Friday, July 14, 2006

Egg-free egg and bacon pie

Whenever I see a food allergy cookbook, I usually pick it up eagerly, flip through it quickly and put it down with a bit of a sigh. I guess the problem is that we are just dealing with two of a range of allergies, and I (fortunately) don't need to know how to cook without gluten or milk or the number of other foods that can be a problem. I've (mostly) worked out how to adapt recipes with egg in them, and it is easy to avoid cooking with nuts. I just keep hoping somehow to replace those yummy things that are now in the past; satay sauce, omlette, etc...

I found this book 'Allergies, egg, nut and dairy" by Jody Vassallo (Fortiori 2005) recently at the local library. I excitedly borrowed it, as it had one recipe in it that gave me a real 'ohhhh' moment. And eating it made me smile. You see I really love egg and bacon pie. I love it hot, cold, at the table or in a picnic basket. I won't say this tastes exactly the same, but it fills the same food niche. And incidently Hannah loves it.

I've changed the original recipe by substituting onions for leeks as the beautiful leek is currently not acceptable. You can make a single large pie as described, or 4 perky little pies if you have some small pie tins. I haven't put in the crust recipe given in the book as it wasn't to my taste. Commercial puff pastry (the one with butter in it) works well, or make your favourite shortcrust pastry.

Bacon and Tofu Pie

1 medium onion, finely chopped
250g bacon chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
300g silken tofu
1 tsp honey mustard
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Bake pastry lined pie tin for 15 minutes, with beans then a further 10 without.

Fry onion and bacon in 1 tbs olive oil, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Spoon the mixture into the pastry shell. Put the tofu and mustard into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour the mixture over the filling, sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until the tofu is set. Set aside for 5 minutes before slicing. Serves 4-6

Thursday, July 13, 2006

12 month allergy review

Yesterday was a day that I'd been both looking forward to and dreading. The annual visit to the Children's Hospital to see what is happening with Hannah's allergies. The results look cautiously optomistic. The egg and nut allergies are still there, but don't appear to getting worse, and there is a possibility now that she will grow out of them.

The way they are checked is through a pick test; the nurse marks up the back with texta, dabbs suspected allergens on the grid and then pricks each dot of liquid with a scapel blade. Hannah was superbly brave during this process. We had peanut, egg, sesame seeds, house dust mite and rye grass tested plus a control and histamine. After a wait of 10 minutes the size of each reaction is measured, and the measurement is converted into a score.

The results show Hannah is allergic to eggs and peanut still but a little less than last year, which is positive. The specialist pointed out that the yearly measurements plateauing like this suggests that she will grow out of these allergies. I asked about foods with 'traces of nuts' and was told they are ok, though we were advised to continue to carry the epipen. The sesame seed gave a small score, not enough to be concerned about, though we wont be eating a lot of tahini in the future. And no result for rye grass.

The bad news is that house dust mite measure has more than doubled, making asthma more likely in the future. I've come home with a brochure with lots of housekeeping advice for Hannah's bedroom.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Penguin cake

My girl is now three. We celebrated with a very small party (the kitchen is still incomplete and in a state of upheaval). And the cake was a penguin. It consisted of coconut cake (the recipe doubled to make enough for the body and the head). I baked it at my mum's which was best place to do it, as I had access to her excellent cake tin collection - yes the head of the penguin was baked in a 4 inch cake tin - who would have thought such a thing existed. The cake was then frozen, sliced in half so the middle could be slathered with strawberry jam, then carved into an appropriate penguin shape. This was then slathered with more jam (to make the icing stick), then covered with plain and chocolate Orchard icing. A little of the icing was coloured with food dyes for the beak and feet. I roughed out a vague design myself, not liking the 'Linux' style penguin in the Australian Women's Weekly's 'Kid's Birthday Cakes' book. And it went down very well.

A picture of penguin before the candles got him. I chose a penguin in the end as it seems be one of the more major of Hannah's current obsessions (along with dinosaurs, Meg books and being a dragon or a butterfly). There are currently five penguins living at our house and they're all starting to look well loved (read; 'in need of a wash').

Edited to add: check the entry Penguin Cake revisited which gives more info on how I put this together.