Julia Bainbridge, Senior Web Editor at Bon Appétit

Julia Bainbridge, Senior Web Editor at Bon Appétit

A girl on the go with singular style -- that's Julia in a nutshell for you. As part of the digital team behind one of the hottest food publications around, Julia tempers the pressures of her high-profile role by maintaining a deep sense of family, history and tradition. It's a quality that extends to her down-to-earth entertaining style (think more comforting roast chicken dinners than, say, splashy restaurant-style productions). In a world full of changing trends and fickle desires, it's refreshing to meet someone whose conviction is as decisive as her blunt 'do.

Read on for a gorgeous recipe for clams with chorizo and a peek at droolworthy objets d'art for days!

Hi Julia! Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your role at Bon Appétit.

Hmm. How far back do I go? I grew up lucky enough to travel a good bit, so my mind was open to different foodways at a young age. But I didn't really cook. I regret that, because my grandmother was a whiz, and instead of learning from her, most of my time in her kitchen was spent nibbling on beautiful roasts of lamb before they were set on the table. (The "pickins," she called them.)

In college, I read Sydney Mintz and some of the other great food anthropologists and realized there was this whole academic world of food writing. That's not what I do now, but it's what planted the seed, I think. I decided to go to culinary school after college, thinking it would give me an edge. Little did I know then, lots of food journalists have formal culinary educations. It was an accelerated program, so I didn't come out being a great cook, with all of the mother sauces under my belt—I couldn't make a Hollandaise right now if you asked me to—but I gained familiarity with technique and terminology. While I was there, I interned at the San Francisco Chronicle's food and wine sections. Then I moved to New York, got my first gig at Food & Wine—I worked on the cocktail book with Jim Meehan and Kate Krader—then to Condé Nast Traveler, and now at Bon Appétit.

I wear a zillion different hats at BA. That's just the nature of web editorship. I write, I edit, I copy edit, I photo edit, I style shoots, I prop shop, I assign stories, I pay photographers—you've gotta be scrappy.

Left: Great-grandmother Garrett holds court in Julia's Brooklyn home | Right: Keepin' it classy

We envy your access to what must be a wealth of food knowledge and inspiration. Do you think you've improved as a cook and/or writer since working for BA?

Most definitely. So much of cooking well, I think, is about familiarity with ingredients. I'm around food all day every day, and I'm watching people who really know what they're doing play with new dishes, new combinations, new ways of doing things. Taking a look at the pantry of the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, now that would be a trip.

My writing has also improved. That's partly because the editors I work with are awesome and partly because I'm not precious about my writing. I welcome criticism, and while I have a sense of what my own rhythm is and what sounds like "me," I'm open to changing things in the name of a better piece overall. Does that sound earnest? I guess so… I just really love my job. I get to work with words and ideas all day with really smart people.

That said, I think I'm a better editor than I am a writer.

Most importantly, the quality of my ideas has improved. This is a competitive environment, and for an idea to make it into the magazine, it has to hit that sweet spot at the marriage of the many elements our top editors are looking for. Now that this new guard of BA has been together for more than two years, we really have our footing. We know who we are, we know who our readers are, and we know how to speak to them.

Play out your ideal dinner party for us: mood, decor, music, guests and obviously, food!

This could take a whole book!

The food should straddle that fine line between rustic and inventive, the wine should be overflowing, the music should be humming in the background (The Birth of Cool is my go-to), the decor… just my apartment. I publicly bemoan the fact that, in New York City, apartments are too small for proper dining tables, but privately I like that everyone assembles around my coffee table, some on couches, some cross-legged on the floor. It brings a level of intimacy to the whole thing. And while some of the plates may be formal, my attitude never is, and I hope my guests' aren't, either. One design choice I made recently was definitely more for others than for myself, though: My friends at Flat Vernacular made this crazy psychedelic floral wallpaper and I put it in my bathroom. The goal is for people to come back to the party feeling like they've just stepped into another universe. And I think I succeeded.


Julia's love of print and color extends far beyond her bathroom walls

Back to the formality thing: I don't like stuffiness, but etiquette is important to me. My biggest rule: no phones. Next: don't F with my music. This is a curated experience. Finally, I walk guests to the door to see them off. Give them a squeeze, send them on their way with a treat. That's kind of a signature of mine: I always send a little packed baked good home with people. It makes the party really feel like an event.

Favorite restaurants? Any hot spots worth seeking out?

