DCSIMG

Kitchen confidential

GORDON RAMSAY did an interview with GQ in Japan recently.

There’s heat in Ramsay’s kitchen. His waiting staff are lined up for lunch service when we pass, and Ramsay pounces on one hapless soul and demolishes him with the crispness of a crocodile crunching a Granny Smith. "Don’t bite your nails, please," he says, savagely. "Are you hungry?" No answer. "Are you hungry?" Ramsay can be so withering.

Like the last time we met, when I told him his new book was nice and glossy, but what use were all these recipes for posh nosh like pheasant and quail’s eggs and asparagus to me? Where did he think I was going to get that kind of stuff - down at my local Spar? I don’t remember his exact answer, but I do remember that he peppered me liberally and then flambed me in expletives.

However, it is best not to take it personally. He constantly says outrageous things. His father-in-law, Chris, who runs the business side of his restaurants, and to whom Ramsay is very close, admitted falling to the floor when a furious Ramsay tore into Edwina Currie on television’s Hell’s Kitchen for "shagging our prime minister". And today, when he is talking about Angela Hartnett, she of the foghorn voice who runs Ramsay’s Connaught restaurant in London, he says it’s "a bit of a turn-on" when she lets rip. "You close your eyes and think of her dressed up in boots and f**king cling-film ... nude." Oh, behave. It’s not a Penthouse interview he’s giving.

But while we’re on the subject, why do chefs keep talking about sex? "I don’t." He does. "I think it’s because everything is under your control. Not just your finger-tip control. It’s a very sensual thing. When you have a turbot, you can’t help but think along the lines of making a woman feel happy in ways she wouldn’t believe." Crikey.

I don’t think kitchens are very sexy. What lights his fire in there? "Oh, Christ," he replies, "Life. The excitement. The adrenaline of not knowing." He points to his kitchen team. "You don’t know what they are thinking, how they are feeling, who’s going to f**k up, who’s going to perform."

Ramsay performs consistently. Not only has he developed an empire of restaurants, but he’s a television star with a Bafta to his name. He is opening more restaurants: Maze, in London this month; Tokyo, where his restaurant will be in the new six-star Conrad hotel, in the summer; Miami in spring 2006; and Barcelona in autumn 2006 - "If I didn’t open one a year I’d be a nightmare," he says. He has also just published a new book, Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy.

His answer about what lights his fire is not chef stuff about explosions of textures and flavours and the joy of creating. Thankfully. It’s about personalities, tensions and drama, which reinforces what I’ve always thought about Gordon Ramsay: that his food is fantastic, but it’s not the most interesting thing about him. "It’s a very emotional thing," he says. "I can’t tell you why. You’re in love with pushing the boundaries, pushing to the extreme. It’s the journey. It’s the summit." Which begs the question, what propels him up there?

INTERVIEWING Ramsay four times in five years is like slowly peeling an onion. There’s always another layer, and each time you discard one you get a little closer to the centre. But every layer contains a man with the drive to make himself the person he wants to be. In our first interview, it was obvious that his father, also called Gordon, who had died 18 months previously, had been hugely influential. On this occasion, I discover just how influential. Ramsay’s energy comes not from desire to emulate his father, but from the determination to be as unlike him as possible.

As a teenager, Ramsay signed for Glasgow Rangers, but injury forced him to turn to cooking. "Cooking’s for poofs," his father declared. He was an aggressive and sometimes violent man, and Ramsay always seems slightly uneasy talking about him, as if his emotions are too conflicting to be certain of. And when I ask if he loved his father, he does that odd thing people do when they want to distance themselves, of slipping between the first and the third person. "You do, of course. Any guy would be stupid not to say he missed him, but I didn’t get that much support from him so there’s not much to be missed.

"But we had phenomenal times, teaching us to fish, and the early football part was fine. But when it got to a serious level and I wasn’t pursuing it as a career because of the injury, he started to get a bit funny."

