The Best Mortar and Pestle


The BEST reason for owning a mortar and pestle? The fresh pesto you prepare in it will make you famous.

Frieling's Cilio Mortar and Pestle

Well, there are a lot of other reasons, like grinding and mixing spices and even making guacamole. But it will be your pesto that will bring you accolades from miles around.

Frieling’s Cilio Atlas Mortar and Pestle is the best of the best… even Cook’s Illustrated agrees. Nothing bruises the fresh basil leaves and muddles the olive oil like this gadget. And really great pesto is all about freshness and muddling.

The granite mortar (aka the bowl) has a coarse interior to help grind and pulverize, while the extra-tall sides keep roly-poly ingredients, like pine nuts, from escaping all over the kitchen. The wide base gives you great leverage and stability.

The long pestle (the club-shaped tool) is balanced and heavy for easy pounding. It’s also comfortable. See why I say it’s the best mortar and pestle?

What’s cool is that the Cilio’s mortar is cut from one solid piece of natural, uncoated granite or marble. It’s also big… 5-inches tall and holds several cups of whatever you’re making.

And what you’re making had better be pesto! It’s going to make you a star!

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Gadget Tree: Something Steamy


Mama saw this at the Housewares Show last month and she fell in love.

Lékué Steam Case with Tray


Without knowing what it was, or what it was used for, I liked it for its color, sleek design and how it felt in my hands. Talk about insatiable acquisitiveness!

Some people get all weird like this about cars. I’m weird like this about kitchen gadgets.

The Spanish company, Lékuémakes this “Steam Case with Tray for 3 to 4 people” that is as functional as it is beautifully designed. It’s made with medical-grade silicone, so it’s lightweight and, as you can see from the image and video, it’s easy to use. It’s dishwasher safe and also comes in some other eye-popping colors.

I steam my vegetables in the microwave, so that’s where I tested it first… but it also works in the oven (maximum temperature 425°F). You can’t use it under the broiler, on the grill or on top of the stove.

I will admit I had a little trepidation about putting it in the oven, but it performed perfectly when I steamed a piece of sea bass on the middle rack.

The downside: when you open the lid after cooking, collected water from the steam sometimes drips off where the lid is hinged. Not a big deal at all, but something to be aware of.

Right now you can get the Steam Case at the Pro Kitchen Gear Store in Greenville, Delaware and online at Amazon and Sears. And by the way, Lékué makes a whole slew of other uber-cool products, so check out their website.

Sometimes you just gotta have it… whatever it is. Glad this one worked out so well!




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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: