Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Woodoven


As you probably know we have a wood oven in the garden and at this time of year it is working most weekends and sometimes on a few weekday evenings - even when it's raining - we just dodge the showers, quickly shove the dishes in and then run back inside!

Ever since I read 'A Year in Provence' by Peter Mayle, I have dreamed of cooking out doors over wood - not just a barbecue, but really slow, sociable cooking. His description of cooking red peppers for lunch, having bought them from the market early that morning, letting them slowly cook whilst sipping red wine and snacking on chunks of cheese, pate and fresh baguette, seemed to me to be the way one should eat.

When we first built the oven it was pizza that we had in mind, we had friend round and had pizza making evenings but slowly we started to try other dishes and now have a go at cook a variety of dishes from fish to roasts, stew and desserts. I found that you can, with a few recipe tweaks, cook almost anything.

So, leaving the pizza aside 'here are a few of our favourite things!'

 Fennel


Fennel bulbs fried with melted cheese - a pecorino or parmesan is excellent,  makes a brilliant side dish or served as a starter with loads of hot bread (also cooked or warmed in the wood oven)


 Woodoven bread


Breads of any kind work really well. We seem to cook flat breads and pitta the most throwing then straight onto the brushed oven floor or on a cast iron griddle. A friend came round and had a go at cooking beetroot bread which went so well with the smoky wood flavours. My next try will be some potato or parsnip bread - if results are good I will pass them on!


 Lamb

Roasts are brilliant!, especially if you are cooking for a group of you, it so easy to prepare before hand and then place in the oven to slowly cook for a few hours - the smell of the cooking makes your mouth water it seems to permeate the whole garden! We have had neighbours look in to see what we're cooking! The meat is always tasty and tender after it slow cooking, it doesn't dry out at all.

We will usually serve it with breads and little simple side dishes, all prepared before hand and also cooked in the oven, we will cook them as a succession of  small dishes that are ready throughout the meal -  similar to hot a tapas dishes. Easy to eat with just a fork or to fill hot pitta with the meat and salads.

 Aubergine

Most Mediterranean vegetables are suited to this style of cooking so a quick preparation - slicing, scoring etc, then a good slug of olive oil, some garlic and herbs is all you need. The slow cooking makes the dishes sweet and smoky. These aubergines are a perfect example of that.

 Courgettes

And finally a pan of sliced courgettes always seem to find it's way into every outdoor meal. Simply let them cook down into a soft, sweet layer and then squeeze over some lemon juice and then chunks of feta before serving.

If you don't have a wood oven all these dishes work in an ordinary oven or on a barbecue with the lid on - just adjust your cooking times a bit and cover the dishes for the early stages of cooking to stop them drying out.

Have a great day
Love Lizx