Category Archives: galley

Olla Gitana (Spain)

Originating from the Murcia region, Olla Gitana translates as ‘Gypsy pot’.  This is a travellers stew, combining the regions’ gypsy history with the rich, fertile growing land of the area.  From what I have discovered, as with most of these traditional dishes, there is no exact recipe; each family having their own variation, but usually involves pumpkin or squash and chickpeas or beans and the key ingredients of pears, almonds, saffron, paprika and usually mint.  An interesting and delicious combination!  I have used what vegetables I had to hand.

I also read that nowadays it is common for many home cooks to use a colour substitute in place of the saffron as it is so expensive, of which I’d seen in the shops and wondered what it was for!  In my opinion it would be preferable to use extra paprika if you don’t have saffron to obtain the bright colour important to this dish.

This stew is quite often vegetarian but will also just as frequently involve pork or chorizo or some meat bones for flavour and I added a little chorizo but feel free to leave it out.


Olla Gitana (serves two generously)

Half a medium butternut squash or a quarter of a small pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks

1 tin black eyed beans (400g) or chickpeas, cannellini, butterbean etc

200g broad beans or green beans

4” piece chorizo, sliced

Large handful baby spinach or swiss chard

2 small pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

Olive oil

Half a medium white onion, thinly sliced

2 medium cloves garlic, crushed

1 large tomato (such as a beef tomato) diced

2 tsp sweet paprika

Pinch saffron strands

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 tbsp ground almonds, toasted

3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves roughly chopped

Put the squash or pumpkin into a large saucepan and cover with water.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender then add the black eyed beans, broad beans, pear and chorizo topping up with water until just covered.  Cook with a lid for another 10-15 minutes, adding the spinach for the last couple of minutes.

Toast your ground almonds by adding to a hot, dry frying pan.  Cook over a medium heat stirring frequently until they take on a light golden colour.  Transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile in a separate pan saute the onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes until translucent, then add the garlic, paprika and saffron and cook out stirring for 3-4 minutes.  Add the diced tomato and cook until broken down (I used a fork to help it along), then add your toasted almonds and vinegar.  Stir well over the heat until you have a thick paste like consistency then add to the stew and mix through.

Bring the stew back to a simmer and season well with salt and pepper.  Serve garnished with the mint and crusty bread to soak up the juices.



Sticky Date & Nut Flapjacks

Sailing uses up a lot of energy.  Even if for the majority of the time you aren’t doing a lot the constant motion means your muscles are always working to correct your balance and we always arrive at our destination feeling pretty tired!  Having lots of nice food on hand not only keeps your energy levels up but helps pass the time during a long passage.

I made these flapjacks today as tomorrow we have a 12 hour sail to the Bay of Cadiz, leaving at 5am.  Using natural, unrefined sugars in place of the regular white stuff and having a high nut ratio, means they’ll provide long lasting and nutritious energy without the sugar crash later.


Makes 8 squares

100g oats

100g nuts of your choice (I used 50/50 pecan and brazil)

2 heaped tbsp rice flour

100g dates

2 tbsp raw honey

30g xylitol (100% natural birch bark sugar substitute)

80g butter or coconut oil

Blend or finely chop the dates and add to a pan along with the butter or oil, honey and xylitol.  Heat gently until melted and stir until the dates combine into a runny paste with the fat.

Blend the nuts (or very finely chop) and add to the date mixture with the oats and rice flour, mixing thoroughly.

Line a 6×9″ tray with parchment and spread the oat mix evenly, pushing down to hold together.

Bake at 180c for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.  Cut into squares whilst still warm.

Caldo Verde (Portugal)

Caldo Verde (green soup) is a broth of potato, garlic and kale with linguiça sausage.  It is eaten all over Portugal, but I think originated in Northern Portugal.  So simple to make and completely delicious with the potato thickened, garlicky broth and a slight smokiness from the sausage, it is also a very filling but healthy meal.

It is commonly eaten with a bread made from cornmeal (pão de milho) of which I will post a recipe for, however here I made an American style cornbread as I didn’t read up on it first haha!

From what I can understand there are conflicting views on how this soup can be made, from some saying it is an exact method (for example when blending only one piece of sausage must be added, with the remainder divided into each bowl to serve) to others saying each family has their own tradition and the recipe can be adapted to please.  There is also some speculation about whether it’s kale or collard greens, only agreeing that whatever it is must be extremely finely sliced.  All I can say is it is not the curly kale we know in the UK, more like young spring greens or chard, either of which you can use.  To slice it remove the toughest part of the stalks, stack a few leaves together and roll tightly lengthways into a cigar shape, then slice across into 1-2mm ribbons.

