As the shops still remain empty of some of the essentials and everyone is indoors, we as cooks have to use flexibility with the ingredients we use and adapt to the situation the best we can.
In our day to day lives in times of normality, the following wouldn’t happen. We work to very strict levels of precision and consistency. We find the absolute best ingredients in the best ratios to make the food we prepare to be as good as we can, but times have changed and even us control freaks have to adapt and loosen up a little bit.
In saying that, when I am at home then anything goes but I have never shared that before! Here is a general breakdown of how to make things work no matter what.
Depending on what you making , you can pretty much use what you have but for some things like bread, it has to be bread flour but again things like soda bread, naan or other flatbreads you can blag. Plain flour with baking powder can replace self-raising and realistically you can use self-raising instead of plain with little difference.
For baking purposes, you can use the flax egg technique or aquafarba (chick pea water) but you will know the difference with certain recipes where you want a light texture, sponges etc… But you will get away with it in brownies and more dense items.
Butter milk, crème fraiche, cream and even just milk can be used in its place.
Just have a swap around and make do, curry powder for Cajun powder etc, or even use up all those bits you left in the bottom of old jars to make your own spice blend.
Try and use things that are more available in new ways. Whole roasted or braised onions, roast whole cabbages covered in bacon like you would a Christmas turkey or I use sweet potato as a pudding, just roasted as a jacket then topped with yoghurt or crème fraiche and drizzled with honey or maple.
Jam anything soft, bake or poach anything hard or even just make a good old fruit salad.
Juices, smoothies or no churn sorbet for the kids. Soft or bruised things like apples or pears make great sauces or roasts. Bananas are better the blacker they are for things like cakes or cream pies. You can also freeze them to make Adam Byatt’s quick ice cream recipe.
Pulses and Beans
Easy just switch them for what you have, don’t be fussy.
Lentils Rice and other grains
Use what you can get! Risotto rice makes a mean rice pudding or try Tad’s burglar wheat paella. Dahls or thick split pea style soups are very forgiving especially with a nice bit of bread and butter on the side.
No lemons use limes or grapefruit or oranges, or even a touch of vinegar. In southern parts of America, vinegar pie is a classic recipe and very similar to lemon tart .
Frozen Fruit and Veg
Times must, so use these as you can. Peas are the most versatile for sure and can bulk out pretty much anything.
These are great for bakes, flapjacks or cookies with the kids or toppings for yoghurts / ice cream etc…
Think outside of just porridge, they make great alternatives to flour in recipes or cakes or cookies and also you can use as a savoury option to top bakes or use instead of risotto rice for a savoury delight.