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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Birthday Feast Part II

Here is part two of my birthday supper from last week.

Brussels Sprout with Calabrase and Lemon

For my veggie side dish I wanted to cook something I had not done before. I have only prepared Brussels sprout a couple of times and thus an original dish was easy to accomplish. I scanned a few online recipes for inspiration and after seeing that bacon and vinegar were usual accompaniments I used those same flavors. I did not have bacon in the house but I did have a spicy Italian calbrase salami, and I though lemon zest and juice would be a nice change instead of vinegar as a way to provide acid to the dish. Plus I figured the lemon flavor would pair nicely with the fish. In addition, the calabrase, with the chili flakes would add an element of heat and savory unlike just bacon. The dish turned out to be a real winner! Here is how I put it together:

1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved

Boil the sprouts in a little salted water for about 5 minutes

In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a medium saute pan of medium-high heat, and add:
- 1/2 an onion, minced
- 2 ounces of Calabrase (or other dry salami), julienne

Cook until the onions are tender and add the par-cooked Brussels sprouts. Saute for a couple of minutes so the Brussels sprouts pick up some color. Then add the juice and zest of half a lemon.
Season with a little kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Pan Roasted Cod Fillets

The fish entree was really quite simple. I bought a nice thick, 1lb piece of cod loin and cut it into 4 equally sized pieces.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbsp of Oil and 2 Tbsp butter.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, and press into panko crumbs.

Add the fish to the hot skillet and cook on one side for 3-4 minutes, until browned and then flip. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and another small pat of butter. Add the pan to a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Weekend Feast I

Yesterday was my birthday, and this past weekend I cooked up a couple good scoffs. Sunday I went with traditional, comforting meat and potatoes, but on Saturday I attempted two new dishes. The first was a cheddar cheese risotto, inspired by Nigela Lawson and the second was a Brussels sprout side dish I came up with. The veg and starch were paired with some panko crusted and roasted cod fillets.

Here is how it looked and how I put it all together.

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 fat green onions, finely sliced (white parts only)
1/2 a medium white onion, diced fine
1/2 a stalk of celery, sliced fine
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups hot chicken stock
1 cup chopped cheddar cheese (I used a combination of extra sharp and garlic and herb cheddar by Cabot of Vermont)
2-3 tablespoons minced chives

Melt the butter and oil in a deep skillet and cook the onion, green onion and celery over medium heat until soft...about 5-6 minutes. In the meantime pour the stock in a sauce pan and bring it up to temperature.

Add the rice and stir/cook with the vegetables for a couple of minutes so each grain is kissed with the oil, then crank up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed and the alcohol evaporates. Reduce the heat.

Begin ladling in the hot stock, letting all the liquid become absorbed as you stir before adding the next one. Keep the rice at a gentle simmer.

Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente (has a little bite), about 20 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts. Taste for seasoning.

Remove the pan from the heat, still stirring as you do, and then serve onto warmed plates, and garnish with the chopped chives.

next time....Brussels Sprouts with Calabrase, and pan roasted cod

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Growing up in rural Newfoundland, I didn't eat a lot of squash. In fact, I didn't eat any squash or a lot of "exotic" vegetables. Our vegetable intake consisted of what was grown locally (potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, cabbage, beets, turnip greens), cans (peas, tomatoes and corn), frozen (broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, spinach) and what the local grocery had (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes wrapped in cellophane and green peppers). Nowadays, markets all over Newfoundland carry the same produce as you would find in any market here in New England, bok choy and lemon grass included. I bet there are also many Newfoundlander's who grow there own variety of squashes. I myself grow butternut squash and the availability of this variety at local farmer stands has become one of my new favorite things about fall. So far this season I must have made three pots of butternut squash soup. In the past I've simply simmered the raw squash in chicken stock as a way to start the soup, but now I pre-roast the squash. The difference is noticeable and am I sold on this method. The squash develops much more flavor and gets slightly carmelized around its edges, which really adds depth to the final product.

For my version of this classic soup, I keep it fairly simple. I cut the squash in half and roast it. I saute an onion and a little garlic, add the cooked squash, top it off with chicken stock, and puree. Sometimes I add a splash of seasonal autumn beer, and I always add a few glugs of pure Massachusetts maple syrup. Seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with carmelized shallots and a sprinkle of freshly chopped herbs and you're all set! This makes a great first course for a weekend meal. Add a pan seared scallop to the mix and you have an elegant and more hearty lunch.

