Preparation is everything

Bart Beek | VOLUME 25, ISSUE 2

When it comes to on board cooking, it’s all in the preparation, says Club Marine’s chef, Bart Beek.

As anyone with on board galley experience will tell you, planning is the key to getting the food right for any cruise or day on the water. Simple and delicious meals are something everyone on board looks forward to, so the best bet is to begin by preparing a thorough shopping list.

First, check to see if anyone on board has any specific dietary requirements, allergies or food preferences. With prior knowledge, any situation can be looked after and even the fussiest eater can be satisfied.

Naturally, on-water conditions play a huge part in the preparation of food. During rough weather, it’s difficult to prepare foods in the galley, so plan to bring some ready-cooked items. Trays of ready-prepared lasagne, curries, braises and pasta sauces are delicious and they provide quick, fuss-free solutions. Some can be frozen and others simply chilled down and stored below four degrees Celsius.

Always check the use-by dates on food items. When shelf stocks are replenished or topped-up in stores, the newer stock is rotated to the back, so select your items carefully and ensure that they display the latest use-by dates. Items such as dairy products and fresh meats require careful consideration. Once on board, be sure to prepare and cook the food items that have the shortest use-by dates first.


Readers note: Bart Beek will prepare this issue’s recipes at the Club Marine stand throughout the 2010 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. If you’re at the show, stop by for a live demonstration.

Plan your menus so that you have a good balance of food choices during your time on the water. Breakfasts will always be easy because of the large range of cereal choices, yoghurt tubs, fruit juices, and egg, toast and meat combinations. Lunches can be bread rolls with various fillings, or salads with tinned fish or a simple barbecue. But plan the dinner menu with excitement in mind and vary the evening meals by rotating between meat, vegetarian and seafood main courses.

Work with, rather than against, the climate when you’re planning your meals. For instance, prepare hearty, robust foods, like slow braises and exotic curries, during the cooler evenings and go for lighter choices, such as Asian noodle salads and fragrant stir fries, when conditions are warmer.


The amount of storage space available will determine the menu and freedom in the galley. Place the most frequently used food items, like tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits, near the front of the cupboards, so you can access them easily.

Discard any unnecessary packaging before storing food items. Place cereals, dried pasta and biscuits in easy-to-seal bags that will reduce in size as they are consumed.

Store food items in square plastic containers, because square shapes fit snugly together and will use up less space. Also, plastic containers are the best choice as metal rusts, glass can smash and paper and cardboard can go soggy. A good supply of plastic zip-lock bags will come in very handy for storing those smaller items.


We can become sick if we eat contaminated foods. Some of the causes come from foods being exposed to cleaning chemicals or pesticides. Other causes could be foreign matter, like broken glass, as well as various moulds and bacteria. However, the main causes of food poisoning come from viruses and bacteria.

Avoid the risk of food poisoning by handling all food items in such a way as to minimise the chance of contamination. Thoroughly cook potentially hazardous foods, like processed mince or sausages, so that any harmful micro-organisms are killed or their growth is stopped or slowed down.

Always clean your hands properly before starting any food preparation, use an antibacterial soap and dry your hands well. Any cuts need to be covered with food-safe gloves. And always, keep your galley clean to prevent any pests and animals from entering.

Also, avoid handling any food when sick. Wash all fruits and vegetables before storing them on board and separate cooked foods from raw foods. If you have to store all the perishable food items in one fridge, store the raw items underneath foods that require no cooking. In other words, place the raw mince beef below the cakes and fruits.

Keep hot food at 60 degrees Celsius or above, until it’s ready to be served. If you have hot food that needs to be refrigerated, allow it to cool before placing it in the fridge. A hot pot of food that is placed directly into a fridge will heat up all the other foods and put them all at risk.

Never attempt to thaw frozen foods on a bench or table. Place frozen foods that require thawing into the fridge overnight, or use the microwave.

Forward planning will make your life in the galley much easier. Your reward will be seeing the smiles on the faces of all those on board each time you serve up a delicious meal. Who knows, they may be so overwhelmed, somebody might even volunteer to help with the dishes…


I have compiled seven recipes that will work really well and should please all on board. The mid-day snacks are fabulous and the smell of the scones cooking will be impossible to resist. Also, they can all be knocked up in no time.

