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Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie: Menus, Tips, Strategies, and More Than 200 Recipes

Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie: Menus, Tips, Strategies, and More Than 200 Recipes

by Colin Cowie, Maureen Clancy
Colin Cowie, one of the West Coast's preeminent specialists in catering and event planning, has been the mastermind of some of Los Angeles' most spectacular parties. Now, in Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie, he dedicates himself to helping you create the same effortless elegance when you entertain at home.

With enthusiasm, taste and style,


Colin Cowie, one of the West Coast's preeminent specialists in catering and event planning, has been the mastermind of some of Los Angeles' most spectacular parties. Now, in Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie, he dedicates himself to helping you create the same effortless elegance when you entertain at home.

With enthusiasm, taste and style, Cowie teaches you how to entertain with ease and comfort and how to enjoy your own parties. One impressive yet easy menu, "Dinner When Time Is Short," takes just one hour, including shopping and preparation, leaving you plenty of time to relax and clean up before your guests arrive. Cowie's philosophy is based on enhancing the materials at hand. He tells you how to create a lasting impact with just one element — a type of flower or a single color — and use it to the greatest effect.

Beginning with "A Lazy Sunday Brunch" and ending with "Dinner in Front of the Fire Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie provides complete menus for all seasons and any occasion, from "An Elegant Cocktail Party" to "A Perfect Picnic." A sampling of the delicious menus and recipes includes: "A Casual Breakfast" with fresh grapefruit juice, fried apples and stewed prunes, almond pancakes, scrambled eggs with yogurt and chives, and chicken and fennel sausage; "A Rustic Luncheon" with a terrine of eggplant and roasted peppers with arugala sauce, seafood paella, and lemon sorbet with marinated grapefruit; and "A Cape Malay Barbecue" featuring curried lamb kabobs with mango chutney, basmati rice with toasted cashews, raisins and sultanas, a bulgur mint salad, and baked bananas with rum-spiked creme fraiche.

The recipesare designed to be prepared with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of aesthetic impact, freeing the party-giver from the kitchen and allowing him or her to enjoy the essence of the perfect party — a close and companionable evening with good friends.

Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie is a gorgeously illustrated treasury with more than 250 color photographs, 200 recipes organized into 28 menus, and an abundance of effective strategies for making all of your parties, both large and small, sensational events to remember.

Nothing is impossible for Colin... He delivers fantasies and dreams that most people can only think of."—Emeril Lagasse

Author Biography: Colin Cowie, writes a monthly feature for In Style magazine and is the founder of Colin Cowie Lifestyle, an event planning, catering, design, and production company in Los Angeles. His legendary coolness under pressure and attention to detail have placed him in the ranks of the nation's top wedding coordinators. He is currently working on a book about designing and planning wedding. Born in Kitwe, Zambia, and educated in South Africa, Cowie has lived in Los Angeles, California, since 1984.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st edition
Product dimensions:
9.41(w) x 12.34(h) x 1.04(d)

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Read an Excerpt

WhenI was growing up in central africa,our winter breakfast was usually stewed fruits, prunes in particular, and porridge. The moment my mother's back was turned, the dog got the porridge and I ate the prunes!

How do I love breakfast? Consider this menu I did with friends who were entertaining weekend houseguests. After a wake-up call of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, we served a compote of pan-fried apple slices and stewed prunes, which was readied the night before. Our feather-light pancakes of ground almonds were healthy and tasty.

Although the pancakes and eggs need to be made once the guests arrive, we had all the ingredients assembled ahead and invited our friends to gather in the warm kitchen while we worked.

Stewed prunes tossed in a hot pan with apple slices, brown sugar, and sweet butter. Whole wheat almond pancakes, light, tasty, and delicious under a mantle of warm maple syrup. Scrambled eggs and chives made creamy with nonfat yogurt. Chicken sausage studded with apples, fennel, and sage. Just the thought of having a delicious breakfast is reason enough to get out of bed.

