Jennie Geisler has a home cooking column in the Erie Times-News newspaper and a two-year-old son with a dairy allergy. That's a recipe for non-dairy dishes to appear regularly in her column. ("That's a recipe," get it? Newspaper columns and headlines are full of these cheapest of all puns. Why oh why oh why? I thank Geisler for writing straight.)
Anyway, she borrows a recipe, Macaroni and 'Cheese' from V Cuisine: The Art of New Vegan Cooking, by Angeline Linardis. Not only is is dairy-free, but cheese-free. Soy milk makes the milky substitute.
Geisler adds a couple of cooking notes that are relevant.
The recipe called for either carrots or red bell peppers as the puree base for the "cheese" sauce. I went ahead and used both. I chopped them up, put them in a big cereal bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and steamed them in the microwave for 5 minutes or so. Then I poured them into the blender, splashed them with soy milk and gave it a good whirl. That and a few seasonings, and we were ready to rock.
Nutritional yeast is a flaky yellowish substance that's different from regular yeast in that it will not help in leavening. It adds nutrition and flavor to whatever contains it. You can find nutritional yeast at the Whole Foods Cooperative, 1341 W. 26th St., in bulk. All you need is a quarter cup.
Nutritional yeast is also known as brewer's yeast. You can add it to any baked good at a proportion of 1 to 3 teaspoons per cup of flour. It offers protein, fiber and potassium to anything that contains it. The yeast is included here, according to the cookbook, because it has a fermented taste that suggests the flavor of real cheese.