A Long Time Coming and a Sneak Preview

Big Bill the clay oven had a very long rest this winter. I was going through some stressful times, and not finding much time for playing with Big Bill. Then by chance, Kiwi Bird and I went on a last minute trip, which had been a long time coming, and something we really wanted to do for a few years.

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Here’s a sneak peek of where we’ve been. Probably not overly hard to guess? 😉 It was an absolutely amazing trip, and I’ll be writing more for the next while.

The weekend after we got back, I fired up Big Bill for some long awaited Big Bill pizzas and a wee catch up with friends. Also I wanted/needed to make slow cooked Moroccan Lamb for Kiwi Bird’s belated birthday dinner with our family.

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Little Abbie had been unwell for a week, but still managed to eat some pizzas and enjoy some spring flowers. (I was trying to encourage her to pick all the dandelions in my garden!)

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For dessert this time, we smeared some Argentinian caramel over the base and topped with chocolates and cashew nuts – definitely a combination to be repeated!

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Then I made some naans while there were still embers in Big Bill.

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Then two big slabs of focaccia went into Big Bill at ~230C for 15 mins.

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Then 2 x 500g light rye and sesame loaves, 2 x 500g onion and poppy seeds loaves, and 1 x 1Kg purple wheat and marsala loaf went into Big Bill at ~210C for 1 hour. (They were all made with sourdough this time.) I used to make 1Kg loaves, but recently started to favour making 500g loaves because they are just easier to handle, and I think has a “prettier” height-to-roundness ratio ;). Baking 4 x 500g + 1 x 1Kg loaves at once seems to fit into Big Bill very nicely too.

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The purple wheat bread had half purple wheat flour, and half white flour, plus 3 tablespoons of marsala. The flavour was very nice and warming.

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After all the bread, I baked an olive and feta quiche and a pot of Moroccan style chicken in Big Bill at ~160C for an hour. Last time when I used the same chicken recipe, it came out beautifully after 2 hours in Big Bill at around the same heat. So it occurred to me the chicken would be too “soft” if I left it in Big Bill with the lamb over night. Many times in the past when I left chicken in Big Bill over night, even the bones ended up practically melting. It is very nice, but not what I wanted this time. So I decided to put the chicken in with the quiche for one hour, then continued to cook it a little more on the stove afterwards until the chicken became just tender.

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At the end of the night, 2 large pots of Moroccan lamb stew and a pot of sliced onions (to caramelise) were put to sleep in Big Bill, and I finally crawled into bed just before midnight.

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We had a good feast for Kiwi Bird’s belated birthday dinner with family on the second day.

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And of course no one was going to let me forget I owe Kiwi bird his special birthday gateau cake 😉

Recipes you might be interested, and more to come:

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