If you ask me, the world of culinary substitutions really breaks down into three
categories. We have:
2— HEALTH RELATED
Now, our next substitute “me” won a “Cook Like a Bee” contest, in, um, ...
AB: ... Grand
SUBSTITUTE HOST #2: That’s right. But that’s another show.
AB#1: Hey, nice touch. So, what are you going to be substituting today?
SH#2: Well, I’ve always loved your biscuit recipe.
SH#2: That show you did with your grandmother was so sweet.
AB#1: Aww ...
SH#2: Now ... [turns to the pantry]
SH#2: What if you woke up early one morning to bake biscuits and you discovered, to your horror, that you were out of baking powder? [gasps]
AB#1: That’s your substitution? Baking powder?
SH#2: Is that another show, too?
AB#1: No, but it would take, like, half a second. It’s the simplest thing in the world. All chemical leaveners work on the same basic principle that ... Oh, here, hold this. Just stand there a second.
[AB holds a model rocket ship with two liquid chambers, separated by a barrier] All chemical leaveners work on the simple premise that when a base and an acid come together in the presence of water, carbon dioxide is released by the reaction. In this case, the base is baking soda—one of the only bases in the culinary world, I might add. The acid: common white vinegar. Let’s see what happens, shall we? [he stands the rocket on end and the soda and vinegar come together firing the rocket up and off screen] Uh oh. [a fake bird falls to the ground] Oh, sorry.
AB#1: Sweet demo, huh?
SH#2: Nah, I was going to do the rocket thing, but I figured it would be talking down to the audience.
AB#1: [a little perturbed] Now ...
SH#2: [tries to imitate] Now ...
AB#1: Stop that! If you want to make baking powder, there are two different types. There is single-acting and there’s double-acting. The double-acting releases gas twice: once, when the ingredients are mixed, and again when they get hot enough in the oven. Tough to formulate in the home kitchen. Single-acting stuff is easy to make. Two teaspoons of it. We’ll need one teaspoon of cream of tartar ...
SH#2: ... an acidic powder, which is traditionally harvested from the insides of wine barrels.
AB#1: Well, that’s pretty good. We’ll also need an alkali. We’ll use half a teaspoon of baking soda, the very same kind that went into our rocket. Now, if you mix that up, you will have a single-acting baking powder. But if you’re not going to use it right away, you’re going to want to add another ingredient, half a teaspoon of cornstarch ...
SH#2: ... which will prevent the powder from absorbing moisture and setting off the reaction prematurely.
AB#1: Very good. And what else would you put that ingredient in?
SH#2: Kosher salt!
AB#1: [disappointed in her wrong answer] Oh ... no. [takes the faux baking powder mix away]. Confectioners sugar. Thing, show her what she’s won.
THING: [hands her car wax and instant rice]
SH#2: [takes the prizes and then notices Thing, screams and falls down]
AB: [to Thing] Don’t worry about it. We’ll ship it.
You know, bringing up this whole biscuit thing is interesting, because there’s the whole buttermilk to be dealt with. Good substitution.
|Despite its moniker, “buttermilk” is not butter and milk. In the old days, it was the milk that was left over after cream was churned into butter. But these days, it is usually just skim milk that’s inoculated with a bacteria that creates lactic acid. And that provides some tang and certainly thickens the product as well.||
Now in recipes, like, say, biscuits—good southern biscuits—buttermilk adds
flavor; this is true. But it also provides acid. And that is very important,
because a good baking application will be balanced, like an algebra equation. If
you’re going to have proper leavening, the acid needs to be balanced with
alkali, which you get from baking soda and certainly to some degree, from
Now, what if you go and just say, “I’m not going to use buttermilk. I’m going to substitute regular old milk?” Well, all of a sudden, the equation starts to go out of balance. Everything goes haywire. And your biscuits end up looking like this [shows flat biscuits], and that’s not good eats.
|What are you going to do, mister? Well, you’re either going to have to go get that leavening and recalculate it, or you’re going to have to acidify this milk. And that is easily done with just a tablespoon of lemon juice added to one cup of skim milk. Now, it doesn’t exactly make buttermilk, because it won’t be as thick. But the acid ratio will be just fine. Now you could use vinegar. But I like lemon juice, because the citric acid adds browning to baked goods. Just a little side benefit.||
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice, Freshly
1 Cup Skim Milk
Although this already contains all the necessary acids to activate our leavening agents, chilling it down a bit will give it time for the acids to denature some of the milk proteins. And that will thicken it a bit which will make it even more perfect for our biscuits.
The word biscuit comes from the Old French word
bescuit, meaning “twice cooked”.
GUEST: Substitute Host #3
|Here we have two platters of biscuits. They are identical, except for the fact that these were made with buttermilk and these were made with our lemon-ated milk. Now you take a look, you can see that the lemon version has a slight golden tinge to it, no doubt due to the inclusion of citric acid rather than lactic acid. But besides that, trust me, there is no evidence of lemon. There’s no lemon aroma, and [tastes], mmm, definitely no lemony flavor. In fact, I would just say that’s plain good eats.||Go to foodnetwork.com for the Good Eats Southern Biscuits recipe. [or you can go here]|
Now, next category on our substitution hit list, health subs. That is,
substitutions that must be made because of an intolerance, an allergy, or other
peculiarity particular to your person. Now, about 90% of all food-related
allergic reactions are caused by ...
SUBSTITUTE HOST #3: ... milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.
AB#1: Wow, that is very impressive ...
SH#3: Thank you.
AB#1: ... Substitute #3. Now I understand today, you are going to tell us all about, food allergies.
SH#3: Food allergy. Oh. A food allergy is a reaction to the food that the immune system mistakes as a harmful alien invader. To protect the body, it creates hemoglobin [sic, immunoglobulin] antibodies, that react specifically to that food.
AB#1: [softly] Demo.
AB#1: [softer still] Demo.
SH#3: Oh, demo. Demo. [hands AB a balloon] Hold this. Now, when an invading protein comes along, the antibody recognizes it. [holds up a sock puppet to represent an antibody] Aha! And releases histamine from cells, called mast cells [bursts the balloon with an ice pick which sprays AB with a light dust of some sort]. And I should know, because I’m deathly allergic to shrimp.
AB#1: That’s great, Substitute #3. You know, we’ve got some lovely parting gifts for you ...
SH#3: No, no, no, no. Wait, wait, wait, wait. I used your coconut shrimp recipe, on my own super-colossal, hypoallergenic, shrimp. [pulls out a coconut shrimp]
AB#1: You’re not going to eat that.
SH#3: It’s perfectly safe.
AB#1: But you said you’re definitely allergic ...
SH#3: Nah, it’s fine. [eats the shrimp]
AB#1: You can’t, you can’t ... [to the camera] Call 911.
GUESTS: Paramedics #1 and #2
PARAMEDICS #1 AND #2: wheel SH#3 out on a stretcher]
AB: Careful. Careful. Oh, wait, wait, wait a second. Here you go. [AB puts car wax and rice on the stretcher] There you go. Thanks. And don’t you worry about anything. You’re going to be just fine. Probably. Hhh.
|You know, I remember that recipe, that coconut shrimp. And if I recall, it was another component, a sauce, containing an even more common food allergen: peanuts. More specifically, peanut butter.||Go to foodnetwork.com for the Good Eats Coconut Shrimp recipe. [or go here]|
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward substitute for peanuts or for peanut butter. Their flavor is simply too unique. But if the issue is specifically a peanut allergy and not an all out nut allergy, we can build a flavor profile very close to it by combining three other pastes.
|Now, cashew butter is something that we have made on this program before. And it’s available in almost every health food store and most megamarts these days.||Go to foodnetwork.com for the Good Eats Cashew Nut Butter, [sic, Cashew Sauce] recipe. [or go here]|
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds. It’s very common in Middle Eastern recipes
like baba gannouj and hummus. It’s usually found in the ethnic aisle. Number
three is in the fridge.
Ever had miso soup at your local sushi bar? Well, it has been flavored with a fermented soybean paste that is called, oddly enough, “miso”, which comes in several colors or grades from white to red to almost black. Now the red type sort of looks like a deeply roasted fresh ground peanut butter and has that same roasty toasty flavor that is so darn hard to replicate. [looking at a slice of coconut cake in the refrigerator] Ahh, you like the looks of that? That’s another show.
Since we never got around to making this sauce in our epic one-hour adventure, “Down and Out in Paradise”, and since our last guest–well, I don’t think he’ll be cooking today—I figure, what the heck, let’s take a batch for a spin.
|For that, we will need a food processor and a heap of groceries, including one quarter cup of chicken broth, three ounces of coconut milk—canned or homemade will be fine—one ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice—for that island flavor—the same of soy sauce—one ounce, two tablespoons. Two tablespoons of garlic. And yes, this is already chopped. That’s because if we try to do that in here with the sauce, we’ll end up with big hunks and that’s not good eats. And ditto, ginger: fresh ginger, to the tune of one tablespoon. Then we have a tablespoon of fish sauce, an ingredient I keep around for making Pad Thai, or, well, any dish where you want a little flavor of cat food and athletic sock. But in a good way. That’s why we only use a tablespoon. Also, a tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce. And then, the secret ingredient, or one of them: one tablespoon of the red miso. Now I know that it doesn’t exactly look red. It looks more brown, but compared to the other misos, it’s pretty red. And before adding anything else, we’ll take that for a short spin, just to combine; say, five pulses. Good.||
¼ Cup Chicken Broth
3 Ounces Coconut Milk,
1 Ounces Lime Juice, Freshly
1 Ounce Soy Sauce
2 Tbs. Garlic, Chopped
1 Tbs. Fresh Ginger,
1 Tbs. Fish Sauce
1 Tbs. Hot Sauce
1 Tbs. Red Miso Paste
|And then we’ll add our other two pastes. The tahini. Just scoot that off there. And the cashew butter, which is really sticky. There. Purée that until it is a very fine paste. That looks good.||
¾ Cup Tahini
¾ Cup Cashew Nut Butter
|Now, for a finishing flavor, I think we could use a little herbal addition. For instance, a little cilantro would be nice, about a quarter cup. Ahh, I’m not going to measure that. We’ll let the machine figure it out.||¼ Cup Cilantro, Chopped|
And there you have it. A fragrant and spicy peanut sauce that doesn’t contain a single peanut. It’s perfect on beef satay, chicken satay, even weiner satay. And of course, there’s the aforementioned coconut shrimp, which will absolutely ...
SUBSTITUTE THING: [ST is a gripper rod, it holds up a coconut shrimp]
Oh look, I didn’t know that we had a Substitute Thing today. How delight ...
T: [holding a mallet, menacingly]
T & ST: [descend below
the table, and do battle]
AB: Hey hey hey, hey.
T: [re-emerges and takes the coconut shrimp from AB]
Well, I guess there are some things that you just can’t substitute. Hah hah. Excuse me.
An estimated 1.5 million Americans have peanut allergies.
|In case you don’t recognize these cookies, they are the Chewys from our award-winning episode “Three Chips For Sister Marsha”. Why don’t you reach out and have one there. Go ahead, go ahead ... Whoa, whoa, whoa [the plate of cookies mysteriously slides away from the camera as it approaches] Hah hah hah. That’s terrible. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Really. Go ahead. Have another one, have one. [pushes the plate forward, the plate retreat repeats] Whoa, whoa, whoa. Haw haw. Disappointing, isn’t it? Well, imagine what it would be like to have a wheat intolerance or allergy. No bread, no pasta, no pie, no cake. And no Chewys, until now.||Go to foodnetwork.com for the Good Eats The Chewy recipe. [or go here]|
GUEST: Substitute Nutritional Anthropologist
Deb Duchon, Nutritional Anthropologist
[AB looking at the FN's webpage, The Chewy] Well, I can see the original chewy chocolate chip cookie application calls for
two and a quarter cups of bread flour. Now bread flour contains more protein
than all-purpose flour. And that means that when it’s mixed with wet
ingredients, more gluten is created. And that gives the cookies considerable
Now replacing it. Now, starch makes up most of the volume of flour and replacing that ought to be pretty simple. We will go with a combination approach. Brown rice flour has a pleasant flavor, especially in applications calling for brown sugar. But it’s a little on the gritty side and tends to make for crumbly baked goods. Now we could smooth that out to some degree with corn starch which is very smooth stuff. The starch in tapioca flour gelatinizes at a lower temperature than the starches in either rice flour or corn starch and that will help to create a pleasantly chewy tooth and a nice rise. Tapioca flour is used widely in various ethnic cuisines, but I wouldn’t know about that because I’m not a nutritional anthropologist. But, uh, I know someone who is.
SUBSTITUTE NUTRITIONAL ANTHROPOLOGIST: [she is a beautiful, long curly
blonde] Well, Alton, cassava has long been a staple in South America, Meso-America,
and the Caribbean. The Portuguese took it to their colonies in Central Africa,
where it thrived, and soon became the most important food in the slave trade.
Other names for cassava include “yuca”, “maniok”, “mandioca”, and “aipim”. There
are two main varieties: bitter, and sweet. Although the sweet form can be eaten
without further processing, the tapioca we use is made from bitter cassava,
which contains cyanogenic glycosides. That can cause prussic acid poisoning if
not processed correctly.
AB: [enamored] Absolutely ... fascinating!
SNA: Nutritional anthropology is my life.
AB: And it shows. This ... You see. This substituting thing can really work if you just go about it right. Of course, substituting this flour, it means that we’re going to have to also substitute the protein structures. And that will mean, well ... come here, come here.
[now at a giant model of a loaf of bread] When you look at any baked good, be it a cookie, or a gigantic loaf of bread, what you see, the mass, is mostly starch. But, if you could look inside, you’d see that the real structure—[to SNA] come here, come here—is protein. Gluten holds everything up, like framing on a building, and it also helps to hold together the fat and water in an emulsion, so to speak.
