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

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spanish Style Stuffed Red Peppers

We've probably all grown up eating meat and rice stuffed green  peppers, often accompanied with a tomato based sauce. I'm a big fan of different types of stuffed peppers (eg. Southwest Stuffed Poblanos) and I like coming up with new recipes out of the blue. The end result is the following recipe. I had an excess of red peppers at home, and with some chorico sausage and Mexican cheese in the fridge, I created Spanish style stuffed, roasted red peppers.  Here's is how I make them.

Spanish Style Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers
Cook 6 servings of white, long grain rice according to package directions. For extra flavor, use half water and half chicken stock for the cooking liquid. While the rice cooks, prepare the peppers and the remaining stuffing ingredients.

Preheat oven to broil (or grill over a flame). Wash 6 large red bell peppers. Place on a baking tray, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Rub the peppers with your hands and broil until all sides have been charred. Move to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let roasted peppers sweat for 5-10 minutes and remove the skins. Make one slit down the length of each pepper and remove the seeds. Arrange the slit peppers on a baking tray and reserve for stuffing. This can all be done while the rice is cooking, and you're making the other elements of the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and add:
8oz Spanish/Portuguese style chorico sausage, diced
Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until it renders a little fat and begins to brown, Remove from pan and reserve.

Add another tablespoon of of olive oil, and saute until softened
- 1 Spanish onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 large tomato, diced small
- return chorico to the pan
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
- a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
- a few hakes of Worcestershire Sauce
- a few red pepper flakes (if desire)

Remove with heat and combine with the hot cooked rice.
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup, chopped fresh parsley

Using your hands, combine the mixture well, and spoon into the cavities of the peppers.
Top each pepper with a healthy portion of grated cheese. I used a Mexican cheese blend (pepper jack, queso, asiago, cheddar), but whatever you have, as long as it has some good bite. Then top with a little bread crumbs.

Since everything is cooked, these will not take long.

I baked mine at 350 for about 15 minutes, and browned the cheese at the end under the broiler.

These stuffed peppers make a great side dish to any meal, or are even good on their own, or as a first course.

I served mine with some lightly dressed salad greens and a lemon broiled salmon fillet.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Eats in Ottawa

My wife and I recently went to Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec for a long weekend to visit with friends. Ottawa, Canada's capitol city, is beautiful and a lot of fun, as is Gatineau. During the cold and snowy winter these cities are great, especially during their Winterlude festival, which is when we were there. Our goals were to skate along the famous Rideau Canal, the world's largest ice skating rink, check out some of the ice sculptures and and snow sculptures at a couple of parks, and stroll the ByWard Market area. Now all of this walking and skating sure does work up an appetite, so there were some good eats along the way.

My first two food goals were to go to Swiss Chalet (a Canadian chain rotisserie chicken and rib restaurant) which I absolutely love, and of course to get some Tim Horton's coffee. Besides Buffalo, New York, I don't think there are any more Swiss Chalet restaurants in the US....what a shame. Friday night, a few hours after our arrival I was slurping down a bowl of chalet chicken soup, thoroughly enjoying a half rotisserie chicken with french fries, a roll and their wonderful chalet sauce, before forcing down a delicious slice of coconut cream pie. All this for less than $15. You really can't beat it.

The next morning it was off to the canal, where we enjoyed free hot chocolate and had a nice long skate up and down the canal. The place was packed and the snow was coming down all morning. While I did have beaver tails (fried dough doused with powdered sugar) on my to-eat list, the line was way to long to wait. After the skate I was craving my Timmies fix, and I quickly spotted one on our drive back to Gatineau. Here I got myself a large coffee with cream, and purchased three large cans of ground coffee to bring back home for myself and as a gift to my in-laws (who love the stuff). Next to Tim Horton's was a Chip Truck selling Poutine (only in Canada) and I was quite tempted to partake, however I knew their was poutine in my future in the next couple of days.

The next day we were in the Byward Market area and decided to stop into the Auld Dubliner & Pour House ( http://www.irishvillage.ca/dubliner.aspx) for lunch. This place had a really great atmosphere, and I can assure you that if I lived in Ottawa, I would be a regular at this place. The menu had just what I was looking for...POUTINE. As you can see in the photo below, this had very nicely cooked homemade french fries, a dark, rich, thick beefy gravy and a tonne of fresh cheese curds. It was heavenly.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Steelhead Trout Burgers

Anyone who has ever gone trout fishing (or "troutin" as we say in Newfoundland) probably knows it doesn't get much better then having a shore lunch or breakfast at the cabin consisting of fresh trout (either whole or fillets) fried in bacon fat, served with bacon, fried potatoes and toast. Although a simple meal, it's hard to beat the combination of the smokey bacon, super fresh fish and savory potatoes. Recently I took this classic meal and did my best to turn it into a burger. What I have come up with is a steelhead trout burger served on a toasted potato roll, with lettuce, sliced tomato and crisp bacon strips. The kicker is a homemade peppery lemon-dill mayo.

