What happens with two cooks in the galley?
You guessed it... a lot of great food!
Charlie Fredericks, a very well known chef and restauranteur, opening several top restaurants on the Central Coast of California (where I'm from), chartered Green Flash for a week with his lovely family. His wife, Jennifer, was also trained at Culinary Institute of America where they met. I'm not going to lie... I was anticipating feeling very intimated. But the minute he got on board, I knew it was going to be a great time. They were a high energy, fun loving family. The Fredericks family own a cruising boat in Santa Barbara and really enjoy sailing and water sports. Being in the turquoise warm water of the Caribbean was a dream for them. Having the family aboard felt like having a little piece of home.
Charlie is not only a very accomplished chef in Santa Barbara, but is a professor at the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts Program. My 21 year old son, Andrew, has gone through this program and is currently working at Sama Sama, an Indonesian tapas restaurant, in Santa Barbara. Chef Charlie has been a real inspiration and role model to Andrew as a chef and the ability to balance a wonderful family life.
Sharing the passion of food with Chef Charlie was really a pleasure! And of course, I couldn't not take him up on his offer to help here and there. His comment was, "I love cooking for my family!". How could I possibly deny him of that? Promise... I really wasn't trying to get out of the work, I just really wanted to glean every little tip and trick I could from him.
First things first... knives. I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed to have him use my knives. Being the end of the season, they definitely could use a good professional sharpening. I didn't have a stone on board so he took two chef's knives and straightened the edge of one on the back of the other. Cool tip. Not a substitute for a proper sharpening, but I was amazed what a difference it made.
We collaborated on a grilled rib eye steak dinner. He came up with a simple marinade of fresh minced garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper. We marinated the steaks for an hour or so and grilled them to medium rare.
We plated it with a teriyaki rice, sliced tomatoes, and arugula tossed in a light lemon and olive oil dressing. When the warm steak is placed on top of the arugula it wilts slightly for a perfect texture. There is a lot to be said about starting with good quality ingredients, lightly seasoned and prepared properly. I admit it's easier to pull these types of meals off in California where the fresh and organic produce are in abundance. I have had to learn to be flexible and adjust menus according to what's available on island.
Chef Charlie and I also worked on plating. I was very curious to see how he would plate one of my meals.
BBQ Cajun Spiced Cornish Game Hens served with Twice Baked Rosemary Potatoes, Cucumber Melon Salad, Garlic Bread on the side (served in a basket)
As for plating, there probably is no right or wrong. The way he plated it the flavors definitely blended together. The cajun spices with the melon salad were quite nice. A fun twist.
I do like to serve most of my meals on white plates. This allows the colors, shapes and textures to really stand out. Keeping the main ingredient the focus of the plate is important as well. It's also fun to play around with color and texture and to use garnishes that compliment the dish. The fun thing about plating is you can get creative.
Either way, the flavor combinations of this meal are always a hit.
BBQ Cajun Spiced Cornish Game Hens
- 6 Cornish Game Hens
- Cajun Spice Rub (recipe below)
Wash hens, cut in half and remove back bone. Dry well and apply Cajun Spice Rub light or heavy according to people's tastes. Grill to 165 degrees.
Cajun Spice Rub
- 1/2 C Kosher Salt
- 1/4 C Chili Powder
- 1/4 C Paprika
- 2 T Onion Powder
- 2 T Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 T Cayenne Pepper
- 2 T dried Thyme
- 2 T dried Basil
- 2 T dried Oregano
- 2 T Coriander Powder
- 1⁄2 tsp White Pepper
- 1 T fresh coarse Ground Black Pepper
Mix all ingredients together and place in a jar. This is a large quantity recipe and is a great spice rub to make ahead and have on hand. It can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1/2 year. Of course, you can cut it down for smaller quantities.
Cucumber Melon Salad
- 1 1/2 C fresh Cantaloupe, diced to small cubes
- 1 1⁄2 C fresh Honeydew Melon, diced to small cubes
- 2 C fresh Cucumber, diced to equal-sized cubes (keep skin on if unwaxed and organic)
- Juice from 1 Lime (2 T or more)
- Zest from the Lime
- 1⁄4 Red Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Pinch of Salt
- Pinch of Pepper
- 1 T Fruity, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1⁄2 fresh Jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped very finely
Fold all ingredients together in a serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours before serving to let flavors incorporate. You can add extra jalapeño for more kick. Serves approximately 6.
Twice-Baked Potatoes with Rosemary and Feta
- 18 small Red Potatoes or a combination of Red and White Small Potatoes
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 C Feta Cheese, crumbled
- 3 T fresh Rosemary Leaves
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
To bake preheat oven to 450°. Scrub potatoes. I like to boil my potatoes for approximately 10 or 15 minutes first so I cut down on my oven time. The galley heats up quickly! After boiling poke 2-3 holes in each with a fork. Place hole side up, in a single layer, on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2-3 T olive oil over potatoes. Bake 45-50 minutes until fork can be inserted easily. Remove baking sheet from oven, and cut an X in each potato with a sharp knife. With a clean kitchen towel, push the top of each potato until it opens (it will look messy). Drizzle each potato with a substantial amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with feta cheese, rosemary leaves, salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until edges and cheese are golden-brown and crunchy. I like to serve three per plate. Odd numbers are visibly appealing.
It was a great week with two cooks in the galley!
The Fredericks family explored six islands, had beautiful sailing days, lots of water sports, and of course lounging and relaxing with a lot of tasty food. Getting to to know and sharing these experiences with another family aboard Green Flash makes it all worthwhile for me. And...
I guess there really was more to it than food... imagine that!!