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Easy Entertaining Aboard
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 84683 times

Entertaining Aboard: The Weekend Cruise - Story and Photography by Lori Ross

Entertaining friends or family during a weekend aboard our boat is one of the things I enjoy most about cruising. I love planning a cruise – selecting a destination, identifying special events or activities that everyone would like and, of course, developing delicious menus for meals aboard.
We learned, early in our cruising years, to plan for the worst and provision flexibly! We still laugh about an incident many years ago, when, cruising with another couple aboard, we made plans to raft-up for the night, with mutual friends in a lovely, remote harbor on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. We arrived first, anchored, set out beef kabobs for 4 to marinate and kicked back to enjoy a sunset cocktail. Jim regaled our guests with stories about my tendency to over-provision – “Lori isn’t happy unless she has enough food aboard to feed 40 people at one hour’s notice”! Suddenly, a call came in on VHF from our fellow cruisers, who were already late, asking how much food we had! We learned that, in their rush to leave the dock, they had left all their food in a cooler in their car and didn’t realize it until they were miles away from their home port.   They hadn’t eaten since breakfast! 
I was redeemed -- I had extra beef for kabobs, lots of salad fixings and bread plus emergency rations of quick cooking couscous that stretched my dinner for four to dinner for eight! Plus I brought a dozen eggs and muffins for breakfast.   We quickly invited them to join us for dinner and breakfast and even packed them off the next day with sandwiches and snacks for the trip back. While I do not advise over-provisioning , it is wise to have emergency rations aboard in case the unexpected occurs – the great restaurant you hoped to go for dinner is closed or you find yourself with a few more guests than expected!
Typically, our cruising weekend start on Friday nights and end Sunday afternoon On Friday, after work, we pack our clothes, supplies and food/drink and pick up a “take out” meal for the first night out. We anchor nearby for the night so we can get an early start in the morning and dine on barbequed ribs, fried or roasted chicken from the deli or cooked seafood for an easy meal. We usually have a continental breakfast Saturday morning – something quick like fruit, croissants, muffins or bagels with coffee as we head out to the bay. We try to reach our destination in the early afternoon, in time for a late lunch, a swim, kayaking or a dinghy ride to the nearby sights. If the weather is hot, lunch is something cool and light, such as cold soup and salad with bread, cheese and fruit. If the weather is brisk or chilly, we serve hot soup, chili, or a hearty warm sandwich. 
We like to have a sunset cocktail with appetizers on the flybridge, and often grill steaks or seafood and dine on the aft deck under the stars. But when it is cooler, we like to gather in the main saloon to keep warm while I roast chicken or make pasta or risotto for dinner. We sometimes watch movies or just talk and unwind from the busy workweek. And, we usually fall asleep much earlier than we do at home.
On Sundays, I adore the luxury of getting up around 8 a.m. and having a long leisurely brunch with lots of coffee, that will to hold us over through the afternoon cruise home. Brunch usually includes eggs in the form of quiche, frittatas or omelets with fruit, breakfast breads and meats and sometimes, pancakes, french toast or crepes, or Frühstück, the German breakfast that includes a variety of breads, jams, smoked meats, cheeses, cereals, juices, hard or soft boiled eggs, fish such as salmon, and salads of marinated tomatoes or cucumber.
I had the opportunity to critically examine how I organize provisioning and meals this Fall, when my husband, Jim (who is allergic to the kitchen) single-handedly prepared lunch for six people aboard our boat during the Annapolis Boat Show. I had planned to be onsite to prepare the meal, but discovered that I had to travel on the very day of the event. So, I had to think through exactly what I do to pull a meal together on the boat and write it down for him.
We discussed the menu and selected recipes from which came an ingredient list. I took inventory and from the inventory came a shopping list. I did as much prep work as possible for him and finally created an activity list offering step by step instructions and timeline “countdown” to serving a three course meal to six people aboard the boat. Jim thought the planning process worked so well, he encouraged me to share it with you.
I usually have an idea what I want to serve based on the weather forecast and preferences of my guests. If the weather is sunny and hot, I want to keep interior of the boat as cool as possible, so I serve cold/cool food and grill outside or use the microwave rather than the oven to reduce heat. If the weather is cool, I enjoy a cozy cabin filled with warm cooking smells, so I’ll bake or cook on the stove top.
I like to offer both sweet and savory tastes at each meal and balance rich foods with something acidic like fruit, marinated vegetables or a salad. I also try to make a meal appealing to the eye – contrasting and complementing colors and textures of foods and serving pieces. The following is a weekend cruise menu that I like to prepare:
Friday dinner - take out
BBQ Ribs and chicken
Buttermilk Biscuits
Saturday breakfast
Homemade Granola with milk and yogurt
Orange juice
Saturday lunch
Onion Soup
Cheese Panini
Saturday dinner
Beef kabobs with onions, mushrooms and peppers
Lemon Couscous
Apple Tart
Sunday brunch
Banana bread or blueberry muffins
Sausage links
Honey and nut yogurt
Brown Sugar Fruit
My first step is usually a menu, from which I develop an ingredients list to make sure I don’t forget anything important. I always do an inventory of the galley and make a packing/shopping list before we go cruising and if it is not a recipe I know by rote, I make a copy to take with me. Using the recipes, I make a list as follows:
Inventory – Have
Inventory - Buy
BBQ Ribs, chicken, biscuits, slaw
Pick up
1 lb.Butter
Pick up at bakery
Liquor store
Salt and pepper
Orange juice
Homemade Granola with milk and yogurt
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts 
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raisins
Onion Soup
2 1/2 pounds onions,
bay leaf
1/2 cup each sherry and brandy
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Liquor store
8 cups beef stock
½ lb. thinly sliced swiss cheese
French bread
Tomato and Cheese Panini
round crusty rolls
3/4 pound provolone, sliced
3 large ripe tomatoes
4 oz basil pesto
Beef tenderloin cut into 1 inch cubes
Wooden skewers
Herbed Couscous
3 cups chicken broth 
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup each basil, mint, parsley
2 red onions
1 lb mushrooms
2 green peppers
Extra-virgin olive oil
Apple Tart
1 1/2 sheets frozen puff pastry
3 apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Banana bread or muffins
Quiche (jeannine’s)
9-in. prepared pie shell unbaked
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 cup bacon bits
5 eggs
1 ½ cup cream 
Honey and nut yogurt
Greek or whole milk plain yogurt    
Sausage links
Brown sugar fruit
Mixed berries
 pineapple slices,
1 cup sour cream
4 bottles white wine
4 bottles red wine
2 bottles champagne
Paper towels
Paper napkins
Freezer bags (all sizes)
Trash bags
Ginger ale, pepsi
Aluminum foil
If you are clever with a computer, you can sort list to make it easier to shop. Once you have completed the inventory and know what you have to buy, you are ready to organize the action plan. 
Organizing the steps you need to take to be sure everything comes together always requires a list or inevitably, I forget to do something in time or neglect to serve one of the dishes I made!   I go through each item and determine how to serve the meal and action plan for each meal.


