Monday, September 4, 2017

Brick Oven Cooking: On beyond Pizza

This Labor Day weekend, I reveled in cooking seven foods other than pizza.

Because my brick oven retains temperature over long periods of time, I could braise leeks and roast beets one evening, then make a peach crisp the next day.

Eggplant parm one night, preparing all the ingredients in the oven prior to assembling and re-baking one night, Bimbambap another night.

Street corn, pane Tuscano, and husk roasted sweet corn.  The list is endless.

I've occasionally re-stoked the oven with a minimum of firewood to maintain higher temps over the course of a few days.

I've been dehydrating peaches and tomatoes using the last 180 degrees.  It concentrates the flavor and reduces the volume for preserving.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Match-booking Brick Oven Stone Face

All my brick ovens have a face arch.  To create a sense of symmetry, I often match-book the stone.  This is done by cutting the arch stone in half, front to back, and using the two halves in opposite locations on the arch.

A recent oven finished on the entire exterior with reclaimed cobblestones (likely about 150 years old), incorporated a match-booked stone face.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Northern New England Home, Garden and Flower Show

For the previous 13 years I have exhibited at the Northern New England Home, Garden and Flower Show at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds in Maine.  
For ten of those I have brought my portable brick oven for use by numerous chefs at the Meet the Chefs pavilion.  

Working with regional chefs has been great fun.  My part of those demonstrations was preparing the oven for the temperatures the chefs needed.  Between their demonstrations and for the entire weekend, I cooked food in the oven and gave out samples of bread, pizza, broiled vegetables and more.

I will not be there this year.  The work of building ovens has increased and I'm out on projects often now.  I've built ovens in nine states, traveling as far as North Carolina and California.

My portable ovens are now in residence at Sheehan Gardens in Milton NH and at the NH Mushroom
Company where it is used each weekend through the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.

I'd like to thank all the chefs who collaborated with me, the owners of Fiore Olive Oil, NH Mushroom Company, White Gates Farm, Cabot Creamery, and many more with whom I have a continuing friendship.

I'd also thank Karla Ficker for creating the show, facilitating the events and the staff for the years that I've been part of the growing show.

Best of Luck

Friday, March 31, 2017

I will be speaking at the Seacoast Home and Garden Show on Sunday April 2nd at 1:45 pm.

 Everything you've always wanted to know about brick ovens will be covered (perhaps briefly).

Hope to see you there.

David Neufeld

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Speaking of Brick Ovens

For those of you who live near Durham, NH, I will be speaking at the Seacoast Home and Garden Show on the UNH campus on April 2nd.  This is an opportunity to see a visual presentation (highly informative), meet me, pick my brain, or just enjoy seeing the spectrum of possibilities that brick oven cooking offers.

Sonke Dornblut, a German baker for whom I built an oven last summer, will join me for commentary and bring hearth loaves for sampling.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What about The Patio?

Of all the outdoor brick ovens I've built, I can't recall one that didn't include a patio.  As a lifelong
landscape designer imagining and then building the patio or terrace in natural for me.  As with the ovens, each project is taken as a fresh opportunity with new people.  The photos here show a project in process.  A landscape design as it interfaces with a house and an outdoor kitchen has the advantage of adding embracing curves and multiple levels.

Often the clients and I have a conversation or two in which we walk around the space and think about shapes and uses.

Then I sketch a few ideas.  I feel that part of my job as a landscape designer/builder is to guide the owner towards the best possible design.  Sometimes wire flags are used to outline the area.

As the project unfolds, I look for elements that compliment the original design.

TBO 36" built on a ledge, bricks laid to point to the oven mouth

TBO 36" and outdoor grill, pot-burners, and workspace.
TBO 36" in Ventura CA 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Moby Brick: The Ventura Oven revisited

Thanks to Herman Melville

"Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse (purse?), and nothing particular to interest me on shore I thought" I would build a brick oven for my brother.
"It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul (and in New England); whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever"* my California brother asked for improvements to his place.

The project allowed me to explore the process of building  brick ovens far from my home base.  On one hand there were vast differences in environment and local style.  On the other hand, connecting with local Latino masons added a social (and language)l dimension that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I had previously designed and built the terraces on his steep hillside lot.  The oven, built between mid-December and early January expanded into a wine cellar project from a converted concrete tool shed.

I worked with local masons on the basics, something I do when far from my home turf.  The technical parts of the oven and the 'artistic' finish of the oven are mine to do.  Having seen some stone roofs in France, I modified the design to incorporate 1500 pounds of flat stone laid in a relaxed shingle.  

"Now small  (and tasty) fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."