When my wife and I purchased the M/Y Papagallo II our business plan was all about providing quality food service and creating memorable experiences while cruising the waters of Morro Bay Ca. Fast forward nine years and over 10,000 guest later we have accomplished that goal. We work with several wineries in the Paso Robles wine region that was just named the best wine region in the world by The Wine Enthusiast 2013.

Onboard the yacht we cater wine maker dinners, along with wine pairing events that feature up to five courses served out of our galley our galley that measures 7 ft. by 10 ft. In addition to the wine business we provide food and service for other special events including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries , corporate off-sites and holiday parties. We literally have guests and clients from all over the world. So when it comes to cooking in a small galley I know of what I speak.

Having spent most of my life in commercial restaurant kitchens ( 50 years in the business) you can imagine the learning curve I experienced when first stepping into the Galley on the Papagallo not to mention how overwhelmed I was when I got to the engine room but that’s another story.

The product reviews I offer are not from a place of theory but rather from the front lines of the battle preparing meals onboard with limited space to work. This is real practical stuff! That not only helps when preparing meals onboard but your kitchen at home as well. The products I will mention make the job easier and I believe are a “Must Have “to help you accomplish the task of meal preparation and service. Please contact me with any questions or recommendations you may have. I look forward to your comments. Stay tuned for the posting of my favorite recipes on the Papgallo. Visit My Website for additional information.

Norpro Stainless-Steel Citrus Juice Press

Key word here STAINLESS -STEEL.  If you want fresh citrus juice to add to the preparation of a dish this item gets the job done. I never use lemon or lime juice from the store in plastic containers. It’s crap and once you get by all the preservatives you are left with something that only slightly tastes of the fruit juice it represents. Your other option is to cut the fruit in half and tightly hold it between your hands and squeeze the hell out of it to get the the juices locked inside. With that method you many times get a nice shot to your eyes (that smarts, been there and done that) along with the juice going in every direction except on the dish your preparing. The seeds are the next in question and unlike the juice end up in the dish or sauce you are creating, go figure. Cheese cloth is another way to extract the juices by wrapping the cut fruit to be juiced within the cloth and again like the hand method , get to squeezing. STOP this madness!

I have used non stainless presses that are painted with enamel and after several uses the paint begins to chip off and guess where it ends up, your dish, yummy !!  Not good.
This stainless model is the way to go. It takes the mess out of juicing when you cooking only requires a small amount of fresh citrus juice. Other good feature is you are able to get the most juice out of the fruit without the hassle and ware and tare on you hands. Ever squeeze a lemon by hand with a cut on one of your fingers, Hello there ! Instant pain, although I am told it’s great for fighting infections. This method is also Sano! with the extracted juice not having to pass through your hands. As with most equipment on a boat the stainless steel feature is always preferred due to how quickly things can rust at sea. Help ! The lemon, orange or limes are to large to fit in the press I guess I will have to go back to the hand method. Not to worry just cut the piece of fruit to a smaller size to fit the press and viola ! your ready to go.  A must have for the seasoned cooks that are out there.

Kitchenaid KC351OHOBA Shears

kitchenaid-shearsWell these shears are wonderful. With the Kitchenaid brand you expect quality. They deliver. I use them on poultry, fresh herbs , lemon grass, cutting the fins off of fish when we finely flop one on the deck that’s a keeper. Always ever watchful for the fish and game folks. They hold their sharpe edge nicely over time and I have had no trouble with rust. The cover makes it nice to be able to store in the galley drawer. Even caught the captain cutting away on a piece of canvas for an equipment cover topside. Wrestled them away from him before they ended up in the tool chest. He commented they worked like a champ ! That said get a pair for the galley and one for the engine room, what the hell.

WISSOTZKY Magic Tea Box, 80-Count

magic-tea-boxThis item is not exactly something I use in the galley but it is very handy to whip this baby out when a guest request hot tea. I myself don’t drink much tea I much prefer a nice shot of Crown Royal. However my wife loves this item. Most of the teas are of good quality in the set and as they run out we replace them with her favorites. When guests are onboard and want a cup of hot  tea mid afternoon or even after dinner we offer up the set for their enjoyment. When this set is presented it always brings a smile to their face and many are like children opening a present at Christmas. That’s a good thing ! The box itself is worth the price not to mention the connivence of having all the tea offerings in one place. So we have ship’s china, glassware, flatware , linen and now we have our very own ship’s tea. Not high tech at all but a great item when you want to relax and savor a cup of hot tea on the aft deck or just hanging out in the salon. Up you service game with this one.