With or without a food processor, preparing the fish couldn't be easier, and the mayo takes just a second to whip up. If you don't have fresh trout, salmon works equally well. Here's how I did it all.

Steelhead Trout Burgers

- 16-20oz fresh steelhead trout fillet (free of bones and skin removed)
Using a large knife, chop the fish into small pieces, about 1/2 inch, pieces (or pulse in a food processor, but don't overdo it, about 5-6 pulses).
In a large bowl, combine the chopped fish with the following:
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs (such as panko)
- 1 egg, beaton
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/4 Tbsp fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Mix with hands and form into 4 burger patties. cover with wax paper and let set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

When ready to cook, these may be grilled or broiled, but I gave mine a quick saute.

In a large non-stick fry pan, over a medium heat, add:
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Once oil shimmers, add the 4 burgers. Cook on one side for about 4 minutes and flip, and continue to cook to desired doneness. Another 3 minutes should cook it all the way through., It's important not to overcook these so they retain their moistness. Season the top with a little more pepper.

Peppery Lemon-Dill Mayo

In a bowl, mix the following:
- 1 cup mayo
- 3 Tbsp dill, minced
- juice and zest of a lemon
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1/8 Tbsp kosher salt

While the burgers are setting up, prepare the toppings, by cooking some good quality bacon until crisp, and slicing a tomato, and chopping some lettuce. For the rolls I use potato bread hamburger buns (which I love by the way because they are high in protein and fiber, but taste like white bread), which I toast. To assemble, put a layer of of the mayo on the bottom, followed by lettuce, tomato and bacon., follewed by the burger and a dollop of the mayo.

This might be the best fish sandwich I've ever had!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A few weeks ago I had my first Hermit bar (also called Hermit cookies), courtesy of my mother-in-law. The moment I bit into it I said, "Hermit, where have you been all my life". Instantly I thought these have to go on A Wicked Scoff. While hermits are a New England specialty, they are sure to be a hit with Newfoundlander's, as there are familiar tastes in these delicious bars. These spicy and fragrant treats, seasoned with molasses, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, are packed with raisins and chopped nuts. They are more of an energy snack that a desert. While I have come across a variety of recipes, this is the one my mother-in-law uses. I can't imagine they could be any better than this. So go ahead and whip up a batch up hermits. They're great for an afternoon snack with coffee, or to take along on a hike or jaunt in the woods.One day last week I had them for breakfast and lunch! 

Alice's Hermit Bars

Preheat oven to 350

In a stand mixer, cream together:
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 cup sugar

In a separate bowl, beat with a fork:
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp water

With the mixer still running, add:
- 1/4 cup molasses
- the egg mixture* (*reserve 1-2 Tbsp to use for an egg wash)

Reduce speed to slow and add:
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp of ginger
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of cloves

Fold in:
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup nuts, chopped (walnut preferred but other can be substituted)

Divide the dough into thirds. Grease two large cookie sheets. Place 2 sections of dough on one sheet, and one on the other.Shape each into a log roll, measuring about 3/4 inch thick and 3 by 10 inches in shape. Brush the top with the reserved egg wash.

Bake for 17-18 minutes (do not overcook, you want these to be soft and chewy). Let cool for fifteen minutes and cut into triangular shaped bars. Store in an airtight container. Makes a bunch!

Have fun with these. Now that I know how to make them I will be experimenting with the ratios of spices, using other nuts, dried cranberries, and maybe sneaking a little dark rum in there somewhere. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baked Chicken Wings and Sweet Heat Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce


While my original goal was to post the recipes for these chicken wings and hot sauce pre-Super Bowl, technical difficulties (i.e. hard drive failure) has delayed the unveiling. Nevertheless, I promise these easy baked wings are worth the wait, and will have you making wings for other occasions, say Saturday night hockey games, or the curling finals at the Olympics. Yes I am Canadian.

