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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Turkey Burgers

Grilling season is officially here! With Canada Day being tomorrow and the 4th of July being celebrated here in the US this weekend, I know I'll be firing up my grill more than a few times over the next few days. For me, the best grilled food to have around holidays such as these are burgers. Burgers are great when you are entertaining and do not want to be fussing too much on what to serve. They are easy to eat while enjoying the sunshine and holding a cold refreshment in your other hand. Above all else though, these taste friggin great! A good burger, can beat almost any meal. With tasty, fresh toppings, great cheese and bread, and you have one of the perfect foods.

While I plan to post many burger creations on this blog, I wanted to start with one of my favorites, and probably one many of you have never tried making...turkey burgers. I never had turkey burgers growing up, and in fact, only started making them a couple of years ago. These days ground turkey is readily available at markets (variety of leanness ratios too), and for me it's a great way to inject healthy variety into my menu and also cut back on my red meat intake. The turkey burger recipe I offer hear has a little kick to it. For the cheese I use a pepperjack cheese (Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno) paired with grilled poblano peppers and some salsa verde (a salsa made with tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and cilantro). Finally, I season the turkey with my homemade southwest rub/seasoning that I always have close at hand.

Southwest Turkey Burgers

2 lbs of ground turkey (93% lean is what I use)
1 Tbsp of Southwest seasoning (see earlier post)
1 Tbsp of olive oil
2 Tbsp of dry bread crumbs

Combine, but don't over mix the above ingredients. Divide into 4 half pound patties (more if you want smaller burgers). Try to form the patties so they are thinner at the center, as this will help the burger cook evenly and prevent it from swelling into a giant meatball on the grill. Season the outsides of the burgers with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lay burgers on a hot grill, and close the lid. Cook on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Don't mess with the burgers until they release themselves from the grill. Once one side is nicely seared, flip to a previously unused part of the grill. Continue to cook for 3 minutes and then top with slices of your pepperjack cheese and close the cover so that the cheese melts. With a minute left, split and toast your rolls. I like to use a white Italian roll I get from a local bakery here near Albany, NY. Remove the burgers and go ahead and dress your bun while the patty rests for a couple of minutes.

As I mentioned above, I like to add salsa verde to the bottom, with a few dashes of good Mexican style hot sauce (Choula), next adding the cheese covered patty, followed by some thickly sliced, grilled (and peeled) poblano peppers.

Paired with a cold beer, this burger will be sure to satisfy your appetite this summer. I try and make turkey burgers of one form or another at least 2-3 times a month, as a quick workday supper that is inexpensive, healthy and quite tasty.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Salad with Creamy Gorganzola Dressing

I was never a fan of salad. Growing up "around the bay" in a small Newfoundland town, we ate mostly meat and potato type meals. Salads consisted of only a couple of options. In summer, there was the BBQ pork chop accompaniment of a iceberg lettuce, tomato, cubed mild cheddar and chopped ham salad with Catalina dressing. If you were lucky there may have been cucumber and green pepper too. Other than that, salads consisted of the traditional Sunday "cold plate", made up of potato salad, mustard potato salad, beet potato salad (yes there is a theme here), maybe a macaroni salad or a jello salad (barf), a piece of iceberg lettuce, a slice or two of tomato, a piece of deli ham and turkey roll (barf again), a piece of cold roast beef, a spoonful of savory dressing (stuffing) and more of the zingy Catalina dressing. That's it, the classic Newfoundland cold plate which can be had at many a wedding reception, Lion's Club banquet or high school graduation anytime anywhere.

Since those days, I have grown out of being a picky eater, and have come to embrace the dreaded salad. I eat a green salad 3-4 or more times a week now. It's a great way to start a meal and get a healthy dose of veggies in me. I keep lots of fresh greens and produce on hand, plus good olive oil and vinegars for homemade vinaigrette, plus good cheese and other salad toppers like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, black beans, salsa verde, pepperinchinos and olives. With a stash of these things you never have to have the same salad twice in a couple of weeks. Here is my recipe for a high protein high flavor salad that makes a great work day meal. I always have boneless skinless chicken breasts on hand so figuring how to eat healthy and quickly in the middle of the week is not a hassle.