His father was simply a dreamer rather than a man of achievable dreams. He wanted to be a professional musician. "So every Sunday," recalls Ramsay, "it was Boxcar Willie or Tammy Wynette or the Carpenters blaring out. It was that council-house thing of the windows open, the f**king speakers were on, and who has got the loudest stereo." His father taught all his children to play an instrument. Except Ramsay. "I knew at the age of 11 or 12 that I wanted to run away from that. I didn’t find that fascinating."

Ramsay sees his father as he really was. Death, absence, have not softened the vision. "He was living a dream he was never going to be. He may have played with Marty Wilde and got to a phenomenal level, but he was never going to be a professional musician. The best he managed was gigs in working-men’s clubs. I was sitting in smoky rooms listening to him playing on a stool with a synthesiser, strumming his stuff, and it didn’t do anything for me. I knew what he was not going to be. And so, on the back of his dream of following something he was never going to be, I dropped football like a f**king lead balloon, because it wasn’t going to be."

His father once disappeared to Texas for three months to play in a band. He sold the family car to pay for his ticket, though Ramsay’s mother never knew until the finance company arrived to collect it. "I used to think it was pathetic. He’d come back with some washbag that was a freebie on an aeroplane, just to show, and it was like, f**k, extraordinary.

"You just don’t forget those kind of situations. Mum struggling to pay the bills and putting up with all this shit. You learn, even at 12 and 13, that this is not the way to go in life."

Somehow all this explains Ramsay’s clarity of vision. He always says injury halted his football career, but perhaps there was something else. Ramsay likes to be the best. "I wasn’t living a dream because I semi wanted to play for Rangers. I did, it didn’t work out - f**king move on. My father taught me a lot without telling me anything."

He lost touch with his father when his parents split. He has never made any secret of his father’s violence towards his mother, but has always avoided being specific. How bad was it? "Bad enough for you to realise. You know, in the middle of November, there’s only one reason your mum is wearing sunglasses - and it’s not because the sun is shining in Dennistoun." He thinks of it still. "Every other day it comes back to haunt me."

Running for the Women’s Aid charity in this year’s London Marathon brought back memories of his mother leaving home at 2:30am to get to a secure-housing unit on the occasions her husband was beating her. "I was thinking about the pain, how f**ked I was and on my knees. The objective in running was to go through and almost experience some of the pain Mum experienced while being beaten by Dad."

That’s interesting. Taking on the pain sounds like taking on punishment. When he became a teenager, did he ever feel that he ought to stop his dad? "Yeah, phwwhh," he breathes out, "alcohol involved and, f**king hell, you don’t ... you just don’t ..." Of course not. There is no reason why he should feel guilt. But Ramsay is so powerful now, so in control, and guilt isn’t rational. Perhaps there’s an emotional burden there. "You bond in a way with your mum and your sisters and your brothers," he continues, "there is a sense of closeness that you can’t buy."

Perhaps, I say, that he didn’t so much love his father as want to love him. "Yeah, the perfect relationship. Of course. But I felt so alienated. I saw some pretty horrific things, so you can’t just hug him and tell him that you do."

He recognises, though, that his experiences made him who he is. "It has been a f**king plus. I wouldn’t be where I am today unless I’d had to put up with that fight. I had to find my own self-belief, spending time in Paris, forming that character, finding my own connection with food. I fell in love with food before I fell in love with my father. It’s interesting. I don’t think I could ever say I didn’t love him, but did I miss him? There’s part of him I miss, but there’s 75% I wouldn’t want."

His feelings for his mother are more unequivocal. At times he wished she had been stronger. Then he realised why she wasn’t. "The reason she was so weak was because she was defending our arses. You have to admire the loyalty of a woman who puts her children first. And that’s where I get my determination from. From her, without a doubt. Absolutely definite." We have perhaps talked least about his mother in interviews, but I say I always sense that he really loves her. "Perhaps the most important woman in my entire life," he replies.

Along with wife Tana, of course. "She’s my benchmark. She understands the real me, I think. She’s the perfect advocate; she fights my corner. But she doesn’t wipe my arse," he adds. "F**king no chance." They have three daughters and a son. "Maybe one more," he says. "I’ve started getting slightly concerned about all this female stuff, so Jack [his son] and I have decided one more."

It might be a girl, I say, which would serve him right. "F**k," he says.

Those he loves, Ramsay protects. Like David Dempsey, the young chef who ran his Glasgow restaurant Amaryllis. Dempsey died tragically after falling from a flat window while under the influence of drugs. Amaryllis was losing 150,000 a year, but Ramsay didn’t close it until after Dempsey died. "Amaryllis became too special, too precious, too finicky. I didn’t control it the way I might control chefs here, saying take it down a level. It was a stupid mistake when I look back, but that’s how I worked with the guy. I loved him dearly."

Dempsey’s girlfriend and son, also Jack, visited Ramsay for a weekend recently. Ramsay took Jack and his own son to football. "I was just standing there watching him, and he’s so like his dad. Every time I see Jack I miss David deeply. He’s a mini him. David was a phenomenal guy who would light up a room, like switching on a light, and Jack has already got that."

He always said closing Amaryllis would be the closing of a chapter. But was it? "No one gives you a script that you can follow. It’s f**king emotional..." So was it a perfect ending? "For me, Amaryllis will rest in peace and I’m more content that it was not successful because David is not here. It has f**k all to do with money. It’s just a chapter that finishes perfectly. I wouldn’t have liked to rewrite the script."

Dempsey’s death made Ramsay’s relationship with his own younger brother, Ronnie, all the more poignant. For eight years, Ronnie was addicted to heroin. Only 15 months separates the two brothers in age, yet their lives have turned out differently. Ramsay’s difficult family life inspired him to succeed. But Ronnie was more vulnerable. While Ramsay had the big house and the flash cars, Ronnie was on the streets with no fixed address, no job and no prospects. Ramsay helped him into rehab many times, but last time we spoke he seemed despondent. Then, Ronnie was under eight stone and on the brink of self-destruction. This time, however, things are different. Ronnie is clean and Ramsay is liberated from the burden of guilt he so evidently carried. "It was the last stone unturned in my life," he says.

Ronnie’s transformation came about after a former addict, who was working on a VSO project in Bali after the devastating bombing of a nightclub in 2002, wrote to Ramsay. The chef phoned him, met with him, and was so impressed that he employed him. He was to be Ronnie’s 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week buddy. Now Ronnie is also working voluntarily, helping rebuild an island devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami. "It worked," says Ramsay. "Ronnie’s confidence has come back, he has got fit, stopped smoking, his eyes are bright-blue, he has got a girlfriend now. It’s fantastic."

Perhaps the guilt he used to talk about was an acknowledgement that being Gordon Ramsay’s brother wasn’t easy for Ronnie. "You know, I didn’t realise how hard it was for him. He used to tell me how awful it was, me being successful, but I thought it was addict’s talk and wasn’t really prepared to listen." But once Ronnie got clean, Ramsay realised he had to listen. "He said, ‘Your success has been hard to deal with. It put me in hiding, made me hibernate.’ He had a point. I hadn’t listened, so I had to prepare myself. You don’t know that at the time."

Subconsciously, I think he did know. Why else would he have felt guilty? "Deep down inside, yeah, you do," he admits, "But deep down, f**king hell, you don’t want to admit it, do you?"

In recent years, when Ramsay looked at a four-ring stove, he always thought of Ronnie. "I always imagined my little brother on the back ring, simmering away. You could never forget." Now, he’s off the back burner. "I am relieved that I was part of fixing it. That’s where I get my comfort from. That eradicates the guilt." And there is the satisfaction of making his mother happy. "My mum said, ‘It’s like winning the lottery having my son back.’"

It would always have been a mistake to think that Ramsay was just a loud bloke with a sharp tongue. Though he’s that too. But he has always had depth, and like the wine in his cellar he improves with age. More rounded. More mellow. He is even polite enough to invite me to stay for lunch, whereas five years ago he used to say no way was he feeding journalists.

How does he think he differs from the man I first met? "I’ve calmed down. I can see the picture a lot clearer. The penny has dropped. Five years ago we were still heavily in debt and things were touch and go."

