The Australian Women’s Weekly Best Ever Recipes is an epic claim. It’s the type of claim that you’re only going to fail at, especially when you’re making the claim sometime in the late 70s/early 80s, and being the AWW you’re going to release more Best Ever Recipe books. This book was incredibly hard to find a copy of available to link to in the event someone wants to buy a copy. Clearly it’s been superseded by all the more recent Best Ever Recipe books published by AWW, and I couldn’t find it on all of the usual suspects I search before I went to my obscure second hand book search engine (great site by the way, just click on the link to go there and search for pretty much any second hand book in Australia).
The Best Ever Recipes is a collection of different types of dishes, ranging from soups, to meat dishes, pastas, cakes, biscuits and even Christmas puddings. The type of recipes also show a certain style of thinking typical to when it was published. The vegetable dishes were made extra healthy, less butter than the meat dishes (sometimes to their detriment), and lots of extra fibre – wholemeal flour with added wheat germ as an example. The book doesn’t do what all AWW books do now, and tell you up front what size dish this should cook in, and to preheat your oven to a certain temperature before you start anything else.
If I were to cook the dishes I made from this book again, they would be modified to be both more authentic in the case of the meat dish, and more successful in the case of the vegetable dish. I’ll discuss the modifications below. Overall 3 out of 5 stars.
Greek Spaghetti Casserole
- 60g butter
- 500g minced steak
- 2 large onions
- 155g tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- pinch mixed herbs
- salt, pepper
- 375g spaghetti
- 60g grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 3 cups milk
- 60g butter, extra
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Heat butter in pan, add meat and peeled and finely chopped onions, cook quickly until meat is dear golden brown, mashing meat well. Add tomato paste, water, mixed herbs, salt and pepper, stir until combined. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer covered for 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
- Gradually add spaghetti to a large quantity of boiling water, boil uncovered for 15 minutes or until spaghetti is tender; drain. Place spaghetti in bowl, add extra butter, toss spaghetti until butter is melted. Place half the spaghetti in a large, well greased oven proof dish, sprinkle over half the parmesan cheese. Spoon meat mixture over top, cover with remaining spaghetti.
- Place sifted flour and eggs in saucepan, stir until flour is free of lumps, gradually add milk, mix until combined. Stir over a low heat, until sauce comes to the boil, season with salt and pepper. Add nutmeg. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 3 minutes.
- Pour sauce over spaghetti, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake in moderate oven (180C) 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and heated through.
Notes on this recipe:
- I used lamb instead of beef, because lamb.
- I would have preferred a dish with less butter to cook the onions and meat in, and an actual proper bechamel sauce than the odd attempt here. A proper white/bechamel sauce uses butter and flour to make a roux, and doesn’t start with flour and egg. The moussaka recipe I have here, is a good example of the right type of sauce.
- Also, I missed the cinnamon and nutmeg/allspice that I would expect in this dish. This recipe is a good example of what I was looking for.
- This dish was quite tasty, and there is enough left for dinner tonight, so we’re going to be enjoying that, just next time I’ll make a different version.
Herbed Vegetarian Flan
- 1 cup wholemeal plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vegetable salt
- 1 cup wheatgerm
- 60g vegetable margarine
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
- 410g can vegetable juice (we used 400ml vegetable stock)
- 2 zucchini
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 mixed herbs
- 60g mushrooms
- 1 cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Pastry: Sift flour and salt into a bowl, add wheatgerm, mix well, Rub in margarine until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add water, mix to a firm dough. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to line 23cm flan tin. Prick base of flan with fork, bake in moderate oven (180C) 12 – 15 minutes or until pastry is cooked; cool.
- Filling: Heat oil in pan, add flour, blend until smooth, gradually stir in vegetable juice/stock. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Add finely sliced zucchini, peeled and finely grated carrots, peeled and thinly sliced onion, crushed garlic and mixed herbs. Reduce heat, simmer over low heat until vegetables are tender. Roughly chop mushrooms, add to pan, cook further 2 minutes; cool. Spoon mixture evenly into flan case, sprinkle over breadcrumb topping, bake uncovered in moderate oven (180C) 10 – 15 minutes.
- Topping: Heat oil in pan, add crushed garlic and breadcrumbs, stir until crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat, add parsley, mix well.
Notes on this recipe:
- Make the pastry in a food processor, don’t use your hands, it saves time and effort to use a machine to do it (even though you have to wash it later). Also, for this pastry to not be super crumbly, and for it to actually be something you can roll out, you will need to double the quantity of butter/margarine that you use. I’m not sure why the recipe writer cut back on the butter – short crust pastry requires fat to be proper pastry.
- Wheatgerm is increasingly hard to find, so I ended up getting a “gentle fibre” mix of oat germ, psyllium husk and some other things. Which made my pastry very pretty.
- We weren’t sure what the recipe writer meant by vegetable juice, so we used vegetable stock, as that made more sense.
- This dish was quite tasty, the pastry, although very crumbly, was just the right level of saltiness, the vegetable filling was nice, and the breadcrumb topping was deliciously garlicly.