When I get home from work, I whip up the quick marinade below, add 3-4 chicken breasts, and go walk the dog or go to the gym. When I get back, they're ready to go. I always make a few extra for a great sandwich for the next day.

Buffalo Grilled Chicken
At least 1 hour before grilling, marinate boneless skinless chicken breasts in a large bowl or zip bag with the following:
the juice and zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
2 Tbsp of Southwest seasoning (or make your own as i do)

Southwest Rub/Seasoning
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano (Mexican if you can get it)
1/2 tsp each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your grill, and cook the chicken breasts until cooked through (160 internal temperature)..about 8-10 minutes. I like to baste the chicken with a good hot sauce (e.g. Dave's, Frank's) for the last minute. remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

While the chicken is cooking, whip up the dressing and prep your favorite veggies.

For this, I used romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion slices, cucumber, and red bell pepper. I top the salad with the sliced chicken, the creamy dressing and some more crumbled Gorgonzola and fresh cracked black pepper.

Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
juice and zest of one lime
1 clove of garlic, minced
A few dashes of Tabasco
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp of ancho chili powder
fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of kosher salt

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Berry Good Squares

I've never claimed to be much of a baker, or any kind of dessert maker really. I do like to make breads and pizza dough and such, but as for the baking at our house, my wife takes the reins. She's really good at it, and enjoys the process of following a recipe precisely, as is required for most baking recipes. My cooking method is more off the cuff and eyeball, so I think I'd have trouble coming up with my own baking dishes from scratch. Nevertheless, I recently tried my hand at making one of, if not my favorite sweet treat...Partridgeberry Squares.

For those of you who are not aware of what a partridgeberry is, this low bush growing tart berry is also referred to as a lingdonberry. If you've been to an Ikea, you may have been introduced to lingdonberries. They are similar in taste (i.e. tartness), colour (more purple/burgundy than red) and shape to cranberries, and I'm sure cranberries would be an excellent substitution in this recipe.

My mother often made Partridgeberry Squares for me when I was younger. I would request them, and in short order, I'd have them. With a tall glass of cold milk, and 2 or 3 of these wonderfully delicious tart crumbly squares, and I was in heaven. Last week I stumbled upon two small jars of Partridgeberry jam in my pantry, and I decided I was going to make these awesome treats. It could not have been easier to make. In fact, it was so easy, and I ate them so fast, I made a second batch using Maine blueberries (the low bush kind like in Newfoundland) for a Sunday night dessert.

Here it is.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease an 8 inch square pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, add

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), chilled

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly (you may pulse in a food processor, but be sure to save the oats until the very end as to not disintegrate them)

Press half the mixture into the bottom of the 8 inch pan, spread with 1 1/2 cups of Partridgeberry jam (I also used Blueberry Jam with a little lemon juice and lemon zest), and top with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is light golden brown.

Let cool completely and cut into squares.

Enjoy as a snack or top with ice cream to make a great dessert!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jiggs Dinner and New England Boiled Dinner...Part II

As promised...here it is, my version of Jiggs Dinner and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Since I love roasted meat and gravy, I always include it when I make this meal. This past weekend it was a whole roasted chicken, minus the stuffing (I had a lot going on, plus I ran out of savory at my in laws house). I trussed the chicken, seasoned it entirely with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it uncovered with one chopped onion for about 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, basting every 10 minutes for the last 30 minutes of cooking. At the end I sprinkled a little fresh rosemary from my herb garden. Besides the wonderful taste of the roasted meat, and the bonus of rich tasty gravy, the addition of a roast allows the corned beef to go farther, thus leaving some for leftovers.

With that being said I also cooked a corned beef brisket (flat cut). I purchased a 4 lb brisket and cooked it on a low simmer for 3 hours. I place the corned beef in a large stock pot and cover it with water. I watch it for the first 10 minutes or so to get the simmer just right. A rolling boil will not do any kindness to the corned beef. Low and slow is the way to go for this cut of meat. Once I had it just right, I went off for a 90 minute bike ride and came back in time to pop the chicken in the oven and start my veggies.