I'm less into hot spots, but I do have to stay current for my job and did have a great meal at Chez SardineMaison Premiere's garden area is so romantic. At Broder in Portland, OR, I had the best Bloody Mary of my life—everything imaginable was pickled and threaded onto a toothpick that bridged the mouth of the glass. I love sitting near the window at Hillside in Vinegar Hill--that magical, almost-forgotten little corner of New York—on a Friday evening after work. It feels so comfortable in there, and the wine list is well-executed. I'll always keep going back to Keens.

Bottom's up! A fun family heirloom from Harvard drinking days of yore

How would you describe your cooking style and food aesthetic?

I'm not a complicated cook. Roast chicken, some simple mixed greens, crusty bread and wine is the menu of my most delicious dreams. (That's actually my go-to for dinner parties. When in doubt, roast a chicken.) I try new things here and there when I'm inspired by a particular chef or new cookbook, but I'm still working on mastering the basics. Granted, because of my job, the basics to me are more complicated than the basics for a lot of people out there, but still. I'm not going to be sous vide-ing at home.

As a busy gal working for a major food publication, we imagine many meals are spent out on the town. How often do you cook for yourself versus eat out?

During the weeknights, it's half and half. On the weekends, I never go out, unless it's for brunch (every chef's nightmare meal!).

It's so important to cook for yourself, especially when you do what I do. It anchors you in a sea of trends. And, when you know what the process of putting food on a plate is like because you've done it with your own hands, it gives you an appreciation for what chefs are doing. And a curiosity about their technique. How can you pinpoint a bold flavor decision if you don't know that it's a bold flavor decision, because you have no contextual knowledge of how these flavors normally work? Cooking helps you listen to what chefs are trying to communicate. This is a language you have to speak, to a degree, to understand.

Plus I just love feeding my friends.

Favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?

I'm simple when it comes to gadgets. A sharp knife, a well-seasoned cast iron pan. These two seem to be the most important. But I would like a good salad spinner or some other not-invented-yet way to dry lettuce. Currently, I pat the leaves dry with towels. Ugh.

Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?

Broadway Panhandler and Chinatown.

Top pantry essentials?

I love furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning, and I keep it around all the time. I like it on rice, on popcorn, on eggs—it's an awesome mix of nori, sesame seeds and dried, ground fish.

Also, tomato paste is underrated. We all cook with it—it's the foundation of so many things—but what about considering it as a bigger element? The flavor is so rich, and the acidity can work wonders.

What is your go-to entertaining dish sure to draw raves from guests?

I labored over a cassoulet this winter that was a big hit. But something I returned to again and again that season was a citrus salad that's prepared like a carpaccio. In other words, I thinly slice oranges, grapefruit, and blood oranges crosswise and place them just slightly overlapping, but really on one layer, on a big platter. I save the juices from the citrus and mix them into a dressing with olive oil and maybe some Champagne vinegar and salt. I drizzle the dressing atop the slices and then scatter some mint leaves on top of the whole thing, finishing with flaky salt. If you have them, thinly sliced red onions and fennel—cut on a mandoline—are good in this, too.

Basically, I think simple dishes—ones that contain few ingredients, but in which those ingredients are prepared in ways people haven't thought of before—get the most raves. And my go-to cocktail bite trick is still radishes, halved and served in a bowl with good, room-temperature butter and flaky salt served on the side, to be applied as the nibbler sees fit. My non-foodie friends are still impressed when they see this, and the foodie ones know they can't turn away a perfectly peppery radish.

Do you have an unexpected ingredient you love to use?

I'm trying to figure out how to play with rose extract in baked goods. You can go into grandmother's perfume territory very easily, and that's not an association you want when you're biting into a pretty little cookie.

Any guilty pleasure food?

I don't like to associate food with guilt. There's nothing too high or low for me—there's no ingredient I wouldn't display on my bookshelf, in other words. (Although, sure, some would make it to the coffee table…)

Chefs and food producers you admire?

Fearlessness and playfulness are two qualities I admire in a cook. My friend, Nick Pandolfi, will pick up some uni at the store, try to make some uni butter with it, toss some pasta in it, steam some clams to put on top, and serve it to a group of five. Like, he'll come up with the idea on his walk to the grocery store, throw it together while people are having a drink, and serve it up without a worry. This is how it goes every time I dine at his house. He really impresses me.

Otherwise, it's about knowledge and treatment of ingredients. Watch Suzanne Goin make a salad or the Canal House cooks make anything and you'll know what I mean. These people are cooking on two solid feet.

Whose pantry would you like to raid? 

