We at Forno Bravo hope you have enjoyed your summer. My family and I were fortunate to visit Brussels recently, and one of my favorite parts was – of course – the bread! I've been posting some fun photos of bread and other sights from our trip on the Wood-Fired Blog. It's never that great coming back from vacation, but one thing I can always look forward to is firing one of my pizza ovens. You just can't beat a good oven fire to lift your spirits.
Here's something else that's been lifting my spirits lately: a new Forno Bravo oven! In last month's newsletter, we included a photo of our large Napoli ovens for commercial use. This month, we swing to the other end of the spectrum. We are excited to finally introduce the (drumroll) Strada60 oven – our smallest, lightest and most portable wood-fired pizza oven yet. Read more about this little powerhouse below.
We've also included an excerpt of a recent Pizza Quest guest column by John Arena, on finding your inner pizza maker. I think you'll really enjoy this article. On the recipe front, you'll find a healthy cauliflower recipe below, perfect for a side dish or as a vegetarian entrée.
Finally, on a personal note, I have decided to run the Headlands 50 in Marin County on September 15. It's a 50-mile race with nearly 10,000 ft. in elevation gain and loss, with great views of the Pacific, the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge – and some scary cliffs. Best case, I could win the 50+ age group. Worst case, I crash and burn and don't finish. But that's half the fun of distance running. You just never know.
Here's to the joy that is wood-fired cooking,
The Strada60: Pizza Napoletana "To Go"
The new Strada60 is our smallest, lightest and most portable wood-fired pizza oven. In fact, it might be the most portable "true masonry" pizza oven in the world. First and foremost, the Strada is a real wood-fired pizza oven, featuring a 24" cooking floor with room for a live fire and an 11" traditional Pizza Napoletana, or six to eight loaves of bread using retained heat.
Weighing roughly 315 lbs. (without the optional stand), the Strada oven is the right choice for someone who wants an oven for tailgating and parties, and for someone who wants a real Italian-style pizza oven, but has limited space and budget. The Strada can be moved by two guys and will fit in your truck, minivan and even most SUVs.
About the name: Strada means road (and layers) in Italian, a word that goes all the way back to the Roman method of building roads (literally layers). Just in time for autumn tailgating!
The Strada60 combines fast heat-up (as quick as 20 minutes) with excellent heat-holding capabilities. The outer shell of the oven stays cool, while the oven chamber easily maintains 750ºF plus, to bake authentic Italian pizza in two minutes.
Like all Forno Bravo ovens, the Strada is built using high-tech refractories and space-age insulators, ensuring optimal high-temperature baking performance for perfect Pizza Napoletana and excellent heat retention for baking and roasting. Other features:
- 24" cooking floor from side to side, and from back to front
- Well-proportioned 16" x 9 1/2" oven opening and a low 12" dome,
- Available with or without a metal stand
- Can be placed on a deck or patio, installed on a custom stand or grill island, or put in your vehicle – ready to go on the road for parties and tailgaters
- Optional stand can be set up in minutes using a standard wrench
- Enclosure and optional stand are powder-coated to be weatherproof and attractive
- Includes a steel door with a thermometer
We're thrilled to welcome the Strada60 to our Forno Bravo family!
Finding Your Inner Pizza Maker
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, shares a Pizza Quest guest column by John Arena. A third-generation pizza maker, John began making pizza professionally in his family's New York pizzeria on his 13th birthday in 1967.
OK, let's play fill in the blank: A pizza is supposed to ________.
Take your time with the answer because this is not a simple question. In fact you can think of it as the fundamental jumping-off point for your own personal pizza quest, a sort of Zen koan that can move you toward pizza enlightenment. The late great pizza maker Ed Ladou described his pizza crust as an edible plate, and his insight opened the floodgates of creativity for hundreds of pizza makers, some inspired and some eh, perhaps not so much.
But let's take it a step further. If pizza crust is an edible plate, the pizza itself is much more. I believe that we should think of our pizza, how we construct it, and how we eat it as an edible Rorschach test. Most of us have heard of this test, a psychological tool used to evaluate a subject's personality by analyzing perceptions about ink blots. Well, I think it is just as useful and a lot more fun to learn about people through the pizzas that they like and the pizzas that they make.
So let's get back to the original question. What was your first unfiltered response? Did you answer "A pizza is supposed to be cooked in a wood burning oven"? How about Dom DeMarco of DiFara's? He uses a Bakers Pride gas oven cranked up to nearly 600 degrees. How about: "A pizza is supposed to be topped with San Marzano tomatoes" right? Chris Bianco, one of our nation's best pizza makers, uses delicious California Tomatoes packed by Rob DiNapoli. Certainly, "A Pizza is supposed to be made with Italian 00 flour." Except that when I asked the fantastic pizza makers at Volpetti in Rome, they spoke lovingly of North American High Gluten Manitoba as their flour of choice. One thing we can all agree on is: "A pizza is supposed to be extended by hand." Well somebody forgot to tell Al Santillo and his family who, for three generations, have followed their bread baking tradition and made incredible pizza using an old dough sheeter.
So, I think it is safe to say that for just about every "supposed to" there is an equally valid alternative response. Perhaps that means that our answers reveal more about us than they do about pizza itself. …
Recipe: Curried Cauliflower With Chickpeas
We hope you enjoy this month’s featured recipe from the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook, written by our chef moderator Dan Compton. Want to add your own recipe? Take a few moments to create a free Community Cookbook account!
- 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.