Monday, December 9, 2019

Brownies with Merlot Glaze

It’s unclear exactly when cacao came on the scene or who invented it. According to Hayes Lavis, cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, ancient Olmec pots and vessels from around 1500 B.C. were discovered in Southern Mexico with traces of theobromine, a stimulant compound found in chocolate and tea.

It wasn’t until the 16th Century that chocolate was known to Europeans. Christopher Columbus encountered cacao on his fourth voyage to the New World. But it wasn’t until after the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernan Cortez, that chocolate was largely import fist to Spain and then the rest of Europe.

Chocolate has heart healthy properties and it has been stated that it is also an aphrodisiac. When it comes to great discoveries, in my book, chocolate ranks high on my list. 


¼ c. Merlot
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ c. white sugar
4 oz. dark chocolate
½ c. butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. cocoa powder
½ c. All Purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt

Merlot Glaze
2 tbsp. Merlot
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp. unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Add wine and whisk until fully incorporated and then remove from heat. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and whisk well. Add flour, salt and cocoa powder and mix well.

Next, pour batter into a 9x9” tin foil covered baking pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the brownies are baking, for the glaze melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate until smooth. Then, whisk in the wine and set aside.

After removing brownies from the over, let them cool. Next, drizzle the glaze over the brownies and spread the topping using a rubber spatula. Enjoy, JW

Friday, September 27, 2019


I think October is my favorite month of the year. It is my birth month. Fittingly, the birth stone of October is the opal coming from the ancient Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” Coming off the sweltering heat of August/September, there is a definite change in the air.

The most famous icon of October (besides the start of holiday shopping for Christmas) is the
jack-o-lantern. Various sources attribute it to either Scottish or Irish origin. It seems that the lantern was used by people who traveled the roads at night, the grotesque face to scare away faeries and spirits. And who, as a child, hasn’t bobbed for apples? Is it possibly a Pagan baptism? With hands tied behind the back and blindfolded with head immersed in water, can one see its’ origins as a Craft initiation?

Also, October signals the return of the venerable snowbird. Every year, thousands of Canadians take the migratory route to South Florida for 6 months of escape from their northern winter climes. One of the yachts that I run occasionally is Canadian owned.  I always prepare something familiar to them, like Bacon Butter Rum Tarts (The Triton 3/2018). The recipe below is my variation of a Canadian comfort food, poutine. Simple store bought items makes for quick and easy food for game night.


1 chilled deli rotisserie chicken, pulled
8 oz. frozen seasoned French fries
6 oz. snack sized Monterey Jack cheese, cut in bite sized chunks
¼ c. sliced green onion
6 oz. jar of chicken gravy


Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Bake fries as per package instructions on parchment. While fries are baking, shred, by hand 2 cups of the chicken.  Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in gravy and chicken, cooking for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until it starts to bubble. Lower the heat to simmer. Once fries are finished baking, divide the fries between serving plates. Add the cheese to warm gravy last, simmering 2-3 minutes. Serve gravy over the fries and sprinkle green onion as a garnish. Savourer faire!! JW

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Mexico is one of my favorite countries to cruise thru. There is a difference between the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the country. The music, the proud indigenous people and the food have distinct differences. I prefer the Pacific over the Caribbean when it comes to food, though the Yucatecan/Mayan cuisine holds its’ own mystique.

No matter which coast, one of my favorite comfort foods is Tacos al Pastor. On most street corners you will find a taco shop with a vertical spit (think gyro) called a trompo, with slices of marinated pork piled high on top of each other. The meat is spun around and cooked in front of an open flame until cooked thru. At the top of the spit there is usually peeled pineapple cooking. The “taquero” slices the cooked pork onto a corn tortilla followed by a piece of the pineapple, finely chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with salsa rojo (red) or verde (green).

Not owning a trompo myself, I have a simple recipe that mimics this tasty taco.

9 oz. fresh peeled and cored pineapple
10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chili
1 lb. ground pork
1 small red onion
8 corn taco shells or small tortillas

Cut 6 oz. of the pineapple into ¼ inch pieces and coarsely chop the remaining pineapple. Chop finely the onion and mince a ¼ c. of cilantro. To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix the small pineapple pieces, half of the chopped onion and cilantro.

