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MomsRetro.com - Recipe Help with Odd Spicy Ingredients

Mom Demystifies
Lemon Zest, Horseradish,
Mustard, Paprika
& Other Odd Ingredients with
Emergency Recipe Substitutions

retro gals sharing recipe tipsDuring family get-togethers or holiday season cooks are more likely to make recipes that have been in the family for ages.  But this can also mean needing an ingredient you haven't stocked in your kitchen for ages! 

Knowing an ingredients "equivalent" or substitution can save the day.  The ingredients Mom talks about today are mainly used as flavoring in casseroles, sauces and hot dips, so you have more flexibility in making substitutions.

Horseradish Recipe Substitutions


Horseradish gives your recipes a kick or a little spicy zip.  It is the secret ingredient in my grandmother's crab dip. The taste is strong, sometimes described as tangy and hot.  Sort of like very strong radishes.

Fresh horseradish root is twice as strong as bottled. Prepared, or bottled horseradish is mixed with vinegar and other flavors as part of the 'preparation' process.

1 tablespoon fresh horseradish equals 2 tablespoons of bottled.

Horseradish is also served alongside Prime Rib and other meats. 

You can also substitute 1 teaspoon of wasabe, or Japanese horseradish or a few drops of hot sauce.  Keep in mind these substitutions are much hotter than horseradish so start with small amounts and adjust to taste. 

My brother, always the rebel, uses salsa instead of horseradish to give his crab dip version a little zest and it adds a bit of color too!

Mustard Recipe Substitutions

Mustard is another ingredient used in casseroles and dips to give recipes a kick. 1 teaspoon of dry mustard equals 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard.  You can also start with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and add more, adjusting to taste. 

Before chilies and peppers arrived from the New World, Europeans used mustard and horseradish to spice up dishes.  Try adding a few drops of hot sauce or a dash of chili pepper if you don't have any mustard.

Paprika Emergency Substitutions

Paprika is made from sweet, mild red peppers and has a light, delicate taste.  Its bright red color is also makes it a popular garnish.  If your recipe calls for a dash of paprika on top, it is probably there more for coloring than for flavor. 

My grandmother's hot dip calls for a sprinkle of paprika after baking.  You can substitute a dash of chili powder for color instead.  Chili powder has a smokier taste and is stronger so use sparingly. 

Cayenne pepper is also red, but it is even hotter, so beware.  Another option is to decorate the top of your creation with something else, like minced pimentos, sweet red peppers or minced parsley.

Lemon Emergency Recipe Substitutions

If your cottage garden is out of lemons at the moment, all is not lost.  1 teaspoon shredded lemon peel (zest) equals 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 2 tablespoons lemon juice. 

You can also substitute 3/4 cup lime juice for one cup of lemon juice.  Or  Substitute 1⁄2 cup vinegar for every cup of lemon juice. 

Lemon Cooking Tip:

The juice of one lemon
equals about 2-3 tablespoons

Most of the offbeat ingredients on this page are mainly used to add a hint of sharp flavoring, feel free to experiment with different spicy ingredients you may have on hand in your kitchen.  You might just invent a new flavor combo!

Good Luck and Happy Cooking!


Next Cooking Tips Page:  Spice up your recipes
on my Herbs and Spices Page...


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