Friday dinner - take out
How to serve
Action plan
BBQ Ribs and chicken
Paper plates
Reheat at 300 degrees for 20 minutes in oven in aluminum foil or in microwave oven
Chill and serve
Buttermilk Biscuits with butter
Reheat for 5 minutes at 300 degrees on aluminum tray
Fresh fruit
Slice and serve
Homemade Granola
7:30 mix granola ingredients and bake for 75 minutes
Saturday breakfast
Homemade Granola with milk or yogurt
China bowls
Make Friday night
Orange juice
Coffee with milk, sweetner
Set up Friday to start at 7:00 a.m.
Onion Soup with crouton and swiss
Large mugs on crouton and topped with swiss cheese
11 a.m. make soup
11:30 toast croutons
12:00 fill mugs with soup, top with crouton and slice of swiss; broil or microwave to melt
Tomato and Cheese Panini with pesto
China plates
11:30 Make sandwiches
11:45 Heat on low in sauté plan and weight with a smaller pan until cheese melts
Beef Kabobs with Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms
China Platter
6:00 p.m. Skewer beef and marinate for 30 minutes
6:15 light grill
6:20 cube onions, peppers and mushrooms and skewer
6:40 place skewers on grill
Lemon Couscous
China bowl
6:15 heat broth and sauté onion
6:30 pour broth onto coucous
6:40 add remaining ingredients
Apple Tart
5:00 defrost puff pastry
5:30 slice apples and season
5:40 shape pastry, cover with apples and bake
Sunday brunch
8:00 Start coffee and turn oven on to 425 degrees
Quiche Lorraine
Pie pan
8:00 Mix quiche ingredients and pour into prepared pie shell;
8:15 reduce heat; cook 50 minutes
Honey and nut yogurt
China bowl
8:10 Toast nuts in oven 5 minutes
9:00 heat stove top for 10 minutes
Banana bread
Cutting board with Knife
9:00 heat for 10 minutes
Brown Sugar Fruit
Platter with fork
Small bowl for cream with spoon
8: 45 saute fruit and make cream