Here's how I put it all together.

Preheat your oven to 400 and drizzle a little olive on a baking sheet.
Cut 1 large (or 2 smaller) butternut squash in half and remove the seeds.
Lay cut side down on the oiled pan and roast until tender, about 45 minute to an hour.
Let cool until you can handle them and scoop out the pulp.

It is also a good idea to warp a few cloves of garlic in tin foil with a drop of oil, and toss it in the oven with the squash. After about 20-30 minutes you'll have wonderfully roasted garlic that will be mellow, sweet and flavorful...and a great addition to the soup.

While the squash is roasting, you can prep the base of the soup, which is carmelized onion.

In a Dutch Oven or pot, set over a medium heat, add:
- 2 Tbsp of butter
- 2 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (or the whites of two leeks, or a combination of the two)
Saute for a few minutes, and reduce heat to medium-low and let the onions/leeks develop some caramalization.

Before adding the scooped out squash pulp, increase the heat to medium high and deglaze the pot with a half a cup of ale (beer). I used a Sam Adams Oktoberfest which contains some fall spices. A pumpkin ale would also be great. If you don't have those use a brown/red ale, or just use chicken stock.

Add the pulp and a couple of cloves of roasted garlic and then add enough chicken stock to just cover the squash, about 4 cups.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Use a hand wand mixer to puree the soup until it is smooth (you can do it in batches in a blender if you do not have one). Add an additional 2 cups of chicken stock and about a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup and some carmelized onions or shallots, along with some chopped herbs. I like parsley and/or chives.

Soups up!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sausage, Peppers and Penne

A Wicked Scoff has been on the road quite a bit recently, as I have been all over New England for my archaeological consulting work. While the weather, hiking and fall scenery was awesome, I am glad to be home again, cooking my own meals. I did however have many good scoffs at restaurants, pizza dives and diners in various towns, eating many bowls of clam chowder and oven toasted grinders (aka subs or hoagies), as well as some really good Thai food, an incredible grass fed organic black angus burger, farm raised elk, and too many grilled Reuben sandwiches to count. Some of the best places I ate was the Common Man's "Boiler Room" in Plymouth New Hampshire and the Black Door in Montpelier Vermont.

This weekend I will be cooking up a storm of my own, and have some new favorites dishes to share, notably a roasted butternut squash soup with caramelized shallots and a splash of Octoberfest beer. In the meantime, here is a quick and simple recipe for one of my all time favorite pasta dishes which I often make during the work week. Make sure to make enough for leftovers to bring to work.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Penne

For this meal, I use hot Italian sausage, but you can use sweet sausage just the same. I like red bell peppers for this, but it is fine to use any colour of bell pepper, green, red, orange or yellow. The same holds true for the pasta, use whatever you have. Penne is classic for sausage and peppers, so that's what I like (I use a multigrain). Other than that, some olive oil, garlic, red onion, fresh parsley, and real Parmesan cheese are all the ingredients you'll need. Pretty simple.

To begin, bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a deep skillet, preferably one with a lid.
Add 1 pound of sausage , cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remover the lid and continue to simmer until the water has evaporated. Continue to cook the sausage until browned on all sides. Be sure not to poke, prod and pierce the sausage. Let the fat, flavour and juices remain inside where they belong. Once the sausages have browned nicely, set aside in a warm oven while the onions, garlic and peppers cook.

While the sausages are cooking, prepare your vegetables and get a large pot of salted water on the boil. Follow package directions for the pasta and cook until al dente.

For the veggies, thinly slice
- 1 large red onion, halved and sliced
- 2 large/3 medium red bell peppers

Once the sausage is cooked, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and set heat to medium high
Saute the onions and peppers until tender and slightly caramelized...about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced/smashed
- 1 tsp of dried oregano or Italian seasoning

Cook for a couple of minutes and return sausage to the skillet. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the skillet.

Add a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.
Plate the pasta, and two sausages per serving.
Grate a healthy portion of Parmesan cheese over the plate a,d add more freshly ground pepper.

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