JAMES Rich has recently released a new cookbook, based on apple recipes inspired by his family’s cider farm, Rich’s Cider in Highbridge.

Fifteen years ago, James started thinking about recipes when he worked in the cider press restaurant. He was often asked about the cider recipes and the dishes they cooked and decided it would make an informative book and list of recipes.

So, fifteen years later, James decided to release his first recipe book - Apple: Recipes from the Orchard.

James said: “Somerset is such an inspiration to me and I wanted to do something that celebrated my home.

“Somerset is most definitely my inspiration when it comes to food. We are so lucky to have some amazing food and drink grown, reared, pressed and produced here, that it is so inspiring as a cook.”

James started cooking when he was young. Helping his grandmother in the kitchen and watching her cook all sorts of dishes.

She would let James prepare the food and ask James’ to taste the food to check the seasoning and the flavour.

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James added: “She would always ask me to think about whether the dish needed anything else added to bring out the flavour more – she gave me confidence in the kitchen and made me feel like I was adding something to the final dish.

“I then worked in the restaurant at the family cider farm, Rich’s Cider in Watchfield, when I was a teenager and have always been very passionate about food.

“My entire family is very passionate about food and drink. Dad works in the drinks industry and every single one of our family gatherings is around the kitchen table.

“When I think about it my most cherished and fondest memories are around the table and if I taste any of the flavours I experienced as a child, they take me right back to a very specific moment.

“I love the nostalgia of food, as well as making new memories with exciting, new ingredients too.”

Working in the Cider Press restaurant at the farm was a huge influence on James cooking style. The customers who questioned him about the dishes made James focus on the provenance of the dishes and the importance of locally sourced ingredients – especially apples!

“Apple can vary in texture when cooked, for example a Bramley will break down into a sauce like consistency, whereas many eating apples will keep their shape when cooked in the dish” James explained.

“Apples also have a very wide spectrum of flavour; from very sweet eating apples to sharp cookers.

“Plus, they can also have unusual flavour notes, you can find apples that have a pineapple taste to them, or rhubarb, honey etc.

“There are more than 2,500 varieties grown in the UK and each one is different, so I always recommend searching out the varieties that grow locally to you and experimenting with them in the kitchen.”

Aside from apples, James couldn’t live without both butter and olive oil.

He explained that he uses them in nearly every recipe he makes – from cakes to stews and from salads to relishes.

James’ favourite recipes are the traditional apple crumble, spicy pork chops and the chicken, cider and cheddar crumble.

James said: “My favourite drink, other than Dad’s cider of course, is Somerset Cider Brandy which is delicious and made locally, of course.”

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James launched his book at Rich’s Cider in August.

He explained: “Apple is a celebration of the taste of Somerset, cider so what better way to launch it than by raising a cider or two down at the farm surrounded by friends and family.

“We had a great evening launching the cookbook and I would like to thank everyone who shared in the celebration.

“It was a lovely evening catching up with family and friends of the Farm and celebrating over a glass of cider.”

Apple by James Rich, published by Hardie Grant, costs £20 and is out now. The cookbook is full of almost 100 recipes featuring apple produce, from cider and juice, to vinegar and Somerset Cider Brandy.

For more information visit www.jamesrichcooks.com