 Once you have the menu schedule organized, keep it nearby in the kitchen so that you can easily refer to it. The schedule will also help you identify specific tasks for guests who offer to help you.   Don’t be a slave to the menu or schedule, simply use it as a tool to simplify your preparation and spend more time with your guests. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! 


Homemade Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.
Onion Soup
2 1/2 lbs onions, halved, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (8 cups)
1/4 lb butter
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup each sherry and brandy
1 1/2 cups white wine
8 cups beef stock
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 slices of swiss cheese
8 croutons, toasted
In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, saute the onions with the butter and bay leaf for 20 minutes, until the onions turn a rich golden brown color. Pour sherry and brandy into the pan and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add the beef broth plus salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, taste for salt and pepper, and serve hot topped with crouton (small slice of bread toasted) and thin slice of swiss cheese and broil or microwave until cheese is melted.
Tomato and Cheese Panini
Round crusty rolls,
3/4 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced thin
20 basil leaves
Basil pesto (optional)
1 tbsp butter
My favorite panini (sandwich) is made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil pesto. 
To make the sandwich, split rolls and cover inside of bottom roll with pesto, then layer mozzarella, basil leaves and sliced tomato. Put roll top in place and press down. You can eat it cold, or press the sandwich (like a panini) by placing a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich as it cooks on a buttered nonstick pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes on each side or until is warmed all the way through.
Herbed Couscous
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped onions
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups dry couscous
1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds (toasted in oven until light brown) 
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
Melt the butter in a large saute pan, add the onions and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, raise the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil. Take off the heat and add the couscous. Cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add nuts and raisings to the couscous, stir and serve.
Apple Tart
1 -2 sheets frozen puff pastry
½ stick butter, melted
1 tbsp white sugar
3 apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the pastry sheets with butter. Sprinkle with white sugar.
Combine the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, and lemon juice and layer on pastry sheets, overlapping apple slices
Bake for 20 minutes or until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden and crisp.
Serve warm with cream
Quiche Lorraine
9-inch prepared pie shell (unbaked)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
11/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
5 eggs
½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ cup cream
Preheat oven to 425 degree. Saute onion in butter until softened. Sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the pie shell, then evenly distribute the onion over the cheese layer. Mix the eggs and the spices together in a bowl. Add the cream and mix well. Pour over contents in the pie shell. Turn oven down to 300 degrees and bake 45 to 55 minutes or until middle of quiche is set and toothpick comes out clean.
Honey and nut yogurt
1 pint Greek or whole milk plain yogurt
½ cup honey
1 cup slice almonds or other nuts, toasted until lightly browned
Place yogurt in a bowl, drizzle with honey then sprinkle nuts. 
Brown sugar fruit
3 of each of the following fruits peaches, nectarines, peeled mangoes, halved, stones removed
3 pineapple slices, halved
1 cup brown sugar
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Press the fruit into the brown sugar. Cook in batches for 5-7 minutes each cut side or until dark golden. Serve with the brown sugar cream Brown sugar cream
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
To make the brown sugar cream, place the sour cream and brown sugar in a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside..

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