Archive of ‘Bread’ category
Pizza is a favorite among yachties and land-lovers around the world. Sure, if you are lazy you can bring store-bought crusts or pizza crust mixes (yeah, I didn’t know mixes existed either until one boat I crewed on had a stock of pizza dough mix.) but let’s face it. Making your own pizza always tastes a thousand times better. Cheese may be a commodity on long passages, but saving a bit for a pizza night once and a while can boost morale immeasurably.
This is my all-time favorite pizza dough recipe. Simple enough to make under way, it’s packed with flavor. Putting the Italian seasoning in the actual crust makes all the difference. It is leagues better than any pizza crust I’ve had in a pizzeria. I use this recipe for grissini, and all types of pizza from oven baked to the nautical stand-by pan-fried, and it works like a charm.
Passage Maker Pizza Dough
1 large pizza
- 1 ½ t of yeast
- 1 t sugar
- 2 T pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
- 2 c flour
- ½ t salt
- ⅛ C olive oil
- ¾ c warm water
- Mix yeast in warm water and teaspoon sugar and allow to proof 10 minutes
- Mix dry ingredients together
- Make a hole in center and add water and olive oil
- mix in with spoon
- When too thick kneed with hands for 5 minutes
- Cover with damp towel
- Allow to rise 30 min
- Punch down and roll out into circle or rectangle with rolling pin or I like to use a wine bottle
- Cover with toppings
Wandering the streets of Havana Vieja is like a photographer’s wet dream. I walked from the historic Hotel Nacional with its crystal chandeliers, ornate furnishings, and pictures of stars who had visited from the 1920s to today. I walked through the crumbling sections, with the locals playing football, baseball, or dominoes in the street, and finally to the touristic “Havana vieja,” refurbished, reconstructed, and fit for outside eyes.
Like a post-apocalyptic Cartagena, vines and decay are well on their way to reclaiming parts of the city . Stunning art deco buildings are crumbling in disrepair. Bullet holes in buildings stand as ghostly reminders to the class war that ended Batista’s era of opulence. It would be tragic, but for the vibrant Cubans living in the ruins. The juxtaposition of the glorious architecture and the inhabitants, each one a story in him or herself is incredible. It is like walking back in time.
Cars from the ‘40s, and ‘50s line the streets. I had heard of this phenomena, but I thought it would be one or two, but no. Every second car is a beautiful vintage automobile. The engines have been replaced by Russian diesel motors, but the shape that they are in is fabulous.
One of my favorite corners had a building that said it all. The skeletal remains of a building with the street sign “Havana” still hanging on the corner. A Canadian cruiser I know lamented the art deco buildings falling into ruin. No amount of reconstruction could help these buildings. Not when the rebar skeletons of the buildings had rusted and collapsed.
According to him what they needed to do was just to tear the buildings down and rebuild them from the inside out. Brushing up the exteriors wouldn’t prevent the building from collapsing in a year or two. When I peered inside some of the buildings I was shocked. Many of the buildings with passable exteriors were destroyed inside. But with Havana a UNESCO world heritage site it was illegal to tear the buildings down.
In the potholed streets surrounded by dilapidated grandeur, fruit sellers pedal their wares, children play games, and day to day life continues. But one story up, buildings appear in better repair. The people leaning out over their balconies and interacting with one another from on high fascinated me. The colorful clothes hung out to dry and their residents washing windows, chatting, or gazing out at their surroundings piques the curiosity.
I am overjoyed that I got to see Havana when I did. Before it was flooded with American tourists. Before it was remodeled into something else entirely.
This French toast is a delightful twist on the normal style. More than that you can just throw it in the oven and then everyone’s breakfast is ready at the same time.
To me rum always gives French toast a little something extra and, of course, some of the best rum in the world comes from Cuba.
My absolute favorite rum is a Cuban brand called Legendario. The sweet nectar is certainly meant to be sipped in small quantities than mixed or (god forbid) used for cooking. Okay, it’s more of a liqueur than a rum. Even though I didn’t actually use this delicious drink in cooking I thought a picture of the bottle was necessary when writing about Cuba.
