Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

Pears cooked in red wine for the New Year

In alcohol, dessert, fish on January 21, 2018 at 7:29 pm

pear in wine

I’ve been neglecting my ‘try a new recipe’ mission for quite some time. Whenever I had a free weekend at home, I just wanted to vege out. Cooking has become a necessity for sustenance rather than an experimentation of new recipes. As 2018 edged closer, I decided I owed it to myself to make an attempt. This was the first of two, only because one bottle of wine was involved. The second one is here.

I chose this recipe because it’s easy and festive. And it’s from one of my more intriguing recipe books, A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion.

The most important things you need are four pears and 150ml of red wine. These should be on the top of your shopping list. You’ll also need some sugar, a short stick of cinnamon and three cloves.

The preparation is simple. Cut each pear into four quarters and peel the skin if you want. Then put everything into a saucepan (I used Corningware glass ceramic cookware) and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. After that, remove the pears and continue simmering the spiced wine until it thickens into the consistency of syrup. Pour this over the pears when serving. This dessert can be served hot or chilled. I prefer the latter.

Shopping list: 4 pears and 150ml red wine

From the pantry: 4 tablespoons of sugar, 3 cloves, 1 short stick of cinnamon

Can I do it?: Yes, even if you claim you can’t cook anything.

Hardware: Saucepan or pot

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)


Candied root vegetables and fruits in the Tudor fashion

In dessert, fruits, vegetables on March 22, 2015 at 12:44 am

candied root vegetables in the Tudor fashion

The Tudor period of England and Wales stretched from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. I had to Google that because I have no interest in anything Tudor, not even the TV series The Tudors.

I’m not curious about eating a partridge from a pear tree or three blackbirds baked in a pie either. Thankfully, the recipes from A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion comes with modern interpretations. It was a gift from a former boss, a souvenir from her visit to the UK.

As there were no refrigerators to store food back then, preserving food with sugar was one of the ways to keep it longer. This recipe was part of a banquet serving.

Making it is fairly simple. Just cut the vegetables and fruits to a thickness of about 3mm. If you are diligent, you could go the extra mile and use pastry cutters to fashion them into fancy shapes. I was more concerned about finishing up fast so I could eat, hence the plain-looking result.

Heat 225g of sugar with 300ml of rose water in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the fruits and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar syrup caramelizes to a light brown. Then move the slices to a rack to drain and dry.

Shopping list: root vegetables and fruit such as apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips; rose water

From the pantry: granulated sugar

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have the patience not to leave sugar to burn over a stove

Hardware: saucepan and wire rack

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)

What to do with that grapefruit in the fridge – make grapefruit sorbet!

In Bill Granger, dessert, fruits on February 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

grapefruit sorbet

When you live in a tropical country like I do, it’s always nice to have some sorbet in the freezer for hot, sunny days. It’s also a great dessert to follow heavy meals, when you want something to ease that sluggish feeling in your stomach.

The only snag is you need to anticipate when you want to have it, because it has to be ‘defrosted’ in the fridge for about an hour or two, depending on the container you use to store it (shallow/deep).

This is the second sorbet recipe I’ve tried, only because I happened to have some grapefruit in the fridge. It’s not readily available here and when I saw it at my regular fruit stall, I thought I’d give it a try, even though I did not fancy eating it raw.

This recipe calls for raw egg white, which I skipped when I first tried making lemon sorbet. I don’t think the egg white made a difference, so I may leave it out next time.

Shopping list: Grapefruit, egg white (optional)

From the pantry: Sugar

Hardware: Freezer, fridge, shallow metal tray, whisk

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have half a day to spare at home for the freezing of the mixture, taking it out and beating it – three times!

Tips: 1. Don’t strain the fibre of the fruit. It’s always nice to have some ‘bite’ to the sorbet.   2. Shallow metal tray is not a good idea if you end up spilling half the content before you reach the freezer. A freeze-proof plastic container with lid would be a better alternative.

Credit: Bills Sydney Food by Bill Granger

When life gives you lemons, you make lemon sorbet!