But there’s something more. "I’m happier now."

RECIPES

The quality of ingredients is paramount to the success of a dish, and I always source foods from top-quality producers. With every dish, I strive to achieve a balance of flavours, enhancing the individual tastes and textures of ingredients without masking or overpowering any of them. Above all, though, food is to be enjoyed, with family, friends and loved ones.

Cooking with Tana and the family has opened up a whole new world for me. The kitchen is the heart of our home, a place where we all tend to gather at some stage of the day, but time for cooking is often limited.

The solution is simplicity. Even easy food can be stunning. With this book, I hope to inspire you to take the same approach. Cooking and eating fabulous food together - whether it’s for the family, a larger gathering, or a romantic dinner for two - is fun and rewarding. Enjoy.

Breakfast and brunch

Salmon kedgeree

Serves four

375g filleted salmon, skinned

1 tsp turmeric

225g basmati rice, rinsed

pinch of saffron threads

4 tbsp olive oil

100g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 free-range eggs

400ml fish stock (approximately)

2 spring onions or shallots, chopped

75ml unsalted butter, in pieces

3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

sea salt and pepper

Cut the salmon into chunks, sprinkle with the turmeric and set aside to marinate.

Put the rice in a pan with 500ml cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for seven to eight minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Tip into a shallow bowl, sprinkle with the saffron and leave to stand.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the salmon chunks for about one minute on each side. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Add the tomatoes to the pan with another tablespoon of olive oil and cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove and set aside.

Boil the eggs for six to eight minutes. Peel and halve. Then bring the fish stock to the boil in a pan and keep at a low simmer.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium pan and cook the onions for two to three minutes to soften. Add a third of the butter, then the blanched rice, and cook, stirring, to coat in the butter.

Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring over the heat, until the rice is cooked. Add the remaining butter and stir until melted.

Fork the salmon through the rice, then add the tomatoes, parsley and salt to taste, and heat through gently. Pile on to warm plates, add the halved boiled eggs and grind over some pepper. Serve immediately.

GREAT FAST FOOD

Fast food is now synonymous with ready-meals and takeaways, which is a sad state of affairs. So many fresh foods are incredibly quick to prepare and easily assembled into tempting fast meals - such as soups, omelettes, warm salads and pasta dishes. Keeping a well-stocked store cupboard is the key to great fast food. You will be amazed just how quick these recipes are to prepare. In the time it takes to reheat a ready-made meal, you can put a home-made soup, smart pasta dish or a risotto on the table.

Butternut squash puff ‘pizza’ with sage and smoked cheddar

Serves four

2 tbsp olive oil

450g butternut squash, peeled and chopped

330g ready-made puff pastry

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water (egg wash)

200g smoked cheddar cheese, grated

4 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish

sea salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Heat the oil in a pan, add the squash and sweat gently for four to five minutes.

Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle (about 15cm x 25cm). Using a sharp knife, mark a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry, without cutting right through. Brush the border with egg wash.

Sprinkle half of the cheese on the pastry within the border, and top with the chopped squash. Scatter the chopped sage over and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cook for a further five minutes. Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve.

Open omelette of smoked salmon and crme frache

Serves four

6 free-range eggs

sea salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

25g butter

200g smoked salmon, cut into strips

l00ml crme frache

small bunch of chives, snipped

Heat the grill to high. Break the eggs into a bowl, whisk with a fork and season with pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron frying pan, add the butter and allow to melt. Increase the heat to medium-high and, when the pan is hot, pour in the egg mixture. Leave until the eggs start to set, then, with a metal spatula, draw the edge of the mixture towards the centre of the pan.

Cook for 30 seconds or so, until the base of the omelette is set (the top will appear quite wet), then put the pan under the grill for 30 seconds or so, until the omelette is lightly set but not dry. Remove from the heat.

