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, December 27, 2010

Artisan Bread Boule

Merry Christmas to all A Wicked Scoff readers. I hope the holidays have been treating you well, and you've been keeping your belly full. I know I have. As some of you may know, A Wicked Scoff has been getting some special, and well appreciated media coverage from Downhome Magazine (http://downhomelife.com/blog.php?id=1126) as both one of their feature blogs on downhomelife.com and also as a special column in the new January 2011 issue of the magazine. To any of you who have found your way here via Downhome, welcome, and please keep coming back and sending in your comments as I have many new and exciting creations to post for the new year.

Speaking of the January issue of Downhome Magazine, the featured recipe was my version of a Seafood Chowder, a thick, rich and creamy chowder featuring fresh cod, salmon, shrimp and scallops. In the article I photographed the chowder in a homemade, artisan-style European bread boule (bowl). To compliment the chowder recipe, I wanted to share this very simple and tasty bread recipe with you here.  I found the inspiration for the recipe after some quick internet searching for a bread boule recipe. The search can be overwhelming, so I found a few I liked and came up with my own, adding some beer and adjusting the amounts of flour, water and salt. The process is super easy, as I used a stand mixer to make the dough, let it rise, place it in the refrigerator overnight, and make the boules on a pizza stone in a very hot oven. The result is a tangy and tasty piece of homemade bread. Here's how you make them.

- 2 cups of water (lukewarm, between 100-110 degree Fahrenheit)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast (2 small packets)
- 1 cup of lager beer, at room temperature (I used Jockey Horse from Newfoundland)
-1 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 6 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

- In a large bowl or your stand mixer bowl, add the warm water and the yeast, stir and let rest for a few minutes. Turn the mixer on low speed with the dough hook attachment and add the salt and beer, followed by gradually adding the flour. Let the mixer work the dough for 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. At this stage, the bread can be made, but for better flavor it is best to let it rest in the fridge for at least a day, but will last for a week or more. This also means you can make the dough the night before, saving you time before the day you are going top serve the bread. Place the risen dough (do not punch down) in the fridge and keep it there in a large covered bowl (allow room for some expansion) until ready to use.

When ready to cook the bread, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack and preheat the stone in a hot 500 degree oven for 30 minutes. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut softball sized portions for each bread boule and knead quickly into a ball. You may need to flour the board to help form the dough balls. On the top rack of the oven, place a shallow pan of water (a moist oven will help give the bread a nice crust). Give each boule a slit or criss-cross on the top with a sharp serrated knife or razor blade. Once the stone is hot, place 2 pr 3 balls of dough at a time onto the stone using a pizza peel (make sure to add cornmeal or flour to the peel so the dough doesn't stick). Cook the boules for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and feel hollow when you give them a knock with your knuckles. Place on a wire rack and let cool for as long as you can resist to cut off the top and hollow out for soup bowls. Fill with your favorite chowder, soup or chili!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fish Heads, Fish Heads....Seafood Stock

Fish heads, fish heads, roly, poly fish heads. Fish heads, fish heads, eat em up yum! The opening lyrics to the 1980 comical song about fish heads by Barnes and Barnes hit the nail on the head, as they are yum!

While fish heads are indeed yummy, as I can't think of a tastier piece of seafood than fresh cod cheeks, the focus of this Wicked Scoff entry is to illustrate how you can use fish heads, and other "throw away" portions of fish to make your own seafood stock. Seafood stock is an essential ingredient to making dishes like chowder, fish stews, and the like richer and more authentic. While you can readily find powdered and liquid seafood stock or clam juice in every supermarket these days (and these are fine in a pinch), if you have access to whole fish, you owe it to yourself to make your own stock. Alternatively you can also easily adapt this simply formula to make shellfish stock by substituting shellfish "shells" such as lobster, shrimp and crab. Whatever the case, you'll be left with a flavorful stock that you can either use right away, store for a few days in the refrigerator, or even freeze for weeks.


- 3-5 pounds of fresh fish (such as cod or haddock) heads, bones and trimmings
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- small handful of fresh herbs such as lemon-thyme, thyme or parsley
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 12 cups of water


In a large stock pot, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute for a couple of minutes until they become somewhat translucent. Add the fish head/bones and trimmings and all remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, and watch the mixture for about 5 minutes, skimming off any scum that will float to the top. Reduce the heat to a low boil or simmer, skimming off the scum as necessary. Cook for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Strain/push the stock through a large fine sieve, and pass through again with the sieve lined with cheesecloth to insure all the particles are left behind, so you are left with a clear stock. Pour into containers (or even icecube trays) and and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use. This yields about 10 cups of stock.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shepherd's Pie...the ultimate comfort food

Last week I saw a picture of shepherd's pie in a Williams Sonoma catalog, and I ultimately began craving a hot plateful of this comfort food classic. This traditional English or Irish meat and potatoes pie is quite popular here in New England, and as far as I can tell it is a well used go to meal in Newfoundland kitchens. With both Newfoundland's and New England's connection to Ireland and England, this should of course come as no surprise.