Old Dutch Solid Copper Moscow Mule Mug

moscow-mule-mugI stepped away from my iPad the last half hour to mix a Moscow Mule for my wife and I . I got to thinking about how much she loves this drink so I decided to share it with you. Even though you won’t find these mugs in my galley you will find them at our bar. In order to get the full enjoyment from this cocktail you have to have these cups to serve it in. They are solid copper with a nickel lining totally tarnish resistant . What makes this drink so special is how cold the copper mugs keep it while drinking whether consumed in the first 5 minutes or 40 minutes later. Care must be taken so you don’t end up “three sheets to the wind”. It stays ice cold the whole time. If you have cold sensitive teeth this one may not be for you. There are lot of recipes out there using many different brands of mix, the following is the one we prefer.

2 shots Absolut Vodka
4 oz. Ginger Beer. ( Fever Tree )
Juice from half of fresh lime
Garnish with two mint leaves and slice of fresh lime.

Mix: fill cup half full with ice. Add vodka and lime juice.
top with Ginger Beer and stir. Garnish with the mint and lime. Note if you like a sweeter
Taste add 1 tsp. of sugar syrup.
Bring out the copper cups that absolutely makes this drink a special occasion .
Cheers !!! When I step away from cooking in the galley this also is one of my favorite drinks. Sometimes it finds it’s way back to the galley with me and that’s when the cooking really gets good. Oh Yea !!! In press your friends with this one, I highly recommend it.

EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener with Black Grips

ez-duz-it-can-openerAlthough I use fewer can goods than ever in my cooking there will always be a need for a good can opener. Many folks choose an electric but I prefer the good old fashioned hand model. It can be stored in a kitchen drawer out of the way where the electric takes up precious counter space. This is a good one, heavy duty made in America of chromed steel with a easy grip rubber handle. When you squeeze the handles together there is a definite feel of the cutting wheel going through the can lid without the need to keep adjusting your grip to begin the opening process. My opener is four years old and still cutting like a champ. Resists rusting , there’s that word again, you boaters no what I mean. When on early morning watch at sea  this opener is a life saver when the crew wants to open and heat up a can of Cattle Drive Gold Chili in the microwave. No chef required !

Oxo International 74291 Good Grips Balloon Whisk

good-grips-balloon-wiskWhip it ! Whip it good !  You can do just that with this balloon whisk. The rubber handle makes this kitchen whip easy on the hands and very comfortable to use. I have several sizes hanging on my pot and pan rack in the galley. The large 11 inch is great for mixing or whipping larger amounts  of product, whether cream soups, mashed potatoes, puddings, whipped cream , pancake and cake mixes,  you name it this baby gets the job done. I use it in place of a blender many times leaving me only one item to clean easily with a little squirt of dish soap then place it under hot running water. This is the whip I use for my one pot fresh mashed potatoes. Only two items to clean with this preparation, the whip and the pot the potatoes were cooked and prepared in. I like simple. Recipes to follow as I develop that section of the Galley page. Stay tuned it’s on the way. This is a must have item give it 10 stars.

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler

cruisinart-griddlerThis is a must have appliance for any boat galley. It is portable and able to be pressed into service at a moments notice. When you need a quick snack or lunch for up to four people this grill really comes in handy. What I like about it is that you bring it out when you want to use it, then it is easily cleaned and stowed away leaving the galley counters uncluttered. It can be used as a Panini Press, half grill for open faced grilling or a full grill providing both top and bottom heat. When out to sea no need to be standing in front of the stove or range top getting sea sick , just pop the items you want to cook in the grill, set the timer and return when done. Also a breeze to clean.

This Cuisinart Griddle is a top quality brand and for the money I think hands down a best buy in the space. You can find griddles like this advertised on TV in varying price ranges but I am satisfied it does everything I need on the yacht especially when I want to prepare a dish quick and easy. It’s great for Panini’s , grilled fish or chicken , hamburgers, grilled sandwiches , fresh vegetables, even steaks. When it’s late a night and your cruising from one port to another and the crew on the helm is hungry, break out the Cuisinart and get Grubbin ! At 110 volts your gen sets won’t be stressed when you turn it on.

One of my favorite sandwiches prepared on the griddle is a grilled cheddar, red onion and heirloom tom sand on sourdough. Begin by buttering the bread on both sides ( everything is better with butter, imitation spreads just will not do !!). Place 3 to 4 slices of your favorite cheese, ( I use a mild cheddar) inside with a nice slice of raw red onion and a couple of slices of heirloom tomatoes ( when I can get them ) between the cheese. Be sure to lightly salt and grind some black pepper on the tomatoes for added flavor. Place in griddle set timer and remove when a golden brown. Cut in half for service add a side of fresh fruit , chips or cup of hot soup for a tasty easily prepared snack or lunch. You can spend more for a griddle like this but why do it. It’s understandable why this is a popular buy on Amazon. It has Chef Len’s recommendation.

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

Microplane-zester-GraterSo who needs a Microplane? I asked the same question several years ago when I was first introduced to it’s use. A wonderful friend and a real foodie that owned a gourmet kitchen store in Cambria, Ca. gave me my first one to be used in the cooking classes I taught for her.

Keep in mind this particular kitchen gadget was first used by carpenters as a rasp used on wood. So what in the hell am I going to do with it. Can an old dog be shown new tricks? Absolutely for this old dog. Let me tell you, this is a great tool for any cook. I will tell you though care must be taken when using it so you don’t tear open your knuckles when removing the zest of a piece of citrus. My best advice is to work slowly when first learning how to use it.

I first saw it demonstrated when after preparing a beautiful filet of Alaskan halibut with a white wine and cream reduction. Sally stepped up with her trusty Microplane and carefully took a couple of swipes over a fresh lemon and deposited the zest on top of that fish that resulted in an explosion of fresh lemon flavor that knocked my socks off. I instantly became a believer in said Microplane. It is a great way to remove the zest of almost any citrus that can be used to infuse that flavor into any number of dishes. Also can be used to grate hard cheeses like parmigiana. If you want to add some added zest to your cooking get one of these but remember to take care when using it to avoid taking the zest off your hand. A little practice and you will get the hang of it. The resulting improvement in your food is well worth it’s cost and the time you’ll spend learning to use it. Your guests comments might be who made this dish, questioning if you had a chef come onboard to prepare the meal. No! Made it myself with a little help from old chef Len from The Teak Rail. Enjoy!!!  I highly recommend this item

Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer

Paderno-tri-blade-veggy-slicerIs it true people eat with their eyes? I would say yes, that plays a big part in having people think your food taste good. It’s very natural for a person to look at a dish placed before them with the comment “that really looks good” Already they are expecting the food to taste good from it’s appearance. Most chefs take great care in presenting their dishes with garnishes that not only add to the overall flavor of the dish but as important to the look and texture of the dish. If it looks good the battle is half won that does not mean you don’t have to pay attention to the temperature and quality of the dish, you do. This vegetable slicer ( I’ve always known it as Japanese cutter , no matter ! ) for the purpose of this article we will call it a Tri-blade Plastic Vegetable Slicer.

This is a wonderful tool to spiral cut fresh carrots to top any salad preparation . The addition of the thinly cut carrots adds a wonderful look to the salad along with bringing a bright crisp fresh crunch  to the salad. The cutter produces mounds of connected strings from carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, radishes, turnips, squash really many fresh firm vegetables. I will take the potatoes and fry them in peanut oil for a crisp curly shoestring side dish everyone likes. This tool is great for making all kinds of garnishes for any dish. It’s use will add a professional look to the garnishes to any dish. Bring a new look to the foods you prepare and watch the expression of your guest as the wonder how you got those vegetables cut the way you did. The first time I used it years ago in the Generals Mess while serving in the army in Korea the General wanted to know how I was able to cut the vegetables as fine as I did. My reply was very simple Top Secret ,actually that answer did not go over very well and I ended up showing him the cutter. You will not use this everyday in the galley but when special guests are onboard you will be able to wow ! them with your culinary skill.  Hey for less than $ 30 the first use of this cutter will more than pay for itself from the admiration and cheers from your guests. If you want to turn out outstanding meals they not only have to taste good they better look good as well.

