Netherton Foundry Shropshire

Netherton Foundry Shropshire
Classic cookware, made in England

Sunday, 8 April 2018

In and out of the kitchen

It has been a week of dipping in and out of the kitchen, with no time for leisurely cooking and experimentation.  To be honest, it's been one of those weeks when I seem to have been constantly busy, with no evidence of what I have achieved.  I have had innumerable forms to fill in for all sorts of bureaucratic reasons; quarter end figures to pull together for the tax man; the last of the washing and shopping for our two student offspring to take back to university at the end of their all too brief Easter holiday and a fair bit of pan assembly and packing as we have been short handed in the workshops.  We operate a policy of never asking someone to do a job we would not be prepared to do ourselves, so when necessary, I will roll up my sleeves, don my Netherton apron and start oiling pans, waxing handles, screwing on lid knobs and wrapping, boxing and labelling orders.

Whilst the order book is still never quite as full as we would like it to be, things are picking up, thanks, in part, to you lot, who help us spread the word.  And we have been talking to two exciting restaurants in London - more of which soon, I hope.
But I still need to be selling, selling, selling; finding potential new stockists and the time to talk to our existing stockists.  We know we need to grow to survive, but we do not want to turn into some sort of anonymous corporation, out of touch with those who make us what we are.

Last night, the cupboards cleared by the locust raid of the students, I was scratting about for something for dinner.
We started with leek and Halloumi fritters, with a dish of potatoes layered in a loaf tin with a mixture of yogurt, chopped wild garlic and melted butter and baked in the oven. And then I noticed we had some slightly wrinkly apples in the fruit bowl, bought in expectation and abandonned when their taste did not match their looks.

So with the brevity of Damien Trench in the Radio 4 classic, "In and Out of the Kitchen"; recipe:

Pour 250ml full fat milk into a saucepan and add 4 cloves.  Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and leave for an hour for the flavour of the cloves to infuse into the milk.

Take 4 apples, peel core and quarter.
Melt 50g butter in a 10" prospector pan over a low heat and then add 120g sugar.
Cook continuously until it turns golden brown.
Add the apple slices, cover and cook for 10 minutes until the apples have softened and taken on some of the caramel colour.
Remove the lid and increase the heat.  Cook until the caramel has turned a rich mahogany and most of the juice has evaporated.

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC

Remove the cloves from the milk and return the pan to the hob.  Heat gently.
Beat in 50g buckwheat flour, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 100g sugar.  Add 2 beaten eggs and mix vigorously.
Pour over the apples and pop it into the oven.  Cook for 20 - 25 minutes until the top is firm.

Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Invert on to a serving plate and serve with clotted cream.

NB because I have used buckwheat flour, this pudding is gluten free.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

100 words and one number

Sitting at the kitchen table.
Sunlight as feeble as a new born lamb is struggling to penetrate winter grimy windows.
Steam from a cup of coffee intertwines promiscuously with exhaled breath.
Chilled fingers cradle the cup, absorbing and transmitting warmth, almost, but not quite reaching icy toes.
Toast. Yes, good idea.  Crackling golden surface, puddles of melted butter, blackened crumbs in the butter dish.  A tarry slick of Marmite.
Coffee, toast, radio 4; bliss, or at least it would be if I could stop myself Googling the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.
Doorbell, the central heating engineer has arrived.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Treacle tart

I am a firm advocate of the old adage, a little of what you fancy does you good.  Too often we are made to feel guilty about what we eat; I listened to an excellent podcast of a conversation between Diana Henry and Ruby Tandoh and was struck by the sheer joy someone got from finally feeling that they could eat a doughnut in public!
We have been made to feel like pariahs for enjoying our food, whatever it is, for too long and I rejoice that the fad for so called clean eating does seem to be on the decline - the myths debunked and the pseudo science shown up as what Anthony Warner has dubbed "nutri-bollocks".  It is time for intelligent discourse, education and understanding and goodbye to knee jerk reactions (sugar tax) and the unthinking embrace of Instagram ideologies.

A little of this treacle and nut tart is all you need to feel good; it contains gluten, dairy, nuts and a ton of calories and boy, do they taste good!

Felicity Cloake has written rapturously and with far more research than me on this topic and her recipe does sound delicious.

It is not an everyday dessert and it is also old fashioned; one of those nostalgic memories of puddings past that people like Jeremy Lee and Fergus Henderson have been reviving - as seen mentioned in this month's BBC Good Food magazine.
But every once in a while, this gooey, sweet delight will stick crumbs and smiles to your lips.

Start by making some shortcrust pastry with 120g plain flour and 60g butter.

Roll out and line a 10¼" shallow prospector pan.

