I'm not saying it's basic, but it's perfect for anyone who needs a recipe for making ice: Jan Moir reviews Pippa's new book
09:36 GMT, 22 October 2012
Verdict: Yes, party people, the moment has come at last, says Jan Moir
On Bonfire Night, she suggests having a bonfire.
For Hallowe’en, how about pumpkin soup served in a hollowed-out pumpkin
To stop cakes going stale, she advises storing them in something called ‘an airtight tin’, while hot drinks for picnics should be poured from flasks into ‘mugs or paper cups’.
Yes, party people, the moment has come at last.
Pippa Middleton’s long-awaited guide to entertaining has finally been unleashed upon the world, complete not only with beverage receptacle selection advice, but also the cheeky exhortation to serve a piece of parkin ginger cake with a cup of tea — or a whisky cocktail!
She even advises wantonly using two egg yolks when glazing pastry — but she did get a 400,000 advance to write this book.
Celebrate — A Year Of British Festivities For Family And Friends is published this week and is the first step in Pippa’s bid to become the Martha Stewart of the shires, right down to her glitter-encrusted root vegetable table decorations and her assertion that she is having ‘new ideas all the time’. You’ve got to wonder — is that a promise or a threat
Certainly, a few might think that some of what the ambitious younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge actually writes here must be aimed at some sort of halfwit hostess who has never thrown a party before, can’t bake a potato without laddering her tights and has lost the recipe for making ice.
Others will be grateful for her well-bred, classy exhortations on what is chic and groovy, party-wise — though not all of it is innovative or radical.
For example, Pippa advises hosts to dress up dishes at a Hallowe’en party with a trickle of tomato ketchup ‘blood’ and to put black plastic spiders on serving trays or in drinks.
Now why hasn’t anyone ever thought of that before
Elsewhere, she explains the rules of a
game of conkers and the correct way to toast marshmallows over a fire, a
process that involves using ‘a long-handled fork’ and ‘flames’.
it be more basic Why not try roasting a turkey for Christmas or
lighting small candles on a cake to celebrate a birthday Hey, here’s
another crazeee idea — what about making pancakes for Pancake Day
will buy Celebrate not for the recipes or the tip-off that rioja is a
‘savoury’ wine, but for the opportunity to peek behind the scenes at the
early family life of the woman who will be our future queen.
The sister-in-law of Prince William shares her tips for a perfect party in this week's Mail on Sunday
In this, Pippa does not disappoint. She tells of childhood Hallowe’ens, where the Middletons would turn off all the lights in the house and the children would eat sugary treats by candlelight.
She writes: ‘We feasted on creepy edible morsels, Hallowe’en-themed chocolates and spookily named concoctions, which often looked better than they tasted.’
Pippa also recalls ‘scary shadows and imaginary figures lurking in dark corners’.
Pay day: Pippa got a 400,000 advance to write this book
Another page gives the recipe for a
devil’s food cake the family enjoyed on their annual holidays to the
Lake District many years ago.
unnamed friend would ‘make this cake and leave it in an old Roses tin
for us to enjoy during our stay’. Pippa recommends serving it in ‘big
wedges with a thick, blood red raspberry coulis to complete it as a
planning book, extracts of which were serialised in the Mail on Sunday
yesterday, contains many recipes, celebratory ideas and even a light
smattering of crafts.
suggests using thread to tie scraps of kitchen roll around lollipops to
make them look like ghosts, and then spearing them into a giant pumpkin
to create ‘a great table centrepiece’.
An arresting sight, but perhaps not so much as the glossy girl herself, disported throughout the book in numerous photo spreads.
Quite a few of them seem as if she
has gate-crashed a Boden catalogue shoot en route to starring in a Toast
winter collection poster campaign after running naked through a
cashmere mill covered in glue — but she does look lovely.
she rustles up delicacies such as pastry straws and stuffed peppers
(‘serve with forks’), children in waxed jackets and woolly scarves
gambol and frolic at her feet, trying to look excited about the party
toad-in-the-hole (‘choose interesting flavours of sausages for variety’)
coming their way.
Pippa never seems to look directly at the camera. She’s staring off
into the middle distance or gazing in wonder at a tray of potatoes the
photographer’s assistant has just obligingly baked. Or perhaps she is
throwers out there will be pleased to know Celebrate is arranged
chronologically, beginning with autumn and ending with summer, featuring
her personal party tips throughout the year.
Party tips: 'Pippas Halloween party-throwers must have a garden with trees from which to hang their doughnuts (dont ask)'
All this is information and expertise gleaned, she says, from her time working for an events company — and composing the blog for her family’s online business, Party Pieces.
