Netherton Foundry Shropshire

Netherton Foundry Shropshire
Classic cookware, made in England

Thursday, 30 August 2018

A hint of Autumn

There is a hint of Autumn in the air; gathering clouds, stiffening wind and a chill we have not experienced for longer than we can recall.  It has been a glorious summer, one we will speak of in years to come. It may be that we speak of it with fond nostalgia or it may be that we count it as year one of the long, hot summers and their consequences, which are an annual occurrence, arising from the impact of climate change.  We shall see.
Long though it may have been, the days are shortening and the summer is drawing to a close.  We haven't given up on the idea of more warm days and dazzling sunsets, but the laundry went on the line today more in hope than expectation
But Autumn is a bountiful season, the schools will re-open soon and there will be Harvest Festivals to celebrate what has been gathered in.
Our apple trees are laden and the first blowy blasts of autumn have littered the lawn with windfalls.
And the kitchen beckons.
There may yet be some salads, though I am erring towards the warm salads, but thoughts are turning to soups, stews and crumbles.

This is a frying pan full of buttery apples, fragrant with chopped sage and sweetened with maple syrup.  They are going to form the bottom layer of some sausage rolls, cooked on a heavy duty baking sheet to be eaten with roast potatoes, carrots and puddles of onion gravy.

A taste of the season, a taste of things to come..............

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Chocolate and cashew cookies

Some would call it heresy, but I have to admit to not liking Nutella.  I know that puts me in a minority and there are those who would suggest therapy, but it's just not my thing.  It makes me popular in the Netherton houselhold, as I can be relied on not to raid the offsprings' stash.
However, I recently discovered Tiptree chocolate spread and that's a whole new ballgame; richer, darker, less sweet.  For my money it knocks Nutella out of the park.
Last week, I mixed it with ultra strong espresso to sandwich a chocolate and coffee sponge and this week it has been added to a crumbly cookie mix.

120g butter
50g tiptree chocolate spread
30g tahini paste
70g sugar
1 egg
175g self raising flour
70g salted cashews, roughly chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 175ºC and leave a heavy duty baking sheet or griddle plate in the oven while you prepare the mixture.
If you have a range style cooker, use our specially designed baking sheet.
Cream together the butter, chocolate spread, tahini paste and sugar.
Beat in the egg.
Stir in the flour and cashews to create a stiff dough.
Carefully remove your baking sheet from the oven and place it on am heatproof surface.
Put walnut sized pieces of the dough on to the tray and replace in the oven.
bake for 15 minutes, until nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and slide onto a baking sheet to cool.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Eating the seasons, a simple supper

Homegrown tomatoes, is there any better taste in the world than a freshly picked tomato, still warm from the sun blushing its skin?

Some things can be dragged, half dead from the salad drawer and dresssed up into a perfectly respectable meal and we are all for that.  The Netherton household hates waste and very little food is ever thrown out here. Diana Henry, one of our favourite food writes recently wrote this piece about turning wilting fridge contents into delicious dinners for the Telegraph, which led me to ponder whether or not a fridge forage constitutes a recipe.  My conclusion is that once once you write down a collection of ingredients in a more coherent form than a shopping list, with the intention of recreating the dish, then it is indeed a recipe.
BUT some things are "of the momemt" and only truly work when the key ingredients are in abundance, those times of year when you and/or anyone else who sowed some seeds, more in hope than expectation in the Spring months, keep asking how to use up their resultant cornucopia.
Last year was a disaster, but this year a new greenhouse, conscientious watering and a fair share of good luck have paid off and our tomato plants are a rash of red spots of startling sweetness.  The prolonged period of hot weather, love it or loathe it, has intensified the flavour of the pot of supermarket basil, transplanted from the kitchen window sill to one of the sunniest spots in the garden; you wouldn't recognise it as the same plant.

For two people you will need:

150g linguine
around 300g cherry tomatoes, more or less depending on your harvest
2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
50g butter
A handful of basil, more or less depending on the intensity of your plant and your preference
A pinch of Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes (don't overdo it, the tomatoes are taking centre stage here)
A teaspoon of salt, because, dietary restrictions aside, you should never eat tomatoes without salt, unless you are picking them straight off the vine and can't wait to get back to the kitchen!

Put the oil and half the butter into a frying pan and place over a low heat until the butter foams.
Add the tomatoes, chilli and salt and cook slowly for 10 minutes.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, chuck in some salt and cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet

Keep cooking the tomatoes over a low heat until the pasta is ready.
Drain the pasta and add to the tomatoes.  Chuck in the basil and the rest of the butter and stir together.  Feel free to add more butter if you wish.
Once the pasta is coated with the buttery juices from the pan, tip the contents into two bowls and tuck in.

Please do not be tempted to rush this and flash fry your tomatoes, it's not worth the few minutes you will save and the flavour will be nowhere near as good.

Aside: I was asked if cooking tomatoes like this would damage the flax oil seasoning on the pan; it won't.  The oil and butter in the recipe not only flavour the tomatioes but protect the pan from their acidic juices.

If you want to  try and recreate this in the dead of winter with imported tomatoes, add some sugare and a good vinegar to the pan, up the chilli content and forget the out fo season basil.  it will be tasty, but it won't be the same.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Another banana cake

There is a point at which the Netherton offspring will not touch a banana; they have 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

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2018 ©

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 ©