Netherton Foundry Shropshire

Netherton Foundry Shropshire
Classic cookware, made in England

Monday, 13 November 2017

Butternut squash bread

Sometime around the turn of the millenium, an innocuous orange vegetable began to assert itself on the nation's consciousness and inveigled its way into every middle class vegetable rack in the land, often arriving unannounced in an organic veg box delivery.

Smaller than a pumpkin and better looking than a turnip, the butternut squash rapidly established itself in our affections.  Possessing all the starchy benefits of a potato, with the added bonus of counting as one of our 5-a-day, its versatility is one of its key attributes.
You can roast it, mash it, sauté it, turn it into soup, chuck it in a risotto/curry/stew or toss it atop a pizza and, while you decide, it will happily sit there for weeks on end and not go wrinkly, mouldy or flaccid.
Its sweetness and bold colour appeals to younger palates, making it a great baby food.
But it is also a great foil for stronger flavours such as the salty tang of blue cheese or smoked bacon, the pungent thwack of sage and chilli.  If you want a bit more texture, pair it with roasted hazelnuts or walnuts; in fact a warm salad of roasted squash, blue cheese, walnuts and a chilli oil dressing sounds like a recipe in its own right.  And boy, can it absorb a lot of butter!

If you start googling squash recipes, you may be gone for some time.  There are hundreds, probably thousands of them, so it was with some trepidation that I set out to create yet another one.
They have been arriving in our veg box in pairs for about 3 weeks now and I have to admit, the more they stacked up, the blanker my mind became - a sort of squash blindness.
It was only when I was researching potato scones that the thought occurred to me that I could incorporate these into a bread recipe.  I set to, more in hope than expectation, but was absolutely thrilled with the result.
These rolls were flavoursome and light in texture and, against the odds, lasted 3 days without detriment.

8 oz butternut squash (peeled weight)
12 oz strong white bread flour
1 tblsp rapeseed oil
½tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried yeast
5 fl oz of the squash cooking water

Cut the squash into chunks, place in a saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and simmer until soft. Drain the squash, reserving the coking liquid. Set the squash aside to drain completely and cool.
Mash or process the squash to a smooth purée.
Either place the purée with all the other ingredients into a food processor and mix thoroughly for 30 seconds or place them all in a bowl, bring together with a wooden spoon, then turn out on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
Cover with a damp tea towel or greased cling film and leave for 2 hours to double in size.
Turn out on to a floured surface and cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth roll and place on a baking sheet.  If, as I did, you are using one of our heavy duty baking sheets, that we developed with Val Stones, you don't even need to grease it.
Cover once more and leave until well risen.
Heat the oven to 200ºC and place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven.
Cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer the rolls to a cooling rack.

Delicious served warm, with lots of butter and a bowl of home made soup or a chunk of good cheese.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2017 ©

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Nose to Tail

You will have heard us go on (and on) about not wasting food, about our rejection of the throw away society, our ethos of buy well, buy once.  It is an undercurrent that runs through our daily lives, sometimes a studied and analytical approach to a particular issue, but mostly just the humdrum everyday acts of composting the tea leaves, putting the bean tin in the recycling box and only running the washing machine with a full load.

Any of you have bought something from us will know that we extend this to our packaging; we do not use polystyrene foam and plastic bags. You can re-use or recycle the paper and card in which your Netherton purchase arrives.  We are told that the slow cooker boxes make excellent cats' toys.

When Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  launched his War on Waste campaign, we signed up straightaway, his words an echo of our own mantra, his voice so much louder than ours.

Naturally, we try and minimise food waste and any leftovers here at Netherton towers get added to next day's menu in some guise or another.  The kids grew up on bot-bot soup; a Bit Of This-Bit Of That, any uneaten veg, pulses etc, whizzed up with some additional stock and frequently garnished with the grated rind of an old piece of Parmesan.
As a child, I grew up eating every bit of the animals slaughtered for our culinary pleasure.  Amongst the liver and onions and steak and kidney pies, we would savour brawn and pork pies made from long boiled pig's head (to be honest the reek of boiled pig's head resides in the darker, murkier recesses of my childhood memories, even though the end result was delicious), marrow bone on toast, boiled and pressed ox tongue and hearts, both lamb and ox.
In the late seventies, I discovered the delights of lambs' tongues and chicken livers, a taste of luxury and exoticism, attainable on a student grant.