Critics might wonder what Pippa Middleton really knows about entertaining — particularly as she looks like a girl who has spent her entire life being entertained.
From the moment she appeared in
butter satin at her sister’s wedding, Pippa has struck absolutely no one
as the kind of girl you would always find in the kitchen at parties.
would she really have gained a lucrative publishing contract to write
about something she calls ‘simple, creative entertaining’ if her sister
were not married to a member of the Royal Family
conundrum is something Pippa rather sweetly addresses herself,
admitting in a foreword to Celebrate that she is still surprised by her
fame, but has decided to make the most of it.
is a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that’s the right
word) before the age of 30 on account of your sister, your
brother-in-law and your bottom,’ she writes.
Pippa Middleton says she is trying to forge a career and represent herself
‘One day I might be able to make sense of this. In the meantime, I think it’s fair to say that it has its upside and its downside.
‘I certainly have opportunities many can only dream of, but in many ways I am a typical girl in her 20s trying to forge a career and represent herself in what can sometimes seem rather strange circumstances.’ Or, to put it another way, ker-ching!
Yet Pippa hopes that readers will enjoy her book and her party-giving tips in the spirit they are offered.
I am trying, I really am — but there are a few hitches.
For a start, Pippa assumes that her
readers will all have a garden in which to entertain their guests —
fatally failing to understand that not everyone is like her friend Earl
Percy, a former Edinburgh University flatmate whose garden is about the
size of Northumberland because it actually is Northumberland.
Pippa’s Hallowe’en party-throwers
must have a garden with trees from which to hang their doughnuts (don’t
ask), a place to set a large table laid with a ‘multi-coloured knitted
blanket or overlapping scarves in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds to
add warmth and texture’ and a lawn in which to spear ghost balloons to
add to the atmosphere.
author is also keen on conkers, which she enjoyed playing at school and
here admits to ‘outrageous cheating’ by painting hers with clear nail
varnish to make them stronger.
player has a conker threaded onto a piece of knotted string and pairs
of players take it in turns to hit each other’s conker,’ she kindly
'It is a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that's the right word) before the age of 30 on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom,' Pippa Middleton writes
‘The conker should hang perfectly still, ready for your adversary to strike. The game is won when one conker is destroyed or knocked off its string.’
In the Bonfire Night chapter, she writes that on November 5, the likelihood is that ‘you will be perched on a bench, hay bale or log’.
No. The likelihood is that most of us will be crushed in a beery-breathed crowd down at the muddy end of some municipal park, about five miles from any piping hot food agreeably served into ‘portable portions’ in ‘cups, bowls or on sticks’.
She waxes lyrical about the Bonfire Nights she enjoyed while at school, which she found to be ‘a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of winter and perhaps the last chance to make the most of the great outdoors before the freezing weather sets in.
‘There are few other dates in the calendar that give us such an enjoyable excuse to celebrate part of British history.’
''Pippa is giving her heart, soul and lower intestine to make this project work'
Elsewhere, Pippa suggests pouring white gloss paint and a drop of paint stripper into empty soft drink bottles for pumpkin-wielding children to use as ghost skittles.
That’s a little bit scary, but not as terrifying as her recipe for tomato soup.
The spooky thing about posh people is that just when you think someone like Pippa would insist on organic heirloom tomatoes, sieved through the finest muslin and trampled to a pulp by plebs, they surprise you by concocting an emetic torrent of tinned tomatoes and passata, thinned with beef stock and flavoured with fried bacon.
Enough to give anyone the shivers.
Still, it’s not all ghostly or ghastly.
Whether encouraging children to make jellies full of worms, pureeing blackberries to make gin-based ‘creepy cocktails’ or baking ‘apple pies in pots, a classic autumnal staple’, Pippa seems modest and kind, if a little deluded about her prowess as a domestic goddess.
And though she has attracted a lot of attention, she does not complain nor go out of her way to seek it. Not until now, at any rate.
And with Celebrate, she is really, really trying her best. Her honey and mustard sausages are coated with sesame seeds.
Cubes of cheese float on her tomato soup. Her crumpets are spread with a gory blueberry butter, which has ‘the appearance of entrails’.
Yes, Pippa is giving her heart, soul and lower intestine to make this project work.
To promote her recipes and ideas for something she calls a ‘traditional Highland tea’, she has even been photographed doing a Scottish dance, swaddled in tartan, looking bashful and just a little bit mortified.
How embarrassing — even for her!
In between the ‘simple dusting of cocoa powder’ and the tips on how to hold a sparkler correctly, there are moments when I almost feel sorry for Pippa. Almost.