Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

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Roasted Garlic

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, roasted garlic accompanied more meals than less. It always seemed to be on the table next to an incredible crusty hunk of bread. Not a frequent occurrence these days, but a must for any pizza party. As I’ve cooked more and more with the Forno Bravo I am loving utilizing the heat up and cool down times for cooking beyond pizza. Here is another quick and easy recipe to utilize the heat up period of your oven.

3 heads garlic
2 tblspn butter
1 tblspn olive oil
5 sprigs thyme
sea salt
black pepper

Trim the tops of the garlic off so that the majority, if not all, of the cloves are exposed, about 1/3 of the way down. Set tops aside for later use (see garlic butter recipe below). Place the heads of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil. Smear the butter over the exposed cloves, drizzle with olive oil, season with the salt and pepper and place the thyme on top. Roll the foil up over the garlic and pinch the ends of the rolls. Place in the front corner of the oven. It’s best to roast the garlic when your fire is starting and the hearth is approximately 350 – 400 degrees and the dome 600-700 degrees. At that temperature, the garlic takes 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil pack with garlic from the oven and unroll the foil. Garlic should be a deep golden color and soft to the touch.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Gently squeeze from the root end of the garlic; the garlic cloves should slide out for use. Use cloves whole or use the back of a knife to mash and smooth garlic into a paste.

Garlic Butter

For an added bonus, take the garlic tops you trimmed earlier and place in a small saucepot or skillet. Add 1 cup (two sticks) of butter and over low heat bring butter to a soft simmer. Add a liberal pinch of salt and continue to cook until some of the butter solids brown, about 5 minutes. This will add a great nutty flavor. Remove from the heat and let steep for an additional 10 minutes. Strain the butter and store in a covered container in the refrigerator up to two weeks. Use butter as you normally would and enjoy the kick of garlic. Or, keep a little ready to brush on the crust of your pizza as it comes out of the oven.

Hope you enjoy. Until next week, feast well – Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Got Gluten

I’ve got to believe that most, if not all of us in the Forno Bravo community are fans of gluten. After all, it is what gives our dough structure, chew and texture. But there are those (1% of Americans) that truly are affected by Celiac Disease that need gluten-free options. With the upmost respect to those who have Celiac – don’t even get me started on the “gluten free” movement silliness … if you’ve been reading the news recently it has been scientifically proven it is not healthier and you can actually consume more fat, sugar and overall calories with a long term gluten-free diet.

That said, I did have a friend with Celiac over for pizza the other night. Not having the time to make dough with “Cup 4 Cup” or similar flour substitute, I turned to King Arthur’s Gluten Free Bread and Pizza mix. I followed the instructions according to the box, but I did allow for the dough to sit and proof for about an hour and a half (not listed on the box).

The dough was very wet and loose, and it would be virtually impossible to form and slide on and off a peel. Instead I splashed a tablespoon of olive oil into my cast iron skillet and placed in it the oven for 2-3 minutes to let the fire warm it up. After removing the skillet from the oven, I used a wooded spoon a spread the dough mix as thinly as I could over the bottom of the cast iron and set to work adding the toppings. The pizza was cooked in about 4-5 minutes after placing it in the pizza oven. The dough will double in sizes and wrap around some of the heavier toppings, something my guest loved. The bottom of the dough was a crisp golden brown and while soft, the overall cooked dough had a very pleasant chew. My guest swore it was like a soft pretzel.

Hope to try a gluten-free flour substitute soon and post my learning … until next week, feast well. – Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

A pizza party … a recipe

A few nights ago I had the F&B team over for pizza after a long day of 2015 strategic planning. Being all foodies we were excited to all through our hat into the ring of cooking with the Forno Bravo oven. Unfortunately it was cold wintery mix kind of night in the mid-Atlantic but nothing a large market umbrella couldn’t handle. The evening was wonderful, fun of laugher, stories, camaraderie and coming together around a table of great food and drink.

