31 July 2013

Sri Lankan Tea Smoked Trout Pate

So whilst in Sri Lanka I set myself a challenge- a challenge that seemed way easier when on holiday, free from doubt and enthused by a tour round a Sri Lankan tea plantation.
The challenge = to tea smoke my own trout!
This involves dry smoking the fish over a high heat in a sealed metal container to create smoke until the fish is delicately flavoured and flakes straight off the bone.
This challenge proved a LOT harder when I finally got round to it at home.
Firstly I'd neglected how I was going to construct this homemade DIY structure and secondly- the weather was doing me no favours and so I had to smoke the fish indoors- leaving the kitchen smelling of burnt tea for quite a few days after!
After a tour round one of the famous Sri Lankan tea plantations, I bought one of their strongest flavoured loose leaf tea blends.
Tea is a major export in Sri Lanka, with roughly 670 tea factories and weekly auctions held in the capital, Colombo.
UVA Halpawatte Tea Factory is situated in the hills of Ella surrounded by beautiful landscaped tea plantations where the tea pickers work every day to pick the fresh tea leaves.

Photos taken by my talented friend, Hannah Matthews

We also walked up to Lipton Seat- known to be Sir Thomas Lipton's (the creator of the Lipton tea brand)favourite look out post.

Whilst travelling the country, we also got to sample some of the other delicious Sri Lankan food. We mainly lived off a diet of curry for lunch and supper- which can be a little hard to handle! But the curries here are so different from the curries at home- they are not so rich and thick but instead consist of curried vegetables, delicious fried rice accompanied by dahl lentils and various pickles. 
One of the staple foods in Sri Lanka is the roti- a sort of flatbread, made fresh and usually filled with a spicy mix of meat, egg and vegetables. 

Here you can see the process of roti making

Having visited the tea factory, I came away knowing a lot more about the tea I drink:
The tea produced at this factory is defined by four qualities:

1. Colour
2. Flavour
3. Quality
4. Strength

They use four main processes to transform this pure tea including drying, grinding, adding oxygen and separating the tea into the different varieties. The strongest tea was produced by the finest grains and the bigger the loose leaf tea, the weaker and paler the cup of tea.
Unfortuntaly we weren't allowed to take any photos inside the actual factory rooms but I came away with a beautiful wooden box full of loose leaf tea.
And so I decided, what better way to use the tea than to infuse its deep flavours into a fish pate?!
I'd seen the Baker Brothers do a very rustic tea smoked trout recipe on their TV show and so decided to give it a go.

Mine was a bit more DIY!- I propped my grill stand up with cookie cutters!

To make your pate:


50g caster sugar
50g sea salt
50g soft brown sugar
150g rice
50g loose leaf tea
Drizzle of olive oil
2 rainbow trout
Salt and black pepper

100g creme fraiche
A good pinch of paprika
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh chives, dill and parsley- finely chopped
1tbsp horseradish
Salt and pepper

Recipe source: http://scrapbook.channel4.com/bookmarkBar/514842b9e4b0f57ba738c122

To tea-smoke your trout:

Prepare the trout by washing them thoroughly and then lay them on a tray and rub over the caster sugar and salt- covering the whole fish. Then set aside for 30 minutes in order to firm up the flesh. 

In the meantime, construct your smoking apparatus. I used a big roasting tin that I lined with tin foil. Then measure out the brown sugar, rice and loose leaf tea and mix together in the bottom of the tin. 

Then prop up a wire rack for the fish to sit on. I used cookie cutters to ensure my wire rack was suspended over the tin!
Lay the fish on the wire rack and then use another roasting tin as a tight fitting lid.

Place directly over a high heat and once smoke starts to form, cook the fish for 6-8 minutes. Then turn the heat off, keep the lid on and allow the fish to sit until completely cooled. 

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together the creme fraiche, paprika, horseradish, lemon zest and juice and fresh herbs. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the fish has fully cooled, carefully peel away the skin and then flake away the flesh from the bones. Once you have removed all the flesh, discard the head, tail and bones and then carefully fold the flaked trout into the creme fraiche mixture. 

Chill the pate in the fridge over night and then serve with a squeeze of lemon.

28 July 2013

Gooseberry and Elderflower Crumble Cake

Here's another spot of Sunday baking. 
It's a Nigel Slater recipe from his trusty bible, The Kitchen Diaries II with a little added elderflower. 
I'm a real fan of Nigel Slater's style of cooking. No fuss, no overcrowding of flavours, simple ingredients and beautiful pairings. 
This book is a great cookbook to have- written following the seasons, it's full of gorgeous recipes that showcase seasonal fresh ingredients. 
June and July is peak season for gooseberries. 

A tart and tangy berry that pairs wonderfully with sweet elderflower cordial and makes for a great tea time cake served with a dollop of creme fraiche. 
My mum was invited to pick gooseberries in a friend's allotment and came back with a whole bag full of them- some of which are saved for a classic gooseberry fool or maybe a gooseberry jam to enjoy with roast pork.
The crumble layer on top of this cake gives a crisp, buttery crumbly texture in contrast to the spongy cake and tart roasted gooseberries. 
I made my cake completely gluten free however I find that when recreating a crumble topping with gluten free flour- it turns to a sand-like consistency! Maybe I'll try a more oat based topping next time!

From p237-238 of The Kitchen Diaries II

To make your cake:

300g gooseberries
180g soft butter
90g golden caster sugar
90g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
80g ground almonds
150g self-raising flour
1tsp vanilla extract 
3tbsp elderflower cordial

For the crumble topping:

110g plain flour
80g butter
2tbsp caster sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin.

2. Prepare the gooseberries by washing thoroughly and removing the tops and tails. 

3. In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and sugars with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Gradually add in the eggs, vanilla and elderflower cordial. 

4. Once smooth, fold the almonds and flour into the mixture with a large metal spoon. 

5. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and top with an even layer of gooseberries. 

6. To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour in a separate mixing bowl with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix. Add in a few drops of water and shake the bowl a little to form some larger pieces that will give that extra contrast in texture. 

7. Scatter the crumble topping over the gooseberries. 

8. Bake for about an hour until golden and the cake layer is fully baked- you can test for this by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake and checking that it comes out clean. 

9. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack once removed from the tin. I served mine still slightly warm with a spoonful of creme fraiche. 

You can also find the recipe here

23 July 2013

On the Road Breakfast Bars

Fancy a change from your usual breakfast?
These breakfast bars are tasty, filling and yet made with really good healthy ingredients that mean they aren't packed full of the sugar and saturated fats you find in your normal breakfast bars. 
Almond butter is a brilliant thing. 
I use it in banana smoothies or on top of creamy cinnamon porridge. 
These will keep well in an air tight container for about 3-4 days.  
I made them for our road trip around Cornwall and they made an easy breakfast with a cup of tea when we crawled out of our tent. 


11/2 tbsp almond butter
2tbsp coconut oil
2tbsp honey
1tsp vanilla paste
50g desiccated coconut
125g porridge oats
70g flaked almonds
60g crystallised ginger
1 dessert spoon plain flour
Sprinkle of demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Measure out all your ingredients. Put the almond butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan over a low heat. 

Once the ingredients have melted and combined, add the oats, coconut, flaked almonds, flour and finely chopped crystallised ginger to the pan. Stir thoroughly until all the ingredients are fully combined. Add a little extra honey if the mixture appears a little dry.

Spoon and even out the mixture into a greased and lined square baking tin and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set in the tin. Once cool remove from the tin and cut into long bars using a sharp knife.