On a bare wooden picnic table in the garden, we set places with assorted pieces of china from the 1950s alongside casual cloth napkins. The hostess, who is a landscape architect, had created a riot of color within the inviting space. So we picked flowers from her garden and placed them in a variety of small bottles, with one large terra-cotta potted plant to intensify the bright garden feel. It took just minutes to assemble.

To work up an appetite suggest to your friends that they join you on a morning hike in the mountains, a brisk walk along the beach, or a stroll past store windows inthe neighborhood. When you return home, have a copy of the morning newspaper on hand, play some upbeat classical music, and, most important, make a freshly brewed pot of the best coffee you can find. Then sit back and enjoy a wonderfully civilized alternative to a "bagel-on-the-run."

A warm, sunny garden is a lovely spot to enjoy breakfast with weekend houseguests.

Stewed Prunes

10ounces pitted prunes

2tablespoons brown sugar

3/4cup water

In a saucepan, combine the prunes, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat until the prunes are plump. To serve, arrange the prunes and the fried apples in a small serving dish.

Serves 4

Note: Stewed prunes can be prepared 2 days ahead, refrigerated, and served cold, at room temperature, or warmed up.

Almond Pancakes

2cups whole wheat flour

1cup finely ground almonds

1 1/2teaspoons baking powder

21*4cups milk

2eggs, lightly beaten

4tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, almonds, and baking powder. Add the milk, eggs, and butter and stir to blend. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes.

2. Lightly grease and preheat a griddle or large skillet.

3. Using 1*3 cup of the batter for each pancake, ladle it onto the griddle and cook until holes appear in the batter. Turn the pancakes and cook the other sides until cooked through.

Serves 3 to 4 Pancakes Each

Scrambled Eggswith Yogurt and Chives


1/4cup milk (nonfat optional)

2 tablespoons butter

2tablespoons plain yogurt (nonfat optional)

2tablespoons sliced chives

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1.Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl.

2.In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the eggs, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until soft curds form. Stir in the yogurt, chives, salt, and pepper and remove from heat. The eggs should be soft and creamy. Transfer the eggs to a serving platter and serve hot.

Serves 4

Chicken and Fennel Sausage

1pound ground chicken

1/4cup chopped onion

1cup peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith apples

1cup finely chopped fennel bulb

1egg yolk, beaten

1teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2tablespoons vegetable oil

2tablespoons butter

1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil and butter. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Pat the mixture into 3-inch patties.

2. Heat the oil and butter together in a pan over medium heat. Fry the patties until golden on both sides. Remove from the heat and set on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

There's nothing nicer than a lazy morning,waking up to the smell of coffee and freshly baked muffins.

Usually, brunch guests aren't on a time schedule, so it's the perfect time to relax, to be outdoors if the weather permits, and to experiment with some imaginative menus rather than the traditional old hot cakes and sausage links.

For this Sunday brunch with eight friends, I baked a batch of my favorite raisin muffins. By timing it just right, their tantalizing aroma greeted the guests as they arrived. I don't think there's anything better than baked goods straight from the oven! Freshly squeezed juice was also waiting. A piece of fresh ginger added zip to an interesting blend of pineapple, pear, and apple juices.

Guests helped themselves to a tropical fruit salad made with oranges, papaya, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, kiwi, grapefruit, and a subtle tarragon syrup. The herb's anise flavor brought out the sweetness of the fruits; sprigs of fresh mint added a refreshing note and vivid color.

A frittata -- Italy's homey answer to the omelet--was also featured in the buffet. Because the ingredients are mixed in with the eggs instead of being folded inside, a frittata is easier than an omelet to prepare and easier to serve to large groups. If your friends love to stand around the kitchen watching you cook, you can make the frittata just before sitting down. If you'd rather unwind with your guests in front of the fireplace or out on the patio, make it in advance and serve it at room temperature the Italian way. Effortless Elegance With Colin Cowie. Copyright © by Colin Cowie. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 3, 1962
Place of Birth:
Kitwe, Zambia

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