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, June 30, 2011

Baby Back Ribs and BBQ Dry Rub

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Real barbeque by definition involves slow cooking meat over a wood fire, infusing smoke and flavor while the meat becomes tender and succulent. What most of us do in our backyards is actually grilling, not barbeque...but that's okay. If you don't want to invest in a competition BBQ smoker or fuss with wood fires, there is a way to cook barbeque on your gas grill using a small metal smoker box and store bought wood chips. The process is still low and slow cooking, and by placing the smoker box over the gas flame and the meat indirectly (not over a flame) you can achieve BBQ that is pretty close to the real deal.

If you're planning on having the ribs for a later afternoon or evening dinner, start your prep work early in the morning or night before (if you have the time). Baby back ribs are more tender and less fatty than side or spare ribs. One thing that may make them less tender is a membrane on the bone side of the ribs called silver skin. If your butcher has not removed this, do so using a paring knife and your fingers. Once the ribs are free of the silver skin, season liberally on both sides with the dry rub see recipe below). Stack your rubs and wrap in plastic, and store in the fridge to marinate for a few hours.

All Purpose BBQ Dry Rub
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
Combine all ingredients, mix well and store in an airtight container. Apply to all your favorite BBQ and grilled food such as ribs, pork chops, chicken, burgers and hot dogs, and add to homemade BBQ sauce.

For cooking the ribs, allow about 4 1/2 to 5 hours for the cooking process. You'll want to slow cook the ribs for about 4 hours on low heat (225-250 degrees) and then cook them over a flame while basting in BBQ sauce for the final 10-15 minutes.

 To cook the ribs, light your gas grill and set the front burner to high and leave the rear burner off. Fill your metal smoker box with store-bought wood chips (many supermarkets carry these now in maple, hickory, mesquite and apple wood) and place it over the front burner. I find that there is no need to soak the chips for this technique. Once the grill comes up to about 225 to 250 degrees place your rib racks along the back part of the grill, including the small narrow upper gates if your grill has those.Stay by for the first little while as you calibrate your front burner setting in order to achieve an internal grill temperature of 225 to 250. If your grill thermometer does not work I'd encourage you buy an accessory one. When I made these ribs last week I achieved an even temperature of 230 and let the ribs go for four hours. Half way through I turned all the racks of ribs and dumped out some f the black wood chips and added some new ones. Warning, the smell of real bbq and wood smoke may draw in your neighbours so make sure to cook extra.

After the ribs have cooked for four plus hours they should be quite tender and able to be pulled away from the bone. You can eat them as they are (dry) and they will be delectable or you can turn on both flames and cook them further by basting them in homemade BBQ sauce (wet). I like both styles and often put a rack of dry aside. I usually coat one side of the ribs with sauce, turn and coat the other side, letting each side cook face down for about 2-3 minutes. I then repeat the process. Be carefull during this step as the sugar in the sauce can burn easily.

Serve up with some coleslaw, baked beans and other BBQ favorites like baked potato and you'll behaving some of the best BBQ you've ever made. There might be a bit of work involved but once you taste this it will be well worth it. Look out for the smoke ring in the meat once you bite in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

BBQ Chicken and Ribs with Beer BBQ Sauce

A Wicked Summer BBQ with Smoked  Babyback Ribs, Wings & Sauce
For most of you in A Wicked Scoff's reading audience, summer is upon us. To my friends, relatives and fellow Newfoundlander's at home, please accept my apologies as I know you are having a dreadful start to the summer season. Of all the things I miss about Newfoundland, June's capelin weather, which consists of day after day of rain, drizzle, fog and temperature hovering around the 10 degree mark (Celsius), is certainly not one of them. According to the forecast however, things are looking up. With warm sunny days come eating and cooking outside and firing up the grill. When it comes time to serving up your favorite grilled meats, whether it be chicken or pork, don;t reach for some store bought BBQ sauce. Instead whip up a batch of homemade sauce, featuring a healthy portion of your favorite beer. Keeping in line with my Newfoundland heritage this recipe calls for an ample amount of fancy molasses, and some of our own Jockey Club beer. You can use whatever beer you like however.

Last weekend was Father's Day and I used my BBQ Sauce on some grilled chicken wings and smoked baby back ribs. Here are a few pictures from the feast along with a recipe for my sauce, which gets basted on the meats for the final 5-6 minutes of cooking. I also like to serve it table side for dipping. I'll let you know how I prepared my ribs, along with a special BBQ dry rub later this week.

Jockey Club BBQ Sauce

Babyback ribs about to receive a smothering of BBQ sauce
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup fancy molasses
  • 1 cup of Jockey Club (or your favorite beer)
  • 1/2 tsp of each of the following: garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice

Sauced ribs, getting sticky in the final couple of minutes
In a medium sauce pan, saute the onions in the oil over a medium heat until tender and translucent, but not browned. Add all the remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until sauce thickens a little. Apply to your favorite grilled meats for the final few minutes of cooking for a sweet, tangy and sticky BBQ sauce coating. I like to keep the sauce pan next to the grill and keep the sauce warm. Serve on the side as well for extra dipping. Goes great with pork chops, ribs and chicken!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heavenly Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam....recipe update

I think everyone should have a rhubarb patch tucked in their garden. If you have had the luxury of having your own fresh supply of rhubarb year after year, you know what I'm talking about. Growing up we always had rhubarb, and with that, we always had rhubarb jam, or more specifically Heavenly Jam. Heavenly Jam is something I associate very strongly with my grandmother, or nan as we say in Newfoundland, and luckily for me, her jam was something my mother was able to master, and now I enjoy making each spring.

While I only planted my first New England rhubarb patch last year (will have to wait a seasons until I can get a good harvest), I do have the luxury of buying rhubarb at local farmers markets and grocery stores. If you don't have your own rhubarb, hopefully you can find a market that sells it, or better yet, have a neighbour that is willing to share. If they do, promise them you'll give them a bottle of Heavenly Jam.

Heavenly Jam

Growing up, I thought Heavenly Jam was my Nan's special and secret creation. I didn't know anyone else who made jam like that. It was our family's signature recipe. With that being said however, I have since seen Nan's exact recipe published in local church cookbooks and the like between New England and Newfoundland. Not such a secret recipe after all, but a darn good one just the same.

Heavenly Jam, is a close relative to traditional strawberry rhubarb jam, and they taste quite similar There are some differences however. First, in place of real strawberries, we add strawberry jelly powder. Secondly, there is crushed pineapple in heavenly Jam...the "je ne sais quois" if you will! While Nan or Mom never needed to use fruit pectin to aid in the thickening process, I am not the master they were/are and thus I find that adding a packet of natural fruit pectin gives the jam the perfect jell quality.

This jam recipe is a cooked jam, that is meant to be stored in hot sterile jars. I submerge my jars, lids and rings in a large pot of boiling water and retrieve them with tongs as I fill my jars. I also have a large canning funnel which keeps the sides of the jars clean while filling.

In a large, heavy bottom pot, add
  • 6 cups of rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 1 package of powdered fruit pectin
  • 1 large (16 ounce) can of crushed pineapple

Cook on a medium-low heat and bring up to a slow simmer.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until rhubarb has broken down a bit and given off its juice.

Add and stir well:
1 large pack (2 small packs) of strawberry flavoured jelly (I use Jello)
Mix well, reduce heat to low and after a minute or two, your jam is ready to bottle.

Fill sterile jars to near the top, add the lid and the ring, and turn just until tight (do not fully tighten) Wipe off any excess. As the jars/jam cools, the jar will seal and the lid will pop down. After this, you can fully tighten the lids and store jam in a cool dark place, like you cellar.

This recipe makes about 5-6 pint sized jars of jam.

I enjoy this jam on many things, the best of which is on toasted homemade white bread, buttered cream crackers, toasted bacon and jam sandwiches (I kid you not!), in a pie or tart, or on vanilla ice cream. The list could go on. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pantry Stuffed Chicken Breast

One of the first "fancy" things I ever cooked were stuffed chicken breast roll-ups. It was a tasty recipe I got from the Downhome Almanac & Cookbook which was a gift to Mom for Mother's Day one year. The recipe featured boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat, dipped in melted butter, dredged in Newfoundland style bread crumbs (breadcrumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and savory), rolled up and baked in the oven. As I remember these were tasty and always a hit.

