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What Ingredients Have You Substituted That Was Better?

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Last week, when making potato salad, I realized I didn't have enough mayo & I was out of onions. I also couldn't find the pickle relish I know I bought (and have since found). I didn't have time to run out to the store so I'm looking around the pantry & fridge for something to help make the potato salad a little creamier to take the place of the shortage of mayo. I came across the sour cream so I added a few heaping tablespoons. That worked but it still needed pickles & onions...I had an unopened bottle of of Thousand Island dressing in the pantry (I never use the stuff & think someone gave it to me) so I add a good amount of that and added a few tablespoons of spicy chow chow that was in the fridge.

I mixed the potato salad up and tasted it....I think it was the best I ever made; it's going to be my new recipe. What have you made that you've had to substitute or improvise that you thought was better than the original? Have you made a change that was not for the better?

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  1. I can't think of any that were particularly drastic in terms of becoming a whole new recipe, but I did experiment with low-fat substitutions a few years ago for health reasons and found that yogurt in place of oil in breads like pumpkin, banana, zucchini (ones that already have natural 'moisteners') made the bread taste richer and less greasy, and evaporated skim milk in place of half in half or cream in almost anything makes it taste 'cleaner.' Something like creme brulee, of course, I don't substitute out the cream, but otherwise, I can't even eat store-bought breads or cream soups in restaurants anymore because they all taste greasy or like there's a film on my palette.

    28 Replies
    1. re: thursday

      I'd love to find a acceptable substitute for heavy cream for making creme brulee or for melting chocolate for dipping

      1. re: Cherylptw

        Substituting evaporated lowfat or fatfree milk for heavy cream works in a lot of recipes, including ganache.

        You can also whip it and sweeten it to use as whipped cream, but it won't hold--goes flat in about 40 minutes.

        Heavy cream subs because of calories or fat content is hard to replace w/out sub'ing another nearly as fatty ingred ie: milk & butter but depending on the recipe can be lightened using half n half, lowfat canned milks or yogurt.

        My fav sub in baking is to use fruit puree in place of oil, eggs or butter depending on the recipe. Black bean brownies were surprisingly good. Grated veggies in tea breads or grated pears even replaced oil, butter and one egg in a recent recipe that really wowed my family.

        1. re: Cherylptw

          as HillJ said, evaporated low fat or skim milk is great for ganache - i do it all the time.

          for the creme brulee, you can use 2% milk and egg substitute...or fat free evaporated milk, a couple of egg yolks, and cornstarch.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I would never have thought of evap milk for ganache - good to know!

            1. re: buttertart

              Me either; I always felt that it had to be full fat heavy cream to keep it from separating...

              1. re: Cherylptw

                I like to use ganache whipped, wonder if it would whip with milk in it. Hmm.

                1. re: buttertart

                  I've had experiences with ganache seizing up when using milk so that's why I'm surprised with the evaporated, but then again, most of the water is taken out of evaporated thus making it creamier in theory.

                  1. re: Cherylptw

                    I always use full fat everything, and in key lime or pumpkin pie, I substitute heavy cream for evaporated or skim milk. I also substitute almond flour for cookie crumbs in crusts. Toasted almond flour makes a delicious crumb crust.

                    I

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I'm very intrigued to hear about the evaporate milk ganache, as that wouldn't have occurred to me.

              A caveat about the creme brulee subs is that custards made with low-fat or nonfat milk, and/or with egg substitute/egg whites in place of whole eggs or yolks, can have quite a different texture than their full-fat counterparts: not so creamy, "tighter," and can be tough. I don't think twice about using the low-fat choices in bread pudding, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, and so on, but I probably wouldn't for creme brulee.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I agree CMcG, subs are possible but results can be so completely diff that the dessert just isn't the same. Creme brulee is a classic and a classic example of limited sub options to attain that classic taste. However, if you take the essence of a creme brulee and bring it to a low fat ice cream or french toast recipe, subs work.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  oh, i didn't say i'd *recommend* using low fat subs in creme brulée...i was just clarifying that it's possible ;)

                  re: the evaporated milk ganache, there's nothing to it. just swap out the heavy cream. believe it or not i've done it with fat free evaporated milk more than once, and it stays relatively thick & glossy and works really well.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I will have to try that..thanks for the tip!

