Thom & Aimee

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

Tag: butter

Vanilla Brioche and Butter Pudding

(This was supposed to be posted slightly over a week after our brioche recipe. By posting it now, I just made it look like we kept our brioche loaf for a month. That, my friends, is not humanly possible.)

There is something about bread and butter puddings that invoke an image of cuddly warm hugs and being wrapped in layers of soft quilts. Its probably just the buttery goodness in every mouthful – so much calories but too good to not sin. Best eaten after a hearty meal… don’t ask me why, I just love adding more guilt. Plus, it only proves that there’s always space for dessert. Every time Ned and I start talking about bread and butter puddings, we get a little too crazy like flustered cockroaches upside down (okay, that was not a very good reference but you get the picture).

We shall be very honest and confess that we made too much brioche for one reason: to make a huge serving of brioche and butter pudding. Yes, like a pair of cunning witches, we actually set aside a loaf of brioche and waited for it to become prey to eggy heaven. The best part was smelling butter in the air as it bakes in the oven. Nothing beats the fragrance of melting butter. Is it disgusting for us to love butter so much? We especially love hard cold butter stuffed into warm crusty bread.

Strangely, our brioche and butter pudding became a tad too dry when it came out of the oven. The bowl that was used was a little too wide, causing the custardy mixture to dry up and the top layer of bread to overcook. Despite the oversight in serveware, the flavours came out perfectly fine. The bottom layer of brioche had soaked up the rum and the essences of vanilla. In fact, it was a rather interesting pudding with a crusty top and a firm but custardy bottom (no, not soggy). Serve it with cream or homemade custard for added calories.

At the end, my only real complaint was that we should have added more butter. Well, I’ll just wait for Ned to make a Croissant and Butter pudding then.

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Warm Puff Pastry Tart with Fig, Olive, Capers and Goat’s Cheese

To showcase the versatility of the fig, we decided to do a savoury dish instead of the usual sweet suspects. It was either this, or another puff pastry fig tart with crème pâtissière and homemade cinnamon ice cream (it sounds really good at the moment). The savoury one won in the end, and we do not regret it one bit. In fact, we actually applaud ourselves for making this decision.

In our short history of tart making, this is by far and honestly the best dish I’ve ever eaten. So much so I wished we had made more so that I could have the whole tart myself. I mean, just look at it! It just draws you in with the bright contrast of colours: crispy golden brown pastry, lush flame-red baked figs, soft milky white goat’s cheese and dark shiny olives.

And with one bite, you’ll be lost in a combust of flavours – the sweet caramelised onions at the bast, the fragrance of the thyme and toasted pine nuts, the sharpness of the olives and capers, the tang of the cheese that amazingly brought out all the star quality of the figs. It was practically orgasmic.

Of course, puff pastry is always a roadblock but if you’re not keen on rolling out your own dough, there are some good quality ready-made puff pastry sheets available in the market. It saves up plenty of time and still tastes good. Yes, we are lazy sometimes. Making puff pastry from scratch can be satisfying but there are those days you just want to lie down under the sun with a glass of white wine and a scrumptious slice of tart. Lazy afternoons are our guilty pleasure.

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The Novice Cook: Baked Fish and Capers on Toast

As part of The Novice Cook series, I have decided earlier this year that I would cook every recipe out of Hugh’s Three Good Things. It’s been a long time since my last venture in the kitchen. I could tell that I was a little rusty from the lack of practice as I had to keep asking N to check on the readiness of my fish. And how to use the oven. In a nutshell, I’m not making any sort of progress at all.

Honestly, I’m not a fish person. It’s not that I do not like the taste. Over the years, I just stopped eating fish as frequently as I should. My late Grandma always dominated the kitchen. But when she had dementia and started becoming forgetful, she would put in tons of conflicting ingredients into the fish. We still ate it, of course, out of respect. Sometimes it would turn out delicious, sometimes not so appetising.

The only reason why I chose this recipe was because it didn’t threaten me and it could use up the capers I had left. This dish surprised me. Sometimes, one can forget that such simple ingredients can come together to create layers of textures. Biting into it, there would be the sweetness of the fish, zingy-ness of the capers, fragrance of the thyme, and aroma of the buttered garlic toast. We added a spritz of lemon juice to add a little spring into the dish. S, the resident fish lover at home, dug into it with so much gusto that my heart exploded with joy.

(With N’s advice, I will not post the recipe since I’m doing so much out from an individual book. You may get your own copy here.)

On the matter of fish, I’m trying to get our family into the routine of buying sustainable fish and meat from ethical sources. Reading about the horse meat scandal in the UK only emphasizes how much we don’t know what we put on our plates anymore. Sometimes I wonder if people even know what the piece of meat even looked like before it was cut and packed into little plastic boxes everyone is so familiar with. And there’s the confounded theory that ethical food is, most of the time, two to three times more expensive than an unhealthy overfed animal. Something is terribly wrong with our society.

On the same note, since this is Hugh’s recipe and it’s about fish, join him in his fight to protect the oceans and defend the seabed and fish stocks from the most damaging forms of fishing. Although it concentrates mostly around Britain, I think its a start to big things. I’m not sure how fishing is done in Singapore or Southeast Asia. If possible, I would love to visit our local fisheries and fish farms to learn more. Then, maybe with better understanding, there would be better futures.