I don't know why but for whatever reason, I have rarely had Shepherd's Pie. I guess it just wasn't something we had much. While I always see it on the menus of restaurants and pubs, I always end up ordering something else. After seeing that picture last week though, I knew I had been missing out. Before tying my hand at making this old world dish, a little research was in order. My elementary understanding of Sheppards Pie was that it consisted of well seasoned ground beef mixed with onions, carrots, peas, and other vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes, and sometimes with or without cheese. In actual fact though, by definition, Shepherd's Pie contains lamb, and its beefy cousin is referred to as cottage pie. Whatever. The dish likely originated not by using fresh ground meat (beef or lamb) but instead by using leftover cooked meat. Since I was using beef and not lamb, I decided to give the historical character of the dish some homage by using slow cooked chuck roast, which I braised with vegetables and shredded, which in essence mimicked the left over meat element....only much better I think since I gave it a lot of TLC.

Once I had the meat figured out, I needed to determine how I would pick the other ingredients. To the meat mixture I chose to add pearl onions (mini onions you can find in the frozen vegetable section of your grocer), carrots, peas (the classic New England variation uses corn) and garlic, with additions of beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, red wine, a little tomato flavor and herbs. The potato layer consisted of mashed potatoes. I kept it fairly simple, but made them light, creamy and flavorful by adding a little butter, milk, garlic, some Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Lastly, the question of to add cheese on the top or not to, was not even a question at all. Keeping with the English theme, I chose cheddar, and an orange sharp aged cheddar at that.

The batch I made was enough to make two medium sized casseroles, and might just fit in your largest lasagna dish. As you can see in the pics, I used two smaller pans, but this recipe would also work great if divided into individual gratin dishes....pub style. You can also freeze either the beef and vegetable mixture, or freeze a fully assembled pie and thaw and cook when you're ready. I have to say, this was one of the tastiest and most satisfying dishes I have had in a while. It was so good in fact I had it for supper, lunch and supper again over two days, second helpings not included. Here's how I did it.

- 3 lb chuck roast (or use ground beef and saute with veggies instead of slow roasting)
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 1 lb pearl onions (or two large yellow onions, diced)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
-1/4 cup beef stock
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup of chili sauce (or ketchup)
- dried herbs (or fresh) such as savory and thyme
- 1 cup of frozen or fresh green peas
- about 2-3 pounds of potatoes (8 medium)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk or milk
- grated Parmesan cheese
- grated sharp cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven, heat vegetable over medium high heat. Trim excess fat and silver skin from chuck roast, and cube into pieces no larger than 2 inches wide. Adding a few pieces at a time, sear the beef in the hot oil. Cook the beef in small batches to keep the oil hot as you want to brown the beef and not steam it. Once all the beef is browned, return it all to the pot and add onions, diced carrots, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs (more if fresh) such as savory, thyme or rosemary. Mix well and deglaze the pan with the Worcestershire sauce, red wine and beef stock. Add the chili sauce or ketchup, stir, cover and coo low and slow in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from the oven and using a pair of forks, shred the beef pulling it apart. The excess liquid should get reabsorbed into the tender beef. Add the peas (see picture). This entire process can be done the day before (as I did) and assembled into the pies the next night prior to supper.

For the topping you your favorite mashed potato recipe. I boiled my spuds in some salted water and mashed them with a little butter, milt, salt, pepper, parsley, grated Parm and some leftover roasted garlic cloves. They were light and fluffy.

To assemble the pies, spread a layer of the meat and vegetable filling on the bottom of whatever dish you like to use. Try and get at least an inch of filling. Top with the hot mashed potatoes, spread with a butter knife and top with as much cheese as you think you deserve. I was a good boy last week so I went down the extra cheesy road. I recommend that route! Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Let rest a couple of minutes before slicing and eat your heart out. This pie is deadly! While I put a lot of extra work into this version by searing and slow cooking, and shredding the chuck roast, I think it was the way to go. However to be fair, I plan on making a weeknight friendly version with ground beef or ground lamb (or even meatloaf mix which has ground beef, pork and veal) just to see if the extra work is worth it. I'm sure it will be good as well. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, feed your cravings!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wicked Good Egg...Get Crackin

Today was another one of those hectic work days where by the time I got home from work, walked the dog, ran some errands and did some chores, it was after 8, and I had yet to eat supper. On days like this I often turn to one of my favorite foods to bail me out, without compromising taste and nourishment....eggs. I love breakfast and brunch and unlike some people I have no issue with eating breakfast for supper/dinner. I've always been that way. I always thought it was a real treat when occasionally as a kid Mom would make eggs, fried bologna, hash browns, toast for supper, orange juice and all. That's still one of my favorite suppers. Needless to say I am also a fan of the diners and restaurants that serve an all-day breakfast.

So, back to my habit of weekday supper and eggs. With the voice of James Barber (The Urban Peasant) in the back of my head telling me to use what I have on hand and be creative with ingredients, I always seem to be able to pull together a satisfying supper. By using a combination of what I have in the fridge, whether it be bell peppers, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions, sweet potato, potatoes, garlic, herbs, cheeses, bacon or sausage, I am always able to make something unique and tasty without too much time or hassle. Sometimes I incorporate the eggs and the other ingredients together to make omelets or frittatas  (and my favorite...the skinny frittata), while other times I make a hash out of potato and veggies (with or without meat) and top it with fried or poached eggs. When I'm extra hungry and in need of some extra carbs I have a slice or two of toast with jam to go along side. You can't beat toast and strawberry-rhubarb or partridgeberry jam with savory hash and eggs.

