On the shelf
1 Although we occasionally make pasta from scratch, there's one type we've never dared to attempt: squid ink pasta. Squid ink has been used to dye clothing and in pens - so imagine how your hands and work surfaces would look when mixing it into pasta dough. Fortunately, we can buy it - and we like the Rustichella d'Abruzzo brand of tonnarelli al nero di seppia. Made from wheat semolina, squid ink and water, it's HK$65 for 500 grams from Oliver's in the Prince's Building, Central (tel: 2810 7710).
2 The label on the Pure Harvest natural apple juice concentrate suggests using it as a substitute for sugar or as a topping for ice cream. We like to use it in some of our savoury dishes: it's delicious with seared duck breast with saut?ed apples - mix some of the concentrate into the pan juices and balance the sweetness with some fresh lemon juice. It also intensifies the flavours in tangy apple chutney. The juice is HK$27 for a 250ml bottle from Oliver's.
3 We were sceptical the first time we tasted Beard Papa's cream puffs: they couldn't possible be as good as homemade ones. Well, they come close. Made from choux paste (the traditional dough for cream puffs and eclairs) as well as a thin layer of pie crust - which helps them maintain their crispness - Beard Papa's cream puffs are filled only when the customer orders them (and the imperfect ones are thrown away). We like the original puffs (HK$12), which are filled with a light, vanilla-y, not-too-sweet custard and now the Japanese chain has expanded its range to include flavours such as coffee cream; tiramisu; mango; chestnut; and green tea with fondant. We buy ours in the food hall at Sogo, in Causeway Bay (tel: 2833 8338), but there are other locations, including those in the Mong Kok MTR station (exit B) and the APM Mall in Kwun Tong.