Alessandra Zecchini is not sure she agrees with me that ‘‘cooking and baking genes’’ are handed down in families.
‘‘I believe anyone can learn to follow a recipe. However there are several good bakers in my New Zealand family, so it is possible my daughter inherited their skills. Even as a little girl she was pulling up a stool and ‘helping’ and she is certainly confident in a kitchen.’’
Alessandra and her daughter, Arantxa Zecchini Dowling, 12, launch their cookbook Party Food for Girls this week. The book had its genesis when mother happened upon daughter (and friends) organising food for a birthday party. ‘‘I was impressed with their creativity, but they didn’t have much in the way of resources to draw upon.
‘‘We talked about it and thought we could do a cookbook ourselves that might be inspire young bakers. Arantxa had some very good ideas’’.
Alessandra says she has always been ‘‘quite strict’’ when baking with her daughter. ‘‘I’d sooner make cake decorations than buy them. I don’t like to buy what we could make. And I don’t like waste.
‘‘However, we have similar tastes, which is nice, and we worked together on styling for the photographs, which was fun.
‘‘Arantxa has her say on what is ‘in fashion’ or not and I am happy with that, especially as cupcakes are fashionable at the moment.’’
The heart of this household is the kitchen and its large table ‘‘used not just for meals but for cooking and baking and homework . . . everything. It is the Italian way’’.
Party Food for Girls by Alessandra Zecchini and Arantxa Zecchini Dowling has recipes for cupcakes, petit fours, mini pizzas, sushi, cookies, grissini, sugar roses, and other snacks and party food. The recipes are achievable and the photographs are beautiful; $29.99, published by New Holland.