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

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

Monday, November 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!
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