Nova Scotia scallop chowder and other recipes from Marie Nightingale

Nova Scotia Scallop Chowder (Courtesy of Digbypines.ca)

Nova Scotia Scallop Chowder (Courtesy of Digbypines.ca)

Elizabeth Baird, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:05 PM ET

If you're not from Nova Scotia, the name Marie Nightingale might be unfamiliar, but Marie was one of Canada's most beloved of food people. Well-known to many for a variety of reasons including her 20 year run as the very popular food columnist for the Chronicle Herald newspaper.

Forced to retire at 65, Marie Nightingale was not about to give up what she liked best - writing about the farmers and fishers of the Maritimes, about the whole new crop of chefs opening up restaurants, about whatever was fresh and local, about cookbooks and good recipes that would make peoples' lives easier, and more delicious.

There was a small respite before she became the founding food editor and writer for the brand new Maritime magazine called Saltscapes. This new role gave her even more to report, writing about the food of the Maritimes. But her renown goes back to 1970, when she produced what was a pioneer work in Canada: The Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens cookbook. In it, she delved into the peoples who make up Nova Scotia, each with their own history and food culture. Written in a warm, friendly thoroughly informed way, this book became a model for many cookbook writers and food writers who wanted to go beyond the latest fancy food find, hot chef or ingredient that promised to make you slim and forever young.

Roots, it was all about roots, and the ingredients around the various groups, the original Mi'kmaq, the French, the English, the Germans, Scots, Irish and African Canadians, each offering dishes that to this day make Nova Scotia one of Canada's foremost food destinations. All thanks to this vivacious, charming, sparkling brown-eyed woman, who alas, recently died at the age of 85. From her seminal book, a recipe selection so you, too, can taste some of the delights of an old Nova Scotia kitchen.

Nova Scotia Scallop Chowder

This recipe, exactly half of the original, comes from the Digby area, "which is the heart of the scallop industry."

Ingredients:

  • Butter the size of an egg (1 Tbsp./15 ml)
  • 1 lb. (500 g) scallops
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups/500 ml)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Water
  • 3 cups (750 ml) milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter and fry scallops on both sides until golden. With a knife, cut scallops into small pieces. Cook potatoes and onion in just enough water to cover them just until tender, but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Add milk and scallops to potato mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to just under boiling point and serve hot with crackers.

Makes 4 servings.

Stovies

This is an old Scottish favourite. The potatoes are cooked on top of the stove.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium-sized potatoes
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter or bacon fat
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water or stock

Directions:

Peel potatoes and onions and slice in alternate layers into a heavy saucepan. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Dot with butter. Add water or stock and simmer, covered, on low heat for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and most of liquid is absorbed.

Makes 6 servings.

Cucumbers with Sour Cream

This dish, perfect alongside grilled salmon, comes from the Germans who settled in Lunenburg, west of Halifax.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 small cucumbers or half long English cucumber
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) vinegar, cider recommended
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) granulated sugar
  • Pepper

Directions:

Peel cucumbers and slice thinly. Put into a bowl with onions and sprinkle with salt. Put a saucer on top and press with a weight for several hours. This removes juice from cucumbers. Pour off juice. Mix dressing made with sour cream, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Stir to combine.

Makes 6 servings.

Gingerbread

Thanks to the trade with sugar producing British colonies in the West Indies, molasses was a cheap sweetener in Atlantic Canada. While originally used because it was less expensive than sugar, molasses remains popular, especially in sweets, in Down East food. As this gingerbread cake bakes, the aroma fills the kitchen with most appealing fragrance. Serve hot with whipped cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (250 ml) fancy molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) each ground ginger and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground cloves
  • 1 cup (250 ml) hot water

Directions:

Butter a 9-inch (2.5 L) square metal cake pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten egg and molasses and beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, sifting a second time or until evenly blended. Stir half at a time into molasses mixture. Lastly add hot water and beat until smooth.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan; smooth top. Bake in centre of 350F (180C) oven until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Or, as Marie Nightingale said, "or until done.”

Let cool about 30 minutes and serve warm in squares with whipped cream. Or, let cool completely in pan on a rack; cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. To freeze, wrap cake in plastic wrap and enclose in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 12 servings.


Videos

Photos