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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MY NEW COUNTERTOP "BRICK OVEN"

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Yes, I am now the proud owner of a Cuisinart BRK-200 Brickoven. What, you might ask, do I need with another gadget on my (small) kitchen countertop? Well, it wasn't just a whim-- I actually had a good reason! It was either get this or buy a new stove. We bought our stove about 1 1/2 years ago and it's great-- I love it. Except for making pizza. Unfortunately, we did not realize when we bought it that the "covered element" is not on the bottom of the oven, but in the back wall! For this reason, pizza, even on a stone, never gets golden-brown and a bit crispy on the bottom. This has been a source of frustration for me.

When I read about this countertop oven with a brick lining that can handle a 12" pizza and lots more (and has convection), I decided to go for it. I made room on my counter by eliminating alot of junk and the small toaster oven. Our cupboards are at least 2 feet above the counter, so there was plenty of head-room.

My first experiment after setting up the oven was roasted asparagus, which I forgot to take a picture of. But, it was delicious! The oven heated up quickly and I'm sure it takes alot less energy to cook a pan of asparagus in this .9 cubic ft. space than in my 30" oven!

Next was pizza, of course:



As you can see, I baked it right on the stone. I preheated the oven to 500 degrees F for 30 minutes (it takes a while for the stone to absorb all the heat). I made three 12" pizzas out of my dough recipe. The first one was a little dry, I thought, so I turned it down to 450 degrees F and the next two were great! The pizza bakes in 7-8 minutes.

Other experiments:



I roasted fruit and vegetables for a new salsa recipe for the upcoming Vegan Feast newsletter.



I made vegan coconut macaroons for the upcoming Vegan Feast newsletter.



Oven-frying marinated tempeh slices in a crispy coating for the upcoming Vegan Feast newsletter.



Oven-frying tofu slices for Japanese Noodle Soup.

The oven (without the stone) will heat up to 350 in 4 minutes, and 450 in 6 minutes. I figure this will be a big savings in electricity when doing small batches of this and that. But you can fit a large pie pan in the oven and I'm sure I can do a casserole, a seitan roast, a pan of brownies, etc., in it.

For just the two of us, I think I'll be using it every day. For large family gatherings and dinner parties, I'm sure it will come in very handy as an extra oven!

For oven-frying food items and roasting vegetables to avoid using alot of oil it will be great-- no guilt about firing up the big oven!

So far, I'm loving it-- no regrets! It's easy to use and many of my pans and casserole dishes fit in it. Next on my list to try is a loaf of crusty bread, which I'm told it does really well right on the stone. (Another recipe here.) And I have a perfect-sized cast iron pot in which to try the crusty no-knead bread in my new oven, too!

Cheers!

13 comments:

Spice Island Vegan said...

Hi Bryanna,

This is GREAT! It's always good to have a second oven. Sometimes I am baking a cake or seitan in the oven that takes 1 hour or more and I need to heat up or bake something else at the same time. It never hurt to have a 2nd one.

A good find although I checked the price and ouch! But I am sure it is a great buy and well worth it.

Silvia said...

Hi Bryanna!
I was wondering, how do you put the uncooked pizza on the stone while the stone is in the oven? Do you have one of those wooden slats like they have at the pizza place?
Also, what size is that pan that you are cooking all that food on? It looks like it's square, is that right? Did you have to buy that for the oven?
Thanks!

juusan said...

I've wanted one of those since I first saw it! Then I was forced to go gluten free... so no pizza for me since I can't find any crust recipes that are both vegan and gf. :(

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Sounds like a great thing to have around the kitchen! I may need to get one, as the oven in my rental is awful.

Melody Polakow said...

omg, awesome! I have a Cuisinart convection toaster oven that I use almost exclusively instead of my big oven... but this takes it a step up.. wow!

... and omg, I can't wait for the next newsletter!

Brenda W. said...

Bryanna,

I had no idea there even was such a thing ... gosh, it sounds wonderful!! I like the idea of a second oven for when you have lots of guests!

Does it put out a lot of heat externally? Do you have to think about the cabinets above it, or the wall behind it in terms of heat/safety?

Juusan ... re: a gluten free pizza crust, if you don't mind shelling out the $$$ for it, see if you can find Namaste brand of pizza crust mix where you live. It is a mix that comes in a bag that makes two 14" pizza crusts, is gluten free and vegan. You add water and olive oil and use as you normally would.

This stuff tastes so good, that now, rather than making two different pizzas (one gluten free for hubby and a "normal" one for me), I just make the gluten free one for us both and I enjoy it just as much as one made with a traditional crust.

The mix IS pricey ... I think I last paid $6.00 for one bag.

julie hasson said...

Hi Bryanna! That looks like a fabulous oven! And I noticed your new mixer siting next to it. How's the sausage stuffing going?

I can't wait for your next newsletter. The macaroons and tempeh look absolutely delish.

Gaia said...

Oh my! A new toy! :))
I want one too, of course. Now that I know that it exists LOL

Bryanna, how are we expected to sleep at night, waiting for the next newsletter?

VeggieGirl said...

wow, what a sensational new oven!!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Questions answered-- sorry I've taken so long!

Silvia, to answer your questions:
"I was wondering, how do you put the uncooked pizza on the stone while the stone is in the oven? Do you have one of those wooden slats like they have at the pizza place?"

I don't have a peel yet (that's what you call the wooden thing), but I just rolled out the dough on a well-floured thin plastic mat that you use for rolling out pie dough, etc.. They also make them out of silicone. They are called "pastry mats" or "rolling mats". It is exactly 12" wide and the dough slid easily off of it.

AND:
"Also, what size is that pan that you are cooking all that food on? It looks like it's square, is that right? Did you have to buy that for the oven?"

The 12" square pan comes with the oven.


Brenda, you asked:
"Does it put out a lot of heat externally? Do you have to think about the cabinets above it, or the wall behind it in terms of heat/safety?"

It does get a little hotter than I'd like, but the handles on the sides keep things from bumping against the sides, and you keep it 2-3" from the back wall. I have mine under my cupboards and there is about 1 foot headroom above it.
Doesn't seem to be a problem.

Julie, you asked: " How's the sausage stuffing going?"

It hasn't been, lately-- too busy finishing the newsletter (out sometime today!) Next week I'll be hard at it again!

Gaia said...

the Newsletter is amazing, Bryanna!
I can't wait to try the pherogies!

Veg-a-Nut said...

Yes I am jealous! I love it. Time to start saving for yet another cool kitchen gadget!

Megan said...

Cuisinart should pay you a commission. I bought the brick oven after reading your post and am so happy with it!