Make that send-off swag bag for charter guests extraordinary by adding a little something from the chef.
We know the chief stew likes to put together a nice send-off swag bag of T-shirts and caps, a USB flash drive of the vacation video, and the like — but how about a send-off from the galley?
I like to put together a box of cookies as well as something memorable from one of their meals on board.
Charter guests have often asked for recipes of dishes they enjoyed, and it is nice to write them by hand on actual thank-you cards, instead of an index card or in an email. I have had guests send me a picture showing the card while they cook the recipe, and it is a nice reminder of how magical charters can be for guests and crew alike.
These kinds of gifts allow the guests to relive their onboard experience at home with family and friends.
I am really into baking bread and have found that guests are delighted to be surprised with a homemade loaf of whichever bread was their favorite, as well as a little jar of sourdough starter. Other popular sendoff gifts include a favorite granola, an unusual preserve, and flavored olive oils in a cute bottle.
Here are a few recipes to make ahead for guest departures.
Ginger, pistachio and cardamom is my current seasonal flavor. This recipe makes five 8-oz bags.
12 cups organic old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup pistachio meat
1 cup sliced almonds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons cardamom
1 ½ cups melted coconut oil
1 cup cream honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla or almond extract
1 ⅓ cup chopped, candied ginger
Optional: mix in unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Prepare a large full-size, 400 hotel pan with a sheet of parchment and spray or brush with coconut oil
In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients: oats through spices
Lightly heat the coconut oil until it is pourable.
Pour the oil, honey and vanilla over your dry mixture and mix well.
Stir in the candied ginger and, if using, the toasted coconut flakes.
Pour the granola onto your prepared pan — I like to use an offset spatula to spread it in an even layer.
Bake 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir, then press gently into the warm pan.
Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden.
Let the granola cool completely and resist touching it. It will continue to take on a crunchy texture as it cools.
Wait 1 hour or overnight, then break the granola into pieces with your hands.
Mandarin Bourbon Preserves
Mandarin Bourbon is nice this time of year and versatile for everything from fancy brunches to dessert topping and quick bread swirls. This recipe makes five 8-oz jars.
5 pounds mandarins, such as clementines or satsumas
6 cups sugar
1 cup brandy
3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
6 cups water
1 tablespoon pectin mixed with ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Sterilize the jars and lids, then allow to dry thoroughly.
Wash the mandarins thoroughly. Slice the fruit into thin rounds, removing any stems and seeds as you go.
Mix together the sliced fruit, sugar, water and vanilla bean paste.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Once the fruit mixture has properly macerated and the juices have thickened, transfer the contents to a non-reactive, heavy-bottomed pot.
Bring the mixture to a hard boil, stirring often to keep the fruit from burning the bottom of the pan. The marmalade will need to boil for 20-30 minutes, until properly gelled at about 220 F.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the pectin mixture.
Allow the preserves to cool about 1 hour, then stir in the bourbon.
Spoon the marmalade into the sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Stir to remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, and apply the lids and rings to finger-tip tightness.
Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, then let the jars sit overnight to seal. If any don’t seal properly, store in the fridge and keep those for your own recipes in the galley.
Fig Leaf Finishing Oil
Fig leaf is my current obsession. This recipe makes five 8-oz bottles.
1 quart plus 1½ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 medium fig leaves
Blanch fig leaves in boiling water until bright green (about 30 seconds).
Place the leaves in iced water for about 3 minutes.
Squeeze excess water from fig leaves and pat dry.
Add to oil and blend with an immersion blender or Vitamix.
Allow the oil to steep for about 15 minutes.
Strain the oil, and divide into the bottles.
Seal with a cork, screw top or method of choice.