Can I Frankenstein mine? And go for the whole kitchen? Here goes: Bon Appétit Food and Features Editor and wonder-mom Carla Lalli Music's freezer, BA's very chic Executive Editor Christine Muhlke's tea cupboard, cookie guru Dorie Greenspan's baking arsenal, PDT's Jim Meehan's liquor cabinet, and Seattle-based recipe developer and writer Sara Dickerman's fridge. Oh, and San Francisco food photographer Kimberley Hasselbrink's prop closet. I could throw some bangin' dinner parties with those goodies…

The same beautiful china from Julia's childhood grace her current dinnerware cabinets

Courtesy of Bon Appétit (April 2013); recipe by Alison Roman

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, whites halved and sliced; greens sliced on a diagonal, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris)
5 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
Toasted bread (for serving)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring often, until some fat has rendered and chorizo begins to crisp, about 4 minutes.

Add potatoes, spring onion whites, and garlic. Cook, tossing often, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 10-12 minutes. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups water and continue to cook until potatoes are just tender, 5-8 minutes longer.

Add clams and half of onion greens, cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until clams have opened, 8-10 minutes (discard any clams that do not open).

Divide clam mixture among bowls. Top with remaining onion greens and serve with toast.

Be sure to follow Julia's stylish escapades via InstagramTwitterFacebookVine (@juliabainbridge), Tumblr and of course, Bon Appétit

*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.

Mark Andrew Gravel, Independent Cook, Designer and Author of "Kill the Recipe"

Mark Andrew Gravel, Independent Cook, Designer and Author of Kill the Recipe

Mark's shoot couldn't have come at a better time. Without ever intending to, we realized we had featured only women here on Pantry Confidential since our first post a little more than a year ago (A year! Already!). It's high time we mix things up, wouldn't you say? And Mark couldn't be a better inaugural male subject - passionate about food, art and the wholly sensory experiences derived from each. His first book, Kill the Recipe, is an homage to beans and cooking locally, sensibly and economically. We totally fell in love with his pared down style, which is fully extended to his minimal cooking aesthetic. A laid-back man with an appreciation for beautiful art, delicious food and cleanliness... did we mention he's single?

Read on to find out the biggest misconception about beans and the best joint for dub reggae beats in Greenpoint - plus, a giveaway!

Hi Mark! Please tell us what you do and a bit about your culinary/design background.

I cook and design. I’m lucky because these are two of my passions, and I’m able to do both for work. I’m originally from Winston-Salem, N.C., and I came to New York in 2005 for the Food Studies program at NYU. Prior to that, I studied Culinary Arts in Charleston, S.C. While I was at NYU, the Food Studies program was still pretty young so there was a lot of room to individualize your study, which gave me the freedom to combine my design interests with my cooking background. While I was finishing school, I started Good Farm, an art and agriculture blog that showcased and celebrated the agrarian avant-garde, which are the forward thinking farmers, cooks, eaters, educators, activists, and artists reclaiming our land, our communities and our health. Since then, I’ve transitioned Good Farm to a foraging project that draws on a network of place-based producers to source local food for a variety of food businesses and events.

During this time, I also put together a collage art food zine with some friends called Food + Sex, which visually explored how desire shapes our food environment. I was living in San Francisco while working on Food + Sex and when I first landed in San Francisco, I wound up cooking with Chris Kronner and Danny Bowien at a temporary restaurant called Good Evening Thursday in the Mission neighborhood. I was really enjoying cooking in this alternative environment, so I wound up doing some of my own projects at my friend’s space called Gravel & Gold (the name is a coincidence!) At Gravel & Gold, I hosted bean-based dinners and daytime pop-ups, which eventually became known as Bean-Ins. While at a friend’s dinner, I met an artist named Natasha Wheat and she invited me to collaborate with her and Sarah Magrish Cline, a designer, to host a daylong Bean-In at California College of the Arts. For me, this was the pinnacle of Bean-In as well as the conclusion. After San Francisco, I moved back to New York and did a few more pop-ups then took a break and moved back to North Carolina to work on Kill the Recipe. As of now, Kill the Recipe is out, I’m back in New York and I’m currently working on a social cooking app.

How would you describe your cooking style?

My cooking style and aesthetic is minimalist because I believe that keeping it simple is really important. As for my cooking, it’s definitely bean-rich. I like to think of meat as more of a complement to a dish than the focus. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t eat a lot of beans growing up, but once I discovered how satisfying good beans could be I was hooked.

What is your favorite bean and how do you like to prepare it? 

I really love heirloom cowpeas. They’re a staple of traditional Lowcountry cooking and an essential ingredient in classic Hoppin’ John. Most Hoppin’ John made today is made with black-eyed peas, and it’s just not the same. My favorite way to make cowpeas is by simmering them with onion, garlic, bay leaves and a little bit of butter. It’s so satisfying and the leftover broth is amazing.

