Creative cooking for children in Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 01:16 13 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:21 20 February 2013

Janet Appleton at her home in Waverton

Janet Appleton at her home in Waverton

Cooking is child's play for Janet Appleton who creates perfect party food and biscuits made with Cheshire Cheese. Emma Mayoh reports PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Janet Appleton always wanted to be an artist. As a teenager she studied at art college but the lure of a regular salary and a career in management in the NHS tempted her away from her passion.

But now, after taking early retirement, the 50-year-old is indulging her creative side again. The Waverton woman isnt painting though, she is getting creative with cooking.

For the past two years Janet has been making colourful, imaginative food for childrens parties. Everything from jolly jelly boats and marshmallow swizzle sticks to huge chocolate meringues - and she is about to start making party food for adults.

I remember the party food I used to have as a child, said Janet who runs Little Gastronomes. People dont seem to have the time to have a good old fashioned party anymore. I want to recreate all the happy memories I had when I was young and to help busy mums by bringing the food to them.

Im finally coming back to something more artistic where I can be really creative. Id always wanted to do dinner parties as a business. When I took retirement I realised if I didnt do it now, I never would. It feels so fantastic to have that creative outlet now and to give children nutritious food that is still fun. Its changed my life.

Janet, who lives with husband Phil who is about to start a company importing gourmet food from Tuscany, has also been celebrating a special Cheshire food. She uses Cheshire Cheese to make cheese sables as well as sea salt water biscuits and oat biscuits. They are all stocked solely at The Cheese Shop in Chester.

Demand for the biscuits and her party food is high and requests have come from around the county as well as North Wales and even as far afield as London. But Janet is not interested in becoming big business. She wants to do something she enjoys and to create fantastic food for local people.

I want to keep it a cottage industry that I do from my home, she said. I want to be manageable and enjoyable.

It all goes back to my art and I have always loved great food. So it is fantastic to finally combine the two. I love being able to provide a service too. I did that in the NHS and I still feel like Im doing it now.

Jolly Jelly Boats


(Makes 12 boats)

3 large oranges or grapefruits

1 packet fruit flavoured jelly

Cocktail sticks

Rice paper or coloured paper (to cut into sail shapes)


Cut the orange in half. Squeeze out the juice, taking care not to pierce the skins and scrape out the inside of the oranges.

Make up the jelly according to the instructions on the packet

Place the orange shells on a baking sheet and pour in the jelly, making sure they are full to the top and the surface is level. Refrigerate until set.

Once set, cut the orange shells in half using a sharp, wet knife. Pierce the paper sails with a cocktail stick and attach a sail to each jelly boat

NB The orange halves can be made 2-3 days ahead of time and kept uncut in the fridge

Marshmallow swizzle sticks

(Makes 10 swizzle sticks)


100g milk chocolate

200g marshmallows

3 tbsp chocolate vermicelli

3 tbsp hundreds and thousands

10 wooden skewers


Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave until the chocolate has melted.

Thread three marshmallows on to a long wooden skewer and spoon some of the melted chocolate over the marshmallows to coat. Gently shake off any excess chocolate. Place the skewer on a cooling rack.

Repeat with the rest of the marshmallows to make ten swizzle sticks. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes until set

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