Hello my Foodie Friends!
So many foodies are getting back to the basics with using the mortar and pestle as part of their food preparation. The mortar and pestle is one of the most primitive kitchen tools. You place ingredients in a bowl usually made of stone or ceramic and then pound them with a tiny club. In an era of specialized kitchen gadgets, mortars and pestles have maintained their relevance remarkably well. The mortar and pestle is versatile, easy to use and provides more control than its electric counterparts, allowing for both rustic and refined preparations. It is an excellent addition to any kitchen, and who can resist the allure of using an ancient tool to create something truly handmade? This tool adds fun and flavor to any kitchen. Grinding herbs and spices in a mortar and pestle releases their delicate natural oils, something an electric appliance cannot do. It is perfect for making healthy dips like guacamole (the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle is called a molcajete) and fresh tomato salsa as well as flavorful pastes and pesto from fresh herbs and olive oil. Mortars and pestles are also ideal for grinding spices into rubs and toppings to sprinkle over your favorite dishes.
You can choose the best mortar and pestle for your kitchen by anticipating how it will be used most frequently. Smaller mortars and pestles are perfect for grinding spices, whereas larger versions are better suited for grinding large leafy items and nuts, or for mashing avocados.
Here’s a list of cooking tasks you can accomplish with a mortar and pestle:
• Grind your own peppercorns and spices including cinnamon sticks, coriander, and cloves.
• Remove cardamom seeds from their pods and then crush to use in Indian cooking.
• Grind sea salt to the fine texture of popcorn salt and season your movie night treat.
• Crush whole dry chilies into flakes. Crush capers to use in homemade tartar sauce recipes. Smash fresh peeled ginger to use in Asian recipes. Crush some flax seeds to release their benefits and add to yogurt for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
• Crush lavender to use in baking or potpourri. Crush herbs and seeds to make medicinal teas. Make fresh, homemade nut butters. Turn fresh garlic cloves into a paste and spread on Italian bread with olive oil for some intense garlic bread. Crush some fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts together in the larger sized units. Then mix in some olive oil to make super fresh and flavorful pesto.
One of the most classic uses of the mortar and pestle is for pesto. Combining the flavors of basil, pine, nut, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil can make a wonderful pesto to add to pasta, spread on a sandwich, or eat by the spoonful. When it comes to making pesto, you can’t go wrong with a pestle and mortar. You could make it in a food processor, but you just won’t get the same flavors as when you’re pounding and crushing all that lovely basil by hand.
Cooking can be fun! No matter how long you have been cooking, there is always something new to learn. The mortar and pestle may take a little elbow grease, but it is the tool that will not fail you. Go back to the old grind for a while, stepping away from modern technology and use the mortar and pestle for your incredible culinary creations. Stop into Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place to get your “cool” tools for your favorite foodie. Remember, “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula