Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

Prosciutto, Pesto, Radish & Romanesco Pie

I am back to pizza making this week, inspired by lesser-used, non-traditional toppings. I am also breaking the golden rule of not overloading the pizza with toppings. Romanesco broccoli or simply Romanesco plays the starring role in this vegetable-driven prosciutto concoction. So what is Romanesco? Credit to the Community Table Website for the best description I’ve come across: “Romanesco appears to be part psychedelic broccoli, part alien life form.” Technically, Romanesco comes from the same family as cabbage that also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It can be found in a variety of colors: yellow, purple, white, and most common, green. Raw with crunch or cooked with a creamy firm texture, Romanesco has a delicate nutty flavor.

1 pizza dough (see below for my go to recipe)
2 tablespoons basil pesto
4-5 slices prosciutto
.25 cup fresh mozzarella
1 head Romanesco broccoli, broken into small florets
3-4 radishes, sliced thinly
fresh cracked black pepper

After forming the pizza dough, spread the pesto evenly on the dough base and top with sliced prosciutto. Scatter the mozzarella, Romanesco broccoli and radish over the top. Season with a liberal amount of fresh cracked black pepper and place the pizza in your Forno Bravo oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the Romanesco is lightly caramelized. Remove the pizza from the oven and enjoy.

Basil Pesto
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
salt (to taste)

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 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.

Pizza Dough
1000 g/ 7 ¾ cups Caputo “00” Soft White Flour
700 g/3 cups Water (90-95 F)
20 g/1 tbsp + ¾ tsp Sea Salt
2 g/½ tsp yeast

Yield – 5 | 340 g dough balls

Hydrate the yeast with 3 tablespoons of the 3 cups of water.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and remaining water together with a wood spoon or hands until incorporated. Let the water-flour mix sit for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle dough with salt and yeast mixture and using damp hands make quarter folds in the dough until the yeast and salt are fully incorporated. Cover and set aside, let the dough rest for an hour. From the corners, fold the dough in on itself one time, cover and let rest at room temperature for 5-6 hours.

After dough has rested and doubled in size, divide into 5 – 340 gram dough balls. Dough will be slightly tacking, use a bit of extra flour for your hands and work surface as needed. Dough is ready for the oven.

This dough is 70% hydration and yields a traditional Neapolitan pizza. The crust will produce a crisp bite with a great chew, soft fermentation flavors with medium to large air pockets.

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

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Care for a smoke?

During a recent pizza-making session I had the opportunity to use a few charred oak barrel staves that are used in the aging of Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon. As soon as the stave ignited, I was amazed at the amount of aroma that was released from the wood. Even more impressive was the amount of butterscotchy vanilla and toasted oak flavors that where able to be tasted in the finished pizza. I always assumed, due to the shorter cooking time, that the subtle smoke flavors of different woods wouldn’t influence the finished pizza that much.

While I’ve been burning a combination of oak, apple and cherry wood and following Forno Bravo’s wood recommendations (see link below), I never thought twice about manipulating the smoke flavor of pizza like I have with meats, grilling and barbeque. As noted, always use hardwoods in your Forno Bravo oven.

http://www.fornobravo.com/pizza-oven-management/choosing_wood.html

Rarely do we have the opportunity to taste test the different woods in a single cooking session. I compiled a list of different woods that are typically used with pizza making as well as longer smoking / cooking methods. I hope you find it useful.

Oak is king. It burns slow, it burns hot, and it imparts a wonderful strong smoke flavor. Because oak is stronger, and it typically lacks a distinct flavor, adding a fruit wood is a way to balance its strength and add some sweetness.

Fruit woods like apple and cherry burn hot and slow as well, but their smoke is soft and sweet in flavor. Eating a cold piece of pizza the next day is a great way to taste the individual smoke characteristics.

Peach, plum and fig woods are regional and not always available, but all three add a very delicate sweetness to your cooking with moderate high heat. These woods can also have a floral character when they have not been sitting around for too long.

Hickory is a big boy. Intense meaty smoke is one of its benefits, but like anything too much of a good thing can overpower and leave you feeling like you took a bite from your ash bucket.

