Skye Gyngell’s Secret to Sensuous Seasoning

Looking through my images in search of vegetarian inspiration (for my cooking classes), I found this rather delicious dish of roasted pumpkin I cooked some months ago.

Really simple, but made extra good by way of seasoning. Looking at it makes my appetite switch on, and I realise I’ve not told you about the way Skye Gyngell seasons her dishes, a way that I’ve enthusiastically pilfered since learning from her at Petersham Nurseries Cafe.

At Petersham Nurseries Cafe, pretty much every dish came together in the plating. Skye taught us to stand in front of the plate ‘loosely’, feet shoulder width and knees relaxed. If you approach a plate with tension in your arms and body, the composition you’re making gets heavy and constipated. (Once you’ve got your ‘eyes on’ for this, you’ll see the constipation everywhere!)

As her cooks plate their dishes, Skye teaches them to bring attention to every bite the eater will make, from the bottom up. With each addition, ask, will this bite take the eater to a heavenly place?

Wedges of roasted pumpkin are tossed in a bowl and seasoned in anticipation of the plate. One wedge is dropped with casual aim to the plate, and is sprinkled with a little more seasoning. Then some tiny beetroot greens are dressed and drop to the pumpkin wedge like feathers. A ball of the freshest buffalo mozzarella is torn open and seasoned also, finding its nest amidst the greens, half perched on a pumpkin edge. On and up the cooks hands work, seasoning, dropping ingredients onto the plate with a lightness that defies their matter. This continues with languid strips of proscuitto, more pumpkin, more green leaves, torn spheres of mozzarella, until the light casual pile is finished with one last seasoning from the cook.

Skye Gyngell’s Seasoning Secret

  • curly leaf parsley, chopped very finely (to ‘fairy dust’, as Skye Gyngell would say)
  • very finely grated parmigiano reggiano
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes or Murray River Salt Flakes
  • lemon zest, finely grated
  •  
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • wedges of lemon (to squeeze juice out of)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • some other additions, depending on the dish: lime wedges (instead of the lemon), aged balsamico, fine sherry vinegar, very finely chopped long red chillies, other finely chopped herbs

This simple set of ingredients, with just a few variations, is used at the Petersham Nurseries Cafe to season nearly every dish we compiled. They add extra depth and height to the flavour spectrum of pretty much any food you season. Try them on salad leaves, roasted vegetables of any description, meats sliced into warm salads, lentils or pasta dishes, as a last minute gesture, a sensuous, vibrant attention to detail. How much to add of each ingredient requires continual taste testing, there’s no way around that, and who’d want there to be?

All the skye gyngell’s secret to sensuous seasoning

20 Comments

  1. Kitchen Belleicious
    August 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm | | Reply

    Wow, what fun and how interesting. I am keeping this in my bookmark page to remember next time i am making my favorite lentil dish. I want to try it using these seasonings!

  2. Clel
    Clel
    August 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm | | Reply

    Oh Ange so sorry to have missed you while you were here – but so thrilled you got to cook with Skye Gyngell. We have eaten at Petetsham Nurseries a few times now, and it is one of my favourite places to share a meal. Thanks or sharing her seasoning secrets x

  3. kankana
    August 11, 2011 at 5:49 am | | Reply

    Angie ,, this is such an interesting post and i love the way to explained to relax and not get hard on it. I am bookmarking this so that I remember it all the time :)

  4. altadenahiker
    August 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm | | Reply

    This is like showing me algebra before I’ve learned to add, but beautiful post, photos.

  5. Emily@SavoryandSavage
    August 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm | | Reply

    I love this post! I completely agree that a so-so dish can go to amazing with the right seasoning.

    I am definitely going to try these suggestions.

  6. Wokintime
    August 15, 2011 at 8:42 am | | Reply

    I don’t know if I have the experience yet to stand loosely in front of the plate and completely wing it. But I love this post and really, maybe I’ll give it a go sometime this week for dinner. I love the ideas you bring to the table Angie. Always challenging your readers!

  7. Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks
    August 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm | | Reply

    That pumpkin looks delicious! I love your tips on seasoning. I’ll have to experiment more.

  8. Magic of Spice
    August 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm | | Reply

    Did I mention yet how excited I am that you are including vegetarian dishes, or thoughts on them :) Although I am both trained as well as can appreciate meat based dishes, I hunger for exceptional examples of flavorful non meat dishes… splendid!
    Hope you are having a great week, hugs…

  9. Caffettiera
    August 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | | Reply

    I dream of visiting Petersham Nurseries since when I first moved to the UK. Skye Gingell is such a creative chef, judging from her recipes, and from what you say she sounds like a very inspiring personality too.
    I’ll try the fairy dust seasoning very soon, but I’m not too sure I can take the right attitute: I am a bit tense lately. I’ll try to let my tension go next time I cook and see if the food tastes any better :)

    Just a small note: as you probably know, real parmigiano reggiano is not suitable for vegetarians since it is made with animal rennet.

  10. Susan
    August 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm | | Reply

    Skye’s approach is interesting … the fact that the herbs and cheese and zests are so finely prepped is key, yes? So light that the flavours can be a slight nuance and onward , depending on the taste of the cook or the diner … great ideas and a great list of flavours!

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