In more recent times, these cheaper, less "sexy" cuts of meat have become harder to come by. With the rise of British gastronomy, the homely and earthy gave way to a different approach, mostly ludicrously epitomised at the height of the nouvelle cuisine wave, whose jus spattered breakers broke across the large white plates of the London cognoscenti.  In an era of excesses, nouvelle cuisine came to symbolise the absurdity of it all.  Five peas and a smear of purée being the Emperor's new clothes made from vegetable matter.

The financial crash, which reverberates to this day, put paid to that particular fad.  Simultaneously, there was a growing awareness of our impact on the planet and a new perspective on all aspects of our lives.

From within this new wave of thinking emerged Fergus Henderson, one of the leading proponents of Nose to Tail eating.  

He showed us what our parents and grandparents had known all along, summed up in his own words:  It would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet.

To be honest, it's not always easy to get hold of some offal, you certainly won't find it on the smaller supermarket shelves and not all butchers will stock it either.  We come round to the Catch22 position of their not stocking it because there is "no demand" and customers not asking for it because they know they won't have it.
No doubt a lot of the offal by products from the abattoirs go to the animal food processing plants and I have it on good authority that hearts are used to make cheap mince "redder".  Equally I suspect that a lot of these organs are simply  thrown away.

Which brings us to this recipe; stuffed lambs' hearts, gently braised in the slow cooker to bring out their rich flavour and to reduce them to tenderness.
If you can get hold of them, these hearts are amazingly good value at about 50p each and cooking them in the slow cooker is both time and energy efficient, so you can feel justifiably smug when you serve these.

4 lambs hearts
1 leek
100g breadcrumbs
4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon oil, we use Bennett and Dunn rapeseed oil
250ml stock
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
Salt and pepper

Trim any excess fat from the heart and any residual sinews.
Finely chop the white part of the leek and put into a mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs, rosemary, and tomatoes. Stir well and bind together with the beaten egg.

Stuff this mixture equally into the cavities of the hearts; don't worry if you have some left over. Secure the tops of the heart parcels with cocktail sticks.
Slice the green part of the leek and set aside.
Place the slow cooker casserole on the hob and add the oil.  Warm over a medium heat and then add the hearts.  Brown on all sides.
Transfer the casserole to the slow cooker heater base and add the stock, jelly, green leek and any remaining stuffing mix.  Pour in the stock and season.  You may want to add only the pepper at this stage and check for saltiness when it's cooked, this will depend to a large extent on your stock.
Put on the lid and cook on the HIGH setting for 5 - 6 hours or on LOW for 8 hours.
Serve with mashed potato or sloppy polenta and a leafy green vegetable, such as Savoy cabboabge, spinach or cavolo nero

Netherton Foundry Shropshire  ©

Monday, 23 October 2017

Apple and ginger cake

There is already a recipe for Ginger Apple Topsy, way back when, on this blog, so my love of this particular combination is already on record.
This recipe however, will work just as well without the ginger, if you are not a fan.

When Storm Brian had blasted his way through our apple trees, I collected all the windfalls and, as many of them were somewhat bruised by their encounter with bully Brian, I needed to use them up quite quickly.
A significant number of them were simply washed and chopped and thrown into my largest pan, covered with water and simmered until really soft.
I then passed the whole sloppy panful through a cheesecloth and we enjoyed some deliciously fresh and fruity juice, leaving  behind a bowl full of apple pulp, along with some disconnected skins.
Normally, I would push this through a sieve, collecting any pips, cores and skins and creating the smoothest of smooth apple smoothiness... ie purée, not unlike Heinz baby food to be honest.
On this occasion, I didn't bother. I simply discarded any pips and blitzed the skin during the cake mixing process.  HOWEVER, if you are planning on making this cake by hand, rather than in a processor, I strongly recommend some sieve action or a quick blitz with a stick blender before you use the fruit pulp.

120g butter
120g brown sugar
120g apple pulp or purée
25g crystallised ginger, optional
1 dessertspoon golden syrup
2 eggs
120g rye flour

Pre-heat the oven to 175ºC
Chop the crystallised ginger into pretty small pieces and put into a food processor with the butter, brown sugar and syrup.  Mix until much lighter in colour and thoroughly well blended.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the flour and process until just incorporated into the mix - do not over beat at this stage.
Grease a 9" Savarin ring and dust with flour.  Tip out any excess.
Spoon the mixture into the ring and spread out evenly.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.n  the cake is ready when it springs back to the touch or a skewer inserted into the centre of the mix comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
We ate this "au naturel", but I reckon that a drizzle of lemon glacé icing might make a nice finishing touch, if you're showing off.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2017 ©

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Launching our new baking sheet

Beetroot scones

At the Ludlow Food Festival in September (2017), we met up again with Val Stones, a star of the 2016 Great British Bake off series and well on her way to becoming a national treasure.
Val has more energy than most hyperactive 5 year olds and as well as all her fantastic baking, she devotes a great deal of time to charity fund raising.  As I write this, she has just come back from walking an arduous section of the Great Wall of China in aid of NSPCC and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

She posted some wonderful clips on her Instagram feed, please take the time to go and have a look.