Pecan is an awesome nut wood. High heat, long burn and a nutty richness are the glorious trinity here. Be leery; too much can lead to a bitter aftertaste. I’ve smoked with pecan shells in the past and briefly considered trying it in the Forno Bravo but decided it was not worth the effort.

Almond wood is mild and it imparts a nice nutty sweetness; however, it has a very light ash and it can quickly cover your pizza masterpiece.

Walnut wood is scary; if you can even split it into smaller pieces, it will blow your smoke top with bold, bitter, heavy flavors that are good for bbq but not for pizza making.

Alder wood is prized for its cool burn and sweet, delicate flavor. Typically it is used for smoking fish. Too delicate for the pizza oven, its flavor is over shadowed by high heat wood you would be burning.

Just like grapes that go into making wine, as well as other fruits, vegetables and foods, the individual growing areas, soil and climate conditions of the trees, the “terrior” influences the final flavor of the wood being burned. Simply said, oak grown in California will have a different flavor than oak grown in Georgia.

My recipe for pizza-making wood burning:

Oak, oak, oak and a touch of pecan.
Burn it down to the coals.
Add cherry and/or apple wood.
Cook your pizza.

If you are in Kentucky and happen to find yourself on the Bourbon Trail, swing by Maker’s Mark Distillery and pick up some charred barrel staves and have fun. It goes without saying having a few sips of the Maker’s 46 will round out the flavor experience. Hope you enjoy.

Until next week, feast well.
Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

You Say Tomato…

Now available in the Forno Bravo Store!

Now available in the Forno Bravo Store!

You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.

Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is considered to be some of the best pizza in the country, and some would even argue it is the best.  Among his many accolades, Executive Chef and Owner Chris Bianco is passionate for placing a significant emphasis on sourcing and using the highest quality ingredients.  As such, he diligently works to ensure his flour, cheese, and tomatoes are the very best.  On his quest for the perfect tomatoes for his pizza and pastas, Chris partnered with successful California family farmer Rob DiNapoli.  Together they launched Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes.  Their mission is to celebrate California’s agricultural heritage and to “connect the dots from seed to field” to yield the perfect tomato for your pizza making.

Bianco DiNapoli Crushed and Whole Peeled tomatoes are packed with organic basil and sea salt.  The crushed tomatoes have the addition of naturally derived citric acid to aid in preserving the tomatoes as well as providing a subtle additional hit of tartness.

The whole and crushed tomatoes have great, clean flavors right from the can.  Admittedly, my mouth started to water the second the aroma hit me. The crushed tomatoes pop with a desirable acidic and naturally sweet punch.  The velvety smooth and consistent texture coats the mouth and easily spreads across the pizza dough.

The whole tomatoes possess the same balance of sweet to acid though it is not as pronounced as it is with the crushed.  The firm meatiness of the tomato provides a wonderful toothsome bite.  As with any whole tomato, it requires crushing prior to applying to the pizza.

Whole Tomato Sauce

1 can Bianco DiNapoli whole peeled tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Using a spoon, remove the whole tomatoes from the can and place in a non-reactive bowl.  Using your hands crush each tomato until it is broken into smaller pea sized pieces.  Add olive oil and salt (optional) mix until incorporated. Because the Bianco NiDapoli tomato products are packed with salt it is not necessary to add salt, but I prefer a bit more saltiness in my sauce.

Crushed Tomato Sauce

1 can Bianco DiNapoli crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Empty the crushed tomato can into a non-reactive bowl.  Add olive oil and salt. Mix until incorporated.

Bianco NiDapoli tomatoes are certainly a favorite of mine and I am thrilled Forno Bravo now carries them in the online store.  Hope you enjoy.  Until next week, feast well.

Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Pineapple on pizza? Love it? Hate it?

chorizo and pineapple (2)

I freely admit I have never been a fan of pineapple on pizza. Nothing against pineapple, I love it, just not on my pizza. I think it has always felt too heavy, wet and overpowering to me to compliment the pizza. It’s funny though; given my professional culinary career, I have used pineapple in the past to balance dishes with its wonderful acidic sweetness. I just never considered it as an option for my pizza making. I much preferred to savor both the pizza and pineapple on their own. That was until my last round of pizza making.

