Friday, 19 August 2011

Strawberry Delights

In England, the strawberry season is well underway and these succulent little tastes of summer are cheap to buy in the markets or supermarkets. So, to take advantage of the best of the season, why not make some quick and simple strawberry treats. You can get the kids involved too.

To make strawberry chocolates, first put a pan of water on the stove and place a heat-proof bowl on top. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Break some chocolate into the bowl to melt gently. We prefer dark chocolate with 70%+ cocoa solids but use whatever you like. White chocolate works too.

While the chocolate is melting, rinse, drain and pat dry the strawberries. Leave the stalks intact. Discard any berries which are not firm.

When the chocolate has melted, dip each strawberry - leaving the top uncovered. You may need to use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the strawberries as you get to the bottom of the bowl. Draw straws to see who gets to lick the bowl at the end!

To set the chocolate, place the strawberries upside-down on a wire rack. If you haven't got a wire rack, try the rack from the oven and cover with cling film. Alternatively, scrunch up some aluminium foil, place on a tray and set the strawberries in the depressions. Leave for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to start setting then place in the fridge to harden. This takes about 30 minutes. Tuck in as soon as the chocolate has hardened. The end results are cheaper than a box of chocolates and more healthy too. You can also serve them as an after dinner treat or as part of a cockpit or pontoon party - if you can resist the temptation to eat them all yourself!

Should you find yourself with a glut of strawberries, a simple and quick dessert is strawberries with Greek yoghurt served with chocolate shavings. Wash the strawberries, slice off the tops and cut in half. Put one dollop of Greek yoghurt into the centre of a small bowl. Arrange the berries artfully around and on top of the yoghurt. Use a speed peeler or sharp knife to shave some chocolate over the top. Done in about 5 minutes.

PS The strawberries used in this post were from Kent and cost £1 for 2 punnets (cartons). This quantity made 4 desserts and about 2 dozen chocolates.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Seafood Barbeque with a difference

Howtocookonaboat is organising a barbeque on the beach in a couple of weeks and went along to Jun Tanaka's Seafood Barbeque event today at the Chancery Court Hotel in London for inspiration.

Held in the courtyard of the hotel, the day couldn't have been better: hot, sunny, blue skies - a perfect summer's day. Plus a cool soundtrack playing in the background before the start. Greeted with a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne - one of our favourites - howtocookonaboat had front seats to watch the demo.

Jun started off with rosemary smoked mackerel with fresh horseradish sauce. This was of particular interest as mackerel is the predominant catch when we're out fishing so we're always looking for new ways to cook it.

Next up was blackened salmon with cucumber and yoghurt which doesn't sound particularly appealing but think cajun cooking and it's the spices on the outside which become dark - the fish is moist and succulent on the inside.

Then it was onto creating foil parcels of loveliness for the barbeque. 'En papillote' is a standard technique which we use all the time on board to cook fish, but this is the first time we've seen this used on the barbie. Jun cooked mussels with coconut and lime leaf and red mullet with chorizo, tomatoes and paprika this way.

But the dish with the biggest 'wow' factor for us was the scallops with orange and ginger butter. With only a short preparation time then 5-6 minutes on the barbeque, these are so simple to do and taste absolutely divine!

We also discovered how to make flat breads to cook in a flash over the barbie.

After the demo, everyone got to taste these creations together with an assortment of fresh salads. Suitably inspired, we feel an early morning trip to Billingsgate Market coming up and there will definitely be no 'bangers and burgers' at our next beach barbeque!

PS Jun used a gas fired barbeque for his cooking. We use a portable Cobb barbeque with charcoal.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Island Tomatoes

As the 80th Round the Island Race kicks off next week, I thought it timely to write about some of the produce from the Isle of Wight.

Despite sailing around the coast of IoW for many years, the interior is a relatively unexplored place for me. However, tomatoes from Brian Morlee's farm in the Arreton Valley have started to filter through to my local greengrocers, so it's not been necessary to catch a bus from Cowes to the interior stock up.

The loose tomatoes, vine tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are burtsing with flavour. Open a bag of Island tomatoes and, unlike many supermarket varieties, they smell of tomatoes. Maybe this is due to all the sunshine and the fresh sea air.

