Cooking Food & Wine

Cooking Chronicles

Cooking Chronicles
Rick Florino

We dive headfirst into Sur La Table’s cooking curriculum at The Farmer’s Market in this exclusive feature…Baking isn’t easy. In fact, it’s about as involved and intricate as building a spaceship is. Well, not really, but you get the picture. However, even though baking certainly requires time, devotion and attention, Sur La Table makes it easy as pie — pun, intended. During a special holiday class, Sur La Table Culinary Coordinator Tina Rogers taught students how to successfully bake a bevy of Christmas cookies, and the r esults were northing short of complete and utter dessert delight.

Located at Los Angeles’s famous Farmer’s Market, Tina’s class is the most user-friendly and fun cooking experience out there for casual and expert students looking to expand their personal culinary repertoires. Her teaching style is hands-on, direct and easy-to-follow. She makes the subtleties and precision of baking easy for even a moderate chef like myself to c omprehend.

The beauty of Sur La Table is, as Tina puts it, “Anything tedious has been done for you. You get to do all of the pretty and fun stuff.” The staff lays out everything from ingredients to utensils. It’s all measured, organized and ready to go. Students just have to follow the simple instructions and make culinary magic happen. Tina and the other instructors are there every s tep of the way as well.

The highlight of this particular session was making the “Stained Glass Cookies.” They’re sugar cookies with crushed Jolly Ranchers baked into the center to resemble stained glass.

Following the instructions for the cookie dough yielded a quick slab of delicious dough bearing a zing due to flourishes of orange zest. Bashing the Jolly Ranchers into fine crumbs was definitely the most fun part of the process though. Once the candy is crushed, it’s added to the shaped cookie dough (I made a giant Christmas tree and a whale-shaped cookie) and b aked for a mere 10 minutes.

Quickly pulling the cookies out of the oven, they were nothing short of delectable. Plus, Tina allowed students to “Quality control test” all of the styles of cookies that the two-hour class offered baking instruction for — those included biscotti, other assorted sugar cookies and m ore.

Then there was the decorating station after the cookies were ready. It had a whole array of different sprinkles, frosting flavors and other assorted treats to make for some truly creative c oncoctions.

Plus, the pristine kitchen also feels like home, but without dishwashing duties. Ultimately, Tina and Sur La Table made baking the perfect (and most delicious) holiday gift.

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