Outdoor kitchens have been the latest trend among homeowners as they allow fine dining and relaxed social life to be combined on long summer days. Cooking beyond the standard kitchen expands the living space of a house and a lot of people are now adding a wood-fired oven to their outdoor kitchen. Using firewood for cooking is a very ancient method of food preparation that will enhance flavours and widen the palette of succulent dishes beyond barbecue cooked in your patio. The beauty of having a wood fired oven in your backyard is not only the joy that the whole family can make their own favourite pizza, which will come out with the optimal crust, wood-fired ovens can be used to cook about any food from artisan bread and rolls to roast meats over casseroles and quiches.
One of the many benefits of such wood-fired oven is its high temperature, which can reach as high as 400 Celsius and can cook the beloved Italian pie within two minutes. Once the heat is retained the oven can also be used for bread or any other meals that do not demand a hot and lively flame. The firewood will also impart extra flavour on the dishes that are roasted, giving meat its delicious smoky bark and roasted fruit and vegetables will retain their nutrients due to the short cooking time. Wood fired ovens will not only take summer meals to a whole new level, cooking with firewood is also environmentally friendly as no electricity or gas needs to be used. If you are still not convinced about the benefits of adding a wood fired oven to your patio or have recently purchased the Alfresco Factory Wildfire and need a pizza break, read on for two delectable wood-fired recipes.
Beetroot and Feta Tart
Perfect for a weekend lunch, this tart is light and fresh and delicious served with your favourite green salad.
Ingredients: 400g Beetroot grated, 1Tbsp Olive oil, 1 sliced red onion, 4Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, 2Tbsp Thyme leaves, 1Tbsp brown sugar, 150g Feta cheese, 2 Eggs beaten, 150ml double cream, Thyme sprigs, 200g plain flour, 100g butter
Method: Start making the pastry by mixing the flour and butter together with a pinch of salt and about 60ml of chilled water until everything comes together. Leave to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Grease a tart pan, roll out the pastry and place in the bottom of the pan. Fire your wood fired oven and let cool down to about 200C. Bake your pastry blind for about 12 minutes until golden brown and leave to cool. Make the tart filling by simmering the onion with a pinch of salt until soft, add the beetroot, vinegar, thyme leaves, brown sugar and 250ml of water and let cook for about 15 minutes until thick. Once the mixture has cooled down, spread it onto your tart base and sprinkle with feta cheese. Pour the beaten eggs over and scatter with thyme sprigs. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until set.
Date and walnut bread
Especially with cheese, this loaf is a delicious treat and great as an amuse gueule with a nice glass of red.
Ingredients: 350g malted bread flour, 150g white bread flour, 0,3l milk warm, 50g unsalted butter at room temperature, 20g fresh yeast, 15g brown sugar, 8g salt, 50g dates roughly chopped, 50g walnuts roughly chopped
Method: fire your wood fired oven and leave to cool to 220C. Crumble butter and yeast in a small bowl and stir in the milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Mix both flours, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and knead for about 8 minutes. Let the dough proof for 1 hour. Mix in the dates and walnuts and split the dough into 2 loaves. Place the loaves on a tray and lightly slice the tops. Let proof for another 20 minutes before baking the bread about 25 minutes.