Come behind the scenes at Cardamom and Tea for a #KitchenTour and see Kathryn's kitchen in Hong Kong.
I love the quality of light—in the afternoon, this kitchen has my favorite quality of natural light for food photography, and it makes my job so much easier, since I don't need to do much to manipulate it or to plan around it.
Tell us about your kitchen?
My kitchen is teeny tiny, and I love it. The floor space is just 6x2.5 feet, and the whole thing is 36 square feet, including the counters and appliances. There's one small counter by the window, which is where I do most of my cooking and photography. There's one other tiny counter on the other side of the stove where I keep my camera and computer while I'm working, and sometimes I move a little bench in front of the freezer if I need a little more room (if I run out of room for prepped ingredients, for example). I much prefer cooking in a small kitchen, and I don't think I'd ever want something bigger than 60 square feet. With a tiny kitchen, everything is at your fingertips, and it's super efficient and easy to stay organized.
What have you done to make your kitchen cosy, functional, beautiful or inspiring?
I'm super minimalist, so my kitchen's aesthetic is pretty practical, but I do have a photo of my grandmother and her siblings taken outside their childhood home in Beirut (I had it colorized for my grandmother's birthday a few years ago), and some antique ma'amoul presses on the window sill. Oh and I always have my kettle out, partly because I don't really have a spot to store it, but also because I drink a lot of tea, and it makes the kitchen feel a little cozier.
How do you keep organized while cooking?
I think most people like to clean as they go to stay organized, but I can't stand doing dishes when I'm in the middle of cooking, so I actually prefer to *clear* as I go instead. I'm constantly moving dirty dishes and things to the sink as soon as I don't need them anymore, and I make sure I keep the counters clear, but I don't do a single dish until I'm done cooking for the day. That way all the dirty dishes end up in one place, the rest of the kitchen stays neat and orderly, and you can just breeze through them all in like 10 minutes when you're done.
Any tips & tricks for organising your pantry, fridge and ingredients?
My favorite tip is to keep a small stock of your favorite ingredients, and try to use things up when they've been sitting around in the pantry for a while. Finding ways to use up random ingredients is a fun opportunity to get creative, it's less wasteful, and it's so much easier to keep a small pantry organized than an abundant one (I've actually got a series on my instagram, where readers write in with food they need to use up, and I give them ideas of what to make https://www.instagram.com/cardamom.and.tea/). Having a smaller stock of ingredients makes it easier to see what you have, which makes it easier to use things up, which makes it easier to keep a small stock of ingredients—it just keeps going! I know this is probably not helpful advice for a big family, and probably better advice for smaller households like mine, but one person's minimalism doesn't have to look like another person's, and you should always do whatever makes sense for you. Minimalism doesn't always look the same for everyone.
Do you do a lot of cooking and what are your favourite dishes to make?
I recipe develop pretty much every day, and my absolute favorite thing to make is dolma. In Iraqi Arabic and in Assyrian, dolma means just about any stuffed veggie or leaf (including grape leaves), which are tightly nestled together in a dutch oven, and simmered in a very small amount of flavorful liquid until perfectly tender. https://www.cardamomandtea.com/blog/combination-dolma
Where do you turn for new recipe ideas?
I usually spend time talking through new ideas with my husband—he's super encouraging and enthusiastic, but also the most honest person I know, so he's a great sounding board when I'm trying to work through new ideas.
Do you plan out your recipes for the week or do you like to be spontaneous?
I'm a pretty obsessive planner, but I like to leave room for spontaneity (but like *planned* spontaneity).
If you had three wishes, what would you do to make this your dream kitchen?
I would take out the stove exhaust and put in cabinets (there's a fantastic window exhaust which would work great in its place—the hood takes up so much space, and so there's almost no room to store anything because of it). I would replace one of the gas burners with induction—it would be so convenient to have both options, and I hardly ever use all 3 gas burners at the same time. Or maybe, since I almost never use all 3 burners, it would be better to take one of them out and replace it with more counter space, because as much as I love my tiny kitchen, it would definitely be nice to have like 2 more square feet.
Whose kitchen would you love to explore? Send us a message!