To begin gather …
8 each food & beverage executives, substitute friends if f&b execs are not available

Welcome them with a bar and munchies …
1 wheel Cow Girl Creamery’s Red Hawk cheese
1 wedge Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Oil Cured Olives
1 package Sea Salt Crackers
3 bottles great red wine, pizza friendly … The Prisoner from TPWC for us
2 bottles great white wine, to get things started Ridge Chardonnay was our choice

For the Manhattan drinkers or substitute your cocktail drink of choice and ingredients
1 bottle Angel’s Envy Bourbon
1 bottle Nolly Prat Sweet Vermouth
1 bottle Cherry Bitters
1 jar Luxardo Cherries

Thrown in a handful of sparkling and tonic waters, lemons, limes and oranges. Show your guest the bar and let them enjoy.

In a large kitchen, set up platters of cheese, crackers and olives. Tip – do your best to have this set up before your guest arrive. They try and be polite but their hungry. Avoid temptation to bust into the cheese before they arrive. As your oven is warming up and your quest are indulgencing in snacks and beverages assemble your toppings.

12 each Pizza Dough, your favorite or see my earlier posts
1 bowl Tomato Sauce (San Marzano tomatoes, crushed with sea salt and evoo)
6-8 verities Cured Meats (Mortadella, Capicola, Soppressata, Prosciutto, Pepperoni, Andouille Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, Chorizo)
3-4 Cheeses (Fresh Mozzarella, Burrata, Taleggio, Cave Aged Gruyere, Parmigiano-reggiano, Provolone)
1 bowl Tapenade (kalamata olives, olive oil, basil, pepper blended into a smooth paste)
1 bowl Pesto (basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon, garlic blended into a smooth paste)
1 handful Golden Chanterelles
1 bulb Fennel
1 bunch Thyme
2 bunch Basil
1 bunch Oregano
1 bottle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch Radish
1 bunch Arugula
2 -3 Lemons
1 jar Local Honey
2-3 or more of your favorite toppings

Pour yourself a beverage, take a few sips and begin to set out all the toppings. Make the presentation is arrange enough so that your guest can see and reach everything. Once you say go, it’s on! Enjoy the pizza building and friendly competition of out doing each other. Our favorites of the evening where Andouille with cave aged gruyere and golden chanterelles, taleggio, thyme, honey and arugula. Enjoy … can’t wait to hear about your favorites. Until next week …. Feast Well!

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Rating: 3.8/5 (5 votes cast)

Happy Thanksgiving …. S’more Pizza

Happy Thanksgiving, best wishes to you, your family and friends this holiday season. So much to be thankful for this year, as it is for most, family tops my list. New to my list this year is my amazing Forno Bravo oven. The simplest of gestures of hosting a pizza night for family and friends has become a wonderful reminder of how fulfilling it is to gather around the table and enjoy great food, good drink and delightful conversation. This past weekend we cooked up a storm of amazing pizzas and just when we where sitting back thinking we couldn’t eat one more bite (training for our turkey feast) my fourteen year old daughter, Sabrina, stood up and went to work on her pizza contribution for the evening.

While I am sure we are not the inventors of the chaotic and captivating collision between classic Italian pizza and that American sugar bomb known as the S’more it certainly brought laughter and amazement as we indulged in another slice. It was the perfect crowning moment for the night.

1 each pizza dough, your favorite of course
2 each Hersey chocolate candy bars, broken into pieces
8 large marshmallows, cut into thirds
2 gram crackers, crushed into small bits and crumbs

Form your dough, evenly spread the chocolate and marshmallows over the dough and place in your oven. Bake until done … 90 seconds, the marshmallows should caramelize and expand just like when you toast them over your campfire. Remove from oven and scatter the gram cracker bits over the top. I normally end my recipes with a “Feast Well” sign off but somehow I think we all will today with our turkey day feast. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving – Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Fire Roasted “Ratatouille”

Okay so not really a true ratatouille in that you are not stewing the vegetables together but the high heat of the Forno Bravo gives the vegetables a great sear and roasted flavor. I’ve also taken liberties from the classic and added fennel, one of my favorites, for some extra depth. You do not need to be fancy with this one, let your knife and the shape of the vegetable be your inspiration. Do your best to keep the cuts the same size so that they cook evenly.

1 small eggplant
1 each yellow squash
1 each zucchini
1 each red pepper
½ yellow onion
½ fennel bulb
4 cloves garlic
3 each tomatoes
8 basil leaves, chopped
2 sprigs oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Pinch red chili flakes

Cut eggplant into large pieces / rustic dice, place in a large bowl and season liberally with kosher salt. Set aside for 15 minutes, then transfer to a strainer and rinse with cold water. Set a side and let dry for 10-15 minutes.

