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


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 recipes and menus 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 ...
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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 recipes and menus 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 arugula 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 recipes are designed to be prepared with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of aesthetic impact, freeing the partygiver 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 full-color photographs, 200 recipes organized into 28 full menus, and an abundance of effective strategies for making all of your parties, both large and small, sensational events to remember.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062701527
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 9.41 (w) x 12.34 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin Cowie
Colin Cowie
His event planning firm is called Colin Cowie Lifestyle, which is apt: Colin Cowie invites people to make entertaining and good taste part of a lifestyle, not just something reserved for special occasions. His inclusive, alluring books put better celebrations -- of all kinds -- within reach.


Most readers know Colin Cowie from television. His show, Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie, airs on the Women's Entertainment network, where he offers tips on themes based around entertaining, home decorating, and style. He's also regularly in the media as a style icon, appearing on shows including Oprah Winfrey and Good Morning America, and in magazines such as InStyle.

Cowie is a party- and wedding planner with experience designing lavish gigs for rich and famous clients such as Hugh Hefner, Kelsey Grammer and Lisa Kudrow. But his popularity lies in the fact that he takes an egalitarian approach to lifestyle and events. He offers ideas and guidelines for creating the perfect event or look, but doesn't issue edicts. He keeps in mind that not everyone has a celebrity-level budget, and encourages people to do what's right for them, above all else.

His best known works revolve around weddings: Colin Cowie Weddings, For the Groom, and For the Bride cover all aspects of the planning, offering specific rundowns of occasions he has orchestrated. He's a full-service planner, too: For the Bride offers tips on the "marital arts," while his tome for grooms offers similar tips on keeping the romance alive and other elements of post-nuptial care.

Cowie's general books on entertaining, such as Effortless Elegance and Dinner After Dark, inspire readers to go beyond the routine even for traditionally casual meals. In addition to menus (surprisingly simple breakfast recipes for chicken and fennel sausage and almond pancakes, for example), Cowie offers ideas on timing, setting the mood, and decorating the table. He might offer a recipe for an endive salad, but not without a mini-primer on endive and a recommendation on kitchen equipment. It's true that not all of Cowie's ideas are "effortless," or "everyday" -- but for those who are willing to put in a little extra time, isn't that the point?

Good To Know

One of Cowie's greatest moments, he says, was designing and producing Hugh Hefner's wedding. "I had only been living in the U.S. for 18 months and this was a deep-end lesson in American Celebrity. I had no idea how famous the world's most famous bachelor really was! To this day it was probably one of my best produced events. It also labeled me ‘Mr Wedding."'

Cowie is one of Oprah Winfrey's many beneficiaries: His appearance on her show to discuss weddings sparked sales for his book on the subject. Colin Cowie Weddings is now in its fifth printing.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Colin Andrew Wilkie Cowie (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 3, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kitwe, Zambia

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.

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