In my last post, I set myself a challenge. I want to enjoy all that dairy brings to food, but not to actually use or consume dairy. As with everything, if I am forbidden to eat it, its all I want to eat, so naturally, my non dairy recipes need to be those that you cannot imagine without any milk products…the challenge is a significant one. So in my ‘baby steps’ style, I’ll start by looking at what dairy adds to our food.
Dairy free cooking can be such a challenge due to the multitude of ways it can be added, reasons it is added and stages that it is added at. Butter is used at the beginning of cooking to add crispness, or help ingredients brown, cream can be added during cooking to thicken, add texture or flavour, parmesan and it’s umami undertones can punctuate a pasta dish like nothing else. Dairy can be a main ingredient, a component or a condiment.
Broken down by dairy product, these are the culinary results I like when using the white stuff, and subsequently what you can expect from my diary free goodies:
- Crunchy brown crispness when used for frying
- The combination of salt (in salted butter) and fat, means that I wouldn’t have a little butter with my bread, it would be more like a little bread with my butter.
- A knob of butter at the end of cooking anything from risotto to soup, gives a sheen and a finished look.
- On vegetables and baked potatoes, I don’t know what it is, must be the fat/salt combo again!
- Moisture and softness to sandwiches.
- A great savoury base for so many sauces.
- Full fat milk adds something to cup cakes that I might struggle to recreate…
- Depth of flavour in so many things, from sauces, to sandwiches.
- Although so often a condiment and a garnish that could be removed- what to swap it with for the salty, creamy edge it brings?
- Wonderfuly thickening, with it’s easy addition of whipped in air.
- Can be light but can also keep it’s shape and form.
- Absorbs other flavours beautifully.
We know that dairy brings some nice ‘features’ to our food, and while it would be great to have dairy alternatives to everything that are equally good as the dairy farmers version, there are some dishes that, in the interest of food integrity, I won’t be investigating or creating, for example, cheese on toast. I am sure that the dairy free and seed cheeses available are just fine, but I want real food, not pretend cheese on toast.
Integrity in food is really important here, I like real food, not subsitutes, I like things that I can buy at the supermarket and not having to make special trips to the health food shop, most of all I like really dazzling food that has personality, and jumps of the plate, something that you would be proud to serve guests.
After polling my dairy free buddies, the things they most want to eat but can’t are things like creamy rice and pasta dishes (thinking Italian) sauces, chocolate based and creamy desserts. I’ll be experimenting and posting the best of my recipes over the coming weeks – if you have any special requests, please let me know what you would like to try and I’ll do my best to create something dazzling and worth eating 🙂
Next stop: Dazzling Dairy Free recipe #1