In a food processor, puree the canned tomato with chili and large pineapple chunks until smooth; like a pesto. In a skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground pork and remaining onion until pork is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato mix and simmer until thickened. Pepper and salt to taste. Serve on warm taco shells or tortillas and garnish with pineapple chunks, lime wedge and cilantro. Enjoy, JW

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Oh Summer. The smell of fresh cut grass and two cycle lawn mowers. The distant crack! of a baseball bat.  An ice cream truck approaches with the screams of delighted children in chase. And then you catch a whiff of your neighbor’s BBQ grill and you ask your South Florida self, “who the heck BBQs in this heat?”

Yep, there are two things that you can be certain of August in South Florida; hurricanes on the horizon and 94° with a heat index of 107°. Fear not! This gastronomical grenade is simple to create in the air conditioned comfort of your galley and is a treat for any dockside or poolside party.

5 medium white onions
1 ½ lb. lean ground beef
1/3 c. onions, diced
1/3 c. parsley, chopped
1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. green jalapeno sauce
1 ½ tsp. soy sauce
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 pack of bacon (the wider the better)
1 bottle of BBQ sauce

To start making these tasty BBQ meatball onion bombs, preheat your oven to 425°F. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions and remove the exterior skin. Cut the onion in half. Staring at the middle, carefully peel onion from the inside-out leaving the last two outside layers for a shell. Set the onion layers aside.

Mix the ground beef, diced onion, and parsley, brown sugar, condiments, and bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl by hand. Place a handful of the meatloaf mixture inside two of the onion shells; joining together to make an onion-meatball. Wrap the onion meatballs in bacon, using three slices per ball. Secure the bacon with toothpicks to keep it from unraveling during cooking.

Bake in a dish or cast iron skillet at 425 °F for 40 minutes or until the interior temperature reaches 165°F. Baste your balls in BBQ sauce and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit at least 5 minutes before service. Enjoy, JW

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Crock Pot Chili Con Carne

If there is one recipe that every crew should have in the book, it’s what 17th century Spanish priests in the New World called “the soup of the devil.” There really is nothing better for a hungry soul than a steaming bowl of “Texas Red.” The influence of chili con carne is impressive; from tailgate parties to county fairs and national chili cook-offs, it was also made the official food of the Lone Star state.

I have often stated that if there is one cooking appliance that every yacht should have aboard, it is a Crock-Pot slow cooker. The recipe below costs less than $12. Prep-time is about 30 minutes. Once in the slow cooker, just set it in a sink and go about the daily chores of the boat with dinner ready at the end of the work day. With proper canning procedures, it can be kept for months unrefrigerated.

It was no accident that chili established a special place in the belly of America. Chili con carne began as a no-nonsense dish on the wild frontier, but has evolved into a staple dish for many Americans. 

2 lbs. lean ground sirloin (90%/10%)
4 medium sized Vidalia sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ c. red bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 x 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 x 15 oz. can unsalted pinto beans, drained
1 x 15 oz. can unsalted kidney beans, drained
1 x 7 oz. can salsa verde
1 ½ tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 bottle brown ale
Green onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese for garnish

In a large skillet, brown-up the ground sirloin and drain. No not “break up” the ground beef too much. Allow for big chunks of ground sirloin. Transfer beef to Crock-Pot. In the same skillet, add onions and bell pepper and sauté for 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute. Next, stir in tomato paste for 1 minute. Next, stir in the beer (I’m using Kentucky Bourbon Ale) cook for another minute. Transfer to Crock-Pot. Add the remaining ingredients (beans, chili powder, and paprika). Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve on a bed of white rice with cornbread. Enjoy, JW.

Saturday, March 30, 2019


I have been running yachts throughout the Bahamas for over 35 years. When it comes to food, there is nothing better than cultural cuisine like pigeon-peas and rice, cracked or scorched conch, chicken souse or fresh fish. All of these items may be obtained all year long. But by far my favorite part of Bahamian delights is a dessert item called Guava Duff.

In the early years when I started working in the Bahamas, this delicacy could only be had during the ripening in the late summer months. But with guava’s popularity, a canned paste can be used year around; though the fresh fruit variety is my favorite.

