Thursday, February 28, 2019

Brick Cutting: 101

There are only so many ovens I can build myself.  There is an unlimited number of people who want to build their own oven.   I address this post to you.  Below are some photos showing how laying out the sets of bricks for a dome prior to construction can contribute to accuracy and efficiency.

#1 and #2 arch bricks allow accuracy in forming domes and arches
 I use a 12" diamond blade on a compound miter chop saw.  I soak the bricks to cut dust and add lubrication.  The blade last longer too.
Styrofoam forms allow the pre-cutting of bricks to be accurate

 Numbering bricks make boxing and building with them orderly
(note: My assistant numbered these, thus the 'IIX' which should be 'VIII' Roman numerals)
Also note that the top course 'jumps' three bricks since individual brick would be too thin. 

Keystone is cut only when dome is built 
Seven part Keystone is my design.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Brick Oven Garden

If there is an opening bell to the garden season, it is March 1.  For brick oven cooks, planning a garden that will provide us with abundant vegetables for broiling, roasting, and toppings, makes sense.

Virtually all of the produce from an average garden can be used to make a brick oven feast.  However, certain vegetables continue to be the staples of brick oven cooking, especially in the European/Western culture.

 Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, garlic are central.  Arugula, kale, leeks, and the panoply of herbs add to the mix.
And don't forget the mushrooms.  Eric Milligan of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company is a leading grower of gourmet mushrooms (and a great guy).

Heirloom varieties of tomatoes make that essential ingredient one that can occupy an entire garden itself.

Then there are the outliers: beets, squash, potatoes, apples, peaches, and, for the botanically adventurous, figs.

Lastly, a side salad will balance the meal with its freshness and crunch. Do it all. And start now.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Arometo: Best Pizza Ever

I've made hundreds of pizzas, in my own brick oven and in others.  To say, I recently made the best ever pizza may either show that I'm way late in arriving, or that, simply, my tastes have changed.

Parsley, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Oregano, Basil (frozen fresh with oil), Lemon Zest 

 I have a book: "Diary of a Tuscan Chef" by Cesare Casella and Eileen Daspin.  It traces both Chef Cesare's connection to family cooking traditions and his dedication and joy in having his menus follow the seasons.  As it is copyright 1998, his farm-to-table philosophy puts him at the leading edge of his peers but completely within the centuries-long traditions of Europe.

So, early in the book, he describes arometo, page 15 to be exact, as a mixture of multiple herbs.   Admittedly, I seem to have elaborated in my memory and mind on the minuscule instructions given in the book.

I read the recipe: "I cup tightly packed fresh herbs (use a combination of basil, rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley, marjoram, and oregano)-- finely minced."  AS...

Mix the herbs so no one is dominant.  It doesn't say that.

BUT the result is astounding when added to the toppings on pizza.  The complexity of flavors (I add fresh ground black pepper, a bit of sage, and salt) sends a taste-opening flavor symphony to your senses.

If the current pizza you are making is anything but great, try this.  And grazie Chef Cesare!  Mille graze.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

YODA: Brick Oven Master

"Always pass on what you have learned."
"Patience you must have my young padawan." 

You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear?  A teacher Yoda is.  Yoda teaches like drunkards drink, like killers kill." 

Decide you must, how to serve them best."