Growing up, I lived in a house full of books but there was one book that ruled them all: The Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book. Our house was guaranteed four birthday parties a year (my three brothers and I always had a birthday party) and the birthday cake book was treated like a catalogue – we flicked through, told Dad what we wanted – and he made it for us.
The party food was always the same. Every. Signal. Time. We ate cheerios (the small red ‘sausages’ not the cereal), fairy bread, chips and dip, sandwiches, bowls of lollies and sausage rolls.
This week a book landed on my desk that could easily become the modern day equivalent of our much-loved party book.
Party Food for Girls (I’m sure boys would be just as happy to eat this food too) is packed with sweet and savoury treats from the easy to make (Picnic puff pastry pizzette –page 76) to the type of food that would nicely create an afternoon activity (Rose cupcakes with sugar rosebuds (page 13)).
Although the title would suggest the book is suitable for a younger age-range, I think the recipes in here lend themselves to girls of all ages (me included).
There’s food in here that would make great lunches (I’m looking at you Japanese lunchbox – page 80), lots of vegetable dishes to balance the sugar-laden fare and enough variety to ensure this book will be returned to again and again for picnics, parties, lunches and gifts for friends.
A healthy dose of Italian-inspired party food (Italian party skewers (page 32), Giant pasta shells (page 36), Grissini (page 45), Kids’ sangria (page 93) gives a nod to the heritage of the authors but also creates a book full of unexpected delights.
Ideas for Easter and Christmas treats as well as instructions for how to make an ice-cream bomb ensure this book is the perfect resource for special occasions year-round.
Each recipe has it’s own photo (that looks homemade enough as to seem achievable at my house), is written in Plain English, often includes tips and variations and clearly marks anything that is wheat or dairy free (or both).
The cookie-cutting templates at the back of the book are a nice touch and mean that you don’t need to buy an armload of equipment before beginning your own crown, teapot or Christmas tree decorated biscuits. Conversion tables are another nice touch (and ideal for grandmothers and granddaughters baking together) and a glossary will help those keen to know their fondant icing from their Royal icing.
Party Food for Girls has 50 recipes sorted into five catogories. There’s something in here to suit the beginner cook and kids that have shown an interest in cooking and baking right through to someone who is a cupcake whizz but wants to start decorating with sugar flowers and chocolate ganache.
Party Food for Girls
Alessandra Zecchini and Arantxa Zecchini Dowling
Published by New Holland
Reviewed by Emma McCleary, Web Editor at BooksellersNZ