A Wicked Scoff...Recipes and Food with Newfoundland and New England Influences.

This blog is dedicated to bring recipes, photographs, anecdotes, reviews and other insights on everything food related. As the name suggests, "A Wicked Scoff" will have a regional flare, a fusion if you will, of both Newfoundland and New England perspectives of the culinary world around me. Thanks for visiting and please come back often as updates will be frequent. Oh yeah, I also like tasting and cooking with regional beers. Expect a beer of the month, often paired with recipes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back from Newfoundland...Bison Bolognese

The Wicked Newfoundlander has returned from "The Rock" and many a wicked scoffs were had. The culinary highlights included two outstanding trips to Bacalao (http://www.bacalaocuisine.ca/) in St. John's (once for brunch and once for dinner), excellent fish and chips out around the bay at CJ's (formerly Taylor's) in Green's Harbour, freshly caught Atlantic salmon on the grill (caught by my father-in-law, under the guidance of my uncle on the Exploits) , seafood chowder with cod, scallops, salmon, shrimp and clams....and of course fresh pan fried cod, tongues and cheeks cooked just hours after it came out of the water. It was a wicked feed!

While I'll write more and post some pictures of some of the events of the vacation, for now I'll post a recipe for Bison Bolognese that I whipped up the other night after returning home. The house was mostly void of veggies but I did have the staples of onion, carrot, celery and garlic on hand, as well as a vacuum pack of fresh North Dakota ground bison.

A bolognese sauce (from the Bologna region of Italy) is a meaty(usually beef) ragu sauce served over pasta, made with onion, celery and carrot, a surprisingly small amount of tomato, a drop of white wine, and sometimes finshed with a little milk or cream. While my version is not 100% authentic, it is most definately a ragu made in the spirit of a bolognese sauce.

Even though this dish does not contain bolonga (aka Newfie steak) I think it will appeal to Newfoundlander's and New Englander's because it is a great recipe to incorporate game into your diet. While I have used farm raised bison, which is very lean and flavorful, ground moose, caribou or venison would be excellent in this dish. The dish starts with a trinity of aromatics, onion, celery and carrot ( called a mirepoix) that is common in cuisine all over. While this ragu is Italian, a mirepoix is a common base for many Newfoundland and New England soups and stews.

Bison Bolognese

In a deep skillet (preferably one with a lid), saute until tender over a medium heat

- 1/2 a yellow onion, minced
- 1/2 a red onion, minced
- 1 large rib celery, minced
- 2 carrots, diced small

in 2 TBSP olive oil

While these aromatics are cooking, prepare
- 1/2 a red bell pepper, minced
- 3 cloves, minced or crushed
- 2 plum tomatoes (or 1 larger tomato), diced

Once the aromatics are soft, push them to the sides of the pan leaving an opening in the middle. Increase the heat to medium high. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil and add 1 pound of the ground bison (or meat of choice) and let it stay there for a minute or two so it gets some colour and carmalization. With a wooden spoon, break the meat apart, add the garlic, pepper and tomato, and mix well.

At this time I like to season the pot with a little kosher salt and black pepper, 2 TBSP of Worcestershire Sauce, and 2 TBSP of red wine (next time I think I will try some Newfoundland partridgeberry or blueberry wine!) to deglaze the pan, followed by 1 large can of crushed tomatoes. Add 1 Tbsp of dry Italian herb seasoning, and if you like some heat (like I do) add some crushed red chili flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for one hour. Taste for seasonings (salt and pepper) and add chopped fresh parsley for colour and freshness. Serve over a long, thin pasta like spaghetti (I use a multigrain) and top with some freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a hard and salty Italian cheese. If you don't have it use Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which you should have in your fridge at all times in my mind...lol.

This dish was even better the next day when I had it for dinner again. I actually had it for dinner three times total last week and once for lunch. I can't wait to make it again! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vacation in Newfoundland

A Wicked Scoff is going on vacation...back home to Newfoundland.

I apologize for not updating the blog in a few days, but this past week has been hectic with long days at work before my vacation.

Anyways, I'm off in a couple of hours and will be in the sin city tonight. Over the next week I plan on cooking many Newfoundland treats, as well as sampling my share of local cusine at restaurants around the Avalon peninsula. I have a reservation for brunch tomorrow at Bacalou, and I am quite excited about it. Other spots along the way will be Nautical Nellies, Swiss Chalet and a few fish and chips spots too.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cod Chowder

Chowder, or "chowda!" as you will hear it called in much of New England, is the ultimate east coast comfort food. While the classic New England chowder may be clam chowder, seafood chowders made with a single white fish such as cod or haddock, or paired with salmon, shrimp and/or scallops are also very popular. In Newfoundland clam chowder is not traditional. A great seafood chowder you may find in a restaurant in St. John's might feature cod, salmon and Newfoundland cold water shrimp.

