All things being equal

All things being equal

By SUE EPSTEIN
September 24, 2009 17:41

One of the most frequent questions I receive is "What can I substitute for______?" Most of us who are not native Israelis have favorite recipes from our former home countries that we brought with us to Israel, often calling for ingredients that aren't available here. Or, you come across a recipe that sounds great but calls for ingredients that aren't kosher. There are also times when even if the ingredient is available here, you don't have any of it in the house and either the grocery store is closed or you just don't feel like going out for only one item. What can you substitute for it? If you're making a salad dressing and you're out of vinegar, what can you substitute for it? Some ingredients are almost always interchangeable: for example, you can substitute lemon juice for vinegar in salad dressings and marinades, one type of nut for another in baking, vegetable broth for beef or chicken stock in soups, stews or sauces, and, in most cases, vegetable or olive oil for butter or margarine when sautéing or pan frying. When substituting olive oil take into account that some olive oils have a strong flavor and may not be the best substitution. If a recipe calls for sour cream or yogurt and you want to make it parve, in almost all instances you can substitute an equal amount of mayonnaise. If you don't have orange liqueur available, substitute an equal amount of frozen orange juice concentrate. You can mince the tops of green onions and use them in recipes that call for chives, or use celery tops instead of parsley. Hardly anyone has veal stock handy, but a half-and-half mixture of beef and chicken stocks yields similar results. Sometimes there is no acceptable substitution for an ingredient. Other times, the substitution is very exact and specific. This is most often the case with baked goods, where you need to follow a formula to produce a cake, soufflé, pastry or bread with the perfect height, density, and texture. The following substitutions are for when you have run out of an essential ingredient and need a very specific replacement. For baked goods: 1⁄4 tsp. baking soda + 1⁄3 tsp. cream of tartar = 1 tsp. double-acting baking powder. 1⁄4 tsp. baking soda + 1⁄2 cup buttermilk or yogurt = 1 tsp. double-acting baking powder in liquid mixtures only. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1⁄2 cup. For dairy products: 1 cup whole milk = 1 cup skim milk + 2 tsp. melted butter or margarine. 1 cup whole milk = 1 cup soy milk. 1 cup heavy cream = 1⁄4 cup whole milk + 1⁄3 cup melted butter (not for whipping). 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk = 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. milk + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar. 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup plain yogurt. For sweetening: 1 cup sugar = 1 cup molasses (or honey) + 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda. 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar + 11⁄2 Tbsp. molasses. 1 cup corn syrup = 11⁄4 cups sugar + 1⁄3 cup water, boiled together until syrupy. Miscellaneous substitutions: 1 cup broth or stock = 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water. 1 square (30 gr.) unsweetened chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa + 1 Tbsp. butter, margarine or vegetable shortening. 1 square (30 gr.) semi sweet chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa + 1 Tbsp. butter, margarine, or vegetable shortening + 2 Tbsp. tablespoons sugar. A whole book could be written on the subject of substitutions, and indeed has been. It's called The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim (Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2005, $19.95). Although not a new book it is truly the bible of food substitutions and should be in every reader's kitchen. It is alphabetized from Abalone to Zungenwurst to Zwieback and includes over 600 pages and 5,000 substitutions for every ingredient, piece of equipment or technique you could ever imagine. There are even two pages of substitutions for butter! The list of measurement equivalents for things such as pan sizes, weights and metric conversions is also great. Here are some other examples of ingredient substitutions: If you don't have Marmite or Vegemite (yeast extract), something our British, South African and Australian friends love, you can substitute brewer's yeast, nutritional yeast or peanut butter. If you're out of Worcestershire sauce or can't find it, or don't want to use it with meat because of its fish designation, replace it with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, a dash of hot pepper sauce and a small pinch of ground cloves. To substitute for Ricotta cheese, use an equal amount of pureed cottage cheese. Alternatively, you could substitute mashed firm tofu to make it parve. If you're out of soy sauce, substitute for it with 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water. If you're out of powdered sugar, process 1⁄2 cup + 11⁄2 tablespoons granulated sugar with 3⁄4 teaspoon cornstarch in a blender or food processor. One of the questions I am most often asked about is what to substitute for liquor, liqueur or wine in a recipe. In cakes and desserts: Substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla for each tablespoon of rum, brandy or sherry, up to 2 tablespoons. If recipe calls for more than 2 tablespoons alcohol, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla and make up the difference with fruit juice or nectar. Replace 1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch, amaretto or hazelnut liqueur with a few drops of almond extract and enough peach or pear nectar to make up the difference. Replace 1 to 2 tablespoons orange liqueur with an equal amount of concentrated orange juice plus 1⁄2 teaspoon grated rind. This is good for soaking candied fruit for cakes. If recipe calls for flaming using brandy, rum or liqueur, simply skip this step - it's more for show than flavor. In savory dishes: Substitute lemon juice or wine vinegar for small amounts of white wine (up to 2 tablespoons) and red wine vinegar for red wine. If original recipe calls for vermouth, add a touch of herbs with the substitution. For meat dishes, replace 1 cup white wine with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice and enough chicken stock to make 1 cup. For fish dishes, substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice and enough chicken or fish stock to make 1 cup. If recipe calls for salt, omit until end, taste and add only if needed. Replace 1 cup red wine with 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar or lemon juice and enough beef or veal stock to make 1 cup, or substitute an equal amount of tomato juice, vegetable cocktail juice or vegetable stock. Add salt only if needed. Alcohol-free beer and wine can substitute for the real thing, as can grape juice made from grapes other than concord, which is too fruity as a wine substitute. n


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