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.
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.
WEEKNIGHT LEMON CHICKEN
I am never, ever without lemons in my kitchen. They sit in a large wooden bowl on my bench, which is always topped up before they run out. I adore the proper backyard kind of lemons, with light, knobbly skins and blemishes. We had a lemon tree in our backyard when I was a child and it was the place I would go to read or relax in the shade. My fondness for lemons is lasting. This chicken dish has lemon juice as well as thin lemon slices, which lightly caramelise in the oven and add such a depth of flavour. Because the chicken is floured and fried in butter and oil and then met with lemon juice, the sauce thickens and becomes rich and pleasing. It is one of my favourite weeknight meals. Serve with roast potatoes and a lovely leaf salad.
- 6 chicken thighs, skin on
- sea salt and black pepper
- plain flour, for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 1 lemon, ½ juiced, ½ finely sliced
- 3 rosemary sprigs
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, then coat it in plain flour, shaking off any excess. Warm the olive oil and butter in an oven-safe frying pan over medium–high heat, then add the chicken, skin-side down. Cook for 2–3 minutes, until golden. Turn the chicken over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, being careful not to pour it directly over the chicken, followed by the lemon juice. Nestle in the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Give the pan a good shake, then transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and golden, and the lemons are beginning to caramelise.
APPLE & RICOTTA FRITTELLE
Typically eaten during Carnevale, just before the Lenten period begins, these soft and fragrant frittelle are hard to resist. I love this time of the year in Italy when the air is heady with the scent of fried goods and people are feeling festive and indulgent. It’s almost spring, but the chill is certainly still in the air, and walking around with a paper cone filled with fried treats is the norm. Because yeast isn’t required, these frittelle come together in just a few minutes and are usually eaten in the same amount of time. Sometimes I like to use grappa-soaked sultanas, patting them dry before adding them to the mixture, or I’ll add a splash of rum or marsala to the batter for extra flavour.
- 200g of fresh full-fat ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon rum or marsala (optional)
- 1 granny smith apple, coarsely grated
- 2 tablespoons sultanas
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- zest of 1 lemon
- 200g (1⅓ cups)
- self-raising flour
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- icing sugar, for dusting
In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, sugar and rum or marsala (if using) until fairly smooth. Change to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir the grated apple, sultanas, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and lemon zest through the ricotta base. Gently fold the flour through until just incorporated. It is really important that you don’t overmix the batter as it will result in tough frittelle. Some lumps are totally fine.
Heat enough vegetable oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or deep-fryer to 170°C. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, scoop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the oil and deep-fry for 2 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. They will be a little irregular in shape, and that is totally fine.
Drain on paper towel. Dust the frittelle with icing sugar and serve warm.