Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cuisine a la Cruise

Eating is a large part of any cruise and many ships' kitchens have made feeding fabulous fare to masses of people an art form.

Princess Lines' Corporate Chef Alfredo Marzi, for example. I was fortunate to have met this talented man aboard one of the early Mediterranean cruises of the just christened Emerald Princess. Not only did he feed us superbly, he gave me an autographed copy of Courses: A Culinary Journey, a gorgeous book featuring favorite recipes from the lines' itineraries.

I want to share with you two recipes from it, one an unusual eggplant parmigiana from the Mediterranean, the other a yummy chilled fruit soup served during cruises along the coasts of Canada and New England.

Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 6
Note: Preparing the sauce ahead of time makes this relatively quick and easy. Eggplant can be sliced or stacked if you prefer.
Tips: To peel tomatoes easily, cut a small "x"  in the bottom (opposite stem end) of each and place in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove, place in ice water to stop the cooking and the skin will slip right off.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil                                              8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or good quality canned ones
2 cups onion, small dice                                  2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped                           1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper                                                1 tsp butter, cold
Heat olive oil gently in a heavy stock pot, saute onions and garlic until translucent. Increase the heat, add chopped tomatoes and sugar. Stir often to allow for evaporation and prevent burning for about 10 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. If preparing ahead of time, stop here.

6 medium Long Tom or any other kind of eggplant
1 cup mozzarella, shredded                             3/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
olive oil for frying                                             2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper                                                fresh basil leaves
Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices keeping them connected at the stem end. Salt generously and let sit for 15 minutes to draw out moisture. Rinse off salt and pat eggplant dry with a paper towel.
Heat oil in a saute pan with the garlic cloves to season the oil. Cook eggplant until tender and nicely browned on each side. Form them into fans as they cook.
Preheat broiler. Place eggplant fans on baking tray, season with salt and pepper and top with cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted and brown.
Meanwhile, cook tomato sauce 3 more minutes until hot, stir in the cold butter and pour onto plates. Arrange eggplant on top and garnish with basil leaves.

Chilled Golden Delicious Apple and Peach Soup
Serves 6
Tips: To peel fresh peaches easily, cut small "x" at the bottom, place in boiling water for1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove, place in cold water and pull skin off with a small knife. To keep apples from turning brown either squeeze juice from 1 lemon into 2 cups of water or fill a bowl with orange juice. Put apple pieces in the liquid as you cut them.

2 cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup apple juice or cider                                    2 cups peaches, peeled
1/2 cup orange juice                                           1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups fresh cream                                              1 TBS honey
1/2 cup dark rum                                                cinnamon

2 Golden Delicious apples                                   2 peaches, peeled and diced
fresh mint
Puree the apples with the apple juice in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. Separately blend peaches and orange juice until smooth. Reserve a small bit of peach puree for garnish.
Combine the remaining peach puree, apple puree, yogurt, cream, honey and rum. Mix well and season lightly with cinnamon and nutmeg. Refrigerate well.
Serve soup in a chilled bowl, garnishing with diced apples and peaches, mint leaf and drops of peach puree.

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