The stuffing for the mushrooms can be prepared ahead and brought on board frozen.

The vegetarian tart needs to be assembled and cooked on board, but the pastry can be precooked.

And the pork fillets, cooked in one pan, can be made in under 10 minutes.

For the mains, I’ve prepared a beef and Guinness pie and a vegetarian option. The pie mix can be prepared beforehand and frozen. Once aboard, allow it to thaw, then heat it, portion it into bowls, cover with puff pastry and glaze in the galley oven. The vegetarian dish can be served as a main meal, or as a side.

Don’t forget dessert, but make it shore-side. The semifreddo recipe I’ve prepared should be brought on board already made and frozen.

Herbed vegetable towers

You can vary the vegetables and choose what you like, but make sure that you grill and roast some of them very well. This will bring out their full delicious flavours.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

4 sprigs thyme

½ small butter nut pumpkin, cut into 1cm thick pieces

4 mushrooms

2 portions cauliflower

2 portions broccoli

2 zucchini

60ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Brush the onion slices and pumpkin pieces with the olive oil. Place onto an oven tray with the sliced garlic, thyme leaves and seasoning. Roast until cooked and golden brown.

Season and grill the mushrooms with a little olive oil and set aside.

Plunge the cauliflower and broccoli into salted boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and place into ice water. Drain and hold.

Cut the zucchini into thin long ribbons and plunge into boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove then refresh in cold water and drain.

Place all the vegetables in layers into a plastic tube, cover with plastic film and microwave for 2 minutes, or until steaming hot.

Bacon and thyme stuffed mushrooms with toast and Hollandaise sauce

This is a great combination and a quick one, too. It can be served plain or with a spoonful of Maille Hollandaise sauce.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 3 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6

300g button mushrooms

150g rind-less bacon

2 green onions (shallots)

50g butter

2 tblsp lemon thyme

salt flakes and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

½ cup seasoned flour (flour with salt and pepper added)

2 eggs, beaten lightly

2 tblsp sesame seeds

2 cups dried breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

½ jar Hollandaise sauce

Cheese bread

Using some kitchen paper, wipe the button mushrooms clean and carefully remove the stems.

Place the bacon, mushroom stems, green onions, butter, thyme and the seasoning in a blender or food processor. Blend to form a smooth stuffing and gently fill the mushrooms with this mixture, pressing it in well.

Lightly coat the mushrooms with the plain flour then roll into the lightly beaten eggs.

Combine the sesame seeds, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and herbs. Add the mushrooms and coat well.

Shallow fry the coated mushrooms in hot oil until golden brown, let cool slightly and serve with a bowl of the Hollandaise sauce and some slices of toasted cheese bread.

Bart’s cheese and chive scones

Just the smell of these beauties baking on board will bring a smile to the faces of everybody on your boat. Serve them on a platter with butter, sliced cheddar and fresh watercress or sprouts.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 25

1kg self-raising flour

½ tsp fine salt

3 eggs

100ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil

220ml milk

100g grated cheddar cheese

½ cup chopped fresh chives

Pre-heat your oven to 210 degrees Celsius. Sift the self-raising flour and salt twice and place into a mixing bowl.

Combine the eggs, olive oil, milk and enough warm water to make up a total of 700mls of mix. Add this to the flour mix and combine well.

Add the chopped chives and half the cheese, then kneed to form a smooth dough.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and roll out to a thickness of 25mm. Cut into rounds, brush with egg wash (1 egg mixed with ¼ cup of milk), place onto a floured baking tray and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes and serve with a dipping bowl of olive oil and apple balsamic.

Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tartlets

These are perfect as a midday snack or as an entrée with a fresh salad. They can be made beforehand and kept chilled or frozen until required.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Serves: 12 to 15

8 medium Tuscan red onions

30ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil

20ml balsamic vinegar

150g marinated goat’s cheese

½ cup garlic chives and Italian parsley

4 eggs

160g sour cream

white truffle salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 3 sheets butter short crust pastry

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook until golden, stirring frequently, then add the balsamic vinegar. When rich and glossy, remove from the heat and cool.

