Serendipity struck this week when I made the trip to the Hospice book shop to try to buy a book voucher for the winning writer of one of the Allaboutwriting 150 word writing challenges.

Cosmopolitan C00kbook Phillippa Cheifitz

I have been dipping into my rather dog eared copy of The Cosmopolitan Cookbook by Phillippa Cheifitz quite often lately and it’s been pretty annoying to have to re-order the pages each time I’ve wanted to find a trusted old recipe. In fact I have been thinking of contacting the publishers to say ‘Why don’t you reprint this book since there are a couple of generations of cooks out there that would probably love to have it on their shelves?’.

The recipes in the book, as well as on the torn-out magazine pages I have been hoarding, have been very much part of my cooking life for almost 30 years. The book, I believe, is a classic – delicious recipes, simple clean layout and stunning photographs.

I have never been a ‘Cosmo’ kind of a girl but I used to buy the magazine every month without fail just for  Phillippa Cheifitz’s recipes. As Jane Raphaely, the publisher, says in her forward, ‘We don’t live to eat – we love to eat and the results are the most delectable food ever featured in a magazine. Our secret ingredient is the cook.’ She was right.

Having been unlucky with the purchase of the gift voucher I thought I’d have a quick look at the cooking section and was bowled over to find an unused copy of The Cosmopolitan Cookbook. Naturally I snapped it up immediately along with Nigel Slater’s Eating for England and James Beard’s Beard on Food.  All three for the very reasonable price of R55.

Beard on Food, Eating for England, The Cosmopolitan Cookbook

So what are my top ten recipes from The Cosmopolitan Cookbook?

  1. I have to start with the Homemade Pasta recipe which, along with a pasta machine  I received as a wedding present, inspired me to make my own pasta for many years.
  2. Caviar and Cream Sauce  to serve with pasta. You’d be hard pressed to lay your hands on a more luxurious yet quick-and-easy recipe. It even found its way onto my hiking foods menu when my younger sister and I made it on day one of the eight day 120km Namib Naukluft hiking trail. The pop of the caviar (actually Danish lumpfish roe) in your mouth, with the acidy lemon, silky creamy pasta and spicy black pepper is just about as perfect a combination of flavours and textures as can be imagined. I’ll sneak in the Fresh Tomato and Anchovy Sauce here too. This incredibly flavoursome sauce once eaten at dinner parties by my friends and me now finds its way into school lunch boxes.
  3. The Mexican recipes –  Guacamole, Tortillas, Chilli Con Carne, Salsa and Frozen Margarita – have been made to death and in great quantities over the years and served on all occasions from tequila-fuelled dinner parties to school night suppers. These days, though, Woolworths is part of the process with their pre-packaged tortillas. Good or bad? I’m not sure.
  4. Rose Petal Tart, so beautiful and perfect, was made by a friend for my wedding. I must make that again! The Strawberry Tart is also beautiful and perfect.
  5. Janssen’s Temptation – served with a green salad for the most perfect week-night supper.
  6. Fig and Ricotta Mould – a staple of my younger sister’s repertoire and a perfect way to end any meal.
  7. Tropical Crayfish Cocktail. An exquisite combination of avo, papino and shellfish with a lightly curried dressing topped with crunchy nuts and fresh coriander  first made by my older sister but now a firm family favourite. The dressing is delicious and I use it all the time on a variety of salads, most recently on a chicken and prickly pear salad.
  8. Croquembouche – the spectacular French dessert I once made for a friend’s wedding. Although we filled the profiteroles with chocolate mousse and not custard.
  9. The Baked Orange Chicken has been a thirty year stalwart, present from carefree single days through to family weekday suppers.
  10. The fillet recipes with both green and black peppercorns and the various mushroom sauce recipes are the inspiration for many a steak supper.

That’s my top ten from the book  and if I had to go through the magazine clippings the list could easily treble. I’ll leave that for another day. It is a little worrying though that this list is very weddingy. What is this –  a Cosmo girl kind of a thing?

Tropical Crayfish Cocktail Phillippa Cheifitz

Just to prove I’m no typical Cosmo girl here is a list of Cosmo girl attributes with their matching recipes:

  • Fun – Frozen Margarita
  • Fearless – Croquembouche
  • Female – Rose Petal Tart

Oops, well maybe it’s not so bad to be a Cosmo girl after all.

Petal Tart Phillippa Cheifitz

P.S – If you are tempted to buy the book – just Google it – there are a number of copies available online. and for tons of Phillippa Cheifitz’s more recent recipes have a look at Woolworths Taste magazine.