Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Fun, Fast & Easy Children’s Cookbook, by Annabel Karmel

A colourful, fun cookbook for all ages, not just kids, providing simplified recipes that taste sensational and don’t take long to cook.

This is one of those rare books that surprises you by just how good it is.

Annabel Karmel received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her work in child nutrition. Her biography boasts 30 years and 47 cookbooks under her apron, including being known as the UK’s No. 1 children’s cookery author.

With those credentials, amongst others, it’s no surprise that Fun, Fast & Easy is simply superb for young and old. The recipes are simplified but absolutely delicious variations of many unexpectedly advanced meals that one would not expect to find in a cookbook for kids: Gnocchi, courgette and herb muffins, and sticky salmon and rice are just a few examples of the meals on offer.

Bryony Clarkson’s wonderful illustrations and Ant Duncan’s fun food photography all add to the colour and enjoyment of the book: fruit is made to look like an owl; eggs on toast become a bunny; pancakes are laid out like a worm… even the fonts used and the cut-out design of highlight boxes contribute to the joy of turning each page and engaging with the recipes.

Karmel’s recipes are flagged with useful categories–gluten free, egg free, dairy free, veggie, vegan, and freeze–while the ingredient lists include more of Clarkson’s drawings to illustrate the product. Numbered steps, short sentences and lots of white space make the recipes easy to follow.

Early in the book, Karmel outlines some kitchen rules, including the need to use an adult to handle hot stuff and sharp things, and provides a few good lists around the equipment to have, catering to allergies, and simple food swaps to add your own spin on a recipe. There’s a page dedicated to the adult helping in the kitchen too.

While squarely targeted at a younger audience who is keen to help cook family meals, the quality and variety of recipes on offer are suitable for any cook who is short on time or patience in the kitchen. For older cooks, Teddy Bear Burgers can just be burgers, and Bear Brunch Muffins, while cute, can just become Brunch Muffins. However they are adapted, Karmel’s recipes are something to explore time and time again.

Easy Chicken and Tomato Empanadas (page 48)

This lunchtime recipe is called “easy” for a reason. I’ve already made it twice, both times for dinner, and it’s been a roaring success. The five steps of this Latin American food parcel are simplicity personified and the whole thing takes about half an hour, including the preparation. All the ingredients are easy to come by and not expensive to buy at your local supermarket. The tortillas can be stuffed as lightly or as thickly as you want. Thin servings will make about 10 and for context, four of these each was enough to fill two adult men for dinner.

Sunshine Paella (page 62)

Who doesn’t love a paella? This Spanish rice dish is divine. It’s colourful, filling, and easily adapted to any meat, seafood or veg combination that you have on hand. The consistency of this paella turns out more like a risotto but the taste is fantastic. Despite making six serves, it lasted only two meals for two people because it’s impossible not to go back for seconds. The Sunshine Paella is another five-step recipe that takes less than half an hour to have on the stove, where it’s left to simmer for about 20 minutes. The final dish is utterly addictive so it’s a meal I look forward to experimenting with in the future with different ingredients.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Allen and Unwin
Released: November 2021
RRP: $29.99 hardcover

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