Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Mad Coyote Christmas

A Mad Coyote Christmas

Christmas this year was a hoot. My butchers John and Dean at Bashas’ in Carefree cut me out a nice 6 bone Standing Rib Roast. We try to avoid turkey on both Thanksgiving and Christmas because Kathy has usually been cooking up to 8o turkey dinners… some years more and so we go a different direction.

I rubbed the roast with olive oil, black pepper, Kosher salt and fresh thyme.

I stuff a few cloves of garlic into the cut between the roast and the bones and a tuck a few sprigs of rosemary under the strings the butcher tied the roast with.

I used my new iron roasting pan that I got at a garage sale for $10. I pre heated the oven to 410°f. I popped the roast into the hot oven for about 45 minutes, it was nice and brown, so I reduced the temperature to 375°f for another hour and a half once the roast reached 118°f at the thickest part of the roast I took it out and let it rest for 20 minutes.

It was perfect.

I roasted a few chiles and peeled them and made a quick calabacitas along with some oven roasted tri-color potatoes and baby carrots

We also hadAspargus and creamed Horseradish, a cheese plate and Pecan Pie.

Our kids came by along with my mom. We feasted and drank some good zinfindel and all in all had a great night. If you have any questions on these or any other recipes just ask. Have a great New Year.


Mad Coyote Joe

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baguettes and Country white bread just out of the wood fired oven!

Sucess at Last!
This is our first batch of any size, sixteen loaves, eight Baguettes and eight Country white. The Country white is coming out the same every time; light, mild sour dough, with a crunch that can be heard across the room… delicious!

The Baguettes are getting better with each bake, this time we have the flavor and crunch we are looking for, but the surface is a little irregular and the final loaf is not deep in color.

We are thinking maybe an egg-wash will produce the color we are looking for. For the next bake we are thinking maybe 16-32 loafs of each. After the oven gets hot enough, each bake takes about 30% more time, so we need to use hearth space as economically as possible.

I believe we can do about 30 Country loaves per bake and about 16-18 loaves of Baguette, per bake. Add that to about 10 – 12 bakes per fire and we’ve got a nice little bread business on our hands. The best part of this process is I feel alive about food again, like when I was 28 and had little kids and a young wife that I was grilling for. My mind is busy with the process of baking and it feels good.

Kathy is still by my side, tasting and helping and suggesting, only now she is an Executive chef with 35 years of cooking under her belt. Money is tight, business is slow, and my health is still in question, but life here is good!

While we were getting our oven heated and our bread dough ready, I put a pork shoulder with baby red potatoes and about 20 garlic cloves in an old iron Dutch oven in about two inches of chicken broth. As the fire was quite hot, I placed it just in the doorway. Right before our first bake, I took it inside and let it rest. When the baking was done we had supper, the pork was juicy and almost sweet, combined with the Country white just out of the oven with a schmear of organic sweet cream butter, a few cloves of the roasted garlic and a glass of Cabernet. It wasn’t fancy but WOW! Did it taste great!

The Columns are up on the Bakery pavilion and next week we go to beams and joists for the roof… photos to follow!

Shot of oven during the first counter pour!

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to build a wood fired bread oven... the bread begins!

The Natives are restless. As I go through my daily business in our little town of Cave Creek Arizona, my friends and neighbors keep asking when the bread will be for sale. I tell them I’m working on it and give the latest update as far as baking progress.

My bread recipes are coming along and with each firing of the oven I learn more about the nature of this amazing piece of cooking equipment. As I run into difficult patches I find myself going back to advice that I have been giving aspiring cooks for the past few decades. I have offered the rule of three many times over the years. It goes something like this; take any dish that you would like to make and find a good recipe. Make it exactly as written three times stopping to think about what worked and what needed improvement by the third time you will be making a good solid example of what ever you are shooting for. The first time I tried baking in the big oven it came out heavy and dull. I was distraught… after all I’m supposed to be a cooking instructor. My wife Chef Kathy reminded me of the rule of three and the fact that it’s a learning experience.

I went back at it and on the third try I made real bread with a thick chewy crust that made a crunching sound as I bit into it. The flavor was deep rich and complex. My ingredients; flour, water and salt. I hope that you will use this blog as a resource to answer all your questions on baking and the construction and use of the wood fired “Black” oven.