Cut the remaining vegetables but the tomatoes into large pieces / rustic dice. Place in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper. Slice the tomatoes into equal wedge pieces and set aside with herbs.

Preheat your cast iron skillet or similar pan in your oven. Once heated, about 3 minutes, add the olive oil and chili flakes, let stand for 1 minute. Add diced vegetables, including eggplant to the skillet and return to the oven. Let roast for 12-15 minutes. Pull skillet from oven, add tomato slices, basil and oregano, stir vegetables throughout and return to the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat add the balsamic vinegar, still again to incorporate and transfer to a serving dish. Enjoy … until next week feast well!

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Rating: 4.3/5 (6 votes cast)

New Tradition – Forno Bravo Oven Fire Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving is a mere two weeks away so why not throw a turkey in the “Drago Affamato” or “The Hungry Dragon” as my family calls our oven. Obviously maintaining a steady low fire is key to evenly roasting for your bird. Think back to your cure, ideally a low fire around 350 is ideal. You’ll get charring, similar to your pizza, in spots, especially on the top but the crispy blistered skin and silky smoke flavors are a pleasant bonus. To make it easier and less time, I’ve opted to remove the wings, legs and thighs for this round. For the legs and wings, I’ve roasted them separately in the oven and transferred into my stockpot for a rich, roasted turkey broth base for my gravy. As for the thighs, I’ve minced them up and added the meat to my stuffing for an additional layer of flavor.

1 10-12 pound turkey, fresh
1 each small-medium yellow onion, diced large
1 each lemon, diced large
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, picked
6 sage leaves
6 basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Rinse the turkey in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove legs, thighs and wing joints. Set aside for other use (see above). Rub the turkey with olive oil add season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Place the onion, lemon and herbs into a small mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss so that the mixture is mixed through. Stuff the turkey cavities, including the front neck portion with the lemon herb mixture.

Place on a baking pan with a wire rack. Slide into the oven and roast. For this version I had a 12-pound turkey and averaged 350 degrees for approximately an hour and 10 minutes. I rotated the bird every 10-15 minutes to ensure even heating. I did not opt to cover the hot spots with aluminum foil, as I did not want to steam the skin. Once you turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees it is done, remove from oven and let rest for about 20 minutes or 2 minutes per pound to ensure a juicy, tender result. Hope you enjoy … until next week feast well!

I am a bug fan of brining meat, especially turkey. Brining helps retain moisture as well as help season the meat through out. While I did not brine this particular turkey you certainly could do with this simple brine recipe.

3 cups kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
.25 cup of cracked black pepper corns
4 apples, chopped
4 lemons, chopped
2-3 bay leaves
1 head garlic chopped
Water to cover

Combine all the ingredients into a large pot with 1 quart of water. Bring mixture to a boil, remove from heat and let cool. Place mixture into a brining bag or similar large container that can be refrigerated. Remove turkey from packaging, rise with cold water and pat dry. Place the turkey into the brine mixture, and add additional cold water to cover the turkey. Place in refrigerator and let stand for 4 hours. Remove from brine, rise and pat dry.

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Rating: 4.1/5 (8 votes cast)

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

As the leaves change color, the days get darker and a welcome chill fills the mid-Atlantic air, it is a perfect time to break out the seasonal fall favorites. From the earliest of childhood memories, roasted sweet potatoes, yams, squashes and root vegetables made their way to our table. Here is one of those simple, favorite recipes to add to your repertoire and maybe find its way into your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Allowing the butter to brown adds a creamy nutty flavor to the sweet, earthy squash and the fresh grated nutmeg at the ends provides a perfect seasonal punch.

1 each small-medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons of butter divided equally in two portions
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 each whole nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom

I prefer to use the heat up time of your oven for the roasting of the squash. Low temperatures for a longer time will allow you to cook through consistently without charring. Some charring is desired and it adds a caramelized toasty flavor but with too much it can turn bitter quickly.

Trim the top and root section off on the squash. Leave the skin on. Split the butternut lengthwise in half and using a spoon, clean out the seeds and fibers. Slice the squash into 8 equal wedges and place in a mixing bowl.

Preheat your cast iron skillet or similar roasting pan in the Forno Bravo oven.

Combine the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, thyme, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom in a small sauté pan. Let ingredients steep over low heat until the butter is melted, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately spoon the butter-olive mixture over the butternut squash and toss to ensure ingredients are incorporated and cover the squash.

Place the butternut squash into your cast iron and place in the oven. After about 20-25 minutes as the squash begins to cook through and become tender, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and gently toss through out. Return to oven and continue to cook for and additional 10-15 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender though out, the butter has browned. Remove from oven, and serve. Spoon any residual brown butter over the top and using a microplane grate a small amount of nutmeg over the top.

For a variation substitute sage for the thyme and add a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest or parmesan chees to the end. Hope you enjoy … until next week feat well

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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Steak & Tomatoes

A late ode to the summer grill

Our local farmer’s market had a handful of late harvest tomatoes left and I just could not resist a simple, fast and delicious ode to a summer meal off the Tuscan grill. Once your fire has burned down most of the way and your are left with a great bed coals, spread the coals evenly across the hearth and insert your Tuscan grill centered over the coals. Allow grill to preheat for a few minutes prior to adding your foods.

1 each beef flank steak / flat iron or skirt steak
1 bunch green onion
8 -10 tomatoes, small – medium sized
olive oil
kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Add a bowl of your favorite steak topping, dip or sauce … chimichurri for me!

Remove steak from package, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Set aside on a sheet pan or plate and season liberally on both sides with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Best to let the meat temper to room temperature approximately 15-20 minutes prior to cooking. Similarly once you have cooked the meat, let it rest for 2-3 minutes per pound to help retain juices.

Trim the roots and split the bulb end of the green onions. Place in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and a touch of olive oil.

Using a larger metal skewer, or bamboo skewers that has been soaked in water (to reduce burning) align the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Once the Tuscan grill is hot, slide towards the oven opening and place the meat, onions and skewered tomatoes on the grill. Slide grill back over the coals and cook for 3-5 minutes. Using tongs, make a quarter turn of the meat and vegetables and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Slide the grill towards the door, flip both the steak and vegetables and continue to cook until desired doneness … about another 5 minutes for medium. Remove from grill and oven, let meat rest and serve with your favorite sauce. Chef Bart … until next week feast well.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (6 votes cast)

fave pizza toppings

favorites of my pizza crowd..start with your best dough recipe
mine is 2 1/2 c bread flour 1/2 c seminola flour 1.5 cup water
2 tsp sugar one salt 2 1/2 tsp yeast knead cover/ rest 20 min and go

top with oil only bacon, blue chz bake then top with fresh scallions
or
saute shrimp butter garlic lemon zest..top pie with red sauce/shrimp sauce combo
bake then squeeze lemon parm chz light
or
cook round steak strips add jalepeno onion slices red pepper flakers
top pie with sauce meat mix and chz
or
sautee several kind of good mushrooms with a dash of good beer
top sauce cheeze
i could go all night haha!

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Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

Prosciutto and Concord Grape pizza

Last week a few friends came over for dinner, after indulging on a few traditional top pizzas, challenges began being thrown my way. Conversation and creativity was flowing. One in particular challenge was, “how could you make a peanut butter and jelly pizza be good?” My answer, and interpretations, was found in breaking down the flavors and textures, salty, sweet, creamy and crunchy. The bellow recipe is what came together.

1 each dough ball
2 ounces / 3 slices provolone cheese
1-2 ounces sliced prosciutto
¼ cup concord grapes, sliced in half and seeded
1 spring thyme leaves, fresh
2 tblspn pistachios, toasted, chopped
Fresh cracked black pepper

Work and spread out your dough to desired shape and size. Place provolone cheese over the top, sprinkle thyme leaves, concord grapes and pistachios over the top and season with black pepper. Place in your Forno Bravo oven and cook until desired doneness. Remove from oven and immediately place slices of prosciutto over the top and serve. I think you’ll agree, though not true peanut butter and jelly the concord grapes provide the sweetness balancing the salty prosciutto while the cheese adds a neutral texture completing the experience. Chef Bart … until next week feast well.

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Rating: 3.7/5 (6 votes cast)