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, January 28, 2011

Fee and Chee Friday

Of all the things I miss about not living in Newfoundland anymore, one of the most missed are Friday's in St. John's. To me, the city gets a whole working for the weekend vibe to it as people get excited for a night out on the town and one, maybe two good feeds of fish and chips, or as the townies say, fee and chee.Chicago and New York may be famous for pizza and hot dogs, and Montreal may have its smoked meat, but St. John's is the place for the best fish and chips.The fish is always cod (best if its fresh of course), and the chips are always hand cut and fried to perfection. Traditionally, fish and chips is served with malt vinegar, and unlike across the pond where mushy peas is an accompaniment, here dressing (buttery stuffing with minced onion and dried savory) and gravy are standard fare. A few peas and some good tartar sauce never seem to go astray either.Wash it down with a cold brew or a can of pineapple soda and you're in fried heaven.

For some, their fee and chee fix comes early, with an over sized lunch at Ches's, The Big R or Scampers, for others it comes in the happy hour variety with a few pints down at the Duke (The Duke of Duckworth has arguably the best fish and chips in St. John's) or take out from Leo's (also outstanding). Finally, many get their fix after making home in the early hours of Saturday morning after a night on George Street. Luckily places like Ches's and Buddy's are open late, and deliver.

If you aren't fortunate enough to live in Newfoundland and have a hankering for some fee and chee, don't despair as making it at home is not all that hard. It's easier if you have a deep fryer, but if not, an oil filled wok or pot works too (you'll have to be very careful). Here's my recipe for a beer battered fish and chips, whereby I use a dark, flavorful Quid Vidi 1892 Traditional Ale. Just season your portions of fish wit a little salt and pepper, dredge in some flour (will help the batter stick to the fish) and coast in the batter, and cook until golden brown in 375 degree oil.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beer
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- pinch of salt

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. I like a thin batter. To get the desired consistency I dip my fingers in the batter and let it drip off. I do a count on how long it take to see my skin through the batter. I'm looking for a count between 1 and 2 seconds.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recipe Repeat: Baked Scrod

Here is a recipe repeat of A Wicked Scoff's most popular post...Baked Scrod. Please note the error in the cartoon, the cod is actually the one at the bottom (but you probably knew that). Enjoy.

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

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

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

Baked Scrod

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast

I eat a lot of salads these days. Not only are they very good for me, but I really love them, and actually get cravings for a made salad. There are two primary benefits of eating salads. The first is obvious; it's a great way to get a load of vegetables into your body in one setting. Great if you've been having a carb, dairy and meat type a day. Secondly, if you eat a salad as a first course to dinner, you're less likely to overeat on the stuff you shouldn't be overeating (think being too full to have a second helping of mashed potatoes).

As I said though I mostly like salads because of the taste, but I suppose another reason is because they are so easy to put together, especially on a work day evening, when time is of the essence. When I'm really looking for a one-dish meal, I often turn to a salad chalked full of veggies and topped with some grilled protein like chicken, steak or tuna. The key to pull this off is to have a well stocked fridge of salad toppings, both fresh and bottled, and to have fresh or thawed protein ready for a quick after work marinade.

 My favorite go-to salad is a Greek Salad, with lemony grilled chicken breast. With a supply of fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, lemon, red onion, cucumber and bell pepper, along with bottled toppings including olives, artichokes and various peppers, as well as feta cheese, I'm all set for making a salad and a homemade dressing. All I need to do is remember to take some chicken breast out of the freezer in the morning before work, make a quick marinade after work, go walk the pup or workout, get home and start cooking. Within 20 minutes I'm usually sat in front of the TV watching the game, with a big bad salad in my lap. Here's how I make it.

Greek Salad Dressing
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of kosher salt and a few crack of black pepper

Directions: Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake vigorously until dressing is a well combined homogeneous mixture. For my Greek salads I like to pre-dress my greens with the salad dressing before plating, and I add my salad fixins afterward. This ensure the right amount of dressing is used, and also completely covers each piece of lettuce. I measure out the right amout of lettuce on the salad plates and then return the lettuce to a large bowl. Add some salad dressing (not too much) to the lettuce and toss together with tongs. If you need a little more, add as needed.

Arrange "dressed" greens to plates and top with salad fixins. For my Greek salads, I like the classic essentials; sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and peperincino. I also go for some seasoned croutons, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh red bell pepper strips and cherry peppers. You really can't go wrong with whatever fresh vegetables you have. Top with the grilled chicken and you have a super-healthy and protein packed salad that makes an awesome meal.

Grilled/Broiled Greek Chicken Breast
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice and zest  of one lemon
- tsp dried oregano
- pinch of hot red pepper flakes
-2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (chicken nugget size)

Mix first four ingredients for marinade in a small bowl with a whisk. Add cubes chicken to a zip bag or glass dish and cover with marinade. Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour before grilling or broiling. When ready to cook, preheat your grill/broiler and cook chicken until done, turning as necessary. Should take 5-7 minutes. Let chicken rest for a few minutes and add to your salad. Also makes a great stuffed pita or wrap.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smokin Goulash

One of my favorite meals growing up was my Mom's goulash. I always remembered it being better than anybodies. It was nothing fancy, but it was done just right. There wasn't too much sauce, the beef was browned nicely, and the spices were spot on.  A simple combination of sauteed onion, green pepper, mushrooms and ground beef with macaroni, a can of condensed tomato soup and the essential Hungarian paprika made for a wicked meal. It was even better when Mom would make it early in the day and we'd reheat it for supper. Just like with a soup, the flavors developed after being taken away from the cooking process. Topped off with some Parmesan cheese, a squirt of Heinz ketchup with some buttered homemade white bread on the side and it was just the perfect meal. As a kid who played hockey nearly every day in the winter, it was a great way to carb load, in addition to getting lots of protein and veggies in me.

Now, as good as my Mom's goulash is, it isn't exactly goulash, at least not in the technical European style. Goulash, often called Hungarian Goulash is traditionally a stew made with aromatic vegetables (i.e. onions), tomatoes and cubed beef, seasoned heavily with Hungarian paprika. Much of the goulash that is made by home cooks in North America more likely resembles what my Mom makes. Versions with ground beef, tomato soup and macaroni were made popular by cookbooks such as Betty Crocker's back in the seventies (its sometimes called American chop suey here in the States).

When I got a craving to make goulash last week, I wanted it to resemble my Mom's dish and I wanted to use her secret of cooking it early in the day, and eating it later for suppers and as leftovers for work. With that being said, it wouldn't be me if I didn't put my own spin it. First of all, as a way to make the dish healthier I used a whole grain pasta (penne - because that's what I had on hand) and I added a little chopped kale for a burst of vitamins. The other big change I made was the addition of smoked paprika, in addition to regular Hungarian paprika. The result was a delicious, meaty and smoky goulash that was put a twist on tradition, but will be the start of a new family recipe. Here's how I made this wicked scoff.

Smokin Goulash

 -        1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
-          2 ½ cups wholegrain pasta (penne, macaroni or similar)
-          2 Tbsp olive oil
-          1 large (2 small) yellow onions, diced
-          1 large green bell pepper, diced
-          1 carrot, diced
-          5-6 cloves garlic, minced
-          2 Tbsp paprika
-          1 Tbsp smoked paprika
-          1 tsp each of salt and pepper
-          ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
-          3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-          A few shakes of hot sauces such as Tobasco
-          2 cups crushed tomatoes
-          2 cups of kale, shred/chopped
-          fresh parsley
-          paprika and smoked paprika for garnish and to put on top

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente or just slightly undercooked. Drain and reserve.
While the pasta is cooking saute the onion, green pepper and carrot in the olive oil in a large saute pan. Once the vegetable start to become tender, push them to the edges of the pan and add the ground beef to the center. Brown the beef on one side, break up with a wooden spoon and combine with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes until things begin to caramelize a little. Add the garlic, chili flakes, paprika and smoked paprika to the mixture and combine. Next add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and crushed tomatoes. Mix well, and cook for about 5 minutes until the beef is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked pasta and kale, turn off the heat, mix well and cover. When ready to eat, reheat the goulash in a low oven. To serve, sprinkle dishes with fresh parsley and extra smoked and Hungarian paprika and pepper if so desired. Also nice to grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top. Bon appetite!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicken and Rice Soup with Root Vegetables and Kale

