Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

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)

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)

Roasted Onion and Pineapple Salad

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As any Hawaiian pizza lover knows, pineapple is delicious when paired with salty, savory ingredients. This warm salad is a lighter, bread-less take on that idea.

3 red onions
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 fresh pineapple
1 bunch lacinato kale
4 oz feta cheese
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste

Cut off the ends of the onions and remove the outer peel, leaving the onions whole. Place the onions in the center of a large piece of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and bay and wrap the onions tightly in the foil. Place near the coals in a moderate wood oven. You want the onions to slowly roast in their own juices, so the oven shouldn’t be too hot. Rotate occasionally, and cook until the onions are very soft and fragrant, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on your oven temp. When the onions are done, remove them from the foil and set aside, reserving any juices that have collected.

Meanwhile, prepare your pineapple. Cut off the top and bottom so that the pineapple will stand upright on your cutting board. Using a knife, cut off the outer skin in strips. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut 1/2 inch-thick rounds. Use a paring knife to cut the core out of the middle of each round. Toss the pineapple with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in a roasting pan and cook in your wood oven until nicely caramelized, flipping once, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

Remove the stems from the kale and discard.  Roughly chop the leaves. Preheat a large wok or skillet in your wood oven. Add the remaining olive oil. When it starts to smoke, add the kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until the kale is wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, gently cut the roasted onions into 1/2 inch rounds. To assemble the salad, shingle alternating layers of onion, pineapple and kale on a serving platter. Sprinkle the mint over the top, then the feta cheese. Drizzle with any remaining onion roasting juices and enjoy.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Roasted Sockeye Salmon With Braised Couscous, Roasted Green Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil

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Here’s a recipe for making the most of your farmers market’s most ubiquitous offerings: If yours is anything like mine, green beans, tomatoes and basil are at just about every stand. I pickle half the green beans in this recipe, for even more variation in flavor and texture.

When it comes to salmon, in my opinion nothing beats sockeye for taste, texture and pure, simple beauty. If you can get your hands on it, try Alaskan Copper River sockeye. Sustainably wild-caught, Copper River sockeye will have a flesh that is almost ruby red in color, as well as an unparalleled flavor.

2 stalks celery
2 small carrots
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 T butter
1 C Israeli couscous (you may also find it in the store as Palestinian couscous, ptitim or pearl pasta)
1 C white wine
3 C vegetable stock
1 lb green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1 C white wine vinegar
2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 T salt
2 T pickling spices to your taste (garlic clove, thyme, bay, fennel seed, mustard seed, coriander, chili flake, etc.)
2 T vegetable oil
3-4 various heirloom tomatoes
1 oz fresh basil leaves
4 5-oz portions of salmon
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, start the couscous: Cut the celery, carrots and onion into a small dice and mince the garlic. In a large skillet or shallow, wide pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the mirepoix and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add the couscous and toast for 1 minute. Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry, then add the stock. Cook until the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When your pot of water is boiling, blanch half of your green beans for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and place in a single layer to cool. To pickle the remaining beans, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pickling spices in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add the remaining green beans and cook until slightly tender but still crunchy. Remove from the heat and allow the beans to cool in the pickling liquid.

While the beans are cooling, slice your heirlooms in whatever manner you find most appealing. I cut mine in quarters and then into thin slices that I could shingle on the plate. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To roast the beans, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large roasting pan in your wood oven. You will want a hot oven for this procedure. Drain the pickled beans from the brine. When your oil is smoking, add the blanched fresh beans and the drained pickled beans to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender and have taken on some nice charred edges, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To cook your fish, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a saute pan in your wood oven. Season the fish with salt only. When the oil is smoking, add the fish to the pan and return to the oven. Sear the fish on one side only – the heat of your oven will be enough to cook the other side. Sockeye is best served medium, which means a skewer inserted into the center of the flesh should come out warm to the touch. This fish will cook quickly, probably 3-6 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of your portions. When done to your liking, remove the fish from the pan to rest.

To serve the dish, place a pile of couscous in the middle of a plate. shingle some heirloom tomato slices along one side. Place the fish, seared side up, on top of the couscous. Top with some of the roasted beans and tear a few basil leaves over the plate with your fingers. Drizzle the beans and tomatoes with some olive oil, and you’re good to go.

I recently came across a white wine variety that was new to me, called Müller-Thurgau, which would pair perfectly with this dish. The particular Thurgau I tasted was from northern Italy, but the grape is also grown in Austria, Germany, Hungary and elsewhere. This crisp, mineral-laden relative of riesling would be a great complement to both the tomatoes and beans in this dish.

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Rating: 4.2/5 (6 votes cast)

Corn Tartine With Chevre and Rocket

tartineHurray! Fresh local corn is here for the season. Let’s celebrate with some easy, delicious corn tartines. Tartine is just a fancy word for a piece of bread with a bunch of stuff on it, aka an open-faced sandwich. It is a great oven application for a quick meal, so take this recipe as a guide and let your imagination go.