  As you can see in the photos I like to have my eggs in a variety of ways. Over the coming weeks I plan to submit recipes for some of the specific combinations I have created. I have potato and bell pepper hash with chorico sausage and poached eggs, sweet potato hash with bacon,  a Mexican skinny frittata with salsa and hot sauce, a linguica sausage, potato and onion hash with fried eggs, and the list goes on. Stay tuned.In the meantime, the next evening you get home from work and are short on time and energy, give breatfast a try.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scrod Roll-Ups with Mornay Sauce

What is a scrod roll-up you might ask? Before I answer that I should remind you what scrod is. 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, as well as other white fleshed fish.

Now to the roll-up part. This recipe is inspired by a classic Newfoundland dish, and one of my favorites, cod au gratin. Which is basically pieces of cod baked in a creamy white sauce with cheese and topped with bread crumbs. A while back I was planning on cooking cod au gratin for my in-laws, however when  my wife's Uncle Jack returned from the market with some beautiful fresh fillets of scrod, I realized I had to make an adaptation as these fillets deserved to be left whole. While the package did not say if it was cod or haddock (although I am 99% sure it was haddock) the fillets were definitely from a small fish, and thus would be identified as scrod by any modern definition of the term.

With all the ingredients for cod au gratin on hand, and a craving for a rich, creamy and cheesy sauce, I made these scrod roll-ups, which are essentially baked scrod pinwheels with a Mornay sauce or "inside-out cod au gratin", whichever you prefer. The recipe is really very simple, and takes no time to pull together. Served with some roasted potato slices and sauteed spinach with a balsamic maple reduction, and it made for a satisfying and elegant entree. I hope you give it a try.

Baked Scrod Roll-ups with Mornay Sauce


6 thin scrod fillets (alternatively you could butterfly 3 thick pieces of cod in half lengthwise)
2 cups bread crumbs (fine homemade work best)
1 tsp dried savory
salt and pepper
fresh dill (optional)
1/4 cup butter (plus extra to greasing the pan)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (2% or whole)
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and begin making the Mornay Sauce, which is nothing more than a standard white sauce (Bechamel) with the addition of cheese. Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan, and add the flour. Make a roux by combining the flour and butter with a wooden spoon. Cook for a minute to "cook-out" the raw flour taste and begin adding the milk. Switch to a whisk and add the milk a bit at a time, stirring fairly frequently. Once you have added all the milk, it will take a couple of minutes for the sauce to reach the appropriate thickness. Add the cheese, stir and remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a glass baking dish with a little butter and begin assembling your fish. Add the savory and a dash of salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs and lay your 6 fillets out on a work surface. Season each fillet with a little salt and pepper. Add a couple of tablespoons of the seasoned bread crumbs to the top of each fillet and spread evenly. Roll up each fillet in a tight little package and arrange in the baking dish. Top each roll-up with a some of the Mornay sauce and top each with the remaining bread crumbs. Reserve about half of the Mornay sauce finish the fish once it has cooked, and keep it warm on the side. If it gets too thick thin it out with a drop of milk. Cook the scrod roll-ups in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the flesh flakes.
Plate the cooked scrod roll ups, spoon some of the warm Mornay over the top and garnish with some fresh dill and a wedge of lemon.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The All American Burger

Do you ever get a deep craving for red meat? I usually get one about once a week, especially if it's been 6 days since my last substantial meal of beef. It must be the carnivore in me. When I get these cravings, it sometimes leads to a nice thick steak, but most often it ends with a big juicy burger!

I've always been a burger fan, but I must admit that my infatuation with this all-American classic has reached new heights in recent years. While it might have something to do with the fact that I now live in the US, I think it has more to do with me watching TV shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Man vs Food , and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. From  my "research" I have come to the conclusion that there are only a few ways to make a really great burger, and many ways to screw it up. While I have my favorites, what I wanted to share today is my version of a simple classic, the All-American Burger. It has just a couple of rules. Quality, freshly ground 80/20 chuck,  fresh, crisp toppings, a good roll, and reputable condiments.The last secret to deliver ultimate flavor and texture is to cook the burger on a flat top, and cook it pink, not well done. I use my trusty cast iron griddle (flat on one side and grill slots on the reverse) but you could use a cast iron skillet just as well. The key is to get a great sear on the burger as this will seal in the juices and give outstanding flavor. What makes this an All-American is that this is the type of burger you'll find all over the place at Mom & Pop drive-ins that are local institutions. All you need to go with a burger like this are some good hand-cut french fries and a cool, creamy milkshake!

The All American Burger (makes 4 half pound burgers)

-2 lbs of fresh ground Angus chuck (80/20)
- 4 fresh, soft hamburger buns, toasted
- Fresh lettuce, tomato slices, and thinly sliced sweet onion
- pickle slices
- 4 slices of American cheese
- Heinz ketchup, good mustard, and other condiment of choice such as BBQ Sauce, steak sauce, etc.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Over a medium-high flame, heat up you cast iron griddle or fry pan. Brush with a little vegetable oil.

