Apples have always been important in our Romanian cuisine, and for me, autumn and winter are filled with sweet and savoury dishes using apples. Baked apples have a seductive aroma that spreads around the house, and brings up feelings of nostalgia, cosiness and family love.
In Romania and very often in eastern-European countries, children are given braided breads and apples, when they tour the village on traditional winter fetes. Sometimes we add a few walnuts to this offering, or give them home baked pretzels filled with apple jam.
It is a widely spread tradition to stuff vegetables. If you travel around Romania, you will come across aubergines, courgettes and peppers; cabbage or vine leaves; apples, pears or quinces, all stuffed with mince beef, pork or veal, lardo and walnuts, chicken, or just with spicy rice on Lent days.
This recipe is very easy to make, almost like a one-pot dish. Everything goes in the oven at the same time and takes 1 hour to cook.
Prepare the apples: Cut a lid off each apple, approximately one third down. Carefully core the apples, leaving the bottom and the walls intact. Shred the gammon and mix with the pancetta. Fill each apple with the mixture, and set aside.
Shred the cabbage: Take a roasting tin lined with baking paper, and put a thick layer of shredded cabbage in it. Add a layer of sliced onion. Dissolve the vegetable stock in cider and pour over the cabbage.
Put each apple in a little cosy hole made in the cabbage. Add the apple lids on top. Sprinkle the rosemary.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft.