Netherton Foundry Shropshire

Netherton Foundry Shropshire
Classic cookware, made in England

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Another banana cake

There is a point at which the Netherton offspring will not touch a banana; they h ave to be at a certain "perfect" state before they will touch them, at which point they consume them like a plague of locusts sweeping through a cornfield.  But if my luck is running right, even they will be satiated before the last ones are eaten and I can hijack a couple for a cake.
There is a seemingly infinite variety to banana cake recipes and I rarely stick to the same one twice in a row.
This one is more of a dessert than a cake, and is stickily decadent and made more so by the addition of a generous splodge of clotted cream or better still, in my opinion, pistachio ice cream.

Pre heat the oven to 170ºC
Grease a 1lb loaf tin

120g soft butter
120g dark soft brown sugar
2 VERY ripe bananas
10g (1 dessertspoon) chocolate and hazelnut spread, you know the stuff I mean.
10g (1 dessertspoon) smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
140g wholemeal spelt flour.

Cream the butter, sugar, peanut butter and chocolate spread.  Mash the bananas to a ouree and beat into the butter mix along with the eggs.
Beat thoroughly - I have to admit a food processor or hand mixer are the best tools for th ejob, unless you are doing some serious "arm work" in place of a trip to the gym.
Fold in the flour and transfer the mixture tot he loaf tin.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for around 40 minutes.  Cover the top with foil or baking parchment (a used butter wrapper is ideal) if the top starts to brown too much before the cake is cooked through.

Turn out, while still warm on to a cooling rack.
Serve at room temperature.
Netherton Foundry Shropshire © 2018

Saturday, 7 July 2018

First Catch, by Thom Eagle: a review

This is not a recipe book, or rather it is A recipe book, setting out over the course of 226 pages, one recipe, which, by his own admission, Thom Eagle rarely cooks any more.
This is a cookery book, the art of cooking summed up succinctly.  To paraphrase - with the exception of deep frying, there are two universal methods of cooking anything; with and without water, introduce heat and wait until it's cooked.
The ideas and knowledge contained herein are distilled with the same care as the finest malt whisky, the results equally enjoyable to imbibe.  Curled up on the sofa, oblivious to the housework, I drank in every word.
Like the flashing signs as you enter a 30mph zone, this book is a reminder that speed isn't everything, sometimes you just need to slow down.  it is a counterpoint to the siren call of "ready in 15 minutes" school of cooking, this book requires the consideration and time that you should be paying to your food.

It is full of the most eloquent of phrases; in the chapter on fish and salt water, he talks of something swimming here, not from Australia, but from the Jurassic - the notion of swimming through time, as natural as swimming through space, adding a fourth dimension to the mysterious deep.

In the same chapter he admits his own limitations, with a generous acknowledgement of the wisdom of others: "I don't intend to lecture you on sustainable fish consumption........................I hardly know anything about it. I tend to leave it to our fish supplier."  My absolute favourite phrase from the entire book is in this chapter, when he refers to a "multitude of lithenesses of eels",  I can see them now (although I have to admit to cold shivers as I do so, recalling scenes from The Tin Drum)

As you reach further into the book, some reassurances emerge, things we can all relate to: cooking doesn't have to be about showing off, sometimes, most times simplicity will suffice.
Listen to Thom, learn to accept this, cook for pleasure, sleep better at night.

He also touches on intuition, something we seem to have lost along the way.  There is no universal rule for how long something will take to cook, there are too many variables.  Use your senses, not a stopwatch.

This is all about technique, understanding, respect for ingredients and the wisdom of others.  It is not about a quick fix to fill the gap between the school run and swimming lessons, but a better comprehension of methods and ingredients will help.

This book is imbued with wisdom; laced with love of ingredients and the process of cooking; generous with the sharing of passion and knowledge - a generosity almost tangible, that you instinctively know will season the food on your plate.
there is a thread as delicate and as vibrant as a strand of saffron that holds the writing together.

I can't wait to see what he offers us next.

First Catch by Thom Eagle

Friday, 15 June 2018

The annual cherry battle

From now until the tree is bare,we will be in daily battle with the pigeons for the harvest of our cherry tree.  I, being small, pick the ones on the lower branches. The pigeons, having wings, have free access to the top branches and I rely on #1 son's vertical superiority and tree climbing skills to gather all the fruit on the branches in between.

Some of the harvest will find its way into a bottle of vodka, some will end up in ice cream, a great deal will be eaten fresh and, if there is enough, there may be a pot of jam or a bag for the freezer.
Handfuls will be added to dishes sweet and savoury, such as this light and luscious dessert, which, incidentally happens to be be gluten free.

butter, melted
2 eggs
120g sugar
60g sour cream
60g ground almonds
100g stoned weight of fresh cherries

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC
Grease a cake tin and dust with flour, tipping out the excess (use rice flour if you want to make this gluten free).

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture leaves a ribbon trail when you lift out the whisk.
Add the melted butter and the sour cream and continue whisking.
Fold in the ground almonds and carefully pour the batter into the prepared tin.
place in the oven for 25 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave the tin in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Leave to cool to room temperature.
This is a fragile thing, delicate as a beeswing, so it's better to serve it straight from the tin, rather than attempting to turn it out.

If you are being posh, do this away from the table, dust each plate with icing sugar, put a couple of stoned, fresh cherries on the side and serve with creme fraiche and an ice cold tot of cherry vodka.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Monday, 28 May 2018

Oriental marinade

Enjoying this glorious weather?
We certainly are and have been using the chapa in the back garden as often as we can.

This is an oriental take on a barbecue and the marinade can be used with all sorts - we had tuna, sea bass and aubergine.  But you could also use this marinade with beef, pork, chicken, tofu and mushrooms, anything that will take up the marinade flavours.

1" fresh ginger, grated
1 tblsp runny honey
3 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp fish sauce ( you can omit this if you want to make a vegetarian/vegan selection)
2 tblsp sesame oil 
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together and add your chosen protein; the vegetables don't need to be marinaded, they can simply be dipped in the marinade just before cooking.
Leave to marinade for an hour or so.

Light the fire under the chapa and wait until the griddle plate is good and hot.
Place your marinaded food on the griddle and cook until nicely browned.  Turn over and cook on the other side - this should only take a few minutes.

We accompanied this with a salad of soba noodles, carrot and cucumber with a peanut and chilli dressing................and a very cold beer!
Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Sunday, 13 May 2018


A lot of fuss is made of the beautiful, pink, forced rhubarb from the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle.  More especially perhaps in these days of Instagram, its blush so photogenic, the colour "popping" on the screen.

But I think I prefer the thicker, greener stems of field grown rhubarb, with its astringency and bite.  Of course, it does need to be tempered with sugar, I defy anyone to tell me they like unsweetened rhubarb, even in savoury dishes.  It also combines joyfully with other flavours; rhubarb and strawberry crumble is a firm favourite here.

This cake is a variation of a much loved steamed sponge and is a light and luscious foil for the tart rhubarb topping.

2 long sticks of rhubarb
Sugar to taste
120g butter
120g golden syrup
2 eggs
120g self raising flour
1 tblsp ground ginger

Heat the oven to 180ºC
Cut the rhubarb into thumb sized pieces and place in an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle liberally with sugar, you will have to decide for yourself how much you need, I used a couple of tablespoons.
Place in the oven for about 20 minutes until it is soft, but still holds its shape.

Set aside while you make the cake mix.
Lightly grease a 22cm cake tin 
Beat the butter and golden syrup together until light in colour and thoroughly combined.
Beat in the eggs.  really beat in the eggs, then beat a bit more.
Fold in the flour and ground ginger.
Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin and level it.
Carefully place the cooked rhubarb on top of the cake mix and put the tin into the oven.
Cook for 20 - 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Serve at room temperature with cream or ice cream.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

SUGAR - a discussion

This is somewhat controversial, but I have to admit that I don't agree with the sugar tax, but the problem I am having is how to explain why without sounding privileged, patronising or plain nostalgic.
But please bear with me, you can have your say at the end.

I am not disputing the fact that we have a health crisis looming, if not already with us, created by a growing number of people who are overweight, with all its attendant problems. Sadly, I do not have a simple solution, but that I think is the essence of it; it's a complicated issue and the answers are not easy.
Yesterday I tried to buy a bottle of standard lemonade, it would have been easier to score a rock of crack!  And possibly cheaper, I resorted to an "artisan" drink from the farm shop.