Friends were over and we were conversing on how the pizza had to break from the traditional toppings and “kick it up a notch.” The main ingredient on hand was spicy Spanish chorizo. Seemed simple enough, spice on spice, we’d add pepper jack cheese and use the tart zing of BBQ sauce as a base to break the heat. I knew something was missing and immediately thought a smattering of chopped cilantro and green onion over the top once cooked would do the trick. But in what I can only explain as a fit of culinary insanity, for me at least, I diced up some pineapple and scattered the small golden bits over the top. What followed was a revelation. The heat from both the cheese and chorizo was balanced perfectly with the sweeter BBQ, but what pushed the experience from good to great was the pineapple. Warm and juicy, its punch left you craving for the next bite and the one after that as well. Love it or hate it, I am a fan.

1 each dough of your choice

2-3 tablespoons BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

2 ounces pepper jack cheese, sliced into thin pieces

½ cup spicy chorizo sausage, sliced

½ cup pineapple, small diced

After forming the pizza dough, spread the BBQ sauce evenly on the dough base and top with sliced pepper jack cheese. Scatter the chorizo sausage and diced pineapple over the top. Place the pizza in your Forno Bravo oven. Remove from the oven once cooking is complete. Hope you enjoy.

Until next week, feast well.

Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Egg & Leek Pizza

Eggs are awesome. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight munchie, their versatility is unmatched in the gastronomic world. It is also a popular culinary myth that the pleats in a chef’s toque represent the 100 ways a chef can cook an egg.
Adding an egg to pizza is certainly nothing new, but crowning your pie with the yolky richness certainly will elevate it from good to great. In this version I couldn’t resist the addition of leeks, potatoes and sausage.

1 each dough of your choice
3-4 tablespoons sautéed leeks
6-8 thin slices fingerling potatoes
2 ounces Taleggio cheese, sliced into thin pieces
½ cup andouille sausage, sliced
1 each egg

After forming the pizza dough, spread the leeks evenly on the dough base and top with sliced Taleggio cheese. Scatter the andouille sausage and sliced potatoes over the top, place the dough in your Forno Bravo oven, and bake for 20-30 seconds. Remove the pizza from the oven and crack an egg over the center of the pizza. Replace the pizza in the oven and cook until the crust is golden brown and the egg white is set but yolk still runny. Remove from the oven, season with fresh cracked pepper and enjoy.

Leeks
1 cup leeks, small dice
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

In a small sauté pan over medium heat melt butter. Add leeks, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Gently cook until the leeks are tender and cooked through. Remove from heat, cool and set aside for the pizza assembly.

Potatoes
4-6 each fingerling potatoes
1 each bay leaf
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cups water

In a small saucepot, add water, potatoes, salt and bay leaf. Over medium-high heat simmer the potatoes until they are fork tender with a slight firmness about 90% cooked. Remove potatoes from water, cool and reserve for pizza assembly.

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

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Andouille Sausage & Pesto Pizza

andouillepesto-1 (3)

Andouille sausage originated in France and was brought to the US by German immigrants who settled in Louisiana.  This smoked pork sausage is a staple of creole cooking and makes a great topping for pizza.  If making your own sausage sounds like too much, one of my favorite versions that is readily available is D’Artagnan’s Andouille-Cajun style sausage.  The sausage adds an intense kick of smoke and spicy paprika that is sure to enhance any pizza.  In this version, basil pesto is used for the base in place of tomato sauce and it is topped with peppery arugula.

1 pizza dough

.5 cup andouille sausage, sliced

2 tablespoons basil pesto

4-5 slices Gruyere cheese

.25 cup arugula

splash extra virgin olive oil

splash lemon juice, fresh

 

After forming the pizza dough, spread the pesto evenly on the dough base and top with sliced Gruyere cheese.  Scatter the andouille sausage over the top, place the dough in your Forno Bravo oven, and bake until the crust is golden brown and the Gruyere is lightly caramelized.  Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the arugula that has been tossed with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

Basil Pesto

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

salt (to taste)

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 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.

Until next week, feast well.

- Chef Bart

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 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)

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
Salt

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)

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)

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)