Posted by: mchleen | June 25, 2009

Today I’ll be your (food) substitute teacher.

subIf you’re like me you sometimes find yourself elbow-deep in a recipe only to suddenly and tragically realize that you’re missing some key ingredient. 

Rather than drop to your knees keening, mourning the waste of your effort, you may find it helpful to employ a little kitchen magic and simply conjure up that missing ingredient on site!   YES. YOU. CAN!  You simply substitute one ingredient for another.  [But note this: using a substitute ingredient that differs in taste or texture may change both the taste and texture of your cooking (like, duh…), so it is a good idea before substituting to understand the role that ingredient plays in the recipe (e.g., although you may use white vinegar in place of lemon juice, you cannot do so if the lemon juice is intended for flavoring…mmmmm, vinegar squares anyone?)  Got that McFly?]  

So I’ve included below just a few relatively harmless substitutions that shouldn’t destroy that culinary masterpiece you’re working on today – or worse, next Thanksgiving morning when you’re hosting your in-laws.  And note that I said “shouldn’t destroy”…don’t call me on Thanksgiving morning all pissed off because I ruined your soufflé.  I’ll be busy burning my turkey.

baking powder 1 tsp. ¼ tsp. baking soda + ½ tsp. + ¼ tsp. cornstarch
brown sugar (light) 1 cup ½ cup dark brown sugar + ½ cup white granulated sugar
buttermilk 1 cup 1 Tbsp. lemon juice/vinegar (white or cider) + enough milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5-10 minutes)
cake flour 1 cup ¾ cup flour + 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
chocolate (semi-sweet) 1 oz. ½ oz. unsweetened + 1 Tbsp. white granulated sugar
chocolate (milk) 1 oz. 1 oz. bittersweet/semi-sweet + 1 Tbsp. white granulated sugar
cornstarch 1 Tbsp. 2 Tbsp. flour
cream of tartar ½ tsp. ½ tsp. white vinegar/lemon juice
crème frache 1 cup 1 cup sour cream/mascarpone cheese OR ½ cup whipping cream + ½ cup sour cream OR 1 cup whipping cream + 1 Tbsp. buttermilk/yogurt
cream (heavy) 1 cup 2/3 cup whole milk + 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
cream (sour) 1 cup 1 cup plain yogurt/crème frache
ginger (fresh grated) 1 Tbsp. 1 Tbsp. candied ginger, rinsed of sugar and minced OR 1½ tsp. dried ginger + ½ tsp. lemon juice
mascarpone cheese 1 cup 1 cup crème frache OR ¾ cup cream cheese, beaten with ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
milk (evaporated whole) 1 cup 1 cup table cream/whipping cream
milk (whole)   1 cup skim milk + 2 Tbsp. melted butter OR ½ cup evaporated whole milk + ½ cup water
ricotta cheese 1 cup 1 cup cottage cheese, drained
yogurt (plain whole) 1 cup 1 cup sour cream/crème frache


*  And speaking of teachers…enjoy a little vintage teacher material.  I just couldn’t get this song out of my head the whole time I wrote this entry:


  1. You. are. AWESOME!!!

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