Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Margaret Fulton in her home kitchen. Click for more photos

Kitchen spy: Margaret Fulton

Margaret Fulton in her home kitchen. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Margaret Fulton, 88, is Australia's best-known food writer and one of our most loved national figures. Her list of honours includes a ''National Living Treasure'' from the National Trust and an OAM. She has written more than 20 cookbooks and was particularly chuffed to win the Lloyd O'Neil award for outstanding services to the Australian book industry in 2011. But, right now, she is excited about tinkering about with her home sous vide machine.

The staples

In the pantry

A good vinegar and olive oil is essential. I vary them both. At this moment, I have a Pukara Estate robust premium Australian extra virgin olive oil and a beautiful aged Fattorie Giacobazzi balsamic vinegar of Modena. For cooking, I use rice bran oil, which can take high temperatures, saving the extra virgin for the last moment if I want it. Moutarde de Dijon, Faillot & Co is another favourite.

My fridge

I always have what I call ''proper'' milk. My one is Ivyhome certified organic whole milk, which is not homogenised. In winter, I have porridge, but summer calls for muesli. My regular is Brookfarm macadamia muesli, which I have with Meredith Farm yoghurt. I love Lescure butter.

 

Last dinner at home

There was a time when pork roast usually meant a leg of pork with apple sauce. Last night I roasted a free-range belly of pork with a wonderful balance of lean and fat, with crispy crunchy crackling, and served it with a tangy crispy green mango salad.

Inspiration

Alan Saunders' A is for Apple is a thinking cook's book from one of our brightest minds on the subject.

 

My toolkit

I have a Breville Fresh Keeper vacuum sealer, which I'm mad about. It's great for keeping anything special that has come my way (great for leftover pieces of cheese) and a sous vide machine, which I'm busily experimenting with. I have a few small tools that have become indispensable in my life. I have a tiny whisk for beating eggs for omelets or custard; a plastic-handled shredder with seven small blades that makes the thinnest fluffiest shredded green onions for Asian dishes; and a small julienne peeler that cuts cucumber, fennel, carrots, etc, to give a salad great lift. Mixing bowls, designed in Finland, are the ones that appeared in my first cookbook 40 years ago.

Favourite

You can replace most kitchen equipment but not my hand-beaten copper saucepans. I've bought them over the years at markets in Paris.

 

Most memorable meal

I was with UK publisher Lord Paul Hamlyn at his country estate and we had grouse and wild mushrooms from the Scottish woods. We were celebrating the start of the grouse season. I was the guest of honour and there to sign another book deal, having already made Paul a fortune. The combination of incredible food with incredible company on an incredible estate not far from Windsor Castle was unforgettable.

 

I'm drinking

I'm an English Breakfast tea girl. It should be made in a proper tea pot with a tea cosy in winter, milk and a spot of sugar in a proper tea cup and saucer. I never drink soft drinks, just the juice of a freshly squeezed orange in the morning. Wherever you find good food, you should find good wine. I've just taken delivery of a case of French champagne, just in case there's some celebrating to do. I'm drinking less but always have good wine on hand.

Saturday night tipple

Single malt whisky. At present, it's a 20-year-old from Royal Brackla in Nairn, Scotland, where I was born.

 

Secret vice

I love but limit Ben & Jerry's strawberry cheesecake ice-cream. I love, but don't limit enough, according to my doctor, Delice de Bourgogne cheese, when I fancy a little French luxury.

Interview: Stephanie Clifford-Smith