Seed Nut Milks Commonwealth Verbena TBD | Tasting Table San Francisco

No need for heavy cream or goat cheese in these dishes

Almonds are not the only cow of the trees.

Turns out you can make milks and cheeses from other nuts and seeds, soaking and blending them to bring out their creaminess.

For example, Sean Baker, chef of Verbena and Gather, has been experimenting with seed milks for a decade now. At Verbena, the hazelnut curds he scatters over roasted beets ($10) provide an earthy lushness, and the cultured pumpkin-seed milk ($11) he dresses a frisée salad has the same mellow tang as buttermilk.

Commonwealth chef Jason Fox

Jason Fox of Commonwealth enriches a dish of hen with grape, vadouvan and charred cauliflower ($15) by first poaching the bird in almond milk and then reducing the milk into a nutty, voluptuous sauce.

"As much as I love butter, it dilutes natural flavors," says TBD chef Mark Liberman. Instead of finishing roast lamb ($18) with a buttery sauce, he serves it with sunflower seed milk. Turns out he's right: The seed milk brings out the meatiness of the lamb while adding a smooth, subtle sunflower taste.

In this case, imitation is the sincerest form of competition.