Scatter the smoked salmon on top of the omelette and dot with the crme frache. Sprinkle with the snipped chives and season with salt and pepper. Loosen the edges, then slide the omelette out of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Summer barbies

Seared tiger prawns with garlic, chilli and lemongrass

I like to serve juicy tiger prawns with a spiced vinaigrette for dipping. Just flavour 150ml classic vinaigrette with one chopped and deseeded red chilli, one finely chopped lemongrass stalk and a squeeze of lemon juice.

This spicy paste also works well with chunky fish fillets and chicken pieces. Remember that barbecue coals need to be white, with no flame, or you will scorch the food before it’s properly cooked.

Serves four to six

12 large, raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined (tail shell on)

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 red chillies, deseeded

2 lemongrass stalks

2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled

4-6 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Put the tiger prawns in a shallow dish. Pound the garlic, chillies, lemongrass and ginger together using a pestle and mortar, gradually adding the olive oil until you have a rough paste (or whizz briefly in a blender). Season with salt and pepper.

Baste the prawns with the spicy paste and leave to marinate in a cool place for two to three hours.

Cook the marinated prawns on the hot barbecue for four to six minutes, turning, until they turn pink and feel slightly firm to the touch - don’t overcook.

Serve at once with a flavoured vinaigrette, soured cream or tomato salsa.

Barbecued steaks with a piquant red pepper sauce

Serves four to six

4-6 sirloin or rib-eye steaks, about 200g each

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

1 glass red wine

6-7 tbsp olive oil

2 red peppers

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 lemons

sea salt and pepper

Lay the steaks in a shallow dish and sprinkle with a teaspoon of paprika and the pink peppercorns. Pour on the wine and two tablespoons of olive oil, then cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Toss the whole peppers and garlic cloves with two tablespoons of olive oil and roast on a baking tray for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skin is scorched and wrinkled. Leave to cool on the tray.

Squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins and into a blender. Peel the roasted peppers, open and remove the seeds, then add to the blender with any juices. Whizz to a smooth paste.

With the motor running, add a teaspoon of paprika, the juice of half a lemon and two to three tablespoons of olive oil, processing to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the remaining lemons into fairly thick slices, removing the pips.

Cook the steaks on the barbecue over a high heat, along with the lemon slices. Allow three to five minutes on each side, then leave to rest on a warm plate for about five minutes. Serve topped with the lemon slices and accompanied by the sauce.

Barbecued fennel with pernod and star anise

This dish is too good to be limited to the barbecue. To cook indoors, char-grill the fennel on an oiled griddle, then bake in a covered dish at 180C/gas 4 for around 30 minutes, until tender and fragrant.

Serves four to six

3 large fennel bulbs

2 celery sticks, finely sliced

2 star anise

sea salt and pepper

1 glass medium-dry white wine

shot of Pernod

5 knobs of butter

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

small handful of tarragon and parsley, chopped

Cut the fennel from top to root into thin slices and cut out the tough core. Have ready a large square of foil.

Char-grill the fennel slices briefly on the barbecue, turning once, then transfer to the middle of the foil. Scatter the celery over, add the star anise and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the wine and drizzle with a little Pernod. Dot with the butter and chopped garlic, then scatter the herbs over.

Wrap the fennel in the foil to make a parcel. then place on the edge of the barbecue. Leave to cook slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, then open up the parcel and serve.

Posh

Lobster thermidor

Ready-cooked lobsters are never as good as those you cook yourself, so I recommend that you get to grips with handling a live lobster. Their claws will be wrapped in thick bands, so they won’t nip you. With a ready-cooked lobster you might end up with a dry, rubbery texture rather than deliciously succulent meat.

Serves six

3 live medium lobsters

250ml fish stock (preferably lobster stock)

250ml dry white wine

splash of Noilly Prat

250ml double cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

sea salt and pepper

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

First, put the lobsters in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make them sleepy. When you are ready to start cooking, make sure you kill them quickly. Lay them stomach-downwards and plunge the tip of a knife through the cross-mark on the skull, then cut the head in half. (If you prefer, you can plunge them into a pan of boiling water for two minutes.)

