By now I think you all get the picture of what living and working on the sailboat was like – relentless. Just when I thought I’d finished one meal there was another one to think about. Breakfast started anywhere from 7am to never (depending on what the guests got up to the night before), then I fixed lunch for the crew, then it was lunch for the guests, then dinner for the crew, then dinner for the guests (with lots of snacks in between). I do believe that this kind of spontaneous and fast and furious cooking made me a better, more confident cook. There wasn’t time to refer to notes or recipes, I had to just believe that I knew what I was doing and cook, and I think it worked.
In spite of this, one book I want to give a huge shout out to is one I discovered just days before I left for this job. It’s called “Fresh Happy Tasty” by Jane Coxwell, a South African woman who has worked as the chef on Diane von Furstenberg’s boat Eos for a couple of years. When I read about it, I thought, this is perfect for me (given the circumstances). It’s filled with food from around the world that is full of flavor, beautiful and easy. For those of you in search of a little something to spice up your culinary repertoire, BUY THIS! I made my way through almost half of her recipes during our sail and not one let me down. Now, strangely, none of these photos are actually recipes from Coxwell’s book, but here are just a few of the dishes I prepared and had the wherewithal to take photos of.
The trick was to also keep changing things up for both the guests and crew….try not to do the same meal twice, however one guest requested a salad I made for her at almost every meal for the two plus weeks she was on board. I will forever know it as Izzy’s Salad and it’s simple to put together, apparently worth sharing with you guys.
2 big handfuls of mache lettuce
1 pear, diced
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Place the lettuce, pear and feta in a bowl. In a jar (I keep and wash all of them from my empty mustard, olives, capers, etc for just this purpose) place the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously. Now dress your salad, toss and serve.
And finally, probably my favorite meal during the entire time was one I prepared for the crew. We were docked off of Mykanos and I woke up at 6:30 to go into the fishmongers and see what I could scrounge up as my freezers were getting dangerously empty. I stood at the back of the boat waiting for James to bring round the tender (he was just bringing back one of our young guests and a bunch of her friends after a night of clubbing), the white buildings of the island sparkling in the morning light. I was dropped off and walked past cars full of revelers coming down off whatever had kept them going all night. Lots of girls on scooters looking slightly forlorn (high heels and black eyeliner just don’t translate well in the morning sun), guys honking as they drove past them. I felt ridiculous and somewhat righteous in my boat uniform, bright eyed and bushy tailed, the only one who’d actually slept the night before (albeit not quite long enough). The fishmongers was still closed so I walked to a little bakery and got a bag of cinnamon and sugar donut holes and a large coffee. It was the best morning I’d had since I left home. Once the portly fishmonger opened his shutters, I requested 8 sea bass and 8 red snapper and then as an afterthought, 2 kilos of clams. Now, while we had gotten rid of the guest who didn’t eat fish at all, in his place I had a guest who told me she didn’t eat anything that came out of a shell (except shrimp). These clams were a treat for me and the crew, the easiest and most satisfying thing I cooked in 3 weeks. While I ate it in the little banquet at the front of the boat with the crew, I imagined myself sitting at a little cafe with a glass of rose…and plan to make it again very soon as it’s been added to my list of comfort food.
serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pound dry linguini
1/2 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
4 pounds clams (scrub with a brush and place in a bowl of cold water with 1/4 cup of salt for about an hour – this will clean them)
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 lemons, juiced
6 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
While your linguini is cooking according to the package directions, heat up your olive oil in a large pot with a lid. Add your garlic and chilli flakes and allow them to brown for about 2 minutes. Now add the drained clams that were soaking, the wine and lemon juice. Give the pot a good shake to try and coat them all and bang on the lid. Let them cook for about 8-10 minutes, shaking periodically. To your giant pot of clams add the cooked linguini, butter and parsley and use tongs to stir around and coat all of it. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread so you can soak up whatever’s left of the juice at the bottom.