This blog features a chowder I made the other night after work. It did not take a long time to pull together and the taste was just right. Some other chowders I make are more of a process as I often like to make a fish stock with fresh codfish heads. Since this was the middle of the week, I added a can of clams with their juice to bulk up the fish flavor. The chowder is cod based and I used about 2 lbs of fillets, with additions of onion, celery, potatoes and Newfoundland summer savory. For the dairy, I used a combination of heavy cream, butter and canned milk (evaporated 2%). To give the chowder some extra body and thickness, I added some slurry made with milk and flour.

Cod Chowder

In a large heavy bottomed pot, saute over a medium heat

4 ounces of either salt pork or bacon, diced. Render out the fat and reserve the pork fat/bacon for later, some will go in the chowder and some will act as a garnish. I used a salted pork belly.

In the rendered fat, saute until tender, but not browned.

1 large onion, chopped fine
4 ribs celery, sliced fine
1,2 tsp freshly ground pepper

While onions and celery are cooking, peel 4 medium potatoes.

Take 2 of the spuds and half them, and slice as thin as possible. Add to the onions and celery. These potatoes will break down and add flavor and thickness to the chowder.

Cut the other 2 potatoes into small cubes, and add once the onions and celery are soft.

Add 6 cups of hot water, and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Cut the cod into 5 or 6 pieces and poach the fish in the pot for 4-5 minutes. Carefully remove the cod and reserve for later. Now add one small can of clams with juice, and tsp of dried summer savory.

Add 3 Tbsp butter, 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of 2% evaporated milk. Bring the chowder to a simmer.

To thicken the mix, combine 4-5 Tbsp of all purpose flour with enough evaporated milk to make a slurry. Be sure to mix it well with a fork to remove any lumps. If you add the liquid slowly to the flour while you stir vigorously, lumps should not be a problem.

Cook over a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the chowder has thickened nicely and the potatoes have softened. Return half the pork scrunchins/bacon and the cod to the pot and mix gently to break up the fish pieces. Taste for seasoning. I add extra black pepper, sea salt, Old Bay seasoning and Lawry's seasoned salt.

Once fish as heated through, just a couple of minutes, serve in bowls with crackers and a few pieces of the fried pork scrunchins/bacon bits


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer is here.

Last weekend I officially kicked off summer with three days of fun, food and relaxation around the July 4th holiday. There were good eats, many games of tennis, croquet and bocce ball, and a nice selection of cold beers to wash it all down during a glorious streak of sunny weather.

As expected for such a long weekend, much of our time was spent outside, either pool side, on the lawn or for me, next to the grill. One night I made a traditional New England 4th of July meal, salmon (grilled with olive oil, Old Bay and fresh lemon juice and chives) with new peas from the garden and new potatoes, for the 4th itself there were classic burgers and hot dogs, and finally on the last day of the weekend I grilled up some pepper crusted steak and veggie kabobs, featuring de-boned and cubed T-Bone steaks, sweet vidalia onion, green and red pepper. With all that eating its a good thing I'm part of an active family who are game for 4 hours of bike riding and playing tennis each day on the weekend. Top that off with walking 9 holes on the golf course on a Saturday afternoon and a man works up quite an appetite. Especially when the golf bag is weighed down with a 6 pack of beer! Speaking of which, this blog entry will introduce to the next "Beer of the Month", which will actually stretch into the "Wicked Scoff Beer of the Summer". It's that good and that refreshing that it will take us right up until Labor Day!

Beer of the Summer

I really enjoy many of the vast array of beers offered by The Boston Beer Company, simply known as Samuel Adams out of Boston, Massachusetts (http://www.samueladams.com/Default.aspx). Once upon a time, but no longer a micro-brew (they like to call themselves a craft brewery), the award winning (most awards of any beer in the world) Samuel Adams pride themselves on big, bold complex flavors and not shying away from their use of hops. Their signature Boston Lager and Sam Adams Lite are excellent beers. The Lite may be the most flavourful, well balanced "light" beer money can buy. Samuel Adams also offer numerous other styles of beers, 17 to be exact, many of which are only available seasonally. For instance there is an Autumn brew, and Winter ale, and this, a Summer Ale. That's the one I'll focus on here, Samuel Adams Summer Ale (aka Sam Summer).

Sam Summer is a wheat ale, brewed with lemon zest and a rare and ancient pepper called paradise. With hints of tropical fruits like peach and mango, Sam Summer is that perfect summer beer, that actually tastes like beer. It is well balanced, fruiting and most importantly tasty and thirst quenching. I know I'll be drinking my share of these this summer...I hope you can have one too!
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