Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Substituting Ingredients | The A to Z Kitchen Reference

Have you ever heard a song that was so good you wanted to slap the person next to you for not listening hard enough?  ["The Cool, Cool River" by Paul Simon]  What about a movie that is so good you want to pass a law that makes it required viewing?  [Food Inc.]  Or, have you ever encountered some product that is so great that you want to run out and buy one for every person you know?

That is how The Frugal Hostess feels about this new book, Substituting Ingredients | The A to Z Kitchen Reference.  Written and recently updated by Becky Sue Epstein, this book is like a frugal cook's bible.  The publisher of the book says, "Her goal is that no cook will ever abandon an appetizing dish for the lack of a particular ingredient, a time crunch, dietary restrictions, or the cost to make the dish."  Awesome!

FruHo loves this, because it gets at one of the central philosophies of her life - the idea that you should use what you have.  Having at one point been the kind of cook who would run out two or three times in the process of preparing a recipe, TFH really digs that you can just flip through and find a substitution.  Epstein also lists when you cam omit an ingredient, like when a recipe calls for less than one tablespoon of orange zest or less than half a cup of fiddlehead ferns.  Also, the book is a petite paperback, so it fits handily in your spice cabinet or drawer of utensils.

Here are some choice ideas from the book:
- You can use cream cheese and a little butter to replace mascarpone.
- You can add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of flour to create self-rising flour.
- You can substitute brown rice flour for arrowroot.  (Nope, no idea what arrowroot is.)

Epstein lists several ways to correct recipes gone wrong, like "if your potatoes turn brown after slicing, cook them in milk to whiten."  She also includes a section of household formulas, including a pesticide for ants and a mouthwash recipe.  In all, this slender volume contains about 14 times its size in great, interesting, and helpful information.  You totally need to buy it.  Immediately.

Disclosure:  TFH got a free copy of this book to review, and those links up there are affiliate links.  As always, FruHo only gives good reviews to things that are cool and non-evil.

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1 comment:

  1. This does sound like a useful book. I am notorious for substituting or omitting incredients I don't have and I'm not particularly careful or precise about it. I use bananas (even super blackones) in place of sugar *and* butter in baked desserts; I use them in a frying pan in place of oil for stir-fry chicken, vegetables, and whatever. I swap out cottage cheese, yogurt, sour milk, water, and sour cream with abandon. To make sour milk for an incredient in baking I add vinegar or lemon juice to milk or water. As for spices - I omit and subsititue with no rhyme or reason. Go crazy!


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