Around the Table
Julia Busuttil Nishimura
Slow Sundays are for herbed roast chicken and silky smooth panna cotta. Eating outside means cheddar scones and fresh, spring salads. Friends coming by for afternoon coffee calls for a simple blackberry yoghurt loaf or comforting ginger cake with cream cheese frosting.
Beloved home cook Julia Busuttil Nishimura always knows the right dish for the occasion, weather or time of day. She also understands the power food has to bring people together, whether that’s to prepare a meal or enjoy the delicious results.
With recipes ranging from quick, flavourful meals for busy weeknights to simple indulgences for summer feasts, Around the Table perfectly matches dishes to time and place. It includes recipes laden with personal meaning – Mediterranean classics from Italy and Malta, and Japanese dishes Julia has learned from her husband, Nori – that will soon become favourites around your table, too.
Panna Cotta With Roasted Nectarines and Blueberries p.102
500 ml (2 cups) pure cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
3 strips of lemon peel
1 fresh bay leaf
80 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
200 g crème fraîche
125 g blueberries
5 nectarines, halved and stones removed, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons raw sugar
“Panna cotta translates to ‘cooked cream’ and it is one of my favourite Italian desserts. Luckily, it also happens to be one of the simplest. I love it just set – panna cotta should have a good wobble and sit on the plate droopily rather than incredibly still.Mine is lightly perfumed with bay and lemon and heavily scented with vanilla. Served with some lightly poached or roasted fruits – nectarines or apricots in summer, rhubarb in spring (try the roasted rhubarb on page 248) and citrus in winter – panna cotta is such an elegant dessert, and an absolute joy to make.” p102
Place the cream in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod, lemon peel and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened – don’t let it boil. Add the sugar
and whisk to dissolve, cooking the cream for a further 1 minute.
Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until softened. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and whisk it into the cream mixture. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Reserve the vanilla pod, bay leaf and lemon peel. Sit the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and whisk the mixture for 8–10 minutes, until cool. Pour the mixture into a large jug and then divide among four small bowls or ramekins. Chill in the fridge for 5 hours or until just set.
Once the panna cotta has set, cover each bowl or ramekin with plastic or beeswax wrap and return to the fridge.
While the panna cotta is setting, prepare the roasted nectarines. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the nectarines in a deep baking tray so they are nice and snug and scatter over the sugar. Rinse the vanilla
pod, bay leaf and lemon peel that you used to flavour the cream. Add these to the nectarines along with 125 ml (½ cup) of water. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the fruit is tender. Transfer the nectarines to a large bowl and add the blueberries. Stir to combine and allow to completely cool. You can store the fruit in a container in the fridge until ready to serve.
Dip each panna cotta bowl or ramekin into a bowl filled with boiling water for 20 seconds, then invert onto plates. Serve with the roasted nectarines and blueberries.