Archive for September, 2011

Wood-Roasted Salmon in a Wood-Fired Oven

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Wood-Roasted Salmon

Usually I grill salmon on a cast iron grill positioned over hot coals in our wood-fired oven which is always delicious, but the following Wood-Roasted salmon cooked by means of direct or indirect heat in our Forno Bravo Casa2G90 wood-fired oven resulted in a wonderfully moist and flavorful salmon.

We fired up our oven using dry hard woods about an hour prior to baking to give the oven a little extra heat retention. The Casa2G90 oven has a 36″ diameter oven floor so keep in mind that each oven is different in size and mass and may require  different amounts of time to maintain the desired temperatures and results. One simply has to get to know their own oven and pay close attention to temperatures. 

Comparison Chart of the Casa Series. Ask us about other models as well.

If grilling directly over hot coals, we usually allow for about 40-50 minutes to build a nice bed of good size coals, but as I said, I like the  extra heat retention when baking as it tends to sear in the flavors that much more with the wonderful heat convection yet keeping the fish moist. Your fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees. Beyond that you will dry out the fish. After allowing the coals to subside somewhat  I pushed the coals to the side to allow for a little extra wood flavor and more direct heat but you can remove the coals altogether if you prefer as noted below. Below is the recipe I used from  “The Ultimate Wood-Fired Oven Book”.  The difference being I baked a large single fillet of wild salmon rather than separate smaller fillets (this would also be good)  and I didn’t  need the amount of time required in our Forno Bravo oven as in the original recipe. The original recipe suggests 15-20 minutes, but this would have been much too long for the fillet shown here and our oven for some reason. I did  maintain 450 degrees in the oven consistently. Part of the faster cook time may also be due to the lower fat content of wild salmon which is also a healthier choice than farm raised. I’d be interested in other people’s experience and knowledge in regards to fat content of fish as it relates to cooking time. The end result was a fabulous salmon meal.


36 ounces of salmon fillets

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped green celery leaves (the younger leaves are best)

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

1/2 cup salted capers (rinsed under running water and then soaked in bowl of cold water for 30 minutes)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 3 lemons

1 lemon sliced

Original recipe:  Place the salmon on an oven platter or shallow baking dish.  I used an aluminum heavy platter. Spoon 1/3 of the olive and herb mixture over the fish. Add lemon juice to the olive and herb mixture and set aside. You can bake the salmon with direct heat (in an oven where the fire has been moved to one side) or indirect heat (where the embers and fire have been removed). Bake the salmon in a 450 degree F oven around 10  minutes, longer if the fillets are very thick or if the oven isn’t holding as much heat.

Remove from the oven and place on a serving platter. Add the remaining olive mixture to the baking dish and put the dish back into the oven for about 1-2 minutes to combine with the fish juices.

Pour the olive sauce over the salmon, sprinkle the rest of the parsley on top, and serve with a slice of lemon.

Excellent article from “The World’s Healthiest Foods” non-profit organization:  Is There Any Nutritional Difference Between Wild-Caught and Farm-Raised Fish? Is One Type Better For Me Than Another?


Color With Glass! Glass Tiles, Knobs and Artistic Mosaic Ideas

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Craving a little color in your home? Perhaps you’d like to add a little excitement or passion somewhere that is lacking much of……anything?  Tired of a drab wall surface?  Somewhere in your  pallet of nuetrals  consider some reds, shimmery blues, metallics, or a vibrant mural! The ARCH has many earth tone colors but we also have a very large selection of mosaic glass as well as complimentary vibrant glass knobs.  Imagine a wall area you are thinking about changing with some vivid colors, shine, or texture.

Gradation of 1x1 inch mosaic tiles

If you like the idea of a tile gradation as shown here, it is not so difficult to do, you simply remove a few blue glass squares from the sheets of tiles gradually removing more and more blues as they blend into all whites.  The sky’s the limit on what can be done with a gradation.

Imagine this  bathroom below with a solid white flat painted wall before the “shimmerfly” glass tiles were added. The tiles add so much to an otherwise plain space.

Tiles come in matte, to shimmery shiny

Mosaic tile come on 12″x12″ sheets for the most part.   There are  many mosaic sizes to consider: 1×1 inch, 2×2 inch, 1×4 inch, 1×6 inch, 1/2 x 1/2 inch, square, round, and ovals. Surfaces include: shiny, opaque, textured, reflective, matte, clear, and more.

For the more subtle. Also available are switchplates to compliment  as well.

Shimmery subtle tiles. Also available are complimentary switchplates that don't distract like the plain white on your new investment.

Handmade glass knobs add a great complimentary accessory to glass tile installations.

Handmade glass knobs with mosaic tile accents.

