Recently, my lovely friend Julie invited me to attend the April Instructional Dinner at Communal in Provo. Being that I loooooove to cook and I love an opportunity for a night out, I couldn't resist.
I consider myself a fairly experienced cook, and an even more experienced baker. I've spent the last 12 years making wedding cakes, and even teach my own cake decorating classes in my random spare time. I tend to think I know most of what I need to know (as far as cooking goes) THEREFORE an experience like this was ideal for me... I was reminded how much more there still is to learn.
Communal is part of a new-ish restaurant group, the Heirloom Restaurant Group that's really made an impression on restaurant scene in Utah County. If you haven't yet tried Communal, you may have been lucky enough to dine at Pizzeria 712 or even their newest addition, Mountain West Burrito. Their whole position is free range meats, local produce from local farms, as well as fresh recipes and unique taste blends.
I've learned they do these Instructional Dinner's each month. Want a closer look with amazing photos? Click here.
The dinner we had prepared (and taught) for us was an asparagus soup, a fresh mixed green salad, and a poached salmon, all of which was ahhhmazing. I learned the real method for blanching, the best way to assemble a vinaigrette that can be altered in a million different ways, and even how to poach fish BUT most importantly, the way to make the perfect cookie.
It is for this reason I'm here with all this info today. I want (need) to discuss the cookie making tips that I learned when watching the chef put together the almond lavender oatmeal cookies that we enjoyed after our dinner.
First of all - I've been making cookies wrong ALL MY LIFE. Me, of all people. My heart starts palpitating at the mere thought of that.
Before I get too excited, let me share the recipe:
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 cups of flour
3 cups of oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lavender (specifically for cooking/baking)
I tend to read recipes and not follow directions. I don't really like being bossed around by a piece of paper. I improvise and skip steps that I think seem silly, but maybe that will change a bit after some of the things I learned:
- Make sure all your ingredients (including butter & eggs) are room temperature before adding them to your mix.
- Thoroughly cream your butter and sugars with a mixer. Mix them until they're "one" ingredient - not grainy, but as smooth as possible.
- Once your butter and sugars are creamed, separate yourself from your mixer. Step away and mix everything else in by hand. If you over-mix the ingredients (which I think we may all do) our cookies are heavier and more tough and end up less delicate than if you mix it all by hand. (This has something to do with over activating the gluten)
- Bake cookies at a lower temperature for a bit longer, around 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, I thought incessantly about these lavender cookies we had at the Instructional Dinner.
I thought about them so much, that within a couple of days, I decided to make some of my own - minus the lavender, mostly just because I don't have any around the house (for now). I followed the steps above - things I previously would have completely ignored - and was thrilled with the results.
In the end, the moral of this story is three-fold.
- Attend an Instructional Dinner at Communal. Details are available monthly on their blog.
- Make these cookies - follow the directions - and let me know what you think.
- Eat at one of the Heirloom Group Restaurants, as soon as possible.
Want more info? Connect with them:
Twitter Handles: @HeirloomGroup & @Pizzeria712
or find them online: