...and the 18th book on my shelve is... gourmet food for a fiver by Michelin star chef, Jason Atherton; and the recipe I picked at random is spiced chocolate cake with macerated raspberries.
If you're into chocolate, you'll love the richness of the cake. Gently spiced with cinnamon, ginger and allspice, it is beautifully moist and very easy to make.
At first, I was terrified when I got the book simply because I thought the recipes will be overly complicated. But actually that wasn't the case at all. Many of the recipes are pretty accessible for home cooks and there are so many delicious recipes I cannot wait to try cooking and eating.
If you don't know, Jason used to work as the head chef at Gordon Ramsay's Maze in London's Grosvernor Square. It is one of the most delicious restaurants I've been to and no doubt the most expensive. I went there about a couple of years ago. Upon arrival we were welcomed with glasses of champagne and Chef Taster's in the maze bar. Following the champagne reception, we were then seated at the Chef's Table, located in the kitchen where the magic begins. We were then greeted by the head chef at the time (I cannot remember his name). We also had our own private waiter and a sommelier to fulfil our every need.
The 12 course (yes, 12 course) dinner was presented so beautifully and each dish was brought to the table and explained by the chef who created the dish. We were also given a tour of the kitchen which was really cool.
The most wonderful and memorable part of the evening for me was when the head chef came back to our table and asked if any of us would like to cook in the kitchen with him. I yelled with excitement, "ME!". He took me to the kitchen, I put on the apron and we cooked roasted sea scallops with textures of apples, butterscotch and bacon. It was my first experience cooking scallops and it was such an opportunity to learn from the professionals. The scallops were lightly dusted with curry spices and then pan-fried and finished in the oven. When cooked, it was placed on top of apple purée and topped with crispy bacon, thin slices of apples, coriander leaves and drizzled with butterscotch sauce...
I then had to bring the dish to the table and presented it to the rest of the guests. I also got to keep the apron which I still very often wear :)
roasted sea scallops with textures of apples, butterscotch and bacon
At the end of the meal, the bill for the six of us came up to just a little over £1,500.00 (USD $2,400.00). Fortunately, I didn't have to pay for it. My ex's parents did...
Spiced Chocolate Cake with Macerated Raspberries
Recipe by Jason Atherton
Makes 8 - 10 slices
200 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra to grease the dish
2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra to dust
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
200 g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
150 g caster sugar
5 large eggs, separated
250 g raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
3 lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked
First, prepare the macerated raspberries. In a bowl, whisk the icing sugar with 3 tbsp of warm water until dissolved, then add the raspberries and lemon thyme leaves and toss gently. Set aside to macerate for an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease the base and sides of a 23 cm Pyrex flan dish, 4 cm deep, with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Sift the 2 tbsp flour with the spices and set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and spiced flour. Let cool slightly then beat in the egg yolks until well combined.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold into the chocolate mixture, a third at a time.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Leave in the dish to firm up a little, the transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. The cake will rise and the top is likely to crack in the oven, then it will collapse slightly on cooling.
To plate: slice the cake with hot knife. Sift icing sugar over each slice before plating. Spoon some macerated raspberries on and around the cake and drizzle with some of the juice.