My new outdoor kitchen

Frankie and his new Italian Pizza Oven

I have just fulfilled a decades long dream!  I recently completed the addition of a beautiful outdoor kitchen at my home in Redmond, Washington.  I am a happy camper as they say.

My new kitchen includes an Italian wood-burning pizza oven made by Fontana Forni, a beautiful new Delta Heat grill made right here in the good old USA, a Blaze double ring power burner (that will boil a huge pan of pasta water in just minutes), and I built in a spot for old favorite stand-by… my wood charcoal burning Big Green Egg which I’ve had for about a decade (to which I added a rotisserie).  We also installed an outdoor heater to keep the covered portion warm and useable all winter.

Humble beginnings

The process started last spring.  I researched pre-fabricated islands and talked to others about building some or all of it for me, but when all was said and done I decided the only way to get what I wanted, in a timeframe I wanted, and at a price I could afford, was to build it myself.  Luckily I am now semi-retired so was able to devote a lot of time to it.

Siding begun

Forms for countertop complete

 

 

 

 

 

 

So last May I began to do just that.  It took a little convincing with my wife, who didn’t want to deal with a torn-up patio all summer, but I promised to keep the mess to a minimum (which I managed to do except when doing stonework), and get the project done as quickly as possible.

My original goal was to complete it before going on vacation in early July.  I wasn’t quite there but did manage to have it mostly complete and useable by the end of July.  There were finishing touches which took a few additional weeks but now it’s complete and I am extremely happy with the results.  AND, I managed to hit my budget!  It still was not cheap but I’m certain I would have spent at least twice what I did if I’d have had a contractor do the work.

Concrete work

I did hire out two things.  I had an electrician friend wire the outlets and the electric heater.  And I hired someone to do the concrete counter top, for which I built the forms.  I did the rest myself, including drawing up the plans, the framing, siding, stonework, tile, and cooking equipment installation (well I did hire my teenage grandson and his buddy to carry that big pizza oven).

Coming along

The remarkable part is that I was not experienced at much of what I did.  I’ve done some framing but had never done any stonework.  That’s where having good friends comes in.  I picked the brains of three contractor friends (and found out there are multiple ways to skin a cat!).  I received guidance from another friend who had done stonework (and borrowed his stonecutter).  And I utilized YouTube videos to fill in some gaps.  It’s amazing what you can learn on-line these days!

Joetisserie added to my Big Green Egg

Using my power burner

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy seeing these pictures of the job in progress, and a few of the meals we’ve been preparing.  I had a great time with this project and it was very rewarding.  The only thing better is the fun of cooking with all of my new toys!

Fontana Forni Pizza Oven

 

 

 

 

Celebrating with family. My son Chris.

Family fun. My sons Noah and Chris making pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING:  With this job complete I am ready to get back to some regular food blogging.  My ambition is to do a series on pizza making.  Look for the first post soon.

 

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Fresh from Frankie’s Kitchen

This is one of my favorite times of year because of all of the wonderful summer produce coming out of my garden and available at our local Redmond Saturday Market.

A few days ago I made grilled pizza on the BBQ.  It’s easy!  The dough recipe can be found in my cook book (or come by and purchase a small dough at the restaurant).  I made this one with fresh veggies mostly from my garden: eggplant, yellow squash, squash flowers, red onion, fresh garlic and tomato.  I oiled and pre-grilled all of the veggies except for the squash flowers and garlic.  For sauce I just used a really good Tuscan EV olive oil.  For the cheese I used thinly sliced Fresh Mozzarella.

Grilled Pizza Cooking Instructions:

  1. Prep whatever toppings you desire to put on the pizza.  When making grilled pizzas, it is best to do light quantities of toppings and cheese.
  2. Pre-heat your grill to medium.  A gas grill works fine, though charcoal is even better–especially if it is real wood chunk charcoal.
  3. Stretch or roll your dough into whatever shape you want… round, oval, rectangular.  Try to get it relatively thin.  Brush one side liberally with a good EV olive oil.  Holding one end, lay the dough, oil side down, on the grill.  It will stretch as you go; that’s okay.  You want a rustic look!  Now brush the top side with oil.
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes, with the lid open.  Peek at the underside to make sure it is lightly browned with some nice grill marks.  With tongs, or heat resistant gloves, flip the dough over.  Quickly add your toppings.
  5. Now close the lid on the grill and allow it to cook another 3 to 5 minutes–checking occasionally, until the cheese melts and the crust is firm to the touch.  Slide onto a platter with tongs, pizza peel, or a large spatula.

Buon appetito!