Have you ever happened to like a recipe, but after a sigh of grief ended up ignoring it, because you saw that there were ingredients which are hard to find or too expensive?
Using some clever tricks, you can create substitutes for these nontraditional products. Balsamic vinegar, which is the base for many sauces, is made from special Trebbiano grapes, in the provinces of Modena or Reggio Emilia in Italy.
The grape juice is heated until it turns into a dark syrup, which is then mixed with wine vinegar and left to sit in wooden kegs in attics.
It takes balsamic vinegar anywhere from 3 to 50 years to mature. Instead of expensive Balsamic vinegar you can use wine vinegar, but if you want to get it close to the taste of balsamic, add some flavorful grasses and herbs to it. This will give it a refined taste and flavor.
Coconut milk is a creamy liquid derived from the processing of soft part of the coconut - this shouldn't be confused with coconut juice, which forms in the coconut and is whitish-transparent.
Coconut milk can be substituted in recipes by regular milk or liquid cream. And if you would like to give it a coconut flavor, add coconut flakes.
Mascarpone cream, which is the basis for tiramisu and many other desserts, is made from fresh clotted cream, lemon juice and wine vinegar, which are heated very slowly.
The cream for mascarpone is made from milk from cows who have grazed only on fresh grass and flowers. Mascarpone is a highly caloric cheese - containing 450 calories per 3.5 oz.
In Italy, mascarpone is served as a stand-alone dish, with added fruits, sugar or anchovies, mustard and spices. It is an irreplaceable base for confectionery creams.
Mascarpone can be substituted with cream cheese or a mixture of high fat cream and cottage cheese. Many Italian recipes contain the universal tomato sauce passata.
It is very thick and used for the preparation of tomato soup, meat dishes and all kinds of sauces. This sauce can be made at home as well.
You will need 2 lb tomatoes, 1 onion head, 2 tsp salt, 1 bunch of basil. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel and chop them finely.
Cut up the onion and braise it in oil until golden. Add the tomatoes to it and saute the mixture for 25 min. 10 min. before the sauce is ready, salt it and add the finely chopped basil.