Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

Sweet Anise Bread

While my Forno Bravo oven hibernated in its snowy winter jacket this week, my business travel took me to Peru. I had the pleasure of working with a group of chefs from around the Caribbean, Central and South American markets. One of our days was spent exploring local ingredients, artisan producers and the cultural influences that have made Peruvian food a global force. We stopped at chef Eduardo Navarro’s Chaxras {eco – restaurant} in Pachacamac for a lunch inspired by the traditional cooking methods of the Incas.

Within seconds of walking into the outdoor restaurant, the sweet smells of baking bread and visions of delicate smoke plumes coming from a wood fired oven captured my senses. I hastened a direct path towards to the oven to discover an amazing site of pillowy buns being placed in the oven. The soft, sponge texture combined with sweet smoke and delicate anise flavors had me hooked in just one bite. Here is an adapted recipe for the traditional “Pan de Anis”

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
.25 cup sugar
2 teaspn anise seed, toasted
1 teaspn vanilla extract
1 teaspn kosher salt
5 tablespns shortening
1 egg
1 cup water, 90 – 95 degrees
1 tablespoon yeast

Place the all purpose flour and bread flour in a standing mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment. Add the salt, anise seed and sugar. Mix well.

Add shortening, vanilla and egg to the flour mixture. Activate the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 15 minutes. Add to the dough mixture. Knead dough until smooth. Add a splash of water if dough seems dry, or a bit more flour if dough is too sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic warp. Allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Divide dough into 1 -1.5-ounce pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball, cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rest for 15 minutes. Place the dough circles on the baking sheets, and spray lightly with water. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they have risen a bit.

When your oven is between 350-400 degree, place the bread in the oven either directly on the hearth or on a baking sheet. Rotate if necessary and continue to bake for 18-25 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Remove from oven and enjoy warm. Until next week – feast well.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Grilled Pork Tenderloin & Figs

Nothing fancy about this one, just the great combination of sweet, peppery figs and smoky tender pork. Once your fire has burned down most of the way and your are left with a great bed of 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 pork tenderloin
4-6 each figs, fresh, Black Mission or Kadota (green)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Rinse pork 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.

Slice the figs lengthwise in half. Place in a mixing bowl, season with salt, pepper and a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Once the Tuscan grill is hot, slide towards the oven opening and place the pork and figs on the grill. Slide grill back over the coals and cook for 7-9 minutes. Using tongs, make a quarter turn of the meat and figs and cook an additional 5 minutes. Slide the grill towards the door, flip both the pork and figs and continue to cook until desired doneness … about another 5 minutes for medium. Remove the pork and figs from grill and oven, let meat rest. Slice the pork into medallions and serve with your favorite sauce and vegetable. Until next week, feast well.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Taleggio & Golden Chanterelle Pizza

Taleggio is one of my favorite cheeses. Hailing from the Lombardy region of Italy, it is rich, buttery and balanced with tart fruity and nutty flavors. It is sublime on any cheese plate but it quickly becomes ridiculously delicious when melted on pizza. Taleggio has a soft reddish-yellow washed rind that gives it a subtle salty finish and a wonderful off-white pale colored paste. If you have yet to dabble in this extraordinary ingredient, I urge you to fire up your Forno Bravo oven and indulge!

For this Taleggio inspired pizza, I could not resist adding golden chanterelle mushrooms and fresh thyme. For an added punch, I finished the pizza with a drizzle of local honey and arugula.

1 each dough of your choice
2 ounces Taleggio cheese, sliced into thin pieces
.5 cup (10-12 small) golden chanterelles
2 sprigs fresh thyme,
2 teaspoons honey
.25 cup arugula
.5 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon butter
kosher salt
black pepper

Prepare the golden chanterelle mushrooms first by gently brushing any dirt or sand from the tops and bases. Avoid soaking the mushrooms in water; if need be, use a damp kitchen or paper towel to clean. In a small sauté pan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and add the chanterelles. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to become tender. Remove from heat and toss in the fresh picked thyme leaves. Set aside for pizza assembly.

Form your dough and evenly place the Taleggio cheese over the top. When melted, Taleggio is creamy and will spread. Add the chanterelles and season with fresh cracked black pepper.

Place in your oven and bake. Toss arugula in a small bowl with extra virgin olive oil. Once the pizza is cooked, remove and finish with the drizzle of honey and arugula. Hope you enjoy. Until next week, feast well.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Roasted Cauliflower

Charred, steamed, raw, cut into steaks or florets or caramelized for a crave-able crunch, cauliflower has been enjoying a resurgence over the last couple years. I couldn’t resist taking a head of cauliflower, steaming it until tender, adding a miso, Asian inspired marinade and finishing it in the Forno Bravo oven.

1 head cauliflower, medium
1 cup pineapple juice, reduce by half
1 tablespoon miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon, ginger minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
.25 cup vegetable oil

Trim a medium sized head of cauliflower and place in a steamer. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the steam and place the cauliflower in a bowl of ice water to “shock” the vegetable to stop the cooking process. Once the cauliflower has cooled, remove from the water, set on a wire rack and let drain.

In a small pot over medium high heat, add pineapple juice and bring to a simmer. Add garlic and ginger and reduce mixture by half. In a separate mixing bowl, add miso paste, vinegar, sesame oil and vegetable oil. Once pineapple mixture is reduced by half, whisk the pineapple juice into the miso vinegar mixture until the ingredients are incorporated.

Place the steamed cool head of cauliflower in the mixing bowl with marinade and rotate and gently toss throughout the liquid. Use a spoon to ensure the mixture is distributed through out the center cavity of the cauliflower.

Place cauliflower in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan and place in the oven. Cook cauliflower until the outside of the cauliflower begins to caramelize and turn golden in color. Remove from oven and serve whole. Hope you enjoy.

Until next week, feast well.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Caesar Salad Pizza

Gotta give credit to my daughter and her affinity for Caesar salad for this recipe. Credit also goes to my son for grabbing the camera and documenting it for all to see. I would never claim credit for inviting such a combination but it certainly was a great reminder of a quick down and easy topping for a flavorful family favorite.

1 pizza dough
2 tblspns pesto
4 slices provolone cheese
3 cups chopped romaine
.25 cup Caesar dressing
.25 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
fresh black pepper

In a medium sized mixing bowl, place the romaine lettuce. Season the greens with fresh black pepper and toss with your favorite Caesar dressing. Set aside the salad and prepare your dough. After forming the pizza dough, spread the pesto evenly on the dough base and top with sliced provolone cheese. Place the dough in your Forno Bravo oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the provolone is lightly caramelized. Remove the pizza from the oven and once it comes out, top with the Caesar salad, finish with another sprinkling of cracked black pepper and a handful of shaved parmesan cheese.

Basil Pesto
Pesto is one of my most beloved condiments; Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame makes one of my favorite versions. For best results, use a mortar and pestle.

1 bunch basil (approximately 1 cup)
1-2 cloves of garlic
.25 cup pine nuts, toasted
.25 cup parmesan cheese
.25 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pound the garlic and salt, using a mortar and pestle, into a paste. Add toasted pine nuts and continue to pound. Once the mixture is a course paste, remove from garlic pine nut mixture from mortar and place in a small mixing bowl. Chop the basil coarsely and add to the mortar. Pound the leaves to a paste. Return the pounded pine nut mixture to the basil, add parmesan and continue to pound while adding the olive oil. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Hope you enjoy.

Until next week, feast well.
– Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

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)