Well, I went with the majority and only added a little of the sausage to blend and as I am in Portugal I used a package of already sliced greens labelled ‘caldo verde’ as the only other option was a light green spring cabbage so that solved that dilemma.  Anyway, the result was delicious.  Here is how to make it….

(makes a generous portion for two)

1 medium white onion, finely sliced

two large handfuls of very finely sliced kale/greens/chard

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

3 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 pints water or vegetable stock

6″ piece of linguiça sausage (about 125g)

salt and pepper to taste

cornbread to serve


Slice the sausage into 1cm slices and fry in a little olive oil until some of the fat is rendered out.  Remove from the pan and fry the onion over a low heat in the fat until soft, then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the potatoes and stock or water and simmer until the potato is soft.  Add about a quarter of the fried sausage, then blend.  You should be left with a slightly thicken broth.

Add your shredded greens and simmer for a couple of minutes until soft but don’t over cook as it’ll lose its lovely green colour.

Serve in bowls topped with the rest of the sausage slices and a drizzle of olive oil, with a good chunk of cornbread on the side.


Pea & Mint Houmous

One of the best things I’ve invested in for the galley is a stick blender with a bowl attachment that works as a mini food processor.  It’s a low enough wattage that it can run off the inverter so no need to have to start up the genny, but is powerful enough to easily chop nuts and the like, along with pureeing beans and chickpeas into delicious houmous and dips which I make a lot of.  This houmous recipe is nice and fresh tasting and good served with some crunchy radishes dipped in.

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

400g lightly steamed fresh peas

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 large lemon, juice & zest

1 large tablespoon tahini

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 small bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

2 tbsp each olive oil and warm water

salt and pepper to taste

Put everything into a food processor and blend to a nearly smooth consistency, season to taste.  It will keep for a few days in the fridge but will start to lose its vibrant colour slightly, so it’s best eaten within a few hours.  It’s also great in sandwiches or wraps along with some grated carrot and rocket leaves, or with spicy falafels and flat bread.

Curry Paste

Every month or so I make a big batch of curry paste, jar it up, and keep it in the cupboard so it’s on hand for quick and easy curries.  We eat quite a lot of curry on board, because it’s quick and one pot meals mean less washing up (always a bonus in a tiny galley!) but also versatile…sometimes I serve it with a coconut and cardamom rice, sometimes with spelt flat breads, or my favourite is bombay potatoes with spinach.  I use this paste as a base, which is I suppose closest in flavour to a Jalfrezi when cooked out with tomatoes, but if I want a different take then I’ll add in things like coconut cream, ground almonds, fresh lime, roasted peanuts, coriander…every curry turns out different depending on what I have to hand.

Makes around a 500ml jar:

1 medium red onion

1 stick celery

4 lg cloves garlic

2 thumb size pieces fresh ginger

4 medium red chilli’s

2 red, yellow, or orange peppers

1 tbsp nigella seeds

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp ground tumeric

1 tbsp fennel seeds

4 tbsp tomato puree

4 tbsp olive oil

Dry toast the seeds in a pan until fragrant but not browned.  Roughly chop the onion, celery and peppers and saute until just taking on some colour (the idea is to evaporate some of the water content so the flavours are more concentrated).

Slice the garlic, ginger and chilli’s and add to a blender along with the rest of the ingredients, blend to a paste consistency.

Transfer to a large jar and top up with extra oil so the surface is completely covered, this will stop air getting to it, preserving and inhibiting mould growth.  It will keep for about a month in a cool cupboard, or the fridge if you wish.

As a rough guide I’d use two heaped tablespoons per curry for two.  If you want it hotter add in some fresh chilli’s whilst cooking.

How to Brine Olives

We were lucky enough to find wild olives growing in Spain and Portugal so we took a backpack and filled it with green, black and purple olives.  You have to brine them to make them edible as they are incredibly bitter otherwise.  You can then leave them in brine which makes them of the more salty variety, or marinate them in flavoured oil.

This is how we did ours:

Using a knife slit the olives, or alternatively squash with a rolling pin or under a glass to split them.  This helps the brine permeate the olive flesh.

Put your olives in a clean container (use a bucket if you have a lot) and cover with fresh, cold water.  Leave the olives for a week, changing the water daily, this draws out the bitterness.  Next make your brining solution.

To one gallon of water, add

  • Two cups of salt
  • One pint of vinegar

Bring to a rolling boil (boiling reduces the likelihood of mould growth while curing) then let cool completely.  Drain the water from your olives, rinse well, then recover with the brine.

