Meeting the pasta-making guru, Kate from Cooking & Carafes

I’ve followed Kate’s journey on Instagram for a while now and having just bought the pasta tool kit from her new online shop, thought it would be a good time to dig a little deeper into her blogger journey and find out where Kate hopes Cooking & Carafes will go next. Take a read of our catch up below.

When did you start Cooking & Carafes, and what was your inspiration behind the blog?

I started Cooking & Carafes in March 2016. I actually just started it as a bit of a personal project. I work in Marketing and had completed a Google Squared Course and it made me want something that I could work on that was my own and experiment with. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and love Italy and it’s food so a blog based around that seemed like a good idea. 

It’s a really great name! How did you come up with it?

I actually owe some credit to my fiancé Mark, I knew I wanted to start the blog for a while but I was waiting until I finished my course so when we were on holiday in the south of France we were lying on the beach running through names and ideas. As I said, I love cooking but I also love wine! I love how you can order carafes in most of Europe so Cooking & Carafes was born (once I’d checked the url and social media handles were available of course!) 

Where does your passion for pasta come from?

I spent my teens on holidays with my parents in Italy and this is how I fell in love with all things Italian, including pasta! Ever since I was at uni I have experimented with different pasta dishes, and Jamie Oliver’s first Italian style cookbook probably has a big part to play too as this was my go-to when I had moved out of home. Once I started making my own pasta I loved how therapeutic and rewarding it was, as well as creative so now I love learning about new shapes and creating dishes to pair with different types of pasta.

Do you visit Italy a lot?

Definitely not as much as I’d like to! Although last year I was spoilt with a few trips as we got engaged in Sardinia and are planning a wedding there too… which is due to be this July! I lived in Sardinia for a Summer when I was 21 and I always try to visit Italy at least once a year. 

How did you initially learn to cook pasta?

Trial and error! Most of my culinary skills come from watching and learning from my mum in the kitchen, following recipes and getting inspiration from other chefs. I first made fresh pasta with a rolling pin and then eventually got a machine but really I just experimented with different ingredients and took ideas from different recipes. 

What’s your favourite pasta to make?

Gnochetti Sardi or Malloreddus, it’s a traditional Sardinian pasta made using just semolina flour, water and sometimes saffron. It’s fun to make and a beautiful shape and texture, like a little ridged nugget. I often make this in my workshops and it pairs beautifully with tomato based sauces. 

For a beginner like me looking to give it a try, are there any tips you’d give?

Just give it a go – what is the worst that can happen?! Making fresh pasta is easier than many people think, and a naturally messy process, so really you can’t go too wrong, you can just learn improvements for next time. My main advice is don’t over knead the dough. You don’t need to be rough with it, just patient. Use the palm of your hand to push the dough away from you and then as you bring it back on itself keep slowly rotating the dough so you’re not constantly kneading the same part! 

Is Cooking & Carafes your full time job? 

Unfortunately not! I’d love it to be but at the moment it’s still my side hustle. I work as a Marketing Manager for a local Hertfordshire based company called IBC Simply, who produce and distribute products such as coffee syrups. 

I see you are also trying to be as sustainable as possible in the kitchen and home. What are some of your top swaps to date?

This is something I’m quite passionate about particularly in the kitchen and the garden. Beeswax Wraps are by far the easiest swap. I use the BeeBee Wraps that are available in my online shop but I have always used these as they are based in Cambridge and I like to support other local businesses. They’re perfect for saving leftovers, covering food, keeping bread, herbs and salad fresh ands much more. I also use them to rest my pasta dough in instead of cling film. Another favourite is Bake-O-Glide – this is a reusable equivalent of baking parchment! 

With regards to other sustainable ideas though I’m a big advocate for reducing food waste and using what you have. I always try to offer substitutes in my recipes so people don’t have to go and specifically buy ingredients. One of my other favourite things to do is use vegetable cuttings to make my own stick. I’ve started putting ends of carrots, onions, celery etc into a beeswax wrap in the fridge throughout the week and then using them to make a vegetable stock at the end of the week. 

Congratulations on opening your online shop recently! Where do you see Cooking & Carafes heading as we move on into 2021?

Thank you! The shop is something I’m really passionate about. The idea began because I wanted to offer a place where people could buy affordable gifts for friends or foodies in their life (even if that’s them!). 

My aim is to work with local and artisan producers and artists to create a carefully curated online store with more unique products.  My first collaboration has just launched with the lovely Gabby from @shopatseed, we have worked on some Pasta Bowls that are exclusive to Cooking & Carafes and are truly beautiful, they all made to order and each one is unique made by Gabby herself in her home studio in Essex. I’m also hoping to work with a local artist who makes wooden cooking spoons and salad servers using local, sustainable wood. 

The idea is to grow the number of products I offer. Initially I started with some basic pasta tools and BeeBee Wraps. All of which come with a Cooking & Carafes recipe card. Recently I have expanded the range to include BeeBee Bread Wraps, added more eco friendly products like Seedboms where you can grow your own sustainable wild garden, and am about to launch postcards for adding gift messages or sending direct, by local artist @Cate_Creates. By 2021 I hope the online store will be more established and people will come to look for gift ideas or to treat themselves. 

I have also worked hard to ensure all my packaging is sustainable and I gift wrap each order as it goes out to add a more personal touch. 

Well thank you so much Kate for chatting with me. It has been great to learn more about your ambitions with Cooking & Carafes and you also inspired me to make my first ravioli – I followed your ricotta and spinach recipe on your blog. Turned out okay, but I’ll definitely be making the pasta a bit thinner next time. It’s definitely harder with a rolling pin than a machine but I’ll be keeping at it! Also a huge congratulations on your engagement and wishing you the best wedding day! Keep the recipes coming, I’ll be following and I wish you the best of success with your shop moving forward. Speak soon!

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