As mentioned in my last post, I recently made a chicken and rice soup, fortified with extra vegetables and wholesome ingredients. Typically I make chicken and rice soup like my mother or nan would, using a homemade stock, chicken (whole or pieces), a vegetable medley consisting of onion, celery, carrot, rutabaga, and potato, typical Newfoundland choices, and white rice. To make this already healthy meal even more so, and to try and make it taste as good I made a few changes to my usual recipe. 

The first change I made was to substitute high fiber long grain brown rice for white rice. Secondly, I omitted the potatoes and more celery, carrots and rutabaga than usual. Lastly, I added chopped kale, which is considered by many nutritionist and one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat (along with other dark leafy greens). The kale really cooks down and I promise it will be a welcomed addition to any of your own soup recipes. If you can't find kale, or want to add another similar vegetable, turnip greens (common in Newfoundland - actually rutabaga greens), mustard greens or spinach, then go right ahead. Here's how I put it together.

1 whole chicken
bay leaves
tops of celery and carrots
4 ribs celery, chopped fine
4 large carrots, chopped
1 large (2 medium) yellow onions
1 rutabaga, diced
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup long grain brown rice
1 tsp savory (optional)
salt and pepper

Place a cleaned whole chicken in a large dutch oven, or your favorite soup pot, and add enough water to cover. Add the tops of the celery and carrots you will use later in the soup, along with 2 bay leaves and a good pinch or two of salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour. While the chicken cooks, prep your vegetables. Skim off any skum that forms on the top. Remove the chicken from the stock and let rest and cool. Using a slotted spoon, remove the stock ingredients (veggies, bay leaves) until left with a clear chicken stock. Taste for salt.

Return the stock to a simmer and add all the vegetables except for the kale. If your rutabaga cubes are larger than the pieces of carrot, give them a 5 minute head start. Add the brown rice and the savory. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the rice is mostly cooked. About 30 minutes. In the meantime, remove the meat from the chicken. I find that the dark meat can be pulled apart by hand, but I like to remove each breast whole and chop it in large chunks. Reserve the meat as adding it too early can make it fall apart too much. Wash the kale and cut it into shreds. Add it to the simmering pot. While it may look like a lot, it will cook down dramatically. Cook the kale for 10 minutes, add the chicken and pot, and turn off the soup. I found that the rice had absorbed some water so I added a couple cups to top up the pot. Taste for salt and pepper.

I always like soup best the next day. What I like to do is make soup on a weeknight after work, keep it in the fridge overnight and then reheat portions for supper and lunches the rest of the week. I add some crushed saltine crackers to the top and I'm all set! Enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Maple-Nut Granola

With a new year, comes new resolutions. For many people, these "resolutions" revolve around food and diet. For me, one thing I am making a conscious effort to do this year  is to make more posts featuring wholesome and healthy foods. While I maintain a pretty healthy diet, that may not seem so obvious all the time here at A Wicked Scoff, however many of the posts I make are actually weekend "treats" and not my everyday diet.

Besides posting healthier options, another goal of mine is to take recipes and make them even more nutritious than they already are by adding making subtle changes such as using leaner cuts of meat, adding fiber through the addition of beans, wholegrains or brown rice, and by getting as many fruits and vegetables into recipes as possible. A great example of this is a chicken and rice soup I made earlier this week and will be featuring in a blog post next week. Besides the standard chicken, onion, celery and carrots that I put in any chicken soup, I boosted the wholesomeness by making my own chicken stock, using brown rice instead of white rice, and also by adding kale, a dark green leafy vegetable that is super healthy and packed with essential vitamins. Just to give you a preview, it was one of the best pots of soup I have ever made. It was impossible to tell the difference between the rice (brown not white), and the kale was mild and undetectable in the flavor.The whole thing blended beautifully and it made for hearty guilt free lunches all week long.

