{5 MINUTES WITH...}

The cupcake queen

How do you throw a great party? With help from Amy Sedaris.

Best known for her role as Jerry (sic) Blank, the washed-up, 47-year-old high schooler with a bad overbite on Strangers With Candy, Amy Sedaris (yes, David is her brother) unveils hidden domestic talents with her new cookbook, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Warner Books Hardcover, 2006; $27.99). But the hilarious how-to should come with this warning: May cause you to wet your pants. We caught up with Amy as she was elbow-deep in a batch of her famous cheese balls.

Health: What do you want people to get out of I Like You?
Sedaris: Things don't have to be perfect. You don't need saffron. If you don't cook, order in. People aren't entertaining anymore. Everything is so computerized, and we're getting further away from talking to one another. If you surround yourself with people you like, it just kind of happens. (Just stay away from those folks you wouldn't sit next to on a bus.)

For those who go pale at the thought of throwing a party, what's the best way to get over the fear?
Just throw the damn thing! It's no big deal; it's fun and creative and generous. If something goes wrong, laugh it off.

So if you do throw the damn thing, what makes for a great hostess?
Owl-like behavior. Constantly keeping an eye on everything. I learned it from waitressing. You've got to do it like you're a ghost-clearing and setting more food out without disrupting your guests.

You sell your cheese balls at a New York grocery store called Gourmet Garage and your cupcakes at New York's Joe: The Art of Coffee, and Sarah Jessica Parker is a big fan of the cupcakes. What made you start selling them?
I sell my cupcakes to support my rabbit, Dusty. I use the money as an allowance and spend it on greens, hay, and treats for her. Sarah turned me onto the cafe, and they started selling them. Sarah's a good neighbor to have because when I need to borrow a nut bowl, she'll have 16 to choose from.

Would you rather be known for your Chicken of The Taverns recipe, or for your role as Jerry Blank?
Good question. Jerry Blank is really for the misfits and outcasts and ugly people out there. I'm a very domestic person. I like to stay indoors and cook and clean. I live in an apron because it can pull a whole outfit together. And I like to have a group of people over and just chitchat, so it's a 50-50.

—Frances A. Largeman-Roth, RD

© 2006 Health