I'm sensing nuttiness, all right

There are some vegan cookbooks on my shelf. Let me stress there is no danger of me becoming part of what Anthony Bourdain once called “the Hezbollah-like faction” of vegetarianism. And while I’m thinking about it, why do so many vegetarian and vegan recipes come out looking like mud? My husband and I had a meal at a Chapel Hill vegetarian restaurant recently, and while the flavor of my tempeh-based entree was interesting, it looked like they’d scooped wet clay from out back and plopped on the plate.

What I’ve been looking for in these cookbooks are decent-tasting, interesting desserts. My husband has developed a dairy allergy (a step above mere lactose intolerance) and I’ve been trying to adapt our favorite breakfast breads and desserts to axe the milk and butter. I’ve also been looking for new recipes, and vegan ones would by definition contain nothing that began in an animal. So far, I haven’t been impressed. And using soy milk in my pancakes just gave us floppy-flat pancakes.

After reading a Passover recipe in Gourmet this spring, I got the idea of using almond milk. It’s thicker than soy milk, and while you definitely taste almonds if you sip it straight, I don’t detect the flavor when cooking. Our favorite pancakes rose higher and were very close to the original flavor (I use a lactose-free unsalted margarine). It’s great in the summer fruit cobbler my husband loves. Next up: French toast, which was booted off our breakfast menu some time ago.

Any of you smart people out there have suggestions for dairy-free recipes or ways to adapt desserts?

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