Egg Free Meringues (with Egg Replacer)

This is the recipe for egg free meringues I found on the back of a box of Orgran No Egg Egg Replacer. I have to say I only got it right on the third batch. The first lot collapsed after the oven door was opened mid cooking (not by me I hasten to add), and the second attempt just stubbornly remained liquid and flat despite being whipped for ages.

The results? Not bad actually. I do detect a slight chalkiness after eating but as my children had never had the pleasure of meringue before they didn’t mind one bit. I also used it in a raspberry and soya cream combo as featured in my post about  SoyaToo! Spray Cream.

Ingredients

80g Orgran No Egg Natural Egg Replacer
½ teaspoon citrus pectin (e.g. Certo)
250ml ice cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g pure icing sugar

1 Tbsp soft brown sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 130°C (260°F)
  • Blend Orgran No Egg & pectin together thoroughly while dry, and then add to cold water in mixing bowl. Mix on high for 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and sugars 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing on high for a further 5 minutes. The foam will increase in volume.
  • Spoon or pipe meringues on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 130°C (260°F) for 2 hours.
    After 2 hours, turn the oven off without opening the door and allow the meringues to dry out until the oven is cool.
    If not serving immediately, store in airtight container.
  • Tip: When baking smaller individual meringues, reduce the cooking time to 1hr and 15 minutes

SoyaToo! Soy Whip Spray Cream

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So I finally got around to trying Soy Whip in a can. I have to say I was quite excited about this and trying it out in various ways for the kids.

First the good news: it tastes great, in fact pretty much the same as the carton version – sweet, but with a very light aerated texture, like a dessert version of whipped cream. Probably not the best for a low fat, organic diet but even so the ingredients listed aren’t that bad.

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It works in exactly the same way as a can of normal dairy whipped cream. The kids loved it squirted directly on some fresh berries. We started to get creative and made some egg free meringues using Orgran Egg Replacer and made a raspberry cream sandwich:

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These were scoffed in seconds.

Even the husband started to get enthusiastic and sneakily tried to eat it straight out of the can! We started to plan all manner of desserts and uses for it but then…here’s the bad news. After only the third time we had used it, it had stopped dispensing and we couldn’t get the cream out! The can was still full of cream (I could hear it sloshing inside when it was being shaken) but even after following the recommended instructions by cleaning the nozzle each time after use with warm water and leaving at room temperature for 15 minutes after taking out of the fridge, every time we pressed the nozzle there was the hiss of gas and nothing else…until all of the nitrous oxide had been emptied out.

A quick internet search revealed that this had happened to pretty much everyone else who had bought it too, which is a massive shame as I was hoping my can was just a dud. In summary it means that the product just doesn’t work, which is really disappointing as it actually tastes really good. I’ll stick with the carton next time.

Dairy and Egg Free Trifle

This is a wee project I’ve been planning on doing for a while, and I’ve finally got around to it. It’s somewhat unfair that we always get to eat these lovely cakes and desserts while my poor girls just get to eat the same old stuff every time, so it makes me really happy to create something new for them.

It has lots of different elements to it, and it took a couple of days to make having to wait for each of the layers to set. First, jelly and fruit on the bottom – I used fresh raspberries but any soft fruit works; followed by a sponge layer, homemade; and then some dairy free custard. For the custard I used a 50/50 mix of soya/coconut milk (the KoKo brand) as personally I find the coconut is quite neutral tasting and masks the overpowering taste of soya.

However the success of this is all down to this fantastic product I found called Soya Too which I got from my local health food shop. It comes in a carton, and weirdly comes out in a kind of semi-solid block, but it whips up like double cream and for those that have had dairy before, tastes like Bird’s Dream Topping (remember that, ’80s kids?).

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The “cream” tastes quite sweet and dessert-like, though don’t go too overboard if like me you don’t like things too sugary. They also do a spray version in a can which I’m hoping to try out soon, so there are lots of things we could do with this. How exciting!

Anyway back to the trifle – I have to say it was a resounding success, and everyone had double helpings all round. Definitely one to try again, and it is very easy to tweak by substituting with different ingredients and quantities.