While I often make pease pudding (yellow split peas are easy to find here, and I have a couple of pudding bags), I opted out this time. My loss I know! What I did do was cook rutabaga for a mashed rutabaga side dish, carrots, new baby white and red potatoes, cabbage, and some onions. When my mom makes Sunday Dinner, she has a time chart of when everything goes in the pot as for it all to be ready at the same time. This method is so affective that even my father is able to cook this meal from start to finish all by himself, as long as he follows the directions EXACTLY. He is culinaryly challenged to say the least! For me however, I do things a little differently. I don't enjoy the "rush" of having everything ready at the same time. I like to get the turnip/rutabaga done a bit early so I can get em mashed up and put aside in a covered casserole dish. I also like to get the roast/chicken done a bit early so: A) I can turn the oven to low; B) I can let the meat rest before slicing; and C) so I can spend quality time making some really good gravy. Not only does cooking a few things early cause less mayhem at the end, it also assures that your veggies don't get horribly overcooked and fall apart. Here's how I do the veggies and gravy, one by one:

Mashed Turnip/Rutabaga

For the rutabaga, I cook them in a second stock pot. I add some tap water and a number of ladle fulls of the stock from the corned beef. To prep the rutabaga, using a heavy chefs knife I cut it in half, and then lay each half on the flat side and cut 1/2 inch thick half moon shaped slices. I then peel on the rind and that's it. I drop the rutabaga in the pot, bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer. At this time, I also add two yellow onions, peeled and halved. The onions makes a nice addition to the meal.

The rutabagas will take some time, up to 30 minutes. Check then regularly with a fork until done. I add them to a casserole dish, with a tsp of fresh cracked black pepper, 2 Tbsp of butter, and mash them until well incorporated. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Then top with fresh parsley.

Potatoes and Carrots

This is the easiest part of the meal. For the carrots I just peel'em, cut them in half, and cut the thick part in half again, so they are all about the same size. For the new baby potatoes, I just give them a wash under cold water. The carrots and spuds get added to the pot of turnip/rutabaga and will take about 20 minutes. Check them with a fork and once tender, put them on a platter and keep in the warm oven.


Well maybe the cabbage is the easiest part. All you have to do is quarter it and give it a wash. I cook it directly with the corned beef. The New England recipes seem to call for a quick 10 minute cooking time, while I've seen recipes for Jigs where the cabbage is the first vegetable added. I like to go in between, and give the cabbage about 25 minutes, so it is tender, but not falling apart too much.

Chicken and Gravy

As I already mentioned, it's a good idea to have the chicken finished a bit early. Once it is done (use a thermometer if you are not sure...160 in the breast, 175 in the thigh) and transfer to a platter, and keep warm in the oven. The rich chicken drippings, and the chopped onion make a great base. I add 4-5 cups of pot liquor (stock) from the corned beef and some water or canned chicken broth, depending on how much I need to make. I place the roasting pan on the stove top over a medium-high heat. Using a wooden spatula or whisk I scrape all the browned bits away from the pan, as this adds major flavor to the gravy. To thicken the gravy, I use a combination of flour and corn starch. I add 2 heaping Tbsp of each to a small mason jar and add a little water. Give it a good shake as to make it lump free and you have a "slurry" that will thicken your gravy. Once the gravy liquid is at a rolling boil, begin whisking in the slurry, until it reaches desired thickness. Reduce heat to low and add gravy browning to get the color right. Taste for salt and pepper. The key here is to let the gravy cook on low for about 10 minutes. This cooks off any of the raw flour taste and lets the flavors meld. and the thickness to get just right.
All in all this meal was a huge success. My in laws love it, and they're glad they have the opportunity to having such a feast on more than St. Patrick's Day. For me, this is a part of who I am. Jiggs Dinner or Sunday Dinner is a profound element of Newfoundland culture and food lore. This is my way of making a connection of where I come from through the food I eat, and a way to have one of my favorite meals a little more often.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jiggs Dinner/New England Boiled Dinner...Part I

