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Passover Cooking Substitutions

Ingredient Tweaks to Help You Adapt Recipes for Passover

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When it comes to cooking for Passover, even adventuresome cooks often "go by the book," choosing only the same tried-and-tested recipes year after year. They know that matzo meal and matzo cake meal, for instance, do not behave like regular flour in recipes. Certain ingredients -- like baking powder -- are available with KFP certification, but often prove hard to find. Others -- like certain flavoring extracts -- simply don't exist.

When you're doing a lot of cooking from scratch (especially with shoestring kitchen supplies and holiday-imposed time limits to consider) it's hard to embrace the idea of experimenting. The last thing you want is a recipe failure! Still, it is possible to adapt "regular" recipes for Passover, or to find reasonable substitutions if you need to tweak an existing Pesach recipe. Here's a handy list of Kosher for Passover ingredient substitutions that will help take the stress and uncertainty out of holiday cooking.

Tips for Success:

1) Read through the recipe you want to adapt. Consider the quantity of the ingredient you'd have to replace. A cake with 3 cups of flour is not a good candidate for conversion -- cake meal is pre-baked, and simply doesn't act like flour in recipes. Save the cake for after Pesach. On the other hand, if your favorite recipe requires a couple of tablespoons of flour for dredging or binding, by all means, try swapping in matzo meal or cake meal.

2) Think about your available kitchen equipment. You might be able to make appropriate ingredient substitutions, but if a blender or food processor is essential for achieving the right texture and you don't have one for Pesach, take a pass. All things considered, if you're already making ingredient changes, it's best to stick to the original recipe's technique as closely as possible.

3) Quality ingredients are key. Faux mustard, maple syrup, and soy sauce are all available for Passover, but they're terrible -- and full of artificial ingredients. Just because you could theoretically whip up your family's favorite Dijon Maple Teriyaki doesn't mean you should bother. You'll spend a small fortune on crummy products, and may end up with an MSG headache to boot.

4) Focus on what you can make, not on what you can't. It's very easy to fixate on the ingredients you can't use, especially if they're favorites. And it's a natural impulse to try and find replacements. But there are so many delicious, inherently chametz-free recipes -- like this potato gratin -- that get overlooked when we're busy trying to turn gummy Pesach noodles into a pasta dinner.

5) Check out gluten-free recipes. With the possible exception of oats, chametz grains contain gluten, or proteins that are dangerous for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Thanks to increased awareness about those conditions, there are now countless blogs and cookbooks dedicated to the gluten-free diet. While many gluten-free recipes do contain kitniyot, you'll also find plenty that are totally Kosher for Passover, or that are easily adapted to become so. If someone has already done the work to adapt a recipe -- especially if you find one with great reviews -- by all means try it!

Passover Substitutions

Instead of:Substitute this:
1 cup all-purpose flour5/8 cup matzo cake meal, OR 1/2 cup cake meal plus 1/4 to 1/3 cup potato starch, OR 1 cup ground nuts, or a combination
breadcrumbsmatzo meal
1 cup buttermilk1 tbsp lemon juice, plus enough milk to make one cup. Let sit 5 minutes before using.
1 cup confectioner's sugar 1 cup less 1 tbsp granulated sugar, plus 1 tbsp potato starch, pulverized in blender
1 cup cornstarch7/8 cup potato starch
1 cup corn syrup1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup water, simmered until syrupy
graham cracker crumbscrushed Passover cookies, ground nuts, or a combination
margarinecoconut oil (Spectrum Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut oil is KFP for 2013 with a regular O-U)
1 cup matzo meal3 broken matzos or 2 cups matzo farfel, finely ground with food processor
1 cup matzo cake meal1 cup plus 2 tbsp matzo meal, pulverized in blender or food processor
1 cup matzo farfel1 1/2 matzo sheets, crumbled into small pieces
peanut butterKFP almond or cashew butter
schmaltz (chicken fat)2 caramelized onions, pureed until smooth
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate3 tbsp cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp butter, margarine, or oil
1 cup vanilla sugar1 cup sugar plus 1 split vanilla bean, sealed in an airtight container for at least 24 hours.

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