You can forget your apple sauce, pal – quince and scotch bonnet is where it’s at. I’ve combined them in a hot sauce before but this is more of a quince mush with chilli in it, which is a lot nicer than I’ve just made it sound. It’s a fruit sauce for pork, south London style. The quinces we bought in Peckham’s General Store and the scotch bonnets well, they’re everywhere. Colourful little buggers.

The pork is rubbed with scotch bonnet powder so the crackling and outer meat is spicy too but you could just roast it simply with salt. This reduction in overall heat will also help with the problem of what to serve on the side. Vegetables make sense but the carbs are trickier. The first time I made a sort of spiced pilaf which took things off in another direction entirely and we’ve also had it in baps with mustard and a cabbagey ‘slaw like a spicy hog roast.


Anyway, it’s a very fun thing to do with quinces which are at their fragrant, knobbly best right now. Snap ’em up in the shops or – ideally – steal them from someone’s garden. They may even give them to you! I dunno. Things like that mainly happen outside of London.

Roast Pork Belly with Quince and Scotch Bonnet Sauce Recipe

1.6kg piece pork belly (or thereabouts) cut from the meaty shoulder end, with ribs attached (this is just my preference because then you get the tasty ribs as well)
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons scotch bonnet powder (I buy this in Peckham but you can also buy online)
2 large quinces
1 fresh scotch bonnet chilli
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus a bit extra for prepping the quinces)

If you have the pork belly the day before, pat the skin dry, score it, then leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out. If not, just pat it dry then score it. Remove any tough white membrane from the top of the rib section.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Mix the salt and scotch bonnet powder (if using) and rub this all over the pork belly. Place it on a rack in a roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 140C and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes, then whack it back up to 220C for a final 20 minutes. This should give you great crackling.

For the quince sauce, peel and stone the quinces, cutting them into segments – you’ll need to pop them in some water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it while you do this, to stop them turning brown.

Cover them with water in a saucepan and add the scotch bonnet (leave it whole) and the honey. Cook until soft, around 1 hour. Remove the chilli and drain. Blend the fruit and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt. Serve with the pork!

The cherries have started creeping into shops and will be around now until the end of July. While I think they’re best, generally, eaten as they come (who can resist that snap of taut skin?) there are ways to enhance their flavour when using them in desserts, to maximise cherry flavour.

Roasting is one such method and I think it works particularly well for ice creams and sorbets. I was reading this recipe and loved the idea of roasting the cherries with the sugar in the oven first, which also sidesteps making a separate simple syrup (that’s just sugar dissolved in water, FYI). What you end up with, then, is a load of collapsed fruit bubbling in sweet juice, ready for blending and churning.

It’s always tempting to romanticise inspiration for recipes but I’d feel disingenuous doing that here. Basically, I was pitting the cherries* with no particular plan for them, when my gaze fell upon a bottle of pomegranate molasses sitting right there on the kitchen counter. Ta da!

I’m still giving myself a pat on the back though because this is a stunner: it has a deep cherry flavour (thanks, roasting) and a whisper of perfumed pom molasses which brings a Turkish or Iranian vibe. In fact, this would be the perfect end to a meal of kebabs, flatbreads and bowl of sloppy tomato salsa which has warmed itself slowly in the afternoon sun.

*If you don’t have a cherry pitter, I strongly recommend you buy one. They can also be used to stone olives.

Roasted Cherry and Pomegranate Molasses Sorbet Recipe

1 kg cherries, stalks removed and pitted
200g caster sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Large pinch salt
200ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C

Put the cherries, sugar and salt in a roasting tray – you want them to be snug and not spread out (a couple of layers of cherries works well). Mix well to coat.

Roast for 30-45 minutes until they are bubbling and the juice around them is thick. Add the water and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature then blend (in a food processor) with the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice if you like. It’s best to make it slightly too sweet as the sugar will be dulled slightly by the freezing process.

Pass it through a sieve (no really, do) making sure you really press and scrape all the fruit skins through the mesh (and remember to scrape the bottom of the sieve, too). Put the sieved mixture into the fridge and leave overnight or for at least a few hours, as it needs to be very cold.

Churn in an ice cream maker. This would also be great with vanilla ice cream, or mixed into vanilla ice cream as a ripple. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can do the whole, freezing, vigorously whisking, freezing, whisking and so on but I really recommend getting on if you think you might make a few ice creams/sorbets. This is the model I use – great because it doesn’t have very small parts you can easily lose. I’ve had it for around 5 years now with no probs.

Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

This story begins with me cruising along in the back of an Uber because I couldn’t even contemplate the idea of getting on the tube or a Roastmaster in this heat. For those of you who live outside London, we call the Routemaster buses ‘Roastmasters’ because when they re-designed them to look all curvy and swish no one thought about the experience of the people inside. What resulted is a weirdly proportioned vehicle in which none of the seats is even remotely comfortable but mainly ohmyactualgod the HEAT.

The windows don’t open and the air con doesn’t work so it’s like being a dog trapped inside a car in a desert. Here’s a headline that sums it up very nicely – “a bus designed for people who never take buses” – with a photo of Twatty Mc Twatface himself hanging out the back (that’s Boris Johnson in case you can’t be arsed to click on the link). They’re now replacing the windows with versions that actually open, although they won’t be ready until September (that’s the end of the summer). Anyway.

So I was in the Uber, and I had the windows down because the car didn’t have any air-con, and I see my mate walking down the street so I raise my shades up like a total boss and holler, “alright mate?” to which he replied, “yeah… hot. You?” to which I replied, “yeah… hot.” This is the only conversation that anyone in London is having right now. If you’re not interested in talking about the heat first and foremost then you can jog on quite frankly (or maybe walk really slowly, dragging your feet and sweating).

There’s something really oppressive about the heat here, and I say that as someone who has been to Borneo and experienced 45C heat with 80% humidity. It’s just always right ON you, that sun, and it’s close and sticky and gooey and suffocating. I was walking along the street in West London the other day and a man coming the other way, sweating profusely, just looked up at the sun and shouted, “FUCKING HELL” then kept walking. That sums it up.

So, it’s ice cream and sorbet central around here. In the past week I’ve been through ice cream Bounty Bars (surprisingly light), most of the flavours in Snowflake Gelato, several of the flavours in Gelupo, a stunning Sicilian plum granita at Bernardi’s followed by an apricot semifreddo in the same meal and now this, a pink gooseberry sorbet with gin.
I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked with pink gooseberries before but they turned up in a box of gorgeous fruit and veg I was sent from New Covent Garden market – perks of the food writing biz. I think they’re sweeter than their traditional green counterparts but that could be some mind-bending trickery to do with the colour, I dunno. Anyway, this sorbet is probably the best I’ve made. Better even than this pink grapefruit and gin sorbet I made last year. We managed to get the sugar just right, the flavour of the gooseberries is strong but you can also taste the gin, and just look at that colour!

I’ve actually just had the idea while sitting here of piling it into an insulated bottle flask thingamy and taking it onto the bus with me (probs just get another Uber).

Pink Gooseberry and Gin Sorbet

350g pink gooseberries, topped and tailed
100g caster sugar
1 egg white
100ml gin
120ml water

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the water and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want to remove any seeds and bits then put it through a sieve now.

Add the gin and allow the mixture to chill in the fridge (I put mine in the fridge overnight). Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and mix it into the gooseberry mixture – it will look all weird but don’t worry about it.

Churn in an ice cream machine until frozen, then transfer to a tub and freeze for a couple of hours before serving. Yeah you could probably do it without an ice cream maker if you do the taking it out and stirring every hour thing.