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(Apologies for the poor picture quality, by the time I finished it was the evening and the lighting in the kitchen isn’t great for taking photos)

Ingredients

Jelly Layer:
1 packet of jelly (makes up to 1 pint)
Fresh soft/tinned fruit (I used fresh raspberries)

Sponge Layer:
200g (7oz) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g (4oz) caster sugar
55ml (2oz) sunflower oil
200ml (14fl oz) dairy-free milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Custard:
1 tbsp custard powder ( I use Birds)
250ml dairy free milk (I used 50/50 soya/coconut)

1 packet of Soya Too! Soy Whip

Instructions

  1. First make up the jelly according to the instructions, you may want to use around 50ml less water if you wish your jelly to be firmer. Pour into a large glass serving dish.
  2. When the jelly has cooled add your fruit making sure they are evenly spaced. Put in the fridge to set (this will take all day if you have made it in the morning or leave overnight).
  3. While the jelly is setting make your sponge:
    a)  Preheat the oven to 180C and line a springform cake tin(23cm/9inch is ok) with baking parchment.
    b)  Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix together. Whisk together the sunflower oil, milk, syrup and vanilla in a jug and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, mix together gently until thick and creamy.
    c)  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Make the custard up according to the instructions. You want the layer to be quite firm and not too liquid so I use double the recommended quantity of custard powder. Put in a jug to cool and cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming.
  5. When everything has cooled and the jelly has set it’s time to assemble! Cut the sponge cake into slices, you can make these as thin or as thick as you like – I did mine quite thin so it wouldn’t be too filling. Arrange these over your jelly layer.IMG_4521
  6. Pour over the cooled custard and spread evenly.IMG_4522
  7. Whip the Soy Whip according to the instructions in a large bowl, then spread over your custard. It’s now ready to eat and enjoy!IMG_4526 2

Gingerbread

Gingerbread
Gingerbread People!

There was a bake sale at Little Two’s baby group so rather than make cakes (which are a bit hit and miss with dairy and egg eaters) I made some gingerbread. Well unexpectedly, they all disappeared like hot cakes! Fortunately I managed to keep a couple for my two but I then had to make another batch since they were so delicious.

The recipe is a Delia Smith one – Queen of all things culinary, and I make these all the time. It has quite intense flavours due to the addition of black treacle, cloves and orange rind but my kids love them. It’s great fun making these together and they love stamping out the shapes from the dough.

Ingredients

175g/3oz Soft Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
1 tbsp Black Treacle
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1 Pinch Cloves
Grated Rind of 1 Orange
95g Butter/Marg
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
225g Plain Flour

Method

  1. Put sugar, syrup, treacle, spices and orange rind into a saucepan with 1 tbsp water. Heat to boiling and stir until dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add butter and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Beat flour in until a dough is formed. Leave the dough to rest, covered in a cool place for approx 30 minutes until firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4.
  5. Roll out dough to 3mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutters, using currants for the eyes and mouth or press holes in the dough.
  6. Bake on baking sheets in the centre of the oven for 10-15mins until firm when pressed lightly with fingertips. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray until transferring to a wire rack.

Oral Allergy Syndrome: A right pain

My Eldest One has Oral Allergy Syndrome and the number of fresh fruit and vegetables she can eat raw is dwindling as each summer passes by. She used to love eating cherries, strawberries, melon, peaches, apple – in fact any fruit. Not anymore. Because she has hay fever this is causing a cross reaction between pollen and certain fruits/vegetables which when eaten gives her an itchy mouth. Poor One hates it when it happens – this year she started to react to tomatoes which she ate by the bucket load until only a few months ago, and yesterday she ate a raw carrot stick and said her throat was itchy.

I sigh as a write this, because One gets really disappointed when she finds there is yet another thing she cannot eat and then starts getting fearful of trying anything else in case she reacts. There are only a few fruits she can eat fresh now: raspberries, banana, grapes, pomegranate and satsumas. Fortunately cooking or freezing can change the structure so we can still make an apple crumble or freeze the fruit to make a smoothie.

I also suspect Number Two is reacting in a similar way to tomatoes, sugar snaps and potato! It’s all getting very difficult with deciding what both my kids can eat at the same time.

For more information there is some really useful advice on OAS here:

