Tuesday, November 7, 2017

THAI MOJITO

Lemongrass, Thai Basil and Lime Mojito

The many health benefits of lemongrass has been known by Asians for more than a millennia. Citral, the primary chemical component in lemongrass, has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. For instance, lemongrass tea can act as a diuretic and is highly effective in flushing toxins and waste out of the body; improving the function of many different organs including the liver, spleen and kidneys.
 
Lemongrass is a favorite ingredient in Asian soups, stir-fry and salads. Think Thai tom yum gai or nam sod. But as mentioned above, lemongrass can also be a delightful ingredient in tea as well as cocktails. It is in this vein that I offer up a mojito with Asian influences.
 
 
INGREDIENTS:
2 stalks lemongrass
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
2 limes, sliced into 8 lime wedges
Large handful fresh Thai basil (also called pepper basil)
8 ounces white rum
Club soda, as required to top up
Ice, to serve
Lemongrass stalks, trimmed (optional, to use as stir sticks)

Preparation:
First, make a batch of simple syrup and lemongrass. Chop the lemongrass stalks into 1-inch pieces, and bruise using the back side of a chef knife or a mortar and pestle. Place them in a pot with 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the syrup infuse for about 2 hours, or allow to cool and refrigerate for 24 hours. Before use, strain the syrup, pressing down on the lemongrass stalks to extract maximum flavor. Chill until ready to use. (once the syrup is strained, it will also keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks).

To build each cocktail, arrange 4 cocktail glasses on a work surface and place 1/2 teaspoon sugar in each glass. Add 1 lime slice into each glass along with a handful of Thai basil, and muddle together. Pour in 2 ounces rum and 2 ounces lemongrass syrup. Top with ice and club soda. If you desire a non-alcoholic drink, omit the rum and add a little extra lemongrass syrup. Stir and serve. Yield 4 cocktails.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pumpkin - Grits Pie

When it comes to southern cooking, nothing says Dixie more than grits.  We serve up steaming pots of grits with butter and honey, cheese, salt, sugar, tomato gravy, shrimp – it is a versatile dish that only needs your imagination. Grits are not just for breakfast anymore!
 
Corn, one of our country’s most bountiful crops, has always had role on Southern tables. Grits originated from porridge made with stone ground cornmeal by the Native Americans.
Recently, I performed a 10 day cruise and learn on a voyage from New Smyrna, Fl. to Charleston, SC.  and return. At the Marina Restaurant at Charleston City Marina, I have always loved the grits that they serve. I asked the chef what brand they used and found that a local boutique grit mill made these grits. The yacht owners and guests wanted to spend a couple days in Charleston, so I rented car and drove an hour to visit Geechee Boy Mill and Country Store (www.geecheeboymill.com) on Edisto Island. What I found was a family run stone mill that grinds locally grown varieties on white, yellow, red and blue corn. The country store has antique mill equipment and products are for sale or mail order. It was the personal tour of the main mill where I learned how temperature and spacing of the mill stones determines the quality of the end product. When in Charleston, be sure you make this wonderful side trip to Geechee Boy Mill.

 
INGREDIENTS:
2 c. milk, scalded
2 16 oz. cans pumpkin filling (not spiced pumpkin pie filling)
1 c. cooled cooked grits (see below)
1 ¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
2 - 9 in. (2 c. volume) ready-made pie crusts. 

PREPARATION:
Scaled the milk in a medium sauce pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, blend grits and pumpkin until smooth. Add milk and remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth. Pour equal amounts into the pie crusts. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into middle of pie comes out clean. Let cool before serving, with whipped cream (optional).
 Enjoy – JW
 
COOKING GRITS:
Bring 4 c. water, seasoned with salt and butter to a rapid boil. Add grits until water boils again. Lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook (stirring occasionally) for 25 minutes.  That’s it!

 


Sunday, September 3, 2017

FEIJOADA


FEIJAOADA

Back in the mid-2000’s I had taken a sabbatical from yachting and flew corporate jets and international air ambulance; often times taking me throughout South America. As a foodie, I of course enjoyed cuisine of the region, especially this month’s dish.

Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, is a sublime combination of pork and beans and is traditionally presented on a large platter with ham hocks in the middle, and meats on the side arranged in a symmetrical, decorative pattern. This dish is simple to make albeit a little time consuming because of preparation. Best advice, make a nice chilled caipirinha and have some fun in the galley.

INGREDIENTS:

1 (12 oz.) package dry black beans, soaked overnight
1 1/2 c. chopped onion, divided
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 smoked ham hocks (in the pork section of the supermarket)
8 oz. diced ham
½ lb. thickly sliced bacon, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves, crushed
tsp. ground coriander
½ C. chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley for a different taste, your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste


 
PREPARATION:

This dish starts the night before by soaking the dried beans. Follow the package instructions; but for the sake of this recipe, place dried beans in a bowl and add water until beans are covered. Let beans soak overnight and into the next day. You will know the beans are ready by the “pinch test.” Be sure to drain and rinse the beans before proceeding. While waiting for the beans to soak, this would be a good time to make mango chutney as a delicious condiment. See recipe below.

Now that the beans are ready to use, heat the oil in a skillet. Add ¾ cup of chopped onion, green onions, and garlic; stir until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large crockpot. Pour in the soaked beans and fill with enough water to cover beans by 3 inches and set to temperature to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 5 hours, or until tender.

While beans are cooking, place ham hocks in smaller pot with ¼ cup of the chopped onion. Cover with water and simmer, until meat pulls off of the bone easily, about 1 hour. Drain and add to the beans.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place ham, bacon, and remaining onion in a baking dish. Bake 15 minutes or until mixture is crispy.

Drain the bacon and ham mixture, and add to the beans. Season with bay leaves, coriander, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes more. Stir in chopped cilantro and parsley just before serving on rice. Bom apetite, JW


 

MANGO CHUTNEY
 
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
6 cups mangoes (4 to 5), peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces (See How to Cut a Mango)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, whole
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (hot)
PREPERATION:
1. Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6 quart pot; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking. 3 Pour into clean, hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace; close jars. (Do not over-tighten the jars.) Process in a water bath 15 minutes.
To process in a water bath, put a rack on the bottom of tall, large pot. Place the sealed jars on the rack. Fill the pot with water, covering the jars by 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the pot and let sit at room temperature to cool.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cheese Ravioli with Homemade Sausage Ragu

A few years ago, I had a client who was having a new yacht being built in Viareggio in the Tuscany region of Italy. The factory was hosting an invitation only yacht gala with demo rides and presentations during the day and night entertainment of food, drink and everything from Italy’s answer to Frank Sinatra to a circus act dangling from a 40 meter stick crane. As fate would have it, I was invited to attend; as well as checking on the progress of the new build which was half completed. For 5 days I enjoyed the food and festivity of a truly beautiful region in Italy. This dish is authentic and simple to prepare.


INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. mild Italian sausage
½ c. diced yellow onion
½ c. diced bell pepper
1 c. pumpkin pie puree
1 14 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 c. low sodium chicken stock
16 oz. package of cheese ravioli (you can sub gnocchi)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. Chianti
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (liquid, same place you find vanilla extract)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. coarse salt

PREPARATION:

Split the Italian sausage and remove the casing and set aside. Pre-heat the olive oil to medium-high in a large cast iron skillet. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add sausage and add the seasonings, red pepper and salt and continue to stir until sausage is thoroughly cooked. Next, stir in the un-drained can of tomatoes, pumpkin puree, vinegar and chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 1 hour. Half way thru, add Chianti and stir (if you don’t have Chianti, a Cab will do). As everything thickens as it cooks, add the ravioli towards the end. Cover and simmer on low for 8 minutes and then serve with a nice salad and bread. Molto Delizioso! Buon appetito, JW


Monday, June 26, 2017

CHIPOTLE-PINEAPPLE ROAST PORK

Every yacht should have at least one cast iron skillet onboard. Cast iron is durable, can take a lot of abuse and you can use metal utensils on them. Cast iron skillets are excellent for baking, making stews, or excellent flapjacks. Stovetop, oven, even a fire on the beach a cast iron skillet is a versatile tool in my galley. And with proper maintenance, cast iron cookware will outlive you. I personally have cast iron that has been handed down three generations. Try that with a coated aluminum skillet.



