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Peter the eater

Nova Scotia’s Traditional Foods

223 posts in this topic

Monkfish

How can something so bizarre in appearance be so delicious? I've been wanting to get my hands on a whole monkfish for quite a while. The creature shown below is a one-pound five-dollar Lophius americanus from Pete's Frootique, and before that from the bottom of the North Atlantic. They're a bycatch from the groundfish trawlers and are not as common as they once were. In fact, Greenpeace now has them on the red list.

I've become a fan of cooking fish whole and on-the-bone when possible, particularly the small ones. Unfortunately, this fish had already been gutted meaning no liver for me. Oh well, it would've been pretty small. I roasted at 350F for 20m with olive oil and rosemary. After a short cooling period, I took the tail flesh off and made a strained sauce with the rest. This fish is so watery and gelatinous you can make a stock without adding water.

I'm hard pressed to name a better tasting fish -- it's firm, white and succulent a lot like a lobster's tail.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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If you video Google "monkfish" (click) you can watch Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto handle a much larger specimen. You can also see, and I think hear, eG Society member docsconz taking photographs of the event. I love the nose-to-tail approach, and the thorough appreciation for a threatened fish.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Thanks Peter, that is a great presentation - thanks for posting it, and thanks to whoever produced and made it available. I almost feel guilty - could the guests there even follow the show as well as we Tubers ?

I love the way they refer to the gills as chongmage as they lay them in the deep oil. "Samurai hairstyle".


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Thanks Peter, that is a great presentation - thanks for posting it, and thanks to whoever produced and made it available. I almost feel guilty - could the guests there even follow the show as well as we Tubers ?

I love the way they refer to the gills as chongmage as they lay them in the deep oil. "Samurai hairstyle".

It is a good video, and there's more coverage of the 2008 International Chefs Congress somewhere in the eG forums. I first learned of this monkfish ceremony a few years back when eG Society member Hiroyuki shared photos from a Japanese market. A fisherman in my own community told me that when they pull up monkfish, they usually chop the tail off and chuck the rest overboard.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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No matter where you are in Nova Scotia, it's impossible to get more than forty miles away from the ocean

Exactly two years ago -- weird, and still true.

Later this month there's a big seafood festival in town at the Cunard Centre -- lots of fish, mollusks, wine, chefs, etc. On a lark I filled out a form to compete in the oyster-shucking competition.

Now that I've done some egg-timer practicing, chatted with the competition, and actually read the rules, I realize it can't end well for me. I've got some technique but nowhere near the speed that comes with years of repetition. Snowball's chance.

Here's some more good reading.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Venison

Venison, in my world, means deer meat.

If it's not from a whitetail deer, it really needs to have another adjective such as moose, caribou, elk, hare, boar, etc. Venison is never sold at conventional grocery stores, but you can buy it from a licensed and inspected farmer-butcher, or you can be a hunter with your own weapons and paperwork, or better still you can barter with friends who hunt.

Venison is very much a traditional food in Nova Scotia in that it's been hunted and enjoyed for thousands of years, like most of North America. I'm a fan of wild and farmed venison. The farmed stuff isn't too pricey, it's lean and flavorful, and you know where it's been. It can also taste more mild which isn't a problem for me.

For Father's Day today, we all tucked into some venison shanks from Oulton's Farm in nearby Windsor, NS. They were browned on the gas grill and then spent the next six hours in the slow cooker with chicken stock, garlic, onion, carrot and celeriac. Served with herbed new potatoes, a shooter of purple cabbage slaw and an Alexander Keith's Pale Ale.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Striped bass

This 1 1/4 lb. specimen is from the Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia where it's population is doing well despite almost vanishing two decades ago. They spend part of the life-cycle spawning in fresh water and the rest in the Atlantic Ocean where they're highly sought-after by sporty types.

The knife has a 10" blade, so you can imagine this fish is barely enough for two adults. Fortunately, the garden is rife with kale, purple spuds, yellow grape tomatoes, lemon thyme and crazy beets.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Venison

Venison, in my world, means deer meat.

If it's not from a whitetail deer, it really needs to have another adjective such as moose, caribou, elk, hare, boar, etc. Venison is never sold at conventional grocery stores, but you can buy it from a licensed and inspected farmer-butcher, or you can be a hunter with your own weapons and paperwork, or better still you can barter with friends who hunt.