This wouldn't be much of a blog on Newfoundland and New England cuisine if I didn't dedicate a couple of entries to Jiggs Dinner, New England Boiled Dinner or whatever it is you call your salty cured meat boiled along side a crop of winter vegetables. As promised in an earlier post, here it is, well Part I at least. For this post I'll talk a little about these classic regional dishes, notably the different names given to each, as well as the differences in their ingredients and preparation. Both dishes are a derivative of "Corned Beef and Cabbage", a dish associated with Ireland. While New England Boiled Dinner has not wavered much from the original, Newfoundland's version, faithfully called Jiggs Dinner, is a little more unique.

It is generally agreed these days that the name Jiggs Dinner, referring to the common Newfoundland meal of salt beef (or salt pork spare ribs), boiled vegetables and steamed pudding got its name from the popular comic strip "Bringing Up Father", which began back in the early 1900s. In that comic, the main character was an Irish lad named Jiggs, whose favorite meal was corned beef and cabbage. While the Newfoundland version does not have corned beef, but instead uses a fattier cut of trimmed naval beef (cured), the similarities were obviously close enough that the label of Jiggs Dinner stuck somewhere along the way and became entrenched in Newfoundland food lore.

Besides being called Jiggs Dinner, Newfoundlander's also call this dish consisting of slat meat, cabbage, potatoes, carrot, yellow turnip (actually rutabaga) turnip greens, and pudding (yellow split pea is most common, but a blueberry or figgy duff is also traditional), boiled dinner, and salt meat dinner. For my family, and like many other from across the province, this meal was often accompanied with a roasted piece of meat (chicken stuffed with savory and onion dressing, pork or beef) and served on Sunday's...every Sunday! Traditional condiments for the meal include mustard pickles and pickled beets. For this meal of the extra fresh meat and delicious gravy, the term Jiggs Dinners may be dropped and replaced by "cooked dinner" or "Sunday Dinner". Finally, it is quite important to cook plenty so there are ample leftovers for hash on Monday! Somewhere along the way in history, Newfoundland became associated with the fatty cut of trimmed naval beef we know as "salt meat" instead of the leaner and meatier corned beef. It probably had much to do with price and the relationship between what merchants made available to Newfoundland outport fisherman and also to what would last the longest in the brine. Most Newfoundlander's though do not seem to mind and are "salt beef junkies" through and through.

Moving south to New England, or "the Boston States" as often refereed to back in the day by Newfoundlanders and Maritimers alike, the traditional boiled dinner consists of corned beef (usually brisket, either a flat cut or point cut piece, but also a cut of round) and many of the same winter vegetables, notably cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnips and beets. What we don't see are the use of steamed puddings, roasted meat and gravy does not get paired with the meal, and a new range of condiments are used to accompany the meal.

Here is a comparison breakdown:
Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner .............. New England Boiled Dinner


Salt Beef (trimmed naval beef) .....................Corned Beef
or Salt Pork Spare Ribs ..................................(flat cut/point cut brisket/round)


Cabbage ..........................................................Cabbage
Potatoes (often blue spuds) .........................Potatoes
Carrot.............................................................. Carrot
Rutabaga .........................................................Turnip
Turnip (Rutabaga) Greens ...........................Parsnip
Onion ...............................................................Onion
...........................................................................Brussel Sprouts

Side Dishes

Pease Pudding (Yellow Split Peas)
Figgy Duff
Blueberry Duff
Bread Pudding
Potato Cakes with salt pork belly
Roast of chicken, pork or beef
Savory Dressing


Pickled Beets ....................................................Grainy Mustard
Mustard Pickles ...............................................Mustard Pickles
Gravy ................................................................Vinegar

So there it is, the differences between Jiggs Dinner and New England Boiled Dinner. This past Sunday I made my own version of these dishes, a bit of a fusion between the two. I have fallen in love with corned beef. While I've always loved the flavor salt beef put on this meal, I've always thought it to be too fatty and not meaty enough for my taste. Corned beef fits the bill and makes for some awesome hash, not to mention Reuben sandwiches.

