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Wood Oven Cooking

Murkey Recipe for Christmas

Adapted from Ruth Goodman's recipe on Wartime Farm my recipe for Murkey.

Alton Brown taught us that stuffing is evil. He awkwardly and half-heartedly rescinded the blanket prohibition against putting bread inside your bird with a well-if-you-really-must episode that involved a pre-roasting turn in the microwave and then a cloth bag and then in to the cavity. That doesn’t sound fun to me, does it sound fun to you? (more…)

Pizza Oven Toolbox

Pizza oven tools (l to r): hook, bellows, brass brush, turning peel, and loading peel.

Pizza oven tools (l to r): hook, bellows, brass brush, turning peel, and loading peel.

There are lots of reason to build a pizza oven. The opportunity to “gear up” to use it over the many years that it will last for is one of the biggest ancillary benefits. Here are a few of the essential tools for cooking pizza and a variety of other food in our wood oven.

Loading Peel: This peel is used to load pizzas into the oven. Most build their pies right on this peel, while some pros manage to go from counter to peel, to oven. The most important characteristics of a good loading peel are that its handle is long enough to reach into the hot oven, that the paddle is wide enough to accommodate the largest pizza you want to make (but, obviously, not larger than your oven’s opening), and that the surface of the paddle is really smooth.

Some buy peels made from fancy wood and others go with perforated metal paddles that reduce friction and drop excess flour but both options seem over-the-top to me. Ours came from Tap Phong but Nella also carries ones with long enough handles. (more…)

Gran Mugnaio Flour

Pizza in the oven. (Photo: Cheryl Bulpitt)

I can’t remember the last time I made a pizza with a pre-baked shell (because they taste like pizza delivery boxes) and I’m starting to make my own dough instead of buying it these days.┬áBut it does two frustrating things that keep me from making it more often. It is either not strong enough and tears; or is too strong and resists stretching by springing back partway to its original size. I have a solution but I’m afraid its from the “but a specialised product” category and not the “all you need is duct tape, a few bits of string, and some elbow grease” category.

Rob from Bigabaldi’s sent me to the Faema dealership at Christie and Dupont when I mentioned that I was looking for a particular style of pizza peel (more about this in another post) and the helpful salesperson at Faema was kind enough to give me a bag of Gran Mugnaio pizza flour to try out. In true food-from-an-Axis country style the front of the bag features a wacky character–some sort of pizza bandit chef–and the back has poorly-translated recipe directions in six different languages.

The recipe calls for 1000 g flour, 2 g yeast, 450 to 550 water, 40 g olive oil, 20 g salt. My first impressions are that that is a properly small amount of yeast (to taste the wheat rather than yeast burps) and a fairly large amount of olive oil and salt. That makes though since we’re making pizza in the Neopolitan tradition where the flavour of the crust matters as much (or more than) as the flavour of the toppings. (more…)

Cherry Pan Dowdy

The cherry pan dowdy

For whatever reason–time of day and topic are two guesses near the top of my list–some requests on Twitter get way more responses than others. When I asked for non-pie ideas of what to do with the Ontario cherries that are now in season I received a deluge of good answers.

Between the suggestions of Steve Wilson, Allison Slute, Eric Vellend, Ivy Knight, Sherry Stone, Tonya Facey, Gav Martell, Jennifer Bylok, Sarah Hood, Sheryl Kirby, and Kat Tagart my list of ideas were: Clafoutis, Cherries Jubilee, crepes, pavlova, panna cotta, black forest cake, cherry-chocolate ice cream, coffee cake, cobbler, cherry soup with slivered almonds, and cherry popsicles. It seems appropriate to save the cherries jubilee for next year and while clafoutis did receive an impressive level of support (I made a winter version here) I decided to overrule the voters and stick with one of my initial inclinations: pan dowdy.

Pan dowdy (it is just as acceptable to spell it “pandowdy” but that causes the annoying red, squiggly line to appear in my editor so I’m sticking to the two-word spelling) is a rustic dessert that is baked in a cast iron pan (versus a pie plate) and only has a top crust that is broken partway through cooking so that some of the cherry juices soak through. It’s a lot like the skillet pie that I posted about here almost two years ago. As will become obvious from reading the recipe’s steps thsi is an exceedingly rustic preparation. (more…)

Royal Wedding Dinner

Last week was a simpler time. Instead of worrying about assassinated terrorist kingpins or federal elections we used to wake up at ungodly hours to watch two people–who probably would have much preferred a quiet ceremony in a country church–get married. For the second big meal at the cottage this year my cousin and I cooked a feast drawn from the current Commonwealth and former Empire to mark the occasion.

Lamb vinadaloo with rice for the subcontinent.

The spice-and-heat of Alex’s vindaloo matched surprisingly well with the sweet-and-heat of the jerk potatoes from the West Indies. (more…)