Christmas Feature

Christmas Feature
Have A Mietta Christmas!

If you are looking for some delicious festive treats to serve up on the Christmas Table this year, Mietta O'Donnell can help you with some food for thought ~ literally!

Now here's an idea ~ how about pushing the traditional Roast Turkey and the Plum Pudding to the backburner this year, in substitute for something a little more exotic? And hwere better to look to for inspiration than Italia! Yes, the Italians have long held the secret to creating a distinctive dining experience, with delicious cuisine renowned for its sublime flavours, and of course ~ pasta galore!
Since the first arrival of a wave of Italians immigrants onto Australian shores several generations ago, this gastronomic elite have transformed the way an infantile Australia view the dining experience, and Mietta's Italian Family Recipes, hot of the press from Black Inc, perfectly captures how the culinary fare in Melbourne has established such a mouth-watering reputation.

"Looking back it is abundantly clear that the reason for starting down the restaurant path in 1974 and for writing this book a quarter of a century later, is a fascination with food and with entertaining which came from my Italian grandparents...They gave me a glimpse of the sort of pleasure that can be gained through true hospitality - when you give of yourself, of what you enjoy, and what you like to surround yourself with. If that is, as it was in my grandparents' case, art and music, fine food and wine, gardens and animals and family, it's not a bad life" ~ Mietta O'Donnell, Mietta's Italian Family Recipes.

Mietta O'Donnell is a renowned Australian restaurateur, whose grandparents founded and ran the legendary Melbourne restaurant 'Mario's' for over thirty years. Mietta's Italian Family Recipes, written by Mietta, interweaves the life stories of those Italian Families who have enriched Australia's culinary life, along with an excellent selection of traditional recipes that have been given a modern Australian slant. All the recipes have been chosen on the basis of being easy to prepare, economical and sumptuous, they are also accompanied with enjoyable anecdotes from Mietta about growing up in the local restaurant culture.

Here's a taste of some fabulous festive dishes that can be found in Mietta's Italian Family Recipes......

Roast Chestnut and Chicken Salad

This recipe comes from a friend of Mietta's, Patrizia Simone, who uses Milawa free-range chicken with local roasted chestnuts from Myrtleford. The idea for this warm salad came from an Old Italian recipe which combined poultry, chestnuts and dressing of pomegranates or Salsa Verde or one made from mostocotto (unfermented grape juice), a piquant dressing and salad ingredients. This recipe is designed to use local ingredients, particularly the chestnuts, and exhibits some subtle Asian flavours.

1 x 1.5 kg chicken
2 onions, peeled
2 medium carrots, scrubbed
2 stalks celery
1 small piece of ginger
1 star anise
Chinese cabbage
1 bunch garlic chives
1 handful coriander leaves
1 handful Vietnamese mint leaves
50g bean shoots
6 roast chestnuts, peeled
50g roast hazelnuts

Peanut dressing
45ml peanut oil
45g peanut butter
5g chestnut honey
70ml hot water

Boil the chicken in large pot with onion, carrots and celery, ginger and star anise. Cool in the stock. Bone the chicken and cut into serving pieces.
Shred the cabbage finely, chop chives, pick over coriander and mint leaves and add the bean shoots.
To make the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients and shake well.
Add the roasted nuts then toss all together - the nuts, the chicken pieces and the Asian greens.
Arrange on a platter and serve. Bon Appetito!

Nonna's Spumone

Mietta's grandmother, fondly known as Nonna, specialised in making this dessert for special occasions, such as her mother's wedding. Mother remembers it served snowy white in champagne glass. Spumone is a semi-frozen dessert, which remains soft, even if kept in the freezer, because of the amount of alcohol it contains.

Serves 6
6 egg yolks
300ml white wine
60g sugar
560ml cream
110g nuts (almonds or hazelnuts), blanched and chopped
110g orange and lemon peel, chopped
150ml liqueur (any liqueur according to taste)

Beat egg yolks with white wine and sugar till sugar dissolves.
Continue to beat in double saucepan and cook until thick (do not boil).
Allow time to cool.
Beat the cream; mix with chopped nuts, peel and liqueur.
Stir into the egg mixture.
Place in mould and freeze.
It will not get really hard so can be easily scooped out and served in coupe glasses.
Eat this delicious light dessert with a glass of fine sparkling wine.

Not only does this beautifully compiled hardcover book make a great Chrissie present any keen cook ~ after reading the above recipes you will no doubt like your own copy to dazzle your family and friends this yuletide season. Mietta O'Donnell brings to life a generation of Italian restaurant families who changed the way Australians think about food, and who basked in the delights of life at and beyond the table, through a warming appreciation of fine food, wine, conversation, art and music. Complete with over 185 recipes, look no further for diverse and delicious culinary ideas this Christmas.