Sunday, October 21, 2007

Faux For Fun

I don't know about all y'all but I'm always finding myself wanting to try a recipe, only to discover I'm lacking an essential ingredient or two. Or three. There was a time when, if that happened, one either did without or had to wait until the next foray into the aisles of one's friendly local supermarket. With the advent of the mighty Web, we can now sift and dredge for the cream of ingenuity in substitution genius. If we're lucky, the suitable substitution can be found on a pantry shelf or hidden in the refrigerator.

A 'for-instance" can be illustrated with my use, yesterday, of a slice of minced dill pickle for capers. Yes, darlin' Mage, I promise you, pickles are mentioned often in that role. I imagine the thinking there is that one pickled object can replace another pickled object. In small amounts, it surely couldn't hurt. Of course, never having actually tasted capers, I wouldn't know the difference. (insert smile) To be fair, the most often mentioned substitute for capers is a pickled portion of the nasturtium plant. Which portion depends on the source. Here you'll find a recipe for Poor Man's Capers, made with pickled nasturtium seed pods. Other sources say the pickled flowers and buds will serve that purpose. Pickled elder flowers also have been recommended for the job, as have the buds of marsh marigold, broom and some species of thistle. I guess what matters is what you have on hand ... and what I had on hand was a pickle.

Milk is such a universal ingredient, you just about have to have a supply on hand, in one form or another. Since I don't drink the stuff, if I want to keep it available, I need to store a supply of either powdered milk or evaporated milk. With a little bit of messing around, either of those forms can be pressed into service for something they aren't.

Evaporated milk, for instance, can be used to make a mock sour cream or even mayonnaise. Yes, that's the New Zealand mayo I was taunting you with yesterday. In the photo above, you see two measuring cups containing evaporated moo-juice. The one on the left is the faux sour cream, on the right is the NZ mayo. I only had one can of evap so had to halve the recipes. I'll give you the full version, though, just in case.

The sour cream was really quite simple. To 8 ounces of evaporated milk, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes. That's it. That's all there is. Okay, we all know adding vinegar or lemon juice to any milk will give you a substitute for sour milk or buttermilk for cooking. Adding it to the evap does the same thing but it doesn't get any thicker. I'm sorry but I expect sour cream to be thick, dammit. As for flavor, okay, it tasted like it lived in the same general neighborhood as the sour cream. Perhaps in the little house at the end of the road with the nasturtiums climbing the fence. (wink)

Scratch the sour cream experiment. That boat won't float. Although it did work just fine in a bread recipe so it wasn't wasted.

Now the other measuring cup. I ran across a discussion group talking about things like this and one lady swore, in New Zealand, they don't call it mayo unless it's made like this: 1 can evaporated milk, 1 teaspoon dry mustard and about 2 ounces of vinegar. Stir with a fork and let stand to thicken.

Now this is tasty. It doesn't get any thicker than, say, hand lotion, but it would serve very nicely as a salad dressing. In fact it's very like cole slaw dressing. It does make a nice spread on a slice of bread but you have to be careful you don't slather on so much it runs over the edge. I can imagine experimenting with different seasonings and using it pretty much anywhere you might put sauces. And if you need to be cautious about such things, you can take comfort in the fact that there is neither egg nor oil in the mixture.

I consider this a good change of pace from regular mayo. But New Zealand folks need to know (whispering) it ain't mayo!


John Bailey said...

I'll echo you there, Dee, it ain't mayo! Mayo is a glistening glob of deliciousness, like a carefully boiled and peeled egg. If served on a lettuce leaf, surrounded with a nest of parsley, and dusted with black pepper it's a starter. Starters do not pour! :-)

Karin said...

Hi Dee, my Mum in NZ makes a salad dressing from 1 can of Nestle sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dry mustard powder (the Colemans brand, I think). It is actually really nice but I have never, ever heard it called mayo. Speaking of mayo, my current favourite is chilli lime mayo. Delicious.
I love reading all about your food adventures although the pictures often make me think I am starving when I am not.

Dee said...

"Starters do not pour." John, there is some profound message there, I'm sure of it. (grin)

Ooooo, Karin, that sounds yummy! I'm going to try it out. And where do you live? Because I haven't seen any chilli lime mayo here and I feel deprived. (smile) And I feel another experiment coming on.

Mage And George said...

Mayo is glorious, nasturtiums are nice to look at...But I am left shaking my head in amazement at your inginuity. You are an amazing person.

Football. I am supposed to work on Saturday for an Aztecs game, and I am scheduled to work on Sunday. What we have here is a totally clogged stadium filled with refugees from the fire. The club level is a full fledged Er with calls out for heart docs. The Chargers are moved to AZ for their practice, and we all are waiting to hear what's next. My G is supposed to drive through a evacuation area to get to work tomorrow.....which I will believe when I see it. Thanks for asking.

Karin said...

Hi Dee,
just getting back to your question about where I live - near Melbourne in Australia. I've been getting the chilli lime mayo for a while - we have a lot of Asian-inspired and authentic Asian stuff here, which I think is brilliant as I love the flavours, especially Thai.
Hope you like the Kiwi salad dressing when you get round to making it.