Mortar and Pestle

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Mortar and Pestle
The primitive-looking stone, or ceramic bowl, and its tiny club companion may seem super low-tech, yet chefs swear by the duo. O columnist Curtis Stone says preground spices, peppercorns and even sea salt are never as vibrant as when you crush them yourself. Tim Wildin of ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, uses his mortar and pestle for everything from pulverizing spices for curry pastes to smashing chilies for spicy margaritas. And chef Dan Holzman, from New York's The Meatball Shop, says it's actually perfect for small-batch cooking (i.e., dinner for two). "It's like the poor man's Cuisinart and blender rolled into one."