What are the biggest challenges you've encountered while spreading the bean gospel?

The main misconception is that beans cause digestive problems. It’s actually not a misconception because most beans aren’t cooked properly, and by properly I mean they aren’t cooked long enough. I like to compare beans to BBQ. Beans are full of complex starches and sugars like most cuts used for BBQ are full of tough connective tissues. Like the connective tissues, the starches and sugars need time to break down and become more digestible. If you cook beans long enough this happens and the digestive problems associated with the magical fruit cease to exist. Beans are rad when they’re made right.

Where are some of your favorite places to eat and enjoy a night out?

I love eating at Mission Chinese. They have a surprising amount of legumes incorporated into their menu, which I love. Other than that, I haven’t been eating out much these days. I do, however, enjoy hanging at Nights and Weekends near my house in Greenpoint. They always have the best dub reggae records playing, which also happens to be my favorite thing to cook to.

What are your favorite kitchen utensils?

My mom’s old All-Clad LTDs; they’re well-worn and beautiful.

Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?

Restaurant supply stores.

Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?

Olive oil, coarse salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, a few vinegars, garlic and onions. These are generally the only things in my pantry. :)

Who is your biggest food inspiration?

My grandmother.

Favorite cookbook?

Food Sex Art: Starving Artists Cookbook (currently out of print).

Whose pantry would you like to raid?

Sean Brock’s.

Where can we find your book?

Amazon and killtherecipe.com.


Cowpea, Cauliflower and Spinach Soup with Green Chorizo 

Soak 2 cups of dried Carolina Plantation Cowpeas or Sea Island Red Peas overnight in well-salted water at room temperature. Drain before using.

In a pot, add soaked, drained peas, a small diced onion, a clove of garlic, a few bay leaves, a small piece of butter and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the peas for about 30 minutes or until tender.

When the peas are tender, add 4 cups of shaved, raw cauliflower and 4 cups of steamed, chopped spinach to the pot. Add more water to cover the ingredients and season with salt, black pepper, and a few splashes of vinegar (any type is fine). Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, warm a saute pan over high heat and sear sausage* until the skin is browned (poke a few small holes in the skin of the sausage to prevent bursting before adding it to the pan.)

Reduce heat to finish cooking the sausage, then remove from the pan and slice.

To finish the soup, adjust salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste and ladle into a bowl. Add sliced sausage and serve.

*Substitute regular chorizo or andouille if you can't find green chorizo. Here we used The Meat Hook's amazing Toluca sausage filled with serranos, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and herbs.

Keep up with Mark's many projects on Twitter (@killtherecipe) and his various websites: bouwerie.comgoodfarmmovement.comkilltherecipe.com.

Thanks, Mark! This soup was so delicious, we re-created it at home the same night! For your chance to win a copy of Kill the Recipe and a bag of these gorgeous Carolina Plantation Cowpeas, please leave us a comment sharing your favorite bean recipe. You have until next Friday, December 14, at 11:59pm/EST. Winner will be chosen at random - good luck!

*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.

Mindy Fox, Food Editor of La Cucina Italiana and Author of "Salads: Beyond the Bowl"

Mindy Fox, Food Editor of La Cucina Italiana and Author of Salads: Beyond the Bowl

Don't let that disarming megawatt smile fool you - Mindy means business in the kitchen and she's got the chops to prove it! After years of cooking professionally in restaurant kitchens, Mindy turned to publishing, gracing the general public with her flavorful and often Mediterranean-inflected cooking through titles like A Bird in the Oven and Then Some and Olives and Oranges. Her latest cookbook, Salads: Beyond the Bowl, explores precisely that, shaking up the paradigm of orthodox greens and infusing a fresh, delicious point of view - perfect for now, when the dog days of summer settle in and green markets really start to flourish. Meet this incredible woman whose love of good food is matched only by her passion for good design. A true fox!

(Sorry Mindy, we simply couldn't resist!)

Read on to learn an easy technique for making garlic paste and to find out how to take stock of your fridge "bank account" - plus, your chance to win a copy of Salads: Beyond the Bowl!

Hi Mindy! Please tell us a bit about your background and the incredible road you took to get to where you are today.

I'm the food editor at La Cucina Italiana magazine, and a food writer and cookbook author. I’m so grateful to be able to do a variety of things that I love, including developing, testing and editing recipes; styling food or overseeing styling at photo shoots; and researching, developing and writing food articles. Sometimes I travel to cover an article -- new environments, people, languages, ingredients, architecture, design, history and more are so inspiring to me; all are tied to food and cooking in all sorts of cool ways. Occasionally I do a TV segment to promote my new book, Salads: Beyond the Bowl. I also teach cooking classes.

My mom and dad are serious food enthusiasts and talented at the stove; both are adventurous with food and travel—they’ve influenced and inspired my food from day one. When I was 13, we moved from Chicago via NYC to New England. I was devastated! I missed my friends and felt like an outsider -- a big city kid who needed to form new friendship bonds and adapt to small town life. I sulked for what seemed like forever. Then I got busy with my mom in her kitchen and beautiful gardens. We had apple trees, a blackberry bramble, rhubarb and blueberry bushes, nasturtiums, zucchinis and their blossoms, pumpkins and more. My dad decided to raise a small flock of sheep, so in came the rams and ewes and of course the gorgeous little lambs then arrived (I went through a vegetarian phase at that time!). My mom began to market her famous Fox More Than a Mustard. We earned our allowance by putting labels on jars for her!

We didn't live off the land, but we did harvest and cook with everything we grew and raised. When I opened my eyes to what we had and how life had changed, it was magical. I began my path to understanding the value and quality of organic and freshly harvested ingredients, the deep satisfaction in raising and growing your own food, and the importance of farm preservation and sustainable land use. I spent a lot of time cooking with my mom during those years; it was transformative and the springboard to my career.

At college in Madison, Wis., I worked the outdoor coffee cart for a local cafe called Victor’s. On Saturday mornings I woke at 3am to brew coffee for the farmers' market. I’d pull up to the market around 5:30am to set up. As the sun rose over the Capitol building, the farmers unloaded gorgeous vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, cheeses, honeys, pies, maple syrup, and more from their trucks. Then they’d line up for coffee and to share their bounty with me before the throngs of marketers arrived. The sense of community among the farmers and people who worked the market was fantastic. I’ve found this same sort of bond in the greater food world, too.

My obsession with food and cooking continued to grow in Paris, France, where I spent my junior year studying film theory and photography. It was my first time in Europe. I fell madly in love with the culture of food shopping: going to the butcher for my meat and the cheese shop for my cheese; purchasing pastries from the patisserie. Each artisan doing business from his or her own focused environment felt natural and appropriate. I lived in a tiny maid’s room, with just a sink and a hot plate. No fridge! In the winter, I kept milk and other perishables on my windowsill. I’m amazed to this day how simply and well I cooked and ate in that sweet little space with such elemental tools. After college I worked my way up the line as a restaurant cook in Boston, then came back to NYC, where I landed my dream job as an assistant editor at Saveur. My publishing career grew from there.

Left: Mindy's mother's tasty mustard | Right: A favorite shopping staple

How would you describe your food aesthetic and cooking style?

Fresh and seasonal. Clean, vibrant flavors. Unfussy but dignified, i.e., simple-chic! Not too rule-oriented; healthy, but not without a bit of bacon, chorizo, prosciutto or mortadella often involved! Aside from Dijon mustard and Hellman's mayo (I love both and I use mayo on sandwiches and for quick weeknight aiolis), I’m not big on condiments. I love spices. My favorites include Aleppo pepper, piment d'Espelette, smoked paprika, sumac, coriander, za’atar, fennel pollen and fennel seed, and I rely heavily on good sea salts and freshly cracked pepper. My dad taught me about dried Greek oregano which I find at Greek and ethnic markets, often in long cellophane packages; it’s fantastic – intensely fragrant and flavorful.

What is the motivation behind your latest book focusing on salads?

I'm a serious salad fanatic! Salad is truly part of my everyday eating lifestyle. With Salads: Beyond the Bowl, I teach the craft and balance of a truly great salad. This involves everything from how you shop for, store and handle ingredients to the best way to dress and toss. A few little technique tweaks can help you master the dish!

Since a salad can contain as little as one main ingredient or many, and can include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, grains, pasta, fish, beef, poultry or game, and flavor influence from any culture, the variations are truly endless. And great salads can be made throughout the seasons! Have you ever shredded a raw celery root or shaved raw Brussels sprouts for a salad? You might be surprised how amazing it is!

We all like the idea of incorporating more vegetables and hearty grains and legumes into our diets, and it’s imperative that we do. When healthy food tastes incredible, you forget the “good for you” part. It just becomes fantastic eating.

Nothing is more gratifying to me than when I can contribute to another person’s enjoyment of food and cooking, and share how simple and phenomenal healthy eating can be.

Do you have any good chef/restaurant tips you can impart to the enthusiastic home cook?

I sure do! Much can be said here, but these are my biggies:

1. As much as is reasonably do-able for you, purchase ingredients locally and as close to the time you plan to cook them as possible to ensure vibrant and “alive” flavors.