Stay tuned as I'll be posting a write up of that delicious meal in the next day or two. Here's a picture to tide you over.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baked Scrod

Baked Scrod (aka Boston Baked Scrod) is one of the most classic New England seafood recipes, second only maybe to chowder. The dish is a staple in restaurants and diners all across the country and as the name suggests, its origins are traced back to old beantown restaurants.

What is scrod you might ask? Well this question garners some debate. Traditionally, the strict New England definition of scrod, was "a young cod, split down the back and backbone removed, except for a small portion of the tail". Although the word sounds an awful like like "cod", the origins of the word scrod probably comes from the Dutch word "scrood", piece cut off. So while purists will claim that true scrod is a small 1 to 2 pound cod, today, it has also come to mean haddock. With that being said, any fillet of cod, haddock, or even pollock may be referred to as "scrod" on a restaurant menu.

Whatever you call it, this recipe is a simple and delicious way to serve this wonderfully tasting and delicate fish. For Newfoundlander's I hope you try this recipe and add it to your repertoire of cod dishes. I've eaten cod a number of ways in Newfoundland, but I've never had it like this. I now make it all of the time and my friends and family request it often. The flavours are simple, work well together, and compliment the fish tremendously. The textures are also great with the moist, flaky fish aganist the crisp topping and rich lemon sauce. I'm actually able to get really good quality cod (Alaskan Cod, frozen at sea) here in western New England/upstate New York, with fillets often on sale for $5 or $6/lb, and thick loins for $8/lb. The same goes for haddock, which can often be had fresh.

Baked Scrod

2 1/2 lbs cod or haddock fillets, cut into 4 oz (1/4 lb) portions
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
2 lemons
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1 1/2 cups of dry bread crumbs (Panko if you can get them)
1/4 tsp of savory (you can substitute dill for a different flavor)
salt and pepper

In a skillet, saute the onion in oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter until soft but not browned.
In meantime preheat oven to 375 and cut fish into roughly 4 oz portions. 2 1/2 pounds will yield 8-10 pieces, enough for 4 people. Also combine the bread crumbs with the herbs, with a tsp pf melted butter.

Once onions are soft, add a dash of salt and pepper, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and the white wine. Continue to cook for a minute or so. Pour the oniony lemon goodness into a large casserole dish (or small individual baking dishes also work great) and top with the fish. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper and spoon with a little of the sauce. Put in the hot oven. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, remove and once again spoon the onion-lemon sauce over the fish. Increase oven temperature to 425, and top each fish portion with herb and butter bread crumbs. Bake for an additional 5 minutes until nicely browned.

To serve, plate the onion and lemon sauce and top with the fish. Squeeze with fresh lemon juice.

This dish makes a great appetizer (smaller portions), first course, or main dish when accompanied with a starch and a vegetable. I like it with steamed asparagus or broccoli and herb roasted potatoes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Heavenly Jam

I think everyone should have a rhubarb patch tucked in their garden. If you have had the luxury of having your own fresh supply of rhubarb year after year, you know what I'm talking about. Growing up we always had rhubarb, and with that, we always had rhubarb jam, or more specifically Heavenly Jam. Heavenly Jam is something I associate very strongly with my grandmother (Father's side), or nan as we say in Newfoundland, and luckily for me, her jam was something my mother was able to master, and now I enjoy making each spring.

While I only planted my first New England rhubarb patch this year (will have to wait two seasons until I can get a good harvest), I do have the luxury of buying rhubarb at local farmers markets and grocery stores. If you don't have your own rhubarb, hopefully you can find a market that sells it, or better yet, have a neighbour that is willing to share. If they do, promise them you'll give them a bottle of Heavenly Jam.

