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Lifestyle : Boat Show 2011
1HERSA1 S016 16 July 23- 24, 2011 smh.com.au SPECIAL REPORT When the fish aren't biting, you need a back-up meal plan. Chef Bart Beek offers tips on keeping the crew content, writes Melinda Ham. GALLEY GRUB Grills ahoy . . . (clockwise from above) chef Bart Beek; dinner on deck; a barbecue aboard. Photo: Mark Chew P reparing simple, flavoursome food and eating well can be part of the pleasure of boating, whether sailing, fishing or motor cruising, Bart Beek says. The celebrity chef, who runs Essence Food Studio, a unique interactive cooking school in Werribee, Victoria, says: ''Really, if the fish aren't biting too much, having three great meals a day gives you something to look forward to. It can be the highlight of the day.'' Here is some of Beek's expert advice to get the most out of meals on your boat. PACKING AND PLANNING Most boat kitchens -- whether a sailboat or motor cruiser -- are usually very compact so Beek suggests using a lot of ingredients that don't have to be refrigerated. Removing food from packaging and putting it in zip-lock bags or plastic boxes is another space saver, ''or in a small boat, they could sit in a basket'', he says. ''You always need some basic staples in the pantry,'' he adds. These include good-quality olive oil, dried herbs and spices, soy sauce, dried mushrooms, canned tomatoes, canned fish, coconut milk or cream, mustard, chutney, balsamic vinegar, dried cannelloni, kidney beans, rice, couscous, pasta, flour and yeast. ''Another way to pack pasta is to make it yourself at home and then cook it and put it in zip-lock bags,'' Beek says. ''Then you just have to plunge it in boiling water and you've saved yourself an hour of preparation time.'' While some vegetables will perish quickly, he suggests using brown onions over red or white as they have more flavour, plus zucchini and squash. Spinach, broccolini and salad items are high in vitamins but have a short shelf life, so Beek suggests bringing them along to use in the first couple of days. Fresh herbs are vital. ''Added at the end of a recipe, they really bring out an aroma,'' he says. Apples, pears, mandarins and oranges are his choice of long-lasting fruits, while berries -- high in antioxidants but quick to spoil -- can be used at the beginning of a trip with breakfast or as a dessert with a dash of cream or ice-cream. For meat (which must be refrigerated or frozen), Beek suggests lamb loins, chicken fillets and (hopefully) freshly caught fish. Fresh bread is good for the first couple of days, although he suggests not keeping it in the fridge as it reduces its quality and speeds up staling. For a longer trip, he says, bake scones and buns. BREAKFAST A breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and muesli or porridge is an excellent start to the day, Beek says. ''Of course, some people want to have a big fry-up with eggs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms -- but maybe not every day.'' A barbecue out the back of the boat is a great place for this, rather than in the tiny galley. Eggs don't have to be refrigerated but a day out of the fridge equals about a week in the fridge, he says. Pancakes are another yummy breakfast option. LUNCH AND DINNER With a hefty breakfast under your belt, Beek believes in a light lunch: a salad and bread, toasted cheese on focaccia, or a bacon and cheese roll. Then everyone, including the cook, can get on with the afternoon activities. In the prelude to dinner preparations, begin with a glass of champagne and a selection of antipasto: olives, semi-dried tomatoes, chargrilled capsicum or eggplant. ''The smells coming out of the kitchen should tease the taste buds of everyone and build anticipation,'' he says. Then the main meal consists of barbecued meat or seafood, pastas with simple sauces based on canned tomatoes or roasted pumpkin and fresh herbs, risotto or tagine. ''Keep it simple and wash up as you go,'' Beek says. ''The most important thing to remember is the temperature you are cooking at and the length of time. Don't overcook.'' If your barbecue has a hood, Beek has a secret method for cooking individual steamed puddings. ''Mix up the pudding recipe. Spoon it into coffee cups and cover with foil. Put the cups in a baking dish with water in them. Cover it all with more foil and steam for 30 minutes,'' he says. ''The puddings are having a steam bath.''
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