Credit here to my younger sister (I have an older one, too) for putting the time and energy into compiling a Ure Family Cookbook, a while back. Though somewhat recent, since it was in “digital times.”
There are two kitchenary delights today (besides my compulsive hitting the “Deals” tab on Amazon to find power tools for the kitchen. We’ll begin with…
Pappy’s Cuban Bread
This one was out of Sunset Magazine years ago (though I always gave the National Observer credit…such are family memories over time…). Pappy, being very methodical in his dealing with food, organized everything into a workflow. And it went like this:
In a large bowl – two cups flour and two packages dry yeast. Stir.
[No particular flour was specified, though I would figure a 12-14% bread flour would be better because for a good chewy loaf, the more gluten, the merrier.]
In a small pan – 2 cups of water – 2 tablespoons sugar – two teaspoons salt.
Heat and stir until warm 120-130 degrees F.
Add to the flour – yeast.
Blend till smooth – about 3 min. or mixer high speed.
[Pappy loved James Beard cooking adventures, near as I can figure it was because it was solidly science-based cooking. As in my personal quest for the “perfect pizza”, the more you instrument t5he cooking process, the better it works out.
Pappy enjoyed his breadmaking so much that he got one of those chef thermometers. Because somewhere in this period he went to work for the Health Department. Besides checking restaurants (to make sure food holding temps were high enough), he was also Market Master some days at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Pappy was an interesting fellow to say the least! For me, some of the sweetest irony in life is having a son who (without prompting) is working for both a Fire Department and a Health Department at the same time. Funny how Life is circular sometimes!]
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour. Mix into a stiff dough.
Then turn out on a lightly floured surface.
Kneed till very elastic – 12 to 15 minutes.
Cover dough with the bowl and let rest for 40-minutes.
[This is the only time I have seen a bowl used this way, but I’ve only been eating for 71-years and there are details I’ve missed…]
Divide dough in half.
Roll out each half to 12″ x 15″.
Roll up like a jelly roll.
Spray with water and slash the tops.
Let rise until doubled. About 20-minutes.
[Although this was in the recipe exactly this way, Pappy would keep a few notes on his breadmaking. How warm was the day? Atmospheric conditions like humidity, whether the glass was rising or falling. Like Beard we took good food as good science – just done in a kitchen, not the lab.]
Put into a cold oven with a pan of water under the pans with bread.
Cook at 400F for 10-minutes.
Spray the tops of the loves with water.
Cook another 35-40 minutes.
Cool on rack before cutting.
Nothing against the Danish side of the family: My grandmother had been a cook for one of minor Danish royal relations in the Odense area before coming to America on the last cruise of the Lusitania. So, hell-yes should could cook.
But even though my mom could turn out a very credible loaf of “milk bread” to me there was nothing like the Cuban bread Pappy turned out.
About the closest thing to it were the hard rolls that were served at Ivar’s Captain’s Table. North of Pier 70 – waay back in the day.
Gai’s Bakery made not only those hard rolls, but also the best local loaf of French bread possible. Better than even most of the neighborhood bakeries “back during the day.”
Kitchen Power Tool List?
This should explain why I love power tools in the kitchen. And since the rebuild has been put off and put off, I’m now looking at running more, bigger wiring. Not that hard to put in…
See, what made Gai’s baked breads so good was – in large part – having a steam oven. The more steam in the early-to-middle of the baking process the better. If you want a crustier loaf, spray three times instead of once. I’m dying to try making a pizza in one!~
Here the usual foody debate wanders off to whether an egg wash is better than plain water for crisping a loaf. But, to my simple mind, steam – and plenty of it – is the real answer to the perfect loaf.
There are some very interesting countertop steam ovens appearing. And one that caught my eye (offering 120 minutes of steam) is the $311 Cuisinart Convection Steam Oven, New, Stainless Steel.
Some which would have a little more power to it (and hence money) would be the KITMA 66L Countertop Convection Oven – Commercial Toaster Oven with Steam Injection, 4 Racks, 2100W-2800W Efficient Heating, Stainless Steel, Silver which rolls at $649. Somewhere in the middle Sharp has their Sharp Superheated Steam Countertop Oven for $399…
Deciding which is a bear…one the one hand, if I’m going to put a second oven in the kitchen, why not just find a repo at a restaurant supply joint, re-jet it for propane which cook a lot moister than electric, anyway. OR, get one of these counter-top jobs and pull a 120V line at 1,800 watts or whatever from the existing stove 220 line…
I like the idea of having a reservoir that can be filled…because that means it can be cleaned. And mucking around under the house would be a bear because the kitchen is overhead the air handler for our way-oversized air conditioning system.
I wasn’t kidding about having “power tool disease.”
A Lesson in Balsamic
One other recipe from the Ure Family Cookbook – and again credit to my younger sister is this one:
LEMON BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
Zest of one lemon
2 T or more Dijon mustard
2 T or more balsamic vinegar
About 1 t. sugar
A few grinds of black pepper
Juice of one juicy (or large) lemon (approx. ¼ cup)
2-3T of good extra virgin olive oil
- Whisk all together until smooth
- Let stand at least 15 minutes to blend flavors
I got this recipe when I took a cooking class in 1990.
OPTIONS, ADDITIONS, VARIATIONS
- Minced garlic
- Different herbs
- Orange juice instead of lemon jc.
- Sherry vinegar instead of balsamic (may require less; some sherry vinegars are very strong
- Add yogurt for a “creamy” dressing
- For Greek “tzatziki” style dressing, add non-fat plain yogurt, shredded English cucumber, oregano, chopped scallions, and a little garlic
MARINADE FOR A LARGE VOLUME OF CHICKEN, FISH, VEGGIES
1 T or more garlic
4 T of the Vinaigrette
1 – 2 C dry white wine
More grinds of pepper
A little more sugar
Additional herbs optional
My Mom (Viola) made this and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste as good as what I made…
Sister: Did you use real lemon juice? Viola: No, I used bottled lemon juice.
S: Did you use Dijon mustard? V: No, I didn’t have any so I used French’s
S: Did you use Balsamic vinegar? V: No, I didn’t have any so I used apple cider vinegar.
S: Did you use extra virgin olive oil? V: No, I didn’t have any so I used Wesson oil.
S: Mom, I love you. It tasted different because you didn’t quite follow the recipe.
And so goes being a Ure.
We are fun people – free thinking and definitely live outside the box. What makes the Saturday Gourmet column so useful around here is it reminds me that there are times in life when following processes and procedures are a good thing and offer tasty rewards.
I need to be reminded often.
Write when you get rich, or full…