Cutter Cuban French Toast
Makes 6 portions
- 1 ½ c butter
- 1 ½ c sugar
- 2 T molasses
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- 1 French baguette, sliced in about ½” slices
- 1 T vanilla
- 8 eggs
- ½ c milk
- ½ c rum
- 2 T sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F 170° C
- Combine butter, 1 ½ c sugar, molasses, 1 t cinnamon, and nutmeg in saucepan
- Cook over med-low heat stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture is uniform
- In a small bowl whisk together vanilla, eggs, milk, rum, and remaining t cinnamon
- Arrange bread in greased baking pan in two layers (a lasagna pan is ideal)
- Pour egg mixture over bread
- Bake ½ hour or until center has risen slightly
Remember to take all of it out of the pan immediately. When the sugars cool they will harden and stick!
Salud! Education! Seguridad!
Cuba’s motto and Castro’s battle cry. Health, education, and security. Well, Cuba certainly has all of those things, but at what cost? Cuba has an excellent health care system. In fact the Cuban government is encouraging foreigners to come for medical tourism. Unfortunately, especially in smaller towns, it is difficult to even get soap.
Even in Havana women come up to tourists begging for soap. They have a wonderful education system, completely free. Though many Cubans informed me that much of it is indoctrination rather than freedom – education, but only if you pledge your loyalty and life to the Party. Numerous Cubans I met were self-educated to avoid this system. The other problem with this education system is that people with doctorates end up working as garbage men, surgeons as bartenders. An education is a wonderful thing, but it only means something if you are able to utilize it.
As far as security goes, Cuba has very little crime which is wonderful. The flip side is that the government rules with an iron fist. One of the expats told me that there was a robbery at the marina a few years earlier. When the yacht owner complained four employees were fired.
On my way to Havana University I met a 40-something Cuban man. Jorge was tall, slim, and delighted to talk about life in Cuba, he sat with me on one of the benches and chatted for over an hour. Since Raul had come to power people were able to privately own certain things and have businesses. There were also more religious freedoms which extremely important to Jorge.
I strolled around the beautiful grounds of Havana University. Its stately architecture and wooded park reminded me a little bit of Columbia. Not 15 minutes later two Cubans approached me. Going to Cuba you are told never to talk politics in Cuba but it seemed like every Cuban wanted to tell you about their life.
I won’t say a word about politics, but listening to Cubans is another story and it is fascinating hearing the different viewpoints. When these two, a man with skin the color of a café ole and startling blue eyes, and a short plump woman, approached me I was extremely curious to see what they had to say. I listened, fascinated as they recounted the glorious history of their beloved government. Batista’s government was racist, sexist, and above all classist. Then the revolution changed everything. Now Cuba was egalitarian, truly a utopia to hear them talk. “Salud! Education! Seguidad!” seemed to be every third sentence. Their fervor was impressive.
They offered to take me to a student bar that foreigners couldn’t go to alone. There we could continue our conversation. I should have declined, but I was curious. Besides, I had another hour to kill before I met the French Canadian expat from the marina at the University. We went to the student bar, just a few blocks away the Cubans spouting propaganda the entire time.
The bar itself was all-but empty. We ordered drinks and talked. After a few minutes they started talking about the monthly allowance for food and the woman pulled out her ration card. She didn’t have enough to eat and she had a son, could I please help? Cubans were only allotted a certain amount to eat every month. They could buy more but because the monthly salary was so low it was hard to get by.
There it was. The pitch, the begging. Unfortunately often Cubans, especially younger Cubans, are effusively friendly to tourists because they want something. In my experience it has always been money. Sadly, quite a few Cubans try and romance lonely tourists, aging men or women, and get them to marry them.
If your government is so wonderful then why do you need to beg for food? I thought, but bit my tongue. They clearly didn’t see it that way.
I didn’t have much money so as badly as I felt I couldn’t give her anything. No, I didn’t want to buy cigars from them either. Then they came with the check for the drinks. This was another scam, they had arranged it with the restaurant to “invite” a tourist and have her pay for their drinks and they would get a portion of the profits.
I didn’t like it, but I did pay 10 CUC for the drinks. I was paying for the lesson. It was an eye-opening afternoon. When I met the French Canadian, he told me that as an ex-pat living in Cuba on and off for 3 years he only had one Cuban who he would call a friend. Tourists were walking ATMs. They would never steal.
Cuba is an extremely safe country, but begging, sob stories, and scamming tourists into handing over their money was standard. As friendly as they seemed, Cubans didn’t really want to be friends… they were looking for an “in” so they could find a way out.
