Five Newfoundland and Labrador Cookbooks

There is a storied history to the traditional cuisine of Newfoundland and Labrador, as intertwined and celebrated in the culture and traditions as is music and language. Born out of necessity, the traditional diet of the province centered around living off the land and consisted of fish, seafood, and wild game along with berries you could pick, root vegetables you could grow, and breads you could bake.

As of recently, there has been an explosion to the food culture in Newfoundland and Labrador garnering the province a new reputation as a foodie’s must-see destination. Built off the fresh, sustainable, local ingredients found across the land, local chefs are adding in a dash of creativity breathing new life into old ways.

Whether you’re an experienced home cook looking for a challenge or a Newfoundlander and Labradorian living away missing home, the recipes found throughout the cookbooks below are sure to transport your taste buds back to the sweet, sweet memories of delicious meals shared with family and friends.

 

Food, Culture, Place: Stories, Traditions, and Recipes of Newfoundland by Lori McCarthy and Marsha Tulk

A pioneer to the recent local food renaissance, Lori McCarthy and co-author Marsha Tulk take readers on a year-long journey sharing recipes of foods accessible throughout each season, including this Newfoundland-Indian fusion Steamed Cod with Curried Mussles.

Ingredients

1 to 2 lb cod fillets, skinned and cut into portion sizes
1/2 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 parsnips, peeled and julienned
1 small turnip, peeled and julienned
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Sprinkle salt over the cod portions and set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the flesh to firm up. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the vegetables, garlic, and curry powder. Cover and sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes until they are just beginning tom soften.

Place a separate saucepan over a high heat. When it is hot, add the mussels, discarding any that are open or cracked. Add the wine. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until all the mussels have opened.

Strain the mussels through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid. Add this liquid to the vegetables *be sure to leave behind any grit or sediment). Reduce the liquid in the vegetables by half over high heat, add the cream, and reduce to a consistency that thinly coats the vegetables. Pick the mussels from their shells and add to the vegetables and sauce. Keep warm. Set a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water large enough to hold the cod pieces. Steam the cod for 6 to 10 minutes until it is cooked through.

To serve, spoon some of the vegetables and sauce into a bowl, sprinkle with fresh coriander, and place a piece of cod on top. Freshly grind some black pepper on top of fish. Serve immediately.

Continue your reading exploring the recipes and stories of another pioneer of the renaissance, Jeremy Charles, in his book Wildness: An Ode to Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

The Forager's Dinner: Finding, Harvesting, and Preparing Newfoundland & Labrador's Edible Plants by Shawn Dawson

No one does foraging quite like the forager himself, Shawn Dawson, who spends his days collecting and growing plants for local restaurants and markets – read more. With a little creativity, anything edible can become a meal, like this Dandelion Pesto and Mussel pasta created by Sylvie Mitford, co-owner and head chef of The Boreal Diner in Bonavista.

Ingredients

1/2 Ib mussels per person
1/4 cup dry white wine or vegetable stock for cooking the mussels
Dry spaghetti or linguine (100 g per person) or fresh pasta (200 g per person)
Salt for pasta water
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes per person
Lemon juice
1 tbsp butter per person

Pesto

2 cups (packed) freshly washed dandelion greens
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions

Place all pesto ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to incorporate all the ingredients. If it is too thick, add more olive oil. This probably makes more pesto than you will need for this dish. Pack the unused portion into a jar and cover the surface with olive oil to prevent discolouring. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week; store in the freezer for longer.

Rinse and pick though the mussels and remove any that are open. Steam in a tightly lidded pot with the wine until they are all open, about 2 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then pick the meat out of the shells, discarding any unopened shells. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (salted like the ocean) to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook on a medium-high heat until they blister and split slightly. Add the mussels and a heaping tablespoon of pesto per serving. Scoop the pasta directly from the water into the pan. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water per serving and stir to mix the pesto with the pasta.

Raise the heat to high and add the butter. Cook, tossing or stirring vigorously until the sauce emulsifies, becomes glossy, and coats the surface of the pasta. Add more pasta cooking water if it appears greasy. Add salt and pepper to taste and a dash of lemon juice. Serve immediately, topped with freshly grated Parmesan.

 

Taking a Chance: The First 25 Years of Fishers' Loft Inn by John & Peggy Fisher and Roger Pickavance 

John & Peggy Fisher of Fisher’s Loft Inn are no strangers to a cooking after 25 years in hospitality. Their new book, Taking a Chance: The First 25 Years of Fishers’ Loft Inn, is a memoir of stories and recipes collected over the years, including one of their favourites: Peggy's Famous Partridgeberry Muffins.

Ingredients - makes 12

Butter for greasing
2 cups (300g) unbleached white flour plus extra for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (150g) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup (120g) fresh or frozen partridgeberries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and dust the muffin cups.

Combine the flour and baking powder.

Whisk the eggs, salt, sugar, vegetable oil, and orange juice until combined. Mix in the zest and berries. Stir in the flour mixture until the batter is well combined.

Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

 

Rock Recipes: The Best Food from my Newfoundland Kitchen by Barry C Parsons

For another traditional baked good we turn to a recipe from a local chef operating in a much different medium. Barry Parsons is a food writer and blogger, owner of the blog Rock Recipes, and author of 4 best-selling cookbooks: one of which houses the recipe for Newfoundland Raisin Tea Buns.

Ingredients 

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup raisins
2 tbsp lemon juice

 Instructions

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, sand salt. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl and toss in the raisins. Make a well in the center of the dry mix.

Mix together the lemon juice, vanilla, and milk. Pour into the well and mix only enough to form a dough ball. Roll into 1 inch thickness and cut out buns with biscuit cutter or cup and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Taste of Newfoundland and Labrador Cookbook by the Provincial Department of Development, 1981

Today’s cookbook can be considered a piece of artwork: bright, colourful visuals, poetic story, and beautiful design. The Taste of Newfoundland and Labrador Cookbook is very different. It’s a half-fold brochure with plain text and no images, just great recipes – such as Newfoundland Round Pea Soup.

 Ingredients

1 lb round yellow peas, soaked overnight
2 cups carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups turnip, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 parsnips, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 lbs salt beef, soaked overnight
2 quarts cold water

Instructions

Drain salt beef, discard liquid. Place salt beef in soup pot and cover with fresh cold water. Wash peas and place in pot with salt beef. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer and cook on simmer for 2 hours. Add vegetables and continue to simmer until vegetables are fork tender.

For another blast from the past, pick up a copy of the 1974 classic Fat-Back and Molasses: A Collection of Favourite Old Recipes from Newfoundland & Labrador by Ivan Jesperson.

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