Divide you ground beef into 4 equal portions and form into patties. Season each side liberally with salt and pepper. Lay the hamburger patties onto the hot griddle and let them get a good sear on for about 4-5 minutes. Gently turn the burgers and sear on the other side for about 4 minutes. Do not press on the burger with a spatula. This is a no-no. Once the burger is well seared on each side, top with a slice of cheese and place in a preheated oven until the cheese melts. Remove from heat and let rest for 3-4 minutes. This should give you a pink, but not bloody burger, which will give you the best beefy flavor. You may have to adjust the cooking time in the oven to suit your taste, or depending o how thick you form the burger. If you need to go longer, hold off on the cheese for a couple of minutes.

While the burgers are resting, toast your buns in the oven and arrange your toppings. The way I arrange mine are bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, burger, cheese and bun. Where are the condiments you may ask. Since I met my wife, I have copied her burger eating methods, and I think you should give it a try.

To eat your perfect burger, cut it in half and place your condiments of choice on your plate. With half a burger in one hand and a butter knife in the other. Before each bite, put a slather of condiment(s) in the area of the burger you are about to inhale. Eat some fries, take a slurp of milkshake, and repeat! There you have it, the ultimate burger!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Moosewich Dip...a new use for bottled moose

Bottled moose is a Newfoundland delicacy, and for an expatriate such as myself, is worth more to me than gold. For those who do not know what bottled moose is, it is technically "canned moose", but since it is typically can preserved in mason jars, we call it bottled moose. We also bottle rabbit and seal but that is another story.

 While different people have different methods and ingredient quantities, there are typically three key ingredients....cubed moose meat, a little onion, and a little fat back or salt pork. The concoction gets stuffed into mason jars, seasoned with some salt, and water canned for a long time. These days people seem to be starting to pressure can their bottled moose, which is a good thing since pressure canning is the only truly safe way to preserve meat.

Anyways, I mostly get my bottled moose from my Uncle Harold who is a seasoned pro at it. He lives in central Newfoundland, and I have always thought of central Newfoundland moose are the best tasting. When you are lucky enough to get it bottled, you simply can't beat it. The bottling processes makes even the toughest cut of meat incredibly tender, and the flavor is distinctly rich, savory, and just slightly gamy (in a good way). As many of you can attest to, bottled moose rules, and whether is up at the cabin, or having a boil up out on the pond in the middle of winter, nobody will ever screw their nose up to the stuff.

So, as I looked at my unopened box of bottled moose the other day I got to thinking what a nice feast it would make for my birthday supper. A real treat you know. Then, as my creative culinary juices began to flow I envisioned ways to mix it up, and began thinking about other red meat sandwiches. What came to mind was the classic French Dip, and behold, the birth of the Moosewich Dip! Here it is.

Ingredients (makes two 6 inch sandwiches):
- 1 Pint "bottled"  Moose
- 1 12" Ciabatta loaf or baguette, halved, and cut lengthwise
- mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 TBSP chili sauce (or ketchup)
- cold bottle of your favorite beer

Empty pint jar of bottled moose into a small sauce pan (aka dipper) and warm through over a light simmer for 10 minutes or so. Cut onion in thin slices and saute in a little oil over a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and let onions brown and begin to carmalize for another 10-15 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cut a baguette or narrow ciabatta loaf in half so you have 2 6" pieces, and slice each in half lengthwise. Place a layer of grated cheese on each cut side of bread and melt in the oven or under the broiler. Once the moose meat has heated through, remove from the sauce pan and set aside, leaving the moose liquor, or au jus in the pan over the heat. To make a dipping sauce add the chili sauce or ketchup. Open your bottle of beer and a drop to the sauce. Arrange the moose meat on a piece of the bread, top with fried onions and add the second piece of cheesy bread. Serve warm with a side of savory and garlic roasted chips and dip the sandwich in the au jus as you go. It is awesome! Enjoy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pasta E Fagioli

Today I have a cold, and having finished off the last of my yellow split pea and ham soup yesterday, I'm craving another bowl of something hot and comforting on this dreary day. What I wish I had is a bowl of pasta e fagioli, a rustic soup I made last week.

Pasta e fagioli is a traditional Italian "peasant" soup made with cheaply available pasta and beans, in addition to other Italian staples such as olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes and herbs. The traditional bean of choice is a cannellini (like a white kidney bean) and the pasta can be any small cut pasta. While Pasta e fagioli began as a meatless dish, today it often includes a little Italian meat such as prosciutto or panchetta. For this recipe, I started my pasta and bean soup off with two hot Italian sausages. I get my sausage these days from an awesome Italian Market in Albany, NY called Cardona's and they are incredible. If you ever visit New York's capitol region, Cardona's is well worth the visit as their deli creations are delicious (http://www.cardonasmarket.com/).

They beauty of this soup is that it only take about 30 minutes from start to finish, so it's a great weekday option, but it tastes like it has been simmering away all day. The soup gets great richness from the chicken stock and thickens from the starch from the pasta and by mushing some of the beans. Here's how I made mine.

