What was the first thing that Mimi Thorisson did when she upped sticks with her husband and eight children from the vineyards of Médoc, France, to the piazzas of Torino? “I got myself a pasta coach,” she laughs. Of course: what else would a celebrated food blogger, television chef and queen of rustic cookbooks have top of her list. “A lady where I buy my pasta in Torino does classes for children, these little five year olds. I enrolled my daughters and then enrolled myself. It’s like a gym, it’s very physical work.” The best lesson of pasta school? “Don’t roll your pasta on a marble surface. You need to have a wooden pasta board, which holds the pasta as it’s porous and has the best temperature for rolling as well.”

The bustling capital of Piedmont, Torino, came calling after nine years of living a countryside fantasy in a grand 19th Century house nestled among the vineyards of Bordeaux, where Mimi, a half-French, half-Chinese city girl who grew up in Hong Kong and then Paris, first began blogging about rural food and life. “Three years ago in August we saw this beautiful apartment on the piazza in Torino. I thought, ‘If I ever move to Italy, I’d want to be in the biggest piazza bursting with energy and all the life.’” Reader, the Thorissons packed up their bucolic French lifestyle, eight kids, dogs and all, and drove 11 hours to Torino. Why Italia? “I love the Amalfi Coast, Sophia Loren, Napoli, the energy, the family, the passion. Italy is very welcoming, it’s less formal than France. Plus nothing beats a great Italian trattoria.”

Shop Mimi’s Edit!

Shop All New In

As a foodie, the move was a no-brainer for Mimi, whose new cookbook ‘Old World Italian: Recipes And Secrets From Our Travels In Italy is a “love letter” to the pasta alla gricia of Roma, the cheese of Piedmont, and the seafood of Venice the Thorissons discovered while road-tripping across the country. Her favorite gastronomic spot? “Emilia Romagna. I think the pasta there is excellent. You have the tortellini, the lasagne verde, the hams, the charcuterie. It’s very special and old fashioned – the ultimate Italian food.”

Christmas is going to be a traditional Italian affair, which, naturally, means more food. Mimi buys Pandoro – a Veronese Italian sweetbread – from Pasticceria Gigi in Torino – “It’s so beautiful, it’s golden inside and covered with icing sugar like a white cloud. I have to reserve it now for Christmas, people queue on the street outside with their vouchers.” Her Christmas feast will start with tortellini in brodo, then capone stuffed with sausage and wrapped in pancetta. Under her husband’s insistence, for New Year’s Day it will be cotechino pig leg knuckle served with lentils, as is tradition in Italy. 

Taken from her bellissimo cookbook Old World Italian, Mimi shares two recipes for your own Christmas feast – Italia style. 

Shop Mimi’s Edit!

Tortellini in Brodo 

“The most comforting Italian food in my opinion, a typical dish of Emilia Romagna. Traditionally, tortellini in brodo are prepared for Christmas dinner, and it can be served up until New Year’s eve!”

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
110 g pork loin
1 sprig of fresh
50 g mortadella
50 g prosciutto di parma
45 g grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 large egg
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
rice flour, for dusting
Fresh pasta sheets, freshly rolled
Capon and beef stock (recipe follows)
1. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork loin and rosemary and brown the pork on all sides. Remove from the pan and let cool.
2. Cut the pork into chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, then add the mortadella and prosciutto and pulse until a paste forms. (Alternatively, use a meat grinder attachment. You’ll want the mixture finely minced; if necessary, grind the meat twice.) Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg, salt, and nutmeg and pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.
3. Dust a work surface with rice flour. Lay the pasta sheets out on the floured surface and cut into 1.- to 2-inch / 3 to 4 cm squares. Dust a baking sheet with rice flour.
4. Remove the filling from the refrigerator. Shape teaspoon amounts into small balls and place them in the center of each square of pasta dough. Fold the dough in half to form a triangle over the filling, gently
pushing around the filling with your fingers to seal and remove any air bubbles. There should be no air in the tortellini, otherwise they will break when boiled. Take a triangle of tortellini and gently press the filling upward, toward the fold, with your thumb. Bring the two ends together to meet and press them with your thumb to seal. Set on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling.
5. In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until they rise to the surface, about 2 minutes. Ladle the tortellini and stock into bowls and serve immediately with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Capon and Beef Stock

Makes about 10 cups / 2.4 liters
900 g capon, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound / 500 g beef tenderloin, cut into 2 pieces
10 ounces / 300 g beef shoulder, cut into 2 pieces
1 beef bone (about 3.3 pounds/1.5 kg) (knuckle or short rib)
5 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 yellow onions, halved
1 tomato, halved
2 parmigiano-reggiano cheese rinds (about 3 inches)
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
In a large pot, combine all the ingredients with 3 litres water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low. Continue to cook, covered, for 3 hours, stirring from time to time. Strain
the stock and discard the solids.


“Light, crispy Italian waffle cookies, the pizzelle is a traditional favorite around Christmas and Easter time and you’re likely to see them piled high on the sweet table of an Italian wedding. This is one of the sweets I most enjoy making. Maybe because I feel the antiquity of the recipe and its sense of history, as pizzelle are derived from ancient Roman recipes. The tool I use is the traditional iron that’s held over a hot burner on the stove or over an open fire. The patterns are beautiful, and the crunchy, waffle-like cookies are delicious and ceremonial.”
Makes about 28 triangles
150 g all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of fine sea salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
100 g sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pizzelle iron
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon anise extract
1. Preheat a pizzelle iron over medium heat. If you are using an electric pizzelle iron, switch it on according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until well blended and pale yellow. Add the melted butter, the vanilla extract, and anise extract (if using). Fold in the flour mixture until well combined.
4. Brush a little of the remaining melted butter onto the pizzelle iron. Drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the hot iron, close the lid, and cook until slightly golden, 30 to 45 seconds, flipping halfway. Remove from the iron with the help of a fork. Transfer to a tray and let cool for three minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining batter and more melted butter.

Tortino Della Valle Grana

Poached Pears with Radicchio and Castelmagno Cheese
“This is a recipe shared by my friend Chicca Galleani from Tenuta il Palazzasso near Cuneo, one of the most beautiful family estates I have ever visited in Piemonte. She uses her own home-made pears in syrup, and the famous Castelmagno cheese, which is only made in the mountainous valley that stretches from nearby Caraglio in the direction of the French border.”
Serves 4
2 heads radicchio
2 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
30 g unsalted butter
3 pears in syrup, drained and each cut into 3 or 4 pieces
1 teaspoon saffron threads
230 g Castelmagno cheese (see note), crumbled
Note: If you can’t get Castelmagno cheese, replace it with a
tasty blue cheese that crumbles well, like Stilton.
1. Cut the radicchio heads into quarters. Cut out and discard the core from each quarter, and cut the quarters into bite-size pieces.
2. In a large sautee pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the radicchio and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and saffron and cook until hot and coated in butter, about 2 minutes.
4. Place a 10 cm ring mold (5 cm deep) in the center of an individual serving plate. Make a layer of radicchio, using a spoon to press everything into place, then add a layer of pears. Remove the ring gently so nothing falls out of place, and scatter some crumbled cheese on top. Repeat for remaining servings. It is important to serve this dish as hot as possible so the cheese melts on top of the pears.

Shop Mimi Thorisson’s book, Old World Italian: Recipes And Secrets From Our Travels In Italy, here. Follow her delicious Torino life at @mimithor.