Cooking for a Family Feast

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While Kiwi brother and wife were here from UK, we wanted to let them enjoy some Big Bill hospitality. The weather wasn’t good for a outdoor pizza party, so I fired up Big Bill the clay oven and cooked up a family dinner instead.

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I started the making bread dough around 9:30am, again, using dried yeast as well as sourdough starter to speed up the fermentation. Around 10:30am, I started the fire in Big Bill. Around 1pm, the bread dough looks ready for shaping, so I swept out the oven, let it cool a little, and begin baking 4 flat bread to serve as appetisers at dinner. They were simply topped with home made tomato and capsicum chutney, and cheese. Then oven temperature was >260C and I had to bake with the door open so the flat bread wouldn’t burn.

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Then I baked a nice fat and airy focaccia with roasted garlics folded in and topped with thyme and rock salt. It baked at ~260C for 15mins.

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Then it’s time for the 6x500g loaves. They were 2 onion & poppy seeds loaves, 2 linseed, sesame & cocoa loaves, 2 light wholemeal spelt & sesame loaves. They proved for about 1hr since shaping. As usual, I used my garden hose to spray a mist of water into the oven for steam before shutting the door. They baked at ~230C for 40mins.

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Then 2 plum ricotta cakes and a olive and feta quiche went into the oven at ~200C for 45mins. They were in there for slightly longer than I wished, but I was busy getting the next lot of dishes ready for the oven. Thankfully they still came out beautifully creamy, and the quiche was a great hit at dinner.

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Finally, around 4pm, a pot of Moroccan chicken in thick tomato sauce, a pot of roasted vegetable medley, a pot of onions and pumpkins (missing in above photo), and some carrots with cardamon and orange juice went into Big Bill.

I was expecting the crowd at 7pm, but everyone started arriving at 6pm – a bit of daylight saving confusion! Luckily, I was well organised this time, having learnt my lesson recently. So after getting everyone sorted with drinks, I got everything (except the pumpkins) out of Big Bill around 6:30pm. The chicken was already very tender and melting on the bones. The vegetable medley was heated further on the stove with cream, which was very warming on our newly arrived cool autumn evening. And there was no lack of fresh, crusty bread at dinner that night.

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I left the pumpkin and onions to keep roasting in Big Bill. The second day, while the morning sun is on Big Bill, Diego snuggled up next to Big Bill with the pumpkins still inside, and I had to take a picture of them! I turned the roasted onions and pumpkins into a creamy pumpkin soup that night, and Diego much approved of it too, licking the bowl sparkling clean after our dinner.

Recipes you might be interested, and more to come:

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