Pasta E Fagioli

2 links of hot Italian sausage, casing removed and rough chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
8 artichoke quarters, from a can or jar, rough chop
8-10 sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped
1 32 ox box of good chicken stock
32 oz water
2 cans of cannellini beans
1/2 pound small bow-tie (or other small) pasta
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley


Over a medium heat, heat a little olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot. Add the chopped sausage and begin to brown the meat. In the meantime prep all of your veggies. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add the garlic, artichoke, sundried tomatoes, herbs and chili flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the box of chicken stock. Fill the empty box with water and add that to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and add the pasta and 1 can on the beans. Put the other can of beans in a bowl and with the back of a wooden spoon, smash some of the beans, and add to the pot. Stir occasionally and cook until the pasta is al dente, meaning it still has some bite. Add some fresh herbs such as parsley or chives and ladle into soup bowls. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bon appetite!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Baby Greens aand Bold Vinaigrette

It seems to me like beets have become a trendy veggie over the last couple of years, with "Top Chef" and "Food Network Stars" showing off heirloom yellow beets and good old purple beets in a variety of tasty culinary creations. Newsflash...beets have always been popular in both Newfoundland and New England.The rest of North America is finally getting on the bandwagon of this super healthy and utterly delicious root vegetable.

While I ate a good many beets growing up, I only had them one way. They were purple and they were pickled. The in that was some people pickled their beets as slices, while some did so as more rustic chopped beet. Like salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard pickles, pickled beets are a standard condiment (side dish) on most Newfoundland supper tables. They go with just about anything. In fact, the only way I would eat my vegetables as a young child (potatoes excluded) was to mix my carrot and turnip in with my potatoes, pour in some beet juice and mash it all together into a uniform purple blob. Yes it sounds disgusting, but it was good. I guess I had an aversion to eating orange and yellow vegetables, but purple was no problem. For this recipe there will be no need to utilize beet juice as a cover up, although a purple vinaigrette sounds intriguing. The beets in the recipe are simply roasted in the oven with a little oil and lightly seasoned with a touch of salt. The flavor of roasted beets is incredibly rich, earthy, slightly sweet and slightly tart. Paired with baby greens tossed in a bold vinaigrette with tangy goat cheese, toasted walnuts and some crusty baguette slices and you have a winner winner purple salad dinner! Here is what you'll need and how I put it all together.

Use a mason jar to shake up the ingredients and make an emulsification. To the jar add:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of good mustard (I used Raye's horseradish maple mustard (http://www.rayesmustard.com/). If you use Dijon, I suggest adding a little prepared horseradish for some bold kick.
  • Fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of kosher or sea salt.

Give it a good shake. Use some to "dress" the salad greens just before plating and more to drizzle onto the plated salad.


Ingredients (6 servings)

  • Mix of baby greens, washed
  • 2 bunches of beets (about 6),
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh baguette, sliced on the bias and toasted
  • small package (8 ounce) of goat cheese
  • handful of whole walnuts, toasted lightly in a dry fry pan
  • Bold Vinaigrette (above)

Start preparing your beets as these take a little while to cook. Trim off the ends, keep the small ones whole and half the large beets so all are about the same size. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the beets on the pan and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove when knife tender (pierced through easily with a sharp knife). Once cooked, remove the skin (if desired) and slice for the salad. For the nuts, place them in a dry fry pan and toast them over medium heat and toast for 1-2 minutes to bring out the natural oils. Be careful not to burn them.

Arrange dressed greens on a salad plate and place sliced beets and toasted nut on the greens. Put a big dollop of goat cheese on one end of the toasted baguette slice and crumble a few more pieces on the greens. Top with another drizzle of the vinaigrette.


Chef's treat! I made some open face baguette, goat cheese and beet sandwiches to nibble on when I went back in the kitchen to serve up my second course of Roasted Squash and Apple Soup with caramelized shallots and Greek yogurt. I think these would make for a great party appetizer!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dark and Stormy

Dubbed the official drink of Bermuda, a Dark & Stormy is a highball cocktail consisting of good quality dark rum and ginger beer (not to be confused with ginger ale as ginger beer has a much stronger ginger taste...ginger ale on steroids if you will), and sometimes served with a wedge of lime, and always served over ice.

What does Newfoundland have in common with Bermuda? No it isn't the tropical weather, it is dark rum. Besides the rum connection, a Dark & Stormy is also a great drink for Newfoundland as the name instantly gives me the impression of a dark and stormy coastline, with giant waves crashing against the rocks, and the faint beam of light from a lighthouse shining through the dense fog.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck inside on a dark and stormy night, or are just looking for a way to enjoy your favorite dark rum, try one of these. You'll be talking like a pirate in no time. Ahrrrrrrrrrr!

Dark & Stormy
Fill a tall highball glass halfway with ice cubes. Add 1 shot of good dark/black rum such as Screech, Myers or Goslings (2 if you so desire), top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge. Down the hatch!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Bell Pepper, Jalapeno and Cilantro Salad

Here in western New England we're smack dab in the middle of harvest time. Thanksgiving is about a month away, and we've been reaping the benefits of the great growing season with early fall apples, squash, pumpkins and other vegetables. Just last week I harvested the last of my "summer crop" which included the final picking of hot peppers, bell peppers, tomatillos and tomatoes. This year was a spectacular year for my tomatoes, which included a variety of large red tomatoes and super sweet cherry tomatoes, due to the seemingly extra hot weather we had. My reward at the end of the season was a nice basket of large unripened green tomatoes. While I'll probably make some kind of relish such as a Chow Chow, the first thing on my list for these green tomatoes was the southern classic "Fried  Green Tomatoes".

The Fried Green Tomatoes are simply breaded in a corm meal crust and pan fried in a little oil. To add some contrast to the dish and make it a more well rounded first course, I paired them with a quick pickled bell pepper and cilantro salad. Here's how I put it all together.

Fried Green Tomatoes

2 medium/large green tomatoes, sliced (1/2 inch thick)
2 Cups flour
1 Cup Cornmeal
few shakes cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 egg
Canola or Peanut Oil for frying

Directions: Set up three bowls for an assembly line for dredging the tomato slices. Season each slice on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of flour to bowl 1. In bowl 2 add the egg and beat well with a splash of water. In bowl three combine the corn meal, 1 cup of flour and season with cayenne, salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add enough oil to the pan to completely cover the bottom. While the oil is heating bread each tomato slice by coating in the flour, then into the egg wash and finally in the corn meal. Set aside on a wire rack until ready to fry. Cook the slices in the hot until until crisp and golden brown, flip and brown. Remove and season while hot with sea salt. Serve with pickled bell pepper salad.

Quick Pickled Pepper Salad

1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1-2 jalepenos, sliced thin (remove seeds/membrane if desired)
hand full fresh cilantro
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Good Hot Sauce

Directions: Combine the sliced onion and peppers and cilantro sprigs in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the oil into the vinegar to make an emulsification. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the veggies, combine well, and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour to give the peppers and onions a quick pickling. Serve with a garnish of hot sauce droplets.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

For this post, A Wicked Scoff is going old school, featuring a recipe for one of, is not my all-time favorite, meals. This recipe for spaghetti and meat sauce is simple, easy to prepare and ever so tasty. The ingredients relys mostly on the pantry and things you are likely to have on hand, and it comes together in no time. The kicker to the whole thing is the addition of a half bottle of chili sauce. It makes the dish. In fact it is one of the first dishes I started to cook back in my teens, although it always tasted better when Mom cooked it. I often requested "homemade spaghetti" for birthday suppers, and during hockey season it was a must have before all big games.

The recipe is somewhat of a family favorite and actually came to my mother by way of my Aunt Lynn, and if I'm not mistaken, the recipe is one of Aunt Lynn's mother's, Mrs. Baker (whose name appears numerous times in Mom's scrapbook cookbook). Aunt Lynn often had a meal of spaghetti and meat sauce, cheesy garlic bread and a raspberry cheesecake waiting for us when we made our annual family vacation down to Botwood, Newfoundland each summer. It's hard to say what I looked forward to more, the days of trouting with my uncle, or the homemade spaghetti and cake.

Meat Sauce (6 servings, easy to double)

1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 can mushrooms
1 can tomato soup
1 small can tomato paste
1 small (7 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 bottle chili sauce
a few shakes of Tobasco
1/4 teaspoon each celery salt, garlic salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep saute pan or dutch oven (or similar) saute and brown the beef, and then add the chopped onion. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add the mushrooms, and all remaining ingredients. Mix well, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 1 hour. Serve over cooked spaghetti and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve with garlic bread. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Feel free to expand on this "mother sauce" and incorporate other ingredients. This is what I used to do when I started cooking. Adding fresh garlic, other vegetables such as green bell pepper or fresh mushrooms will work great. So will additions of dried or fresh Italian herbs, a splash of red wine, some plum tomatoes, etc. You get the idea. The key to this recipe is the combination of the tomato products, especially the chili sauce. I encourage you to try the recipe as listed above first. Sometimes you can't beat a classic.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fish Cakes two ways.

As promised, A Wicked Scoff is back. I have a new logo and many new recipes to share, featuring many Newfoundland and New England classics, some favorites from my childhood, and whatever else I tend to be cooking. Tell your friends and come back often.

Let's start with with some traditional Newfoundland fish cakes. While fish cakes can be made with just about any type of seafood, when you see fish cakes in Newfoundland they will almost always be made from salt cod, a delicacy commonly referred to as bacalao (the Portuguese terminology) in many parts of the world. Besides Newfoundland, salt cod dishes are popular up and down the east coast of New England, especially on southeastern Massachusetts in places such as New Bedford where there is a strong Portuguese presence. Over the next few months I hope to offer a few recipes featuring "bacalao" as there are many delicious ones out there, today I'm starting with a classic that I grew up with.

