Book Review: Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking

When you think of backyard BBQ by the pool, what typically comes to mind? Burgers, hot dogs and if you’re going gourmet, maybe some chicken, fish or steak. How about if you’re boating all day, what ends up in your cooler? Chances are it is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some fruit, and maybe a juice box or two. Can you do gourmet cooking on the back of a boat? With a little bit of prep and the book Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking you can be eating in style with creative, fun and easy to prepare dishes.

Why a cookbook review on a wine blog? Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking is written by two local Spokane writers, Bonnie Clark and William Maltese, AND the majority of the recipes in the book feature wine pairings! I love this concept and would love to see more cookbooks move this direction (even if just generic varietal suggestions). Bonnie and her husband Bruce are avid boaters. While their gourmet adventures started quite modestly with sandwiches and chips, Bruce and Bonnie quickly learned that with the use of small hibachi grill (gas or propane), a few essential tools and some basic ingredients, there was more to the world of weekend cuisine than weenies and burgers.  William, Bonnie’s cousin, avid boater and accomplished author of over 200 books eloquently states in the prologue:

“Of course, for those of you who don’t own a boat, large or small, probably never will, or don’t really ever want to, there’s nothing here that you can’t whip up just as easily on solid ground, whether or not at a back yard barbecue, or on a picnic, or just while camping out.”

Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking is laid out like a typical cookbook with thought out categories including Starters and Snacks, Eggs, Salads, Fish and Seafood, Pasta (yes on a boat), Pizza and even Dessert. Each of Bonnie’s tried and true recipes provides the ingredient list along with sections that outline any prep that needs to be done “at home” and how to prepare “on the boat.” As I thumbed through the 100+ recipes, I couldn’t help but notice how simple yet flavorful most of the meals seemed to be. It was also exciting to see many Spokane wines featured as the suggested wine pairing.

Curious, I decided to put a recipe to the test. While I’m not a boat owner, I’m always looking for new barbecue creations. My eyes landed on page 80, “Inside out Blue Cheese Buffalo Burgers”

  • 1 ½ pound of ground beef or buffalo
  • 4 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup French’s French Fried Onions
  • 3-4 pepperoncinis, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of wine or water
  • Jalapeno Focaccia bread

While Bonnie and William explain in more detail about grilling and cooking (with a few side notes as well), the basics are you mash all the ingredients together (except the bread) and form patties to cook (see pictures). A few minutes on each side the grill and some condiments and you’re eating a gourmet burger. For boating / camping purposes, you would pre-make and refrigerate the patties to cut down on prep time. The suggested wine pairings were three locals Grande Ronde Cellars “Cellar Red”, Whitestone Winery Lake Roosevelt Red, and Townshend Cellars Malbec. Each of these are great wines but we paired it with a 2005 Nodland Cellars Red Blend. The result, a delectable gourmet burger!

Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking is a must have for any person or family that enjoys camping, boating or is in need of some quick fun and tasty barbecue recipes. The book is available on and locally at Aunties Bookstore (currently order only), at a suggested retail of $14.99.

Win a Gourmet Basket and More

Bonnie and William have a limited number of books available locally that they will sell for $12 to anyone contacting them and mentioning this review (contact info below)

Email Bonnie at or William at

One lucky person will win a gourmet basket that includes the following:

  • Signed copy of Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking
  • All ingredients to make the recipe Strawberries Dipped in Xocai Chocolate Fondue
  • Extra Xocai (pronounced “show*sigh”) Chocolate
  • Bottle of recommended wine – Latah Creek Muscat Cannelli

*Due to availability winner must able to pick up prize in Spokane

Here is how you enter to win:

Go to and become their fan. Leave a comment here indicating that you did. That’s it. Contest goes for 1 week. One lucky winner will be cooking poolside (or on the boat, campsite, etc) in no time!

Bon Appetit and Drink Happy!


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

28 comments on “Book Review: Back of the Boat Gourmet Cooking

  1. Mike Supple

    Nice review – sounds like a pretty tasty burger too! I prefer putting the blue cheese in a little pocket in the middle of the burger rather than mashing it throughout. That way you have an oozing, hot liquid blue cheese center with every bite. Of course I may be more of a blue cheese fan than the average person…


    1. drinknectar

      Mike, I’m a big fan of blue cheese too and that sounds like a great alternative. Personally I loved the addition of the fried onions and pepperoncinis in this burger.



