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Wood-Fired Oven Holiday Cooking With The Cool Night Air-Listen To The Asparagus!

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Crisp green roasted wood-fired asparagus

Christmas day had been a very full day. I wasn’t sure I wanted to cook an evening meal in the wood-fired oven or just hit the sofa.  After a large breakfast, lunch with extended family, the occasional bites of date bars and chocolate throughout the day, did any of us need dinner at all?

As it turned out cooking outside in the cool air was an invigorating and satisfying way to enjoy the evening and, as it turned out, for everyone at the table. It was actually an ideal time to get away from the “lazy warm inside air”.  I had picked up a number of fresh vegetables the day before which included carrots, asparagus, portobellos, red, yellow and orange peppers. I had planned for a lighter evening fare after heavier meals throughout the day. I didn’t get back to the crowded holiday lines to pick up the fish I considered, (and I love fish), but our house includes vegetarians and vegans as well as meat eaters,  so knowing how incredibly delicious wood-fired vegetables  are  I knew we’d be just fine especially if we included some Kalamata olive wood-fired hearth bread from the day before, some fine wine or other drink of choice. It all made for a great finish for the day.

Kalamata Olive hearth bread

We fired up the oven, tending it off and on for a little more than forty-five minutes which is typical for our Forno Bravo Casa2G90. The temperature outside was in the 30’s, the oven coals somewhere over 1000 degrees, the dome creating the perfect convection experience – all ready to sear in the flavors like no other cooking method.  I prepared a couple of platters of vegetables (which took all of ten minutes- rinse vegetables, drizzle with oils, herbs, etc…, arranging and considering the grilling order and placement  in the oven). Grilled carrots carmalizing on left. Asparagus taking the place of the peppers and portobellosThe carrots were set to one side of the oven ahead of the rest of the vegetables allowing for the most generous amount of grilling time. I have read that cast iron may cook too hot in a wood-fired oven- but I believe it is more a case of knowing your oven and what you are cooking.Setting the heavy pan to the side of the fire works great for carrots. Want more heat? Move the pan closer to the fire. Want less? just pull it away, stirring on occasion, but not too often as its the caramelized skins that are delicious. Next, the portobellos were placed on the grill and then the peppers, checking up on them from time to time, giving the  peppers a turn,  evening out the coals beneath until all were roasted and just beginning to ooze their delicious juices.

Wood-fired vegetables ready for serving.

Vegetables don’t take that long,so they want your undivided attention at this point. No problem. I was glad to be outside tending the beautiful red coals and watching the fire. The last vegetable  I placed in the oven was the asparagus which had been placed on a foil covered roasting tray and placed on the Toscana grill. Drizzled with olive oil, herbs, garlic, fresh lime juice,  combined with the perfect heat of the dome and coals beneath they provided the ultimate chorus and just listening to them sizzle was, well here…listen for yourself.

And they were absolutely delicious!  They were so good that I grilled a second batch after dinner to eat the next day.

For more information on grilling in your wood-fired ovens, give us a call at The ARCH at 828 253 5455

Brotform Proofing Baskets and Other Wood-Fired Oven Accessories Available at The ARCH

Our Forno Bravo wood-fired oven continues to inspire us as we explore recipes and techniques, which often includes baking delicious hearth breads. Though we’re not professional bread bakers, we’ve surprised ourselves with some pretty delicious loaves of bread, and we remain admirers of the bread baking world- learning… learning… learning.

Ciabatta with Asiago and Feta

Shown here are a couple of Ciabatta loaves that Jim made that we thoroughly enjoyed alongside some Fire Roasted Tomato Soup that included roasted wood-fired tomatoes from our oven as well.

Close up of Delicious

We have a lot of respect for the many master bakers that surround us who truly understand the art and  science of creating beautiful and delicious bread. Cooking in our wood-fired Casa2G90 Forno Bravo oven has led us to seek out practical as well as artistic accessories for food preparation as well as cooking with the oven. You really do cook “with”a wood-fired oven as they have a lot to teach us. Wood-fired ovens offer a delightfully interactive experience.

Long handled tools a must

We started out with the much needed and necessary long handled Forno Bravo  tools, peels, pizza accessories,and  cast iron grill, yet we still have a wish list. The tools each oven owner needs all depend on how you cook and use your oven.  Give us a call at The ARCH 828 253 5455 if you would like some advice on what tools you need to get started with.

If I were camping for example, I can appreciate managing meals with a sparse supply , carving out “the forgotten spoon”, and all the improvising and creativity that goes with it, but when it comes to home, I admit  enjoying tools that make a task easier or have an artistic appeal. Some of our bread baking “improvised” props have been successful, but some have not worked out so well for us so we’ve decided to add A NEW COLLECTION OF ARTISAN BAKING ACCESSORIES  in our showroom The ARCH! 

Spiral Lines and artistic cuts on artisan bread

We’re  very excited to explore baking hearth breads with the artisan rustic spiral raised lines and interesting cuts. We now carry  Brotform proofing baskets, liners, baker’s couches, dough whisks and Bordelaise Lames.  All are professional grade and very well made.  Brotform baskets are handwoven bread molds made of cane, brotform, also known as brotformen or banneton. They are used to form and shape artisan loaves during the proofing and rising stage.

Results of a Brotform basket before baking

We’ll be adding to our inventory, but we’ve started out with  the following: 8″ round Brotform baskets, 13″ Brotform Baskets, 18″ Baguette Brotform baskets, liners if desired (an option for another great crust texture) to fit any of the baskets we’ve ordered, Baker’s couche precut at 24×35″, Danish dough whisks in 11.5 and 14″ lengths, and Mure-Peyrot Bordelaise Lames. We’ll share some of the results soon!

8" round Brotform

Liner for Brotform basket for desired texture

Bakers Precut Couche

18" Baguette Brotform with Liner

Here’s a helpful link to an article discussing in greater depth the use of Brotform proofing baskets.

Give us a call at The ARCH for accessories as well as the complete Forno Bravo line of ovens, outdoor fireplaces and installation service  at 828 253 5455

Hours T-F 9:30-5:30,Sat 10-3