All these dishes have featured recently on the menu at work and, as with all good things, they should be made with care and attention. Both robust and delicate appear here – depending on the weather (and let's be honest, it's been more than changeable recently), I like eating both.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com
Lobster tagliolini with tarragon and tomatoes
This is a beautiful dish: it is very delicate and it feels special. Tarragon goes well with almost all white seafood, giving an aromatic, aniseedy taste.
2 native lobsters
1 small bunch of tarragon, leaves only
100g/3 oz butter, softened
1 tbsp Pernod
12 small, ripe tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g/5oz tagliolini per person
Boil a large pot of well-salted water, plunge the lobsters in and cook for 7 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.
Crack the claws to extract the meat then, using a sharp knife, slice down the middle of the underside, break in half and remove the flesh. Remove any dark intestinal track and slice the flesh into one-inch pieces.
Chop the tarragon finely and stir through the softened butter along with the Pernod and a pinch of salt.
Place a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Place a medium-sized pan over a low heat and, once slightly warm, add the tarragon butter and, once it is melted, the tomatoes, and cook until soft. Then add the lobster and cook until just warmed through. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Cook the pasta according to the maker's instructions, drain and add to the pan with the lobster. Toss together well and serve.
Slow-cooked veal with preserved lemons and black olives
Slow-cooked one-pot meals are irresistible. They can be made well ahead of time – and, in fact, are better if allowed to cool and then gently reheated then served with good bread and a crisp green salad. This one is perfect at this time of year, as the preserved lemon adds a certain zing and liveliness to the finished dish.
1kg/2lb rose veal rump
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into generous chunks
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay )
120ml/4fl oz dry white wine
2 tins of good-quality, peeled plum tomatoes
200ml/7fl oz chicken or veal stock
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
20 or so little black olives, pips removed
2 preserved lemons, well rinsed and sliced into fairly fine slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the veal of any fine outer membrane and slice into two-inch pieces. Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Season the veal generously all over and, once the oil is hot, add to the pan. You may have to do this in two batches, for it is important that the pan is not overcrowded, as the meat will stew rather than brown.
Brown the meat really well all over then remove from the pan and set aside. Pour off any excess oil and if the pan is burnt, allow to cool slightly then wipe out with a damp cloth. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, chilli and bouquet garni, turn the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Once the vegetables are soft, return the meat to the pan and turn the heat up a little, add the wine and allow to bubble slightly. Add the tomatoes and stock, stir well and return the heat to low. Cook for 2 hours over the lowest heat possible until the meat is soft and falling apart.
Finally, add the olives and lemon slices and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, adjust the seasoning and serve.
Chocolate panna cotta
This panna cotta is undeniably rich and a little goes a long way. It should be slightly wobbly and served straight from the fridge, as the coolness counteracts its rich flavour.
A little neutral-tasting oil such as corn or sunflower with which to grease the moulds
200g/7oz good-quality dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids)
2 leaves of gelatine
190ml/6 fl oz whole milk
250ml/8fl oz double cream
100g/3 oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
Lightly oil four individual dariole moulds of 200ml/7fl oz capacity each. Chop the chocolate roughly in small pieces, and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, without stirring. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside so that it cools slightly.
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
Place the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a heavy-based pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and strain through a colander on to the melted chocolate. Stir well to combine. Squeeze the gelatine to remove the excess water and add to the mixture, stirring as you do so to dissolve the gelatine. Pour into the moulds and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
To serve, drop the base of the mould into warm water then quickly remove and run a small knife around the outside and turn out on to chilled plates.
Serve with honey, caramel sauce, nuts such as pecans or simply cream.