In dessert on May 14, 2012 at 2:38 am


I used to think of sorbet as something fancy so I was really thrilled to find this recipe. It’s easy to make (though time-consuming) and you don’t need any special equipment. Just a freezer though the recipe does call for an electric whisk. I couldn’t find the whisk of my mixer, so I whisked it by hand. It turned out fine.

The ingredients are simple too. Nothing complicated, just water, sugar, juice and egg white (I skipped this because raw egg is used). Once you’ve learned how to make this, you probably would stop paying for overpriced sorbets in restaurants. 

The only snag with making your own sorbet is the time needed. The start is easy. Just boil 250ml water and 125g caster sugar until the sugar dissolves. Wait till it cools, then add 50ml juice and zest. The recipe called for lime but I used lemon.

Next, place the mixture in a covered container in the freezer. Once the edges start to firm up (the recipe said one hour but it took a lot longer), you need to break up the ice crystals (use a fork). Return to freezer and repeat at least twice every 45 minutes or so. Then freeze until firm. If you want a finer texture, break up the sorbet into chunks and whisk. And then freeze again. Shift it down to the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Finally! After all that work, I’m having all of this to myself.  

Shopping list: Caster sugar, lemon or lime, egg white (optional)

Hardware: Freezer, freeze-proof container (I recommend a plastic container with a lid), mixer (or hand whisk) 

Can I do it?: Yes, but patience is needed

Tip: Do this when you’re at home the whole day. 

Credit: Jane F. Ragavan, Don’t Call Me Chef, Star2


Surprise Fruit Baskets

In dessert, fruits on March 7, 2011 at 2:21 am

I love my food in crunchy wraps.

LL was having a post-Chinese New Year steamboat party. I asked if I could bring anything. She said dessert. I initially wanted to make Grapes Rolled in Goat’s Cheese with Pistachio Crust, but three attempts had yet to yield a satisfactory result (i.e. decent enough to be served to others).

So I turned to my most bookmarked recipe book. It was between the Fruit Baskets and Spiced Milk Pudding. Fruit Baskets won because I figured that pudding would be too ‘heavy’ after everyone stuffed themselves full on steamboat. Besides, I didn’t think pudding would go down well with the more or less same crowd that hardly touched my couscous at LL’s housewarming potluck party last year. It was also the perfect recipe because I had leftover filo pastry from my baklava attempt.

This recipe is somewhat similar to the Spicy Mexican Snack Cups I tried before. That used tortillas shaped into cups using a muffin tray and baked to a crisp. Same with this. It’s a matter of assembly. I used two sheets of pastry because some parts were torn. Filo is really brittle. You have to be very careful when shaping it and taking it out of the oven.

What makes this a winner is the whipping cream mix. I didn’t have Cointreau nor strawberry jam, so I substituted them with Brem Bali (liqueur made from Bali’s traditional rice wine) and roselle jam. Feel free to use anything you have at home. The trick is to make sure the alcohol and jam go well together.

As for the fruits, the recipe calls for grapes, pineapple and raspberries. I bought fresh raspberries a few days before. By the time I was ready to use them, fungus/mould had started to grow. So out they went and canned blueberries came to the rescue. It was a perfect balance of sweetness and tart.

The verdict? Everyone loved it! I redeemed myself after the couscous.

Shopping list: filo pastry, Black and white grapes (seedless), raspberries (I used canned blueberries), pineapple, mint leaves, whipping cream

From the pantry: strawberry jam (I used roselle), Cointreau (I used Bali Brem) or any other orange flavoured liquer, icing sugar (for sprinkling – I skipped this)

Hardware: oven, pastry brush, muffin trays

Can I do it?: Yes. It’s a matter of putting everything together. But you need to be gentle with the pastry.


1.   Bake the cups just before serving or they’ll go soft. If you need to make them earlier, store in an airtight container. Take care not to break the brittle cups.

2.  Spoon the whipping cream mix over the fruits instead of placing it at the bottom layer as the cream would turn the pastry soggy.

3.   Allow enough time for the pastry to thaw.

Credit: Cook’s Kitchen Handbook and 500 Basic Recipes edited by Carole Clements

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