3 ears local sweet corn
3 radishes
1 jalapeno pepper
1 fresno pepper
8 oz rocket (arugula)
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
4 oz chevre
4 thick slices crusty bread
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
1 clove garlic, peeled
juice of 1 lemon
salt and black pepper, to taste

Soak the ears of corn, unshucked, in cool water for half an hour. Remove and place directly in a medium-hot wood oven. Put the ears on the coals, in the fire, wherever, as long as you’re watchful. Rotate frequently. When the husks are charred on the outside, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cobs.

Shave the radishes into thin rounds with a mandolin or sharp knife. Remove the seeds from the peppers and chop finely. In a bowl, combine the corn, radishes, peppers, rocket and parsley. (I like the pungent taste of big, mature rocket arugula here, but if all you can find is baby arugula, by all means use that.) Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss well to combine and set aside.

Brush your bread with a thin coat of olive oil on both sides. Place on a sheet tray or roasting pan and place in your wood oven. Toast until golden, 2-5 minutes depending on how hot your oven is, turning once.

Remove the bread from the oven. Rub the clove of garlic thoroughly over the surface of the bread. (If your bread is too delicate for this operation, you’re using the wrong kind of bread!) Spread some chevre over each slice. Top with a pile of the corn mixture. Place in the oven and allow to roast just until the top of each pile begins to char and the cheese gets melty, about 3-6 minutes.

Remove from the oven and squeeze some lemon juice over the top of each tartine. Serve warm with an IPA alongside and you’re ready to appreciate summer’s bounty.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rating: 3.6/5 (7 votes cast)

Sunchoke Homefries With Chimichurri

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Once a restaurant-only vegetable, sunchokes are now becoming more widely available. Sunchokes are the root of a variety of sunflower, and have a nutty, sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw, in which case they are crunchy and mild, or cooked, which renders them unctuous and almost meaty. This is a simple side dish preparation for this delicious tuber, but you could also try using them in place of potatoes at your next meal.

1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed well to remove any dirt in the crevices
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 C fresh parsley
2 T fresh oregano
1 C fresh cilantro
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 pinch chili flakes
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
rice flour, as needed
1/2 C vegetable oil, or as needed, for frying
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the sunchokes in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and place in your wood oven to cook. Allow the sunchokes to roast until soft, 35 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of your oven. When the sunchokes are done, remove the foil and allow them to cool.

While the sunchokes are roasting, make your chimichurri. Place the garlic, parsley, oregano, cilantro, vinegar, cumin, chili flake and salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Puree. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The chimichurri can also be made several hours ahead to give the flavors time to meld.

When the sunchokes are cool enough to handle, use the bottom of a small pot to squash each one into a flat disk. They will be delicate and some will fall apart – that’s ok. Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a large skillet in your wood oven. Dredge the sunchokes in the rice flour and fry them in the oil in batches, turning once. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Remove the sunchokes to a kitchen towel to drain and season with salt and pepper.

When the sunchokes are all fried and crispy, arrange on a serving vessel and drizzle with the chimichurri. Enjoy your new favorite tuber!

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Brussels Sprouts With Oven Roasted Meyer Lemons

brusselsBrussels sprouts and citrus are a great combination, and Meyer lemons are one of the true treasures of the heirloom citrus season. These extremely fragrant, sweet-sour little devils are a marvel of the citrus family, best enjoyed whole: zest, pith, flesh, juice and all. This extremely simple dish is not really even a recipe, just a perfect, delicious pairing that everyone should enjoy while Meyers are around.

2 Meyer lemons
1 tsp plus 1 T vegetable oil
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
salt and black pepper, to taste

Cut the lemons in quarters lengthwise. Remove any seeds. Cut each wedge into quarter-inch thick chunks. Heat a large skillet in a hot wood oven. Add 1 tsp vegetable oil. When just beginning to smoke, add the Meyer lemon chunks. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the lemons have softened slightly and taken on some char, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Wipe out your skillet and reheat. Add the remaining vegetable oil and the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper and roast, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts have caramelized and become tender, about 10 minutes. If the sprouts are getting too dark without softening, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and allow it to cook off. Once the sprouts are cooked, stir in the roasted lemons and cook for 1 minute more.

Remove from the oven and serve as a side dish for a roast chicken, or underneath a nicely seared fillet of fish.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (7 votes cast)

Braised Parsnips With Cara Cara Oranges



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Braising is my favorite preparation for parsnips, because it really brings out all the flavors this oft-forgotten root has to offer: delicate sweetness, earthiness and just a hint of minerality. Cara caras, one of the many types of heirloom citrus that become blessedly available in the winter months, are a perfect partner to parsnips. But if you can’t find them, regular navel oranges will work just as well.

