Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wood Fired Pizza

After 4 years of planning and building, we have almost finished our wood fired pizza oven in our back yard. We have finishing work, like plastering and tiling, as well as a chimney cap left to do. We could not resist trying out the oven this weekend. Friday night we did our first pizzas. On Saturday, we tried roast chicken and vegetables, foccacia bread and cinnamon buns. We also roasted off been bones for a beef stock.

Cooking in an oven that is 42 inches in width, and has very variable heat is sure a challenge. We will have to learn what cooks with the fire in.......what cooks with embers.......what cooks with no embers and the door closed......SHEESH!!!!! Why would we bother? Well, when cooking food is a hobby or entertainment, the doing is not such a chore! The clean that's another story.

Here are more dishes and delights.

Foccacia Bread

Roast Chicken with Potatoes & Carrots

Friday, August 08, 2008

Three Day Cook Off

On Monday, the forecast said that the rest of the week would be nice and hot. It has not been a nice summer, with a fair amount of rain, and some days that the temperature did not creep above 15 degrees. I decided that this week, the last week of my vacation, I would pull out all stops and have people over as many times as my energy level would allow.

Wednesday was "girls" day and we had a nice lunch on the patio, followed by a "Mama Mia" matinee. We had Green Pea & Mint Chilled Soup, and a nice salad (picture above) and then some fresh "brother-in-law" raspberries encased in a lovely vanilla scented red wine jelly.

Thursday had colleagues from work, and some appetizers and snacks outside. We tried sitting in the gazebo for a while, but had to move to the patio on the north side when the heat became unbearable. We had a nice Bruschetta with an Herb Salad on top, and Grilled Egg Plant and Feta Rolls. I had saved some of the soup and dessert from the day before and had them in shooter glasses (soup) and raspberries in espresso glasses. Another great day outside...........

Day three, Friday, and I am still cooking. The plan is for a Bocce game, and then a roasted lamb leg with some salads. We'll see how the day goes on.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Summer Treats

Company's coming! When those words are spoken in our house, it means we will be making something special. Cousins from Quebec were in town, and a dinner hosted at a sister-in-law's house. We were bringing dessert. We start off with a trip to the market in the morning. It was 12 degrees with 40 km per hour winds! Hmph! doesn't feel much like summer. Oh yeah! This is Edmonton, and the weather is..........variable.

We were on the lookout for fresh Saskatoon berries and raspberries. Some nice yellow and purple B.C. plums had already been procured the day before at the Italian Market. We would bring 2 desserts. The market never fails to amaze and inspire. We came home laden with bags of vegetables and said fruit and got to work on the treats.

When time is in short supply I fall back on quick desserts that need little fuss. I love the Italian dessert Panna Cotta because it is so easy and pairs so well with summer fruits. It literally means "cooked cream", and goes together in about 5 minutes. I have used everything from cream, to buttermilk to my favourite local Bleswold yogurt. Sweetened with sugar or honey, a touch of vanilla or liqueur and thickened with gelatin, this dessert is will never disappoint. One picture below is with Saskatoons & Raspberries, and another with a rhubarb ginger topping.(Recipe follows)

Dessert number 2 was a simple plum tart that is comprised of pastry, plums and sugar. Summer fruit tarts need a robust pastry, and I put together a dough in the food processor that is called Pasta Frolla in Italian, Pate Sucree in French, and Short Dough in English. It needs to be chilled before it is rolled, and then the fresh fruits and sugar go in. Bake it in a high temperature oven and glaze with some thinned apricot or rasperry jam for a jewel like glaze. (Recipe follows)