Having had my oven about a year and a half, I am feeling like I know it pretty well. And I have a pretty good cooking pattern when doing pizza.
Fire the oven, get the dome cleared, let the oven cool, pizza, dessert (in the oven), and then coq au vin (or whatever) the next morning.
There is a great and logical sequence once the oven hits 900 oF or so.
The issue is appetizers and what to do with the oven (if anything) while the oven is cooling after the bulk of the coals are raked. The answer is probably not much for cooking in an 1100 oF oven is definitely tricky, but I really want to find some things that can be done in the oven with guests present.
Successes to date are mostly shellfish that can cook FAST. Things like Mussels in a white wine "sauce" (of shallots, wine, parsley, etc.), Scallops done the same basic way. I am thinking of trying some thinly sliced marinated beef on skewers (probably cooked a minute or less) on my cooking grate. Another good possibility would be packets (of the nature of pompano en papillote) but using foil so the paper won't burn.
In any event, I think having a full range of things to do in the oven would be nice and appetizers are a sparse and neglected category. So I begin this thread hoping for some really clever ideas that we can all use to amaze our friends (and enemies)!
Looking forward to your ideas!
When I was in Pienza, they made a cheese, prosciutto, and truffle combo that they heated in the oven and then served with bread. Also possibly bruschetta? Though all of that might be too much bread when pizza is to follow.
To add to the overall time line, I have found that if I server pizza early (around 5 PM), my guests are happy to eat a Fiorentina Steak. I have served 6 people off of one 2 1/2 inch tbone cooked after the pizza is over but the coals are still going.
Traditionally, pitas are baked in extremely hot ovens. I'm guessing about 900 F. They'd puff up and bake in about a minute, so you'd have to be fast at that temp. Although I've finished the bread baking section for the FB site, I could add a pita making recipe if you'd like. These are fun to make. They're baked with the door off, and your guests, especially kids, could watch them puff up like balloons almost instantly. I've never baked them higher than about 600 F, though I could experiment. I'd be curious about interest in adding such a recipe.
I was just thinking today that there should be an appetizer category...I'll post recipes.
We have marinated shrimp and put them over an open fire....I am going to get one of those grilling baskets for the open fire and use it for quick cooking items like the shrimp in the oven. Can also be used for fish, chops, sausages, meatballs.....pull it out and rearrange as necessary....obviously depends on your heat and location.
Also we have a great tomato mozzarella mixture that we put a slice of goat cheese on, toss in the grill and serve with toast points (baguette) with touches with ali oli. I'll have the bride post the recipe in the new section!
One other thought is why not use a covered dish if the oven is too hot, would slow down the cooking and might make some other dishes more manageable. Open dishes for Shrimp with garlic in olive oil? Potatoes -picante or ali oli? Scallops? What about Pinchos, ...skewers.
You might also consider cocas, small spanish appetizer "pizzas" they top with some tomatoe sauce and whatever....anchovies, onions, spinach. I saw some in the market yesterday and they looked great...
I'm getting hungry.....
Jay, just ressurrecting your thread here, because I'm interested in how you cook your mussels in the 'sauce' you mention.
Any more clues about the vessel you use and/or temperatures?
I typically have used a cast iron skillet. There is plenty of excess heat to warm the skillet when the oven floor has just been cleared of coals. I also use ceramic from time to time. And I use a cast iron dutch oven.
The mussels are typical French style mussels. Say a pound of mussels, 2 cups of white wine, 3-4 shallots or a small onion, garlic (optional), couple of tablespoons of butter, and some parsley. Put in the skillet and let sit in the oven until the mussels open - typically pretty fast - say three or four minutes. If you want you can place an aluminum pizza plate over the skillet to hold he steam in and make it faster but...
I also do some shrimp like Xabia and others. Olive oil in a shallow ceramic oven proof dish. Garlic, Shrimp, some salt and pepper, dash of red pepper flakes. Some parsley, This will cook and brown in a couple of minutes too.
Both are good, quick ways to get an appetizer out of the oven FAST for your hungry audience! And both love to have good boules of artisanal sourdough!
Makes me hungry!
Thanks for the reply.
Question: the prawns/shrimps... I have only ever seen fresh (grey in colour) king prawns in our shops, and they are typically about two or three inches long.
As for the shrimps, they are usually sold already cooked and frozen (prawns here being somewhat larger, but the shrimps are truly small - perhaps three quarters of an inch.
Do you use fresh shrimps, or cooked/frozen? Will I be on a hiding to nothing if I use ones that are already cooked?
I had forgotton the shrimp/prawn thing. When you say the king prawns are only 2-3 inches long I presume they are the tails (heads removed)? What I typically use are tails only, shells on, around 2-3 inches. Shell on is not mandatory - w/o shells is much tidier, but I spent some time in Lousiana and Mississippi as a kid and shrimp were cooked WHOLE and that gives better flavor so....I tend to leave shells on. (Reason I don't use whole is they are much harder to get and MUST be really fresh. OTOH, I can get raw frozen tails with no problem.)
I would be concerned about cooked prawns or shrimp for they will tend to be overcook easily, but... slightly warmed shrimp with garlic and warm butter with bread will be popular in any event.
I think the raw ones will give you better flavor but...all will be good and edible. I would just let the shrimp get warm if they are already cooked...
I always think of you guys as having much wider alternatives than I do!!!
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