Able® Ceramic Peeler

able-ceramic-peelerWhile we are talking about items every boat or yacht galley should have we cannot forget the lowly potato peeler. After about three glasses of wine you will be glad you have one of these onboard rather than try to peel them with your trusty pairing knife. I don’t know why it took decades to come up with this new style but I am glad someone did. This one is very good quality and the rubber handle is much more comfortable to use than the old style I used coming up through the ranks in commercial kitchens.  Back in the day we used the all medal one where the swivel blade stuck out from a flimsy handle. After extended use say peeling twenty or thirty pounds of potatoes at a time your hands would cramp up with the beginning stages for a case of carpal tunnel ( always a fear of an insurance claim here) . If the cramping didn’t get you the swivel blade would often times disconnect from the handle and fly off into space. As a result of this we used to buy them buy the dozen so we would always have a replacement ready when they broke. This is a case where less is better, you only need one of these.

NUFF SAID! If you don’t have this tool in your galley drawer, you’re working to hard to peel you vegetables and potatoes. Love the grip on this one.

Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat

Have you ever had the experience of a batch of cookies sticking to the baking pan ? Keep in mind this is after you sprayed the pan with vegetable oil or so you thought you did. It used to happen to me especially when I wanted to pull a fresh baked one off the sheet to eat while piping hot, only to have it break apart in crumbs burning my fingers trying eat a morsel not wanting to wait for it to cool.

The Silpat will solve that problem. GUARANTEED !!!! This thing works every time. No need to spray anything, just place the cookie dough or food item on the Silpat liner and the sticking goes away. Not quite sure how it all works but all I needed to know was that it does work and makes the baking step so much easier. By now you must know I like easy. I would not be without one of these not only in the galley on the Papagallo but at home also.

Besides using it for many baking applications for cookies, pastries, Danish and preparations in the bake shop I use it in the kitchen as well. One of my favorite uses is for parmigiana fans or horns of plenty used to garnish many savory dishes. Simply take a tablespoon or so of shredded Parm cheese and place it on the Silpat on a cookie sheet . I usually get 15 per sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven for two to four minutes watching closely until the cheese melts to a light golden brown, time will vary with each oven. When brown remove and let cool, you remove from the liner and you have a crisp parmigiana wafer that can be used to garnish almost any dish. Take it a step further and while the wafer is still warn shape it into a cornucopia, lay it back on the tray and let cool. I will use this to garnish fish dishes by filling the cheese cornucopia with sprigs of fresh dill then laying it beside the fish. It is totally edible and the guest love it always asking how it was done. Did someone mention people eat with their eyes! Gotta love it.

Pyrex Round Storage Box Set

Leftover foods from dinner, what do you do with them? Rather than throw them overboard store them in sealed glass containers. Pyrex a name synonymous with quality since 1915 when Bessie Littleton forced Corning managers to focus their attention on creating a glass product that would  withstand the heat of the oven for baking her cakes. On May 18th. 1915 the Boston dept. store Jordan Marsh placed the first order. Pyrex glassware is sturdy , nearly unbreakable, easy to clean and almost eliminates the hassle and cost of replacement.