So, with that being said, my first idea for a homemade healthy recipe was granola. I love granola, but have never tried to make it before. It is very healthy, full of great ingredients such as oats, nuts, dried fruit, but it is usually pretty expensive to buy, especially the organic stuff. After doing a little Internet research on some different recipes, I had a good idea of proportions of the ingredients and appropriate cooking times. Here is what I came up with.

Maple-Nut Granola

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not the quick cooking)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup of mixed nuts, rough chopped (I used a mix of pecans, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dried fruit (I used half dried cranberries/half raisins)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 250  degrees.
In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup, oil and honey over medium heat. Cook until warmed through and all the ingredients are well encorporated. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, with the exception of the dried fruit, mix well and add the warm syrup mixture. Combine well and spread the mixture evenly over a cookie/baking sheet. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes or so to ensure even browning.
Remove from the oven, pour in a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit.
Store the granola in an airtight container. Will last at room temperature for 2 weeks, but I really doubt there will be any left by then.

Use the granola as an additive to your favorite cereal, a topping to fruit and yogurt parfaits, or as a snack on its own. I know you will enjoy this one, and feel free to experiment with the fruit and nuts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wicked Good Newfoundland Seafood Chowder

I am always thinking about food. What to eat and how to cook it. Through food, A Wicked Scoff has allowed me to blend my Newfoundland culture and heritage with my newly found New England influences and excursions.

When thinking of a meal to share with Downhome Magazine as a column featuring A Wicked Scoff for the January issue (http://www.downhomelife.com), I was drawn to seafood chowder. Here in New England, chowder is king and a variety of “chowda’s” as they say, namely clam, cod, and lobster, can be found in every restaurant and diner. Simply put, chowder is the ultimate east coast comfort food. One of the best chowders I ever had was at a Vermont ski chalet where it was served in a bread bowl. To me, nothing says comfort and warmth like sitting in front of a roaring fire with a piping bowl of rich, creamy chowder filled with succulent seafood. With all the seafood available in Newfoundland, such as cod, salmon, shrimp and scallops, chowder would make the perfect winter meal. Whether you choose to make this recipe as a first course for you New Year’s Eve dinner party, or back home after a day out snowmobiling or ice fishing, this chowder promises to satisfy. When you’re done I hope you can say it was a wicked scoff!
Wicked Good Seafood Chowder
·         2 pounds cod
·         1 pound each of salmon and shrimp (medium)
·         ½ pound of scallops
·         2 cups each of onion, celery, and carrots, diced
·         5 medium potatoes, diced
·         2 - 32 oz cartons seafood stock (or use homemade)
·         2 ½ sticks butter
·         1 ½ cups flour
·         2 cups heavy cream
·         6 cups whole milk
·         1 Tbsp Savory
·         salt and pepper

In a large stockpot, melt ½ a stick of butter over medium heat, and
sauté the onion, celery and carrots for 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Add remaining butter and the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir the butter and flour together to make a paste (a roux), which will thicken the chowder. Cook the roux for a minute and increase the heat to medium high. Gradually add the two cartons of seafood stock, stirring as you go. Make sure to stir out any lumps that may have formed in the roux. Add the potatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream and the milk, and return the chowder to a low simmer. It is now important not to boil the chowder, as the dairy may curdle. For Newfoundland twist, add dried savory. As a trick to prevent heartburn, which some complain of from savory, rub the herbs in the palm of your hand to break it into smaller pieces. Cut the cod and salmon into 1-inch chunks, quarter the scallops and de-vein and remove the shells from the shrimp. Once the chowder begins to thicken, add the seafood to the pot and stir occasionally. Cook for approximately 10 more minutes on a gentle simmer until the chowder has thickened, the potatoes are tender, and the seafood is cooked. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly. Ladle into bowls or homemade bread boules, and top with crackers. A few scrucnhins on top wouldn’t go astray either! This will make a big pot of chowder, and will feed a crowd. I find is even tastier the next day and you will want leftovers. Enjoy!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin