But I have realised I am a total computer/internet addict. I thought I could be with out it but I have found myself pining for writing my blog and other projects in a way I feel just a little bit ashamed about. But also good about because it means I really LOVE doing it.

For most of the time it wasn’t too heartbreaking as I was distracting myself valiantly with a trip to Kenya where I fell in love with samosas and Swahili sauce. And so actually I haven’t done a huge amount of cooking in the time I have been bereft of laptop. I did however spend a great deal of time hanging about in airports looking at my favourite food blogs and so I am going to direct you to some of the recipes I will soon be trying because I can’t get the thought of their potential deliciousness out of my head…

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Galley Wag

When I was little, my Father used to call me a scallywag. Apparently its a term of endearment between pirates and so I have adopted the phrase once more now I am a ship’s (yacht’s, its only got one mast…) cook. I have a kitchen again (its a GALLEY!), and I get to cook for the crew, the owner and his guests. I get paid to go food shopping…for normal women this is like getting paid to go shoe shopping; I am in heaven. So far this week I have been testing out some of my favourite recipes, and a few new ones, so that when the owner is here I can roll out some spectacular, made from scratch, healthy food for him and his guests. Two recipes that have gone down particularly well are Chickpea Salad and Sticky Soy Chicken with Veggie Fried Quinoa.

Chickpea Salad

A jar of chickpeas, a mix of tomatoes, spring onions, chilli, mint, basil, olive oil

Slice onions thinly, dice tomatoes, chop chilli finely and mix in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Chop mint and basil roughly and toss with other ingredients. Warm the chickpeas in a sauce pan, remove about ten percent and crush them with a fork. Mix this in to the other ingredients as it will give a slightly creamy texture to the dressing. Toss in the rest of the chickpeas whole and serve with another leafy green salad and a crusty loaf of bread.

Sticky Soy Chicken and Veggie Fried Quinoa

Chicken breast, mushrooms, almonds, red onion, garlic, honey, soy sauce, black pepper

60g quinoa per person, stock cube, courgette, handful cabbage, runner beans, chilli

Boil the quinoa as per the instructions on the packet, using a stock cube to flavour the water. While this is cooking fry the sliced onions and garlic with a pinch of brown sugar so they caramelize. Add the sliced mushrooms and a dash of soy sauce. Set aside while you cook the chicken. Chop the chicken into bite-size chunks and put into a hot frying pan. As the meat is cooking add honey and soy sauce slowly, you want to balance the flavours so it is not too sweet but not too salty so add it a little at a time and once the meat is cooked keep tasting and adjusting the two. When the sauce is reduced and sticky, put the onion mix back in and add the flaked almonds so they soak up the sauce.

For the quinoa, stir fry the thinly sliced veg until al dente and then stir in a little quinoa at a time so that is mixes evenly with the veg and fries well. Although I didn’t have any this evening, I think some toasted sesame seeds would really round this dish off, especially if the veg and quinoa were fried in a little sesame oil.

Can you cook seven different things?

At the moment I am looking for work on the super yachts. It is a massively competitive industry and so along with the basic qualifications I have had to get for safety reasons, I have also been maximising any other skills I have to make myself look really useful, and therefore employable. One thing I hope to achieve is landing a job that allows me to cook for people. Be it crew or guests, food is the most important thing in my opinion. The guests are going to enjoy their holiday a lot more if the food is exciting and varied, while the meals the crew are eating are what keep them going the long hours expected of them. And, with only one person in the kitchen in many cases, that person needs to have a good repertoire of recipes to keep things exciting, and healthy, especially if there are long stretches between time ashore. So when someone asked me, can you cook seven different meals each week, it made me think, well can I?

Of course I can, I thought. I then started to think about all the things I can cook and realised my habits tend to fluctuate between certain styles. At the moment, I find myself cooking lots of different types of pasta, however before I came to Italy I used to avoid eating pasta more than once a week. So what did I used to cook that I have stopped cooking since coming here? I like to write things down (obviously…) and as a result I have a Moleskine recipe notebook in which all my favourite recipes are noted down, and looking through this I have re-discovered some things that just six months ago I couldn’t get enough of. One of these recipes is dhal. A lentil curry which is actually one of my father’s favourite curries (however much his Pakistani mother-in-law hates cooking what is considered ‘poor’ food for him when he visits). Dhal varies from place to place and tends to depend on what spices one has to hand at the time. The following recipe is a fairly simple one, and isn’t a particularly traditional one by all accounts, however it is delicious and is a really cheap comfort food that I was fond of on dark, cold evenings in the UK.

Dhal

Onion, garlic, chilli, turmeric, cumin, fresh coriander, lentils and spinach.

Put lentils in a pan with enough water to cover them and bring to the boil. Add turmeric and a pinch of salt then reduce the heat. Cook the lentils until soft and porridgey. Take the lentils off the heat and add a handful of spinach leaves, pop a lid on and allow the heat to wilt the spinach. Dry toast the cumin seeds and chilli then add a little oil and the chopped onions and garlic. Sweat the onions until soft and transparent, don’t allow them to colour. This process can be aided with a little splash of water in the pan – a trick I learnt from the father of the children I look after here in Italy. Stir the onions into the lentils and spinach, leave for a few minutes covered over for the flavours to mingle, dress with chopped coriander and then serve with some hot naan bread. This is a fairly healthy meal and caters to vegetarian/vegan/gluten free/lactose free (you get the point) diets as well and so is a good one to have in one’s collection.

Another meal I haven’t eaten in a while is fish and chips. Again, not the traditional battered fish and soggy chips you might find in Plymouth on the sea front in the rain but rather a delicious fillet of smoked haddock, lightly coated in seasoned flour and fried in butter served with home-made skinny chips and a thick, creamy sage sauce. Sage works incredibly well with smoked fish and the sauce is simply cream heated with fresh, chopped sage and lots of black pepper and then left to thicken as it cools. Reheat just before serving and then pour over the top of the fish, avoiding the chips so they don’t end up too soggy. Not so healthy but extremely tasty and an excellent answer to fish Friday.

Or how about stronganoff, delicious with punchy, dried porcini mushrooms which smell amazing.

Another is griddled pork, certainly one of my favourites, served with a salsa made from sliced, preserved peppers, balsamic vinegar, half a tsp of basil pesto and olive oil, seasoned with lots of black pepper and a pinch of rock salt.

I love fish so another way I have it is baked in tinfoil with a little white wine and then served over quinoa and fresh tomato salad; a recipe adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipe books.

Spiced aubergine has been a firm favourite in the past, and deserves a come back thinking about it as there are the most amazing aubergines for sale in the market at the moment! This is made with tomato, red onion, aubergine and lots of cumin and chilli. Fry the red onion and seeded, chopped tomatoes until they look a bit stewy (good technical term there…), in another pan fry the cubed aubergine until its got a nice bit of colour, then add it to the tomato mix. Dry fry the chilli and cumin then stir that into the mix too. Loosen the sauce a little with some red wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar then serve with rice, chickpeas, cous cous or quinoa.

And finally, for number seven a pasta dish I can’t resist. A recipe taken from the River Cottage Veg book (aka the best cook book of all time). Mushroom and kale lasagna made with goats cheese and tons of parmesan. It is divine, go eat it, right now!!

So how many things can you cook? And if its not at least seven, go and read a cook book and try something new!