Garlic bread for one

I recently found myself on a business trip to Manchester. I’d never visited the city before, and while there was a myriad of eateries to choose from I found myself sticking with chain restaurants. With a chain restaurant you know exactly what you’re getting, which is the safe option. It can also be pretty boring, always having the same old dishes.

After sheepishly asking for a table for one at Zizzi on King Street, the staff gave me a warm welcome and showed me to a quiet table, tucked away, which was nice as I didn’t feel too inconspicuous. The waitress came to take my drink order and I uttered the words that usually fill restaurant workers with fear; “Please could I see your allergy menu?”

Rather than fear, the waitress proudly produced the menu with a flourish! And after a brief glance I could see why.  With my bizarre mix of allergies there are usually only one or two items on the menu that I can have.  I was amazed by the choice on offer and decided to try some of the new offerings on the menu.  

For my starter I ordered the dairy free garlic bread.  I expected a couple of bits of ciabatta to nibble on whilst waiting for my main, but what appeared could only be described as a plank full of garlicky yumminess! My initial reaction was “how on earth am I going to eat that by myself?”  The pizza dough bread was crisp, fluffy and delicious, drizzled with olive oil and topped with whole cloves of roasted garlic. Just writing this is making my mouth water! 

Next up was the main, and again I was spoiled for choice; Pasta, grilled meats, even dairy free pizza (made with coconut oil dairy free cheese). I decided to stick to my usual – the spiedini pollo (without the white wine and lemon sauce, which isn’t Allergy Girl friendly). I love the spiedini pollo, and never feel like I’m simply making do with this dish.
By the time I worked my way through the huge skewer of grilled chicken, veg and herby potatoes, my tummy was bursting. However I wouldn’t let such a thing stop me from trying dessert. You see, dessert is a thing of mystery to me. It is rare that a restaurant offers an Allergy Girl friendly dessert. It’s even rarer if that dessert isn’t fruit salad or lemon sorbet. Of course, Zizzi does offer lemon sorbet, it wouldn’t be an Italian restaurant without it. They also had a strawberry sorbet, which was a nice alternative. 

But my eye (and tummy) was drawn to the coconut and chocolate swirl gelato. The waiter convinced me that as the gelato/sorbet menu is mix and match that I shouldn’t limit myself to just one flavour, so I had two scoops of coconut and chocolate and one scoop of lemon.  The lemon sorbet was sharp and refreshing, however I did find myself wishing I’d stuck to three scoops of the coconut and chocolate, which had  just the right balance of flavour.  

I’m already looking forward to the next time I can visit Zizzi and try more things from the allergy menu. Until then, dear reader, I leave you with this image.  Garlic bread for one, done! 

Advertisements

Dairy, egg and nut free lemon and poppyseed drizzle cake

This recipe uses my Basic dairy and egg free sponge.

I usually make these little lemon cakes in Mini loaf cases from Sainsbury’s.  You can also make it in a standard loaf tin.  If I’m baking a large loaf I prefer to use a silicone loaf mould as it’s easy to get the cake out. 

Method

1. Make as per my Basic dairy and egg free sponge.

2. At step 3, add poppyseeds to the bowl,  and mix with the flour.

3. At step 4, add lemon essence.

4. While the cake is baking, mix some granulated sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.

5. When the cake is baked, remove from the oven. While still in the loaf tin/mould, drizzle the lemon juice and sugar mix all over the top of your cake. If making mini loaves, drizzle the mixture over, ensuring it completely covers to top of each cake.  As the mixture cools it will crystallise into a yummy citrusy topping. 

If you fancy, you could swap the lemon essence and juice for orange. It works equally as well. 

Happy baking!!! 

Ice scream 

While we’re experiencing such beautiful sunny weather in the UK, I thought ice cream might be a topical subject to write about.

For probably the first 30 years of my life ice cream didn’t feature much in my diet. Now it’s a major food group!! 

Growing up in the UK the only dairy free ice cream available was Swedish Glace. It was only available from Holland and Barrett and came in vanilla or vanilla. Over the years the range developed to include chocolate and raspberry flavours and started being stocked in very limited quantities in Supermarkets. 

Around 2010 my local Sainsbury’s started stocking Swedish Glace non-dairy vanilla and strawberry cones, choc ices on sticks and Neapolitan ice cream, which came in a great big tub.  My previously vanilla world was amazed by these new and wonderful treats. I stocked up and munched my way through countless packages of the creamy delights. 

Then, as quickly as this new phase of my life began, it abruptly ended.  I wrote to Mr Sainsbury:

I am allergic to dairy products and am limited to buying Swedish Glacé dairy free ice cream. My local store usually stocks this in Vanilla and Neapolitan flavours. However, in the last couple of months I’ve been lucky if I can get vanilla, let alone the more interesting Neapolitan flavour. Dairy eaters have no end of choice and I often have none, as there is simply nothing in stock and I am finding this increasingly disappointing. You used to stock other flavours such as chocolate and raspberry and for a while you stocked some lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices. Why did you stop selling these, and what are your plans with regards to this line of goods? I would really like to have more choice when I shop, and actually be able to buy these products rather than seeing empty shelves where they ought to be.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mr Sainsbury replied:

Thank you for your email. I am sorry you are unhappy with the range of dairy free ice cream available at our  store. I understand you would like us to increase this range in the future.