Heavenly Jam

Growing up, I thought Heavenly Jam was my Nan's special and secret creation. I didn't know anyone else who made jam like that. It was our family's signature recipe. With that being said however, I have since seen Nan's exact recipe published in local church cookbooks and the like between New England and Newfoundland. Not such a secret recipe after all, but a darn good one just the same.

Heavenly Jam, is a close relative to traditional strawberry rhubarb jam, and they taste quite similar There are some differences however. First, in place of real strawberries and fruit pectin, we add strawberry jelly powder....killing two birds with one stone if you will. Secondly, there is crushed pineapple in heavenly Jam...the "je ne sais quois" if you will!

This jam recipe is a cooked jam, that is meant to be stored in hot sterile jars. I submerge my jars, lids and rings in a large pot of boiling water and retrieve them with tongs as I fill my jars. I also have a large canning funnel which keeps the sides of the jars clean while filling.

In a large, heavy bottom pot, add
6 cups of rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 cups of white granulated sugar
1 large can of crushed pineapple

Cook on a medium-low heat and bring up to a slow simmer.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until rhubarb has broken down a bit and given off its juice.

Add and stir well:
1 large pack (2 small packs) of strawberry flavoured jelly (I use Jello)
Mix well, reduce heat to low and after a minute or two, your jam is ready to bottle.

Fill sterile jars to near the top, add the lid and the ring, and turn just until tight (do not fully tighten) Wipe off any excess. As the jars/jam cools, the jar will seal and the lid will pop down. After this, you can fully tighten the lids and store jam in a cool dark place, like you cellar.

This recipe makes about 5-6 pint sized jars of jam.

I enjoy this jam on many things, the best of which is on toasted homemade white bread, buttered cream crackers, toasted bacon and jam sandwiches (I kid you not!), in a pie or tart, or on vanilla ice cream. The list could go on. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beer Battered Onion Rings with Spicy Dip

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is onion rings. To utilize the beer of the month, India Beer, in a recipe, I wanted to share one of my favorites for deep fried, beer battered onion rings. These onion rings serve up crisp and lite, with a savory batter covering the tender sweet onions. I serve them up with a spicy chipotle chili-lime mayo.

My inspiration for these bad boys came from one of my favorite places to get "pub grub" in St. John's, Newfoundland...Greensleeves on George Street. In my opinion, Greensleeves serves up the best onion rings around, and I love their spice tossed chicken wings too. The onion rings there have a batter that is almost orange in color, a result of adding what I believe is their chicken wing seasoning to the batter. The flavor is unique, and to me, tastes like a combination of seasoned salt with a dash of curry powder. Here's my version.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

For deep frying, you will need either a deep fryer, or a deep, heavy bottomed pot with a thermometer. If using the latter, extra caution needs to be taken as the oil can overheat and ignite. Cook over a med to medium heat, and keep a watchful eye on your temperature. Never try this after getting home with a buzz on from the bar!

The Onions

Peel and remove the ends from two large Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion).
Slice onions into rings about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick, and separate the rings (save the tiny inner pieces for a later use)
Add the rings to a large bowl add soak in water or milk

Make the batter

The Batter

In a bowl, combine with a whisk:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp seasoned salt (such as Lawry's)
Dash of cayenne pepper
Whisk dry ingredients to incorporate well, and slowly add
about 1 cup of cold India Beer (or other lager beer)

My trick for proper thickness of the batter is to dip my fingers in, watch the batter drip off until I see my fingers through the batter. A two second count is ideal (3 seconds for battering fish).

The Onion Rings

Preheat the oil (vegetable or canola oil works great) to 375 degrees (you'll need at least 4 inches of oil)
Pour some extra flour into a third bowl and set up an assemble line, as you'll need to fry the rings in small batches.

Pick a few rings out of the milk at a time, dredge in the flour and shake off the excess, and add to the batter. Let the excess batter drip away and slowly add to the hot oil one at a time. Using chop sticks (or similar device), keep the rings separated, and use the sticks to flip once brown on one side. Try not to over crowd the pot/fryer. When onion rings are golden brown all over, remove from the oil and let drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Season immediately with kosher salt or seasoned salt, and keep in a warm oven. Continue cooking the rest of the rings. Rings should cook in 3-4 minutes.

Chipotle Chili-Lime Mayo

In a small food processor or using a hand immersion blender, combine until smooth;
1 cup of mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
juice and zest of one lime
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder

Great for dipping the onion rings in. Refrigerate unused mayo and use on your favorite sandwich, wrap or burger!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beer of the Month - India Beer

I enjoy drinking and sampling different kinds of beer...and wherever I travel, I like to sample local microbrews and regional beers. I also enjoy cooking with different styles of beer, as the ingredients in beer can add great complexity, depth of flavour and richness to numerous dishes.

For June's beer of the month I have selected my favorite "macro-brew" from the great province of Newfoundland. The beer is India Beer, and as you can see in the picture, has a wonderful image of the famed Newfoundland Dog on the label. While only available in Newfoundland, India Beer is not a microbrew, as it is produced by Molson as one of their many "regional" beers. With that being said, India has a taste and character that separates it from other macrobrews such as Mosson Canadian, Labatt Blue, Budweiser, etc. Also, it should be noted that India, is not an india pale ale (IPA) style of beer, it is a lager, or more specifically a golden lager. IPAs are much hoppier and strongly flavoured than your lagers. India on the other hand, is much lighter on the pallette. It has a rich golden colour, darker than many mainstream of the same variety, and there are undertones of hops and corn, with a slight pungent aroma. India is also well suited for the Newfoundland beer drinker. It is not so lite that it is bland and watery, yet it is not so heavy as to limit you to drinking 5 or 6. On a hot June afternoon after a day of trouting or playing softball, there's nothing better than enjoying a twelve pack of icy cold India Beer!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quick Monday Night Omelet

If there's a type of meal I never tire of, it's breakfast. Breakfast for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even a late night snack, are all fine with me. For a quick busy workday meal, eggs and an assortment of stuff I have in my fridge and/or pantry let me have a healthy, satisfying dinner, without a lot of fuss or time consumption. In particular I'm a fan of omelets/frittatas (both are cooked in a skillet, but omelets are served folded while frittatas are partially cooked on the stove top and finished under the broiler). As you folow this blog, you will see many recipes for both, as I commonly cook themed dishes such as Southwest Frittatas with sweet potato, chilies, peppers and jack cheese, or Portuguese omelets with chorizo.

The following recipe is for a "Farmer's Omelet", made with eggs, a leftover baked/boiled potato, onion, scallion, parsley, bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese.

Farmer's Omelet

Preheat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat.

Add two slices of bacon (applewood smoked is a favorite), halved, and cook until crisp on both sides (alternatively, you may cook your bacon in the oven on a baking sheet and reserve in the refrigerator for use on sandwiches or adding to dishes such as this one).
Drain on a paper towel and reserve.

While bacon is cooking, beat 2 eggs, and mince a little onion and one scallion (green onion), some parsley, and grate 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Drain most of the bacon fat, leaving 1 Tbsp in the pan.
Thinly slice 1 medium leftover baked potato and add enough to cover half the skillet. Season with pepper and cook until crisp. Turn, keeping all spuds on half of the pan.
1 Tbsp onion, minced
1 tsp of reserved bacon fat or butter
2 eggs (I use large, cage free organic), beaten with a tiny splash of milk and a dash of hot sauce
Swirl the pan to evenly coat the skillet and to surround the potatoes.
Use a wooden spatula to push down the edges of the omelet, and re-swirl the pan to ensure even thickness.
Sprinkle the omelet with the cooked, crumbled bacon, a little fresh chopped parsley, and half the green onion.

Once the eggs are set, and nicely browned on one side, flip the pototo-less side over onto the potato side (the potato side is heavy and difficult to flip.

Add cheese to the top of the folded omelet and placed under the broiler until the cheese bubbles.
Top with remaining green onion and season with a little salt and pepper.

Serve with some good toasted bread, a glass of juice, and your favorite hot sauce and your are good to go...anytime of the day!
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