2 T butter
1 medium carrot, brunoise
2 stalks celery, brunoise
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
4 good size parsnips, peeled
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 C white wine
1 1/2 C vegetable stock
3 cara cara oranges
1 T fresh chopped parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

Place the butter in a large saute pan or wide, shallow pot and heat in your wood oven, which should be low- to medium-heat. Once the butter has melted, add the carrot, celery and onion, season, and sweat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

While the mirepoix is sweating, cut your parsnips into bite-sized pieces. Add them and the sprig of thyme to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sweat for another 2 minutes. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce by 3/4.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of two of the oranges. Add the strips of zest to the pan along with the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the parsnips are just beginning to become tender, about 8-10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of all three oranges into the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the parsnips are soft but not mushy.

Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning if necessary. Pick out the orange zest and discard. Stir in the chopped parsley. Serve with roasted chicken, or even on its own over some rice or pasta with a little parmesan grated on top for a satisfying vegetable-based meal.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (7 votes cast)

Ash-Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Sage and Honey Butter

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This simple recipe was inspired by the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, whose cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, is a fascinating look at cooking with fire – over it, around it, and even in it, as I do here. The end result might look a little scary at first, but the flavor you will achieve is undeniable.

4 like-sized sweet potatoes (I used the garnet variety)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
1/2 C chopped fresh sage
8 oz room temperature butter
1 T honey
salt and black pepper, to taste

Throw your sweet potatoes in the fire in your oven. No, seriously. Ok, fine, set them in the ashes at the edge of your fire. Turn them periodically. They are going to blacken and char and feel crispy and crunchy when you touch them. That is ok. Let them cook that way for 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large piece of foil, wrap them tightly, and place them back on the edge of the fire to finish cooking. Allow them to steam in the foil until completely tender, 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your compound butter. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-sized skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sweat until just translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the sage and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the pan is very aromatic and everything is soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor, along with the butter and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined.

At this point, you can just scoop the butter out into a bowl and use a spoon to dig out dollops. Or, if you want to be fancy, turn the butter out onto a piece of parchment paper. Form into a rough log shape. Fold the parchment down over the butter. Place the straight edge of a bench scraper or spatula where butter, parchment and work surface meet and gently push back toward the butter, tightening the parchment and forming the butter into a round tube. Set the straight edge aside, roll up the parchment bundle and then twist the ends tight so you’re left with what looks like a large Tootsie Roll in its wrapper. Place in the refrigerator to firm up.

When the potatoes are soft, remove from the foil. Cut a lengthwise slit in the top of each potato and squeeze them open to expose the brilliant orange flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Remove your butter from the fridge, unwrap it and cut round pats. Place them on top of the sweet potatoes and serve. The rich, slightly smoky sweetness will complement anything savory you’ve roasted in your oven, particularly game meats or turkey.

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Rating: 3.5/5 (6 votes cast)

Kale and Roasted Leek Gratin

leeks-news-ThumbHere’s a recipe for a hearty winter side dish. I just made this for my family for Christmas, and it seemed to go over well. I know there are folks in some quarters who are sick of kale’s moment in the culinary sun, but I’ve been cooking it for years, and I will keep cooking it, because the stuff is delicious. That said, feel free to substitute any hearty green: collards, turnip greens, even chard, though your cooking time will be much shorter.

1 quart cream
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
3 sprigs fresh thyme
8 oz hearty white bread, crusts removed
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bunches kale, destemmed and washed
1 T sherry vinegar
1/2 C vegetable stock
3 leeks
5 oz pecorino cheese, finely grated
butter, for greasing baking dish
salt and black pepper

Place the cream in a high-sided pot along with the thyme and one strip of zest from the lemon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the cream is simmering, and allow to reduce by half. Cut the white bread into small cubes and place in a 250°F oven for 15 minutes to dry out.

Meanwhile, heat half the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the aromatics just start to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the kale, vegetable stock, vinegar and juice from the half lemon. Season with salt and pepper, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid in the pot is gone and the kale is tender. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety and relative heartiness of the kale you are using. Be patient.

While the kale is cooking, clean and cook the leeks. Remove the darkest green, fibrous portion of each leek and discard. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Place in a sink or bowl of clean water and wash thoroughly, pulling apart the tops of each leek and allowing the dirt and sand to settle to the bottom. Remove from the water, pat dry, and season with the remaining vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Place in a heat-proof vessel and roast in your wood oven, turning once, until the leeks are tender and well-browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice off the root ends and discard, then cut the leeks into bite-sized pieces.

When all the components are ready, combine everything in the kale pot: Strain the cream into the kale and discard the thyme and lemon peel. Add the leeks, bread cubes an 3 oz of the pecorino. Mix everything together thoroughly and check for seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Place in a medium-hot wood oven and allow the gratin to bake for approximately 30 minutes or until it is bubbly and beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a nice piece of roasted beef and a big hearty cabernet sauvignon and you’ve got yourself a winter meal that will keep the cold at bay.

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Rating: 4.8/5 (6 votes cast)