But back to Ludlow.... we had a chat about a product that Val wanted and couldn't find; a decent, heavy duty baking sheet with a sensible lip at the front to help lift it our of the oven.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, our creative genius knocked up a sketch, confirmed that it was what she had in mind and hey presto, a new product is added to the range.
The prototype went to Val, after a brief sojourn in the Netherton kitchen to put it to the test.


I made a batch of shortbread biscuits, which lasted as long as snowfall in summer and Val did a more rigorous like for like test, baking scones on her old baking sheet and her new Netherton one.  you can see her results on Instagram.

Delighted to report that the Netherton baking sheet passed with flying colours - send the creative genius to the top of the class and give him a gold star.

The heavy duty baking sheet is now in production and available to buy on the website
What's more, for every one sold £2.00 will be donated to the MS Society, £1.00 by us and £1.00 by Val.

So what better excuse to spend a wet and windy Saturday in a warm kitchen, creating lovely new baking recipes for our lovely new product.

Here's the first one.

8 oz self raising flour
2 oz butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp celery salt
1 medium size cooked beetroot, peeled and grated
1 tblsp natural yogurt
Milk - approx 2 tblsp.

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC 
Place the baking tray in the oven to warm - this is a trick I learned from Val.  If the tray is warm when you put the scones on to it, they start to rise straight away and you get a great bake.

Put the flour, butter, salt, celery salt, caraway seeds and beetroot in a food processor and mix until it all resemble pink breadcrumbs.  Alternatively, put all those ingredients, except the beetroot into a large bowl and rub the fat into the flour until you reach the same stage, then stir in the beetroot.

Add the yogurt and just enough milk to bring it together into a stiff dough.

Roll out on a floured surface to around ½" thick and cut into 9 or 12 scones, dependent on the size of your cutter.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the scones directly on to it - no need to grease or line it.
Pop them back in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Take them out of the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve warm.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2017  ©

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Middle Eastern influences

Dates seem to fall into the Marmite category - you either love them or hate them, few people can take or leave them.
OH is particularly fond of them and we can always rely on his mother to keep us stocked up with these sticky delights.

They are great for snacking on, although I am not so thrilled that sticky fingerprints remain very much a thing in our house, despite there no longer being any toddlers around.

But they offer so much more potential than simply a biscuit substitute.
Much loved throughout the Middle East, dates find their way into a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes and, closer to home, are an integral part of a true sticky toffee pudding.

This tart brings together a number of Middle Eastern flavours and textures into a tart (galette?) which can either be eaten as a dessert, with Greek yogurt, or simply with a cup of strong, black coffee.

150g self raising flour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg

Chop the butter into small cubes and add to the flour and icing sugar.  You can either pulse this mixture in a food processor or rub the butter into the flour by hand until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and just enough milk to bring the whole mix together into a stiff dough.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour

200g chopped dates, soaked for 20 minutes in just enough boiling water to cover and then blitzed to a coarse purée
100g chopped walnuts
2 level dessertspoons tahini
2 level dessertspoons set honey
Splash of orange blossom water
2 tsp sesame seeds
A little melted butter

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the date purée, walnuts, tahini, honey and orange blossom water.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out into a circle approximately 32 cm in diameter.
Lay the pastry onto a baking tray, if you are using one of ours, you will not need to grease it.
Use the 12" serving and baking tray, as shown below, one of the griddle plates or the heavy duty baking sheet we designed with Val Stones, star of the Great British Bake Off 2016.
And make a special note - every time we sell one of these baking sheets, we will donate £2 to the MS Society, Val's designated charity.

Spread the date filling over the pastry to within 2.5cm from the outer edge.

Fold in the outer edge of the pastry, but leave some of the filling exposed.
Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the exposed filling. Brush the pastry with melted butter and scatter on a generous sprinkling of caster sugar.
Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Serve at room temperature.

Netherton Foundry 2017 ©

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The voluptuousness of figs

Indifference is not a word you can associate with a fig. The take it or leave crowd are not at home to receive this luscious offering, it's more of a Marmite than a national treasure.  We are divided in the Netherton household; one half of us love them and the other half would rather they didn't exist.

From the smooth, purple suede-like skin to the sensual magenta flesh there is something utterly shameless about a fig.
Favouring many partners, from Parma ham, to lamb, blue cheese and goat's cheese, the fig is truly a slut of a fruit.

This recipe, designed to show off our blini pans and made in small quantities for the fig lovers here, pairs them with honey, thyme and walnuts, with a splash of red wine to add to the wantoness.

4 figs
1 tablespoon runny honey
4 small sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC
Make a cross cut in the figs, without going through to the base.
Place the figs in a 1lb loaf tin or an oven proof dish.  Place a sprig of thyme in the centre of each fig, drizzle over the honey and add the red wine to the tin.
Place in the oven and roast the figs for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside...... leave the oven switched on.

2oz butter
2oz sugar
2oz self raising flour
A handful of walnuts
1 egg
Grated zest of half an orange

Cream the butter, sugar and orange zest together until very little in colour.
Place a tablespoon of the flour into a mortar, add the walnuts and grind coarsely.
Beat the egg into the creamed butter mix and then fold in the flour and the crushed walnuts.

Lightly grease 2 blini pans -  if you haven't got blini pans, use Yorkshire pudding trays.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the pans.  Gently press 2 of the roasted figs into each tin and puir over the gooey wine syrup from the roasting tin.  You can scatter on some chopped walnuts and a few thyme leaves if you wish.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
Leave to cool for around 10 minutes,then carefully remove from the pans, using a palette knife and place them on a cooling rack.  
Serve at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2017 ©

Sunday, 1 October 2017


Having been held responsible for the downfall of womankind, when Eve tempted Adam; hailed as the first superfood, an apple a day keeps the doctor away;  the ultimate scholarly bribe, an apple for the teacher and despite not being a native to these shores, the apple has a long and cherished place in our culture and is an intriguing indicator of how our relationship with food evolves.

The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent has over 2000 cultivars of fruit trees, many of which the majority of us will never have heard of, seen, let alone tasted.
There are cookers, eating apples and cider apples, each with their own characteristics and uses.  We have 3 old apple trees in the garden and I think they are Howgate Wonders, but I can't honestly say I am 100% sure of that.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the choice of apple available to the consumer shrank and shrank and those of you of a certain age will remember when English varieties were completely overwhelmed by the demand for the insipid French Golden Delicious apples.  The supermarkets' desire for uniform, pristine fruits led to a triumph of appearance over taste and our senses became dulled as a consequence.
Fortunately we have seen a revival in interest in flavour over looks and a genuine desire to protect, preserve and promote old varieties.  
Our stockist in Dulwich, Franklins Farm Shop has the best selection of apple varieties I have ever seen on sale in one place.  Well worth a visit if you are in that part of London, a taste of the countryside in town.
If you want a fascinating read about how a new/old variety of apple was found in a hedgerow not far from us, please take a look at this lovely read from a fascinating man, Ivan Rendall, who sadly died last year.  The Wychenford Wonder lives on in the hedgerow.

So many apples, so many recipes. Just a quick reference to my recently inherited copy of Mrs Beeton came up with several pages of recipes, including 3 for apple water and there have been countless recipes written since.  What's more it is the perfect partner for blackberries, plums, oranges, dried fruit, almonds, pork, sausages, cheese .....................

I have concluded that it is impossible to come up with a completely new recipe using apples, for me at least.
And what I am going to share with you is not even a recipe, as I haven't weighed out the ingredients, so you, clever reader, will just have to take this as it is intended; an inspiration to make your apple pies a bit differently once in a while.

Cook 2 large cooking apples in just enough water to stop them burning and carefully dry off as much liquid as you can.  You want a smooth puree.
Make enough sweet pastry to line a 10" prospector pan or a deep pie dish;  I use 8 ounces of flour, 4 ounces of butter, 2 ounces of icing sugar, 1 egg yolk (you will be using the white for the filling) and enough cold water to bind it together.
Any leftovers can be rolled out and baked as biscuits, then iced when cold.

Grease the prospector pan and line it with around ⅔ of the pastry and set the rest aside.
Blind bake for about 10 minutes at 180ºC and then remove from the oven.  Allow to cool and then spread the base with a thin layer of raspberry or damson jam.
Sprinkle over a thick layer of ground almonds.
Whisk the egg white with 2 ounces of sugar until it forms soft peaks.  Carefully fold this into your apple puree and spread this over the almonds.
Roll out the remaining ⅓ of the pastry and carefully lay this over the apple meringue mix.  Seal the edges.
Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes.
Serve at room temperature.

Netherton Foundry Shropshire 2017 ©