Farro and wholegrain wheat add sustenance to a winter stew, used as you might pearl or pot barley to thicken the cooking liquor. Whole grains are exactly that, the complete grain, sometimes with husk. They take longer to cook, but you can shorten the time by soaking them for a good hour or so first.
dessert apples 3 small to medium in size
juice of half a lemon
unfiltered apple juice 400ml
golden caster sugar 2 tablespoons tbsp
star anise 2 whole pieces
preserved ginger 40g
syrup from the ginger jar 4 tbsp
Peel the apples, halve them and remove their cores. Toss gently in the lemon juice.
Pour the apple juice into a pan (large enough to accommodate the apples later) then add the caster sugar, star anise, the ginger sliced into coins, and ginger syrup. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so the liquid simmers gently.
Lower the fruit into the simmering syrup and leave partially covered with a lid until they are tender. They are ready when a skewer will glide effortlessly through their flesh, which should take around 15-20 minutes.
Lift the fruit from the syrup with a draining spoon and place on a serving dish or in smaller individual dishes.
Turn up the heat and bring the syrup to the boil.
Serve warm, three halves of fruit per person, in little dishes or glasses with some of the apple- and spice‑scented syrup spooned over.
• Nigel's new book, Kitchen Diaries II, is published by Fourth Estate at £30. To order a copy for £19.99 (including free UK mainland p&p), go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846.