Adventures with the Firedome

If my schedule permitted, I would open Dave's Brasserie and sell nothing but pizzas on my deck to a few tables a night. No charge. It's too much fun.

Had a nice smooth run last night. The Firedome maintained 600°F for about 2.5 hours and over 1 hour of that teetering around 700°F using briquettes.

My high temperature aspirations aren't just a manly effort to incinerate food. Noted by one guest, the pizza, using an identical dough formulation, tastes different (and better) cooked in this mini blast-furnace compared to my oven. And, it's still cooking evenly. A build up of cornmeal on the stone contributed to a couple charry bottoms, but I won't be using it anymore. A simple light dusting with flour is adequate to keep the pizza moving on the peel.

Where to from here? The fuel distribution and placement are near optimal, so is the method of fuel ignition, and the cooking surface. All I need is a heat resistant knob on the door (for which Mario gets 10% of the royalties if this goes into production) and some work on different combustibles: lump charcoal, green wood, small woodland animals. Some fun things to try.

Keep you all posted and watch out for invites to my version of Hell's Kitchen where I experiment on live dinner guests.


Training run for Pizza Grand Prix

I'm having a training run tonight with my beloved Firedome. Got a gig at the Wild Goose Creative on October 18th in the Pizza Grand Prix. Tonight's warm up is a basic 10 pizzas for a few friends in the Firedome. Tonight I'll be using a different lighting method: chimney of fuel to ignite the surrounding fuel, using simple briquettes and timing the available cook time for one charge of fuel with my datalogger. The Firedome is not convenient to charge midstream. A significant limitation if I want to push this to production level cooking. Modifiications will have to be made if this is the goal.

The other thing I'll be checking is amount of dough per pizza. I'm shooting for 10-12" pie with 225 g per shell. This should give a thin crust, but not paper thin. Toppings will be classic. Chiffonade of basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. A few will be the wife and I's favorite: grilled eggplant, caramelized onion and chevre (not classic, but good). I'll post the final Temp vs. Time profile. I'm also hoping this run gets me 700+ °F. We'll see.

For the dough. I made it about 24 hours in advance. I made a kilo at a time in my bread machine, scaled and rounded/balled it into 225 g lumps and chilled it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then these were placed in retarding containers in my fridge for ca. 18 hours, punched down, re-rounded and are now ready for pushing into shells tonight.

Serf! Hand me my armor.


American Style Honey Wheat

Reposted because it's the beginning of the school year!

The Columbus City Schools are pretty awesome. Frankie's in a public French language immersion school (K-8). Just through kindergarten, she giggles at me trying to pronounce a French r. By second grade I suspect she'll be able to order me a beer in a brasserie in Paris. The only problem with the CCS is the lunch program. No veggies and lots of warmed up starch and fat. It's sad. So, here it is, the staple substrate of many of her lunches, bread.

Although my passion is a nice crispy baguette, it's sometimes tough to fit in with gymnastics, soccer and our work schedules. For the day to day, we often enjoy a plain old enriched American style loaf; it's got reasonable shelf life and is a fast prep. This is a really reliable straight dough method loaf. Just made one tonight for a sandwich for myself for tomorrow. It goes together in a snap.

Here's the recipe:
water, room temp - warm, 240 g (1 C)
unbleached white flour 240 g (ca. 1 2/3 C)
wheat/rye/spelt mix (1:1:1 w/w), 120 g (3/4 C)
shortening, 12 g (1 T)
vegetable oil, 24 g (2 T)
honey, 30 g (1.5 T)
instant active dry yeast, 1 packet
salt, 1.5 t
sunflower seeds, handful

Straight dough method, first rise 60 min, 2nd rise 25 min, 3rd rise (proof) 40 min in loaf pan (ca. 2.5" x 5" x 9", metal) slashed top of loaf, and baked in abundantly pre-heated 425°F oven for 30 minutes. Awesome volume. Popped the loaf out of the pan and let it sit out overnight to cool (all ready for my nostalgic bologna sandwich tomorrow).


Pom Wow! (free swag)

frosty and freshly delivered cold to my door

weber_cam is one of the most visited sites on the internet. Last count, my sitemeter was tracking about 100-200 visitors per day. Take that Drudge.

With this kind of traffic there are perks. The delightful Molly, from Pom Wonderful emailed me and asked if I wanted a sample since it looks like some of my posts indicate I enjoyed healthy food (probably not the posts on ribs). I wasn't obliged to write anything or even mention the freebie on the site, but hey, nothing else to jabber about and still getting over jet-lag, I figured I'd write something about it anyway.

The good
It's yummy stuff. After having my first portion full strength, I cut it with water 1:1 because it's really strong. It possesses a pleasant tartness (similar to cranberry), but sweeter. The sugar content is 32 g/236 mL. I'm not sure what the native sweetener in a pomegranate, but it's a sweet one. I'm guessing it's cane. There's no added coloring and preservation is likely done through thermal processing rather than by benign chemical additives (I'm a chemist and believe chemical additives for preservation are perceived poorly because most people don't understand them and their function). Nonetheless, this is a great-tasting quality product and worth its high price. I think the 8 pack I generously received would be about $10. Actually, not bad for real juice, real juice is pricey.

My soapbox
The literature I received has lots of references to primary medical literature supporting its antioxidant activity, cardio-health claims, the crowd-pleasing manly things like super duper erections, and of course the ever popular, euro-loving, colon cleansing. These are the boiler plate claims of almost all natural foods claiming to be the newest fountain of youth and often underestimate the intelligence of the consumer. Some claims are supported, some, who knows. Antioxidant efficacy is a pretty easy proof for any food (most fruit knows how to protect itself from oxidation), but the chemical BHT in each and every bite of kid's cereal is also a great antioxidant and safe. The whole antioxidant thing isn't a guarantee against anything.

I'm no medical expert and feel free to shoot barbs at me in the comments, but a glass a day won't prevent you from getting a stroke and probably won't provide the woody promised - I'm currently participating in my own clinical study for the next 10 days - in the name of science.

Dear Molly of PomWonderful.com ...
Thanks so much for the gift. Despite my warning that I would not say a thing about this product on my site, you politely sent it anyway. My family and I do sincerely appreciate it. I think I'll actually buy more as a treat on special occasions. It's wicked tasty. I'm contemplating spiking my smoothies with it. I'll let you know in a subsequent post if I pursue it. Thanks again.