Galveston culinary store The Kitchen Chick is preparing for a royal visit. Rebecca Rather, also known as “The Pastry Queen,” returns to the island this weekend to teach four cooking classes covering everything from her signature sweets to a full Tuscan dinner.
“I love Galveston,” Rather said. “I grew up in Beaumont, and we came to Galveston and Bolivar throughout my childhood. We would spend summers in Bolivar and ride the ferry over to Galveston to go to Gaido’s and do things around town.”
Since then, Rather has traveled farther afield, including Italy, and her classes reflect her travels. “Last summer, I cooked in a restaurant in Tuscany, so I have some great new recipes to share in the Friday night class, ‘Al Fresco Tuscan Dinner Party,’ though one of the things we’ll be making is arancini, which I learned as a child,” Rather said. In addition to arancini, Italian fried rice balls, the Tuscan class covers panzanella salad, a pastry appetizer and panda cotta for dessert.
On Saturday, Rather will teach two classes, one on kolaches and scones, and an afternoon “Sinful Sweets” class. “We’ll do peach kolaches and sausage kolaches, plus special omelet kolaches, made with the dough on the bottom and eggs on the top,” Rather said. “They’re something I came up with when my daughter was a teenager. I could hand one to her as she was running out the door.”
The Saturday afternoon class puts Rather in her Pastry Queen element, offering up techniques and recipes for crowd-pleasing cookies, candies and tarts. “I’m going to throw in a couple of surprise recipes,” Rather said. ”I have an easy dough for cutout cookies that’s not in any of my cookbooks. It makes a durable dough that’s good for the holidays.”
The class will also cover two of Rather’s most requested recipes from her former Fredericksburg bakery, Rather Sweet. White pralines and Kimmie cookies are treats that the Pastry Queen never tires of. Describing herself as a lifelong praline devotee, Rather says that the white pralines are the easiest she has ever made. “They’re made with milk and white sugar,” she said. “Sometimes I put bacon in them.”
Kimmie cookies, a buttery cookie originally from Scandinavia, are one of Rather’s go-to sweets. “I make them all the time,” she said. “Kids love them, adults can’t resist them and I never tire of them.”
The easily worked dough for Kimmie cookies is formed into balls, then flattened into rounds. An optional sugar coating adds crunch to their light, soft texture.
Rather finishes out the weekend with a Sunday brunch class with a Mexican flavor. Breakfast enchiladas and Tex-Mex Eggs Benedict make for a special spread, accompanied by creme brûlée French toast.
A few spaces remain in each class, though they are likely to sell out. “When the Pastry Queen taught here before, her classes were wildly popular and so much fun,” Kitchen Chick owner Alicia Cahill said.
Rather has a similar recollection. “I loved the group I had last time I was in Galveston,” she said. “It was really one of the best classes I’ve ever had.” To register, call the Kitchen Chick at 409-497-2999.