I came home to find a suspicious package on my doorstep. It wasn't the classic dog turd wrapped in flaming paper. It’s not that kind of neighbourhood. No, it’s a lovely, friendly, respectable neighbourhood where people have social standing and gardens with mature trees. That meant it could be any one of those pesky, generous neighbours. I eyed it suspiciously and my worst fears were confirmed: more bloody cooking apples.
A few hours later, my neighbour Roy, a middle-aged gentleman with social standing and mature trees, rang my bell to jovially check, “You got the apples then? Enjoy!” The picture of blithe innocence, his face was, the rotten bugger.
See, the thing is, he knows and I know he knows, and he knows that I know, etc. that I’ve already got half a tonne of the blighters all over my own back garden, from my own bloody mature tree. Age and experience made him the fastest on the draw when it came to 'gifting' his on though. I'll get him next year.
So I have several kilos of cooking apples and I ain’t afraid to use ‘em. Actually I am. I’m having hourly cold sweats at the thought of getting through them but I'm One Mean Housewife: I can't waste them, can I? So I will cook them and cook them and I will bloody well cook them until they are done. Here are some things I have done so far.
This is a good one and it’s going on our menu weekly until they’re done. I adapted a recipe in the BBC GoodFood “101 One-Pot Dishes” book. Dust two large pork chops in plenty of seasoned flour and then brown them on a high heat. Remove it from the pan and then brown two cooking apples (peeled and cut in wedges) with a chopped onion and stick of celery. Add 300ml chicken stock, a spoonful of grain mustard and a bay leaf, and stir. Put the meat back in and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Nice with rice, and hoovered up by both husband and toddler.
I’m finding it hard to talk about this one because it was TOO HARD (I’m rubbish at baking), I burnt it a bit, and the ingredients cost a chuffing fortune. However, it has enough calories to feed London for a week so if I hadn’t eaten almost all of it immediately, it would go a long way. It is moist and delicious. Recipe here.
Until today, I was a chutney virgin (always wanted to say that) and this was a triumph. It's like nippy pickled apple jam and it's very yummy with cold chicken and with cheese. Recipe here.
An easy idea from a friend. Core an apple and fill it with crème fraiche and dried fruit. Nuke it for a couple of minutes. I think I did it the wrong way: cutting the apple down the middle and scooping out the core may work better. It tasted good though. The toddler wanted more.
Autumn is soup season and this is a bit different. I used this BBC Good Food recipe. It is delicious and thick. It was crying out for a bit of nutmeg so I put in about a half teaspoonful. We'll be having this one again too. I'm almost beginning to not resent these apples.
So there you are. If you have an unwelcome windfall, worry not what to do with it. That's right: waste no time, gather them up and sneakily deposit them on an unsuspecting neighbour's doorstep. Do it in the dead of night so you can't be caught.
One Mean Housewife, with a mad look in the eye, turns a peeler over and over in her calloused hand...