If there is a glass color you like among the mosaic selection we can create knobs with that color as a center for any glass knob.  Shown here are a few examples of glass knobs.  If, for example, you prefer a blue center on the white knob, this is an easy order!  Available in many assorted colors at The ARCH. By late September several selections will be available through our online market.

Great accent knobs for cabinets, closet doors, dressers, tie backs.

Nice touch!

Glass tiles can also  be blended with clay tiles as well if you have a beautiful piece you want to stand out. I recommend you play with the pieces until you see something you like.  Also available are river stone  sheets that you can manipulate in a number of ways.

River stone comes on sheets. We'll remove stones and replace with beautiful medallions, swirls, and other metallic glazed tiles.

Below is an example in development for our Forno Bravo wood-fired oven arch with river stone and metallic clay glazes which will create a highly textured playful surface with interesting hand-pressed tiles, medallions and swirls that can stand a little smoke from time to time.

template to play with arrangements of tile and river stone mosaic

I created a  cardboard arch template to fit the oven arch and laid out some ideas. I’ll share the final result when


Design services available for tile layouts and wood-fired oven designs.  Just give The ARCH a call at 828 253 5455 or visit

Oven arch will include swirls and medallions placed within gray river stone.

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American Clay’s Humidity Buffering Qualities Contributes to Healthy Air Quality From Bathrooms to Wine Cellars

September 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The growing interest and importance of air quality continues to reinforce  our great feeling about American Clay Earth Plaster. We are confident that it is good for us and the air we breathe!  There are some interesting advantages that American Clay offers to those wanting  more consistent humidity levels and the reduction of potential mold and mildew, as well as a quieter space.

Arlington VA Clay application by Roxanne. A welcoming American Clay finish provides benefits for humidity control or "buffering".

From personal experience we have lived with clay plaster in our own home and have experience with a broad variety of applications and placement of clay.  We have American Clay plaster in a kitchen/dining area, sun room, bedroom and in two bathrooms.  We’ve enjoyed the benefits the clay provides in every space and have witnessed, felt, and breathed in it’s  ability to absorb  and release water vapor when high levels of humidity are present without a spec of mildew appearing anywhere -EVER! What might seem to be a vulnerable location is where we applied clay along the top 18″ above the tiled walls in two shower areas but absolutely no problems have resulted- instead it benefits these areas.  In contrast,  if a  painted wall experiences high levels of humidity such as in a bathroom the surface will eventually develop condensation from water vapor creating an environment favorable for mold and mildew growth.  Another more extreme experience that we had was with several large3’x6′ foot display panels we made and applied with clay plaster for an expo.  After a three day event we drove home and with the onset of a rain storm we rushed the panels into our (less than perfect) garage several years ago.  We had an unfortunate heavy rain that evening that ultimately flowed into the area where these panels were situated.The panels were trimmed  with wood for presentation purposes. After about a week we noticed a mold made its way up the wood strips  but did not touch the clay. Not a spec!  The mildew completely avoided the clay.  If ever conditions were ripe for mildew this was it.  We cleaned up the wood and put them in dry storage and years later they still have no mold on them. (I wish I had taken a photo).    The following diagrams portray how American Clay provides humidity buffering in your home or business.  (Click on diagrams to enlarge text).

Powder Room at CIEL with American Clay, Porcelina, Chesapeake Bay, Designer Talli Roberts

As noted in this last image, the more clay there is in a given space the greater the humidity buffering. We called a few customers that have applied the clay in wine cellars  as this is an excellent application choice to assist in maintaining a consistent humidity so critical in a wine cellar.

Beautiful wine cellar with American Clay walls

In reading about climate control in wine cellars, efforts must be made to maintain a certain temperature as well as humidity level.

Hey, where's the wine? Jim- applied clay in wine cellar in CIEL residence

If the humidity rises above 70% I have read that this is when the potential for mildew on the corks can develop which may create a problem for the wine.

Prevent mold on corks with proper humidity control

There are several benefits when using the American Clay plaster- it assists in maintaining consistent humidity levels, assists in preventing mold and mildew, helps purify the air which is also important, and it is beautiful!  We asked several customers how their wine cellars are doing after the applying the clay years earlier.

One of our customers shared that he has had no problems and added that he also selected the clay for the old world look. Shown here are two other wine cellars.  Most of the wine cellars include applications on the ceiling contributing to humidity buffering benefits.

Mica Village open-air lobby with American Clay. A welcoming finish for a welcoming lobby

Lastly, I  have shared this open-air  lobby area before, but is a true testament that the humidity does not bother it. The benefits of American Clay go well beyond those mentioned here; in fact they are nothing short of amazing!

Give us a call anytime to discuss your project.

Interesting article: The 10 Most Common Wine Cellar Problems and How to Overcome Them

Click here for a  humidity demonstration done by American Clay.