'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 25 January 2010

Review: Princess Party Cookbook

Not being a particularly ‘pink’ mother of a nine-year-old daughter, I’m ever skeptical of anything ‘princess’, unless it’s done a little tongue-in-cheek or with extreme originality. It was with a smidgen of royal scepticim, therefore, that I opened the new Princess Party Cookbook, preparing for a sugary overload of tizz.

Author and kiddie foodie Annabel Karmel of The New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner fame, has penned a book that’s definitely high on pink fluff, but also resplendent with beauty, quality, delectable recipes, fun party ideas and style.

The book is laid out cleanly and attractively in an easy-to-follow format, with gorgeously artistic photos by Dave King; photos that really capture a festive atmosphere and little-girl emotion, as well as all things pretty. I mean, I want to go to one of these parties. Enough said.

Following a simple and charming intro by the author, the book launches into the first of several party themes – ‘make-up and jewellery’ which features recipes for emerald pizza, golden nuggets, ruby-glazed chicken, jeweled couscous and a sparkling ruby mocktail to make little girls feel très sophistiqué. There’s also delectable jewel jellies, ‘string of pearls’ – meatballs with tomato sauce arranged on spaghetti strands – and an adorable birthday cake idea comprising jeweled cupcakes.

Accompanying the food are ideas for invitations, favours, place cards, games and party activities – in this case, mini-makeovers.

The following chapters follow a similar format, ever-accompanied by truly gorgeous photography that inspires decorating ideas for even the most seriously party-throwing-challenged mum.

Party themes also include Valentine’s day, Easter princess, movie star sleepover, princess soda fountain, princess flower fairies, princess beach babe, The Princess and the Pea, and Christmas angels, which features stunning angel cut-out cookies, seraphim’s sticky salmon sticks, cheesy cloud puffs, angel hair pasta, ice-cream snowballs and even a divine snowman-studded yule log.

Recipes are relatively simple and easy to read, meaning older kids can help out in the kitchen, and all are totally kid-friendly. Little ‘party planning’ tips at the end of some recipes makes food planning even easier. The cake ideas are just beautiful (and will have little girls all a-dither) but happily they are also easy-make. Low effort/high quality outcome. Perfect.

The photos of the author posing as though she’s just come indoors after communing with the bluebirds and fawns à la Snow White are a little twee, but other than that, this book is really not a shallow dusting of sugar-coated glitz.

Don’t let the title fool you – this is a charming, beautifully-done book with some really sensational party inspiration – and this is coming from a bit of a party aficionado, if I may say so myself, so I’m a little hard to please. Most importantly, it features ideas that fresh and new, not tired and overdone. I also really enjoyed the warm and down-to-earth tone used by the author. Lovely.

I would have liked to see all the recipes featured in the gorgeous photos of little princesses partying, but alas we only get visuals on around half of them. Other than that, I’m totally happy with this book and I’ll be filing it in the special-books-to-keep section of my collection. My nine-year-old may be past these kinds of parties but I'll save the book just in case I become a ‘pink’ grandmother... or if my daughter suddenly becomes a real life princess... whatever comes first.

Title: Princess Party Cookbook
Author: Annabel Karmel
Photographer: Dave King
Publisher: Ebury Press (Random House), A$34.95RRP
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978 0 09 192508 6
For ages: 8+ and mums and dads
Type: How-To Book