  2. Tamara Belgard

    Yummers! Looks like really simple, gourmet good food, can’t have enough good idead for that! Nice local support, as always.

    1. drinknectar

      Maybe if support enough locals they’ll support me when the time is right…haha…actually all the locals have been super cool with their support.

      Cheers! Josh

  3. Bonnie Clark


    I make them that way too. Delis! For the boat, the idea is to not have to stand over the grill in the hot sun. By mixing, lightly, the cheese crumbles with the meat, they are not as thick as two patties and therefore grill faster. Same great oozy Bleu Cheese pockets!

  4. Bonnie Clark

    Thanks, Josh, for the great review! Glad you like the In and Out Burgers! One of our favs, year round. One recipe I know you will love is the Wine Sorbet! Hope you get a chance to try it. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, just put it in a shallow pan and pop it in the freezer. Great summer cooler.
    Thank again! Bonnie

    1. drinknectar

      Bonnie – the book is fun and easy to use. A bargain at $15…contains some great standby recipes as well as some new things to make boating, camping, barbecue more delicious!

  5. Ben Simons

    I love cookbooks with wine pairings, and I love it even more that this book pairs local wines from the area. Great idea! And those burgers look in-freakin’-credible.

    1. drinknectar

      I’m not an avid cookbook reader, but I really don’t recall many having wine pairings.

      P.S. the burgers were amazing…next time I’m adding more pepperoncinis

  6. Kerri York

    What a great cookbook! It’s given me some new food for thought when we go camping. Thanks for the review.

  7. Deb McFarlane

    I sure love boating. This book is perfect for that.

  8. Sandy Knapp

    Done! Liked it. Shared it. Sent it to my friends!!

  9. Cecile Charles

    I ordered the book some time ago still has not come but I love the adorable Bonnie and the oh so charming William and can’t wait to get the book! The idea of wine pairings spelled out is such a great idea!

    1. drinknectar

      Everyone is entered to win…I’ll draw a name soon. Winner will be announced through email and Facebook!

  10. William Maltese

    Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be fair actually to have co-authored the book and expect to be included in the drawing as well … Too bad, because I’ve seen the basket and was kind of hoping no one would check in so I could persuade Bonnie and Josh to hand it over to me. Alas, it does look as if that ain’t going to happen.

    So, I’ll just thank everyone for participating, and thank Josh for saying nice things about the book and presenting the basket idea to his wider and getting wider readership (has to do with numbers not with waist-lines, by the way).

    Stay hungry (and thirsty)!

  11. jan smith

    Sounds like a book that is filled with easy-to-follow directions, photos, wine-pairings…what more could you ask for? I love blue cheese and pepperoncini with lean ground beef! I can’t wait to give it a try.

  12. Bill Baker

    I’m a yak’er … sort of a boater … enjoy good food and of coarse, wine!

  13. Gary

    …what else goes great with fun, family, friends, and wine ….. food of course, and this book looks to be a hit!!

  14. sonja Sharp

    Looks like a wonderful cookbook & will look forward to trying something new @ our next gathering =-)

  15. Brian

    I miss my boat… Sadly she was doomed by a jerk head kid in a ford focus who thought driving like a madman at midnight to show off for his girlfriend was cool.

    He was wrong though, especially after driving said ford focus into my boat which happened to be parked in front of my house.

    Boo bad drivers!

    Those burgers sound legit! I’ll be following this recipe very soon!


    1. drinknectar

      Brian – I’m so sorry to hear that. No insurance? And yes…the burgers were legit!

  16. Mike

    Loved these burgers!! Made them last night, and will deffiently be having them again soon!! Can’t wait to try some of the other recipe’s out of the book!

    1. drinknectar

      I’m going to add more pepperoncinis next time and I could see adding jalepenos too!

  17. Lisa

    What a great concept for a cookbook! I would LOVE to add this one to my collection and step-up my boating menu!
    Loves To Cook Sea-Ray Owner

    1. drinknectar

      Well, Lisa – I’ve got you entered in the contest…Good luck!

  18. Kristen Silver

    This burger sounds killer! Can’t wait to try it and to learn more about the book. It’s always nice to have such a great idea come out of little old Spokane!!!

  19. carol figura

    can’t get on the boat but sure would be happy to donate it to an upcoming auction for military personnel with PTSD….i am sure one of them would enjoy it.

  20. Shelley Hepler

    Boating, grilling, bleu cheese, wine! What could be better? The cookbook looks amazing. Thanks!



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