Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ginger Beef Stir-Fry

One would think that stir-frying is a Chinese technique that dates back thousands of years. This supposition is right but mostly wrong. Historians think that during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) that a bronze vessel was used for “stir-drying” for drying grain and roasting tea leaves. It is not until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that the wok obtained its’ current shape. In ancient times, only the wealthy could afford cooking oil and the majority of the time, the wok was used for boiling and steaming. In the late Ming period, the cost of wood and charcoal in the cities made fast stir-fry cooking a necessity. Stir fry technique was brought to the west by early Chinese immigrants and has been used in non-Asian cuisine; like the Lomo Saltado recipe from Peru that I wrote about two years ago. An interesting fun fact: The term “stir-fry” did not enter the lexicon of cooking until the release of How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Chao Yang Buwei in 1945.

A very simple and tasty recipe, I use either flank or flap for best results. The important thing to remember is to cut your thin strips of meat across the grain. If you made the ponzu recipe from last month, use it for the meat marinate and cooking. If not, use the recipe below for excellent results. Make sure your wok and oil are hot.

12 oz.  Stir Fry Noodles
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. beef flank steak, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 c. snow pea pods
2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, optional

Prepare noodles according to package directions. In a large bowl, combine cornstarch, vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and sugar. Add thinly sliced beef and stir to coat with marinade. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.  In a large wok or skillet, heat sesame oil over high heat. Add beef and stir fry 5 minutes.  Add snow peas and ginger. Stir fry 3 minutes.  Add cooked noodles and remaining soy sauce and continue to stir fry 2 more minutes. Plate and serve with a white wine like a Riesling. Enjoy, JW


One of the best things about working in the yacht industry is the fruits of the sea. Wahoo, mahi-mahi and tuna are frequent visitors to my cleaning table. Nothing is finer that a nice tenderloin of wahoo and a sharp knife.

I like a citrus ponzu sauce for dipping sushi. This recipe is simple and beats store bought ponzu, hands down. It also makes a terrific marinate for steak.

½ c. soy sauce (low sodium)
¼ c. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. spring water
1 tbsp. mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes

Simply mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Be creative and make it you own signature dipping sauce by adding ginger or pureed mango. Enjoy. JW

Saturday, July 7, 2018


One of the most difficult things I find while working on yachts is maintaining a strict diet plan. We work long hours, have infrequent breaks and at the end of the day, exhaustion. And Exercise? Pull this, lift or climb that; yacht work is a workout program in itself. But where we tend to stray off course (pun intended) is with our dietary intake.

While trying to lose weight by cutting your calorie and carbohydrate intake, cravings can be subconscious triggers.  A burger or sandwich will satisfy that craving, yet blows your whole regime. Lettuce wraps are a great solution for staying on a plan. By simply substituting your bun or bread for a lettuce leaf, you save calories and carbs and can have a healthier version of your favorite meal. For instance, the average burger contains around 53 grams of carbohydrate, nearly all of which come from the bun, so by cutting this out, you automatically save yourself around 200 calories. Conversely, a serving of lettuce contains less than 3 grams of carbohydrates. You also get the added benefits of the vitamins and minerals from the lettuce. So drop the bun and wrap your head around lettuce.


Cooking spray
1 lb. ground chicken (or pork)
1/2 c. thin vertical slices red onion
1/3 c. finely chopped green onions
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp chili paste with garlic (or substitute Sriracha chili)
2 tbsp. dry-roasted peanuts (lightly salted)
2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 head romaine or bib lettuce, separated into leaves

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meat to pan; cook 5 minutes or until done and crumbled. Remove meat from skillet and set aside to cool. Add peanuts to hot skillet and roast until they start to brown.  Mix onion slices and all remaining ingredients (including roasted peanuts) in a medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir meat into onion mixture; sprinkle with peanuts. Serve meat mixture in lettuce leaves. Enjoy, JW

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Smoked Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I have just completed my 207th career Florida to New England transit delivering a Viking 54C from Panama City FL. to East Greenwich RI. One of my favorite stops is St. Simons Island, Ga. With Fernandina Harbor Marina a good 24 months from reopening, St. Simons is a close alternate. Morningstar Marina is convenient with cheerful dock staff.  But be sure to call ahead for reservations as this place fills up each night with transients.
At the head of the main dock is the Country Kitchen restaurant. The food here is outstanding. Under the charge of New Orleans trained Owner/Executive Chef Archie Prince, many low-country favorites of fin, feather and hoof are prepared for the hungry yachtsman. My personal favorite is the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. Chef Archie provided me his recipe; which I have incorporated with my touch to condense it down from restaurant quantity to a more manageable amount for owner and crew.
As a New Orleans classic, chicken and sausage gumbo is perfect for owner and guests. This recipe calls for andouille sausage and pulled chicken. But if you can’t find andouille sausage, any kielbasa or smoked sausage will do. For the chicken, I go to my favorite BBQ joint as I like to add complexity with the smoky chicken. However, supermarket rotisserie works just as well.  Add a trio of ingredients typical of Cajun cuisine—bell peppers, celery, and onions—that when blended together form a flavorful and spicy backdrop to this signature dish. Perhaps the most delicious and simplest of gumbo combinations, it’s a full-bodied stew with a seasoned roux-based sauce. There’s no mystery to making a roux; you just have to pay attention and take it almost to the point of burning before its’ just right. Great as a left-over dish, just warm it up and eat as is, or serve it over white rice for a delicious quick meal.


2/3 c. butter, divided
1/2 lb. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground sea salt  
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 c.  chicken broth
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 c. shredded chicken, smoked or rotisserie (about a pound)
1 tbsp. File gumbo powder (optional)
Garnish: white rice and sliced green onions


Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage 6 minutes or until browned; remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add remaining butter to skillet. Gradually whisk in flour; whisking constantly, until flour is a milk chocolate color (about 25 minutes).

Stir in green bell pepper and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Gradually add broth, stirring until combined. Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a light boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Return sausage to pan; simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in chicken. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving. Garnish with a white rice, green onion and honey/jalapeno cornbread. Enjoy, JW

Friday, April 27, 2018


The great thing about crock pot cooking is that, no matter how “sporty” the weather is out at sea, you can still cook a hearty meal, in the sink! I have an upcoming voyage to the Galapagos and this will be one of the go-to meals that I will prepare for the crew.


2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
½ c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
¼ c. milk
¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 (10.75 oz.) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 packet dry au jus mix
3/4 cup water


In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs, and milk using your hands. A stand mixer makes this simple. Shape meat mixture into 8 patties.

Heat the oil in a large (cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the patties thru the flour just to coat and quickly brown on both sides in the hot skillet. Place browned patties into the slow cooker stacking alternately like a fan.

For the gravy, in a medium bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup, au jus mix, and water. Pour over the meat. Cook on the Low setting for 4 hours, ladling the gravy over the meat occasionally until patties are well done. Serve over rice or noodles. Enjoy, JW

Monday, April 2, 2018


Pollo de Mayo
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is often mistakenly associated with Mexican independence. Cinco de Mayo, in Mexico, commemorates their victory against the French in the Battle of Pueblo. Mexico’s independence is celebrated September 16th.

I like “theme parties” and this recipe would be a nice dish to proffer the party host. Except for the green onion, every major component is already pre-cooked. This makes the dish easy to assemble, in advance, then pop it in the oven when needed.

2 c. diced cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (or 2 x 12.5 oz. cans chicken breast meat)
1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) no added salt corn, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, chopped (about ¾ c.)
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 cans (10.5 oz. each) of Cream of Chicken Soup
6 corn tortilla (6 inch) (add more if needed)
1/3 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese
4 limes, juiced

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Stir the chicken, beans, corn, garlic, three-fourths of the green onions, the chili powder, soup and lime juice in a large bowl.

Now, spread about 1/4 of the chicken mixture in the bottom of a 12” cast iron skillet (a casserole dish will work fine). Arrange 3 tortillas on the chicken mixture.  Top with half the remaining chicken mixture. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and the remaining chicken mixture. Cover with tin foil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until hot.  Uncover the casserole.  Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the remaining green onions. Enjoy, JW

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Recently, I delivered a Viking 52 C from Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico to Miami with Capt. Devon Tull as my co-captain. We pulled into Turtle Cove Marina in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos from Dominican Republic, at the start of four day blow. We enjoyed a nice post-bash dinner at Mango’s Reef, but the bill came to $114.00 for two! On crew pay, that’s nice after a hard 9 hour run in 15-20 knot head winds, but it’s a little too much on the per diem side to maintain during a weather delay.

Providenciales is a terrific layover. Most everything a transient boat would need can be found here.  A large DYI hardware and well stocked NAPA stores takes care of the boat needs. And the Graceway IGA is a modern supermarket that has everything I need for this dish, and more. This simple one skillet dish is super easy to make with just a couple of store bought items.

2 tbsp. Italian dressing (not the creamy kind)
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts  cut into cubes
10 oz. small/medium sized penne pasta
1 16 oz. jar of your favorite Alfredo sauce.
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ c. sun dried tomatoes
Fresh chopped parsley as garnish

Heat chicken and Italian dressing in a large 12 inch skillet over medium high heat (If you don't own a large skillet, you can use a stock pot). Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook chicken until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes depending on thickness of chicken.
Add the box of pasta and the entire jar of Alfredo. Add ½  the empty marinara jar with water and add to the skillet. If using a stockpot, use 2 cups water. Add the salt and pepper to taste and the dried oregano. Lightly stir the mixture to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender to your liking. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes. Cover with grated parmesan and then shredded mozzarella. No need to stir. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese is fully melted. You can also broil the entire skillet for about 4 minutes to make the cheese extra melty! Top with chopped parsley and serve! Enjoy, JW