I’m not entirely sure if I believe everything that he told me, but I was certainly more on guard after that. We took the circuitous (and extremely cheap) bus system back to Marina Hemmingway. As soon as we were back I went to the galley to do some baking. After the bitter experience, however interesting, I needed something sweet.
Guavas are ubiquitous in Cuba and Central America so guava paste is common in deserts. In Colombia one of my favorite snacks is called bocadillo con queso, which is basically guava paste with salty cheese. The combination of sweet and salty is delectable. Many shops also sell buns filled with a bit of guava paste and salty local cheese.
Not surprisingly these guava and salty cheese buns are popular in Cuba as well, but are more for special occasions. In honor of being in Cuba I decided to make guava feta buns. The Cuban kitchen cookbook says that traditional Cuban bread is a delicious sweet bread with eggs.
Unfortunately those days are long gone. With 5 eggs allotted per person per month Cubans have to use their eggs wisely. The other problem is that flour in short supply (I couldn’t find it in any local shops in Havana or Jaimanitas and no one could tell me where to get some). Generally Cubans just buy their bread from a local bakery that bakes two or three ways of baking the same bread dough (buns, longer baguette loaves, and maybe hard bread sticks).
I took it old school. Instead of old-fashioned Cuban bread I substituted Heave Ho Challah. The resulting guava feta pastries were delicious. For something a little different these pastries are a lot of fun. You can buy cans of guava paste in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores in the States and most places in the Caribbean and Central America.
Gaff Guava Feta Pastries
1⁄2 recipe Heave Ho Challah bread dough
1⁄2 c feta cheese crumbles
1 egg beaten (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F 170 ° C
Divide dough into plum-sized balls
Flatten each ball either with palm or a rolling pin into circle
Spoon 1 T guava paste and 2 T feta in the middle of each circle
Fold edges around paste and cheese forming either little purse pockets or crescent rolls
Brush with egg wash for a beautiful golden brown color
Bake for 20 minutes
Speeding our way to Annapolis through grey days full of rain, mist, countercurrents, and a headwind was anything but warm. And what do you do on unheated boat when it’s cold? Bake.
I found a container of blueberries that had fallen through the cracks so to speak. By through the cracks I mean somehow it had fallen down into the depths of the back of our refrigerator/freezer. The place you can only get to by lying on the counter and leaning halfway into the refrigerator/freezer balancing and hoping you don’t fall in.
Somehow the berries had been kept just on the edge of freezing and the low temperatures had extended their life for almost 6-weeks. I recovered the berries from the frozen part of the refrigerator/freezer plump, juicy, and beautiful as the day they were plucked. Still, they needed to be used. What better an end then blueberry muffins?
Muffins and really all quick breads are great for sailing. They take almost no preparation time. I really recommend having a muffin tin aboard because muffins take significantly less baking time (and thus propane) than tea cakes. Another reason that muffins are better sailing food than tea cake is that each one is a single serving and you do not have to bother with cutting off a slice. Just grab and go. The 6 muffins I made (we only have a small muffin tin) were devoured in less than an hour. The blueberry teacake lasted 3-days before I cut it into slices and made French toast out of it.
And unlike banana bread, blueberry muffins are best hot and fluffy right out of the oven. Tasty, tender, and scrumptious you’ll want to eat so many you’ll make a good ballast for your boat.
Ballast Blueberry Muffins
Ballast: Weights to help counter-balance the effect of wind on the masts and give the boat stability.
- 3 c Flour
- 1 c Sugar
- 1 ½ t Baking powder
- ½ t Salt
- ¾ c Vegetable oil
- 1 ½ c Milk
- 3 Eggs (or 1 ½ T egg replacer)
- 1 T Vanilla
- 1 ½ c Blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (175◦ Celsius or medium)
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla
- When mixed well add blueberries
- Bake for 20-25 minutes
What trip to the South would be complete without making good old-fashioned cornbread? Well, cornbread is good, but let’s be honest, it’s all in the packaging. Corn muffins are better. Especially in terms of cruising food – easy to pick up, no knives are involved etc, and take less time to bake. And who doesn’t like an individual little muffin for oneself?
Corn meal is an interesting ingredient; it differs widely around the world both in name and accessibility. In America, almost every grocery store in North and South America carries it. In parts of South America and the Caribbean you actually have to search for wheat flour (it’s called harina de trigo) because corn meal is the norm. But in Australia it is extremely difficult to find. I searched in grocery stores all along the Eastern Coast, from Brisbane to Darwin, and found one box of cornbread mix.
But be very careful. Most grocery stores I stopped in did carry corn flour. (which I mistakenly bought) Corn flour is actually what is known in the United States as corn starch. So if you are sailing to Australia and like corn bread try to bring a few bags of cornmeal along.
This is the cornbread recipe I’ve been using for ages. I haven’t tried it with egg replacer yet, but I’m sure it will be fine.
Cabin Boy Corn Muffins
- 3/4 c cornmeal
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ 2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Heat the oven to 350º (170º C or medium)
- Mix dry ingredients together
- Stir in wet ingredients until just mixed (there should be a few lumps in the batter)
- Pour batter into the greased pan.
- Bake 20 minutes or until the tops are brushed with golden brown
- Serve hot*
*There are a lot of things that are just as good or even better cold but corn bread or muffins just isn’t one of them. I like a little butter on my cornbread or muffins. A smidge of honey isn’t bad either.
Motoring into Fort Lauderdale, there is a sign boasting that the city is the yachting capitol of the world. It is a different world: mansions with megayachts moored in front of them line the ICW. Down each of the side streets it seems as if there are boats moored in front of every home regardless of size. Even the local Episcopal church has a message to yachties on their sign. Boats are the standard rather than the exception.
Unfortunately, transient spots (places for traveling boats) for catamarans were somewhat limited. Especially the week after the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. After calling numerous marinas, I had reserved a place in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, at the downtown city docks. The dockmaster, Matt, had been extremely helpful and knew boats.
In other words he realized our timing was weather-dependent and didn’t try to pin us down to exact dates. He even knew how to spell the word catamaran, which is more than I can say for some marina workers. (“catamaran… is that spelled with a “C” or a “K”?”)
The city docks are right next to the prison. Sure it sounds sketchy, Matt told us, but it’s actually an incredibly safe place to be. The prisoners get out and no way do they want to go back. Not to mention that there is excellent security in the area.
We motored into downtown Fort Lauderdale snacking on the Riverboat Strawberry Rose Scones I had made for brunch that Sunday morning. I adore rose water. The delicate flavor adds a richness and vibrancy to almost any dessert you add it to. I am a firm believer that rose water should take its rightful place beside vanilla and almond extract in the pantry.
I first started cooking with it in baklava and I couldn’t get enough, unfortunately at the gourmet food shops you can find rose water (as well as orange flower water another of my loves), but a tiny bottle can be as much as $12-15.
Then I discovered Mediterranean and Indian groceries. A bottle 5 times larger costs a quarter the price. Thankfully rose water is beginning to make its way into regular groceries, but you can always find it in Indian or Mediterranean shops, as well as some Asian groceries.
Strawberry, rose water, and just a hint of lime combine to make a delectable tender scone. A delightful and easy snack to piece on motoring along the ICW, or just on a lazy Sunday at home.
Riverboat Strawberry Rose Scones
- 3 c flour
- ½ t baking soda
- 1 T baking powder
- ¼ t salt
- ½ butter, melted
- ½ c sugar
- ¾ c milk
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 T rose water
- ¾ c strawberries, sliced
- Preheat oven to 375◦ F (190◦ C)
- Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl and make a well in the center
- Pour butter, milk, lime juice , and rose water into well
- Mix slightly (there should still be lumps)
- Gently mix in strawberries
- Spoon large dollops onto flour-dusted tin foil
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges
Having a few munchies around that you don’t need to prepare is a must on any cruising boat. Keeping something in your stomach is a cardinal rule in preventing sea sickness. It’s good to have chips or pre-made snacks around “just in case” but it’s even better to know how to make some snacks yourself. Just in case you run out
Grissini are a favorite on Umineko. The crunchy little sticks of what’s basically pizza dough are easy to bake and if they soften up you can always put them in the oven to crisp a little longer. Unfortunately the demand for them is endless and I find myself baking grissini every couple of days.