To me, the key problems with the sugar tax on drinks are that it is only addressing one source of calories - diet Coke and a Big mac anyone; the alternatives to sugar bring their own concerns (I would not willingly consume aspartame and I certainly wouldn't advocate giving it to children); "diet"/sugar free drinks do nothing to re-educate the palate, nor do they encourage moderation - quite the opposite in fact,  - hey, no calories, I can drink as much of this fizzy pop as I like - the body doesn't cope well processing calorie free food and drink "Refined and processed sweeteners are unrelenting in their ability to entice you to overeat and yet, don’t provide satiation, satiety, or nourishment."
What's more, I think they taste nasty, but that's a purely personal preference.

In my (humble and non qualified) opinion, there is a huge educational hurdle to be tackled.  
Here's the nostalgia bit; when I was young, many, many moons ago fizzy drinks were the exception, the treat, rather than the norm.  Anyone else remember sitting in pub gardens with a bottle of pop and an packet of crisps?  But for huge numbers of people, a Coke or energy drink is their drink of choice and they are consuming several a day.  Cutting back on the sheer volume consumed would be a start.
The sugar free drinks are as sweet as their sugared alternatives, which means that palates are accustomed to these sweet tastes and this means that there is an expectation that sweets, chocolates, cakes, ice cream, yogurts and breakfast cereals will fulfil the same craving.
Don't get  me wrong, whilst I am more or less immune to the appeal of chocolate, I love an ice cream as much as anyone.  But my point is this, why tax sugary drinks, when so much else is laden with sugar?   can we find a way to make so called "adult" cereal appeal to a wider audience? 
As an experiment, I changed the cereals available at our annual Scout camp from Sugar Puffs and Frosties to Weetabix, Rice Krispies and Shreddies and hid the sugar bowl.  The only request for sugar was from an adult and I made them eat their breakfast round the back and out of sight!  The kids were excited to be camping, outdoors, hungry and didn't even notice the missing sugar bowl.  The chocolate biscuits were replaced with big bowls of fruit to which they could help themselves, without having to ask, to as much as they wanted.  No complaints, so it IS possible.

Somehow, and as I said, I don't know the answer,  we need to encourage moderation, subtly adjust the nation's palate, educate by stealth rather than the use of blunt instruments.  It's easy to go on about how things used to be, but that doesn't help us now.  But honestly, is a tax on lemonade really the answer?

The next post will be a recipe for cake.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Monday, 7 May 2018

Buttermilk and golden syrup pancakes

It's not every Bank Holiday that we get the chance to breakfast outdoors, but with the temperatures soaring to record breaking highs this weekend, we decided to make the most of the glorious weather and cook and eat as much as possible outdoors.
The chapa is one of our favourite items at home, because you can cook such a variety of thing on it, using very little wood for the fire and when normal weather service is resumed, you simply take off the legs and use it indoors on the hob and in the oven.

Ours is regularly used for Scotch pancakes and I use a recipe from a 1970s cook book.  But on Saturday morning I remembered half a tub of buttermilk in the fridge and came up with this variation.

120g self raising flour
1 egg
200ml buttermilk
50g butter
50g golden syrup

Place the butter and syrup in a pan and warm over a gentle heat until the butter melts.
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the egg and buttermilk.
Whisk gently until all the flour has been absorbed into the liquid ingredients.
Pour in the melted butter and syrup and whisk well.

Leave to stand while you light a fire under the chapa (or, in inclement weather, heat the griddle plate over a high heat on the stove.)

When the chapa/griddle is hot, wipe the surface with a thick piece of kitchen towel smeared with a generous dollop of butter.

Drop the mixture onto the hot plate, about a tablespoonful at a time.

Do not touch them for 2 minutes, until the underside is golden and the top starting to dry out.  If you poke them too soon, you will just end up with a gooey mess on your slice and on the chapa plate.
When the underside is cooked, flip them over and carry on cooking until that side is also golden.

Serve warm with Greek yogurt, jam, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, maple syrup or whatever else takes your fancy
I have been using the 15" chapa and griddle for these, but we also do a 12" version, which you can find in the Outdoor Section (chapa) and the Baking section (griddle) on our website.
You will also find the legs as an add on accessory if you already have a griddle plate 

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©