Venison is very much a traditional food in Nova Scotia in that it's been hunted and enjoyed for thousands of years, like most of North America. I'm a fan of wild and farmed venison. The farmed stuff isn't too pricey, it's lean and flavorful, and you know where it's been. It can also taste more mild which isn't a problem for me.

For Father's Day today, we all tucked into some venison shanks from Oulton's Farm in nearby Windsor, NS. They were browned on the gas grill and then spent the next six hours in the slow cooker with chicken stock, garlic, onion, carrot and celeriac. Served with herbed new potatoes, a shooter of purple cabbage slaw and an Alexander Keith's Pale Ale.

Looks tasty!

When I was working in N.S. for a couple of months many years ago the local Conservation Officer told us about catching a couple of 70 year old guys with 2 does out of season. They pleaded with him to just take the deer and not arrest them. "I'm not going to take your deer. You dress them and I'll take half of one."

So maybe you are in the wrong job. :wink: But the locals said he was made C.O. because he could hold his own when someone picked a fight at the dances and because it got rid of the worst poacher!


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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So maybe you are in the wrong job. :wink: But the locals said he was made C.O. because he could hold his own when someone picked a fight at the dances and because it got rid of the worst poacher!

I get that "wrong job" feeling with alarming frequency.

Turning a bad poacher into a Conservation Officer just makes sense. I think those guys get sidearms.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Just got back from a week in NS.

Does deep fried pepperoni (yeah, I ordered - and ate - some) count as a traditional food?

Cheers,

Geoff

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Just got back from a week in NS.

Does deep fried pepperoni (yeah, I ordered - and ate - some) count as a traditional food?

Cheers,

Geoff

Well, that depends. Was it from Chris Brothers?

That I could not tell you.

Cheers,

Geoff

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Squab

These are tasty little birds.

Nobody around here eats pigeons anymore, except for the few who raise them or can find them on a menu. They were a major food item a hundred years ago, before the last tourtre – French for passenger pigeon – went the way of the dodo.

The Acadian meat pie gets the name tourtière from these birds which once numbered in the billions, according to my interpreter at Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada. Wow, what a place -- go if you can.

The specimens below were raised on a nearby farm. They’re a bit bigger than market quail with amazing ruby-red breasts, not unlike a wild mallard. They were coated with maple syrup and canola before hitting the backyard gas grill. New potatoes, yellow zukes and purple carrots round it off.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Chicken Barbecued

There’s nothing terribly regional about a barbecued chicken -- it’s a widespread phenomenon. This bird belongs here because it hatched, grew and got processed on the family farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I used the large BBQ shallow and round with lump hardwood charcoal. The chicken got rinsed, spatchcocked and lightly oiled.

The supporting cast of new potatoes, chioggia beets, tiny tim tomatoes and scarlet runner beans are all from my garden.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Culinary Delights From Prospect Communities

Neighbours of mine down the Bay Road have described some wonderful foodstuffs here which are both local and traditional.

A sampling:

Apple Cider (Acadian)

Cut up 7 pounds of apples and place in an earthen crock. Cover with a gallon of cold water and let stand covered with muslin for 10 days, stirring each day. When fermentation ceases, strain and return the juice to the crock. Then add 3 pounds of sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Leave for 7 days, stirring daily. Skim and pour into a wooden keg and cork. In 6 months, it will be ready.

Blueberry Biscuits (Mi'kmaq style)

Boil a large quantity of blueberries for 3 to 4 hours. Compress them into disc-shaped cakes and let them dry in the sun. The Mi'kmaq stored these in birch-bark boxes as part of winter provisions.

Eels (Fried)

Skin and clean 3/4 pound eels. Cut into desired lengths and place in a pan with salted water to cover. Parboil 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and wipe dry. Roll lightly in seasoned flour and fry in a small amount of fat to a nice brown.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Shrimp Chowder

There are as many chowders as there are people making it. Check out the 20th eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Challenge for a comprehensive discussion on how to make and enjoy chowder. Personally, I like the versatility. It should be a creamy seafood soup with any number of veg and flavorings -- whatever is around and in season works.