2. It’s totally ok – encouraged even! — to veer off the recipe roadmap; this can help ensure that you use the freshest of what you find in the market and/or to waste less in your own home by using ingredients you already have on hand.

3. Relating directly to the above, I take an inventory of my fridge contents once or twice a week, and my freezer every few weeks; I jot it all down on a piece of paper and keep it handy to remind me to use up what I have. Chefs do this to look after their bottom line; you can do it, too. In 2010, the New York Times published an article stating that 25 percent of the food we bring into our homes is wasted. Try thinking of your fridge like a food ‘bank account’!

4. Prepare your mise en place (i.e., chop your veggies, garlic, herbs; measure your liquids, etc.) before you go to the stove to begin a recipe, instead of during the cooking process. And “clean as you go.” Both techniques help you keep organized and focused -- a major key to cooking well.

Clean as you go!

What are your favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?

The tools that probably get the biggest daily workouts in my kitchen are my microplane zester, which I use most often to zest lemons and grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and my timers. When you develop and test recipes, it's crucial to have good-quality timers that count both up and down. I also love my adjustable-blade slicer; it cuts radishes, fennel and all sorts of other veggies paper-thin which is very hard, if not tedious, to do with a knife, even a good sharp one, or thicker, depending on what you want. The way you slice a vegetable impacts the way you experience its texture and flavor; the same goes with cheeses and other ingredients.

Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?

Despaña in NYC is one of my all-time favorite shops. They have a Soho location and a lesser know outpost in Queens, which is a great local scene and is where they make their outstanding homemade chorizo and morcilla sausages. I go on Saturdays when as early as 9am they will pour you a glass of red wine to wash down the generous bites of cheeses, olives, sausages and more that are offered for sampling.

(Sounds right up our alley!)

I also love Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market, and Eataly, where the espresso and gelato can’t be beat!! I shop at both often for ingredients for La Cucina Italiana magazine recipes. And I teach classes at Eataly; they have a great school there. 

Also Fante’s, which is very special kitchen shop in Philly. They have an extensive selection of Italian tools, including hard-to-find items like chitarra pasta makers and corzetti stamps. If you love to make pasta, these two shapes are really fun and easy. Check out recipes for chitarra, corzetti and more at La Cucina Italiana.

For kitchen and home gifts, I’m especially crazy about Marimekko, where I purchased the apron I’m wearing and our blue dot coffee cups, and The Global Table in Soho, for gorgeous bowls, serving ware and more.

What are your top pantry essentials in your kitchen?

I always have several high-quality extra-virgin olive oils, plus a good "cooking" ‘EVOO’ on hand. A great red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar and sherry vinegar (there are many others, but those tend to be my most reached for). A selection of high-quality sea salts. Black peppercorns. Garlic—especially fresh from the farmer's market when in season; what a difference! Anchovies. Lemons. Salt-packed capers. Good-quality canned tuna. Good dried pasta; several shapes. Freekeh and farro. Lentils. Sriracha! Pumpkinseed oil is a recent obsession... Honey; lots of varieties. Farmers' market eggs. La Colombe coffee beans!

Who is your biggest professional and personal food inspiration?

So many people! Here are a few:

Dorothy Kalins: My first boss in the food publishing world at Saveur, where she was founding editor. Dorothy is smart, funny, exuberant, demanding for all the right reasons and very real. Her instinct for intuiting what resonates with readers is genius and totally from the heart. Dorothy launched and edited powerhouse magazines for decades. She's produced stacks of fantastic cookbooks, including My New Orleans, by John Besh, which is one of our official 'house favorites'!

Alice Waters, for simple but amazing cooking and cookbooks, and for her beautiful life mission to help people eat better from a young age.

Heidi Swanson, for her unique flavor combinations and gorgeous photography, and her all around elegance and style.

Michael Tusk, for the way he so subtly puts his own touch on Italian cuisine while staying true to root principles of the culture and ingredients, and for his deep knowledge of and excitement about many lesser-known Italian ingredients.

Sara Jenkins: I love how she brings a broad range of Mediterranean ingredients into her Italian cooking. And for her tenacity and her porchetta!

My parents.

Is there a tasty hole-in-the-wall, neighborhood spot you'd be willing to share?

I love Tanoreen in Bay Ridge for delicious Middle Eastern/Mediteranean.

Chao Thai: tiny super-spicy Thai place in Queens.

