Regardless of what you want to make and the tools you plan to use, finding good recipes and directions is a critical first step. Some of these are specific to wood fire ovens, while others consider a range of related approaches, including simply cooking over an open fire.
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But regardless, they all offer valuable recipes, ideas and advice. This particular cookbook is more controversial than most, with some loving it and others hating it. However, there is some good information on offer, including the recipes themselves and instruction on using a wood fire oven.
There is also a decent number of recipes on offer, across multiple different types of food. So, there are more than enough options to get you started. Unusually, the book actually comes with a DVD, which provides a more powerful introduction for complete beginners. This aspect may be uncommon but it does make sense, especially as there are many different considerations involved when you cook using wood fire ovens.
Instead, the book covers various other approaches as well, including the campfire, grill and fireplace. Because of this, there is less direction provided about wood fire cooking specifically and only a subset of the recipes directly apply to cooking in this way. This is a pretty big disadvantage if you specifically want to cook with a wood fire oven. The book also has relatively few images, which would make it harder for many people to use.
The Art of Wood-Fired Cooking is as much a guide book as it is a cookbook. So, there are recipes on offer but there is also a considerable amount of information about wood fire cooking in general and how it works. For example, the author talks about areas like where to place the fuel and the food, ways to determine the temperature and how to get the cooking started.
One of the main reasons to consider this cookbook is that it goes far beyond wood fired pizza. This cookbook offers a good balance of approaches, including information about using a wood fired oven and about the meals that you can cook. One interesting aspect is that there is advice about ways to take advantage of the way that temperature changes in a wood fired oven.
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Specifically, there are some recipes that work well when the oven is at its hottest and others you might try when it is cooling down and has residual heat. The recipes on offer are also on the basic side, which makes them viable for beginners and experts. One of the main ideas of this cookbook is getting the most out of a single firing of a wood fire oven.
With this in mind, there is a considerable amount of practical advice provided, along with recipes that take advantage of different temperature windows. For example, there is information about infusing oils and food dehydration, along with more conventional recipes and directions. The one downside is that the style means there is more time spent on instruction and relatively few actual recipes.
This makes the book more relevant as a resource and a how-to guide, rather than an actual cookbook for your kitchen. With that in mind, how well the book works will entirely depend on what you are looking for. Needless to say, the emphasis of this cookbook is entirely on wood-fired pizza. After all, many people do buy wood fire ovens specifically so they can make their own pizzas. Instead, there are recipes for pizza dough and for sauces that you might use on or with the pizza. The various recipes give you considerable versatility and are perfect if you want to make great wood-fired pizzas.
Instead, it is a book that focuses on cooking with fire in general. Go for a cut that can stand up to the heat — something with a higher fat content like rib eye, rather than a lean tenderloin. Get the recipe — Caveman Steak. You can cook these whole, in the husks if you can get them. Soak them beforehand to stop them burning, and then grill on the floor of the oven, turning them often. Get the recipe — Woodfired Corn on the Cob.
Why not try your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner in your wood fired oven? Get the recipe — Woodfired Christmas Turkey. This is an easy side dish that can be prepared beforehand and then be ready to be put in the oven to crunch up the cheese topping.
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The similar dish you can do is potato Dauphinoise which has no cheese, but cream and garlic. Get the recipe — Gratin Potatoes. This is a great appetiser or end to a meal. You need a round cheese that has a rind and preferably a wooden box and that will melt well such as Camembert or Brie. It is baked until soft and you dip crusty bread and anything else you fancy into the top. Get the recipe — Wood Fired Camembert. How mouth-watering does that sound? Take your brunch to the next level by making sourdough loafs in your wood fired oven.
Get the recipe — Wood Fired Sourdough Bread. Cook your prime cut of beef in the pizza oven for a delectable meal. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan.
You can use space in the roasting pan for other vegetables. Adjust your times for how well cooked you like your meat. By cooking a fillet of fish on a plank of wood, it adds extra smokiness and keeps the fish moist. The flavors of smoke and salmon are a great combination. The wooden plank is soaked in water before cooking to stop burning. Whole fish such as this snapper, roast well in a tray surrounded by vegetables, or wrapped up in a parcel of parchment paper.
If you stand the fish up vertically, it can be cooked quickly on both sides by rotating the pan it is cooked in. Get the recipe — Roasted Snapper. Another great appetiser which pairs great with the wood fired oven, and takes only minutes. Finish with lots of lemon. Get the recipe — Wood Fired Basil Shrimp.
This is fairly similar to your pizza recipes, but can be delicious side dish to another main dish, pizzas or as an appetizer on its own. You can use your regular pizza dough then add crushed garlic, butter, rosemary and olive oil for the winning combination. Get the recipe — Garlic Bread with Rosemary. A classic Italian bread that is so easy to make with the residual heat of your oven.
The dough is very similar to pizza dough so you should be familiar with it, or you can use some left over dough you have. Great dipped in olive oil, or sliced for sandwiches the next day. Get the recipe — Focaccia Flatbread. You can use the high heat to roast potatoes and get them crispy, or you can wait until the heat has died down to slow roast mixed vegetables until soft. Potatoes can be baked in their skins. There are lots of things you can do — check the recipe for best recommendations of vegetables.
A leg of lamb is leaner than a shoulder so can dry out if over cooked, but is less fatty. So take which one is your preference, or availability. Get the recipe — Leg of Lamb or Lamb Shoulder. A great crowd-pleaser if you are cooking for guests.
Notes about this book
These pizza rolls are covered in cheese and garlic butter and are sure to go down well. Standard pizza dough can be used and you can fill them with absolutely anything. Get the recipe — Wood Fired Pizza Rolls. This Indian flatbread is usually cooked in a hot tandoori oven.
Your pizza oven can replicate this method, and get the breads to puff up nicely. Brush them with butter and enjoy with your favorite curries.
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Get the recipe — Wood-fired Naan. The perfect outdoor sweet treat. Then you bring it out and let everyone help themselves with crackers and fruit. You can use left over pizza dough for these rolls, and make a great post-pizza dessert.