Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 27, 2009

Homage to Margaret Fulton

Over at 21st Century Fiction (a Yahoo reading group) we’ve been taking a break from book talk and sharing Christmas recipes and traditions from around the world, and so it seems appropriate to pay homage here to the lady who has done more to transform the way Australians cook than any other.

In Australia, Margaret Fulton OAM was the first to publish the type  of cookbook that is now ubitiquous.  Lavishly illustrated and with easy-to-follow instructions, it assumed that users did not know much about cooking, but more importantly it encouraged Australia’s cooks to use the diversity of fresh foods that are available here, to experiment with cuisines from around the world, and to be creative.  Her book and her articles in women’s magazines were enormously popular, with result that everyday Australian cuisine became diverse and exciting, and our restaurants are the same.

Fulton’s 1968 Paul Hamlyn Margaret Fulton Cookbook was not the one I learned to cook with; it was the one my mother had, and as you can see from the splashes on the cover, it was – and still is – well used.  It has the best recipe for home made lemon squash and a foolproof recipe for pavlova.  The Complete Margaret Fulton Cookbook came out in 1974 when I was a young wife, and from this book I learned to make dolmades, pâté, moules marinière, soufflé, crêpes Suzette, Chilli Con Carne & Mexican cornbread, Malaysian satays, wiener Schnitzel, Ossobucco Milanese, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and a wonderful variety of vegetable dishes.  (All these recipes clearly identified by the splashmarks on the pages, this is a cookbook that gets used!)

Margaret Fulton’s New Cookbook came out in 1993, and featured a lighter style of cooking.  It is even more multicultural than its predecessors, and also includes a wider variety of vegetarian options.  The salads are particularly good, and the gazpacho Andaluz soup is a favourite on very hot nights when nobody wants to cook.

But it’s at Christmastime when families gather together to celebrate in their traditional ways that Margaret Fulton’s cookbook comes into its own.  That recipe for Roast Turkey (p221) has been used in our household for over 30 years now.  Follow the instructions slavishly and you will have the most moist and tender turkey you have ever eaten.  We make the stock, the vegetables, the gravy and the custard the Fulton way and it always turns out brilliantly.

The only Christmas recipe I use that does not come from Margaret Fulton is the one I use to make the Christmas pudding.  For that I am indebted to Meredith’s mother, who passed it on to my sister back in the 1970s.  Here it is:
Meredith’s Mother’s Christmas Pudding
This quantity serves 8-10, or you can double it for a larger pudding.
110g plain white flour
110g fine while breadcrumbs
225g currants
225g sultanas
110g raisins
65g mixed peel
250g raw sugar (not brown)
250g unsalted butter
4 eggs
½ large grated carrot
3 tbsp brandy
Almond essence
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice (not allspice)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Prepare fruit: chop raisins, dry out in over on tea towels.  (Don’t worry if they happen to burn a little.)  Chop peel finely.  Scrub and grate carrot.
Prepare dry ingredients: sift flour, soda and spices together.
Rub butter into dry ingredients, add sugar and breadcrumbs & fruit.
Beat eggs, gradually add spirits & essence.
Stir into dry ingredients, mix thoroughly and let stand one hour.
Fill into greased basins, cover with foil and put on lid.  Boil in a very large saucepan till cooked 3 ½ – 4 hours.
On Christmas Day, steam for a further 1 -1 ½ hours or in a slow cooker/crock pot on low for about 10-12 hours.
If doing a double quantity boil for 7-8 hours, & reheat by boiling 2-3 hours or in the crock pot for at least 12 hours.
Keep in the fridge (if living somewhere hot like Australia) for at least 3 weeks before serving.  I make mine on Melbourne Cup Day (the 2nd Tuesday in November)
Serve flamed with brandy and with old fashioned English custard or brandy butter.


  1. I used to cook Margaret Fultons liver Pate every Saturday afternoon from her original Cookbook (`68) and would love to have the recipe to revisit memory lane. If there is someone who has the recipe, it would be most appreciated; cheers Janet


    • Janet, I am in Bordeaux right now but will see if I have this recipe when I get home. You may need to drop another comment on this post to remind me because I don’t get home till early November.


  2. […] to get good coffee, adventurous ingredients or cafés and restaurants that sold flavoursome food.  Margaret Fulton was making a huge difference, and supermarkets for all their faults could stocking a much wider […]


  3. […] is with sadness that I share the news that Margaret Fulton OAM has died, aged 94.  I wrote my Homage to Margaret Fulton 10 years ago, in 2009, when it seemed that she would always be with […]


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