 We try to sell the widest possible range of products to give our customers maximum choice. However, due to space limitations we cannot stock every item in every store. For each store, our buyers regularly review what we are stocking and how well it is selling, to make sure that we are meeting our local customers’ needs.

Occasionally, this means that we withdraw products from some branches if they are not popular. If enough customers want to see a certain product in their local store, we will do everything we can to provide it.

With that in mind, I have passed a request on to our buyers so they can consider the possibility of stocking Swedish Glacé chocolate and raspberry dairy free ice cream and some lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices at our  store for you.

 We appreciate you taking the time to contact us and look forward to seeing you in store again soon.

Dear reader, you may have noticed (I certainly did) a hint of sarcasm in Mr Sainsbury’s reply.  He’d clearly copied and pasted my email into his. But I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. So next time I found myself in the freezer aisle, imagine my disappointment that there was no Swedish Glacé chocolate and raspberry dairy free ice cream and the lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices were nowhere to be seen. To add insult to injury there wasn’t even a tub of vanilla!! 

Fast forward a year or two and the non-dairy choices are significantly better. Mr Sainsbury is now stocking Swedish Glace choc ices (although they’ve changed the recipe and they’re not as good as they used to be). They’ve also started stocking a range of iced desserts by The Coconut Collaborative


These are refreshing, low in sugar and high in coconut, which makes them extremely trendy. The packaging is quirky, eye catching and convenient to eat from whilst sitting in front of Game of Thrones.  The only drawback is that you have to leave it to thaw for about 5 minutes before you can eat it, which is difficult for someone who’s spent 30 years plus waiting to eat the Frozen Yogurt made from the milk of the coconut! 

Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Mr Tesco brought out his own Free From range a year or so ago. The range currently consists of Strawberry and vanilla cones and Chocolate ice cream sticks. They’ve recently introduced Toffee and vanilla cones but these have nuts in them, so be careful if you have a nut allergy like me. 

Alpro have also recently brought out a dairy free range. Their Coconut ice cream is to die for. I’ve not tried their vanilla, so I can’t compare it with Swedish Glace.  They also do a Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream, which isn’t Allergy Girl friendly. 

I was really excited a few months ago to see an advert for dairy free Ben and Jerry’s, however it was short lived as they’re going to be making theirs with almond milk. 

Finally, if you happen to be looking for a dairy free ice cream in Spain or the Canary Islands (and possibly the Balearics), head to a Mercadona supermarket, where you can pick up a box of very tasty choc ices on sticks or a tub of mango and raspberry ice cream. Yum! 

That’s all from me.  If you have your own tips on where to buy dairy free ice cream, I’d love to hear them. Alternatively you could try making your own……

Allergy Girl’s chocolate and coconut seedy granola

This nut and dairy free granola recipe is also low in sugar and grain free, although you can pimp it to add whatever you fancy!

Ingredients 
1 x 500ml bag of Holland and Barrett Oh My Omega Megamix (or other mixed seeds) 

Coconut flakes (as many as you like, depending on taste)

Maple Syrup (you could also use agave or honey)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2-3 tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder, depending on taste)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160 (fan oven)
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a roasting tray/baking tray
  3. Add a good squeeze of the maple syrup and stir. Make sure all the ingredients are coated. Add more as desired. 
  4. Add the coconut oil (it is easier if this goes in warm) and mix together.
  5. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 mins, stirring mixture halfway.
  6. Remove mixture from oven and stir again.
  7. Cool and store in an air proof container. 


If you want to add grains to your granola with you could try things like oats or rye. To make it even more tropical you could add some dried pineapple and papaya. 

Serve with your favourite fresh fruit and a dollop of Alpro Coconut Yogurt for a delicious breakfast! 


Basic dairy and egg free sponge cake

This recipe came from Allergy Mum. She’s had it for years (and I have absolutely no idea where it came from). Allergy Mum used to make Allergy Boy and me the most amazing cakes for our birthdays.
This has to be the easiest cake recipe ever. It uses mostly normal ingredients that you’d find in any store cupboard. The texture is quite open and it does have the tendency to crack, but no one will ever know if you slather on enough frosting!!
Basic dairy and egg free sponge cake (makes approx. 12 cupcakes or one large cake)

4oz caster sugar
4oz dairy free margarine (Pure works very well in these as well)

1 tablespoon golden syrup

8oz self raising flour

1/4 pint soya milk

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160c

2. In a mixing bowl add the sugar, margarine and golden syrup and cream together (I prefer to do this by hand, but it can be done in a mixer)

3. Add the flour and gently mix until you get a bread crumb like texture.

4. Slowly add the soya milk and mix until light and fluffy.

5. Bake for approx. 20 mins for cupcakes (or just slightly longer if making one large cake)

Adding flavours

Vanilla or other essences – add essence at the same time as the soya milk

Chocolate – add 1oz cocoa powder and reduce flour by 1oz. Add at the same time as the flour. You can also use chocolate flavoured soya milk, which adds some more flavour, or Cadbury’s drinking chocolate (which is dairy free) in a small amount of boiled water, which is added at the same time as the soya milk.
I make the basic sponge all the time and it’s great because the golden syrup binds the ingredients and acts as a raising agent so you don’t need to add egg replacer.
Icing

I often cheat and use Betty Crocker icing as it’s dairy free and tastes really good. If I’m making vegan buttercream I just replace butter with dairy free margarine and mix it with icing sugar and sometimes a little drop of soya milk.
I’d really love to know how you get on with this recipe, so please feel free to leave comments!