Outdoor Cooking with Morso
Making a Meal of it – Outdoor Alfresco style living
Cooking on a cast iron stove
There is something magical about escaping out of door regardless of our weather – today cooking on a cast iron outdoor oven is becoming more and more popular, and these recipes I have cooked up for you a complete meal in a Morso Forno cast iron oven, which extends our season of outdoor cooking. Not only does it make the Winter seem warmer, but Summer longer, with more relaxed cooking on the patio, beach or just out doors with the fire and flames to create heat and atmosphere. This sytle of cooking is ideal to grill steaks, make a sauce, as a smoker for fish, as pizza oven and guess what – you even your favourite cake, and roasted chicken with all the trimmings. Perhaps a novel idea for this year’s Christmas dinner. When all the cooking is done, stoke up the Morso grill again and enjoy long warm evenings out of doors.
‘00’ flour gives the lightest crust but use regular strong bread flour if you don’t have 00 to hand.
Pizzas should be cooked in a very hot oven with a good fire licking over the top. If you can barely get your hand into the door of the oven it’s about right for pizza.
The ideal floor temperature is 350C. Shaping by hand gives a raised edge which forms the crust or corniccione. After throwing a few hundred pizzas you’ll be pretty skilful(!)
Makes 5 x 10 inch pizzas.
500g type 00 flour
325g warm water (65% hydration)
5g fast action yeast
- Mix all the ingredients together to form a sticky mass. Knead by hand or mixer until the dough is very well developed, very strong and elastic.
- Cover and leave to prove for at least 1–2 hours. (Note: you can make the dough with cool water and ferment for 4 hours or more for a tastier dough with better texture)
- Weigh out the dough into 165g balls. Shape into rounds and rest on the bench for at least 15 minutes. Ideally make the dough balls in advance and leave to rest in a cool place sitting on flour, covered with oiled clingfilm, for an hour. Allowing the dough to relax for a long time will make them much easier to stretch into a disc later.
- Shape into pizza rounds and top lightly. Remember to top the pizzas on your peel as it’s difficult to get them onto the peel once topped. And don’t add too much topping – less is definitely more!!
- Once topped cook immediately.
- At 350C on the oven floor, your pizza should cook in 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Tomato Sauce for Pizza
Shop bought tomato sauces can contain a lot of sugar. Look for a pure passata if you want to go straight form jar to pizza.
This sauce is a bit more complex than passata and gains natural sweetness from the addition of carrot.
Leftover sauce can be used in soups or stews and frozen in batches.
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
½ stick celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2tbsp olive oil
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch dried Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and sweat the onion, carrot, celery and garlic with the herbs and a good pinch of salt until soft but not coloured.
- Stir in the tomatoes and season well. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered until the sauce is well reduced and thick.
- Liquidise until smooth with a hand blender.
- Cool the sauce and use on pizzas.
Peel the cloves of 1head of garlic and whizz until smooth with 150ml olive oil. Use quickly – within 2-3 days and keep in a cool dark place (not in sunlight).
As with the garlic oil, whizz up 3 fresh red deseeded chillies with 150ml olive oil until smooth. Store as above and use quickly.
Fish & wood fired ovens are a match made in heaven. The smokiness of the fire adds flavour to fish very quickly & the high heat allows you to cook in ways you couldn’t imagine doing indoors. A lot of fish, as long as it’s not cut too big, loves heat so try cooking hot and fast at 300C.
South Indian Fish Masala for 4
800g fish fillet – cod, haddock, salmon, hake all work well
Salt and pepper
2 level tbsp rice flour
1tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
2 large red, yellow or orange peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
3cm root ginger, peeled
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
1 x 400ml tin good quality coconut milk (regular not light)
4tbsp sunflower oil
Limes to serve
- Use a food processor to blitz together the peppers, garlic, ginger, onion, chilli and coconut milk until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Mix the rice flour with salt, pepper and the spices and use this to lightly dust the fish.
- To cook the sauce, heat 2tbsp oil in a saucepan. When hot add the blitzed mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water if the sauce appears to be drying out. After 5 minutes continue to cook the sauce but allow it to thicken and concentrate the flavours.
- Meanwhile roast the fish. Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and when hot add the fish skin side down. Roast the fish in a hot oven. Depending on the thickness of the fish expect it to take 6–8 minutes to cook but check regularly to feel when the flakes of flesh start to break under a little pressure. You won’t have to turn it over as the oven will cook it from all sides.
- Serve the fish on top of the sauce with lime wedges.
Wrap 12 scallops each in a thin piece of pancetta and tuck in a fresh basil leaf. Put the wrapped scallops on the other side of the lid and cover with foil but not tightly sealed; the smoke needs to get out. Put the lid with the wood shavings closest to the fire so they start to smoke. The floor has to be hot enough to get the shavings smoking, 300C +. After around 5-6 minutes the scallops should be ready – smokey and crisped up. Experiment with lots of different thing such as asparagus, mussels, black olives, cherry tomatoes etc.
