Thom & Aimee

Two Hobbits. The Kitchen. The Garden. And trouble ensues.

Tag: autumn

Issue 09: Plums

Now that November is upon us, it is a wonder how fast the last ten months went by. Take a pause and think, what have we done and how much have we grown… There’s a thing called life which tends to get us pretty busy and being creatures of habit, sometimes we fall into the same routines each and every single day. Despite holding full-time jobs (which means late nights and even work on weekends), squeezing out whatever time to cook and bake becomes very precious.

With 2014 looming very closely, Ned and I have sat down to make groundwork for the next year. Alas, yet all we did was hide in a bistro to watch the nearby horses and sip our peach bellinis. To finally have a free Saturday, our minds were geared towards the art of idling. It was one of those days that the bed looks awfully inviting, or that your throat longs for next glass of bubbly. But we’ll get down to proper discussion soon… for now, let’s focus on today’s luscious fruits.

We ventured into plum territory this September with little interaction with the plump stone fruits. (Plump plums! Now I’m inspired to come up with a tongue twister.) The only contact we had were dried prunes which were quite scrummy in actual fact. Mom loves popping them after dinner like a petit four, and now we understand why we had pretty healthy bowel systems growing up.

The interesting thing about plums is that they comprise of a vast array of species and varieties – damsons, greengages, mirabelles, satsumas and pluots (a hybrid). For this issue, we are concentrating purely on plums, as scientifically or biologically accurate as we can get. These luscious drupes vary in size, colour and sweetness. With a spectrum from an almost blueish black to the loveliest tinge of sunny orange, plums are a delight to lay one’s eyes upon. And this is why our fridge was filled with boxes of multi-coloured plums.

Of course we didn’t just bring home bags of plums purely on superficial reasons, the main reason was to have a little taste test. As mentioned, both of us have not the slightest clue how each plum variety differ from the other and this calls for a little experiment. If you could just see us sitting in front of stacked punnets filled with these waxy fruits, we look almost two ridiculous greedy hobbits who got into trouble unknowingly. I swear plums were off the menu for the rest of the year.

It is never easy to define the actual taste notes of each variety as they come almost too close to the other, whether by its sweetness, its tang or sometimes, almost blandness. We found darker skinned plums to be the sharpest yet fullest in flavour. Plums in shades of yellow-orange were honey sweet and a delight to taste. At this stage, we have not gained enough knowledge to fully decide which was a ‘dessert’ or ‘cooking’ plum – they were all too delicious to pass judgement.

Juicy and highly versatile, plums are perfect for jam-making, compotes, puddings, crumbles, pies, and even alongside dishes of a savoury nature. Given a boost of sugar, these fruits collapse into the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. They pair very well with spices such as cinnamon, star anise, clove and vanilla; and work brilliantly with cream and custard. In fact, it’s odd that they are given little exposure in the markets than deserved. We definitely having plums next time round… without the massive taste test.

Ah… what about this: Plump plumbers plummet into plumptious plums.


An Autumn Harvest

As I write this, my fingers are going numb. It’s raining out there. I welcome the cold air a lot more than the usual scorching heat we have here in the tropics. Its days like this that you wished the trees were turning into a fiery orange and that your mother would make you a lovely stew for dinner. Usually, we’d just get steamboats. Hot piping soup brimming with plenty of ingredients that everyone threw in. Prawns, fishballs, pig liver, simply whatever you liked. That’s how we did celebrations when we gather for a party – fishing for food from a huge metal pot.

With the trimmings up in Orchard Road and the shops stocked up with festive goodies, the feeling of fall was creeping up on us (yes, we are delusional). Although autumn is not something one can experience here, one can always recreate the season with food to be laid on the table. Autumn brought harvests into the markets, we would have pumpkins, pears, plums and pomegranates readily.

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Pan-seared Scallops with Hazelnuts, Pea Sprouts and Red Oak Lettuce Salad

If you are looking to make good first impressions, you cannot go wrong with seafood. (Unless you have guests allergic to them.) Scallops are delicate and if possible, get them fresh. The difference between a fresh catch and frozen ones are worlds apart; the meat is sweeter and none of the fishiness lingers.

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Cream of Pumpkin and Sage Soup

This was the very first item that was included into the menu. We just had to do something about all the pumpkins that were in abundance. If we don’t have orange forests outside our door, let’s bring in this autumnal colour onto our table then. The sage added a complexity to a simple soup. Make this, and your guests will be asking for more. We can attest to that.

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Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan and Truffle Oil

When one mentions truffles, fine-dining restaurants often comes into mind. The elusive ingredient seems out of reach most of the times. Truffle oil might not be anywhere close to the actual product, but this risotto seems to step into a whole new dimension when doused with it. Mushrooms very much find their way into our menus often. We love the earthy textures and they are just perfect for an autumn menu, non?

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Roulade of Pork Belly, Braised Red Cabbage and Apple Compote

It was quite a dilemma when deciding on a main course. Many conditions came into play, whether it was enough to fill stomachs, whether the flavours complement the rest of the menu, whether it could hold the mantle of the “Leading Actor”, and the most crucial – whether we could execute it well against pressure. At the very end,  it came down to two contenders: the pig or the duck. Well, the pig got the part for obvious reasons.

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Spiced Poached Pears with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

There are many varieties of pears available in the markets. Conference pears are not native to us, but we thought we would try something different this time. You might want to experience with other types of pears, let us know, we love to learn from others.

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Pear and Elderflower Macarons

Last week was filled with plenty of drama in the kitchen, hence the little break before we embark on another upcoming dinner. Under lucky circumstances, we managed to work with a secret supper club Petals & Bowls. They embrace good food and company in lush gardens. Please support them!

This event got Thom & Aimee into a roller-coaster ride of hysteria. We didn’t know it will bring so many crazies. It was only after the whole affair that we could finally sit and catch our breath. But it was worth it, really.

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