Place in the fridge while the oven heats up to 200ºC
Put the pan into the pre-heated oven and cook the pastry case for no more than 10 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 170ºC

Coarsely chop 50g of mixed nuts (or just use your favourite).
Weigh out 80g of sourdough bread, crusts removed, and process into crumbs.
Grate the rinds of 2 oranges
Put 300g of golden syrup in a large saucepan and heat gently until runny.
Stir in the breadcrumbs, nuts and orange zest and mix thoroughly.

Pour this mixture into the pastry case and spread evenly.
Put the pan back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

When you remove the tart from the oven, the filling will be bubbling like lava on the rim of Vesuvius, so take care.
Allow to cool and serve at room temperature with custard or clotted cream.

Serves 8

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Chicken dinner sausage rolls

Hands up if you love a roast chicken dinner.  Keep them up if you love a sausage roll or two.
Okay, I can see enough hands (in my mind's eye) to think that a chicken and stuffing sausage roll could be a popular choice, especially when served up with a tsunami of umami in the form of mushroom and wild garlic gravy.
Chuck in some chips and peas and there you have it; winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Start by soaking 10g dried mushrooms in 250ml hot water - we'll come back to these later, but you will need an intensely flavoured, brown stock.

150g breadcrumbs
Grated rind of a lemon
2 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
A handful of chopped parsley
2 eggs
250g cooked chicken, chopped into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little rapeseed oil in a frying pan.  As usual we used Bennett and Dunn's oil. Locally grown and pressed.
Gently fry shallots over a low heat until soft.
And before you come over all "it's alright for you but where I am I supposed to get banana shallots?" I got mine from Lidl and if you can't find just use a small onion instead.

Combine with all the other ingredients and set aside while you make the pastry.  
But first, turn on the oven to heat it to 200ºC
I've got a bit creative here, but you could just as well make your favourite pastry recipe or use a ready made short crust or flaky pastry.

100g plain flour
100g rye flour
100g cold butter
1 tblsp poppy seeds
125ml buttermilk
Pinch of salt

Combine the flours in a bowl and add the salt.
Chop the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flours until the whole lot looks like fine breadcrumbs. Is there any other way in which this stage of pastry making is ever described?
Add the poppy seeds and stir to distribute them evenly.
Pour in the buttermilk and bring the mixture together to form a stiff dough.
Turn out on to a floured surface and roll into a rough rectangle, approximately 25cm wide by 50 cm long 

Brush one long edge with water to form a seal.
Place chicken mix in a long sausage shape along the pastry

and carefully roll up along the long edge, bringing the dry side down onto the moistened edge.

Cut into even pieces - I made 16, but you can make fewer, bigger rolls if you prefer.
Place the rolls on a heavy duty baking plate and put into the oven

Bake at 200º for 20 minutes.

While they cook, prepare the gravy.

Melt 50g butter in a saucepan and add 1 finely chopped field mushroom or a couple of button mushrooms.
Cook until the mushrooms are soft.
Add 20g plain flour and cook, stirring continuously for 2 minutes.
Add the mushroom stock that you prepared, Blue peter fashion, earlier and stir well to incorporate it and remove any limps.
You can add a good splash of sherry or vermouth at this stage if you wish and, if it's in season, a handful of chopped wild garlic.
Cook over a low heat for at least 5 minutes.

Serve alongside the chicken and stuffing rolls, with a big bowl of home made chips and a mountain of peas.
Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Friday, 23 March 2018

Slow cooked ox cheeks for cold blustery days

Mid way through March and there were 2" of snow in the back garden, a biting, lazy wind, icicles hanging from the gutters and skies uniform grey and pregnant with nascent flakes of new snow and their threat of drifts, blocked roads and closed schools.
The calendar may have told us Spring had arrived, but the elements coldly contradicted such confidence.
What better for such wintry days than unctuous, slow cooked, cheaper cuts of meat, bulked out with pulses and a gravy like liquid tar, black with treacle and stout?

If you can't get ox cheeks, use shin of beef instead, or even oxtail.

2 onions, ideally red, thickly sliced
500g ox cheek
100g carlin peas, soaked overnight and drained
I used the wonderful Hodmedods peas 
1 cinnamon stick
200ml stout - drink what's left in the can or bottle
150ml stock
1 tblsp black treacle
Salt and pepper

Put the cast iron bowl over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Fry the onions until soft, but not coloured and then lift out with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil as possible in the bowl.
Increase the heat and sear the ox cheek slices or cubed shin beef on all sides.

Add all the other ingredients, except the salt, pop on the lid and transfer tot he slow cooker base.
Cook on LOW for 10 hours.
Taste and add as much salt as tickles your tastebuds.