Salt cod comes in a variety of forms, from whole split fish, to thick cured fillets, to small scraps, and even ready to eat canned salt cod. Today I am using the latter, since I have been fortunate to have on hand some canned salt cod from Newfoundland packaged in 14 oz cans by Purity. This product is ready to eat, meaning it does not have to be soaked and drained several times to remove the excess salt and add moisture. For a recipe such as fish cakes where you want small pieces of fish, this product is perfect, and makes for a quick way to get yummy, savory fish cakes on your plate. This recipe makes 5 large (1/2 cup) cakes and 4 small (1/4 cup) cakes. As you will see, I cooked 5 large entree fish cakes for supper and then followed with 4 smaller ones for breakfast the next morning. All were scrumptious!

Traditional Newfoundland Fish Cakes

(Note: all of the prep work for fish cakes can be done ahead of time. You can set the cakes in the refrigerator and cook to order.)

Fish cakes are basically a 50/50 mix of mashed cooked potato and salt cod, with additions of sauteed onion and herbs, floured and fried. The traditional way to fry them is in rendered salt pork and served with the tiny bits of fried pork fat called scrunchins. I did not have any salt pork or fat back on hand so I cooked mine in a combination of vegetable oil and butter. If you have "fat back" by all means go ahead and use it. I also used two methods of breading my fish cakes. For the entree cakes I did a flour - egg wash - seasoned flour battering method, while for the breakfast cakes I did a flour- egg wash - seasoned fine bread crumbs method. I have to say, I preferred the bread crumbs and would recommend doing that as they had a much nicer crust and crunch. Here is how you put it all together.

- 14 oz can of salt cod, ready to eat
- 4 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold), boiled and mashed
- 1 medium onion, diced fine and sauteed in 1 TBSP butter
- 1 Tbsp dried summer savory (rubbed in palm of hand)
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced chives
- a few grinds of black pepper.

Combine all of the above ingredients ion a large bowl and mix together well. Measure out portions with a measuring cup and shape into round cakes. Coast each cake in flour, dip in an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a little water or milk) and re dip in fine bread crumbs (seasoned with a little salt and pepper).

In a fry pan, heat 2 TBSP each of canola oil and butter until hot and carefully add fish cakes. Cook on one side until golden brown (3-4 minutes) and carefully turn over and cook on the other side. Remove from pan, season with a little sea salt and serve hot.

I find that fish cakes go great with a condiment that has some acid to it. Back home I loved having mine with a sweet mustard pickle relish, while sometimes ketchup would do the trick. Thinking of a way to start incorporating my Newfoundland Newman's Port into my cooking I whipped up a homemade port ketchup. It was just the thing.

Newman's Port Ketchup

-1 32 oz can of plum tomatoes with juice
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 2 oz shot glass of port
- 2 Tbsp Worstershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 Tsp kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, saute the onion and garlic in a little oil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes. Using a hand immersion blender, blend the concoction until smooth (it will have a little texture). Return to the heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes to thicken.Place in a bowl and move to the fridge to let cool. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot fish cakes. Store remaining in air tight container in refrigerator for later use. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brined/Grilled Pork Chop with Grilled Onions and Spicy BBQ Sauce

Chowing down on grilled pork chops with a sticky, finger-lickin BBQ sauce is one of the finest things about summer. Growing up in out around the bay in rural Newfoundland, having a BBQ, 90 percent of the time meant having grilled pork chops covered in Kraft BBQ sauce. There was nothing fancy about them, they were usually a  frozen variety pack of chop cuts, quite often a fairly thin bone-in sirloin. Donlt get me wrong, I still love those chops, but now when I go to relive my youthful memories of BBQ pork chops, I go at it a little differently.

First of all, my preferred cut of chop is a thick-cut rib chop. This is similar to the pork line chop but has a little T-Bone in it and contains mostly center loin along with a bit of tenderloin...just line a T-Bone steak would. This is a lean cut of pork, so that' why I like to go thick, it won;t dry out as easy. A key is to not cook it to death. Pink in the center with clear juices or 160 degrees is as far as you want to take these puppies. An instant read thermometer will be your best friend.

Another way to insert flavor, seasoning and juiciness through the meat is to brine it. A simple saline solution bath of water, salt and a little apple cider and apple cider vinegar for a few hours will do the trick. Other ways to enhance the seasoning will be to give the chops a dusting with a spice rub before putting on the grill.

The last key to a better chop is to slather it with a homemade BBQ sauce. I mix up the ingredient combination of my BBQ sauces all the time, but they always start out with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, molasses and dry mustard. I usually also add some of whatever dry rub I am using and varying degrees of sweet, sour, savory and heat.

Brined and Grilled Rib-Chops


4, 8-10 ounce, thick cut rib or center cut pork chops

1 qt of water
1/4 cup of salt
1/4 cup of apple cider (or apple juice)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP of dry rub


Mix the wet ingredients to dissolve the salt. Place pork chops in a large ziplock bag, pour in the brine, and let the pork chops swim in the brine for at least 4 hours, but 12-24 hours will be best.