Monday, 13 June 2011


One of the challenges for provisioning for a long cruise is how to keep bread on board. One answer is to bake it yourself but an easier way is to buy Scandanavian crispbreads. These originated in northern Sweden and Norway where flour-milling was feasible only in the spring and autumn when the millstreams contained enough water to work the mills. However, storing 6 months of flour was impossible so prompt baking of bread that would keep was essential. The solution was the thin, dry crispbread with its virtually unlimited shelf life.

Crispbreads are ideal for using on board either as a snack or part of a lunch. We're talking actual Scandanavian crispbreads here, which are full of flavour, not Ryvita which in our opinion has as much taste as cardboard. For snacks, eat with a slice of cheese such as HUSHÅLLSOST - a round and mild tasting cheese - or with cream cheese plus a few slices of cucumber. For a more robust lunch, serve with Sill Dill (marinated herrings with dill) and Sill Lok (marinated herrings with onion), boiled new potatoes and sliced beetroot. All these can be sourced from jars or cans.

Alternatively, for a de luxe version, serve with smoked salmon or gradvalax if available. These items are usually vacuum packed which make them ideal for on board. Remember to store in a cool place.

As a special treat, if you are at anchor, a shot of ice cold vodka or aquavit is a superb accompaniment.

Smaklig måltid

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

It's Pancake Day!

Or Shrove Tuesday to be more exact. Whatever you like to call it, today is the day for perfect pancakes. Click here for our recipe for the pancake mix. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and the secret is to let the batter stand for about 30 minutes before using.

Our secret weapon is the 'boaty' frying pan which cooks really evenly and makes great rectangular pancakes. Sometimes, I nick this off the boat and bring it home if I want to make pancakes for Beef Wellington as the shape is just right for this dish.

Whatever you add to your pancakes - enjoy.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Pot Noodle: gift of god or spawn of satan?

The Pot Noodle snack first made its appearence in the UK in the early 1970s. It was quite an innovation at the time and the ritual of adding boiling water and seeing it come alive was a big departure from processed cheese sandwiches for lunch. 'Chicken and Mushroom' was the one to go for...probably because that was the only option at the time.

Now, a 90g Pot Noodle is available in 19 different flavours including 'Original Curry', 'Southern Fried Chicken' and 'Christmas flavour'. The 21st century version of 'Chicken and Mushroom' contains: dried glucose syrup, chicken flavouring, E635 (which is 4 times stronger than monosodium glutamate) 4g of salt, another 10 E numbers and a sachet of soy sauce.

On the positive side, they are very light in weight and therefore seem to find their way into the ship's stores of many racing yachts. All you need to do in the middle of the English Channel or Celtic Sea is to boil a kettle, add boiling water and a few minutes later, you can tuck into something hot. A quick survey of my regular sailing buddies revealed nothing good to say about the actual eating experience and the case against the Pot Noodle is as follows:

"the only good thing is the hot water" - Juno
"I had one forkful and had to throw the contents overboard" - Pure Magic
"a pot full of chemicals which has no place onboard" - Freelancer
" good for creating a percusion section during a crew sing-song but little else" - Just for Fun

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Special protection for Cornish pasties

Cornish food manufacturers have won a nine-year battle to win special protection for their most famous snack - the Cornish pasty. This means that any products made in Devon, Wales or the rest of Britain are now banned from being called Cornish pasties.

From now on, only products made in Britain's most south-westerly county will be allowed to be called Cornish pasties. As well as this geographical restriction, there are other elements to consider. Products that include carrots and which are crimped on the top – rather than the correct Cornish style of on the side – will be banned too from claiming to be the real deal.

The ruling, issued by the European Union, puts the Cornish pasty in a select group of products including Champagne and Parma Ham, as well as 42 British specialities such Kentish Ale, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Arbroath Smokies and Cornish clotted cream.

We love proper Cornish pasties and always buy some at Rowes Bakery when we're in Falmouth. These are very different from the pale imitations seen in the large supermarkets so hopefully the supermarkets will have to have rethink now and consider buying their supplies from smaller producers who are located in Cornwall.