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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weeknight Pork Carnitas

Mexican pork carnitas are traditionally made with a slowly braised pork roast. The fatty, but wonderfully tasty pork but roasts are heavily seasoned with herbs and spices and the slow cooking breaks down the meat so it becomes very tender. My adaptation for a weeknight version of pork carnitas uses leftover grilled pork tenderloin. While pork tenderloin is very lean, it is also quite tender, so it works very well in this recipe. Since it's already cooked through, all it takes to get to the final product is to cut the pork into small cubes, season well with spices, and saute over a high heat with onions and pepper. Served the traditional way in warm flour tortillas with chopped cilantro, homemade fire roasted salsa, some grated pepper jack cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime and you'll think you're in Mexico in the middle of a busy work week. Here's how I put these carnitas together.

Pork (Tenderloin) Carnitas

  • 1 cooked pork tenderloin, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  •  chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper...about 1 Tbsp total
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 a green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced fine
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • chopped cilantro
  • juice and zest of half a lime

Directions: Heat the oil in a large skillet (cast iron would work great here) over a medium high heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften. Add the jalapeno and the diced pork and toss with the vegetables in the oil and begin to brown the meat. Once the meat begins to pick up some color add a few god shakes of the spices (or use about a tablespoon of southwestern seasoning). Toss or stir the pork and vegetables well so that the mixture is well coated with the seasoning. Continue to cook until the onion and peppers have caramelized and the pork has browned. At the end add the lime juice, zest, cilantro and season with a little salt to taste.

While the pork and vegetable are cooking, prepare the toppings and warm your tortillas. I like to assemble mine by laying down a warm flour tortilla, spooning on some of the pork and vegetable mixture, followed by some grated pepper jack cheese, salsa, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime and some good Mexican hot sauce.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Southwestern Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries and Fried Zucchini

Now that the weather is warming up I find my self using my grill nearly every evening after work to whip up a nice dinner. One of my favorite meats to cook on the grill is pork tenderloin, which is a lean, tender and tasty cut of pork. Since tenderloin is so lean, I do a couple of things to make sure it really stands out and does not become dry and bland. Before heading out the door in the morning I coat two pork tenderloins in a wet spice rub marinade (dry spices and oil and lime juice) and leave them in the refrigerator to get to know one another for the day. I get home from work, turn them around and let them sit out on the counter to come up to room temperature for about an hour while I go exercise. After a workout I light the grill, prep some veggies for a couple of side dishes and I have a hot, healthy, and delicious dinner on the table in no time. Since I cooked two tenderloins I also have a whole one left over for a second unique meal the next night (pork carnitas). More on that next time. For now, let me show you how I make the rub, cook the meat, as well as make spiced sweet potato fries and some crispy fried zucchini.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • chili powder, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, black pepper


Place tenderloins in a glass dish or zip-lock bag and add a few good shakes of each of the spices, substituting others if you wish. Add the oil, lime juice and zest and rub all over the tenderloins so they are well coated. Marinade for at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat your grill over a high flame and brush the grill with a little oil or cooking spray. Lay the tenderloins on the grill and cover. I aim to turn the tenderloins every 4 minutes or so, rotating on 4 sides to get nice grill marks. Because the tenderloins are usually tapered (thicker on one end) and because grills often have uneven heat, you'll have to strategically arrange the meat every few minutes to attempt even cooking. After I get a good sear on all surfaces I reduce the heat to low and cook until I get an internal temperature of 150 degrees. I then remove the tenderloin from the grill to a plate and cover with foil for 5-10 minutes to let rest before slicing. I'm looking for a slightly pink center so that it's safe to eat and still very tender and juicy. With a little practice you can achieve this without a meat thermometer, but you are unsure I'd recommend using one. Slice the meat thick slices on the bias and serve. After slicing season the meat with some kosher salt.

Sweet Potato Fries

Rinse and scrub 2 sweet potatoes (peel off any dark spots) and cut into french fry size. Lay onto a baking sheet and toss with a 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and a few shakes of chili powder. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Watch carefully at the end as the high sugar content means these can burn easily.Remove from the oven and season with freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt.

 Fried Zucchini

Here is a super simple way to give plain green zucchini some extra appeal by giving your dish some texture and contrast. Simply slice the zucchini into round slices or into long spears. Season with a little seasoning salt and dredge in plain old corn starch. This makes for a very light, tempura-like batter. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and get it nice and hot. Remove the zucchini from the corn starch and saute in the hot oil. Cook on one side until golden brown, 3-4 minutes and cook on the other side for a couple f minutes. Drain on a paper towel and season lightly with a little seasoned salt.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich...with a twist

There's nothing like having a fried egg sandwich for breakfast on the weekend. Especially when you might have been up a bit too late and had a few too many the night before. While some might settle for the fast food variety, I prefer to make my own, using homemade white bread, crisp bacon, fried, farm fresh eggs and sharp cheddar cheese. Sometimes I like to add a something extra special...pickle beet slices. Before you say gross or yuck, trust me, this combination is excellent, and you don't even have to like beets to love this sandwich.

The combination of of the toasted bread, tangy cheese, fatty and savory bacon, and the running egg yolk are always a winner, but when you add the sweetness and acidity of the pickled beets, this sandwich is elevated to a new level. All your senses become engaged with the texture, smells, taste and look of this masterpiece.

I've been eating this sandwich for years now, and while I wish I could take credit for inventing it, it was actually shared to me by a friend from a community on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. I heard that my friend's mother made an egg sandwich with beets on it and, like you are probably thinking right now, I thought that it cannot be tasty. Oh how wrong I was! For whatever reason, one morning a few years ago when I was fighting though a Sunday morning, I gave the old pickled beets a try. I thought to myself, I love beets, and I also love the sweet and savory combination (I love strawberry rhubarb jam on my bacon...but that's another story) so why not give it a try. It's one of the best culinary leaps I've ever taken.

Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon, Beets and Cheddar

Ingredients: (makes one sandwich)
  • 2 farm fresh eggs, fried in a little butter and seasoned with a little salt and pepper to desired doneness (over-easy, medium or hard)
  • 2 strips of bacon, halved and cooked until crisp
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices of quality white bread
  • 3-5 slices of pickled beets (homemade are best)
  • butter for toast
Prepare eggs and bacon in skillet to desired doneness. Toast bread and add butter. Arrange sandwich by starting with one slice of toast, followed by the beet slices, the two eggs, the bacon, the cheese and the final piece of toast. To get the cheese warm, after I flip my eggs in the pan, I top them with the cooked bacon, then the cheese. I then turn off the pan and cover with a piece of foil for a minute to achieve a fried egg with a medium doneness (some runny yolk) and to melt the cheese. Do your best to savor every bite of this wonderful sandwich, and enjoy the flavors in your mouth. However, if you're like me, you'll want to wolf it down as fast as you can.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salmon a la Conche

Today I'm feeling like having salmon for supper. Not just because I love salmon, but also because I'm reminded of a place where the best salmon I've ever had can be found. The place is Conche, a very historic and charming fishing community located on the eastern side of Newfoundland's great Northern Peninsula (and part of what was a section of Newfoundland known as "The French Shore"). My career as an archaeologist has given me many opportunities to travel to great places and meet and become friends with excellent people. One of those places is Conche, where I spent the better part of two summers digging for ancient Paleo-Eskimo artifacts, but also enjoying songs, stories, laughs, hikes and the rich history of the French Shore.

Yesterday and today, Conche has been in my mind more than usual as I have been listening to Conche Radio, a collaboration between the French Shore Historical Society and Memorial University _Grenfell Campus. If you're interested in the history and culture of Conche, the Northern Peninsula or Newfoundland I suggest you check it out as today is the last day. So as a tribute to this great place and its people, here a recipe for simply grilled or broiled salmon seasoned with salt, lemon and dill. I ate many a feeds of salmon during my time on the northern peninsula and I certainly hope to make it back there this summer for a few more! It's a wicked place to be.

Simple Broiled Salmon

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!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pork and Beans

Baked beans are a dish that holds a place close to the heart of Newfoundlander's and New Englander's alike. It's an east coast thing I suppose. With ingredients from our isolated coastal past such as dried beans, molasses and salt pork staples in maritime kitchens it's no wonder this meal is so popular from from the tip of Newfoundland down to Boston, with many variations along the way.

While I like salt pork or bacon as a base to my baked beans I wanted to try something different and have a good quantity of meat in the final dish. Thinking back to canned pork and beans I ate as a kid, I thought why not make a baked bean dish with tender sirloin pork chops (also called county style ribs). With a busy work week ahead, I hauled out my slow cooker to do the job. Since beans love the low and slow cooking method, the slow cooker was the perfect choice. The result was a delicious, rich, hearty baked bean dish with tender morsels of pork and a tangy sweetness from the molasses, mustard and vinegar. You can also taste the beer!

Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

  • 1 pound dry navy beans, sorted, rinsed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup  molasses
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup good beer (such as Sam Adams Boston Lager or Quidi Vidi 1892)
  • 4 Tbsp deli mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dried summer savory
  • 3 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lbs sirloin pork chops or southern style ribs


To give the beans a head start and to ensure they become tender in the slow cooker, boil them in water for 10 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Place all the ingredients in the slow  cooker, including the pork ribs and drained par-cooked beans. Stir well so that everything is combined. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, 8-10 hours. Remove the pork chops/ribs from the pot and remove the meat from the bones. Return the pork meat to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some good bread and a nice bottle of beer.
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