Thursday, 12 June 2008
The Apprentice Final
Five of my best girls came over last night for the Apprentice final (that's wot i'm talkin' abou') so I made us a quick and delicious dinner: open-roasted sea bass, new potatoes and broccoli. Broccoli is something that I've tried for a long time to like - I've always thought it was vile and have long agreed with that Simpsons bit - Dr Hibbert pulls broccoli from Homer's corpse and says, "another broccoli-related death" and Marge says, "but I thought broccoli was healthy" and Dr Hibbert says, "one of the deadliest plants alive. It tries to warn you with its terrible taste." The Simpsons aside, I know that it is very healthy and also it is Blondini's favourite vegetable so I wanted to make more effort to like it. My mum suggested stir frying it with a tiny bit of olive oil (or olive oil spray), crushed garlic, chili and salt, using tenderstem broccoli (the long thin one, not the nasty one that looks like a revolting tree) and it's actually really good. As in, not just edible, but excellent.
For the seabass, I got the fish guy (he's really not a fishmonger - he just wears the fish hat and stands at the fish counter but he can't distinguish between plaice and salmon) to scale and gut the fish but leave the heads on, and then at home I just rinsed them, slashed their sides with 3 or 4 cuts, laid them out on a tray, stuffed their slashes with fresh rosemary and drizzled olive oil and sprinkled sea salt over them. They roast just like that for about 30 minutes, and meanwhile I had a big tray of baby new potatoes with olive oil, salt and Provencal herbs roasting beautifully in the bottom of the oven.
That was all very nice but since it wasn't really a very cooking-ish night I will also write about the Chocolate Nemesis I made on the weekend, since I am not likely to make it again for another year. It's delicious, but.. well, when you see the ingredients you'll see why. Quickly googling this recipe has revealed that this is apparently notoriously difficult to make. I have always had success with the following recipe - the original but with my own hints and tips! I think in this recipe more than any other you really need to follow all the instructions to the letter.
Chocolate Nemesis (from the River Cafe Cookbook - I have halved the recipe because I cannot think of any occasion when you would need the big one - it is so rich that you would only eat a tiny slice anyway. This halved version would probably serve about 20 people)
12oz dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% - I recommend using the best chocolate you can find because that is what you taste)
1/2 lb unsalted butter
9 oz caster sugar (this is the one area of the recipe where I think you can deviate - I think this is too much sugar and I use less)
8fl oz water
Start by heating the water with 2/3 of the sugar in a saucepan, and simmer until it dissolves into a syrup (I recommend using a sugar thermometer to make sure you have this right - on a sugar thermometer the temperature needs to get to, I think, 110° C or 230° F.) When it reaches this point, take it off the heat and add the chocolate and butter cut up into small bits. Stir to melt and leave it to cool - it will be a thick glossy chocolatey sauce.
Then put all the eggs, not separated, into a bowl with 1/3 (or less) of the sugar and now you need to use electric beaters (the best would be if it was in a KitchenAid or Kenwood mixer) for 10 minutes. The eggs need to quadruple in volume - this will happen before 10 minutes are up but beat for precisely 10 minutes. Then pour the chocolate into the egg mix, scrape all the sides down with a spatula, and mix for 10 seconds. I expect this will not be quite enough, so mix for another 10 seconds, but really try not to mix any more than that. Use a round tin - mine is an ancient loose-bottomed tin, around 8 inches diameter - grease it, and if it is a loose-bottomed one like mine, wrap the bottom of it in foil, covering most of the outside of the tin. Pour the mixture into the tin, and then place the tin into a deep tray (like a roasting tin). Pour boiling water into this tin and put the whole thing into the oven, cooking for about 30 mins on whatever your normal baking temperature is (mine in my electric fan oven is 160°)
Take it out the oven and out of the bain marie, and leave to cool and set in the tin, and then refrigerate. Remove from the tin when you are ready to serve - I like to dust it with icing sugar.