A guide presents cooks with thrifty, effective substitutions for recipes.
MacLeod (Baking Substitutions, 2018, etc.) adds another volume to her collection of handy manuals for harried home chefs. In this comprehensive installment, she reviews “the time-tested art of substitution,” offering suggestions that will reduce frustration and waste while also making it easier to try new recipes without having to rely on long, specialized shopping lists. No more will people be confronted with a row of spices they’ve used only once “silently sulking, gathering dust, and taking up space” in their pantries. Hundreds of brief entries are arranged alphabetically, and the author’s extensive knowledge of ingredients both common and obscure is on display. There are listings for everything from cinnamon to süzme, a “Turkish extra-thick yogurt for dips and desserts.” Readers will learn that raisins can be substituted for dried mulberries and ground cayenne pepper will work instead of Hungarian hot paprika. While MacLeod occasionally provides additional insights about when certain swaps may (or may not) work, in many cases, readers will need to use their own judgment about whether a substitution is appropriate for their needs. Those who’ve eaten a fresh Wisconsin cheese curd may not be satisfied with swapping it out for “fresh salted mozzarella, cut into small pieces,” as the author suggests. But many substitutions are especially valuable for people with dietary restrictions. Vegans looking for an alternative to sour cream can try a blend of cashews, water, lemon, and salt while a puree of silken tofu and a little soymilk can be used in place of cream sauce. People avoiding alcohol can swap freeze-dried instant coffee dissolved in water for coffee liqueur or use frozen orange juice concentrate with equal parts water in place of Cointreau and Curaçao. As with the author’s other books, this isn’t a collection of recipes, though MacLeod does sometimes provide brief instructions for preparing certain foods, like vegan ganache, pickled ginger, and Old Bay seasoning.
A functional, authoritative reference book that home chefs should be glad to have on their shelves.