I don't make this recipe as much as I used to, but I am sometimes inspired by the technique to make other kinds of stuffed chicken breast roll-ups.The following recipe was created by picking ingredients out of my fridge one day after work. I had thawed some chicken breast, pounded them flat between two pieces of plastic wrap and set them in a bowl to quickly marinate in some olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest and fresh herbs. I then started picking through my stockpile of condiments in the fridge, namely marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red bell pepper, hot cherry peppers, and capers. I guessed on how much to use of each ingredient, chopped them up, and added some chopped parsley, oregano and garlic. I also had some leftover Gorgonzola cheese on hand so I put a small handful of the pungent cheese in the stuffing mixture as well. Each marinated chicken breast was then dredged in some store bought fine breadcrumbs, a big dollop of the stuffing went down on each breast (near the end, not in the middle), and then each breast was rolled up like a burrito, trying my best to tuck in the sides so the stuffing didn't spill out. The last step was to lace the stuffed breasts seam side down on an oiled baking sheet. Each breast received an extra drizzle of olive oil over the top and in they went to a hot 400 oven to cook for about 30 minutes.As you can see in the photos they came out crisp and golden brown! A side of roasted potatoes, carrots and green beans made for a memorable weeknight supper.

I'm not providing an ingredient list for this recipe for a couple of reasons. For one, I didn't measure how much of each ingredient I used....I just made it work. What didn't fit in each breast was spooned over the top and cooked in with the crust. Secondly, the possibilities are endless as to what ingredients you can put in your stuffing. In the past I've tried Tex-Mex style with pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapenos and tomatoes, and Greek style with spinach and feta. The possibilities are endless. The goal here is to get creative and use what you like and what you have on hand. Let me know what you come up with!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fried Fish Sandwich

A Wicked Scoff just returned from a Memorial Day weekend vacation touring beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts. While a lot of the days were filled with activities such hiking along the sand dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore and soaking up the sun on the beaches, there was no shortage of time spent enjoying the fresh local seafood. The first feed I had was a fried fish sandwich at Cooke's, one of the many seafood places (known as clam shacks) on the Cape. These establishments usually both eat-in sit down/take-out places and often there is the option of outdoor picnic table seating.  The sandwich was served on a fresh, warm New England style hotdog roll with a long, thick piece of battered and fried white fish fillet (haddock I think, and definitely freshly caught) topped with shredded lettuce and a side of tarter sauce. The combination of taste and textures was just perfect, and paired with some thinly slices homemade onion rings and a strawberry milkshake and I was in heaven.

Unfortunately the Fried Fish Sandwich is not all that popular in Newfoundland, as I've rarely seen it anywhere besides McDonald's (the Filet-o-Fish) and that doesn't really count in my opinion.I encourage you to try making this sandwich at home. The recipe I have hear uses a soft hamburger roll and a wide, flat cut of cod, however you could use hot dog rolls and a thin, long cut of fish. You can also use cod, haddock or any kind or fish for that matter...just make sure it's fresh! The key to this sandwich is a good quality soft roll. As for the tarter sauce, you can use one out of a jar, but since it's so easy, just whip one up yourself and you'll be happy.

Battered and Fried Fish
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold beer or water
- 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. Next season portions of fish with a little salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and dip in the wet batter, and Cook in 375 degree oil until the fish is golden brown and cooked through, about 4-6  minutes. Season hot fish with a little salt. Lay cooked pieces off fish on a wire rack and reserve in a warm oven until ready to serve. Best to serve them right away so they are crispy.

Tarter Sauce

Before preparing the fish, mix the following ingredients in a small bowl and season to taste. Place in the fridge to let the ingredients get to know one another.

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 heaping Tbsp sweet green relish
  • 1 Tbsp brown malt vinegar
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
 Assemble the sandwiches by toasting the rolls a little on their cut side (place under the broiler for a minute) and then add tarter sauce, the fried fish fillet, lettuce and more tarter sauce. Bite in and enjoy.
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