Lots of people have asked what we eat on Nova – can we cook on board?  Yes, we can and do.  Although we’ve had some amazing meals ‘out’ on our journey, most of our meals have been on board.  Nova has a 3-ring gas hob with a small oven, and we have a frying pan, two sizes of saucepan and – most importantly – a small (20cm) pressure cooker.  Plus all the normal cooking implements – sharp knives, chopping board, wooden spoons, grater etc.  Nova also has a large and very efficient (keel-cooled) fridge, which has been invaluable.

Over the last few months we’ve found a few recipes which we’ve used many times and which work very well.  We use cup measures and a tablespoon/teaspoon measure to get amounts roughly correct, where that’s necessary, but most of the time it’s the ‘throw it in and see how it comes out’ method of cookery!  I printed and laminated a copy of the US cups conversion chart on the Doves Farm website which was a handy reference for measuring amounts such as flour, rice, couscous, butter etc.

Here are our favourite recipes:

Bean & chorizo stew

Definitely a ‘throw in what you have got in the fridge’ recipe. Basic ingredients are leeks, chorizo (thinly sliced), new potatoes (quartered) and beans (butter or haricot or similar).  Fry the leeks (could also add onions, garlic, celery at this point) in the pressure cooker, add potatoes, beans, chorizo (plus other veg eg peppers, carrots) and veg stock. Pressure cook for about 5 minutes. Serve in bowls, with bread to scoop up the juice.  

Butternut squash mulligatawny

The recipe I use is https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chunky-butternut-mulligatawny.  I tend to cook half quantities of this recipe – that is plenty for four people.  I cook in the pressure cooker for about 5 minutes (until the squash is soft)

Butternut Squash Mulligatawny

Salmon/Chicken with peppers

Slice onions and peppers and cook gently in the frying pan with the lid on.  Can add garlic and mixed herbs.  Once soft, add salmon steaks or chicken breast (best cut in half, or chop into pieces), moving the veg to one side of the pan so the meat/fish can be seared, then put the lid on and cook until done.  Nice with new potatos, rice or couscous and a green veg.  Broccoli can be cooked by adding it to the frying pan or on top of the potatos/rice for a few minutes to steam – so you don’t need an extra pan. 

Risotto (chicken, prawn, mushroom, butternut squash)

I make this in the frying pan for two people, or the larger pressure cooker pan for four.  Cook chopped onion, garlic and celery until soft.  Add ¼ cup of Arborio rice per person to the vegetables and stir until rice is well coated with oil.  Then gradually add stock and keep stirring.  If making chicken risotto, I cook chicken pieces in water with seasoning to make the stock to use – otherwise I use a vegetable or fish stock cube. If making prawn, mushroom or squash risotto, I cook these ingredients in a separate pan.  Once the rice is cooked and all the stock is absorbed, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Nice served with rocket to garnish.  The most memorable risotto of this trip was in Arbroath, made with fresh crab meat, painstakingly extracted by Jonathan’s uncle Emil from four crabs given to us ‘live’ by a friendly local.

An unrepeatably tasty crab risotto

Pasta puttanesca

Thanks to Jonathan’s cousin Camilla for cooking this for us – it has become a favourite.  Fry chopped onions and garlic, add a tin of tomatoes and  a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar if you have them.  Stir in some anchovies (we use a whole tin for 4 people) and simmer until the sauce is thick – at the last minute throw in some sliced black olives.  Cook pasta, combine with the sauce and serve with grated parmesan. 

Sausages & onion gravy with mash

This one is pretty obvious – we cook sausages and sliced onions together, then make gravy in the same pan with a spoonful of flour to thicken then add stock/wine to taste.  We didn’t have a potato masher for a while, so ‘mash’ was new potatos crushed up in the pan before serving which works well.

Lentils plus

Fry onions and garlic in the pressure cooker, add green or puy lentils and stir well, then add veg stock and pressure cook for about 5 minutes. You can add different flavours to this basic mix: chopped up bacon with goats cheese, feta cheese, mushrooms are all good, or you can serve the lentils with sausages


‘Pavnova’ & cranachan (nova-style)

Jonathan has become an expert in preparing many variations on a theme, so we’ve called it ‘pavnova’.  Combine (in whatever quantities seem appropriate), plain yoghurt, extra thick double cream, crushed meringue and fruit (eg raspberries, blueberries, blackberries).  Another variation is cranachan (nova-style): based on the Scottish dessert, it’s the same as for pavnova, except using oats instead of meringue, adding sugar to taste and garnishing with flaked almonds.  Oh, and you can add a splash of whisky to the cream & yoghurt mixture.

Stewed apple & custard/cream/granola

Stewing a couple of cooking apples with a little sugar and cinnamon, and maybe some raisins, makes a quick and easy dessert.  It can be served with custard or cream, and is nice with some granola sprinkled on top.

Almond surprise cakes

This is a nova invention – thanks to Caroline R.  Make a batter from 2 eggs whisked until fluffy with a couple of tablespoons of sugar, then add ground almonds until the batter is a thick dropping consistency.  I use silicon cup cake cases sitting in a cake tin to keep them steady – spoon a small amount of mixture into each case, add a spoonful of jam or marmalade on top, then add more mixture on top.  Cook in the oven as hot as you can get it (about 180 degrees in our case) until the cakes are slightly brown on top and they are cooked through (test with a knife – it should come out clean).