Our Adventures

  • 10 Jul 2014

    My day at the Allergy Academy's Kitchen Workshop, Kings College, London

    Posted: 10 Jul 2014

    I was recently invited to the Allergy Academy's Kitchen Workshop at King's College in London. It was a training course for healthcare professionals, designed to highlight the challenges of managing food allergies for patients and their families. It was one of those action-packed days where you're bombarded with useful allergy information, and I loved it!

    Firstly, the team of allergy dietitians gave us tips for using  alternative ingredients in recipes to make them safe for allergy sufferers. And then they selected various free from recipe for us each to make. The only thing is, I went a little bit off piste...

    My free from Tomato, Onion and Garlic Focaccia Recipe (dairy, soya, nut, egg & gluten free)
    The organisers of the Allergy Academy's Kitchen Workshop had planned for us all to make a free from recipe that would then be evaluated at lunch time.

    But being a bit of a maverick (or maybe I just didn't listen properly) I had a look at the recipe and decided that I could improve it. So I merrily adjusted, mixed, measured and tweaked and although I didn't quite stick to the rules, my tomato, onion and garlic focaccia was the business! See below for the recipe or click here to print the recipe.

    Other useful allergy stuff I learned:
    Yam Flour - who knew? I hadn't come across this flour before, but it was great for making wraps. Very durable and the wraps didn't break apart.

    Cornmeal/maize flour (not polenta) - this made great chapattis. 

    Plamil egg free Mayo - this got the universal thumbs up and was said to the best one on the market.

    Plamil ice cream powder - wow! This stuff looks amazing, just add non-dairy milk, whisk and freeze. Plamil are currently offering a 10% discount off your first order, so get over there quickly!

    Black bean spaghetti - this is a fun alternative to 'normal' spaghetti and nutritionally very good as it only contains black beans and water. But it seems to be mainly out of stock online unless you buy in bulk. (And ouch! to the price tag of just over £4 a packet!)

    Loprofin Egg white replacer - this was mentioned as being great for making egg free meringues (although we didn't try) but it's scarily expensive (hence GP's being reluctant to prescribe) and quite hard to find online.

    Hypoallergenic Infant formula - the dietitians recommended using this in sweet and savoury dishes to help add nutritional value to children on dairy free diets.

    Make your own seed butters - these were suggested as a way to add nutritional value to a nut-allergic child's diet. Select your seed, lightly toast, add a drizzle of oil (and honey if you like it sweet) and blend.

    The Miracle Whisk - this was mentioned a great gadget to take on holidays/camping. It's a hand-powered whisk - easy to use, no plug, just push! Move the handle up and down and it'll rotate the wires. But alas, I can't find them easily available in the UK. Except here on eBay. Has anyone got one?!

    And finally, did you know that...?
    • Black lentils are also called Urad beans
    • The fava bean is another name for broad bean
    • Sorghum (which is a grain) is also called milo or jowar
    • Chickpea flour also goes by the names of gram, besan or garbanzo
    • Sarrasin flour is really buckwheat flour in disguise (it's also the French word for buckwheat; useful to know if you're sur le continent)
    • Canola oil is the alias for rapeseed oil

    If you've got any other unusual names for allergy products, tell me in the comments box below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

    Enjoy making this Tomato, Onion and Garlic Focaccia (gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soya free, nut free)
    380ml warm water
    1 tbsp ground linseed (flax seed)
    1 tbsp sugar
    1 tbsp dried yeast
    120g Doves Farm gluten free gram flour (chickpea flour)
    120g potato starch (not potato flour)
    80g Doves Farm gluten free self-raising flour
    ½ onion, finely chopped
    2 tsp xanthan gum
    1 tsp salt
    125ml extra virgin olive oil
    4 tbsp tomato purée

    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    5 plum tomatoes, sliced
    1 tbsp dried basil
    60ml extra virgin olive oil 

    1. Place warm water, ground linseed, sugar, dried yeast in to a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
    2. In another large bowl mix together the gram flour, potato starch, gluten free self-raising flour, chopped onion, xanthan gum and salt.
    3. Then combine the yeast liquid mixture with the dry flour mixture and mix in the oil and tomato purée.
    4. Line a 30cm x 20cm baking tray with baking parchment and lightly brush with olive oil.
    5. Spread the dough mixture over the baking tray and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 mins.
    6. While your dough is rising pre-heat your oven to 190˚C / gas mark 5.
    7. Create the topping by mixing together garlic, plum tomatoes, dried basil and oil in a small bowl.
    8. Once your dough has risen, spoon over the garlic and tomato oil topping and bake for 50 mins. Mwah! Perfetto.

    Bring on your bakes! I'd love to see photos of your finished focaccia. Head over to Facebook or Twitter to share them with me!

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