Leave to cure for 3-4 weeks until the olives are palatable.  You can either jar the olives in more brine, or alternatively cover them with olive oil with added herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary or thyme, whole crushed garlic cloves, chilli flakes, strips of lemon peel, peppercorns, roasted pepper, capers….etc.  Once marinated leave for another week or so to develop the flavours.

Caramel, Peanut & Chocolate Slice

This is a very rich, decadent treat but is made without any refined sugar or flour, and has fibre and protein from the nutty base, which helps to offset the effect of the natural sugars on your blood sugar level.  No baking necessary.

Makes enough for a 9″ x 6″ tin

For the base:

1 cup mixed nuts

1 cup soft dates

1 tbsp no added sugar peanut or almond butter

1 tsp water

For the caramel:

1 cup soft dates

3 tbsp no added sugar peanut butter

1 tbsp raw honey

1/4 cup water

1 tsp coconut oil

For the topping:

100g dark chocolate (70% or more)


For the base blend the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add the dates, water and nut butter and blend again until combined.

Line a tin with parchment and press the base down well into the tin, smoothing the surface with a spoon.  Put in the freezer.

For the caramel first blend the dates, then add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth and thick.

Spread in an even layer over the chilled base, then put back in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

For the topping melt the chocolate in a bain marie then pour over the caramel layer, right up to the edges.

Leave in the fridge until the chocolate is set.  Turn out of the tin and cut into slices with the chocolate side face down (the bottom is softer than the top so the chocolate will crack less if cut this way).

Try not to eat all at once!

Squidgy Banana, Walnut & Poppy Seed Cake

I spent a happy Sunday morning making this to use up the black bananas that were almost at the point of no return, and to try and satisfy my partners sweet tooth.  I used butter in this cake but you can substitute for coconut oil if you want to make it vegan, as realising I had no eggs I used soaked chia seeds instead.  I like to use Spelt flour in baking as it’s gentler on the digestive system than many modern wheat varieties.  Finding a sugar substitute can be difficult as even natural sweeners will effect your blood sugar, however I’ve found using a little Xylitol which is made from birch bark and has a low GI rating, along with raw honey that still has it’s natural vitamins and enzymes worked well.  The protein from the nuts and seeds helps to lessen the impact on blood glucose levels.

5 oz soft butter (or coconut oil)

2 oz xylitol

2 oz raw honey

1 tsp natural vanilla bean paste

2 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 4 tbsp water

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

6 oz wholemeal spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

4 tbsp soya milk

2 oz walnuts, roughly chopped

2 tbsp poppy seeds


Beat the butter with the xylitol and honey until light and fluffy.  Add in the soaked chia seeds, banana, soya milk and vanilla and beat well.  Fold in the spelt flour and baking powder, then the nus and seeds.

Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin, sprinkle the top with more seeds and walnuts, and bake for 40-50 minutes at gas 4 (180c).  Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack.

Fresh Ginger Cordial

We had an overnight sail ahead of us and on this trip previously I’d started to feel quite queasy.  This time I went prepared with this potent fresh ginger mix, ready to use if even a hint of sea sickness started.  It’s not difficult to make, but is really effective for settling an upset stomach.

1 largeish piece of fresh ginger root

boiling water

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp of raw honey

Peel the ginger, using a spoon to scrape off the thin skin is the best way, and finely chop.  In a heatproof jug pour boiling water over the ginger, up to about a half pint.  Leave to steep for a few hours, or overnight.  When cool blend with the honey and lemon and pour into a sterilised bottle.  It will keep for a good few weeks in the fridge.

This makes a very spicy, potent ginger base cordial, ready to add to soda water with some lime slices and ice (rum optional!).  Better than shop bought sugar loaded ginger beer any day!

Iced Summer Berry & Mint Whip

This is the easiest and quickest way to make ‘icecream’…it literally takes two minutes and is really good for you, bursting with antioxidant rich berries and cooling mint, rather than being full of sugar and artificial flavourings like many shop bought varieties.

We’d just been for a hike up a big hill in Spain and it was 28°c!  The view was worth it though out over the entrance to the Ria da Muros where we were anchored.  When we got back to the boat we were so hot and sticky I made this to cool us down.


medium handful frozen summer berries (150-200g)

4 heaped tbsp full fat Greek Yogurt

1 heaped tbsp raw honey

a few fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped


Put everything in a blender and whiz on high speed until fully combined and smooth.  Eat asap as it melts quickly, or pop back in the freezer until needed and take out a few minutes before serving.