Monday, November 19, 2007

Article on allergies in the weekend paper

I jump each time I see a headline with allergies in the media, hoping that there is some real news to give us hope. This article "Rising allergies trend mystifying" in Saturday's Australian doesn't provide any earth shaking news. It reports on the increase in anaphylaxis, " 5 1/2-fold increase in the rate of Australian hospital admissions between 1994 and 2005 for food-related anaphylaxis in the under-fives" and research being done on allergy prevention.

Something that I hadn't heard is that "... we know kids with allergy problems have lower numbers of good bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and higher numbers of pathogenic bacteria, those that can cause disease, in their gut flora than healthy children." This was in the context of trials giving pro-biotics to mums just prior to birth and to new born babies which seems to show a reduction in allergy symptoms.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ricotta, Orange and Currant Fritters

As soon as I saw this recipe on Vicious Ange's site I could see we'd need to try it. In Ange's version the recipe includes two eggs - the egg whites stiffly whipped to help keep the fritters light. But whilst egg is useful in this context it is not at all necessary. The baking powder provides some aeration and the use of ricotta means the fritters are naturally quite light. I should give credit to my spouse for suggesting that fritters don't need egg. We have a favourite ricotta and corn fritter with smoked cheese which I'd put in the "don't make until Hannah leaves home" category. Missing them, he suggested trying it anyway without the eggs - something that didn't occur to me. Must type up that recipe some time soon, corn season will soon be upon us.

The currants and orange rind give the fritters a vaguely Christmasy aura - I've made them a second time substituting a finely diced fresh apricot which worked well though I'd strongly recommend the use of a non-stick fry pan. Next weekend I think I'll try some cherries. Anyway give them a go - they are easy and delicious, good with lemon and icing sugar, or just lots of melted butter.

1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1/3 (73 1/3g) cup caster sugar
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
½ cup (75g) currants

butter for greasing
icing sugar for dusting
lemon wedges to serve

Place, the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl and combine. Add the ricotta, milk, orange rind, currants and mix gently.

Heat a lightly greased frying pan (preferably non-stick) over medium heat. Cook 2 tablespoons of the mixture in batches for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Dust with icing sugar and serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brown Sugar Biscuits

These now compete with the jam drops as favourite biscuit. I strongly recommend splurging on some Billingtons molasses cane sugar. Whilst brown sugar will work, this stuff has the most incredible smell and flavour, and because it is prone to lumpiness, the biscuits have tiny nuggets of sugar that give them a great texture.

Like the jam drops these are well suited to the assistance of a small child. Bizarrely today Hannah declined to help (or even lick the bowl once I'd finished), explaining that as she was a fairy, she was allergic to home-made food and could only eat honey, borek and pizza. It struck me that she never eats bought sweet things (apart from a small amount of confectionery) as there is almost nothing that is safe. The one thing I've encountered (and I should send them a big thank you card) is at Mediterranean Wholesalers, a massive Italian supermarket in Brunswick, which has a cafe with food baked on the premises - wonderously they have a egg and nut free jam biscuit.

125g butter, at room temperature (ie quite soft)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup dark brown sugar or molasses cane sugar
1 tbs golden syrup or maple syrup
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1 - 2 tbs water, if needed

Cream the butter, vanilla, sugar and honey until light and creamy. (I use an electric hand-held beater here (a Bamix) which still leaves little lumps of sugar just as desired). Mix in flour and enough water, if required to make a dough. (If the butter is soft enough there is no need for water).

Roll mixture into balls (approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture per ball), and place on greased or baking paper lined tray. Flatten balls slightly with palm of hand, then use a fork to make decorative indentations.

Bake at 150 degrees C for 30 minutes or until firm.