(…We’re still in St. Thomas)
By Andrew Siebert, Executive Chef of the Carolina
We’re still here in St. Thomas where, as you know, two category 5 hurricanes ripped through the region last year. These island nations are resilient and are making huge efforts to get everything back in order. There are also teams of contract construction workers from Canada and the U.S. helping to rebuild areas, getting plumbing and electricity back to homes and businesses. There is still work to do but the island is recovering and almost back to business as usual.
In my last entry, I told you that I was finding it difficult to find liquid nitrogen to practice my gastronomy training. Unfortunately, that’s still the case. I found one doctor’s office that carries it for transportation of blood samples, and other medical uses, but the office didn’t have enough to spare for my cooking experiments. Practicing that part of my molecular gastronomy training will just have to wait a bit longer!
In the meantime, I’m getting ready to host a few guest trips. People often have a lot of questions about hosting guests — are there lots of diet restrictions, are there items you always need to have onboard, how do you stay in touch with your family and friends back home in the middle of the ocean? I’ll do my best to answer these for you.
When it comes down to it, the yacht is a luxury hotel or resort on the water. It has all the amenities one would expect to have on vacation: satellite TV, internet, phone service, lavish accommodations and top-notch food (of course!).
Guests have all-access to the internet and our entertainment system with over 1000 movies, completely up to date with new releases. Guests can also get a print out of the mobile version of the New York Times newspaper if they so desire.
We have two satellite systems on board, likely similar to the consumer system you might have aboard your cruiser, just on a larger scale. That means if we are in an area where one satellite has an obstruction we can we switch over to the other one. Of course, on the rare occasion that both don’t work, we simply move the boat to a different area. That way I’m able to FaceTime my family whenever I want to and so can the guests.
When it comes to prepping for food, I don’t always know ahead of time about guests’ preferences and have to make adjustments on the fly. By now you know I always try to use the freshest of ingredients from the area we’re in. That goes for seafood and meat as well. I do, on occasion, have guests with allergies or sensitivities to gluten and dairy so I keep a supply of gluten free flours, soy products and almond milk in case this happens.
Often, I’ll adjust a recipe, especially desserts, to accommodate these needs. Sometimes I’ll serve it to the whole party, so I don’t single anyone out. Most of the time the guests don’t even realize they’ve just had a gluten free cheesecake or a dairy free creme brûlée.
It can be tricky at times, but I love the challenge.
In a few weeks, we will be traveling to the Bahamas for a month of trips then up the eastern seaboard of the United States for the summer. I’ll have lots to update you on in the fall!
Orange Infused Creme Brûlée Recipe
Here is a fun way to make creme brûlée that will blow your guests away!
You’ll need a kitchen blow torch for the burnt sugar at the end (maybe do this part at the dock).
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 oranges
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Cut the oranges in half and carefully scoop out the inside, trying not to rip open or put a hole in the peel. You should end up with an orange bowl. Put the flesh aside.
- Sprinkle a pinch of sugar inside the orange bowls and arrange them in a cake pan that’s at least two inches deep.
- Put the cream in a pot on the stove on medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and remaining sugar and vanilla until smooth and incorporated.
- Squeeze some fresh orange juice into mixture, about 2 tablespoons.
- Add a little bit of hot cream at first, while constantly whisking, then in a steady stream add the rest. Continue whisking until all incorporated.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl.
- Fill each orange bowl to the rim with the cream mixture.
- Fill the cake pan ¾ of the way up the orange with water.
- Carefully place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
- When the mixture is firm with a little jiggle when poked at the side of the orange, it’s ready.
- Take the oranges out of the pan and let cool on a cookie rack at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours to set.
- Sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar on top and use the torch to “burn” the sugar — just until it turns dark brown. It will cool and leave a crispy shell. Garnish however you like. I put a little fresh whip cream and raspberries on top.