It's the middle of winter so the variety of fruit available is limited.
Apples, pears, citrus and bananas are the cooks standbys at this time of year and it is apples that we have been using in all sorts of comforting winter desserts.
Harold McGee in “On Food and Cooking. An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture” says that apple trees are particularly hardy and are probably the most widely distributed fruit trees on the planet. They are certainly the constant when it comes to the fruit department of mainstream supermarkets, you can always buy apples, which is why cooks like a constant supply of ideas for using them. Their talent for staying fresh when put into cold storage ensures they are around all year.
While I naturally have great affection for my relatives anyway, I love having some who live in the country as several of them send us produce. My partner’s sister, (herself a good cook so she understands our appreciation of good produce), sends us fresh walnuts every year which last us all year and are a delicious luxury. This year she also sent us a box of Bramley apples. A Bramley is an old fashioned cooking apple that is too sour to eat raw. Unlike dessert or eating apples which hold their shape when cooked, a Bramley, like all cooking apples, when cooked, transforms itself into a glistening purée. They are the best thing when a purée of apples to go with roast pork or desserts is required. One of my favourite combinations so far has been a big dollop of warm cooked Bramleys with a small slab of ricotta, a sprinkling of sugar and a little liquid cream. Peeling, coring and chopping apples so they can be boiled to a mush may sound like a waste of time to some people, especially when you can buy canned apple purée, but the result when using cooking apples is much better than bought. Never sacrifice quality for convenience! I live in hope that maybe one day marketers will forget about developing new varieties of apples that do things like not going brown when cut (who cares) and reintroduce some of the old fashioned varieties.
However, as cooking apples are seldom seen in mainstream supermarkets, for most people it is eating apples that have to be used for cooking. When I want an apple puree and can’t get old fashioned cooking apples, my go-to variety is the Granny Smith This is not to say you can’t use eating apples for cooking because eating apples are usually what are used by French and other European cuisines for cooking. Either are fine for the apple crumbles we have been making (with plenty of ground almonds replacing some of the flour in the crumble topping and lemon zest and fennel seeds in the apple part) but when I make a French flaky puff pastry apples tart I use an eating apple. I have also been using them in apple cakes again with ground almonds and I like a bowl of stewed apples in the fridge for breakfasts with our own muesli mix of soaked oats, chia seeds, freeze dried blackcurrants, various seeds and walnuts, served with a big dollop of homemade yoghurt.