Simply delicious: Skye Gyngell cooks with four of her favourite everyday ingredients

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

More than anything else, my cooking is produce-driven. At Petersham, we compose our menus daily once the fresh produce arrives and we know what is at its best. Beautiful ingredients will take a dish to new heights.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627

Apples

Kohlrabi, apple and crab salad

Clean, slightly peppery tasting kohlrabi is an underrated vegetable that works beautifully with a good, crisp apple.

Serves 4

1 kohlrabi
1 Cox's apple
200g/7oz freshly picked white-crab meat
A handful of curly parsley, stalks removed, leaves finely chopped
30ml/1fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1 egg yolk
11/2tsp honey
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp cider vinegar
100ml/31/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
1tbsp double cream

To serve

2-3 perfectly ripe tomatoes, sliced

Peel the kohlrabi and slice as finely as possible. Core and slice the apple into fine discs, leaving the skin on. Place the kohlrabi and apple in a bowl, add the crab meat, chopped parsley and extra-virgin olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss together lightly with your fingers, then set aside while you make the dressing.

Place the egg yolk in a blender or small food processor and add the honey, mustard, cider vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, then, with the motor running, very slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feeder tube. When it is all incorporated, add the cream, turn off the motor and pour into a bowl.

Layer the salad and tomato slices attractively on individual plates, spoon over a little of the dressing and serve right away. Hand the remaining dressing around separately in a jug.

Cheese

Wafer-thin slices of porcini with aged Parmesan and crème fraîche

Cheese holds a sense of romance for me. It is so much a product of its terrain, flora, fauna and clime. Certain cheeses have a natural affinity with heat but most taste best – as here – in their natural state.

Serves 4

200g/7oz porcini mushrooms
120g/4oz aged Parmesan
The juice of half a lemon
65ml/21/2oz mild-tasting, good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4tbsp crème fraîche
A handful of curly parsley, leaves only, very finely chopped

Wipe the mushrooms carefully and gently with a soft clean cloth; don't wash them or the water will soak in and drown their flavour. Using a small sharp knife, trim the bases, then cut into wafer-thin slices.

Slice the Parmesan very finely (to ensure that it does not overpower the delicate flavour of the mushrooms, the slices need to be paper-thin).

Toss the sliced porcini and Parmesan together very gently, squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with a little of the oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper – these flavours are too delicate for enthusiastic seasoning. The salad is a whisper of flavours, no more.

Arrange on individual plates, with a spoonful of crème fraîche in the centre. Drizzle over the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.

Honey

Chicken with figs and honey

Honey in savoury dishes can be delicious, but it must be counterbalanced with a certain amount of acidity to redress the balance, hence the wine vinegar here.

Serves 6

1 organic free-range chicken, about 1.6kg/3lb, jointed into 6-8 pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp mild-tasting olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
125ml/4fl oz white wine or verjuice
150ml/5fl oz good-quality chicken stock
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp mild-tasting honey, such as acacia
10 ripe figs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Trim off the excess fat from the chicken, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then brown the chicken pieces in batches, skin-side down, for about eight minutes, turning to colour them evenly all over. Remove the chicken to a flameproof casserole dish with a slotted spoon. Pour off most of the fat from the frying pan, then add the onion and cook over a low heat for five minutes to soften.

Add the onion to the casserole dish with the thyme and bay leaf. Pour over the wine and chicken stock. Place the casserole, uncovered, on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until the meat is tender but not quite falling from the bone. The skin should now be golden and the liquid reduced by about half.

Place the casserole over a low heat on the hob. Mix the wine vinegar and honey and pour in. Tear each fig into four and add to the casserole. Bring to a boil; allow to bubble until the liquor has reduced to a syrupy consistency – it should be glossy and taste both sweet and sour. Serve on warm plates, with a salad and some bread.

Chocolate

Zuppa Inglese

Chocolate desserts should be rich, but not too sweet – here there is just enough lemon zest and orange syrup to keep it light.

Serves 8

600ml/1 pint whole milk
The grated zest of 2 oranges
The grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
8 organic free-range eggs
125g/4oz caster sugar
120g/4oz plain flour
5tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
80g/3oz good dark chocolate, chopped
80ml/3fl oz limoncello
20 savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)

For the candied oranges

2 oranges
250g/8oz caster sugar
250ml/8fl oz water

First prepare the candied oranges. Slice into fine rounds and blanch in a pan of boiling water for a minute or so. Drain and refresh in cold water. Repeat this process twice. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small heavy-based pan over a medium heat, then bring to the boil. Add the oranges, turn down the heat slightly and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the syrup is viscous. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Now pour the milk into a heavy-based pan and add the orange and lemon zest. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the pan, with the empty pod. Heat to a simmer, then immediately remove and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and flour in a large bowl until the mixture is pale and thick. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you do so. Pour back into the pan and whisk over a low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and no longer tastes floury. Immediately pour into two bowls, dividing equally, and discarding the vanilla pod. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate to one bowl and stir until the powder is evenly distributed and the chocolate has melted. Set the bowls of vanilla and chocolate custards aside to cool.

Drain the oranges, reserving the syrup, and chop into small pieces, then stir the limoncello into the syrup. Take a tablespoon of the syrup and stir it into the vanilla custard. Split the savoiardi in half lengthways and sprinkle with the remaining orange syrup. Arrange a layer of the soaked savoiardi over the bottom of a pretty serving bowl. Top with a layer of vanilla custard, then a scattering of chopped orange. Add another layer of savoiardi, followed by chocolate custard, then orange. Continue in this way until you've used all the ingredients, finishing with a few spoonfuls each of the vanilla and chocolate custards. Swirl together to create a marbled effect, then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

The Forager by Wendy Fogarty

Petersham's food sourcer shares her tips on how to find the very best ingredients...

Be discerning Buy from experts in their field who really know about the products they are selling: local butchers, bakers, fishmongers, specialist food shops, markets and box schemes. Very few staff in supermarkets will ever be able to tell you about the goods they sell.

Don't rely on packaging for information

Many farmers and producers now have their own websites and are an invaluable source of information.

Be curious Seek out products of local distinction. These days, British regional tourism authorities and food groups are a good starting point for information. Cornwall, for example, has one of the best food reference resources in the UK in Taste Cornwall, a biannual glossy filled with features and producer contacts ( www.insidecornwall.co.uk). For a list of regional food groups nationwide, visit www.britishagriculturemarketing.co.uk/meet_the_farmer/regional_food_groups.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Receptionist / Warranty Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game