"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance" - Coco Chanel to Harper's Bazaar (1923)

Sweet & Victuals is written for the busy gastronome and party host/hostess.

The author (and photographer) of Sweet & Victuals is a twentysomething female Manhattan corporate attorney who loves food, cooking, and entertaining but who sadly has very little time to spare in the kitchen or at the grocery market.

So here it is, for those food-lovers living hectic lives under the spell of a ticking clock: a collection of painless secrets and methods to whip up tapas, desserts, or hors d'oeuvres for a quick meal or for your next cocktail party. Each in 15 minutes or less. With 5 ingredients or less.

Q. Why only 5 ingredients?

A. I'm a combination of a practical cat and an absent-minded professor. Five is the number of ingredients I can keep in my head on the way to the grocery store without forgetting or having to write a list. (A list which I might lose on the way to the grocery store.) Also, if I'm ever stranded on a desert island, I'll know the ingredients to my recipes by heart without having to consult a cookbook.

Q. Why only 15 minutes of prep time?

A. Everything in Manhattan is delivered or served up so quickly. If it takes longer than 15 minutes to make in my kitchen, I might be tempted to order off a take-out menu or eat out instead. And while I love sampling new restaurants in the city, I'm of the philosophy that it's also healthy and meditative to cook for yourself at home at least 2 or 3 times a week.

Q. What makes you think you're qualified to write this blog?

A. Mmmm, well, there is that nagging compulsive urge to write coupled with an irrational obsession with food.

But more importantly, I am a culinary amateur. So I write for other amateurs like myself, in lay-person terms, with accessible recipes.

I have, in the past, completed an Essentials of Fine Cooking Course at the French Culinary Institute in Soho, but I am in fact mostly self-taught by creating experimental messes in my own kitchen or by imitating the many excellent and diverse cooks I have been fortunate enough to call friends through the years.

But the more I've practiced, the more I've realized that cooking at home should be easy, joyful and fun. Gourmet dishes don't always have to be byzantine and elaborate. If you're short on time, there are ways you can achieve deliciousness and sophistication with the same ease it takes to assemble a peanut butter jelly sandwich.