Line a lightly-oiled muffin tray with cut rounds of the butter shortcrust pastry. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and press the bottoms flat.

Divide the caramelised onions and marinated goat’s cheese evenly among the pastry cases.

Combine the sour cream with the eggs and herbs. Season well and pour mixture evenly over the onion and cheese filling. Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Note: a teaspoon of crème fraiche added to the top of the tarts during the cooking process forms a delicious glaze.

Serving suggestion: Present with an Italian-style salad made up of butter lettuce, green onions, cucumber slices, tomato and torn basil leaves. Dress with a seasoned mixture of apple balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.

Pan-grilled pork fillet with mustard and red currant glaze

This must be one of the quickest and easiest recipes to produce and it’s delicious. Clever use of bottled pre-made items (red currant jelly and mustard) helps to save time and creates wonderful flavours.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6

3 x 200g pork fillets

8cm piece fresh rosemary sprig

50ml extra virgin olive oil

salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste 120ml red currant jelly

1 tbsp grain mustard

½ small lemon, zest and juice

Preheat the grill pan to medium heat. Trim the fat from the pork fillets and marinade with the extra virgin olive oil, rosemary leaves and seasoning.

Grill the pork fillets gently in the pan with a little olive oil until cooked to medium. Remove from the pan, then hold in a warm place.

Place the pan back onto the heat and add the red currant jelly, grain mustard, lemon zest and juice. Bring to a boil and then add the pork fillets. Heat through and coat untilglazed. Slice diagonally and serve with steamed green and butter beans.

Beef and Guinness pie

Lean beef, good seasoning and slow, gentle cooking will yield fantastic results with this classic Irish/English dish. This type of recipe is perfect to cook ahead of time and freeze. Once on board, simply thaw out, place into serving bowls, cover with puff pastry and bake until golden.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 ½ to 2 hours

Serves: 6

1.5kg diced lean beef

2 tblsp seasoned plain flour (flour mixed with a little pepper and salt)

50ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, diced

200g small button mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup beef stock

1 tblsp tomato paste

1 cup Guinness or good Irish stout

1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tblsp green peppercorns

2 sprigs lemon thyme

Heat a heavy saucepan and add the Jingilli extra virgin olive oil. Dust the diced beef with the seasoned flour and add to the pan. Brown on all sides and remove to a bowl.

Put the garlic in the empty saucepan and cook for 20 seconds, then add the mushrooms and diced onions. When the onions turn golden, add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Then add all the stock and Guinness.

Stir well until all the sediments are loosened, then return the browned beef to the saucepan. Finally, add the Worcestershire sauce, green peppercorns and the thyme sprigs.

Turn down to a simmer and slowly cook until tender; this may take several hours. The slower you do this, the better the results will be.

Remove the thyme sprigs and check for seasoning. Freeze.

Once on board, defrost your pie filling in the refrigerator. After it has thawed, portion the mixture into serving bowls. Cut a puff pastry sheet with a round pastry cutter to the size that suits your serving bowls. Brush with egg yolk and scrape with a fork to create wavy line patterns. Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown, and serve.

Cherry Ripe and almond semifreddo

There’s no cooking involved with this one. Just remember that ‘semifreddo’ means ‘semi-frozen’. Make this dessert ahead of time then freeze solid. Once on board, allow the dish to partially thaw in the refrigerator, then serve with some tinned and fresh fruits.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 8

350ml thickened cream

4 egg yolks

90g icing sugar

4 egg whites

60ml Amaretto

80g chopped toasted almonds

2 Cherry Ripes, chopped

Whisk the fresh cream until just firm then chill and set aside. Beat the egg yolks and icing sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Stir in the Amaretto, chopped almonds and the chopped Cherry Ripes.

Gently fold in the whipped cream and the beaten egg whites. Pour into a plastic film-lined loaf tin and freeze overnight.

Allow to partially thaw in the refrigerator. Remember to serve ‘semifreddo’.