These wings are served un-sauced and un-breaded, but they are seasoned with a spicy, homemade seasoned salt. You can eat them the way they are, or dip them in hot sauce. I do both. I was inspired to makes my wings like this because this is similar to how they do them at Greensleeves on George Street in St. John's Newfoundland. They are my favorite wings and their dry spice is excellent. Their spice has a hint of something different in it, which I have come to guess is curry powder or something similar. For my spice rub, I add garam marsala,  a "hot mixture" of ground spices common in Indian and Asian cuisine. 

Baked Chicken Wings

This couldn't be simpler. Preheat your oven to 350 and get a large sheet pan ready.

Trim the wings by removing the tip, and splitting the joint on the meaty halves with a sharp, sturdy knife.
I don't do any seasoning at this point. I just arrange them on the baking sheet (fattier side up) and let them cook on this fairly low heat for about 30 l. After 20 minutes I give them a check and see if any need turning. After 30 minutes, a lot of the fat will have rendered out, and then I drain (if necessary) and crank on the broiler to finish crisping the wings and rendering more fat. That's it. Juts make sure to keep a close eye on them at the end.

While the wings are cooking make a simple seasoned salt to toss them in. This recipe will make more than enough, but is great to have on hand for seasoning fries and onion rings or even soups.

1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you want extra kick!)

Toss the wings while still hot with about a teaspoon of the seasoning, add more if necessary.


"Sweet Heat" Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce

While I love hot, spicy food and using chilies and peppers in my cooking, this was my first time using Habanero peppers. Habanero chili peppers are one of the hottest chilies, so handle with care. I would recommend wearing latex gloves when chopping these. I've made the mistake of handling jalepenos and later taking out my contact lens...BURNNNNNN! The overall result of this sauce will be a medium heat, at least for my palette.  If you want more heat, add less honey and/or some cayenne pepper powder. If it is too spicy, remove and discard the seeds of the chili. The seeds and membrane contain the most heat.

Habanero-Pineapple Hot Sauce

In a sauce pan, heat:
- 2 tbsp canola oil over medium heat.
- 1/2 a large sweet onion (Vidalia), minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Saute until soft.
- 1 large can of crushed pineapple
- 1 habanero, minced (including seeds)
- 1 Cup apple cider vinegar
- -2-3 tablespoons of honey
- pinch of salt

Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. Add to a blender or use a wand blender right in the pot. Puree the sauce, but leave some texture to the pineapple.

Let cool and serve! Great for dipping chips and chicken wings into.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Split Pea Soup

I doubt if there is a single grandmother in Newfoundland, or "nan" as we like to call them, that doesn't make the best pot of pea soup. This traditional French-Canadian habitant pea soup, made with yellow split peas, a left over ham bone and some vegetables has been a staple for families both in Newfoundland and New England. The recipes I've seen from both regions are nearly identical, with yellow split peas, a meaty leftover ham bone or salt meat or salt pork if you don't have one, and then roots veggies such as onion, carrot, celery, turnip and potatoes. In Newfoundland it's traditional to serve "doughboys" with pea soup, a simple dumpling made with flour, baking powder, salt and water or milk, which are steamed atop the soup just before serving.

Last week I had a craving for peas soup, something I refused to eat as a kid because of the smell. For the most part I followed the recipe in Book 9 of Traditional Recipes of Atlantic Canada, however I made a few changes.

Unfortunately I did not have a meaty ham bone What I did have at my grocery store however were smoked ham hocks, which are almost just as good. I also avoided soaking the peas and I added more water. I have never found that soaking the peas overnight saves any noticeable difference in cooking time. Plus I found that using 8 cups of water means I has to add more. Lastly, instead of the 2 cups of peas in the book recipe, I added 1 pound, which happens to be one bag. I didn't measure it but it's not far off 2 cups. Lastly, I love savory, and I added some of it near the end. I also saw savory in a traditional New England version of this soup. We're not so different you know. Here's how I put it all together.

In a large, enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven, add:
- 12 cups (3 quarts) cold water
- 2 smoked ham hocks (or 1 large meaty ham bone)
- 2 bay leaves
- bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour

Meanwhile pick through (for stones) and risne:
- 1 pound of yellow split peas

After the ham hocks/bone have cooked for one hour, add the peas, stir and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile prep your veggies:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 carrots, dices
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1/2 a large rutabaga/turnip, small dice
- 2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks

Add the vegetables and 1 tsp of dried savory (rubbed between your fingers), and cook until the vegetables are tender and the soup has thickened. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

For an extra treat make some doughboys and serve hot on a cold winter night!
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