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 1/2 cups water (or milk)
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
Peaches are one of my favorites, the problem with them is their fleeting life-span. With about 3-days of perfection before all the peaches seem to go downhill (fast) the only fruit sillier to take cruising would be berries.
We were finally back on the water again, sailing across choppy Lake Erie, the smallest of the great lakes, to visit some friends in Cleveland. They had invited us to dinner and I was thinking about making a peach pie for days. A dinner party was the perfect excuse.
When I went to check the produce safe and sound in its fruit hammock, I was shocked. In 2 days the peaches had gone from perfect to teetering dangerously close to unsalvageable. I cut the bad parts out and substituted blueberries for the missing peaches. Thank goodness I did. The pie came out gorgeously. Give it a try with frozen fruit or pick up some juicy peaches at your local farmers market during peach season!
Paddle Wheel Peach Blueberry Pie
1 recipe Painter Piecrust
4 peaches (sliced)
1 c blueberries
¾ c sugar
¼ c flour
1 T cinnamon
2 T butter
Preheat oven to 350◦ F
Roll ½ piecrust recipe out being careful not to work dough too much
Place in pie tin
Mix peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries
Fruit will give off liquid and get soupy
Mix in ¼ c flour until liquid thickens.
Pour into prepared piecrust bottom
Place small pieces of butter over fruit filling
Roll out second ½ of dough
Drape over pie tin
Pinch edges together
Poke holes in crust with knife to let steam escape
Cover edges with strips of tin foil (to keep from browning too much
Just like the painter ties your dinghy to the dock a good pie crust is what ties a pie together. There are many myths going around about the difficulty of making pie crust. Just like everything, it’s simple… once you know how to do it.
Every baker has their tricks to a perfect light flaky pie crust. I’ll do my best to talk you through it.
The most important things are keeping the mixture cold and not working it too much. The trick is make sure as little gluten builds up as much as possible.
Painter Perfect Pie Crust
3 c flour
1 c butter
1 t salt
5 T ice water
Put flour and salt into food processor.
Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks
Pulse the food processor in about 5 2-second bursts or until mixture forms pea-sized lumps*
Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
Add ¼ c ice-cold water sprinkling over mixture
Mix in, working as little as possible, until dough forms a cohesive ball
*Alternately, f you do not have a food processor on board (I don’t) use kitchen knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Run cold water over your hands or hold ice until your hands are very cold. Dry hands.
Gluten only forms when you add water, so your chief mixing is before you add the water. Why do you stop with pea sized lumps, you might ask. Well, because having different materials, some flour with butter in between, are what makes your pie crust tender and flaky. In other words, you don’t want your pie crust too well mixed or it will turn out as tough as cardboard.
Now I am a fan of the traditional butter piecrust. It tastes better to me and gives great flaky layers. You can use shortening which is easier to work with, or a mix of half-butter and half-shortening.
Just remember the cardinal rule:
Cold hands + Cold butter + Ice water = flakey pie crust
It was a dreary day on the Erie Canal. The grey sky spat a steady cold drizzle. The normally beautiful greenery just looked miserable.
Being on the water is great for hot climates… it cools things down. Unfortunately the same is true when it’s cold outside. Rather than shiver and glower at the miserable weather I decided to make use of it. Cold, wet… it was perfect baking weather!*
I grabbed the butter and started in on a favorite shortbread-like recipes standing in front of the preheating oven to warm up.
Strawberry almond thumbprint cookies are simple, quick, and always a hit. Not to mention they look beautiful and far more complicated than they actually are. My favorite combination. Of course you can substitute shortening for butter but I’m a purist. You can get good cookies with shortening, but greatness? No. The gorgeous taste and delicate texture only comes with real thing.
Strawberry Almond Canal Cookies
1 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T almond extract
1/3 c Sesame Seeds
Preheat oven to 350◦ F
Pour sesame seeds into small bowl
Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract
Mix in flour and salt
Form into walnut-sized balls
Roll in sesame seeds and place on ungreased baking sheet (cookies can be close together as they do not expand when baked.
Press thumb gently into of each ball, leaving depression
Spoon jam into depression
Bake for 10 minutes or until just a touch of golden-brown appears on the bottom
* Cold weather is the optimal time to bake shortbread, make pie crust or anything in the glorious flaky, crumbly, buttery vein of things. Make the most of your cold, miserable weather and heat up your boat or apartment at the same time.
Unfortunately the opposite is true of bread and yeast-based pastries because the yeast needs warmth to grow. If you are planning on baking bread wait til after your galley is nice and toasty from baking the cookies.
It’s peach season and my favorite time of year. When I got to Eastern Market, Detroit’s extensive farmer’s market, and peaches overflowed the baskets I almost fell to my knees. Peaches are delicious, but sadly dreadful cruising food. While
Of course you can buy frozen peaches, or lower yourself to canned one but it’s not the same. Still, I wasn’t going to let peach season slip by without treating myself, and my boat to a peach extravaganza. Starting with Schooner Scones.
A a delightful treat at breakfast these scones are quick to be snapped up. If you like your scones a little sweeter, sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top.
