Thoughtfulness is important when substituting ingredients; you may end up admitting that it would have been better to have waited until you could get to the store, when you see, smell, taste, or touch the results of your experimentation. If you know the why behind the rules, though, you can decide whether or not it is okay to break one every so often.
Often, substitution of ingredients comes of necessity. Other times, the cook may be trying to please a picky eater or to help someone that has health issues. This week, I substituted ingredients in three recipes for no other reason than because I had some ingredients on hand that I wanted to use. I decided to work them into some foods that I was in the mood for.
#1 Chocolate Chip Cookies
When it gets cold enough to bake without making it unpleasantly warm inside, who doesn’t start thinking about soft, freshly baked cookies? Unfortunately, I only had Craisins and white chocolate chips.
#2 Tuna Noodle Casserole
In the mood for tuna noodle casserole? You may ask. Tuna isn’t in our cupboard because I’m a fan of the stuff. Occasionally, my husband will request a cold kidney bean & mayo macaroni salad, so it is good to have a can of tuna on the shelf. This week I was thinking back on 7th grade Home Economics class with Mrs. McDowell. For some reason, we asked to make hot tuna noodle casserole more than once in our class that year; twenty-two years later, I wanted to make some to see if I could figure out why we liked it way back then. My internet search produced a recipe that substituted creme fraiche for the canned cream of mushroom soup. Believe it or not, I had a container of it in my refrigerator and no fresh fruit to serve it with. So, that was my dinner. The result wasn’t satisfying, only because my brain was looking for heavy comfort food instead of the clean, healthful alternative ( I ended up adding some mayo, red pepper fruit seasoning and dill to make it more interesting.).
#3 Coconut Macaroons
Are you really good at whipping egg whites? If I hadn’t broken the handle on my old-fashioned hand-held egg beater it would have been easy, but whisking takes patience and muscles. Substituting powdered egg whites made the sweet coconut treats a breeze to prepare.
Today at work, two other pale ingredients came up in conversation. My employer asked if any of us had tried mayonnaise cake. We decided that substituting mayo would work, since it is made of eggs and oil, but we couldn’t remember if mayonnaise had another ingredient that might skew the flavor. Sauerkraut was the other questionable ingredient; has anyone used it (successfully) to bake a German chocolate cake?