This set is well worth the cost. It stores food in sealed glass bowls extending their life under refrigerated conditions. The glass bowls range from 7 cups , 4cups, and 2cup sizes complete with snap on lids. They can be used in the oven, microwave, refrigerator , freezer and are dishwasher safe. Storage  in these bowls is far better than trying to wrap food items in foil or plastic food wrap. Another added benefit you are able to see what the foods are within the bowls. They can also be used for dry storage for rice, beans, lentils and whole grains. They are stackable within the refrigerator to save space, and we all know what a premium that is in any galley.  All things considered if Pyrex was good enough for Bessie Littleton almost 100 years ago  I have a place for it in my galley. Rather than feed the fish with your leftovers, save them for snacks and quick meal preparation the next day. I highly recommend this set. Chef Len

Mr. Coffee MWBLK Mug Warmer

This item I purchased for our captain for Christmas. If your captain gets grumpy on occasion this will help keep him happy. Everyone knows a happy captain makes for a happy ship. We have recommended the best coffee in the galley section so let’s take the next step in keeping his coffee hot. Placed on the helm at his finger tips his coffee is always ready for drinking piping hot the way he likes it. As the owner of the Papgallo it is a small gesture on my part to provide the one thing he always wants hot coffee. When he’s not onboard I make use of it while doing bright work before I get into the wine cabinet. Mr Coffee has been around forever and this warmer is so convenient and easy to use , just plug it in.  No Worries stay happy.

CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer

I love this thing. It will give a temperature reading within 3 to 4 seconds eliminating the need to keep the oven door open waiting the usual half minute for a reading from my old Monogram unit.  It provides a quick read with a larger display before my glasses steam up as a result of bending over with my head cooking in the oven. I use it to check many of the protein dishes I prepare, especially as a good accurate temp check for steaks or prime rib. The tip is smaller with a fine point making it easy to insert into the food product you are checking. The fine tip leaves less of a hole for the juices to run out that will improve the overall quality of the finished product.

I don’t use the clip on holder that comes with it as it usually falls off moving around the galley. I store it in a counter drawer and just grab it when needed, no sweat still very handy in my small galley. I like the fact that the temperature reading of the product your checking remains on the digit   readout and does’t quickly fall back as the thermometer is removed. It also has a much higher temperature range up to 450 degrees greater than many on the market. I use that feature on occasion when checking the temperature of the oil before beginning to fry an item. Beats the heck out tossing a bread cube in waiting for it to turn brown. Back in the day we used to take a skewer and insert it half way in the roast we were cooking , leave it inserted 30 or 40 seconds quickly remove it and run it across our bottom lip and gage the doneness going from cool on the end to hot half way up. This  thermometer takes the guess work out of bringing your cooked foods to the right temperature for service. This is the best one I have ever used and for the price it will pay for itself if that next prime rib you prepare is removed from the oven at a perfect 130 degrees pleasing all your guests. Go for it ! you can’t go wrong with it close by. I highly recommend getting one , but more importantly use it.

Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor

This countertop food processor is very versatile with the attachments that come with it. Saves time when chopping vegetables for any of your meal preparations. Wow your guest with fresh potato chips.  The slicing disk is great for thin slicing potatoes for homemade potato chips. Prepare cream soups, spicy salsas,  purée fruits for smoothies , shred cabbage for slaw ,  the possibilities are endless . I especially like the bread dough attachment for making breads. There is nothing like the aroma of baking fresh bread in the galley, especially on a drizzly fogy day at the dock.  Easily stowed and brought out when needed. The stainless steel attachments are easy to clean and very durable. Make your galley life much easier and shave hours off the time you spend cutting, chopping, blending , and mixing for your meal preparation. Again a must have for any serious boating chef. A great value at the price listed on Amazon.

Misto Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer

I love my olive oil sprayer one of my crew members gave last year. I choose what oil to place inside it then pump it up by a few quick downward strokes and it’s ready to spray. It is not an aerosol can and easily refillable. I have one with olive oil and another with vegetable oil. I use it to spray on French Baguettes for browning in the oven for appetizers. When you need a light coating for sautéing it works great. Also great on basting poultry for the oven or out on the bar B Q . There are many uses for this in the galley I keep it right next to my sea salt and pepper mill. Cleaning is a snap with hot water and a little detergent. The best thing with all the oils that are available on the market today it gives so many more choices to be able to spritz on your food preparation. Very cost effective method compared to commercial spray coating in a can. Gives you more control in producing a better tasting product than what’s offered on the supermarket shelves. Oh and did I mention it’s made from brushed aluminum , no rust to deal with. Leaves you more time to work on all the other stuff that’s rusting on the boat.

Keeping coming back as more of Chef Len’s Galley picks will be added in the future…

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