This week in SBS Food’s Blog Appétit – our round up of food blogs worth bookmarking – we bring you Pantry Confidential.
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18 Mar 2014 - 5:34 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2014 - 2:21 PM

Two self-confessed curious (read: nosey) New Yorkers are behind this smart blog, which takes readers behind the scenes and into the kitchens of the city’s famous food lovers, from food writers and chefs to other bloggers. It’s part voyeurism, part Q&A and part cooking, with each post’s guest sharing a recipe they cook in their New York home. Christine Han, a working food photographer, is responsible for the magazine-quality lifestyle shots, while Hana Choi, a journalist and line cook, brings her professional touch to the upbeat writing. Trading New York’s restaurants for home-style fare, Pantry Confidential is a trip into the culinary heart of one of the world’s most vibrant, food-focused cities.

“We live in the city that never sleeps, so it’s fitting that the typical New York lifestyle is go, go, go. While there’s no shortage of fabulous eateries to fill up the social calendar, there are just as many opportunities to slow it down and enjoy a home-cooked meal made with high-quality ingredients. In fact, a get-together in an NYC apartment (no matter how cramped!) can seem downright lavish when it produces gorgeous dishes, such as farm fresh salads, impressive truffle-topped risottos and patisserie-ready tarts. All that’s needed is a bit of smart planning: stocking pantries with ready-to-eat starters like fancy French sardines; prepping ingredients and courses, like dessert, ahead of time; delegating wine duty to friends; and lining up a good mix of tunes to take you through the evening. Here, we work smarter, not harder, when it comes to entertaining at home!”

 

We started our blog to

“See how food lovers eat at home. There are plenty of blogs covering the dining scene in our great city, but there weren’t any exploring the more private and very individual kitchens of New Yorkers. We were curious – plain and simple.”

 

The must-cook recipe on our website is…

“Yossy Arefi’s salted caramel, apple and cranberry pie [pictured]. It’s a perfect exercise in rainy day cooking.” Hana

“Bon Appétit magazine’s littleneck clams with spring potatoes and onions, via Julia Bainbridge. It is simple to prepare, delicious and works great whether you are having company or just want a good weeknight meal for yourself.” Christine

 

I can’t wait to go back to…

“Korea to pig out at the hole-in-the-wall samgyubsal (grilled pork belly) joints, complete with charcoal grills and smoking businessmen.” Hana

“Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Maine. Best lobster and blueberry pie ever.” Christine

 

My current food obsession is

“Homemade green juices to power my days with a newborn in tow!” Hana

“Bread, which my husband and I started baking thanks to Hana buying me the Tartine Bread cookbook.” Christine

 

When I eat…

Toast skagen (shrimp toast), it takes me right to Swedish summertime.” Hana

“A particularly delicious strawberry, I remember the first time I bit into a sun-warmed one right off the vine.” Christine

 

Nugget of cooking wisdom…

“Prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Add a bit more salt!” Hana

“You don’t have to be fancy. Cook with what you have!” Christine

 

I learnt to cook from…

“My mum, years of television watching and, eventually, culinary school.” Hana

“I started out by following recipes. Then it was a lot of trial and error. I am just now beginning to feel like I know how to cook.” Christine

 

When I go back to my home town, the first thing I eat is…

“If I’m away from New York for too long, I get a hankering for a straight-up pizza slice and everything bagels.” Hana

“Rice. It’s not particularly an NYC thing, but I absolutely need a big bowl of steamed white rice to feel right again after travelling.” Christine

 

The one thing I can’t cook is

“Anything in the realm of molecular gastronomy.” Hana

“I don’t tend to make things that list more than 10 ingredients. I stick to simple. I am better at photography than cooking.” Christine

We always have

“Soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in the pantry; some form of bubbly in the fridge (always prepared for a last minute celebration!); and a variety of nuts in our freezer.” Hana

“Sriracha sauce in the pantry; film in the fridge (yes, for photography!); and bacon in the freezer.” Christine

 

My favourite biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea is…

“I don’t like crumbs in my tea cup, but I do love classic Walkers Shortbread (really, any shortbread) alongside my tea.” Hana

“Shoot, I have never done this! Must try.” Christine

 

Our most sauce-splattered cookbook is…

“Any cookbook by Ina Garten or Martha Stewart – they are always spot on.” Hana

“I don’t have one book, but I do have a recipe from Martha Stewart that I have been making for at least 10 years at every Thanksgiving. It is the best stuffing! Every year I get asked for the recipe.” Christine

 

The most difficult food to shoot/style and make look tasty is

“Brown food.” Hana

“Brown food, especially if it’s sludgy in nature.” Christine

 

Beyond our own blog, some of our favourites reads are…

Manger for a sumptuous peek into life in the French countryside; Maangchi for Korean home cooking; Matbruk for beautiful videos on Swedish classics; and Harumi Kurihara’s books for simple and delicious Japanese home fare.” Hana

“I recently discovered Island Menu, a Tasmanian food and photography blog, which features absolutely gorgeous stories with pictures that pull me in emotionally. Also, I’m going off topic, but I’ll mention it because I believe it’s important to look outside of the obvious for inspiration. Hannah Davis’s Flickr stream is completely mesmerizing. She takes you all over the world and manages to have a unique perspective on much-photographed places." Christine 

 

Pantry Confidential's top picks

 

1. Seamus Mullen's wild mushroom risotto with egg and black truffle

2. Mindy Fox's Panzanella di farro (Tuscan bread salad with farro)

3. Robynne Maii's apricot tart

 

Blog Appétit Editor Yasmin Newman