After spending a considerable amount of time on holiday, I’m now back cooking in a commerical kitchen and admittedly, I’ve really missed it. Several years, a few kitchens and a couple of unpleasant experiences ago, I really thought I was done with the whole business. What I’m rediscovering however, is that if you love cooking but occasionally feel discouraged, it’s probably because you just haven’t found the right place yet.
Of course, the only way to find the right place is to keep working, keep pushing yourself. Cooking school may be great, but it doesn’t teach you work flow, a sense of urgency or how to move in the tight space of a bustling, sweaty kitchen. You meet all kinds of characters when you work in the industry. The adage that they are a special breed rings true in every place I’ve ever worked in. Singing baristas, grumpy bakers, OCD pastry chefs and angry-shouty head chefs; you’ll meet them all. You’ll even learn a thing or two from them; always about how to work and sometimes about yourself.
Currently my new job is teaching me how to manage multiple ovens and handle dough (one day, I may be able to give Miss Smilla and her snow a run for her money). At the same time I’m also rediscovering little things like how short and small I am compared to high storage shelves, heavy flour bags and unwieldy baking trays, and how completely clumsy I can be (paper cuts from baking paper, anyone?). In the past I’ve smashed my thumb instead of a stubborn walnut with a heavy pestle, walked straight into a hot oven door (red faced from embarrassment and the impact of said door), and inexplicably burned my chin several times on silly things like the edge of a hot tray and the tip of a blow torch (the less said about that, the better).
Last week, someone at work commented twice, that my English was ‘really good’. I pointed out that since I am older than her, I have actually been speaking English for much longer than she has. Although I’ve been living in Australia for what feels like most of my life, I was originally born in a small town near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and am occasionally reminded of that place.
These cookies are based on the much loved Monte Carlos which are typically sandwiched with vanilla cream and raspberry jam. I filled mine with home made kaya jam (flavoured with fresh pandan leaves), and as an ode to the place where I came from, am calling them Kuala Lumpurs.
Kuala Lumpur Cookies :
(makes 18-20 filled cookies)
185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small egg
40g dessicated coconut
290g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
kaya jam, for sandwiching the cookies
Preheat the oven to 175′C.
Sift the plain flour and baking powder together and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and salt until pale. Add the vanilla extract and egg, mixing well. Add the sifted flour mixture along with the dessicated coconut and briefly mix on low until just combined. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Gently flatten each cookie with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before filling and sandwiching the cookies together.