Perfect accompaniments include buttery mash or creamy polenta and the sunrise glow of a dish of buttered carrots,

Serves 4
Netherton Foundry Shropshire ©

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Imagination, talent and artistic ability

I have no artistic talent whatsoever, I cant even draw a credible stick man.  I can string a sentence together, but make no claims to be a "writer".  And as for music, well a passing ability on the recorder scarce makes up for the complete inability to hum a tuneful note.
All of which means that I stand in awe and admiration of anyone with the gift of imagination and the skill to translate their imaginings into some form of reality.

We, of course, have our own resident "creative genius", who can look at a piece of metal and devise a myriad uses.  This is the guy who came up with the a patented, functional, stylish and highly successful glass fryer and then devised the cast iron slow cooker.  His thoughts take shape on a piece of paper, gain form in wood and metal.  He looks at a pan and sees infinite variety, I look at a pan and see dinner.
He IS Netherton Foundry, his brain gave substance to each and every item in our range.
Whilst some of his ideas appear to come from nowhere, flashes of inspiration which stand or fall on their own merit, he also admits to the subconscious affect of years of studying and admiring the work of others, as well as a more conscious and deliberate design approach born of his admiration of a style, an artist, a movement.

Much of what is produced from cars to carpets, and everything we put in our homes, on our backs or in our handbags is derivative.  A single, beautifully conceived and highly original idea is the seed that grows a myriad hybrids, each of which carrying the gene of imagination on to another generation of ideas. "Imitation", as it is said, "is the sincerest form of flattery" and plagiarism and forgery aside, this is fundamentally true.  What greater compliment to an artist, that their work inspires that of others.  There are few wholly original ideas out there, but those with inherent merit will endure in their own right and through the body of work that ensues; think Picasso, Christian Dior, the Sex Pistols.  Of course, their brilliance will light the way for others to follow and their influence will find its way into our everyday lives.  Nowhere is this truer than the world of fashion, with the translation of haute couture designs into High Street basics the very "fabric" (sorry!) of the fashion industry.  

We have recently visited the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester to see and exhibition of dedicated to the work of Lucienne Day.
Hers may not be name recognised as widely as those mentioned above, but her work was truly original and startlingly so. 

 The exhibition may be small, but it is beautifully displayed, the long drops of fabric breathtaking in their vibrancy.
There was also a lovely sample of fabric, called Dawn Chorus, by Vanessa Arbuthnott, which demonstrated perfectly how themes can be translated to produce entirely new designs. 

Amidst the terrific fabrics and insightful photos was this tea towel, entitled Batterie de Cuisine which fascinated us as cookware makers, and I could almost hear the cogs turning in our creative genius's brain as he absorbed that pot bellied pan profile.

We would certainly recommend that you visit the exhibition if you are in the area and if not, find out if it's coming to a venue near you.
Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Sunday, 18 March 2018


Meatloaf recipes seem quintessentially American, like motherhood and apple pie.
Felicity Cloake wrote as much in the Guardian back in 2015 - Meatloaf is the quintessential taste of home for many Americans; like shepherd’s pie, its attraction lies in its familiarity. As Richard Ehrlich wrote in this paper: “In the US, meatloaf is a religion that unites people of all denominations, including atheism.”
It is a dish by which soccer moms judge one another and which every mid western diner features on its menu without fail.  Usually comprising little more than minced (ground) beef, breadcrumbs to bulk it out and ketchup for seasoning, most meatloaves are little more than a giant baked burger.
There is nothing wrong with that, of course.  Meatloaf, mash and gravy is up there with the best of the comfort foods.
But this one is a bit different, taking inspiration from a family favourite meatball recipe and playing around with some new flavours.  This one even comes with its own "gravy".

4 slices bread, crust removed and broken into crumbs
500g pork mince
200g chicken livers, minced or finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
150ml white wine
150ml stock
1 egg yolk
2 tblsp double cream

Thoroughly mix the pork, breadcrumbs, chicken lovers, fennel seeds and preserved lemon - get in there, use your hands.

Place the cast iron bowl of your slow cooker on the hob and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat over a medium heat and when the oil is hot, add the meat loaf mixing, shaping into a rough barrel shape.

Cook until the underside is browned and then carefully roll it over and brown the other side.  You are aiming for some nice caramelisation..
Pour in the stock and the wine and cook for 4 hours on the LOW setting.

When the meatloaf is cooked, lift it out on to a serving dish and keep warm.

Whisk the egg yolk into the cream and pour this into the casserole.  Increase the heat to the HIGH setting and cook the sauce for 10 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the meatloaf and serve.

Mashed potato or polenta would go well, as would an astringent vegetable such as spinach.  Alternatively go for our family favourite of a massive bowl of peas.
Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©