- 1 ½ t of yeast
- 1 t sugar
- 2 T pizza seasoning
- 2 c flour
- 2 t salt
- ⅛ c olive oil
- ¾ c warm water
- Olive oil for brushing
- Mix yeast to in warm water and sugar for 10 minutes – enough time to activate
- Mix flour, salt, and pizza seasoning
- Add yeast mixture and oil
- Mix with spoon then kneed with hands
- Allow to proof ½ hour
- Preheat oven to 375◦ F
grissini dough with my trusty wine bottle rolling pin
- Using rolling pin or a wine bottle Roll dough out into rectangular-shaped sheet about ⅛” thick
- Cut into strips ¼” wide and 6-8” long
- Roll strips into cylinders or twist into spirals
- Arrange on baking sheet
- Brush with olive oil
- Bake 20-25 minutes
- Allow to cool
I’d never had egg in the hole before sailing. The first time I tried it, I couldn’t believe the delicious, simple breakfast wasn’t more popular. The perfect sailing food. One pan, you can eat it with your hands, there’s protein, there are carbohydrates. It’s quick, tasty, filling, and so easy even someone with problems boiling water can make it.
Growing up I always liked my eggs poached or over-easy (very easy). The tasty treat was getting to spread the flavorful yolk on the bread. Egg in the hole takes out the middle man. Rather than using a toaster and another pan to fry the egg this takes care of everything in one pan.
I find it especially tasty with the rich-slightly sweet Heave-Ho Challah bread.
Ease Off Egg in the Hole
- 4 thick slices of Challah (or 8 pieces of store-bought sandwich bread)
- 2 T butter
- 4 eggs
- Heat a frying pan over medium flame
- Slather one side of bread with butter and cut an egg-sized hole in the center
- Pick up a slice of bread and butter the other side and put it in the pan
- Crack one egg into the hole in the center of the bread
- Butter the unbuttered side of the cut out bread-hole and place it in the pan.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes (depending on how well-done you like your egg)
- Flip bread and cook for another minute
- Repeat process with other slices.
If you have a large enough frying pan you can cook more than one egg in the hole at a time
If you are using store-bought bread simply double-up the slices (one slice is too thin to contain the egg)
We moseyed our way down the Erie Canal. We had 3-weeks to kill going through 9-locks. Sailing is always game of hurrying up and waiting, but this was even more frustrating than normal. We weren’t waiting for the right weather; we were waiting for work to get done. To take a little more time and show Marion, our guest star crew, something a different side to boating, we anchored out on Oneida Lake for the night.
Clear skies, not a breath of wind, it was perfect weather for it. In the crisp cool late-September air I decided to bake a little sweet treat to keep our spirits up.
My friend Helen’s son calls red bean paste “Chinese Chocolate,” and I think that’s the most accurate description I’ve heard. I have loved the sweet paste since the first time I tried it. Whenever I go to Chinatown I never fail to pick up one or two bean paste buns for the road.
It wasn’t until crewing on a Japanese boat that I discovered how easy anpan, the bean paste buns, were to make. Well, especially if you have a can of red bean paste. Net step, making it from scratch…
Anchor out Anpan
- ½ recipe heave ho challah dough
- ½ can red bean paste
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F
- Beat egg and water together to make egg wash
- Form golf ball-sized balls of dough
- Flatten into circle in palm – circle should be about 1/8 in thick
- Spoon 2 T re bean paste into center of circle
- Pull opposite ends of dough up, pinching together in the middle like a drawstring purse
- Place on greased baking sheet pinched side down
- Brush tops with egg wash
- Bake 20 min or until tops are golden brown
For some reason over the years crepes have gotten the reputation for being difficult to make. Creperies sell the thin pancakes for exorbitant amounts of money for this unbelievably simple dish.
This quick and easy dish takes the bare minimum of ingredients and can be whipped up in no time so is ideal cruising food. Though not really much on their own, you can use the crepes to create sweet dishes or savory ones. They can also be made a couple of days in advance, or if you make too many simply cover them with a moist paper and they will keep beautifully.
- 2 c flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups water (or milk)
- Pinch salt
- Pinch sugar
- A little oil for greasing the pan.
- Pour flour into a large mixing bowl
- Whisk in water (or milk but water actually works better for a thinner batter and thinner crepes)
- When semi-mixed add eggs (egg replacer will not work for crepes), salt, and sugar
- Beat until smooth consistency (no more lumps) If you have a food processor on board that’s the easiest way.
- Heat lightly-oiled skillet over Medium-high heat
- Ladle about 1 ladle-full of batter into skillet
- With one had hold the skillet handle, tilting until surface thinly covered with batter
- When crepe edges lift up slightly, 1-1 ½ minutes, flip the crepe
- Cook an additional 30 seconds-1 min