Homemade Honey and Pear Sorbet

When I had some friends around for dinner in January, I wanted to focus the meal using seasonal ingredients. One of the ones currently in season (in January) at least, are pears, so the weekend before I ended up at the Islington Farmer’s market.

The wonderful thing about the farmers markets is that you end up with some really fresh fruits and vegetables, and even though they don’t look like the perfectly polished wax-ware you might find in your typical supermarket, the taste is like nothing you can believe. At the stand that I purchased them from, they even had four varieties of pears on offer, some better for cooking retaining their shape, others better for reducing down into sauces, and others that were best for eating fresh, remaining crisp.

Inspired by the fact that I had, indeed, bought some really fresh fruits, I wanted to make a pear and honey sorbet. I couldn’t really find any recipes on the internet, so I made one up myself.

Here’s the one that I used:


  • 1.5 kg pears
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • squeeze of half a lemon
  • tablespoon of vodka

Put the honey, sugar, lemon and water in a saucepan and heat using a low heat until the sugar has melted. In the meantime, peel the pears, taking out the core and seeds, and then slice them so they all sit underneath the liquid. I substituted honey instead of sugar to add a different dimension of sweetness. I added the lemon because I didn’t want the pears to brown too quickly. Poach the pears until you can stick a fork through them without too much resistance.

Cool the mixture down, and add the vodka. I don’t know if the vodka had much effect, but I hoped that it would mean that the sorbet didn’t freeze too hard.

After the mixture is cooled down, using a blender (I used a stab blender), puree the mix until you achieve the same sort of consistency. I guess you could choose to them pass it through a sieve if you want the pear juice/nectar but I think it’s quite nice to have some texture in the sorbet.

Freeze in an ice cream maker and you’re done!

How did it turn out? I served the sorbet with a pear crumble and it went down a treat. The honey certainly added depth to the sorbet, although I think I would change the ratio of honey to sugar next time to further accentuate the flavours of the pear.

Pad Kee Mao

One of my favourite Thai dishes is the famously spicy Pad Kee Mao. Its spiciness is said to contribute to its English translation, “Druken Noodles” not because the noodles are drenched in any particular liquid, but because you often need to reach for a drink due its spiciness and best drunk with beer.

Not all Thai places serve this noodle, but I often ask them if they do it off the menu (great where they actually have a real Thai chef). I’ve successfully made this at home, so here’s the recipe that I used:


  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar/palm sugar
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp gold mountain (a classic seasoning sauce used in Thai cooking)
  • 1 tsp soy regular
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp smashed thai chillies
  • 1 sliced chilli
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 block of firm tofu cubed into bite sized pieces
  • vegetables
  • flat rice noodles, separated into different strands
  • bell pepper/capsicum
  • onion
  • Thai basil (optional)


  1. Combine the water, sugar, gold moutain, soy, oyster sauces together with the smashed chillies. This will be added at the end of the cooking.
  2. Prepare all vegetables – slice the onions, peppers into fine strips. Cut the vegetables into similar sizes.
  3. Fry the tofu until it has a relatively crispy skin and set aside
  4. Reheat the pan, starting with the garlic, onion then adding the chili to fry off.
  5. Cook the vegetables and when ready, add the noodles. Having previously separated them makes it easier to mix together and still leave whole
  6. Add the tofu and then fry until the noodle is soft and cooked. At the last moment, throw in the prepared sauce and stir until the noodles are evenly coated with it
  7. Just before serving, I like to mix some Thai basil through to add another layer of flavour

Beef Rendang

I’ll put my hand up. I’ve been obsessed by beef rendang ever since having Vanessa’s slow cooked version at our gathering back in November. I was a bit worried because they used a slow cooker, tenderising the meat something over like eight hours of cooking. Although they aren’t particularly expensive, I really don’t need a slow cooker in the kitchen just yet. Looking around on the Internet, there are plenty of versions of beef rendang. Here’s the version that I used (it’s a slightly modified version by that provided by John Torode here).


  • 1 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (peanut, or olive is fine)
  • 1 1/2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 red Thai bird’s chillies, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and chopped into very fine slivers
  • 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, peeled and chopped into very fine slivers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 750g braising steak cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 400g canned coconut milk
  • 250ml strong veal or beef stock, heated


  • For the beef rending, pound the lemongrass to a pulp using a pestle and mortar. Tip the lemongrass into a small bowl.
  • Heat the frying pan over a medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin seeds and turmeric and dry fry until fragrant. Tip the spices into a spice grinder or the pestle and mortar. Grind the spices to a powder if using a grinder, or pound in a pestle and mortar until the spices are as smooth as possible. Set aside.
  • Fry the onions, garlic, chillies, ginger and pounded lemongrass to the pan in the heated oil and cook gently until the onions have softened and the mixture is fragrant.
  • Add the reserved ground spices and the bay leaf and fry for a few minutes more.
  • Add the meat and increase the heat so that it browns on all sides. Stir until the meat is completely coated with the spices – this will take a few minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil, then add the hot stock.
  • Turn the heat down low and continue cooking for at least 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally until the sauce becomes thick and coats the meat well.

I changed some of the preparation and ingredients to John’s recipe. I added the fresh galangal because I wanted a bit more of that gingery flavour it imparts and another dimension is always great in a curry. I also extended the cooking time on a slower heat because I wanted the flesh to fall apart. I didn’t reduce the liquid until the meat was already soft to ensure that all the pieces had a chance to sit and boil equally in the liquid. I also added another chilli, figuring that it would still retain its partial heat but not overpower it.

Serve with freshly steamed vegetables and some white rice. Enjoy!

Jalapeno Cheese Rolls

For our thanksgiving feast, I decided to make some fresh bread rolls. I wanted something with a bit of bite, so I tried out this recipe and it turned out really well. I’ve repeated it here just in case the other page disappears.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced seeded jalapenos
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg beaten


  • Heat milk and sugar to 115° F stirring to dissolve sugar.
  • Stir in yeast then let stand 5 minutes.
  • Combine flour, cheese, jalapenos and salt in electric mixer bowl
  • Add yeast mixture and 2 eggs then beat 2 minutes on low speed scraping side of bowl as necessary.
  • Beat at medium-low speed for 7 minutes
  • Place dough in lightly greased bowl then cover with towel and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Punch down dough then divide into 12 portions.
  • Place on two parchment-lined or greased baking sheets and cover lightly with plastic wrap.
  • Allow to rise 45 minutes (as shown above)
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Brush rolls with beaten egg then bake 25 minutes and cook on wire rack

The finished product:

The great thing about these bread rolls is that they have a warming sensation from the chillis. I ended up using two different types, a normal chilli minced up roughly with a Thai bird’s eye chilli really finely chopped up to provide a warming sensation throughout.

Singapore Chilli Crab

One of my favourite memories of Singapore was trekking across to the east coast and enjoying in the famous Singapore Chilli Crab. Looking on the net, there are plenty of ways of making it, but here’s one that I’ve tried using a few elements from various recipes.

I’ve found a decent place in Chinatown that sells fresh crabs that I kill and clean at home. I’m not sure how it would turn out with the frozen variety. Try fresh as much as possible!


  • 2 tablespoon of oil (any vegetable oil is fine)
  • 3 tablespoons of minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • shao xing wine
  • 4 birds eye chillis
  • 1 bottle of pureed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1 spring onion chopped up
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon coriander chopped
  • Method:

    • Fry ginger, garlic, onion in the oil
    • Add chopped chillis and shao xing wine
    • Saute crab until pink
    • Add tomato and chilli sauce
    • Add spring onion
    • Pinch of salt
    • Cook for a bit covered
    • Just before serving, crack a scrambled egg into the sauce and mix together
    • Serve and sprinkle with fresh coriander

    When you’re done, serve the crab with freshly steamed Man Tao – you should be able to buy these in any Chinese supermarket in the frozen section. They only take five or ten minutes steaming. Alternatively you can fry them but it’s probably healthier not to.

Char Siu

My uncle kindly lent me this recipe from one of his books. I tried this with a couple of the pork bellies that I had left over in the freezer from Christmas time (one of the only butchers selling pork belly at this time only sold the whole pork belly!). I’ve posted the original recipe though I make comments at the bottom about what I changed.


The Marinade Recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red fermented tofu
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese spirit (Mou Tai) or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

The Rest:

  • 750g pork loin
  • 2 tablespoons maltose or honey

The Method
Mix the marinade ingredients together, cover the pork and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celcius and pick a pan that allows you prop up the dish with water in the bottom. Cook for 10-15 minutes and baste with the marinade. Reduce the heat to 180 degrees C and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Brush with the honey and lightly brown for another 4-5 minutes turning to char around the edges.

The variants
Both times, I tried the recipe without the red fermented tofu. I had a look at a couple of Chinese grocery stores and couldn’t find it, so figured I’d try it without it. I also ended up using Shao Hsing instead of the Mou Tai since I figured any Chinese spirit would be okay, and of course, I substituted a pork belly for the pork lion. I’d read a number of sites mentioning although it’s fattier, it ends up being more moist if slow cooked. I’d also probably consider trying it with pork shoulder or pork neck next time. I did the slow cook method (150 degrees C for about 2.5 hours, finished at a higher heat for the next half hour) and the meat was incredibly tender and moist.