Celebrated chef, TV presenter, kitchenware designer, food consultant and cookbook author Curtis Stone is the renaissance man of the Australian foodie scene.

Having opened an acclaimed restaurant, debuted a line of cookware with Williams-Sonoma and hosted popular television shows in Australia and the US (rubbing elbows with Martha Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey along the way), you might not expect him to have started out where he did: in his mother’s kitchen. It shows, however, in this delectable festive menu of recipes that come from the heart – and stick to the ribs.

Mum’s Decadent Fruit Mince Tarts

You can get super creative when topping these rich and fruity tarts by using your favourite pastry cutters or better yet, cut out the shapes yourself.

Fruit Mince Filling Ingredients:
1 cup raisins, chopped
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup mixed candied citrus peel
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely grated
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Pastry Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup or more ice water
1 large egg
4 teaspoons heavy cream
Powdered sugar, to dust

To Make Filling:
1. In a large bowl, stir all of the filling ingredients together. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Filling will make 34 tablespoons / about 2 cups.

Meanwhile, To Make The Pastry:
1. In a food processor, blend the flour, powdered sugar, and salt to blend. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size bits of butter remain. Pulse in 1/4 cup of the water until the mixture just comes together in beads. Add more water by the teaspoon if the dough is too dry.

2. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Flatten each into a disc, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or freeze for up to 1 week.

To Make Pies:
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil two 12-hole shallow tart pans.

2. Roll out 1 dough disc on a lightly floured work surface into a 1/8-inch thickness. Using a round 2 1/4-inch cutter, cut out 12 rounds (slightly larger than the holes in the tins). Line each hole with a pastry. Repeat with the second pastry disc.

3. Divide the fruit mince evenly among the pastry cases.

4. Roll out the remaining pastry, a little thinner than before. Cut out stars, Christmas trees, or other desired shapes to place on top of the pie filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream and lightly brush over the pastry tops.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crusts are golden. Transfer the tins to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the tarts from the tins and cool on the rack. Sift the powdered sugar over and serve.

Potato Gratin with Truffles

This is fall comfort wrapped up in a little bubbling baking dish. The addition of truffle shavings makes this creamy dish even more luxurious. Bon Appetit!

Truffle butter, for brushing, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 large sprigs thyme
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4.5 ounces brie cheese, with rind, cut into large pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 small black or white truffle (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with the truffle butter.

2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the unsalted butter and stir until melted. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender but have not taken on any color. Add the cream and milk and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme stems.

3. Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender; return to the pot. Season with 4 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

4. Stir the potato slices into the hot cream mixture to coat. Spoon 1 cup of the cream mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread half of the potatoes evenly in the prepared dish. Shave the truffle over the potatoes, if using. Cover with the remaining potatoes and cream mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.

5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife can be inserted easily into the potatoes. Uncover the dish, increase the oven temperature to 400°F, and continue baking for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Pavlova with Tropical Fruits and Passionfruit Curd

This festive dessert is as Aussie as it comes… or is it?! Pavlovas were first created to honour Anna Pavlova, the amazing Russian ballerina, who first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. There is debate to this day over which country invented it (ahem, Australia, of course). Whatever the case, the billowy meringue with its marshmallowy centre and crisp, delicate crust is a must-make for the holidays.

Meringue Ingredients:
6 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 teaspoons cornstarch

Passionfruit Curd Ingredients:
7 passionfruits
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small dice

Topping Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored, diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced
2 kiwi, peeled,

To Make The Meringue:
1. Position the rack in the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper and draw an 8-inch circle.

2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed (#6) for about 18 minutes, or until firm peaks form. Sift the cornstarch into the meringue and gently fold it in.
3. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue on the centre of the circle on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the batter decoratively, keeping it within the circle (the pavlova will expand when it bakes).

4. Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 225°F. Bake the pavlova for about 1 hour, or until the pavlova is crisp and very pale on the outside but still has a marshmallow-like centre. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and keep the meringue in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until it has cooled slightly. Remove from the oven to cool completely.

Meanwhile, To Prepare The Curd:
1. Cut the passionfruits in half and scoop their pulp, juice, and seeds into a medium bowl (you should have 2/3 cup). Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and egg yolks to blend.

2. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the butter. Cool completely.

To Serve:
1. In a large bowl, beat the cream until thick. Set the meringue on a platter. Spoon the cream on top of the meringue. Spoon the curd over the cream. Top with the pineapple, mango, and kiwi pieces.

2. Cut the pavlova into wedges and transfer to plates. Serve immediately.

About Curtis Stone

Originally from Australia, Curtis Stone was classically trained in Europe as protege to renowned London chef Marco Pierre White. While Head Chef at Marco’s restaurant Quo Vadis, Stone was given his first television exposure, which sparked the beginning of his TV career in the UK, Australia, and then in the US – most recently as mentor of the Food Network’s hit show All Star Academy. In February 2014, Curtis opened his first solo restaurant Maude, in Beverly Hills, repeatedly named Best New Restaurant by publications like Travel & Leisure and LA Weekly. In 2016, Stone plans to partner on his second restaurant in Los Angeles with his brother Luke and co-Executive Chef Chad Colby. Additionally, he runs Stone Foods, his culinary-focused consulting, content and partnership company, and has developed a line of cookware that debuted exclusively with Williams-Sonoma – he was the first chef to do so. Stone has meanwhile authored 6 cookbooks and is a regular contributor to several magazines and television shows in the US and Australia.

Photo Credits:
Fruit Mince Tarts:  Marina Oliphant
Potato Gratin  and Pavlov: Ray Kachatorian

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