As the mother of a toddler with severe allergies I am perhaps an ideal choice to review this cookbook that offers a wide array of recipes free from wheat, dairy, soya, eggs and yeast, plus most are gluten-free. Yet despite having a vested interest in, and a certain level of hopeful excitement about, Pippa’s Intolerant Gourmet, I was also nervous that the recipes would be dull and boring, as many of my own dairy/egg/nut/seeds-free experiments have been.
Quite the reverse. Much like the book itself, a high quality, well produced keeper, many of these recipes could well become tasty staples for allergy sufferers and their families alike. The benefit of this is that it eliminates what I call the restaurant effect – a number of different meal options at every sitting which is a tricky one to navigate when a toddler prefers the look of what he sees on another’s plate! As our wee man is also allergic to nuts and seeds, it was great to try out the recipes which catered for these allergy sufferers too - about a third of those on offer the book.
Of the few that I tried, they're delicious, filling and unlike some allergy-friendly meals, do not contain a long list of expensive health food shop ingredients. Take for example her soups: healthy, fresh, allergy-friendly soups that are easy and quick to make plus filling and tasty and I really liked her Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato option with Walnut Pesto for those who can indulge. Another great dish is the simple flavour-full Spring Chicken with Lemon, Herbs and Roasted Sweet Potatoes – a bowl of fresh leaves is all you need to make this a future family favourite.
The banana bread was also a big hit, not least of all because it was so easy to prepare in the processor and despite having egg replacer, still tasted delicious fresh and again a day or two later, toasted.
Pippa divides the recipes into the four seasons, a simple but very effective technique not only because you go directly to the relevant section but also because the ingredients there are in season and readily available.
She also gives a wide range of information, tips and websites where you can source ingredients. Granted as she’s a UK based writer, they are UK sites but I recognise many of them from our own health food shops. Plus as this is her first book, perhaps she’ll be a big hit in Ireland and add in relevant addresses for us too! Also while she has a great breads and baking section, in addition to desserts sprinkled throughout, it would be great to have more children friendly options, in particular recipes for birthday parties, which are a minefield for epi-pen armed parents of allergy sufferers. I know, I want my cake allergy-friendly and ready to eat!