Monday, December 6, 2010

From Bricks to Bread the Wood-Fired Oven

So the oven is completed except the stucco and paint, which we will finish after the pavilion that houses the oven is built. We are now working on our bread recipe and the layout of our lot for the future cooking school. Our concept is garden to plate cooking and the education of everything in between. I’m keeping a journal of this process and planning to write a companion book called “From Bricks to Bread, a journey into the wood-fired bread oven”. After a lifetime of cooking with wood I am now going in this natural direction. Bread and the wood-fired oven are both a real challenge. They require a dedication and the learning of the natural cycles of both the oven and the life cycle of natural leavens. I’m enjoying this process much more than I can express. Once again I’m excited about cooking. Kathy and I talk about these processes and possibilities for hours on end. We are planning our next stage of life. It will be based around the wood-fired oven and a cooking school. If this works out Kathy can work from home and we can cater, teach, entertain and offer a location for others to give classes and workshops. We are also going to offering a location for meetings and even weddings.

Below are the pictures of the last stages of the oven build for those that are interested.

I used foam to make the form for the cladding, his holds in the heat and functions as mass for extended bakings.

This shot shows all of the cladding before we close it in the walls and add final insulation.

The front arch form and keyway.

Chimney facia with cut to follow roofline.
Rafters and block wall that will hold final insulation.

Top view of oven cladding before zonalite insulation.
Once again "mock up" of tile layout.
Dry stacked block and anchor bolt for rafter tie.

Zonalite insulation.
Our new puppy Max.
Finishing a large leaf into the counter top.
Pour of tables for bread baking classes.

Mesh and bar allow a long table with a clear span. Make sure and let this cure, keep a brace for a few weeks to fully allow the mud to harden.
End view of north table.
Pour in front of oven.
Shot of tile roof. I bought the tile on Craigslist for $35.
Nice view of front of oven. I have hundreds of shots if you need to see anything just shoot me a note and I'll post it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Wood Fired Oven or how I Spent My Summer Vacation

I woke up at 5am to help Kathy get ready for work. We have coffee and chat with CNN in the background, while she gets dressed. We have a new pit-bull puppy named Max, that's excited about everything. Max is a classic pit, very determined but unusually smart. If I discipline him and take the time to make sure he understands he gets it and corrects the behavior. He is teething which is always a challenge, but is sticking mostly to toys and bones. This morning I opened an e-mail from my friend Jerry Cohen who is traveling in Laos. I was inspired by his writing and pictures and decided to open a link to my blog, check out his link Ho Chi Minh's Used Cars. I was saddened when I saw that it had been months since my last post. I got a little lost with my writing around the time we said goodbye to Micha.

I've spent the summer building a wood-fired oven. Below is a quick walk through the steps for the build. I plan on getting a more complete set of plans and directions for you to build your own oven. If I can do it so can you. As some of you know I have some health challenges but I tried to get a little done every few days and brick by brick I've gone from plans to Pizza.

This shot is of the walls and the pour forms for the insulated hearth slab.
There are two layers of concrete, the bottom is insulated concrete, to hold in the thermal mass of the upper slab which is just sack mix concrete, notice the blue foam above that keeps the upper slab from touching the walls. This allows for expansion without cracking the walls, as the hearth heats up.

Wire mesh is bent to tie the two slabs together then tied to the rebar.
The hearth slab is supported by the rebar.

One of the most important bits of information that I have learned while building this oven is to mock up, stop, look and think, before setting in mortar. The shot above shows a hearth and oven wall mock up made with refractory. After looking at this I decided to do the walls with fire brick for more thermal mass. I'm glad I thought this out.
By mocking up the firebrick walls I could see how the layout would work. Below I used foam (it was free, use what you have on hand) to see the arch and as a guide while mortaring the bricks.

A mock up of the oven door opening.
Time for mud!
Use shims to follow the curve while the mortar sets.
Lots of shims!

The mortar coat holds the firebrick together and acts as additional mass.

The basic oven.

Next the oven is wraped in two layers of heavy duty foil.
Then covered with wire mesh. Notice the pieces of brick used to set the mesh in the middle of the cement.

I used foam and old boards to make my forms. It was crude but saved a lot of money. It comes down to time vs. dollars. I have more time. Proir to pouring the second layer of the oven light a small fire and let it burn for a few hours to allow the oven to expand. Then pour, this will keep the oven from cracking as it expands from use.

Setting up the chimney
I know this looks lop sided, it's the photo.

Use what you have on hand like this strap in case of wind as the flue pipe set!

The oven opening and arch. There are formulas that need to be followed for proper heating and flow of ash and smoke. E-mail me if you have questions or come to an oven building workshop.
Worth the wait!

The oven is far from finished but we can start baking. Much more to come!