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.

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. 
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