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In the past year of my career, I feel like I've grown a lot. While it was light on actual working pastry experience, I learned why it's not always a great idea to work yourself to death (besides the obvious.) I learned that a job that doesn't care if you have to postpone your own wedding so that they have enough desserts also won't think twice about firing you for being "difficult." I learned that making the jump from cook to chef very early in your career severely limits your potential employment, with many places considering you under-qualified for even a sous position and others deciding you're just too good to bake cupcakes all day. I learned that getting along with a chef-owner doesn't mean you'll get along with a chef de cuisine, and not all kitchens owned by the same person are alike.
I learned that even though many highly regarded restaurants might sneer at my anti-traditionalist, kitchen pirate self, some chefs from said restaurants, in a slightly different environment, are happy to have someone as enthusiastic and willing to learn as me around. I learned the basics of bartending, and that I don't want to go back to working with customers. I learned that part time is not enough time. I learned that elusive chefs are not a thing I'm into. And I learned that there are still people out there who actually want to hire me because I'm me.
I wasn't planning to job-skip my way through the last few months. But things happen.
I probably should be a little more cynical when it comes to starting jobs at this point, but everything actually feels right about the newest place. The chef and I chat often about the menu, often coming up with the same general ideas at the same time. The space is gorgeous. The menu sounds delicious. My suggestions are taken seriously.
Plus, I now have a use for a great idea I had recently.
I was thinking about cookies. Or cobblers. One of the two—I don't remember exactly how it started. Either way, I thought about putting a chocolate chip cookie on top of a cobbler instead of the traditional biscuit. While I couldn't really decide what kind of fruit would go best in a chocolate chip cookie cobbler (I'm leaning towards some kind of banana-nut compote), I realized that the concept was easily translatable into several seasonal varieties.
There are so many fruits that can go into a cobbler and so many different cookies. Apple cobbler with oatmeal raisin. Pear with gingerbread. Peach with snickerdoodle. Chef loved the idea, as it fits right in with the comfort/soul food style that helps influence the restaurant's cuisine. And it was incredibly easy to test at home.
Peaches—peeled, sliced and macerated in a mixture of dark brown sugar, ground ginger and bourbon—are crammed into ramekins and topped with golf ball-sized chunks of sugar-and-spice crusted snickerdoodle dough. The cobblers are baked until the cookies spread to the rim of each ramekin and the peaches bubble up around the edge. Once slightly cooled, the cookies' signature coating provides a slight crunch that gives way to a soft, peachy filling that is just sweet enough. And of course a little vanilla ice cream goes a long way.
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About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna.