Food & Drinks

The fool-proof Margaret Fulton recipe that every Australian needs to know

We pay tribute to icon Margaret Fulton, who inspired a generation of home cooks.
Loading the player...

Margaret Fulton was, and always will be, the true blue queen of Australian home cooking.

Over her career spanning multiple decades, the fun-loving, caring, free-spirited and one-time Woman’s Day Food Editor has whet our palettes with tantalising treats and made our tummies rumble with her scrumptious recipes.

But on July 24, millions of Aussies shed a tear for Margaret, who sadly passed away, aged 94.

The celebrated cook and author, best known for the ground-breaking Margaret Fulton Cookbook – which was first published in 1968 – was the friendly face of Aussie cooking long before celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone and Neil Perry put us on the international map.

“What Margaret did so successfully was to introduce restaurant-style recipes to the home cook in an era when most families were cooking meat and three veg,” says Woman’s Day‘s current Food Director Frances Abdallaoui. “She opened our eyes to the cuisines of Europe and brought excitement to the table through food.”

The ground-breaking Margaret Fulton Cookbook was first published in 1968.

(Image: Supplied)

Margaret taught the nation – young and old – to toss, bake, stir, whip, beat and fry, and Woman’s Day feels honoured to have worked with the legendary foodie.

Back in the day, she openly invited us into her home and forever the hostess with the mostest said, “Join Woman’s Day and see the world.”

Her zest for international fare opened our eyes to wondrous dishes from around the world yet for Margaret – when asked by a former Woman’s Day reporter what her favourite meal was, she humbly replied it could be a cheese sandwich “so long as the company and bread was fresh”.

With Woman’s Day Editor-In-Chief Fiona Connolly.

(Image: Supplied)

Down-to-earth and hospitable, Margaret’s door was always open and her passing has left a huge void in her family circle. On social media, Margaret’s granddaughter Kate Gibbs, also a chef, posted the news of her passing and the grief that has consumed the family.

“Early this morning our family lost our most treasured, inspirational and loving mother and grandmother Margaret Fulton,” she wrote. “Our hearts are too broken to respond to your messages right now, but we’re deeply grateful for your love and support.”

Margaret, who went on to write more than 20 cookbooks, was born in Scotland in 1924. The youngest of six children, her family relocated to NSW when she was just three-years-old, settling in the town of Glen Innes during the Great Depression.

WATCH: Five cooking utensils you should never put in the dishwasher. Post continues after video…

Loading the player...

Times were tough, and it was then Margaret learnt how to make delicious meals using cheap cuts from her mother. Later, a cook working for a wealthy family nearby taught her more complex dishes.

While Margaret’s professional life as a journalist, food expert and one-time advertising executive flourished, the single mother unfortunately was not so lucky when it came to finding love.

“I can’t understand in life how I was so sensible about a lot of things and I was so stupid about men,” she once said.

Margaret on the cover of Woman’s Day

(Image: Supplied)

It’s rumoured the great love of her life was English actor Michael McKeag, whom she spent eight years with, before he passed away in 1988 from lung cancer.

But despite two failed marriages, when it comes to family, Margaret – who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1983 for services to journalism and cookery – had it all.

She whipped up a wonderful life for herself and although her lovable smile may be gone, it’ll never be forgotten.

Margaret’s classic casserole recipe


  • 1kg chuck steak or beef cheek, cut into large cubes

  • 1½ cups red wine

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • Bouquet garni

  • 125g thick slices pancetta, cubed (optional)

  • 1 large onion, finely diced

  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced

  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, quartered

  • ½ cup beef stock

  • 1-2 strips orange rind

  • Chopped parsley, to garnish

Margaret’s beef casserole is the ultimate classic.

(Image: Supplied)


  1. Place beef in a large bowl with wine, half the oil, garlic and bouquet garni. Cover and marinate 3 hours.

  2. Drain beef, pouring marinade into a saucepan. Boil rapidly until reduced by half.

  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish on medium. Saute pancetta 3 mins until the fat is transparent. Increase heat to medium high. Add beef, cooking 4-5 mins until well-browned all over. Add onion and carrots. Cook a further 5 mins until lightly browned.

  4. Add reduced marinade to dish with bouquet garni, tomatoes, stock and rind. Season to taste. Cover and simmer gently 2-2½ hours, or until meat is very tender.

  5. Discard bouquet garni and skim excess fat from surface. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

Related stories