Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coffee Cake and Being 'In Charge'

This weekend was....well....I suppose interesting is the only way to explain it.

My team leader, Rachel, covered the other team's leader, Jessie, last weekend so she could go on vacation this weekend with some friends. On Friday, we had a half day, since there was a ship holiday, which means we don't have to make lunch for the crew, just dinner. I was making myself some lunch, when Jessie comes up to me and tells me he has malaria and will not be able to be there for us. He gave me a quick run-down of what we could do for dinner and what else needed to be done, and essentially put me in charge. I was not ready for that.

I got to work, told everyone what was going on, and we got going. We had 3 and ½ hours to get everything ready for dinner....and boy did it fly. We ended up making some roasted chicken with roasted potatoes... it was pretty great if I'm allowed to say that:) It worked out great because the crew numbers have been down lately, and we had about 400 pieces of chicken. Normally, we'd have to cut each piece in ½, which takes a couple of hours, but this time, we didn't. Everything fell into place beautifully. Honestly, I think there had to have been some serious divine intervention because everything was a little too perfect. For example, I covered 20 trays with parchment... we filled them perfectly. We made about 20 trays of potato, which fit PERFECTLY into the ovens... everything finished right in time to send it down so that we had our full 1 hour break... we even still got out around 7:15 despite being seriously short staffed. I must say, our day workers(locals who we've hired to help on board) seriousssly helped make up for that. When you put any mention of getting out early in their minds, they work even harder than ever.

Our team is known to get out between 6:45 and 7:15. We used to get out around 9 or 9:30 often, and day workers are excused at 8, so they never worked very hard, but rather slacked off so that they did the least work possible before 9... but now that they know our team can get them out really early, putting them home possibly by 9:30, they are cleaning machines:) They really got us where we needed to be on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, we only had one day worker at the end, since the other that was due to be in was very ill, but we still got out close to 7:)

Anyway.. I was very grateful for my wonderful team this weekend. We have 2 amazingly hard workers on the cold side(salads, fruits, and salad bar... crazy hard and BORING work), and there was me and Ghislain on the other side. I was so thankful that Ghislain is a trained cook because I was in no way prepared to make things up. I haven't gotten to the point where I can just make a meal for the crew... I can bake... just not cook. I'm learning day by day how to prepare each thing, but most days, I'm asked to complete one task that will ultimately make up the meal(such as chopping onions, peeling carrots, chopping chicken, etc.) Ghislain and I were on our a-game though and just bounced ideas off of each other. He'd show me how to do something, and I'd follow his lead. We had a lot of fun, actually. We chatted away while cooking most days. He's from Benin and came on as full time crew in March/April, so we talked lots about our cultural differences and the way things are where we come from. It was cool.

So- Friday, we made our roast chicken with roasted potatoes, mustard sauce and broccoli. Saturday we made chicken fingers and french fries(thank yoou menu planners- it's the easiest possible dinner.. though frying alllways takes way longer than we plan for, so Ghislain was frying through his break:(). I also t how taught myself make buffalo sauce that night.. it turned out pretty good, I think. Sunday.. now.. Sunday... let's back track before I talk about Sunday.

Last week, I was thinking about Sunday and what we could make. Sunday mornings, we come in around 6 or 6:30 and either make pancakes, or something fun for the crew to wake up to. We've done pancakes, biscuits(buttermilk), french toast, and we always have eggs and some form of meat(mainly bacon). Now, I realized that we always get out pretty late into the morning, so I was trying to brainstorm something that would be better for the morning. Then coffee cake came into my mind. I got to work Friday and talked to my friend Jen, who is a fellow baker. We bounced ideas off of each other, when she mentioned that she worked at a cupcake shop where they would put the batter in the fridge overnight and it would be just as good the next day, if not better. I searched for recipes and found one for overnight coffee cake. So, I made the batter on Saturday morning.

Saturday mornings are normally our 'deep cleaning' and prep time for dinner, but this time it ended up being prep for Sunday morning. I worked straight through my lunch break(which I later regretted, but was worth it) and made the batter, panned it all up, made the crunchy cinnamon,sugar and walnut topping, topped all of them, covered all 9 of them with foil and put them in the fridge. Now, on the ship, we use super-size everything, so I used 9- 2inch hotel pans.... see below... pretty major. We tested the recipe on ourselves in muffin tins and they rose an amazing amount. Thankfully, they rose just as much the next day, so there was totally plenty of cake for all who wanted some. Sunday morning at 6:30 I came in, realized the recipe called for it being out of the fridge for 30 minutes before baking, threw 3 in right away, kept the other 6 out until it'd been a ½ hour, and sent the first 3 down just in time for the 7:30 breakfast start. I also made icing to go on top... yum! The icing sugar here is super lumpy, so I put it through the food processor, and it was still crazy lumpy, but still yummy.

We went through all 9 pans, but thankfully everyone who wanted some during meal time got some... that is always our goal. I had many reports that people stored some away as well... nicee:) Sunday evening, we were due to make cottage pie(much like Sheppard's pie), but Ghislain and I didn't know how to make it, so we just decided to stick to what we know and make spaghetti with sauce. We did a beef sauce and a veggie sauce. It was nuts because they both originated from the same base, but tasted wildly different. Both so wonderful though.

Being in charge got stressful at times, but thankfully I shared the culinary decisions with Ghislian. There were times when people asked me something and I almost said my normal, 'I don’t know.. ask Rachel', but realized... I was our 'Rachel' for the weekend... so.. that was interesting. Overall, I don't think it could've been better. We were able to make fun things for ourselves(mainly Jen's doing), like baked french toast. It's what it sounds like- baked french toast- but you put this maple syrup mixture on top during the baking and it makes a toffee-like topping... incredible. We're brainstorming how to do it for the whole crew.. might work.. might not:) I'm so thankful to have a team that is so dedicated to getting things done quickly, but making sure to do it well. It was a GREAT weekend and one of those times that I love my job.


  1. no eggs and bacon on a Sunday morning? you're extremely brave...i wouldn't have ever risked that!

  2. Oh no- there was certainly eggs and bacon that morning as well... that's what the other crew from the galley were working on while I baked these and made the icing;)