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Recipes for themed dinner nights

Stuck in a cooking rut? Bring some excitement to your midweek menu with these quick and easy recipes, complete with drinks and styling tips for the ultimate themed dinner night. 

Italian dinner night

Eat

It can't get any simpler with a colourful Italian-style antipasti plate of mozzarella, cured meats, artichokes and olives. If you're looking to lift your antipasto game, try Jamie Oliver's shortcut involtini of rolled grilled eggplant, sundried tomato paste, prosciutto and mozzarella. Shop our servingware for the ultimate antipasto platter.

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Image via Ciao Florentina

Get the kids in the kitchen to make homemade pasta. Versions just using egg yolks are extra rich and creamy, providing a perfect match for hearty ragus. Give it a go with this recipe for mushroom ragu with egg yolk pappardelle. Shop our pasta makers and get rolling. 

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Image via delicious.com.au

If pizza's more your thing, try this basic pizza dough recipe and top with classic Italian homemade toppings from simple margherita to quattro stagioni (four seasons pizza). Shop our pizza pans and pizza ovens to create your own pizzeria at home.

Drink

Pair your Italian dinner with a Negroni Sbagliato. Literally meaning the "mistaken Negroni", this version is a little less potent than the original concoction of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Legend has it that a bartender from Milan's Bar Basso reached for prosecco instead of gin when making a Negroni, creating this wonderful creation. 

Style

Just like cushions on a sofa, antipasto food groups (meats, cheeses, condiments) work well in odd numbers. When assembling, start with the cheeses, placing them as far apart on your board or platter as possible. When it comes to the meats, drape the prosciutto like a ribbon and fan out the salami, then fill the gaps with olives, pickles and other condiments. For more tips, check out our blog post How to create the perfect antipasto platter

Chinese dinner night

Eat

Steamed, boiled or pan-fried, who can resist a dumpling! Get a few extra pairs of hands and you'll get the job done faster. Alternatively, make them on the weekend, then freeze them in batches. This recipe for Chinese pork dumplings covers the full process from cooking styles (including how to make a crispy dumpling skirt) to homemade dumpling wrappers for the really enthusiastic. 

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Image via I am a Food Blog

It isn't a Chinese banquet without Cantonese steamed fish. With its simple dressing of soy, spring onion, ginger and coriander, this one can be whipped up in next to no time. Shop our steamers now. 

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Image via The Woks of Life

To contrast the subtle flavours of the fish, add some heat with Neil Perry's kung pao chicken. For more of our favourite stir-fries, also check out 25 of the best chicken stir-fries and 10 of Adam Liaw's speedy stir-fries. Shop our woks and get frying. 

Drink

Channel your favourite modern Asian restaurant with a lychee martini. You can buy lychee liqueur from major bottle shops or you can make your own homemade lychee liqueur or lychee syrup. Alternatively, try Jamie Oliver's lychee martini recipe which calls for canned lychees, vodka and vermouth.

Style

Stick to Chinese table setting tradition and ensure everyone has their own sauce dish or condiment bowl so they can add seasonings of soy, vinegar and chilli as they wish.

French dinner night

Eat

Start your French dinner with moules marinière served with crusty baguette to mop up that delicious creamy mussel and white wine sauce.

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Image via taste.com.au

Instead of coq au vin or beef bourguignon which can take half a day to prepare, cook chicken chasseur or hunter's style chicken for a quicker and easier main course. The cognac and tarragon are really what make this dish, so don't leave out these essential ingredients. Shop our casseroles and Dutch ovens now for your French soirée. 

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Image via Eating European

Drink

Go all out with matching drinks for each course. Start the evening with a French 75 cocktail, a concoction of gin, lemon juice and Champagne, then move on to a crisp zingy white wine such as a riesling for the mussels. End the evening with a light-bodied merlot which will be a great match for the earthy chicken dish.

Style

Make it a relaxed and rustic affair with a linen tablecloth (it doesn't matter if it's wrinkled), mismatched dinner plates and glasses, a butter dish and a little bowl of sea salt. Don't forget the candles too. 

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