Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pestle and mortar

My Moulinex electric herb mill has broken. I didn't use it for herbs, apart from curly parsley and rosemary -- it would have reduced them to mush. But it was very useful for whizzing chillis, pine nuts for pesto, and small quantities of breadcrumbs. A quick search online suggests that Moulinex doesn't make them any more. Would a hand-held mill perform the same jobs, I wonder?

Meanwhile, how to chop chillis? Recipes tell you to "crumble" them, as if they splinter under pressure like bits of stale bread. As if. You can't dice little chillis on a chopping board. So yesterday evening I put them in my mortar, and ground them with the pestle.

It requires a bit of effort, but it works. Even dried chillis, however, have some moisture, which, as the pestle crushes them, stains the mortar. It seemed to me that the chillis had left behind some of their heat on the utensil.

Still, my pestle and mortar is (are?) one of my most useful pieces of kitchen equipment. I grind spices with it, make pesto with it, and also make mayonnaise with it, blending the egg and the oil with the pestle.


paul said...

Nicholas -
I posted this (or something similar) on your Mayonnaise page before I'd seen your Pestle and Mortar entry.

I wonder if you could recommend a type of Pestle and Mortar? I have tried two or three and didn't really get on with them.

Thank you...

Incidentally, I absolutely love your book. It's so informative - all those questions I have asked but never found the answers in recipe books.

Nicholas Clee said...

Thanks very much for the kind comments, Paul.

My pestle and mortar is (are?) Milton Brook. The mortar is weighty and solid; it doesn't shift about as I work away in it.