I had to order my book, since they were sold out at all of the bookstores I could get to. The day it arrived, I delved right in. I was anxious about the possibility that the recipes would be more science than art... which would be intimidating for me. I was concerned that I would have to add more appliances and contraptions to my kitchen supplies... which I was not going to feel so great about, either. But, mostly I wanted to see what we were going to be doing, making, tasting, playing with, and learning about.
So far, I am delighted... it's easier to be delighted when you find something familiar enough to be agreeable, and new enough to be inspiring. I am getting helpful ideas about staples, basics, and honest Simplicity. I am also finding that I will not have to adhere to strict and taxing rules about precision and exactness... reading and glancing throughout the book, I see most recipes include ideas and suggestions for substitutions, and flavor options. This is Art.
Karen emailed us a link to the schedule she would like us to follow. Ah, the sauces! I smiled to myself. I had already read this section, and was thinking about finding capers, and planting chervil and parsley. It also had me thinking about mortars and pestles, and garlic.
The Wiki article explains my concerns very well... molcajetes do not scrupulously sanitize... hmmmm... that sounds a bit dicey. I manage to sanitize mine, by scrubbing it clean, then inverting it over our gas burner, with a low flame. But, it does get seasoned... and garlic crushed in the molcajete does make a lasting impression. The tiny nooks and crannies of the basalt stone catch particles of food, too, so a single clove of garlic can become almost lost in those little catches.
I love my molcajete, and when it comes to grinding coriander and cumin, there is nothing better. The best part about it, it's been used for many, many years... it's broken in and doesn't break-up. New molcajetes need to be conditioned with heavy use that will loosen up the basalt that is going to break off. Small grains of basalt break away, making food gritty, and it takes some effort to get the mortar and pestle through this phase.
In many of her recipes, Alice Waters describes using garlic that has been made "creamy," using a mortar and pestle. I use a lot of garlic. Muchismo ajo. I use whole cloves, sliced cloves, diced, minced, and smashed, but I've never reached a "creamy" consistency... not with a garlic crusher, or the flat of a knife on the cutting board, or in my molcajete. So I decided to keep my eyes open for a small, garlic-dedicated mortar and pestle.
I know... I said I was not too keen on adding gadgets and gizmos to my kitchen store, but a new venture calls for an open mind, a willingness to welcome change.
Favorite: The easy clean-up is a welcome bonus. No problem storing it, either.
Found: It is at World Market, for less than four dollars!