Butter. That solid cube of golden goodness which can elevate just about any dish. As Homam Ayaso, the travel, food and lifestyle influencer behind The Gastronaut puts it, "Who does not love butter?". But even he may have underestimated the love people have for the ingredient before he participated in the #FlavouredButterChallenge this month.
The Dubai blogger, who originally hails from Syria, has a background in advertising and marketing. When client Butter of Europe approached him to create flavoured butters, he saw its potential.
Ayaso started by digging around his fridge to see what ingredients he had, and then took to social media to demonstrate how it was all possible. He got to dicing ingredients, softening butter and swirling it all together to create gourmet-looking versions. Ayaso created four varieties: Raspberry lemon butter; caramelised onion with hazelnut, thyme and black garlic; Earl Grey, almond and apricot; and truffle and sage – none of them your average store-bought butter varieties.
Like other influencers who participated in the challenge, he shared it all on social media, under the hashtag #FlavouredButterChallenge. Ayaso also tagged almost 20 others in the food community, challenging them to recreate their own sweet or savoury versions, using any leftover ingredients they had in their fridge. The list also included popular chefs in the region – but he was still taken aback when people not only started accepting his “challenge”, but started challenging others in turn.
“I wanted to challenge the local blogging community but I was surprised by the reaction,” he says.
“It might be because butter is such an interesting ingredient. It’s usually taken for granted because of its simplicity but you add a few ingredients in there and it adds a lot of complexity. I’m enjoying seeing where this challenge is going.”
To highlight how the objective has caught on, at the time of writing, more than 430 people had accepted the challenge, and about 100 recipes had been published. Moreover, it seems to have transcended the local food community as people from Kuwait, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Russia, the UK, US, Italy, Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are participating.
“It’s because so many people are at home right now, and there is a real trend around personal challenges,” says Ayaso. “Also, people are cooking so much at home now. Even people who are not foodies are trying to create new things.”
New is an understatement when you consider the kind of flavours people have been whipping up and posting on social media. Katsu, wasabi, truffle, herb and pesto are some of the inventive ones. Then, you have others made out of a combination of ingredients – such as sour cherry and rose petal with chocolate slab butter made by chef Troy Payne, or a strawberry jam flavoured butter made by food blogger Pallavi Sangtani.
“One of the most creative flavours I have seen so far is a kimchi with matcha flavoured butter. Another interesting one is anchovy with black garlic,” says Ayaso.
“Just the other day, we had a eight-year-old take part and create a honey, cinnamon and brown sugar butter. That is the beauty of this challenge, it’s for everyone, not just bloggers.”
Ayaso says that people are still asking him how they can take part in the challenge and whether they are eligible. “To that I answer, it is for everyone. The aim is to spread positive vibes around the community.”
Make your own flavoured butter:
Caramelised onions with hazelnut, thyme and black garlic
- 250g butter
- some roasted hazelnut
- Fresh thyme
- 2 tbs caramelized onions
- 4 cloves of black garlic (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Start by mincing the hazelnuts with fresh thyme salt pepper and nutmeg until it becomes smooth.
On the side, soften the butter and mix it well, then add some caramelised onions and chopped cloves of black garlic (if black garlic is not available, replace it with one small clove of fresh garlic or garlic powder).
Mix it all together and then add the hazelnut mixture. Fold the ingredients into each other until they blend well.
Pour the butter mixture over baking paper or cling film and roll it or shape it the way you like, then leave it in the fridge for few hours until it holds together.
Take a slice and spread it over hot toast and enjoy.
You can also add it to soup, meat, or favourite vegetables.
Raspberry Lemon Butter
- 250g butter
- 60g fresh raspberries
- Lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
Start by mashing the raspberries, add lemon zest, a pinch of salt, a bit of vanilla and sugar, mix them well and leave it to rest.
On the side soften the butter and mix it well, then add the raspberry mixture. Fold the ingredients into each other until they blend well.
Pour the butter mixture over baking paper or cling film and shape it the way you like. Then leave it in the fridge for few hours until it holds together.
Enjoy this butter over warm scones or brioche with your favourite cup of tea.
You can also use different berries for this recipe. Bon Appetit.