Ginger Peach Schooner Scones
3 c flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ t Tablespoon baking powder
½ t baking soda
¾ c butter (cold)
1 cup milk
2 T lemon juice
1 t salt
2 T fresh ginger
2T ground ginger
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
2 T almond extract
½ cup candied ginger
Preheat oven to 375◦ F
Mix milk and lemon juice and set aside (or if you have buttermilk use that instead)
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
Cut in cold butter until forms pea-sized crumbs
Gently mix in milk and extracts with hands (do not kneed)
Mix in spices
Carefully stir in peaches
Spoon large dollops of batter onto well-greased cookie sheet
It’s important to have something to snack on when you’re underway. Something small, fast, and portable. Cookies, or biscuits, are ideal. Sure you can buy store bought cookies, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, homemade cookies taste so much better. The only problem is that they don’t always seem to last more than a day.
Snickerdoodles one of the most underrated cookies. Everybody loves them, but they aren’t usually the cookie that comes to one’s mind first. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, but snickerdoodles
Besides being delicious and easy they are one of the best cookies for making at sea. They don’t require anything fancy like chocolate chips (which have the unfortunate tendency of melting in hot climates and can be difficult to find in many countries) or peanut butter. With egg replacer, you can save your precious supplies of eggs for omelets. And so snickerdoodles are the perfect sailing cookie.
* I like to use a little more flour than traditional snickerdoodles. This way the cookies that come out rounder. If you like a more traditional, flatter, cookie then just use 2 ½ cups flour rather than 3.
1 ½ c sugar
1 c shortening
2 eggs (I use egg replacer)
3 c flour
1 t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 T vanilla
1T ground cinnamon
½ c sugar
Preheat oven to 375
Mix cinnamon and ½ sugar in bowl and set aside
Mix shortening, sugar eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until well mixed
Form dough into balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture
Place balls on pan 2-3 inches apart and slightly flatten with hand
Just like a good bowline knot, I find banana bread to be a staple in nautical life. Bananas are cheap and ubiquitous in so many sailing Meccas. The hot places. The ones where bananas ripen as soon as they are picked. And what are over-ripe bananas good for? That’s right… banana bread!
When I stumbled across 4 blackening bananas in our fruit hammock I knew what I was making that day. But plain banana bread, tasty as it may be, can get boring. And I was in Michigan, where good cherries go to die. And so cherry almond bowline banana bread was born.
Okay, so banana bread might not be quite as useful as a bowline, but it sure is tastier.
Cherry Almond Bowline Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves
3 ripe bananas
1 c sugar
¾ c vegetable oil
½ c milk
2 ½ c. flour
½ t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
1 T almond extract
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup chopped tart dried cherries
Handful of slivered almonds to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 350◦ F 176◦C, or medium on your oven
Oil 2 loaf pans
Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt)
Make a well in the middle and pour in milk, oil, eggs, and sugar
Stir 2 minutes stirring in the cinnamon and extracts
Squish the bananas into the batter. The riper they are the better.
Blend batter until smooth
Add nuts and dried fruit
Pour mixture into pans
Sprinkle almonds on top
Bake for ½ hour turning after 15 minutes
Leave the bread in the pan for at least ½ an hour so that the crumb can set and it doesn’t fall apart when taking it out
Many baked goods are best fresh out of the oven. Not banana bread. After 24 hours the banana goodness infuses the bread and the flavors come out singing together in perfect harmony. I’ve found it reaches its peak at 2 days. Just cover the loaves in cling wrap and wait. If you can keep yourself from eating it, that is.
Umineko is summering in Detroit. Why on earth would boat that’s doing a circumnavigation summer in Detroit, you might ask. I sure did. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the bankrupt city. But when we sailed in I was pleasantly surprised. Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Island, an island in the middle of the city is the largest yacht club in North America. With chandeliers, marble bathrooms, and even an indoor swimming pool on the second floor it was certainly resplendent in Detroit’s heyday. Though some of the opulence has faded, it is still lovely today, and the members are more than welcoming, bursting with the camaraderie and helpfulness, characteristic of yachties.
What says thank you better than inviting someone onto your boat for drinks? And you can’t very well have drinks without hors d’oeuvres now can you?
When Sato San asked me what we were having for appetizers I thought for a bit. Suddenly it hit me; we had a wedge of Humboldt Fog left in our cheese box.
Humboldt Fog is one of my all-time favorite cheeses. This brilliant cheese combines three delectable cheeses into one. Somehow the brilliant cheese makers at Cyprus Grove in Humboldt California have engineered a perfect marriage between flavorful blue cheese, creamy brie, with a crumbly goat cheese mistress on the side. I may not eat it as often as I’d like but I still tend to judge grocery stores (in the States at least) on whether or not they stock it.
Sure I could just put out this delicious cheese with the wheat thins we had on board, but Sato San had just bought a box of the tangy little bursts of flavor that are freshly dried Michigan cherries. Just thinking of the pairing of the sweetly tart, rich flavor paired with the sharp earthy bite of Humboldt Fog made me weak in the knees.
