Gabi Moskowitz: Great Food, Hold the Pretense

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h1Suddenly, leftovers were transformed into bistro-worthy fare, and I had to spread the word.

Gabi Moskowitz, BrokeAss Gourmet

What's not to love about a site and cookbook that promise restaurant-quality food that's easy to make and doesn't cost an arm and a leg? Welcome to Gabi Moskowitz's world as The BrokeAss Gourmet. As a former caterer and cooking teacher Gabi is a master of turning a few seasonal and affordable ingredients into a restaurant-worthy meal, usually for $20 or less.

This month Gabi is releasing her first book, The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook. If you're in the Bay Area, catch her book release party on Thursday May 10th at 7:00pm at Green Apple Books on Clement St. in San Francisco.

We checked in with her before the party to learn more about her most popular recipes of all time, what opportunities her site has opened up for her besides the book – and what's next.

Your recipes definitely emphasize the Gourmet over Broke – where do you get your best inspiration for what to make or recreate? I am a voracious reader of food magazines, cookbooks and other food blogs. I also love to hit up fancy restaurants during happy hour, to try some of their smaller plates when their prices are reduced. I'll take notes and then attempt to recreate it at home on the cheap.

Most of your recipes serve four people and the ingredients cost less than $20. Any plans to up that with inflation? : ) Ooh, I love a challenge! As the overall cost of living increases, I'll just have to work harder to scope out the best deals on fresh food. Fresh food is really the key to saving money. Simple, fresh ingredients, prepared simply. Processed/packaged foods are the money-suckers.

What was your breakout post – or what was the breakout even that put you on the map? I wrote something called "The Wonders of Pizza Dough," about 3 years ago, and it's still my most-visited post. Basically, while very broke, I discovered that I could eat well for days on end using little more than fresh pizza dough. Suddenly, leftovers were transformed into bistro-worthy fare, and I had to spread the word. People always tell me that my pizza dough changed their lives.

For people new to your site, what are your all-time most popular recipes? Brown Butter Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, Cheddar-Thyme Potato Knishes, Brown Sugar-Sriracha Hot Wings and Bialys. And just about anything with pizza dough.

You're also a contributor to Appetite Apps – how did that start? Clear Media, the company behind Appetites, reached out to me in Fall of 2010 about participating in Appetites, and when they described their plan for the app, I knew I had to get involved. It truly was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. It's an absolutely brilliant, gorgeously produced tool for new and seasoned cooks alike.

What other food sites are your soulmates and why? I read The Kitchn constantly. Sarah Kate Gillingham-Ryan's down to earth, unpretentious yet super-creative take on food is inspiring. Adam Roberts of of Amateur Gourmet makes me want to be a better blogger, and Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen makes food obsessiveness fun.

You have a book! Congrats! What did writing a book let you do that you couldn't do on the Web? Thanks! I'm so excited! When you write a post on the Web, you can link to other articles to further illustrate a point. You can't do that in a book. You have to write it all yourself, right there. It forced me to be more thorough in my explanations. It was challenging, but very worthwhile.

Give us a preview – what are some faves we'll find in the book? In addition to recipes, the book contains tips for stocking a stellar pantry, building a budget bar, shopping at the farmers market and throwing a party without parting with much cash. As far as recipes go, my salted fudge brownies will change your life, as will my truffled mac and cheese (yes, you CAN have truffles on a budget!)

Besides the book, what other opportunities has Brokeass Gourmet opened up for you that wouldn't have happened otherwise? Oh, I mean ... pretty much everything! I get asked to sit on panels about food and finance, I've done TV segments on budget cooking--Appetites, this book (and a second one, due out in December). It's been amazing.

What's a food trend you're particularly excited about right now? I am super into deconstructed sandwiches. It's a fun way to really get to know your lunch.

Follow Gabi on Twitter @BrokeAssGourmet, and if you're in the Bay Area don't forget to catch The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook party this Thursday. BrokeAss Gourmet is a SAY Media partner.