AB: So, what do you think of my model. Pretty sweet, huh?
SNA: [not impressed] Mmmph.
AB: Uh, yeah. So, what would you replace this structure with?
DEB DUCHON: Xanthan gum!
AB#1: Aaaah! Deb!
SNA: Who is she?
AB: Cleaning lady! [to DD] Go away! Come back tonight!
DD: Cleaning lady? [to SNA]I’m the me you’re trying to be, curly!
AB: And you know what? I think we should give her every opportunity. [to SNA] You go ahead.
SNA: Xanthan gum was discovered back in the 1950’s when scientists at The Department of Agriculture discovered that a bacterium found on cabbage plants, called ...
DD: ... Xanthomonas campestris ...
SNA: Thanks. ... could be fermented in corn syrup to produce a ...
DD: ... polysaccharide, that can actually be used to stabilize emulsions and suspensions. And when added to bread or gluten-free baked goods, can actually add volume and viscosity and structure, much like gluten.
DT: [enters carrying the prizes, hands them to AB]
AB: [to SH4] Listen, um, thanks for coming. Um, I’ll call you.
DD: I’ll see her to the door. We wouldn’t want her to GET LOST!
AB: No, no, we, we wouldn’t.
I realize it sounds a little on the alien side, but xanthan gum is actually pretty simple to find. A lot of megamarts carry it in their baking sections. You can certainly find it in health food stores. And then, of course, there’s that whole world wide web thing.
Other gluten-free flour substitutes include garbanzo
beans, teff, sorghum & quinoa flours.
|Our gluten-free chewy chocolate chip cookies begin with eight ounces of unsalted butter—that’s two sticks—in a small, yet heavy saucepan, over low heat. While that melts, bring together in a food processor 11 ounces of brown rice flour—it’s about two cups—one and a quarter ounces of cornstarch —about a quarter cup—one-half ounce of tapioca flour—about two tablespoons—one teaspoon of xanthan gum, one teaspoon of kosher salt, and one teaspoon of baking soda. Spin to combine. By the way, you could just sift this, but I hate sifters.||
8 Ounces Unsalted Butter,
11 Ounces Brown Rice Flour
1¼ Ounces Cornstarch
½ Ounce Tapioca Flour
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
|Time to build ourselves a cookie batter. Our melted butter goes into the work bowl of your favorite mixer, along with 10 ounces, by weight, of light brown sugar, and two ounces, by weight, of regular old sugar. Engage your paddle attachment at medium speed for one minute or until your mixture looks something like this.||
10 Ounces Light Brown Sugar
2 Ounces Sugar
|Then add one egg, plus one egg yolk, two tablespoons of whole milk. Don’t use skim! One and a half teaspoons of vanilla extract. And then bring on the dry goods. Do this at a very low speed, and do it very slowly or you will make a hideous mess of things.||
1 Whole Egg +
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tbs. Whole Milk
1½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
|Now, the batter is technically together, but we need the chips. Twelve ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips. You could do this by hand, but I like to let the machine to do it.||
12 Ounces Semi-Sweet
Next, you must chill your batter for one hour in the refrigerator. If you don’t,
the cookies will spread unattractively on the pan. You don’t want that.
Hour’s up. Time to scoop. I like to do six two-ounce portions on each half-sheet pan, or on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. I find that this sure is the best way to do this.
|Into a 375 degree oven, and I wouldn’t try more than two pans at one time. Halfway through the cooking process, you are going to want to rotate the cookies. What does that mean? Well, it means that the top pan goes to the bottom, the bottom pan goes to the top, and each of the two pans gets rotated 180 degrees. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is. There.||
When the cookies are done, pull them out and let them cool on the pans for two minutes, before transferring to cooling racks.
Mmm. I dare say this cookie is better than the original. And so we see that sometimes, substituting can lead us to a better place than we were in the first place.
AB: [enters from behind] BA! What are you doing here?
[we are now left with the conundrum of whether we
have been listening to AB or BA for the whole show]
BA: [puts on sunglasses] Parole.
AB: Listen, bro, there is no way on earth that you can substitute for me.
BA: Oh yeah? Watch this. [replaces his shades with AB glasses, to the camera] Well, I hope we’ve inspired you to look beyond the recipe and into the kaleidoscope of culinary possibilities made possible by the artful substitution. Whether you’re trying to avoid a last-minute emergency market run or a trip to the Emergency Room, substitutions can be good eats. See you next time.
[continues from previous scene]
BA: [holds up the car wax prize] Car wax?
AB: No. Thanks.
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010