If I was to choose a dish that epitomises my childhood dinners, it has got to be zucchini slice. My mum is a complete gun at making it, and us kids never fail to enjoy it. It's one of those simple staples that, although has evolved and changed over the years through my mum's experimentation, the fundamental deliciousness has stayed the same.
The original recipe is from an Australian Women's Weekly cookbook. These books are still being produced now, but we have a huge collection of editions from the 1980s/90s and I absolutely love them. Each cookbook is usually to a theme, 'Easy Italian', 'Christmas Food and Craft', 'Dinner Party Entertaining' etc etc. They really give insight into the food trends and eating habits of times even before I was born and to me that's the most fascinating bit.
The styling and recipes are quite humorously dated, and are only maybe 100 or so pages long, full to the brim of kitchy photos exotic boeuf bourguignons, oversized lamingtons, and fancy peach melbas. Every single birthday cake my mum made for me and my 3 siblings growing up were fashioned on ideas from the 'Children's Birthday Cake' edition. I still vividly remember eating a pale pink birthday cake that was covered in thinly sliced up pink and white marshmallows which were made to resemble pretty frangipani petals. Looking through the book now, I can even see bits of dried up cake batter on the pages, remnants of a celebration years ago. The Biscuits and Slices Edition has been doggy-eared and rumpled through that many times that it is falling apart. I cooked my first batch of choc-chip cookies from that book, accidently burning them since I didn't realise biscuits harden once out of the oven. I ended up baking them for 40 minutes before the smokey smell became too strong and I admitted defeat. Granted, I still ate them because one should never waste precious chocolate chips.
In fact, nearly all of our Women's Weekly cookbooks are crumbling, because the recipes are good - heart warming and crowd pleasing recipes that are familiar, straight forward, with ingredients that are in everyone's pantries. So straightforward are the recipes that they usually only take up a paragraph on the page and often don't even state exact oven temperatures or cooking times. This little feature only contributes to my fondness for these funny books. Therefore, when mum made her famous zucchini slice for dinner the other night I couldn't resist in taking a photo and sharing it with you, because even though simple and rather modest, I hope it is one of those recipes that you will try and eventually cherish as much as I do (not that I think it's possible...seriously).
(recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly 'Best Recipes from the Weekly' - no idea of publication date but judging by the cover price and photo quality it's from the very early 90s.)
1 large brown onion
3 rashers bacon
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
plus my mum generally adds:
+100g or so of feta cheese if you like
+a lot of extra grated cheese, a mix of parmesan and cheddar, to add on top for an extra crunchy crunch, if you like
Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finedly chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper. Crumble in some feta and stir. Pour mixture into well-greased baking dish, cover with extra grated cheese and bake in moderate oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned. Serves 4-6.