Casamento's in New Orleans (family-owned since 1919!!) for the oyster loaf sandwich – supremely plump and crispy cornmeal-fried oysters between 2 slices of pillow-soft white Bunny Bread, slathered with a mayo and pickle mash-up and topped with shredded iceberg; a sublime and very particular sort of heaven... There’s a great tiny Mexican resto, hidden in the back of a bodega up here in Washington Heights, where I live... I can’t remember the name!

Favorite cookbooks/blogs/sites?

I love 101 Cookbooks, which is Heidi Swanson’s blog. I also am a dedicated reader of The Improvised Life and Remodelista blogs, which are about creativity, architecture, art and design, with lots of food and kitchen overlap.

I love so many cookbooks; too many to mention, so I’ll name some of the lesser-known: Lebanese Cuisine, by Madelain Farah; The Golden Lemon, by Doris Tobias and Mary Merris; The Geometry of Pasta, by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kennedy; The Balthazar CookbookFrank Stitt’s Southern Table.

AND lovely, interesting, super-cool food writing: Gumbo Tales, by Sara Roahen; Serious Pig, by John Thorne; and anything by Calvin Trillin.

Whose pantries would you like to raid?

1. Angelica and Marcos Intriango; owners of Despaña in Soho -- for AMAZING Spanish everything!!

2. Stanley Tucci -- he's a serious cook, the host of Vine Talk on PBS and is set to debut his cookbook this fall! And his role as Paul Child in Julie & Julia!? WOW; so sweet.

3. Sara Jenkins --we share a love for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients; she introduced me to Aleppo pepper, fennel pollen and sumac, and she’s always finding something new.

4. Massimo Vignelli -- I've actually pawed through his pantry and I'd do it again any day! Massimo designed the award-winning line of colorful melamine stacking dinnerware called Hellerware; I still have pieces from my parents' 70s collection! I’ve written about him for Saveur and Edible Manhattan magazines. He’s one of my design superheroes.

When beautiful form meets practical function: good design on display

What else should we know about you? ;)

My husband, Steve Hoffman, is an architect with his own design/build firm here in NYC, called DBA. He recently redesigned one side of our kitchen (the previous owner had done a gorgeous job with the other side. We surmise that her budget only allowed for that 50%!). We tore out the old and built the new together over one insanely crazy long weekend. We found elegant, simple cabinet doors and drawer fronts at Ikea, which we outfitted with invisible touch latches. And we got our dream fridge, a Fisher & Paykel "Active Smart". After years and years of using very old, super low-quality fridges, we are in supreme fridge heaven, and it's beautiful, too--smooth white with brushed aluminum handles.

Mindy with her sweet dog, Jasper


Panzanella Di Farro | Tuscan Bread Salad with Farro

Courtesy of Salads: Beyond the Bowl, by Mindy Fox

Serves 4 to 6

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Fine sea salt
1 large ear of corn, shucked
½ pound green beans, trimmed
6 tablespoons very good extra virgin olive oil
1¼ cups farro
1 large garlic clove
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Finely ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 cup packed basil leaves, large leaves torn
4 medium radishes, halved and very thinly sliced
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. In a large serving bowl, toss together the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Cook the corn and the green beans together in the boiling water; after 3 minutes, using tongs, transfer the corn to a cutting board. Continue to cook the green beans until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. using tongs, transfer the beans to a colander to drain, pat dry and place in a medium bowl (reserve the pot of water). Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to combine.

Cook the farro in the boiling water that you used for the corn and beans, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the green beans until golden on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Let the beans cool, then cut into 1-inch lengths. Cut the corn kernels off the cob.

On a cutting board, slice the garlic clove, then mound the garlic together with ½ teaspoon salt, and using both the blade and the flat side of a chef's knife, chop and scrape the mixture into a paste. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 5 tablespoons oil and the vinegar. Add the garlic paste and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and vigorously whisk the dressing to combine.

Drain the farro, then spread it on a baking sheet set over a wire rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. When the farro is cool, whisk together the dressing and add it to the tomatoes, along with the farro, green beans, corn, cucumber, basil, radishes, scallions, ¾ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss the salad to combine well.

What's your favorite way to enjoy salads this season? Share with us in the comments below and enter for your chance to win a copy of Mindy's inspiring cookbook, Salads: Beyond the Bowl!

Deadline: Friday, August 10, at 11:59pm/EST.

Good luck, readers! :)

*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original and copyrighted. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.

Amy Feezor, Copy Director for Real Simple

Amy Feezor, Copy Director for Real Simple

Behind the enviable big city gig and Brooklyn street cred, Miss Amy is actually a lovely Southern lady at heart. The natural hostess makes you feel right at home in her well-appointed apartment, which is cozy and curated just so, in a manner befitting a design professional with a keen eye for detail. Amy brings some of this comfortable, unfussy aesthetic to her kitchen, where she's been spending a lot of time cooking her way through treasured family cookbooks - after all, what's a little shortening among friends?

