A weekly beer + food column to support the launch of CAMRA’s new podcast, Pubs. Pints. People. You can tune in each week on Apple Podcast or Spotify or simply visit https://shows.acast.com/5ed0cbc8e3ae160820cc9477/
EVERY Monday lunchtime, regular as clockwork, a smiley bloke wheels a trolley up our path bringing our weekly shop. This is an entirely alien concept for me. I like to shop haphazardly, choosing what’s in season, what’s BOGOF, what’s half price due to sell by date. I love delis, farmers’ markets, the old-fashioned butchers and bakers in Tavistock, the wet fish shop getting its catch direct from a Plymouth trawler. The sort of shopping many of you probably enjoy too, especially if it includes a pub stop for a pint and a pasty, perhaps a game of dominoes. Do you miss pub games? (Incidentally, my brother and I have invented a brilliant game to while away lockdown: we call it Best Films Ever Poker. So, I e-mail him: “I’ll see your On the Waterfront and raise you Gone with the Wind…” But I digress. I’m indebted to the Tesco deliverers, the more so because we don’t live near one of the stores and I don’t actually know where these guys come from. Ordering online is, er, interesting. On the whole they do a great job though we get the odd surprise. My request for a Savoy cabbage was met with frozen shredded; this is not a successful product. I wanted a few leeks and, boy, did I get ’em – three monsters that would have won giant leek at any horticultural show. On the other hand I asked for root ginger (fiddly to peel and chop), and instead received a fragrant little jar of their Crushed Ginger, ready to use. Tesco’s Chief Executive must have been up half the night making that; cheers, sir, I won’t forget. Speaking of my brother, he’s their biggest fan. He shops there so much his Tesco points apparently pay most of the cost of his annual French leave in a gite. (Not this year, Little Bro, you’ll have to drive a camper van to a Tesco carpark near the sea.) Last week I put mincemeat on the list thinking I’d make a nice shepherd’s pie or chilli; lo and behold I received a jar of mincemeat as in mince pies. Was I bovvered? Nah. I’ve run out of dried fruit so I’ll use it to stuff baked apples with a liberal slurp of dark spicy ale – as it happens I’ve got McEwan’s Champion, a big, fruity number (7.3% ABV), winner of a national Tesco beer challenge I helped judge many moons ago, hence the name. Every little helps.
One cooking apple per person; mixed dried fruit (or mincemeat); a few chopped, stoneless dates and walnut halves (if you’ve got any); dark spicy ale; a little soft brown sugar.
Put dried fruit (or mincemeat) in a bowl with dates, if used, add enough ale to cover, and marinate overnight; drain retained liquor. Core apples and cut a line round middle of each with a sharp knife. Stir a little brown sugar into fruit mix and use to stuff the apples; place in an ovenproof dish and pour over retained liquor, scattering any leftover filling mix around. Bake in the centre of a hot oven (200C/gas mark 6) for around 45 to 60 minutes, until the apple puffs up to soufflé softness, the caramelising ale creating a toffee apple effect. Pop a walnut half where the apple stalk was, and serve with thick yellow cream. Cheers – and bon appétit!
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