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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Summer sizzlers, marinades and Pestle & Mortar

Summer is at our doorstep and with the last Bank Holiday weekend of good weather, gardens and BBQs are ready to please.

What to do with those fresh herbs that are growing in the garden or on the windowsill?

As nice as they are one feels that they need to have a purpose and be put to how about using them for cooking? You can add them to a potato salad or to a green salad... yes, about making something a little more creative, something that makes them gorgeously delicious and un-recognisable... something like a MARINADE.

They are used all the time in Eastern cuisine and they create the most intricate flavours out of simple ingredients like herbs and spices.

All you need is fresh herbs, some spices, a Pestle and Mortar and a recipe or your imagination.

Pestle & Mortar
Pestle & Mortar
If you are a novice in making a marinade and using a Pestle & Mortar, here are some very easy recipes to get you started and put you in the mood.

Put a large bunch of basil leaves, 2 tbsp. pine nuts, 2-3 cloves of garlic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in the mortar and start crushing them to a pulp with the pestle while slowly adding olive oil.  You want to have a paste that is not too runny and at the same time is loose enough to coat your linguine pasta. When you have the right consistency, add 2-3 tbsp. of  grated parmesan and mixed together (don't bash it with the pestle) mix it gently.
Cook your linguine as directed from the packet and when drained mix the pesto, you might want to add a little olive oil if too sticky.
Eat and enjoy!

Marinade for pork:
Mix together in your Mortar 4 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger and add a tsp. of 5-spices powder. When  you have worked the pestle to make the garlic and ginger and spices into a paste, add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, 2tbsp. of clear honey and 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil.
Put the marinade onto some pork ribs and let it sit for several hours.  Cook on the BBQ. [Recipe from Chef Bill Granger]

Place a small red onion, finely diced, 1/2 chilli pepper, 1 clove of garlic in your mortar and use the pestle to slowly mash together the ingredients. Add some coriander leaves and 2 ripe avocados.
When these are all amalgamated into a thick paste add 1/2 yellow onion, grated & its juice, the juice of a lime, salt and freshly grated black pepper.  You might also want to add a splash of tabasco sauce.
This is an easy and quick recipe to make and can be served with tortilla chips.

These are only some of the recipes you can make with your Pestle & Mortar. Use the pestle in a circular motion to grind the ingredients to a smooth paste.  The whole process is very soothing and it kind of takes you back to the primitive way of preparing food, or the way it is still produced in some cultures.

I have read that you can also prepare your own chilli paste with a Pestle & Mortar and that it is far better in taste than the mixtures you buy in a tin or jar.

If you don't have a Pestle & Mortar yet, this is easy to remedy. There are a lot of types on the market. I prefer the wood ones, in particular those made with Olive Wood. I like the feel of the wood and the fact that the ingredients and the Pestle & Mortar have all been live, earthy products.
Pestle & Mortar made in Olive Wood are also very cheap to buy and will provide a long lasting addition to your kitchen.

With Father's Day fast approaching (16th June) a Pestle & Mortar could provide the perfect, unusual present that will leave you with money in your pocket to buy food to marinade and put on your BBQ. What a great way to spend Father's Day! 

 Does your Dad already have a Pestle & Mortar, how about a Wine Bottle Holder then?


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