My wife took the boy to her soccer tourney leaving me at home with the girl. For lunch she wanted a tea party with lobsters. I told her she's too young for caffeine and that we're all out of lobsters. This was our compromise:

  • thaw, shell and de-vein 1 lb local shrimp
  • slice up a leek and simmer in butter until golden
  • make stock from shrimpy bits
  • add stock and shrimp meat to leeks
  • thicken with heavy cream
  • serve in fancy tea cups

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Shrimp Chowder

... For lunch she wanted a tea party with lobsters. I told her she's too young for caffeine and that we're all out of lobsters. This was our compromise:

A kid who wants tea and lobster. Sounds like you're raising her right!

I have fond memories growing up in Winnipeg of drinking tea that was mostly milk and sugar.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Monkfish

How can something so bizarre in appearance be so delicious?

I saw this beautifully preserved specimen at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa this past summer. I don't know how much it would've weighed, but I'm pretty sure I could slide my copy of Rick Moonen's Fish Without a Doubt into that gob.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I managed a Canadian bookstore located in the Halifax's Historic Properties. The bookstore was called A Pair of Trindles and it still might be there, located right next to the Bluenose. We were very keen to collect and sell regional and church cookbooks from all over Nova Scotia and we spent our Sundays, the only day the store was closed, driving around and collecting them. They were very popular, especially with tourists. We also ate the local specialties - fried Digby scallops, Annapolis Valley apples, and a tourtiere from the area where the Acadians had originally lived.

There are several Nova Scotia dishes I fondly recall from our sojourn there. Some dishes were from restaurants and pubs, others were prepared by home cooks. I recall one restaurant serving sausage and sauerkraut with beer. The restaurant was also in the Historic Properties and was intended to emulate an historical period and historical fare. I don't recall the period but the restaurant featured long tables where different groups could sit together and chow down sausage and sauerkraut and meat pies. We ate lunch there on a regular basis, and I always had the sausage and sauerkraut.

There were a couple of pubs that served great fried clams with coleslaw and of course beer. We ate at one or the other at least once or twice a week.

I used to lunch often at a more upscale restaurant which served a delicious lobster stew - very simple, lobster, cream, butter, salt and pepper.

We were friends with a local publisher of historic materials. His wife like to serve authentic Nova Scotia fare. I remember a delicious oatmeal bread served straight from the oven with a fine fresh fish chowder. I also recall dining poached Atlantic salmon with egg sauce and fiddleheads in the spring.

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Plum tart, I don't know if Trindles is still there. Your lunch spot with the long tables sounds like The Lower Deck.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Yes, a Pair of Trindles was next to the old Chandler's shop in the red building. The restaurant with the big tables wasn't called the Lower Deck then, I will try to remember what they called it. Do they still serve sausage and sauerkraut? It was in a stone building across from the book shop. The bookstore was there from day one of the Historic Properties and it really was fun being there from the beginning.

Thanks for the update.

Barbara

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Just checked. A Pair of Trindles was in the Old Red Store and the restaurant was in the Privateer's Wharf (not stone on the outside anyway, I see) and yes the restaurant was where the Lower Deck is not but I don't think it was called that.

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Lamb Ribs

In 1975, when I was a child, my future father-in-law imported some 3000 head of North Country Cheviots from Scotland to Cape Breton. He no longer raises sheep for a few reasons, but mostly it was the coyotes. They're everywhere these days. Fortunately, there are a few local farmers successfully raising NC Chevs. I pulled some lamb ribs out of the freezer this morning.

Here's the sequence:

  • frozen flanks go into a brine with saltpetre and liquid smoke
  • simmer/poach at 100C for two hours
  • marinade in oil, vinegar, mint and garlic
  • roast covered for an hour at 150C
  • serve with parsnip puree and bitter greens

I like that it's just one pot for the meat -- defrost, brine, simmer, marinade and roast. Photos after dinner.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Here are the photos.

This particular chunk of meat was under $5 and served as the entrée for 3 adults. The mint and parsnips are from my own garden, greens from the market, so all things considered it's a pretty frugal plate.

I like the manageable size of these ribs as compared to pork and beef which tend to be a big scale production. As long as the meat is moist inside with a crunchy coat I'm happy. Maybe I'll try a dry rub next.

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Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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