When ready to cook, preheat a gas or charcoal grill and oil the cooking surface with vegetable oil. Pat the chops dry with paper towels and season with a little of the dry rub. Place chops at an angle on the grill so you can give them a quarter turn to get those nice chop house grill marks. I'm not great with cooking times. I go by feel and eye mostly, and I use an instant read thermometer when I am unsure. You'll want to cook the chops to slightly pink, with clear juices. An overcooked pork chop will be tough. The brine process will give you a little forgiveness. For chops of this size I would cook them for about 12-14 minutes and a 5 minute rest time on a warm, covered plate. So, after 3 minutes I would turn for grill marks, at 6 minutes I would flip, at 9 minutes I would quarter turn, apply a brushing of BBQ sauce and at 12 minutes I would  re-flip to apply sauce to side A, and remove from the grill to let rest.

Pork Dry Rub


1/2 cup of kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP of each of the following:
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- paprika
- chili powder
- allspice
- black pepper
- dry mustard
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

Combine salt, sugar and spices well, and store in an air tight container in a cool dry place. Will last for ages.

Pork Chop BBQ Sauce

2 Cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp dry mustard
2 TBSP dry rub spice
1 TBSP allspice
dash of Tabasco sauce


Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over a medium heat and whisk together. Bring to a simmer, and reduce to low. Cook for 10-15 minutes and reserve for chops and onions. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Grilled Onions


1-2 Large Vidalia, or other sweet onion, sliced into rounds
Vegetable Oil
Dry Rub Spice
BBQ Sauce


Keep the onion slices together (i.e. do not separate as if making onion rings) and coat with a little oil and season with the dry rub spice. Place on a hot grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes until they begin to char and carefully turn with a spatula. Cook until limp and brush with BBQ sauce. Turn again and brush the other side with BBQ sauce. Serve while hot along side grilled pork chops.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Broiled Salmon Fillet with lemon and dill

I really can't eat enough seafood, especially when it's super fresh! One of my favorite things to eat is Atlantic salmon. Here is a quick, super simple way to prepare whole salmon fillets, a recipe that works just as well with smaller fillet portions or steaks, or pretty much any seafood for that matter.

Simple seasoning of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs from the garden such as dill or chives, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon once cooked, is all you need to be a master salmon chef. The key is not to overcook it. While salmon is pretty forgiving when it does come to being overcook, because of its fat content (healthy Omega-3 fats), it is exceptionally good when cooked just to the point of doneness.Many people actually prefer a touch of rawness in the center.When I cook my salmon, either by grill, broiler or frying, my goal is to cook it just to the point where the rawness in the center is down to a sliver or has just disappeared. Whatever method, I make sure the heat source is pretty hot. Depending on the thickness, I typically cook it about 4 minutes on side A and 3 minutes or less on side B, starting skin side down. I also love to get the skin crispy as it is quite tasty. Then I let it rest for a couple of minutes and when it hits the plate it is super juicy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Say hello to my little frineds! SLIDERS

Invented by the American hamburger fast food chain White Castle, and now a restaurant phenomenon everywhere, sliders are quite simply mini-burgers. Smaller buns, smaller patty, smaller amount of toppings equaling huge flavor and huge fun.

Just as with hamburgers/cheeseburgers, the variety of sliders that can be made and enjoyed is endless. The key to making a great slider is simple. Choose small, soft rolls and stuff them with a juicy, well season, non overcooked burger. I have found that I am beginning to find "slider rolls" labeled as such at the grocery store, but if you can not find the, small soft white dinner rolls are a good option. in my neck of the woods, I prefer Martins Potato Rolls "for Sliders".

This past weekend we had company I wanted to make a dinner that was casual, could be made on the grill, and would be tasty! I've been enjoying using my meat grinding attachment on my stand mixer and I had some nice sirloin steaks that I thought would make good slider meat. Sirloin is leaner then chuck (90% as opposed to 80%), so I was conscious to only cook the sirloin sliders to medium/medium well, or pink as they say at some burger joints in order to retain the juiciness I was looking for. Chuck is probably the best meat to use for burgers, especially if you want it to be cooked all the way through and don;t mind the extra calories or fat.

My goal was to make a trio of sliders. For inspiration I drew on a couple of classics, in addition to using some more of my "Newfie screech coffee spice rub". What I came up with was a bacon cheeseburger slider, topped with sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, fried onions, ketchup, yellow mustard and dill pickle; a green chili sliders, topped with canned green chili's (diced and sauteed with fresh jalapeno, garlic and cilantro) and pepper jack cheese; and finally, a Newfie Screech coffee slider equipped with a drop of steak sauce and sauteed mushrooms deglazed with a drop of dark rum
 For my slider meal, I made 12 sliders out of a little more than 2 pounds of freshly ground sirloin. Each patty was about 3 ounces. For burgers I typically do not season the meat until I have formed the pattys, and usually I only add salt and pepper. I like to let the condiments and toppings bring the extra flavors. This is what I did for my sliders, with the exception of the the third slider, which received a liberal coating of the Newfie Screech coffee-spice rub on each side. For cooking the sliders, either pan fry them or cook them on a hot grill until desired doneness. As I said, for a leaner meat like sirloin (or if you are using buffalo or moose, etc) it's best to not cook past medium-well, while the fattier ground chuck will be more forgiving. I usually season the burgers, grill on the first side for about 4 minutes, flip, add the grated cheese and close the lid. By the time the cheese melts I remove the meat so that it can rest for a couple of minutes while I toast by buns. Then I assemble the works and dig in.

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