INGREDIENTS:

7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
¾ c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. chili pepper
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. course ground black pepper
2 ½ boneless pork tenderloin
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored and cut in 1 inch slices

PREPARATION:

In a blender or food processor, combine the first 8 ingredients and create a puree.  In a large bowl, coat the pork liberally then pierce deeply with a meat fork. Refrigerate for two hours. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Spray non-stick a large cast iron skillet. Arrange the pineapple evenly on the bottom. Remove pork from marinate and place on top of pineapple; discard marinate. One the medium over rack, roast the pork until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of meat reaches 145°. Cover with foil and cook an additional 30 minutes. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with pico de gallo and roasted pineapple. Terrific served as pork tacos. Enjoy, JW

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ground Sirloin Philly Cheese Sandwich


On a delivery from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago on a 68 Sea Ray, we found ourselves delayed near Paducah, Kentucky. The Upper Mississippi River was above flood stage and we needed to wait a week for the river to come down and debris to clear. Even after the river falls to normal levels, a look-out on the bow is required to look out for “lunkers;” logs bobbing up and down at the surface. The Mississippi/Illinois river portion can be most perilous.

While sitting at Green Turtle Bay Marina it is easy to borrow the courtesy car and dine ashore blowing the per diem budget on restaurant faire so I try to come up with creative ways to stretch the provisions onboard to keep the crew satisfied. This months’ recipe uses items normally found aboard and is simple to prepare.

 
INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground sirloin
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp.  butter
1 onion chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 small serrano pepper, chopped
8 slices of Provolone or Muenster cheese
8 slices white bread

PREPARATION:

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Be sure to not break up the meat to find leaving pea sized or larger chunks. Add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce mix well. One cooked, remove meat from skillet. Next, in the same skillet add butter, bell pepper, serrano and onion. Cook until browned and caramelized. Return meat to skillet and mix well. (If you like mushroom, now would be the time to add them to the mix). Add cheese and as it melts, mix well. Serve on lightly toasted bread. Serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy, JW.

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BAHAMIAN CARROT CAKE

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. But in my galley, it is imagination and inspiration that provides the nexus for success.

Today I juiced 6 large carrots in a Cruisinart Juice Extractor. What remains besides a small pitcher of delicious juice, are two cups of carrot pulp in the pulp container.  Instead of running this down the InSink-a-Rator, I got to thinking that there must be something I can do with the carrot pulp. It wasn’t long before a lightbulb went off.

Over my decades as captain cruising The Bahamas, from time to time a trip to Harbour Island comes up. On larger vessel, one of the several pilots at Spanish Wells is employed to guide the yacht thru Devil’s Backbone and the flats leading to what the Bahamians call Briland; the original crown capitol of the Bahamas during the America’s war for independence.


One of these pilots, Little Woody, brings along a loaf of his wife’s excellent Bahamian carrot cake, as a gift for hiring out his services. So, with some inspiration and imagination, I used the pulp from the juicer to make the batter whereas a carrot cake recipe would normally call for grated carrot. The outcome isn’t anything less that scrumptious and moist.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cake
 
2 c. granulated sugar
1½ c. oil
3 eggs
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. salt
2 c. pulp from 2 lbs. of carrots (or shredded carrot)
1 c. crushed pineapple, drained
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. walnuts, chopped
½ c. shredded coconut
½ c. golden raisins

For the Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ c. butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract

PREPARATION:

Mix the granulated sugar with the oil and eggs until smooth. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, fold in the carrots, walnuts, coconut, pineapple, raisins and vanilla extract. Next, spray the inside of 6 mini-loaf pans (5 ¾ x 3 ¼ x 2 inch) with non-stick. Spoon the in batter into pans about ¾ to the top. In an oven pre-heated to 350° place the pans on the middle rack and set timer for 50 minutes. When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the loaves are done. Remove from oven and let cool overnight. Remove from pan and sit loaf on its’ side and trim off the bump on the top. Return to pan and cover loaf with frosting. Cover with cellophane and refrigerate.

FROSTING PREPARATION:

Thoroughly cream the butter and cream cheese then gradually add sifted powdered sugar and vanilla, until smooth. Refrigerate extra for waffles or crepes. Enjoy, JW