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A Dirty Cookbook? Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You.


I have held off writing about this cookbook that I really, really love, because I was worried that I might offend someone. I can’t wait any longer, so my solution is as follows: I am writing about it, and if you are easily offended, skip down to the recipe. There.

The cookbook in question, which is much more than a cookbook, is called I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, and is written by Amy Sedaris. Amy Sedaris, in addition to being the sister of my idol David Sedaris, is an actress best known for her role in “Strangers with Candy.” She is unnaturally funny, has a keen grasp of pop culture past and present, and even if one does not cook, this book is worth reading  just for the “helpful suggestions,” the photographs and the illustrations. In the first chapter, “what a Party Means to Me,” Sedaris gives the following pointers for being a “Self-Realized” person:

-Be unique in a way that is pleasing to everybody.

-Accentuate the positives – medicate the negatives.

-Have a hairstyle that is flattering to some and offensive to few.

-Have access to money.

-Never cry yourself to sleep in front of others.

The entire book has a retro sensibility that will be immediately familiar to any 40-something who read books like The Seventeen Guide for Girls, or Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cookbook. (There is even a picture of a bean mosaic – that standby of 1970s summer day camp).betty-crocker This is emphatically NOT, however, a book to give to your young children, your friend who believes that “American Beauty” glorifies pedophilia, or anyone that you don’t know very, very well. There is, for example, a recipe for “Three Way Cake” with “cupcakes as sloppy seconds,” and directions for a “Ladies Night” party including (hilarious) directions for vaginal self-examination. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In addition to a very smart and funny read, Amy Sedaris gives us a lot of seriously great recipes, because she really can, and does cook. Many of the recipes are Greek, and every one I have tried (and I’ve tried a lot of them) has been excellent. Her Pastitsio is one of my standard dinner party dishes, served with her Greek Beans and a salad. Her Zucchini Fritters are to die for, her Lil Smoky Cheese Ball is fabulous. You need to buy the book. No, wait: you need to buy the book if you are an adult, not easily offended, and you have looked at it in the bookstore so you won’t be shocked when you get home.

Here, for those who can’t wait, or are easily offended, is:

Amy Sedaris’ Pastitsio Recipe

(from I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence)



*1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
* 5 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup parmesan cheese or kefalotiri
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* salt and pepper
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Meat Sauce

* 1-1 1/2 lb ground beef
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 crushed garlic clove
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 can tomato paste, small
* 1/2 cup red wine
* 8 ounces beef broth or stock
* 2 tablespoons parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* salt and pepper

Cream Sauce

* 1/3 cup butter
* 1/2 cup flour
* 3 cups milk
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* salt and pepper
* 1 egg


1.Preheat oven to 350°F
2.In a large pot, boil and drain your ziti, return to pot. Melt butter. Pour over ziti and toss. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Save a little of the cheese to sprinkle over the top before baking. Toss again and set aside. Let it cool a little before adding the eggs. Toss well.
3.To make meat sauce, brown meat in a frying pan until almost fully cooked. Drain off the fat and set the meat aside. Fry onion and garlic in oil. Add meat and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4.To make the cream sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until smooth. Add milk all at once and bring to a boil, stiring constantly. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let it cool, then stir in th beaten egg.
5.Add 1/2 cup of this cream sauce to the meat sauce and mix.
6.To assemble, use a 13x9x3 inch oven dish, buttered. Spoon 1/2 of the macaroni evenly on the bottom, then top with the meat sauce. Cover that layer with remaining macaroni. Pour on cream sauce and spread over the entire top. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake until a little brown, about 45 minutes.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

16 responses »

  1. I love this book and bought it a couple of years ago as a birthday gift for my sister. Amy is the real deal. I’m happy to see you cook from it and give us an atypical “cook the book” blog post.

  2. Diana, it may actually be in my top 5 most-actually-used cook books, and even when I’m not “using” it, it makes me smile. I am, however (protects head) prepared for fallout on this one. 🙂

  3. I love Pastitsio-a real live Cypriot mom made it for me once and I’ve been reluctant to try myself for fear of coming up short, but this recipe looks really easy and good. Not much into vaginal self-examination, however. heh.

  4. I am laughing on so many levels. First Amy Sedaris, I will note, is also in the movie. . . Elf 🙂 a movie that, as you know, makes me smile, because smiling is my favorite. Second I will not give this to my MIL (mother in law) b/c she IS one of those people who thinks American Beauty is about pedophilia, and I’ve never heard a reference to that before. When she said it Todd and I sort of just cocked our heads in this huh? fashion and left it at that. The recipe sounds delish. I’m still pondering what to do with my gift card to Schulers, this may be added as a possibility. Thanks for the post.

  5. Eric, it’s pretty easy (although time consuming) and quite authentic, especially if you can find the Greek cheese, which you probably can. It is very rich, so you may want to have people so that you and Dale don;t end up eating it every day for a week.

    Michelle, I forgot she was in “Elf.” Another plus for Amy. I am totally baffled by the “American Beauty”/pedophilia thing, but (as you know) there are people who miss all the interesting parts and see only Old Guy and Teenage Girl. Too sad. I say buy it – I really use it a lot, and you are guaranteed a night of laughing out loud while you read through it.

  6. This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Are you sure we’re not related?

  7. I made this tonight…it’s in the oven. I’ll let you know how it turned out!

  8. katie – I hope you love it! If you do, I get credit. If you don’t, it’s Amy’s fault. (I think you’ll be happy, though).

  9. It was yummy–and I have a feeling it will be even better tomorrow as leftovers. Does the cookbook give suggestions of what to serve with it?

  10. I love this book too…I need to buy it. I want to make Steven Colbert’s Shrimp Paste…the recipe’s in the book.

  11. katie, I’m so glad you enjoyed it – I have only made it for big groups and never had any leftovers, but I bet it will be better. She doesn’t suggest accompaniments, but i always pair it with her Greek green beans and tomatoes and a salad with some feta and Kalamata olives.

    Mom’s Kitchen – there seem to be a few “celebrity related” recipes in the book, although i haven’t tried any of them yet.

  12. this sounds too good to pass up…I’ll be making this for Valentine’s…yummy!

  13. Alisa, did you try it? Did you love it? Let me know?

  14. Pingback: From the Cloud That Was My Dinner Party: The Silver Lining of Advice « Forest Street Kitchen

  15. Amy’s cookbook is great! I saw it’s now out in paperback version so that’s a nice cheaper alt. to the hardcover.. She’s so funny (like the blog says.. for adults w/ a good sense of humor) I have followed hers and David’s careers.. both very talented. She has a cupcake buisness in NYC. I worked in a Greek place for a while and to tell you the truth I like her pastitsio better… someone asked what to make w/ it.. I’d suggest faslacia (green beans in stewed tomato dill sauce… might not sound great to everyone but.. try it.. it’s really good 🙂

    • Thanks for reading, Jim! I will definitely take your expert suggestion. I think I heard about the cupcake business…I think she sells cheese balls, too?


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