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Curtis Stone was born in Melbourne Australia and started cooking at the age of four with his grandmother. Now, he’s one of the most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs in the world with six cookbooks to his name.
He may call the U.S. home, but he took us back to his roots during a recent visit to The Social. See below for some of Curtis’ favourite Aussie dishes.

Labneh Dip with Calabrian Chiles and Fresh Herbs

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Labneh is a fresh cheese popular in the Middle East and becoming more and more popular in Australia. It is made by straining yoghurt to remove the whey, leaving behind a versatile ingredient with the consistency of cream cheese and the tang of yoghurt. It can be bought in good grocery stores, but it is also super easy to make at home. And, it makes a fantastic, fancy looking dip, perfect for a group of friends in need of something little to whet their appetite for lunch. This is my Labneh with Calabrian Chiles and Fresh Herbs. It serves 8 and it takes about 10 minutes to make. Dip can be made up to 8 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1 1/4 cups labneh
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbs chopped Calabrian chilies in oil
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp each finely chopped fresh oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced

WHAT YOU DO

  1. In small bowl, mix labneh, oil, chilies, herbs, Aleppo pepper, lemon zest, and 4 tsp lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Stir-Fried Chili Crab

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Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Two 1kg live mud crabs
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup Chinese Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Thai-style sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Fresh coriander sprigs, for garnish

WHAT YOU DO

To prepare crabs:
  1. To kill crabs humanely, place them in freezer for 2 hours.
  2. Bring large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When crabs are no longer moving, plunge them into boiling water for 1 minute, or just until shells begin to turn red. Transfer crabs to baking tray to cool.
  3. Remove legs and claws from crabs. Using back of knife, lightly tap body shell to crack it. Remove top shell from each crab body and clean insides with your fingers. Cut main body of each crab into 4 pieces.
To cook crabs and serve: 
  1. Place large wok over high heat. When hot, add oil to wok. Add shallots, garlic, chilli, and ginger and stir 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add crab pieces, including claws, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add rice wine and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until wine is reduced by half.
  2. In small bowl, stir vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chilli, and sugar and drizzle over crabs. Cook, tossing frequently, for 2 minutes, or until crab meat is cooked through.
  3. Transfer crab pieces to serving platter and spoon sauce over. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Piri Piri Chicken with Slaw

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Piri piri is a Portuguese sauce that combines garlic, chiles, red wine vinegar, and oil that is very popular in Australia. While I like things spicy, the level of heat in this pureed sauce can be adjusted if you like; just use fewer Thai chiles for a milder ride. But do keep in mind that the accompanying slaw and flatbreads help to offset the heat. The slaw is also a great side dish for seafood and other meats.

WHAT YOU NEED

For the chicken:
  • 6 large red Fresno chiles (about 5 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 4 red Thai chiles, stemmed
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 to 3 pieces each
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 1 hour, or metal skewers
For the slaw:
  • 1/4 small head green cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 English (hothouse) cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 white onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Grilled Flatbreads with Garlic-Rosemary Oil or 4 purchased naan

WHAT YOU DO

  1. To prepare the piri piri chicken, in a food processor, blend the chiles, garlic, vinegar, and salt until smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the oil.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with 2⁄3 cup of the piri piri mixture to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 day. Refrigerate the remaining piri piri sauce.
  3. Prepare a grill for high heat. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers. Grill the skewers, turning frequently and basting with 1⁄3 cup of the remaining piri piri sauce, for about 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and charred in spots.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the slaw, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber, onion, and mint. In a small bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the oil to blend. Toss the cabbage mixture with enough dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt.
  5. To serve, divide the chicken skewers, slaw, and flatbreads among four plates. Serve the remaining piri piri sauce alongside

Tropical Pavlova Wreath

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This is one of Australia’s most notable signature desserts! This one is served with two favorite Aussie fruits – passion fruit and mango – along with hints of Southeast Asian flavors of coconut and pineapple, which are prominent influences on Australian cuisine.

WHAT YOU NEED

For the meringue:
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbs. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
For the topping:
  • One 14 oz. can full cream coconut cream, chilled overnight
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit pulp, from about 8 small passion fruits
  • 1 ripe mango (about 14 oz.), peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup shaved coconut, toasted

WHAT YOU DO

To make meringue:
  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 6-inch circle on paper. Turn paper over.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium-high speed, for 10 minutes, or until firm glossy peaks form. Beat in vinegar, vanilla, and salt. Sift cornstarch over meringue and gently fold in.
  3. Using large ice cream scoop or large spoon, dollop 12 mounds of meringue onto prepared sheet, following outside edge of circle. Using back of scoop, smooth and flatten top of meringue.
  4. Place meringue in oven, immediately reduce temperature to 220°F and bake 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until meringue is crisp on outside but still has a marshmallow-like center and puffs ever so slightly. Turn off oven, prop oven door open with wooden spoon, and leave meringue in oven 30 minutes, then remove from oven and cool completely.
To assemble Pavlova wreath:
  1. Scoop out firm, thick white layer of coconut cream that floats atop coconut water in can, and transfer it to large chilled bowl. Reserve coconut water for another use. Using electric handheld mixer, whip coconut cream on high speed 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gently fold in whipped heavy cream.
  2. Gently remove Pavlova from parchment paper and place on large round platter. Spoon whipped coconut cream mixture over Pavlova. Spoon half of passion fruit pulp over cream. Decoratively arrange mango and pineapple over cream. Top with remaining passion fruit pulp and toasted coconut.
  3. Using serrated knife, cut Pavlova into wedges and serve.