For Somerset cider-maker’s son James Rich, the subject of his debut cookbook was a bit of a no-brainer…
Given that James grew up helping his dad plant orchards, clean 10,000-pint oak vats for fermentation and press thousands of apples, exploring their flavours while developing his home cooking in the kitchen with his grandma, it was only natural his first collection of recipes would revolve around the English larder essential.
James’s family has been making a living from apples for centuries and Apple: Recipes From The Orchard is a celebration of the fruit in all its forms. Everything from the apple blossom to the fallen fruit can be used in cooking, making apples a hardy, versatile and delicious essential in the kitchen. Using everything from whole apples to apple compote; cider to cider brandy, the book has almost 100 recipes for old favourites as well as new creations and combinations, thought up after years spent in the orchards.
Spiced pumpkin, apple and cider stew (serves 4) Deeply spiced and packed with winter root vegetables and nutritious kale, this vegetarian stew provides a warming and wholesome family meal. Served with rice, but equally delicious with crusty bread too.
Ingredients • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped • 450g (1lb) pumpkin or squash, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm (1in) cubes • 150g (5oz) new potatoes, chopped in half • 150g (5oz) carrots, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm (1in) chunks • 1 medium Bramley or Granny Smith apple • 2 garlic cloves • 1cm (½ in) piece of ginger • ½ teaspoon ground coriander • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon • ½ teaspoon paprika • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds • 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) dry cider • 300ml (10 fl oz/1¼ cups) vegetable stock • 50g (2oz) raisins • 100g (3 ½ oz) kale • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • Rice or crusty bread and butter to serve
Method • Heat the oil on a medium heat in a large pan. Then, add the onion and fry for 2 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the pumpkin, new potatoes and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin softening at the edges.
• Add the apple, garlic and ginger and fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the coriander, cinnamon, paprika, chilli and cumin seeds, ensuring the vegetables are well coated; fry for 3 – 5 minutes.
• Increase the heat and pour in the cider. Bring to the boil before adding the vegetable stock and raisins. Cover and reduce the heat to a light simmer then cook on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
• Once the vegetables are cooked, stir in the kale and cook for a further 3 minutes so that the kale is cooked through, but still a little crunchy in the stem. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with some rice or thick, crusty bread and butter.
Rose de pommes tart (serves 6 – 8) This tart is always a show-stopper, especially if you can take the time to make the dainty apple roses. I will be honest, it does take a while to do, but it is worth it. If you’re tight on time, then sliced apple on top works just as well. Just skip the apple roses section, slice the apple into eighths after coring, leaving the skin on, and fan them out on top of the custard.
Ingredients For the pastry • 250g (9oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting • 50g (2oz/heaped ⅓ cup) icing (confectioner’s) sugar • Grated zest of ½ lemon • 125g (4oz) butter, cold and cut into small cubes • 1 egg, beaten • ½ tablespoon whole milk
For the custard • 500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) whole milk • ½ vanilla pod (bean), halved and seeds scraped out • 4 eggs • 160g (5½ oz/scant ¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar • 4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
For the filling • 4 tablespoons strawberry jam • 110g (3¾ oz) butter, at room temperature • 100g (3½ oz/scant ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar • Juice of 2 lemons • 500g (1lb 2oz) Gala or red eating (dessert) apples • 1 tablespoon soft light brown sugar
Method • To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest and cubed butter and rub them into the flour and sugar with your fingertips until you get a crumble-like mixture.
• Add the egg and milk. Carefully work in with your hands until you have a dough, but don’t overwork the pastry. Flour the dough lightly and cut in half. Wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) before popping it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
• To make the custard, put the milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a heavybased saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together to form a thick paste. Stir in the flour until combined.
• Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and very slowly and gradually pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat very gently over a low heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Lay a piece of cling film (plastic wrap) touching the surface of the custard to avoid a skin forming. Set to one side.
• Take a pastry half out of the refrigerator and leave to rise to room temperature. (Use the other half in another recipe.) Preheat a fan oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 6) and grease a 23cm (9in) tart dish with butter.
• Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Press into a tart dish and prick the base with a fork. Blind bake in the oven for 20 minutes until it is golden. While the pastry is still hot, spread the strawberry jam onto the base.
• For the rest of the filling, put the butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Do not let the mixture boil. Leave to cool to room temperature.
• Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl and stir in the melted butter and sugar. Cut the apples in half, then core and slice them as thinly as possible using a mandolin and add the slices to the bowl. Ensure the apple is covered with the liquid and leave to stand for 15 minutes. This will ‘cook’ the apples and make them more pliable to shape.
• Pour the custard into the tart base so it comes halfway up the side. Then, take one slice of apple at a time and roll one around another. You’ll need about four or five slices to create a rose. Cut the base of the rose flat and place into the custard to hold it in place. Repeat until your tart is full of apple roses. Preheat a fan oven to 160°C (320°F/gas 4).
• Sprinkle the tart with brown sugar and bake for 20 minutes before serving nice and warm.
Extracted from Apple: Recipes From The Orchard by James Rich (published by Hardie Grant, £20)