Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

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Proof the yeast

If your dough did not rise your yeast was dead. I proof the yeast by putting it in the water which should be 100 degrees F. If it is bubbly aftger about 10 minutes then it is viable. The flour has plenty of sugars that the yeast can eat….

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Perfect

I have used this recipe and wow! I have never tasted pizza crust/base so good. I use a tandoor instead of a pizza oven and the pizzas come out perfect. Thanks a billion!

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Pizza With Roasted Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion and Basil

If some evil, freedom-hating pizza dictator locked me in a cage and told me I could only have one topping on my pizza for the rest of my life, I would probably go with mushrooms. So here’s a recipe for a simple, more “traditional” pizza sporting some flavors that play well together, while still highlighting my personal desert-island topping.

You will notice that I roast my mushrooms before I put them on my pizza. While raw mushrooms have their place (where, I do not know), it is most definitely not on pizza. I think this accomplishes two things: First, you get more flavor out of your shrooms by pre-roasting and getting some nice Maillard reaction happening; second, roasting the mushrooms separately removes a lot of water that would otherwise end up in your pizza, leaving you with a less soggy pie.

As always, please refer to my first pizza post for my ramblings on dough: http://www.fornobravo.com/cookbook/index.php/12-recipes/pizza/172-pesto-asparagus-and-egg-pizza

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For the pizza sauce:
1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C yellow onion, sliced
1 1/2 cloves garlic, smashed or coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh basil
1 14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

For the pizza:
1 T extra virgin olive oil
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 oz mozzarella cheese
1/4 red onion, sliced paper thin
10 sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
4 fresh basil leaves, torn
Freshly grated parmesan, as needed

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season, and sweat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are just starting to turn golden around the edges. Add the thyme and basil and allow to toast for 15 seconds, then add the tomatoes, using a spoon or your hands to break up the flesh. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer until it has thickened considerably. Remove the thyme and basil sprigs and use a stick blender or food processor to puree the sauce until smooth. If your sauce is still too thin return to the heat and allow it to reduce to proper pizza sauce consistency.

Meanwhile, roast your mushrooms in your wood oven. Preheat a skillet large enough to hold the mushrooms in a single layer. Add the olive oil to the pan; it should smoke. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return to the oven. Do not stir your mushrooms for 2 minutes. You want your shrooms to sear, and stirring too much or too soon is going to drop your heat, causing the mushrooms to start leaching out water and steaming. Roast the mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until they are golden brown and delicious, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

To assemble your pizza, stretch or roll your dough using your preferred method. Top with a thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Top with the roasted mushrooms, halved sungolds and red onions. Give the whole pie a dusting of parmesan, then transfer to your wood oven and bake until done. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the torn basil leaves. Portion as appropriate and consume as desired. And then, if you’re like me, make another one.

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Curried Cauliflower With Chickpeas and Golden Raisins

 

This dish is actually one of my wife’s specialties. As a cook, I work in the evenings and thus miss out on dinner at a normal time, so it is a comforting feeling when I walk in the door and can tell just by the aroma of curry in the air that my late-night meal on the couch is going to be delicious and satisfying. I’ve done a little tweaking to the recipe, adapting it for the wood oven and adding golden raisins to the mix, which I think provide a nice sweet counterpoint to the earthy one-two-three punch of cauliflower, garbanzos and curry.

1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
1/2 red onion, sliced thickly crosswise
6 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1/4 c golden raisins
2 tsp curry powder
salt and black pepper to taste

In your wood oven, preheat a roasting pan or skillet large enough to hold the cauliflower in one layer. Add the vegetable oil to the pan – it should be hot enough that the oil is just starting to smoke. Add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Allow to roast for 2-3 minutes or until the florets have begun to caramelize on the pan side.

Add the chickpeas to the pan and stir. Roast for another 2 minutes or until the cauliflower is even more caramelized and the chickpeas have begun to blister. Add the sliced onion and garlic, stir to distribute, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the onion and garlic have softened and begun to frizzle around the edges and the cauliflower is al dente.