Split each lobster in half lengthways through the tail shell and twist off the claws; reserve the empty half-shells. Discard the head and carefully remove the meat from the tail shells, discarding the entrails. Wash the reserved tail shells. Crack open the claws with a nutcracker and extract the meat. Place the reserved tail shells on a large baking tray and pile the lobster meat into them.

Boil the stock and wine in a pan until reduced by half. Add the Noilly Prat and cream and let it bubble until reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Stir in the mustard and adjust the seasoning.

Heat the grill to high. Carefully spoon the sauce over the lobster meat and scatter the parmesan on top. Place the lobsters under the grill and cook for two to three minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and golden brown. Serve immediately with a green salad.

Aubergine gteau with cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan

Contrary to popular belief, I’m more than happy to cook for vegetarians. Fortunately, this stunning dish is equally appealing to carnivores like me.

Serves six

2 medium aubergines, thinly sliced

olive oil to drizzle

large knob of unsalted butter

600g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, crushed

handful of basil leaves

sea salt and pepper

75g parmesan, freshly grated

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Thinly slice the aubergines and lay the slices out on two large oiled baking sheets.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake for five to eight minutes, until softened and lightly browned.

Line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper. Melt the butter in a large saut pan and cook the cherry tomatoes with the garlic until soft and pulpy. Tear in the basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Layer a third of the aubergine slices over the base of the prepared tin, top with half the tomato mixture, then scatter over some parmesan.

Add another layer of aubergine, then the remaining tomato mixture. Cover with a final layer of aubergine. Sprinkle generously with parmesan.

Bake the gteau for ten minutes, until the topping is golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for five minutes, then turn out onto a warm plate. Cut into wedges to serve.

Dinner for two

Wild sea trout and baby leaks with crushed potato and tomato butter

This is a great way to serve fresh wild sea trout. For best results, cook the fish almost entirely on the skin side. To make the dish extra special, toss the crushed potatoes with some fresh white crab meat dressed with a little classic vinaigrette.

Serves two

2 wild sea trout fillets, skin on, about 150g each

250g new potatoes, peeled

sea salt and pepper

125g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush

125g baby leeks, halved

2 tsp classic vinaigrette

For the tomato butter sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

125g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp sugar

50ml double cream

25g butter, diced

1 tbsp chopped basil

Check the fish fillets for small bones, then set aside. Cook the potatoes in simmering salted water until tender. Heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5.

To make the tomato butter sauce, heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the tomatoes and cook over a low heat for ten minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a blender, add the sherry vinegar and sugar and whizz until smooth. Pass through a sieve back into the pan. Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes. Whisk in the butter and basil; keep warm.

Put the cherry tomato halves, cut-side up, on a baking tray, brush with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for five minutes.

Steam the leeks for three to four minutes, or until tender. Crush the cooked potatoes lightly with the back of a fork, stir in the vinaigrette and season to taste.

To cook the sea trout filets, heat a non-stick frying pan until hot and add the olive oil. Fry the fish, skin-side down, for about three and a half minutes, until the skin is crisp, then turn and cook for 30 seconds only. The flesh should feel lightly springy when pressed; season lightly.

Pile the crushed potato and leeks in the centre of two warm serving plates and top with the sea trout fillets. Surround with the cherry tomatoes and serve the tomato butter sauce on the side.

Hot chocolate fondant

Whenever I’m asked for my favourite recipe, this is the one. It has a divine melting texture and the liquid centre is sublime.

Serves two

50g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease

2 tsp cocoa powder, to dust

50g good-quality bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), in pieces

1 free-range egg

1 free-range egg yolk

60g caster sugar

50g plain flour

Heat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Butter two large ramekins, about 7.5cm in diameter, then dust liberally with cocoa.

Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl over a pan of hot water, then remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for ten minutes.

Using an electric whisk, whisk the whole egg, egg yolk and sugar together until pale and thick, then incorporate the chocolate mixture.

Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes.

Turn the chocolate fondants out on to warmed plates and serve immediately.

The recipes featured here are from Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy (Quadrille, 18.99)

 
 
 

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