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  ghg, have you ever tried a soy or almond milk or a coconut milk sub in ganache?

                  1. re: HillJ

                    never have. i can't eat soy, i suspect almond milk would separate, and i'm not big into coconut, so i never bothered to try that one but i have heard that it works....i suspect soy would work too, though it might be a bit grainy.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I'm going to experiment next time I dive into truffles. Play around with the liquids.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        ooh, fun :) please report back after you do!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Will do. Valentine's Day lineup..

                        2. re: HillJ

                          a friend made truffles with coconut milk.. she rolled them in shredded coconut. her guests loved them

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            Right up my alley cheesecake17! I want to try a s'more truffle and an almond joy truffle next week. My son asked for a lime & coconut truffle and I've purchased a variety of coconut milks, powders and gels to get me started...we'll see. Thank you for the reply!

                            1. re: HillJ

                              oooh lime and coconut truffles sounds amazing!!

                              my husband's aunt makes this AMAZING almond joy truffle tart.. but she won't give out the recipe!!

                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                http://canarygirl.com/?cat=105
                                http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/re...

                                These are the recipes I'm playing with for an almond joy truffle and coconut lime truffles. An almond joy truffle cake sounds heavenly too...no sharing, what kind of friend (wink) doesn't share :

                                )

                                and for good measure, this truffle is absolutely delicious:
                                http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/de...

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  yes, yes, yes on the chocolate with lime, but since i'm not a coconut fan, these are more up my alley...

                                  http://foodmusings.typepad.com/food_m...

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Oh good heavens, great link! Adding to my checklist. creme fraiche and honey always gets my attention.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      don't forget to dehydrate and pulverize/powder some limes (or any other citrus you may use) for dusting the truffles!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        ah dusting is a whole 'nother matter. So many choices.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          By the way, I dried some limes and can grind some at the ready for recipes; thanks for the suggestion!

                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                            terrific! you'll be amazed at what it does for the flavor. and of course when used for dusting it looks pretty :)

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        that is amazing!!! i've never thought of subbing the cream with evap milk! thanks!!

                  2. I substitute coconut milk for milk or cream for my vegan friends. It worked really well for the sweet potato casserole and corn pudding I made for Thanksgiving. It really bumped up the flavor. I used to use rice milk but that gave some recipes an unsavory gray color.

                    1. Had a mojito made with basil instead of mint. Wonderful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ola

                        Now, that sounds delicious; going to have to give that a try...

                      2. For some unknown reason my market didn't carry canned chipotles, this is California after all. Anyway, I substituted Chipotle hot sauce for 1/4 of a canned pepper in a soup. I was originally skeptical but it worked great. I've overdone it with the peppers and the adobo sauce before, now I have control. It's now my favorite condiment. Oddly enough I discovered the convenience store on the corner has canned chipotles.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                          I use chipotle Mrs Dash on roasted potatoes. My husband loves it

                        2. I discovered the same thing about cold salads, I often use sour cream, yogurt, and even tzatziki both for a nice change and as of the last two, a lot less calories than hellman's.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maplesugar

                            I'll bet the tzatziki would make a delicious dressing for a greek pasta salad...feta, onions, etc. sounds good!

                          2. Maybe not better, but different and good.
                            I was off mayo (actually I was off a lot of things, trying to figure out sensitivities) a few years back and subbed tahini for mayo in my tuna salad. It was a nice change and I didn't miss the mayo at all. I also like tuna salad with just some EVOO, lemon juice, fresh herbs, S&P...maybe a little pickle relish.