Read on for retro gems and to see how Amy marries form and function in her home!

Hello Amy! Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am the Copy Director in the Creative Studio at Real Simple. I also contribute to a blog for Herman Miller and have a personal blog over at m-dashing.com.

I am currently cooking my way through the many out-of-print cookbooks (including one first-edition!) of my long-distance cousin, Betty Feezor, who was a TV hostess in the 50s, 60s, and 70s in the Carolinas. She was the Martha Stewart of her time, and even made television history: in 1958, hers was the first videotaped color program ever aired. Unfortunately, that means that every one of her shows was taped over every day — and there are now only about two episodes around that you can see (check them out here.)

How would you describe your food aesthetic and cooking style?

Not fussy. Simple, but not boring.

How has your design background impacted the way you cook and eat?

Not necessarily in the way I cook, but in the way I present things. Now, I am not silly enough to buy a kitchen gadget or piece of serveware only because it looks great. But I WILL take longer than the average bear to find something I like that merges form and functionality well.

What's your favorite dish to make at home?

Lately, I discovered a "mayonnaise bread" recipe in one of Betty's cookbooks. Quick and simple and way better than I ever expected.

Do you have a go-to dish that's sure to draw raves from guests?

This Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce recipe by Mark Bittman. Always a crowd-pleaser — and it’s so easy!

What's your idea of a perfect party?

Well, given that my space is the size of what my grandma used to call a “two-butt” kitchen, my perfect dinner party would first start with an actual table to have guests sit around! In a perfect world, however, it would include great drinks, several dear friends, and probably a sizable portion of cheese.

What are your favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?

My Vitamix blender. I’m so in love. It makes smoothies, soups, nut butters, guacamole, even ice cream. Best investment ever.

I also have a soft spot for my grandmother’s bread knife.

Where do you shop for kitchen supplies?

Other than the expected (Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table), I hit up A Cook’s Companion, a lovely kitchen store in my neighborhood. I also dig Whisk over in Williamsburg.

Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?

Olive oil, garlic, whole-wheat pasta, chicken stock, agave, dark chocolate, tea.

Do you have a secret, surprise or unexpected ingredient you love to use?

It’s not really an ingredient, but I always have an interesting selection of teas at the ready from different places I’ve traveled. Right now, I’ve got some fruit-flavored types that I scored during a trip to South Korea last fall.

Who is your biggest culinary inspiration?

My mom. She’s just about the world’s best baker. Her red-velvet cake recipe alone would make you melt.

Do you have a tasty hole-in-the-wall you'd be willing to share?

A friend recently introduced me to Dos Toros Taqueria in Union Square — delish! You can also get great Vietnamese sandwiches at Nicky’s on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Favorite cookbooks/blogs/sites?

I love the Rancho La Puerta cookbook I scored on a trip there last spring. And, of course, anything by Betty Feezor.

What do you like to listen to while you cook?

I actually write about music for Herman Miller, so I get tons of great recommendations each week from the people I interview. I’ll usually have a mix playing from my computer or my iPad. A coworker also recently discovered Chiptole Radio (seriously — it’s really good), so I might have it on.

Whose pantry would you like to raid?

Grant Achatz’s. Can you imagine all the magic inside?

Best tips for novice home cooks?

Just try. It’s never as hard as you think it’s going to be. Also, YouTube is your best friend.


Cousin Betty's Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Adapted from "Betty Feezor's Carolina Recipes Volume 1"

1 cup shortening
½ cup butter
2 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine butter, shortening and sugar; cream until fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well (but don't overbeat).

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.

5. Add lemon flavoring to buttermilk.

6. Alternate adding portions of flour mixture and buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

7. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube cake pan; bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

8. After cake is cool, top with Mom's Powdered Sugar Glaze.

Mom's Powdered Sugar Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond flavoring or vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water

1. Using a wire whisk, combine all ingredients in a bowl until you reach the desired consistency: "just a little thinner than gravy." Add more water, if needed.

2. Heat on low in a saucepan for easier drizzling (optional).

3. Using a spoon, drizzle over cake or cookies.

4. Let cool and serve.

Thanks, Amy! Don't forget to follow Amy's cheeky musings on her blog, m-dashing.com, as well as on Twitter (@amyheartsny). And for those curious, a classic Betty Feezor clip for you to enjoy!

*Photos by Christine Han Photography for Pantry Confidential. All photos on Pantry Confidential are original and copyrighted. Please credit and link back to our site when using our images, thank you.