AllergyUK

Cross Reaction Chart

Cake crumbs and other dangers

I take my baby to a few activities/classes, one we go to has some downtime for drinks and a biscuit while the children play for 10 minutes.
This particular week however somebody brought a proper cake in, with lashings of buttercream icing and almonds on top. Eeek. Cue watching my toddling egg and dairy allergic 16 month old like a hawk, who is eyeing up said cake being eaten by the other parents and making puppy dog eyes in begging mode. Usually the food thing is manageable as the parents are just eating a biscuit which hardly makes a mess and disappears pretty quickly. Unfortunately the slices of cake handed out were huge triangles on napkins and it was the type which fall apart and sprays crumbs everywhere once you bite into it. A couple of toddlers were also helping themselves which created a crumb shower in their vicinity.
This is the most difficult thing for both of us when we are out. My daughter is at the stage of either: a) wanting to eat anything off the floor that can fit in her mouth or b) wanting to eat anything that anyone else is eating. Both are not ideal and can be a pain but when you have and allergic child – well, it’s ten times more stressful. We were doing pretty well until just at the end when I was writing a cheque out for the teacher, the room was half empty but the floor was covered in crumbs; out of the corner of my eye I spotted her hand put something into her mouth. “No!” I yelped, jumped up and rushed over. After getting her mouth to open I fished out a piece of cake crumb. At least she hadn’t ingested it otherwise it would have made her come out in hives. A calmer response would have been more desirable as the teacher was slightly alarmed, but I was just relieved I stopped her in time.
This is one of the reasons why I don’t go to playgroups, there’s too much risk of being exposed to allergens and my daughter can’t make the distinction between what is safe and what is not. I wonder whether we are missing out, but then I think the stress is just not worth it.

Is My Baby Allergic?

When my first daughter was 6 weeks old she started to develop eczema on her face which over the next few weeks would gradually get worse and spread all over her body. When she was teething and dribbling she constantly had a red patches on her cheeks and around her mouth; her skin was incredibly dry and her eczema would regularly flare up which seemed to happen randomly. We took her back and forth to the GP and after trial and error with many different kinds of emollients we eventually found a regime that worked for her using Doublebase and Epaderm, though her skin was so dry I had to apply her creams every two hours. We always had to dress her with long sleeves because the instant her arms were exposed she would scratch; it was worst at bedtime and her sleep was disturbed at night with scratching so she would often wake, I would find blood on her bedsheets from the scratching which was absolutely heartbreaking.

At 6 months her eczema was still severe and even though we were treating her with steroids it was not improving. Her cheeks would be red raw and she developed thread veins. I would regularly get comments on her skin and lectured by well meaning individuals on remedies to try (which was really, really annoying – I have tried everything Thank You very much). At this point I was still breastfeeding but looking at returning to work and started to think about formula feeding, so one day I gave her a couple of ounces of formula milk to try. She drank it all up: 10 minutes later she started scratching her face and didn’t stop, her face went red and blotchy all over and she started to bleed as she scratched, hives started to cover her body. I was absolutely terrified; realising she was having an allergic reaction we thankfully had some Piriton at home as the GP had prescribed some for her when her sleep was very bad. She calmed down after the medicine; I however, cried all afternoon. I had found out she was allergic to dairy.

All this had happened just before our appointment with the dermatologist for our baby’s eczema. We saw a lovely consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital from the Children’s Dermatology department, who agreed that she had a milk allergy and prescribed Neocate (a hypoallergenic formula) straight away and arranged a referral to the Childrens Allergy department. She also prescribed a unique preparation of propaderm (a very potent steroid) diluted in soft white paraffin to be applied to her skin – which was obtained only from the hospital. I have to say this was the turning point for us – she started to itch less when she started drinking Neocate and within a few weeks her eczema began to improve. It took another 3 years for it to very gradually, get properly under control using various forms of treatments.

At 10 months we eventually got to attend the Children’s Allergy Clinic at St Thomas’s, where they confirmed an allergy to egg, dairy, tree nuts and fish (I have to say the team are fantastic here and are one of the leading research teams in the field of allergy, I cannot compliment them enough). This was 7 years ago and it’s been a learning curve for us, and fortunately more people are becoming aware of allergies.

When I had my second baby and she started to develop eczema in the same way I suspected that she too was allergic, so I went straight to the doctor and I was right – she is currently allergic to egg and dairy. My two have also developed further allergies to chicken(!) and various types of fruit. Having said that it’s much easier to manage second time around and less daunting.

Everyday Dairy Free Products

As both my girls are allergic to dairy and I am also lactose intolerant what do we have in our kitchen? I always have these in my fridge:

  • Pure Dairy Free Spread instead of butter. We also sometimes use Vitalite.
  • Milk substitutes: Soya, Oat, or Rice milk. We can’t use any of the nut milks as the girls are allergic to tree nuts, and we haven’t tried coconut milk yet but my eldest is obsessed with oat milk at the moment.
  • Stork Block margarine. Discovering this was dairy free was a revelation! It has less water content than a spread so for baking things like biscuits and scones I get a much nicer result. Don’t use it for cakes or icing though because it’ll taste horrible.