Dairy Free Indian Curry Base

This recipe creates the base for most of my “gravy” based curry dishes, it’s easy to make and freezes very well for pulling out at a moment’s notice when you’ve had a long day at work and fancy a quick but tasty curry.

Print Recipe
Dairy Free Indian Curry Base
This recipe creates the base for most of my "gravy" based curry dishes, it's easy to make and freezes very well for pulling out at a moment's notice when you've had a long day at work and fancy a quick but tasty curry.
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
  1. Boil the water in a kettle
  2. Chop the onions up fairly coarsely
  3. Put all the ingredients except the tomatoes into a big pan with the water, bring to the boil and then turn down the heat so that the base is just simmering, if you're worried about it splashing/spitting then cover with a lid. Let it simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and leave the pan to cool for about 30 minutes.
  6. Blend it all up with a hand blender.
  7. Empty out into a suitable container, clean the pan and then tip the base back into the pan and simmer for about an hour or until all of the oil has started to rise to the surface.
  8. Turn off the heat, mix everything up again with a big spoon, let it cool and then use straight away or freeze it in pour and store bags.

Making a lobster pot with willow using traditional methods

I’ve been working a few lobster pots for a couple of years now to catch lobsters to cook for ourselves and friends and always wanted to make my own pots.

Andrea bought me a course with a local fisherman in Gweek for Christmas to learn how to make them.

My soft hands struggled a bit as they’re more used to a keyboard than working willow but learning from an expert craftsman was a real joy and in no time I’d grasped the basics and had my first pot completed with a lot of David’s help.

Early stages of the build with the mobile jig

The willow is sourced locally on The Lizard just a few miles away from home although some of the thin and stronger gold whithies come from Somerset.

I have a bit of work to do making some tools and a jig and will be making the rest of my pots in the next few weeks, ready to start fishing early in the new season.

One of the toughest bits, the cross over stitch
More tough work on the hands
Almost there, the pot bottom being woven

As most of my time is spent with new technology and computers, it was great to get to grips with some ancient crafts, there’s only a small handful of people making pots using this method and they’re not getting any younger, hopefully I’ll be able to help keep the craft alive for years to come and I’m really looking forward to working them in our local waters.

I’ve yet to weight the pot and rig it but I’ll cover that in a blog later in the year.

Simple Salt Brine calculation

Making a simple brine is an essential step but it’s often difficult to find the ratio of salt and water required.

Here’s my simple salt/water brine calculator.
(based on 1 litre of water)

Just multiply by the amount of water you use – i.e. for two litres of water, multiply the amount of salt required by 2

ConcentrationSalt Required

Home Smoked Kippered Herring (Kippers!)

My second favourite way to eat fish for breakfast (a close second to Smoked Haddock and poached egg)

Sadly although I do a lot of fishing, we rarely catch decent sized Herring and therefore I’m always on the lookout for them in local fishmongers, recently I’ve found a good supply of local (Cornish) Herring in a supermarket in Falmouth.

I really don’t like buying kippers as I’m never 100% sure of the method used to smoke them and they’re so easy to do yourself and taste fantastic.

I start by buying the most fresh fish I can find, always whole fish, at the moment they’re about £5 per Kg.

When I get the fish home, I butterfly them as soon as possible.

My filleting skills are OK but I’m no pro, I tend to use a strong pair of scissors to cut through the top of the mouth through the top of the head and then use a sharp filleting knife to cut right down one side without cutting into the belly.

Once the cut is done (I prefer the traditional method of leaving the head on), unfold the fish to reveal the guts and gills, pull both out.

Butterflied Herring

I do them all in one go and keep the freshly cut fish in a bowl and then pull out the innards all together and rinse all the fish.

Prepare a simple 70% brine solution (232g of PDV salt to 1 litre of water) by mixing cold water and the salt – I prefer PDV salt for most curing I do as it is cheap (about £15 for a 25Kg sack delivered from Amazon).

Depending on the number of fish and amount of brine, either place all the fish in the brine in a bowl or in a strong food grade polythene bag.

Keep the fish in the brine for an hour and a half, keep in the fridge during the brining.

Once the brining has finished, pour away the liquid and wrap the fish in towels and put back in the fridge over night (don’t wash off the brine).

The next day, first thing in the morning, I prepare the smoke house (you can do this in a BBQ with a cold smoke generator). Ideally you want to cold smoke the fish for 24 hours.

Herring hanging in the smokehouse next to some Salmon

I hang the fish on the wire rack in the smoker and pass a wooden skewer through the gills to hang them vertically which helps the moisture drain out.

Choice of wood for smoking is personal preference and the traditional method is 100% Oak but I usually make a blend of 70% Oak, 20% Cherry and 10% Beech.

Keep the smoker going for 24 hours if you can or if you can’t keep it going over night then a bit of gap in between smoking won’t cause you a problem.

Once the fish is smoked the kippers are ready! You probably won’t be able to resist eating one immediately but the flavour develops if you can leave them a few days.

I tend to vac pac them straight out of the smoker to keep me from getting into trouble and smoking the whole house out, you can pop them in the freezer then too and they stay in better condition if vac packed.

There’s not much that can go wrong and you’ll end up with the best kippers you’ve ever tasted at a fraction of the price you’d pay for commercially produced kippers.

Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!

Catching, Preparing and Cooking Squid

I love eating squid, but only when it’s spankingly fresh!

In Cornwall this year we’ve been very lucky with the season starting in October and lasting well into the New Year.

Catching squid is fairly easy when there’s squid in the bay, you only need some basic tackle.

Although it is possible to catch squid from the shore, it’s more reliable to catch them from a boat even though the marks that we fish are just a few hundred yards off shore.

I’m lucky enough to have access to several boats in addition to our own, if you’re in Cornwall then I recommend Anglo Dawn in Falmouth.

Andy (Skipper of Anglo Dawn) with a brace of squid

If you’re onboard a charter boat then the skipper will tell you everything you need to know.

I use my small slow pitch jigging rod and a fancy reel but you can fish with the cheapest of rods and reels.

The tackle couldn’t be more simple, just a 3oz weight on the bottom and two or three squid jigs (the cheap ones from Trago do the job). I prefer to use very small pink jigs that I get when on holiday in France and Italy, you can get them over there in most tackle shops and from Decathlon.

Some people like the ones with built in flashing LEDs and if the water is a bit murky then tie on a starlite, whatever you do you don’t need any expensive gear to catch fish.

The technique is also simple, drop the gear to the bottom, wind up a few turns and then put the rod in the rest and let it fish itself, you’ll soon know when you’ve got a squid on as the rod tip will pull down and throb, pick up the rod, reel in the squid slowly and net them with a landing net, just watch out for a squirt of ink!

Pop the squid in a bucket and get your gear back down there as when they’re biting things can go crazy.

Cleaning and preparing is very easy, once you’re home, pop them in the sink and reach up into the mantle and pull all the guts and tentacles out

You’ll find a quill down one side, pull that out and discard

Cut off the tentacles just below the eyes and make sure you remove the beak.

I like to take the out skin off the main body and one side of the wings.

Cut the squid up into rings or strips and separate the tentacles into twos or threes.

Give everything a good wrinse and then pop all the squid into a large polythene bag, add some plain flour, plenty of black or szechuan pepper and a good handful of sea salt.

Close the bag and give it a good shake so that all the squid is coated, leave it to rest for 20 minutes or so, this gives the flour time to go a bit soggy.

Fill a pan with extra virgin olive oil to about 1-2 inches deep and heat until just before the oil starts to smoke.

Put the squid in in batches and fry both sides for just a minute or so, then remove and put on kitchen towel whilst you do the rest.

If the squids are a bit on the large size, score each side with a knife, it doesn’t matter if you accidentally cut through. This will make the squid less chewy.

Shallow fried salt and pepper squid with roast potatoes and salad


Magret de Canard Fumé (Easy Home Cured and Smoked Duck Breast)

This is my favourite way to eat duck breast, we discovered it in the Dordogne region of France where we tried several different producers.

The duck is best to eat a few days after the cold smoking and is great with crusty bread very finely sliced with a carpaccio knife.

At home we get our duck from the local butcher or the Cornish Duck Company at farmers’ markets in Helston.

Print Recipe
Magret de Canard Fumé (Easy Home Cured and Smoked Duck Breast)
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 weeks
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 weeks
  1. Start with the very best duck breast you can get and trim the sinew off, give it a little massage to get rid of any blood still in the arteries, make sure it's well plucked and cut away any bits of flesh that are bloody. I usually detach the bits of loose skin which makes a nice duck jerky to snack on when slicing the main breast for friends.
  2. Mix the salt and sugar together in a plastic food box, add the duck and massage the salt/sugar mix into the flesh and the skin, ensuring you get into all the nooks and crannies.
  3. Pour in the molasses and make sure the breasts get a good covering of it, I often use a fork to spread it around. Put the lid on the box and put it in the fridge for 3-5 days (longer if you prefer it more cured, less time if you like it a little more rare) Turn the breasts over every day but leave the liquor in the box.
  4. Once you're happy that the breasts have been cured enough for you, take them out of the fridge and wash all the cure off and out of the box, pat dry the breasts and wrap tightly in cheese cloth or an old tea towel and put back in the fridge uncovered to dry for upto a week.
  5. At this stage the duck is ready to eat if you don't want to smoke it.
  6. If you prefer it smoked (I think it makes all the difference) then give it a cold smoke over a fruit wood for 4 hours.
  7. I built my own smokehouse which is a bit flamboyant but I smoke a lot of fish and meat. If you don't have a smoke house then a cold smoke generator and a kettle BBQ is all you need - I have used a ProQ smoker for many years and still sometimes use it in the smoke house - See https://www.proqsmokers.com/cold-smokers In my opinion Cherry Wood is the best for smoking duck but you could use Oak, Apple, Beech or whatever you have. Once you've smoked the duck, put it back in the fridge - it will make the fridge a bit smokey but wrap it well in a tea towel again and then just take it out and slice as you like.
  8. It's best to give it a few days if you can resist temptation before devouring, it should be OK for a month or more in the fridge but if I think I'm going to have it around for a while I tend to vac pac it and that also keeps the smokiness in.

Alternative Full English Cooked Breakfast without pork, dairy (cow milk) and tomatoes

Full English Cooked Breakfast without pork, dairy (cow milk) and tomatoes

I love a good fry up but now that I understand that I am intolerant to cows’ milk and pork, I have started a journey to find the best alternative breakfast I can, there’s still a little refinement needed and I’m going to experiment with making our own sausages rather than buy from the supermarket.

I’ve been working on making the best cow milk alternative for coffee and have almost got the recipe and method nailed for Oat Milk.

Here’s a breakdown of the key components

Oat Milk Latte

Chicken Sausages from Richmond
Poached Eggs from St Ewe
Sourdough Bread from Baker Tom

For the coffee, I prefer to grind my own beans from Origin Coffee immediately before brewing.

Oat Milk
There’s lots of choice now in the supermarkets for this but the quality, price and availability in our supermarkets nearby really varies so I decided to make my own.

After a lot of trial and not too much error, this is my current recipe:-
– 1 cup of organic rolled oats, rinsed in filtered cold water
– 4 cups of filtered cold water
– 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence
– 1 tablespoon of runny honey
– 1/4 teaspoon of Cornish Sea Salt

Put all the ingredients in a Nutribullet and blend for exactly 30 seconds
Leave the blended milk in the container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Take out of the fridge, shake it well and filter through cheese cloth into a jug, pour into a milk bottle and put it back in the fridge.
Before using the milk, give it a good shake as there’s no nasty stabilisers or anything like that to keep the solids in suspension.

My biggest discovery has been Goat Butter from St Helen’s Farm, it really tastes no different to cow milk butter, I still don’t use much of it but it is great for spreading on toast or, as I did this morning, use in the frying pan for frying the mushrooms and sausages.

Quite simple I know but finding the ingredients and putting them together took a little thought, it’s now just as easy as cooking any other fry up, in-fact this morning in another pan, I cooked pork sausages, bacon and tomato for Andrea.

Next steps are to refine the oat milk filtering process, develop a great recipe for homemade sausages (chicken or beef) and add a hash brown recipe to the dish.


Intolerant to Cows’ Milk, Cream and Butter

In early 2018 I started to suffer from really bad acid reflux and indigestion, it took me almost the entire year to get to the bottom of the cause which was finally confirmed in the early hours of the morning of 1st January 2019.

The start of 2018 was a bit stressful with some issues with family and a surprise tax bill so initially I thought it may be related to that.

I went to see my GP to check that it wasn’t related to anything serious like my heart or lungs, this was soon confirmed but the cause was not found.

The doctor prescribed Omeprazole and told me to continue taking Gaviscon if I had any more problems. Neither of these drugs did the job and throughout the first quarter of the year, the condition stayed the same and I was still suffering.

I started to speak to a few friends who had similar symptoms and went back to the doctor who then prescribed Lansoprazole and Ranitidine, again this made no difference.

I kept going back to the doctor and eventually had a gastroscopy to check from the inside, again, nothing other than slight gastritis.

As the year went on I still wasn’t getting any closer so tried making and fermenting some foods and tried several pro-biotics, again without any improvement.

Getting to the end of my tether and having spoken to a few more friends I asked the doctor to book me in for an ultrasound to check for gall stones, everything came through clear other than having the quite common issue of a fatty liver.

It was at this point that I started to cut out fatty foods and cream and went onto skimmed milk and cut down on spirits and drank a little less. After a few days I saw an improvement and the indigestion got a little better.

By chance a friend who had been having some issues with food intolerance told me that she’d been to see a lady nearby who carries out intolerance testing and she had identified a few foods that were causing my friend issues. I booked in to see her in late November.

I’d never considered this type of test before as there’s little positive information online about it but it had worked for my friend and I thought it might help me.

The intolerance test revealed an intolerance to pork, cows’ milk, tomatoes, almonds and white wine. Keen to find anything to help at this stage, I cut out all of the above for the whole of December 2018.

As November and December are really busy months for us at work, I didn’t feel much better as I was tired and grumpy as usual at that time of year but I hadn’t experienced any indigestion or acid throughout the whole month.

Our local pubs, cafes and restaurants have been great in finding alternatives to dairy products for me so I didn’t suffer much or feel that limited but on New Year’s Eve I decided to have profiteroles and with them some Chantilly cream and buttery chocolate sauce at about 9pm. All seemed OK as we saw in the new year but I was woken with really bad acid reflux at about 4am. It was at this point that the whole year of experimenting and costly examinations had come to a definite conclusion, I am intolerant to cows’ milk and butter.

I always look back on the previous year and plan for the New Year and I never have any regrets on any decisions I’ve made but given the time again I would have had an intolerance test at the very beginning, it cost me £40 and was painless and was carried out in Redruth, a town nearby to me and I got the results there and then, within 30 minutes!

There’s lots of information about drugs and medically approved cures out there but very little about this simple test which only aims to suggest what you are intolerant to and recommends excluding those foods for a month before gradually reintroducing them.

I have made the decision to continue to exclude cow’s milk and pork for the foreseeable future, luckily we’re at a point in time where there are many alternatives to cows’ milk becoming available and some cheap and easy to make alternatives for drinking and eating at home too.

I hope my experience helps you if you’re suffering from a similar condition, I’d always suggest visiting a doctor first incase it’s something serious but I’d recommend getting an intolerance test carried out as soon as you can too, just in case this is something that could help you sooner than it took for me to find out what was wrong. It’s worth mentioning that no medical professionals recommend this to me yet it was that one simple test that saved me from continued discomfort.

Thank you to all my friends and family that helped and supported me in finding a resolution to this irritating condition.