When in Nassau, the Poopdeck and Green Parrot serve duff up; with the latter being my fav. Or, you may follow the instructions below and make your own while out-island.

Filling Ingredients:
4 c. guava flesh thinly sliced or cut (peeled and seeded- pulp removed and saved for sauce)
¾ c. brown sugar (depends on the sweetness of the guavas)
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Preparation of filling:
Cook guava flesh with nutmeg, sugar and salt a day ahead in a medium saucepan on medium to low heat until thick, soft and sugar is dissolved (about 25 to 30 minutes). Let cool and set aside in refrigerator until ready to spread in dough. This can be made a day in advance.

Guava Sauce Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. powder sugar
½ can sweet condensed milk
Guava pulp from the guavas (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
Brandy to taste (how much is up to you!!)

Preparation of Guava Sauce
Cream the butter and sugar well. Blend in powder sugar and add sweet milk. Stir in the pulp and rum/brandy, vanilla and set aside. This may seem like it will be too sweet but it actually isn't. If you are in doubt, then decrease the amount of sugar and taste. If it needs more sugar, then just add more. Better to be safe than sorry, right!!

Dough Ingredients
2 ½ c. flour
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
¾ c. milk (room temp)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preparation of dough:
Before making the dough, get a large pot/pan with cover (that can fit your duff) that is oven proof and fill half way with hot water. Preheat to 350° and place pot/pan in oven while waiting for the dough to be prepared.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. In larger bowl, blend sugar, eggs and butter. Add milk to combine and mix dry ingredients. At this point I took some of the guava flesh and mix in the dough (you can skip this part and just add it in for the filling only). Knead until stiff. Add more flour if necessary to make a smooth dough. If you want to make 2 small duffs, just cut dough in half and proceed with the instructions for the duff. Take a rolling pin and roll out dough in rectangular shape (about ½ to ¾ inch thickness). Spread the rest of the guava flesh (from the fridge) in the dough to within an inch of each side and roll up duff sealing the edges.

In the old days, the duff would be wrapped tightly in a pillow case or old white t-shirt.  Today, we cut a large piece of parchment paper and double foil. Wrap the duff in the parchment first and then seal with the double foil. (Double foil simply means to cut 2 large pieces of foil and lay on top of another to create a thicker piece of foil). Place duff in pot/pan in oven covered. The water has to be half way up the duff or completely covering the duff. Cook for about 1 hr. and 20 mins turning the duff (if the water is halfway up the duff) halfway through cooking. If the duff is completely immersed then there is no need to turn it. This procedure can also be done on top of the stove by boiling the duff in a double boiler.

When done, take out of pot/pan and open duff (being careful not to burn yourself from the steam) and let cool down until it is nice and warm. To ensure that duff is done, stick a knife in duff and if it comes out clean, then it is done. If it comes out with a sticky doughy consistency, then wrap it back up and cook it for another 20 to 30 minutes. Slice as thin or as thick as you like and pour warm guava sauce over the duff. Enjoy, JW

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

I am pre-positioning a 70 foot motor yacht to Nassau for the owner/operator who will fly in direct from the Northeast (I fly out) and cruise their yacht in the Exumas for a week. At the end of their trip, they tie back up in Nassau, fly back to the Northeast and I fly in to bring the boat back to Ft. Lauderdale. After all, who wants to spend 30% of the vacation time going back and forth to where they want spend their vacation? This way, they get to maximize the fun stuff; which is what yacht ownership is all about.

As I am running the yacht solo, with an anchor out en route, I like to prepare my meals in advance. The inspiration of this recipe comes from my friend Susie in Destin;  a registered nurse and on the “keto diet.” Now, I do not profess to know what a keto diet is, but it sounds exactly like the Atkins Diet©. Maybe someone can comment below. In any case, this is a terrific meal for dinner or cold for next day sandwiches or “mid-rats.”