Sure enough, even with the mountain of other food around every crumb of the crackers had vanished by the end of the evening.
On Course Cherry Blue Cheese Crackers
1 wedge Humboldt Fog
Tart dried cherries
Spread a thick layer of Humboldt Fog (or a blue cheese if you can’t find Humboldt Fog) on wheat thins or other crackers
Passionate Death by Chocolate – Chocolate cake with passion fruit jam
Some people will tell you that the only way to cook is precision. Measuring everything out to the last sugar crystal…
I understand what they are saying. And I agree, to a point. When you are just starting out it is good to go by the book, to get a feel for how the recipe is supposed to look or how bread or cookie dough should feel. But after the basics are mastered why cook like a robot? Especially at sea! The boat is moving, why should you stay stiff?
No, I come from a very different school of thought. To me cooking is art, creativity, experimentation. To put too many rules and regulations on your cooking puts limits on your imagination. I have written measurements down for my recipes exactly, but please just use them as a guide. I encourage you to add a little salt if something is too bland for you or put an extra pinch of sugar or shake of pepper in there.
I’m not a fan of hard and fast rules even on land, but at sea inflexibility is just silly. You never know where you’re going to find yourself and you can’t always find every ingredient you need in every port. And though it is impossible to make cornbread without some type of corn meal (a herculean feat in Australia – do not make my mistake of thinking what they sell as corn flour is corn meal. No corn flour is actually corn starch). Most things can be substituted or worked around. After all, we’re sailors… jerry-rigging and innovation is the name of the game! Often substitution can lead to delicious new recipes. Isn’t that how recipes are invented in the first place?
One of my favorite improvised recipes is my Passionate Death by Chocolate. I had made some passion fruit jam and decided to use it in one of my favorite cake recipes. I admit, I haven’t made the cake on a boat yet, but putting up the picture without posting the recipe just seemed cruel.
This easy-to-make (almost) flourless chocolate cake tastes as decadent as it looks. I recommend keeping it refrigerated and serving it in thin slivers with vanilla ice cream. Whoever samples it may ask you where you’ve been moonlighting as a pastry chef.
8 oz dark chocolate
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons sour cream
Preheat oven to 350◦ F (180◦ C)
Line a 10+ inch circular cake tin with parchment paper. Youcan use a larger pan for a slightly thinner cake, but if you only have smaller pans then it might be better to use 2 or make tarts.
Melt the butter and chocolate in double boiler. It’s easy to jerry rig a double boiler using 2 pans. Put about an inch of water in the bottom one and some small kitchen implement for the second one to balance on so it is not completely touching the bottom of the lower pan.
Thoroughly mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder
Mix in melted butter, chocolate, and sour cream
Bake 40-50 minutes
Cool the cake completely and cut in half horizontally
Spread passion fruit, raspberry, or whatever type of jam you’d like between the two layers of cake and on top
“The oven is a little tricky. You need to turn the pans a lot,” Captain X had warned me. I was used to cooking on the road. Through Couchsurfing, I had had the opportunity to cook in all varieties of stoves throughout South America; from wood-burningovens, to little propane camping torches. I’d seen it all. This yacht’s propane oven couldn’t scare me.
And so my battle with the propane stove began. As they say, pride cometh before the fall, and thinking your first try is going to be perfect is downright hubris. I went into it fully warned what I was up against, but even so, the resulting cranberry lemon bread (the kind of bread that would have been muffins if I had had proper muffin tins) was not my best work. Even with a well-oiled pan and turning every 5 minutes, the bread still wasn’t baked completely evenly. Worst still, it stuck to the pan.
After trials, tribulations, and much turning (the pan, not me), I was the victor of my battle with the propane oven, but only by a razor thin margin. Devoured in a few hours, it was tasty enough; unfortunately the presentation left something to be desired. A golden-brown top would have been impossible unless I charred the bottom.
Cooking in an oven heated by one thin row of propane flames pushed my baking expertise to its limits. Even so, the recipe is quite tasty.
This was 3 years ago, my first time crewing on a yacht. The Wonderwall was a beautiful catamaran with a lovely galley,and I am very happy that I had my first experience cooking on a boat on her. But even with a nice galley, cooking on a boat is different from cooking on shore.
Since then I have learned a lot from cooking in different galleys.
Even on land every oven is different, but boats take this to the extreme. Temperamental ovens are pretty standard on yachts. I haven’t crewed on a boat yet whose oven didn’t need careful watching or at the very least a few turns. But this is by no means an insurmountable challenge. Once you get to know your oven’s quirks everything will fall into place. Just remember, at least the first few times remember to stay in the galley and turn whatever you’re baking every 5-10 minutes
And if you have to leave the galley for any reason for you to leave the saloon/galley area be sure to turn off the gas. No one wants to come back from an emergency sail change to the smell of burnt bread .
Cranberry Lemon Tea Cake (muffins if you like- or have muffin tins on board)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
½ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 t vanilla
3 T lemon juice
½ c dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 f (175 c ), or medium
Grease and flour loaf pan (I made the mistake of not flouring my pan)
Stir dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl (flour, sugar, and baking powder)