I’ve often said, if my friend Rebecca Rather, aka the Pastry Queen, hadn’t left Austin and moved to Fredericksburg a few years back, I would now weigh 500 pounds. Everything she cooks turns to gold, as in golden-brown. (Whereas everything I cook turns into. . . . something seriously inedible. Why is that?) Anyhoo, Rebecca is going to be in Austin, this weekend doing a demo in the Cooking Tent at the Texas Book Festival. It’s Saturday, October 31, from 11 to noon. The Festival is held in and around the State Capitol at 11th and Congress. I’ll be emceeing, kibbutzing, getting in the way, whatever, at the cooking demo. So come on down and see how a real pro does it. Rebecca’s new illustrated cookbook, which she’ll be signing, is Pastry Queen Parties: Entertaining Friends & Family, Texas Style, by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman (Ten Speed Press, $32.50 hardcover). Here’s a yummy sample from the book. VANILLA SAND DOLLAR COOKIES 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. With a pastry brush, lightly coat a cookie stamp with a neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as canola, or mist it with cooking spray. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until just thoroughly combined. (Don’t overmix here or the cookies can be tough.) Using a 1 1/4-inch scoop, drop the dough on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Stamp each dough ball firmly enough to make an imprint, but don’t press so hard that the cookie flattens to less than 1/4-inch thick. Bake until the cookies begin to look golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.
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