Le Noël Blanc

Christmas came and went like a ghost from a Charles Dickens novel. We have been planning for our first dessert table for more than a month now. Different state of emotions ran through us: excitement, fear, calmness, confidence then the usual freaking out. The funny thing about Christmas was that there was always not enough time whether you were feeding six or 50 people. Something was probably missing or not done. (That was always solved with a glass of pinot noir and a small amount of charm.)

Dessert tables can be daunting. Just google it and you can find plenty of different inspirations and examples. The beauty of a dessert table at its most basic and importance is that it must be an aesthetic masterpiece. Some might disagree but we have a reason of saying so. A lot of colour coordination comes into play, alongside complementary props. Many use icing and fondant to achieve that level of thematic consistency, which is something we as bakers are not keen on. To all cupcake and fondant lovers, sorry, we are just not that into them.

But as all dessert tables, yes, there was still a theme to abide to.

Working with an upcoming events boutique The Magpies, we were given a small brief: White, Rustic and French. The France that everyone knew well were the chic streets of Paris with their high-fashion houses and a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. To achieve rustic charms, we decided to drop ourselves into a region famous for its rolling lavender fields and charming bastides (country houses): the south eastern part of France, Provence.

When one speaks of a Provençal Christmas, the famous 13 desserts come to mind. Here was the difficult part. As fascinating and mouth-watering 13 desserts could be, churning out so many types of sweets could become literally a Nightmare before Christmas. There were a number of other factors that came into play: the need of balance between the savoury and sweet, dietary specifications, a tight baking schedule and availability of ingredients and recipes.

So, many recipes were tried and tested. Those you see on the table above are the successful bakes after weeks of homework. We tried to keep the Provençal spirit alive with or without the 13 desserts. It may not be the best representation, but it was still as delicious. We hope to execute the real Provençal Christmas desserts one day. Someone, please let us know where we can find a good Calissons recipe in English!!

Here was the menu that was served:

Two types of hassle-free tea sandwiches, one with eggs and chives, and the other was roasted chicken with cranberry sauce. Lovely roasted potatoes served with mustard mayonnaise. And a personal favourite – mini Caramelised Onion and Gruyère tarts.

The sweets were fronted by a magnificent chocolate Gugelhupf cake (I’d call this the show-stopper), toffee nut macarons, dainty orange blossom crème caramel cups with meringue, and a dark chocolate fondue served with marshmallows and bananas.

To quench one’s thirst, we had Lemonade and Pastis de Marseille. (Yes, it’s a summer drink but pastis is such a fixture of the Provençal culture that we had to serve it.) We also gave Ginger nut Biscuits as a little gift to the guests.

At a glance, the menu does not seem extensive or difficult. To be honest, we did not meet with any major mishaps other than some burnt caramel. This was our first dessert table after all, we could aim for the stars but it was better to get it right for a start. As with many beginnings, it can only get better the next time.

Pictures are from our friends at The Magpies. (Thank you girls!) For the recipes, just scroll down to the end of the entry!!

By the way, The Hobbit came out 2 weeks ago and we were very very happy and satisfied fans. If you have yet to watch it, go catch it (especially in HFR 3D, it’s eyegasm galore)!!!! WE INSIST.

Now that Christmas is over, there is only 3 more days to the New Year…. we feel old already… *sobs*

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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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Frivolité Macarons (Salted butter caramel and apple)

Pierre Hermé was probably the first celebrity I’ve ever met and something I never forget. Having him shyly thank you for enjoying his famed desserts was just surreal. Then, macarons were not as popular as they are now. One could say my virgin taste of a macaron was from the Master’s hands (No, not John Simm’s). Since then, there was no looking back.

There are plenty of macarons offered within the island today but good ones are scarce. Having tasted many of the tiny sweets from across the world (thanks to a well-travelled brother), we were able to appreciate how difficult it is to have consistent and almost perfect macarons in one box.

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Paul Hollywood’s Scones


The first time we caught The Fellowship of the Ring was surreal. By the time the credits rolled, it felt as though time froze and everything else in the real world did not matter. There was another world – Middle Earth – to explore and adventures to embark on. Before we knew it, we were turned into rabid Lord of the Rings zombies. We devoured anything Tolkien. It was… our pprreecciioouuusssss…..

(Don’t worry, this is not a horror story. We are just really huge fans. Fans who read the books every year, watch the movies twice annually and recite the script straight from memory. That’s normal right?)

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Toffee Apple Sponge pudding

Ahhh… pudding. The word just conjures up sugary smiles and soft hugs. The moment I stepped into the kitchen when the pud was in the oven. A thought came to my head: “This is what my kitchen will smell like when I have my own children”.

A pudding is such an unpretentious dish. There is no fussing about. It is not as technical binding as a choux pastry or nerve-wrecking as a delicate soufflé. What you see is what you get when it came to pudding. If Jamie is the Naked Chef, this pudding is the Naked Dessert. One simply pops it out and lavishes it with lovely sweet sauce.

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