Who says the fun is in the eating? Cooking party food can be equally enjoyable for children. Annabel Karmel has the recipe
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The Independent Culture
Since all my children enjoy helping me in the kitchen, we had a "Cooking Party" for my daughter Lara's seventh birthday. All the children we invited were given aprons, chef's hats and wooden spoons, and all the ingredients were weighed out in the morning to save time. The menu was as follows: pizza faces (recipe below), animal biscuits (cut into shapes with biscuit cutters), chocolate hedgehogs (fairy cakes with chocolate frosting decorated with "Matchmaker" chocolate prickles), and strawberry milkshakes made with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice-cream and milk. I explained one stage at a time to the children so they could set about making the recipes in pairs, with the adults (willing and unsuspecting volunteers) supervising and baking the finished creations. It was certainly a novelty for the children to sit down to a tea that they had cooked themselves and they all tucked in with gusto.

None of the recipes we made was terrribly difficult, so why not have a go? It will be worth it to see the children's faces light up when they sit down to their tea.


Mini home-made pizzas make popular party food. You can set out bowls of all the various ingredients and then let the children choose their favourite toppings themselves. If they want to, they can decorate the pizzas by arranging the toppings to look like faces.

Makes 8 mini pizzas

250g/9oz plain flour

12 teaspoon salt

115g/4oz butter

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons cold water


440g/14oz good quality tomato sauce

200g/7oz grated mozzarella

115g/4oz Cheddar, grated

canned sweetcorn, sliced button mushrooms, Pepperami, diced peppers ...

Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and rub with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, Parmesan, parsley and water and knead the dough until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. On a floured board roll out the dough until about 12cm (14in) thick and cut into eight mini pizzas using a 9cm (4in) plain pastry cutter.

Arrange the pizza bases on greased baking trays and spread each one with some tomato sauce. Divide the grated cheeses among the mini pizzas and add extra toppings of your choice. Drizzle over some olive oil and bake in an oven pre-heated to 400F/200C/Gas 6 for around 10 to 12 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and lightly golden.


Makes about 35 cookies

115g/4oz brown sugar

90g/3oz granulated sugar

30g/1oz butter

15g/12oz white vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

1 egg

175g/6oz plain flour

12 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt

225g/8oz M&Ms

Heat the oven to 375F/190C/ Gas 5. Mix together the sugars, butter, shortening, vanilla and egg. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Drop heaped teaspoons of the dough, spaced well apart, on to ungreased baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool down a little before removing from the baking sheets.


Makes 16 boats

4 large oranges

2 135g packets of jelly

3 sheets rice paper

16 cocktail sticks

Make the jelly according to the instructions on the packet. Cut the oranges in half and remove the pulp without breaking the skin. Fill each orange half with jelly mixture, making sure they are filled to the top. Refrigerate until set. Cut the oranges in half again lengthwise (using a warm wet knife). Cut triangles out of the rice paper and secure with cocktail sticks to make the sails.