½ c. bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 eggs
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1tsp. sage
1 tbsp. course black pepper
½ tsp. sea salt
3 lbs. lbs. ground sirloin
1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
14 slices of bacon
6 Babybel© mini cheese wheel

In a stand-mixer, add the first 12 ingredients and mix well. Take half of the meat mix and press it into the bacon prepped bread pan. Next, unwrap the Babybel© cheese and press it into the meat creating a lengthwise row. With the remaining meat, cover the cheese forming a typical mean loaf. Finally, starting at the ends, pull the overhanging bacon finishing the wrapping of the loaf.

Place the loaf inside a 9” baking pan to catch any drippings. Bake until the interior temperature reaches 160°. For the last 10 minutes of cooking, baste with your favorite BBQ sauce.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minute before removing from loaf pan. Enjoy.



Monday, January 28, 2019


It’s the last weekend of December as I write this and it is bloody cold outside. In fact, it’s 53°, drizzly and blowing. Checking last years’ records, on this same day it was 88°. So much for global warming.

Back in my flying days, we had a Gulfstream trip in which we flew 8 bankers to Dublin, Ireland. This afforded the crew a four day layover at The Conrad on St. Stephen’s Green, before the return flight back to the US. After a night of “discovery” in Dublin, I just had to get out of the city. So the next day, I walked to Houston Station and took a train to the 10th Century city of Kilkenny; two hours away. It boasts a medieval castle, a 1000 year old town of cobble stone streets, secret passageways and narrow Norman alleyways and The Round Tower which dates back to the 6th Century. Truly a mystical experience.

I happened into a 16th Century tavern, The Hole in the Wall, for a bite to eat. On the menu was Irish Beer Cheese which I found delicious. I spoke to the innkeeper and happen to get the recipe for this warm and inviting soup.

Back to the present; I have yacht owners in town. It is kind of a bummer because there is a steel-wind blowing and seas to 15 feet out in “the stream.” It was my memory of KilKenny and the recipe I acquired that brought a little warmth and delight into their weekend. This recipe is super easy to make and I can confirm; Yacht Owner Approved.
4 tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. course black pepper
1/2 c. flour
1 (12 ounce) bottle Irish Ale
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
5 c. chicken stock
2 c. (1 lb. package) mild shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. processed cheese
2/3 c. sour cream

In a Dutch oven (I like cast iron) over medium heat, melt the butter. Add garlic, onion, chili and black pepper, Sauté for 6-8 minutes until onion is translucent. Sprinkle flour over onion/garlic and stir for 3 minutes (this is the roux). Stir in a good lager (I use O’Hara’s Irish Red but Harpe will do) and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and remove from heat.

Next, with a ladle, add mixture to a food processor or blender (may have to do it in batches) and puree until smooth. Pour soup back into the Dutch oven, over low heat add sour cream and the cheeses; stir until the cheeses melts. Serve in sourdough bread bowls (available at Panera). Garnish with chopped scallions and bacon. Enjoy, JW

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


This week, my crew and I are delivering a 580 Sea Ray from Grand Cayman back to Florida via the Windward Passage route. Because of en route fuel stops, Cayman Island is about as inconvenient a place as there is for yachts to get to. Heading back to Florida, the route thru the Yucatan Channel is shorter by two hundred miles, but requires 360 miles non-stop from Cancun to Key West and in head seas. Eastward thru the Windward Passage to Great Inagua affords a longest distance between fuel stops of 231 miles and is pretty much beam to following seas thru the Bahamas back to Fort Lauderdale. Just wait for weather in Port Antonio and then dash to Matthew Town.

Port Antonio is without a doubt one of the most beautiful natural harbors. Errol Flynn made this his home and just up the road at “Goldeneye,” Ian Fleming wrote his spy novels. Port Antonio is also where “Jerk” style of cooking originated. Sweet and spicy chicken and pork is the staple here. With that inspiration, here is a “rubbed” steak recipe sure to please.

2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. spoked paprika
1 lb. beef tenderloin of NY strip
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided.

Make your rub by mixing well all of the dried ingredients. Brush the steak with 1 tsp. of the olive oil. With washed hands, coat the steak with 1 tsp. of olive oil and then massage the rub into with steak and set aside. Next, bring the remaining olive oil to medium then add steak cooking on each side for 5-6 minutes, or desired temperature. Once cooked, move the steak to a cutting board and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with potatoes and star fruit garnish with cheese cake for dessert.
Enjoy, JW