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We are all doing our part to stay home and save lives. In other words… Cook now explore later. Many of you are cooking every single night, and my hat’s off to you. I prefer to cook a feast, and enjoy leftovers throughout the week.
Andrew and I chose a voyaging life in part because it would help us achieve some of out whiteboard goals:
Below are some of the tried and true recipes that we feature in our home throughout the year and especially now during the coronavirus pandemic. While we’re staying at home, we are busy taking these recipes and boat-proofing them, so that we can glide into our new adventure well-fed and happy.
Parmesan-stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon
We made a brief mention in our blog post Go/No-Go, and these certainly deserve an in-depth mention.
Three simple ingredients make up these little flavor bombs. This delicious smoky sweet appetizer is a product of the Suzanne Goin, chef de cuisine of A.O.C. in Los Angeles. I’ve made them countless of times for parties. Each of the ingredients store well, so you can make a batch now, later or anytime in between.
These same ingredients can also be tossed into a scone to deliver a sweet-savory breakfast or filling treat throughout the day. I think they would be perfect while on passage. This recipe is courtesy of Gjelina chef Travis Lett and pastry chef Meave Mcauliffe.
Momofuku Braised Beef Short Ribs
The flavors from this Momofuku recipe by David Chang remind me of home cooking. Much like other recipes featured here, this one is fool-proof and delicious. If cuts of short rib are not available at the market, I will opt for cuts from the shoulder, leg or rump - anything with lots of connective tissue chuck, shank, brisket and oxtail.
One of the few modifications I will make to this is to go easy on the soy sauce. I’ll control the seasoning afterward, but once you commit to this much soy sauce, you can’t really go back.
Substitutions can also be made for the type of acid you use. Pear juice can be swapped out for apple, pineapple and orange with no discernible compromise to taste.
I’m also a bit lazy when it comes to heating up the braising liquid. After I place the browned meat in the slow cooker, I pour all the other ingredients in, give it a quick stir to incorporate and then walk away.
Note that the aroma in the house will drive you bananas. Make sure there’s adequate ventilation or possibly try to do this one overnight. Because if you’re sitting in the saloon of your boat with these smells wafting over you, you may quite literally eat everything out of your fridge and pantry.
The Soup Nazi’s Indian Mulligatawny Soup
ELAINE Do you need anything? KRAMER Oh, a hot bowl of Mulligatawny would hit the spot. ELAINE Mulligatawny? KRAMER Yeah, it's an Indian soup. Simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era. ELAINE Oh. Who, the Soup Nazi? KRAMER He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. You know, most geniuses are.
Todd Wilbur of Top Secret Recipes published this recipe many years ago. My first attempt was in 2008 when I was nostalgic for a Mulligatawny soup featured at the commissary of Universal Studios. With whatever I had in hand, I threw this together one rainy afternoon. Paired with a side of crusty bread, this will hit the spot in the days to come as we binge watch Seinfeld episodes.
Craig Ponsford’s Ciabatta
These days of retirement allow me to once again explore the world of baking artisan breads. Mix four ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt), vary three dimensions (temperature, time and technique) and you can develop so many different types of crumb.
One of my favorites is the baker’s percentage formula offered up from Craig Ponsford, a renowned baker in Sonoma, California. It takes a lot of time and is a very wet dough, but the results are worth it.
A few years ago, when Andrew baked cozonac for me, we got a hold of some fresh yeast. He portioned it out and placed it in the freezer. I pulled out a 100 g portion and made a poolish. Most of the poolish I refroze and the first portion I used as a starter for two loaves of no-knead bread, baked in a Dutch oven. And for Easter this year, I surprised Andrew by baking 3 loaves of cozonac for him, but putting my own twist on the recipe by adding dark chocolate chips and omitting raisins.
Once we get through all the yeast, we will be embarking on a sourdough adventure with our own homegrown starter thanks to the inspirational sourdough bread Youtube video from Patrick Ryan.
French Onion Soup
Certain sections of the grocery stores were sold out of items: flour, pasta, potatoes and onions. When I grabbed a bag of Mayan sweet onions, I should have taken a closer look. They had softened within a couple days, and I had to quickly use up a lot of onions in a short period of time. I turned to a tried and true recipe for French Onion Soup from The Joy of Cooking. Luckily, I also had a few quarts of homemade chicken broth in the freezer so this recipe came together pretty easily.
These days, I am inventorying items that we will be taking aboard s/v Rachel J. Slocum. The versatility and comprehensiveness of The Joy of Cooking will make it a definite choice. Some celebrity chef cookbooks will probably not stand the test of time.
What will survive will be the recipes I have collected and cooked over many years. Those will need to be digitized so I would still have them as a reference.
When I worked at Warner Bros, my department was big on potlucks. Each birthday was generally celebrated with bringing in food to share in honor of our work colleague.
Most of the time we celebrated with a breakfast potluck. Muffins and donuts were often featured. Since I prefer savory foods, I would usually come up with a salty option. I would alternate between this breakfast sausage casserole recipe or a spinach and cheese strata, depending on the ingredients I would have on hand.
This background in cooking in large quantities helped a lot when it came to cooking aboard sailing vacations, when we would each take shifts in cooking for 10-12 people and you want the food to come out at the same time.
In Good Eats, host Alton Brown would describe the science of cooking, which I found useful.
What happens when you introduce heat to a protein?
How do glutens form?
What is Maillard reaction?
For me, understanding these aspects helps me become a better cook. I find these cooking shows offer recipes that deliver the goods compared to other celebrity chefs whose shows are beautifully photographed, but whose recipes taste like crap.
Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. We try to keep to ground lamb for authenticity and taste, but if you find lamb to be too gamey, try 50/50 with lamb and beef.
These recipes translate well to boat living, for the following reasons:
When you consider provisioning for a boat, think in terms of ingredients that serve as the basis for several recipes. Mirepoix is a great example of this. Carrots, celery and onion with chicken broth make a delicious soup on its own. In its individual components, the onion is the basis for french onion soup. In aggregate, the mirepoix in chunkier form can be used with the Momofuku recipe or in smaller diced form can be used with the Shepherd’s Pie.
These dishes profiled here also store well, not only the finished product but also the ingredients. Carrots, celery or celery root, and onions keep for weeks without refrigeration. Same with figs, flour and many pantry items. Once cooked, the items portion and reheat well for serving.
When I was cooking aboard a Leopard 384 in the BVI, these recipes allowed me to serve a hot meal to large crew in a pinch. Traditionally, I have made the braised short ribs and both soups in a slowcooker. Both can be started on a stove top and finished in an oven.
We are also experimenting in pressure cooker-friendly recipes so we can retire the slow cooker, and opt for an energy and time efficient method. We wrote about the Country-Style Pork Ribs prepared in a pressure cooker. Turned out, they weren’t as tender as the low and slow method. They are a decent option when you look at the big picture and weigh all variables.
When we experiment with the beef short ribs, they were fantastic! The preferred method will be to use the pressure cooker from now on. I would even say they turned out significantly better than the slow cooker option, which yielded cuts that ironically had toughed up. We are throwing that batch into ramen to compensate for dryness. The pressure cooker version was tender and melty.
As we continue to be in our “cook now explore later” mode, we’ve been watching a fair amount of sailing videos, most recently Sailing Project Atticus.
In this episode, Desiree was providing a tour of the galley, including where she stored provisions and her use of combining canned goods with fresh produce to create meals. It then occurred to me that I cook almost entirely with fresh food. Over the next few weeks, I have an opportunity to hone in the skill of cooking with canned food.
In the next culinary adventure post, we will profile our favorite recipes that primarily rely on canned goods. Stay tuned!
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