Crab & Samphire Frittata
Serve 6 as lunch or brunch or as a starter. Also great for picnics
1 bunch spring onions, finely shredded
150g cooked crab meat cooked
150g cooked new potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
Small handful samphire – about 150g
8 eggs, beaten
Small bunch fresh chives, finely snipped
Salt and pepper
- Mix the spring onions with 1tbsp of the olive oil and season well. Put a heavy 25cm frying pan in the Morso on a bed of hot embers and when the pan is well heated, add the spring onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened.
- Add the softened spring onions to the beaten eggs and stir in the chives. Add the crab meat, samphire and potatoes. Season well.
- Swirl another 3 tbsp of olive oil in the base of the pan, reheat the pan in the oven and add the egg mixture.
- Put the pan in the oven and let the eggs cook until set moving the pan around from time to time.
- When the frittata is set, take the pan out and let it rest for a minute before sliding the crab frittata out of the pan.
- Serve hot for lunch or cold as part of a picnic.
For roasting chicken the ideal setting would be, starting at about 250-230C and falling to 200C or less.
You’ll need to spin the chicken around a few times for even cooking. If it starts to brown too quickly cover it with a piece of foil.
1medium sized chicken (about 1.5 kg in weight)
1 lemon, halved
Small bunch of fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper
- Rub the chicken with olive oil and season the whole bird with salt and pepper. Put the lemon halves and thyme into the cavity. Put in a roasting tin.
- Put the bird in the tin into the hot oven and shut the door. After 20 minutes turn the whole chicken round and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes.
- Turn the chicken again and cook for a further 10-20 minutes. At this point tart testing the chicken for doneness. Use a probe thermometer to test the deepest parts of the thighs and breasts which should be 75C or more.
- When the chicken is cooked, rest it for 10 minutes before serving.
Direct heat coming from the floor of a hot oven will quickly penetrate the bottom of a roasting tin and brown roast potatoes. A hot oven at 250C or so will begin roasting potatoes very quickly and will give a lovely crust and flavour.
We try to use floury potatoes like Desiree, Estima, King Edward and Maris Piper which we par boil. We then drain and toss the potatoes in olive oil (or goose fat if you like) adding salt and maybe some paprika or other spices.
30 minutes or so in a hot oven with a good bed of embers and a few turns of the roasting tin will cook them perfectly.
Grilled Rib Eye Steaks
Steaks cook really well in the wood fired oven – you can barbeque them and they stay good and juicy. Served with a little herb butter put over them to melt while they are resting – delicious! Perfect with roast potatoes, salad or pitta breads
1x250g steak per person
Salt and pepper
- Oil and season the steaks.
- Here are three ways to grill a steak in your wood fired oven. In each case cook the steak on both sides to your desired state of cooking. (i) In a cast iron griddle pan or on a griddle plate. Allow the pan or plate to heat to smoking point then slap on the steak. Turn once. This is the fastest method so watch the steak like a hawk. (ii) On a rack over embers. Rake forward some embers and heat a grill rack about 2 inches above it. When hot, on you’re your steak and cook until tender.
Banana & Chocolate Cake
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
100g good quality milk chocolate, chopped into little bits
200g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
300g self raising flour
3 eggs, beaten
- Line a 24cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
- Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan on the hob.
- Mix the banana with the eggs and vanilla extract.
- Mix the chocolate with the flour.
- When the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved, cool for 3 minutes before mixing everything together in a large bowl.
- When mixed, put the cake batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven at around 200C with no fire until a skewer comes out clean – about 30-35 minutes.
- Cool and serve with a cup of tea or cut whilst still warm and serve with vanilla ice cream as a pud.
Morso Style Poached Pear Pavlova with Blackberry, Bay & Cardamon
If making a shallow pavlova it can also be cooked in a Morso ourdoor oven As the temperature of the embers cools . For a seasonal twist Pears, plums and blackberries can be gently cooked in a Morso fry pan for 4 – 5 minutes until tender. Pour a little coulis over before serving.
3 large egg whites
170 g (6oz) caster sugar
1 level teasp. Cornflour
1 teasp. White vinegar
½ teasp. Vanilla essence
280 ml low fat yoghurt
340g assorted fresh fruits, sliced eg; plums, pears & blackberries
50 gms butter
50 gms caster sugar.
Line a baking sheet with lightly greased greaseproof paper. Into a large, clean, dry bowl add the separated egg whites ensuring there is no trace of egg yolk. Beat the whites using a hand whisk until the mixture is stiff and forms peaks. Next add the sugar, folding gently, approximately 30g at a time. A long, slow and very gentle addition of the sugar is very important, folding well between each addition. Finally, fold in the corn flour, vinegar and vanilla essence. Pipe or pile the meringue onto a drawn circle on the baking sheet approximately 20cm. Ensure the oven is preheated at 140 degrees C and 5 minutes after you put the pavlova mixture in the oven, turn the temperature down to 130C. Bake for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. Cook until pale brown and dry, although a little soft in the centre. If possible turn off the oven when cooked and allow the pavlova to remain in the oven overnight to avoid sinking in the middle. When cooled, peel off paper, place in a serving dish. At this stage the meringue will probably crack and sink a little. Decorate with yoghurt or fromage frais and assorted seasonal fruits.