Dairy in disguise

Whereas a dollop of compound butter is something the chef wants the diner to see, some dairy products are covertly added. For example, cottage cheese is used in all types of recipes to boost protein content while adding moisture and functioning as an ingredient binder.

“Cottage cheese can be blended smooth and added to almost any type of veggie mash,” Ms. Wilson said. “Because cottage cheese is so neutral in flavor, it takes on the taste of the flavors around it and offers a very creamy texture.”

Blended cottage cheese can be used to boost protein content while adding moisture and functioning as an ingredient binder.

Cottage cheese can improve the nutritional profile of such recipes as spinach gratin, as it can replace heavy cream. When the swap is made, the cottage cheese lowers fat and increases protein content, while maintaining a moist, creamy texture and mouthfeel, according to Ann Harvey Yonkers, co-founder and former co-executive director of FreshFarm Markets, Washington, D.C.

Another dairy favorite among chefs is cultured buttermilk, which is not to be confused with traditional buttermilk, or the liquid that remains after churning butter out of cream.

“The lactic acid in buttermilk is a great addition to pastry recipes as it breaks down the strands of gluten and it cuts the sweetness by bringing a refreshing tang,” Mr. Pfeiffer said.