How I cook, 256pp.
by Skye Gyngell
Quadrille Publishing, London, 2010
Cooking on page 132
Born in Australia, Skye Gyngell started her training as a chef in Paris and later moved to Britain where she now runs a restaurant, Spring, at London’s Somerset House.
An established food writer (food editor for Vogue magazine), she has produced three cookbooks. She was head chef at Petersham Nurseries Café, where she earned a Michelin star in 2011. She left the café in 2012, saying the kitchen set-up made it hard to meet customers’ expectations.
I have two of Gyngell’s cookbooks, but this is the first time I’ve made one of her page 32s. As a bonus, I made both recipes on page 132 because they create a set. Page 32–33 was a photo display with no recipes.
Ricotta cheesecake and roasted rhubarb
2 tbsp sultanas
2 tbsp Pedro Ximénez sherry
1 tbsp warm water
150g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
4 organic free-range large eggs
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp candied (mixed) peel, chopped
60g pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 170°ç/Gas 3. Put the sultanas in a bowl, add the sherry and warm water and leave to soak for 10 minutes to plump up.
Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed 23cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
Place the ricotta and mascarpone in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar and beat well to combine. Beat in the eggs, one by one.
Drain the sultanas and add to the mixture with the orange and lemon zests, candied peel and half of the pine nuts. Stir once again to distribute the ingredients evenly.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter the remaining pine nuts over the surface. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the cheesecake feels lightly firm on top when gently pressed in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin, then chill before serving.
Carefully unmould the cheesecake onto a large plate and accompany with the roasted rhubarb if serving.
Makes 10 slices.
6 sticks of rhubarb, washed
140g caster sugar
thickly pared zest and juice of 1 orange
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half lengthways
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm lengths and place in a bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar and orange juice and toss well, then tip onto a baking tray and spread out evenly.
Tuck in the vanilla pod and orange zest, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla and lemon zest.
Allow to cool before serving. This compote is also very nice served chilled—especially when the weather is a little warmer.
How it played out
I made this combo as one of the desserts for Christmas Eve lunch. I figured we could use a lighter dish after all the abundance of the main meal.
There were two big bonuses leading up to these recipes—I had rhubarb growing in the garden and a gift bottle of Pedro Ximénez sherry in the wine rack. I can no longer remember who gave it to me, but it saved me rushing out to buy some.
I made two small changes in preparation. I was low on pine nuts so added some slivered almonds. I also soaked the candied peel with the sultanas.
It was a beautifully light dessert, but nothing all that special—especially for Christmas Eve. In fact, I’ve decided that if I’m going to eat cheesecake it’s going to be the real full-fat version.
But if you’re looking for a low-fat option, this will certainly do the job and impress your diners. Gyngell says it’s also nice with caramelised oranges or other fruit compotes.
P.S. One lunch guest (who is taking a year-long pastry course) brought a gorgeous homemade dessert—lovely little bite-size pastry cups filled with cream and fruit (see below). Don’t they look amazing and colourful!
P.P.S. Be sure to check out another Christmas Eve event—one I celebrated in a tent in Damascus, Syria.