Add the raisins and curry powder and stir well to distribute. Cook for one minute more to allow the raisins to plump and the curry to toast and perfume the dish. Remove from the oven and serve. This dish would be a great accompaniment to roasted lamb, or simply serve it over cooked rice or orzo with a dab of sambal for an easy and tasty vegetarian meal.

 

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Zucchini and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza With White Wine Cream Sauce

First off, I need to give credit where it’s due: The idea for this pizza is lifted from Pizza Orgasmica in San Francisco. When my wife and I lived in the Bay Area, the Ecstasy, as it’s called on their menu, was our favorite pie of theirs, and it led me to mess around with creating a white wine cream sauce recipe so I could mimic it at home. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Once again, please refer to my first posted pizza recipe for my ramblings on crust: http://www.fornobravo.com/cookbook/index.php/12-recipes/pizza/172-pesto-asparagus-and-egg-pizza

For the white wine cream sauce (enough for 4 pizzas):
4 T unsalted butter
1 C shallots, minced
1 1/2 C dry white wine
8 oz crème fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

For the pizza:
1 red bell pepper
1 zucchini
4 oz mozzarella
freshly grated parmesan, as needed

To make the cream sauce, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly, stirring often, until well caramelized. The shallots should have a nice mahogany hue. Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil and allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry again. Remove from the heat and allow the shallot mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Place back over a low flame and whisk in the crème fraiche, mustard and remaining tablespoon of butter. Once incorporated, adjust the seasoning and set aside.

While you’re preparing the sauce, have the red pepper roasting in your wood oven. Simply place the pepper on the floor of the oven and allow to cook, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and soft. Remove from the oven, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow the pepper to steam for 10 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, uncover and use a kitchen towel to rub off the blackened skin. Slice the flesh into thin strips and set aside.

For the zucchini, all you need to do is slice very thin rounds using a mandoline or sharp knife.

To assemble the pizza, roll out your dough using your preferred method. Spread with a thin layer of the white wine cream sauce. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella. Top with some of the roasted red pepper strips and zucchini rounds. Hit it with the rest of the cheese and a dusting of parmesan. Move to your wood oven and bake until crusty, bubbly and delicious. Take the pizza out of your oven. Slice it. Eat it. Be happy.

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Potato, Roasted Radicchio and Thyme Pizza With White Wine Cream Sauce

Here is the second installment in what I have taken to calling My Own Personal Pizza Month here at the Forno Bravo online cookbook. For brevity’s sake, I’m only going to talk pizza construction in this article; for my crust recipe, please refer to last week’s post for pesto, asparagus and egg pizza, found here: http://www.fornobravo.com/cookbook/index.php/component/content/article/12-recipes/pizza/172-pesto-asparagus-and-egg-pizza.

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For the white wine cream sauce (enough for 4 pizzas):
4 T unsalted butter
1 C shallots, minced
1 1/2 C dry white wine
8 oz crème fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

For the pizza (enough to top 1 pie):
1 small Yukon gold potato
1 small head radicchio
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 T fresh thyme leaves
4 oz low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
freshly grated parmesan cheese, as needed

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly, stirring often, until well caramelized. The shallots should have a nice mahogany hue. Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil and allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry again. Remove from the heat and allow the shallot mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Place back over a low flame and whisk in the crème fraiche, mustard and remaining tablespoon of butter. Once incorporated, adjust the seasoning and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the potato and slice into very thin rounds using a mandoline or sharp knife. Blanch the potato slices in the boiling water for 1 minute, or until tender but still holding their shape. Remove from the water and shock in an ice bath.

To prepare the radicchio, cut the head into quarters through the root end. Slice the core out of each quarter and then slice each quarter into thin strips. Heat a large sauté pan in your wood oven. Add the vegetable oil; when hot, add the sliced radicchio. Season with salt and pepper and roast in your oven, tossing frequently, until wilted and beginning to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a strainer to allow any excess moisture to drain off.

To assemble the pizza, roll out your dough using your preferred method. Spread with a thin layer of the white wine cream sauce. Top with half the mozzarella. Shingle the potato slices over the surface of the pizza, then add the remaining mozzarella. Distribute the roasted radicchio over the pie. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and finish with a dusting of freshly grated parmesan.

Transfer to your oven and cook for however long it’s taking to finish pizzas. Remove and allow to cool for five minutes, then slice and serve.

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Almost Perfect

I’ve used this recipe many times and it makes a really tasty and fairly thin pizza base. In commercial terms, it is thicker than “thin and crispy” but thinner than “deep pan”. A bit like Dominos “classic crust” in Australia. My whole family loves it. The only thing I changed is the hydration. I’ve found 55-60% works better for me. The dough is easier to work and the crust is nice and crunchy.

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Pesto, Asparagus and Egg Pizza

I’ve been posting recipes here in the Forno Bravo cookbook for months, but oddly enough I have yet to tackle pizza, one of the cornerstone outputs of our wood-fired beauties. Perhaps it was a subconscious reticence to test my mettle against seasoned pros – like telling Mario Batali how to make pasta. But here we are: I’m posting a pizza recipe, and will be doing so for the next few weeks. I hope they are worthy.

You will notice that my dough recipe is slightly unorthodox. Instead of using a high-gluten flour, I use regular all purpose and then add vital wheat gluten. I find that this produces a dough that is lighter and more crispy, while still maintaining a nice chewy consistency on the inside.

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For the dough (makes 4 pizzas):
1.5 C warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1.5 tsp honey
3.5 C AP flour plus as needed for dusting
1 T vital wheat gluten
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 T extra virgin olive oil

For the pesto (enough for 4 pizza and then some):
1/4 C pine nuts
1.5 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 C extra virgin olive oil
3 oz fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper as needed

For the pizza (to top 1 pie):
3 oz asparagus
4 oz fresh mozzarella
freshly grated parmesan as needed
1 fresh chicken egg
cornmeal as needed

To make the dough, combine the water, yeast and honey and allow to bloom for about five minutes, or until slightly foamy. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, wheat gluten and salt. It is important that the wheat gluten is thoroughly cut into the flour – adding liquid straight to wheat gluten will result in a rubbery mass. Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the water mixture along with the olive oil and knead with the dough hook attachment until the dough is smooth and proper gluten development has occurred, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight to retard. The next day, about 3 hours before you’re ready to make pizza, take the dough out of the refrigerator, put in a warm spot, and allow the dough to rise until it is double its original size.

While the dough is doing its thing, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the pizza. To make the pesto, first toast the pine nuts in your wood oven, tossing frequently, about 2-3 minutes. Place the nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil in the carafe of a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Start the blender, and with the motor running add the basil leaves in 3-4 batches, working quickly to avoid excess oxidation. Blend just until smooth, adjust seasoning and set aside.

To prepare the asparagus, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus, then cut each spear into 1-inch pieces. Blanch in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, then drain and allow to cool.

Once your dough has risen, remove from the bowl and divide into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, dusting with flour as necessary. Cover the dough balls with a slightly damp dish towel and allow to proof for 15 minutes.

When you’re ready to make pizzas, shape one ball into a disc using your preferred method. Place on a peel liberally dusted with corn meal. Spread on a thin layer of pesto. Top with the mozzarella and asparagus. Add a sprinkling of fresh parmesan.

Transfer to your wood oven and bake. As you all know, cooking time is going to vary depending on how cranked up you have your oven. As a result, this also affects the timing on egg placement. If you’re running super hot, crack an egg into the middle of your pizza right before you go into the oven. If your cooking time is more in the 5-6 minute range, wait 2 minutes after you’ve started baking your pizza and then add the egg. You may need to play around with it – what you’re looking for is a nice set white and a runny yolk to meld into the cheese and sauce and create unctuous, creamy deliciousness.

Once the pizza is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Show it off to all your friends, then use a fork to pierce the yolk and distribute it around the pizza. Slice and serve.

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