Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Wrestle with the Pestle



This week I made pesto from scratch, using a pestle and mortar.

Kind of a tough recipe. The quantities in the book are for 4-6 people. I was cooking just for myself, so attempted to divide all quantities by four, meaning I might be able to stretch two meals out of the finished amount.

I failed. I might have cut down on certain elements too much, or put too much of others in. I made it twice, and still didn't get the maths right. The first attempt tasted heavily of garlic. The second was so oily it came out looking like snot.


I suffered a few setbacks with this recipe: the instructions tell you to crush the pine nuts with the pestle and mortar, which I did. Now, when you're reading instructions, you don't read the whole recipe before you start cooking. Or at least I don't. There shouldn't be a need for that. So ideally, if you're writing a cookbook, you don't advise people to toast the pine nuts in the oven AFTER you've told them to crush the nuts with the pestle and mortar.

Also, crushing salad in a mortar doesn't break up the leaves so much as squash them down, meaning that the rocket comes out very stringy. Further problems: cutting the amounts down by four meant that I was using such small quantities that when I weighed them the needle was hardly moving on the scale. I was guessing, and guessing wrong.

It still tasted pretty good on toast, though.


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