Some books are just a great idea. In the case of The Food Substitutions Bible (Second Edition) author David Joachim executes that idea to a deeply useful level. At its heart, it’s an A-Z guide of everything you realize that you’re out of in the process of making a recipe, or the thing that you’re missing when you’re staring at a fridge full of remnant ingredients, trying to come up with some alchemy to use them up. From abalone to za’atar, this updated edition now includes more than 6,500 substitution suggestions, plus charts that help consumers on everything from varieties of apples to coffee to grains to olives.
For a novice cook, it’s invaluable as a set of terms and definitions but also for learning the similarities and contrasts among ingredients. For instance, how does cake flour vary from all-purpose? Use less, but expect different results.
As a seasoned cook or a recipe writer, it’s equally invaluable. What could I use in place of overfished grouper? Or suggest as a replacement for saffron? It’s all here. The first edition was terrific; by expanding the offering with another 1,500 entries, the second edition just makes it an even more compelling addition to a home culinary reference collection.
Why It’s Important: In the project that I did with professed non-cooks in the past year, the issue of what to substitute in place of a missing (or often, expensive) ingredient came up time and again. If there’s one way to truly use up leftovers or save money when shopping, it’s vital to understand the general concept of substitutions.