Friday, September 9, 2016

Missing an Ingredient?

Easy Biscuits
Sometimes I have a blind spot when I’m reading a recipe.  The list of ingredients is right in front of me, and yet I fail to see that I need 2 eggs and only realize when I’m in the middle of making the recipe that I don’t have any.

Should I drive to the grocery store?  Ask my neighbor if she has any spare?  Throw away what I’ve made so far?  Keep cooking and leave the eggs out?  Find an egg substitute?

Depending on which ingredient is missing, any of the above could be the right option.  So how to do know which to pick?

In most cases if the missing ingredient is in the name of the dish, you should probably make every effort to acquire it.  On the other hand, if you’re making something called Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake, you could skip the cinnamon and make Apple Coffee Cake.  But if you’re out of apples, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, while sounding tasty, might not come out well.  Possibly you could substitute pears or bananas.

This is both the fun and terror of cooking.  Everybody has a disaster now and then, but here are a few guidelines that have worked for me.

Don’t leave out such ingredients as:

Eggs—unless you’re using them to coat chicken or fish before adding breadcrumbs.  In that case you could substitute mayonnaise or oil as the pre-breadcrumb coating.

Flour—if the recipe calls for lots of flour, go get some.  But if you need just a teaspoon or tablespoon of flour for thickening a soup or sauce, you can substitute cornstarch.

Salt—if it’s strictly a seasoning, you could leave it out, although you can substitute 1/2 – 1 teaspoon soy sauce, which will provide a salty flavor.  However, if the salt is going into bread or pizza dough or a cake or cookie recipe, get some salt. I once forgot to add it when making bread, and the bread tasted terrible.

Milk—unless you’re making a traditional milkshake, milk is not an essential ingredient.  But you need to have a substitute.  The same amount of water works well in almost every instance.  If you happen to have some cream, sour cream or yogurt, add a tablespoon to the amount of water you’re substituting and stir it around to get a milky look.

Here’s a recipe that requires 3 of these 4 ingredients.           
Easy Biscuits – makes 12 (adapted from “Faster! I’m Starving!”) 
1 cup flour 
1/2 cup milk 
2 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. 
Put the flour, milk, mayonnaise, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and mix well. The mixture will be sticky. 
Scoop out 1 heaping teaspoon of dough and drop it onto the foil on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used up. There should be 12 biscuits. 
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits have begun to brown. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, pull the biscuits from the foil and serve. 
NOTE: The baking time and temperature can be adjusted to coordinate with other parts of the dinner you may be baking. For instance, you can bake these biscuits at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.
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