Can cooking calm chaos? That’s the idea behind new—and funny AF—cookbook, Hot Mess Kitchen, which serves up delicious recipes for a “disastrous life.” Hungry for more?
Written by Gabi Moskowitz, creator of hilarious food blog BrokeAss Gourmet, and Miranda Berman, a writer on The Mindy Project, Hot Mess Kitchen (Grand Central Life & Style, $32) is probably the funniest cookbook we’ve seen in a loooong time. (Mindy Kaling wrote the book’s foreword and it’s been endorsed by Girls writer Jenni Konner.) With recipes like, “Quarter-Life Crisis Queso” and, “F-ck It, Let’s Just Get Stoned Nachos,” Gabi and Miranda make cooking fun—and offer an edible solution to all of life’s problems. The best part? All recipes are budget-friendly. Cha ching!
FLARE chatted with Moskowitz and Berman about why cooking gives them control over own their lives, how to make tasty shit when you’re broke, and what you should whip up for a date if you want to win them over. We also asked them about avocado toast, because #millennials.
Why did you two decide to get together and write this cookbook?
Moskowitz: We connected in the most millennial way ever: through social media on B.J. Novak’s app, Li.st. Miranda would send me requests for recipes with hilarious names like, “Best Meal to Trick a Guy into Falling in Love With You” or “I’m Ready to Sleep With You Chocolate Dessert” and I would fulfill them. We both had a ton of fun with the exchanges, and eventually got to talking offline…what if there were a cookbook that combined hilarious titles and stories with really good, approachable recipes? Within a week we were writing a book proposal together.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about cooking?
Moskowitz: That it’s hard. When you have confidence, it’s much easier than you might think!
The names of your recipes are hilarious. Why was humour an important part of this book?
Berman: Humour offered us a chance to grab the attention of readers who don’t necessarily cook, and to get them in the kitchen. Maybe they would pick this book up for the jokes and then actually start cooking once they bought it. The other thing is that this book is largely for new cooks, and we want those cooks to know that if they’re afraid, we understand where they’re coming from. We’ve been in their shoes and maybe sometimes, still are! Jokes are the best way to get people on your side.
The titles also invoke specific situations. It’s like saying, “Hey, we know this will happen to you so why not cook during it!” It’s a cooking call to action through jokes.
Each recipe starts with a little anecdote. Are these inspired by your own lives?
Berman: Most of them are! A few of the intros are funny musings, but for the most part the anecdotes are inspired by our lives, if not taken directly from them.
Why do you think so many millennials rely on takeout, Uber Eats and leftovers? Are we just lazy or is it because we don’t know how to cook?
Berman: It seems to be a mixture of both. If you already don’t know how to cook, then why bother learning now when you can have anything delivered? Millennials value convenience over everything. It’s a very hard pattern to break. And we’re just doing our part to help everyone break it!
How did cooking help you gain some control over your own “hot mess” lives?
Berman: It makes me feel like I’m trying a little harder to take care of myself. Also, it distracts me during anxiety attacks.
Moskowitz: Cooking has always been my therapy. There’s something about the alchemy of turning a few simple ingredients into more than the sum of their parts using basic techniques that has always helped me feel more in control of my little world.
I grew up watching women in the kitchen, while men just ate the food when it was ready. Do you think women are still expected to do the bulk of a household’s cooking?
Moskowitz: I agree that it’s changing, for sure. I definitely do a lot more of the cooking in my household, but that’s because I’m a professional and my husband and I would both rather eat my cooking. But there are definitely nights when he handles the food (he makes an amazing Shakshuka that I often request when I am coming home late at night from the airport). But my brother cooks, and many of my male friends cook. I probably know more young couples who share culinary duties down the middle than where only the woman is in charge.
A lot of your recipes are low-cost compared to some *fancy* gourmet recipe books. Why was being budget-conscious important for this book?
Moskowitz: Well, I got my start in food writing by writing about inexpensive food on my blog BrokeAss Gourmet, and it’s very much my perspective that good food doesn’t have to be expensive. Also, Miranda and I both have had plenty of personal experience being broke and needing to budget, and it seemed to be a core part of being a hot mess.
What’s your take on avocado toast?
Moskowitz: I’ve been making avocado toast since way before it was cool. I think as long as you’re using fresh ingredients and treating them simply, there’s no way to screw it up. Make sure you use enough salt to bring out the avocado’s flavour and plenty of acid—I like lemon juice—because the creamy avocado needs freshness to balance it. Does it always need to be Instagrammed? Maybe not, but it sure does look pretty.
Berman: Broccoli toast.
Say I’m cooking for my crush for the first time and I want to impress them. What should I make?
Berman: Obviously, “Easiest Roast Chicken to Trick Someone into Falling in Love with You,” from Hot Mess Kitchen. Or “Third Date Dumplings.”
Moskowitz: “Third Date Dumplings,” for sure. I invented them on my third date with my husband, because I wanted to make something we could cook together. It’s easy, fun, unique, and delicious.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Berman: Assume everybody likes you. Worrying about whether or not people hate you is a waste of time and will ruin you. Also try really hard! And don’t take yourself too seriously; not every project defines you as a writer. The only way you’ll get better is by moving forward.
Moskowitz: My friend Stuart Schuffman, who is an amazing writer in San Francisco, told me to work my ass off, be a mensch (Yiddish for good person) to everyone, and have monk-like patience. I try to always remember those things.
What’s one food you could never get sick of?
Berman: Grilled calamari. And pork chops. Not necessarily together.
Moskowitz: I am always hungry for Chinese potstickers.
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