Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A pud would be good!

I DO love a good pud, don't you?? In fact so much so, that at one time, some friends and I would go out just for pud. Well, we might actually go for a walk somewhere nice first, but usually with the intention of stopping off somewhere that we knew we could obtain a tasty treat.

There was a dark time in my life when it seemed that there were puddings NO MORE - back when Baby was first diagnosed!! Then, to my rescue, came my parent's version of dairy free apple crumble and dairy free custard! [Warning!! This post may contain a lot of references to apple  and custard - because (for me) most good puds require custard. This probably harks back to the good old days, when I was little girl - Mum used to make us custard (a lot) as a way of getting calcium into our growing bodies. Her puddings also contained apple, more often than not (unless it was strawberry season) as my parent's garden contained a number of apple trees.]


Although, (to use a phrase much beloved of politicians these days) let me be clear about this - when I talk about custard I don't mean that cheffy stuff, made with eggs. No, I mean the stuff that Mr Bird invented, way back in 1837, because his wife was allergic to eggs. Now, the reason I go for Bird's custard is partly because Bird's is what I grew up with (although made with syrup, rather than sugar - you must try it this way, it's much more yummy) and partly because, well, custard made the other way is such hard work!!


I wonder if you're anything like me? I love watching TV chefs at work; I feel so inspired by the stuff they turn out, but... When I look at the list of ingredients... it's long, in all likelihood there's probably some that I've never even heard of and others that I don't get because we'd never use the quantities in which you're forced to buy it.


Then there's the washing up. If, like me, you're without a dishwasher, cooking equates with washing up  - which I do enough of anyway!! Certainly my baby thinks so. "Not washing up again!" she has been known to wail - at the sight of me in my rubber gloves.


Actually, although I do love a good pud, more often than not I don't have one these days. Partly because I can't be faffed; partly because at the end of a meal I can't physically fit more food in, and partly because The Hub (although, as I've mentioned before, he's partial to a bit of creme brûlée) isn't usually much of a pudding eater anyway. Sometimes, however, it can be nice to have a little something to round off a meal. So what are the options? Well, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some ideas* that you might like to try:

Minimal preparation (eat it out of the carton)
Thankfully, even when dairyfree there are some options that don't require too much preparation. Although, having said that, most of them are not much good for the soya free amongst us, unfortunately.

  • Pudology produce a chocolate and strawberry pud. They are dairy and gluten free. Both delicious, they can be bought from Ocado, Selfridges, some health food stores and selected branches of Waitrose.
  • Glamour Puds now make a range of desserts that are now sold through Tesco.
  • Tesco also make a small range of free from desserts, that you can find in their free from chiller section, in their larger stores.
  • Alpro produce a small range of long life deserts. I've not tried these personally, but Baby has had the chocolate variety and it seemed to go down very well indeed! They also produce yoghurts and a ready mix custard. These, however, will be no good for you, if, like me, you need to avoid soya. 
A fruitful option!
  • Summer pudding - from the chiller cabinet at Waitrose. I tried this, before I was forced to go wheat/gluten free. It's tangy and fruity. If a little tart for your tastebuds (and let's face it, fruit can be) try adding a dash of Oatly cream substitute. Or, if you can tolerate soya, Alpro do a ready mixed custard which is available from most supermarkets. Otherwise try adding a spoonful of dairy free ice cream - there are various options available. (blog, on ice cream, to follow shortly).
  • Jelly fruit pots - available in most supermarkets. Long life, not that inspiring, but OK (maybe) for an emergency.
  • Fruit Sorbet - something that I think more restaurants could provide. After all what is so difficult  (for a chef, I mean) about making a batch or two and storing it in the freezer? If you're not the cheffy type, I suggest you check your supermarkets frozen section. I like Bottlegreen's Elderflower Sorbet best. It's light, refreshing and doesn't have any nasty after taste. Bit light on the calories though, for real pudding lovers.

Next to minimal prep 
Ready mixed! What could be easier?
(take it out and bung it together - some chopping, straining or gentle heating may be required)
  • Meringue nests - available in most supermarkets. Fill with chopped fruit - fresh or from a can (obviously strain the juice off first, to stop the meringue from going soggy). Accompany with dairy free ice cream, yoghurt or cream substitute.
  • Freefrom apple pie - available in packs of four from Tescos or Sainsbury's. These could be heated, if you prefer them hot. Nice with custard, I think, but unless you can tolerate soya (in which case you could heat some ready mixed) it could be a bit of a faff!
Look! Baked Plum and Almond Pudding also available!
  • Treacle Sponge Pudding by (the aptly named) The Pudding Club. It is available from Waitrose. Sadly, it is now off my list, because it contains wheat, I can, however, safely say it is YUMMY! Waitrose also produce their own version (which I think is one and the same) if you can't find this one, in the chiller cabinet. Several of The Pudding Clubs other puddings are also suitable (not obviously containing milk products) but be warned - don't go for their Bread and Butter Pudding (the clue, unsurprisingly, is in the word, 'Butter')!
  • Eve's Pudding by Waitrose. I've not tried this, but it looks good! Custard might be in order here.
  • Banana Custard - not sophisticated, but good comfort food! Chop up a medium banana, stir together with dairy free custard, and away you go!!
  • Banana Split - minus the cream. Combine banana and your choice of dairy free ice cream, however you please! Decorate with chopped nuts, hundreds and thousands, glace cherries or grated dairy free chocolate. In fact, while we're about it, you could, in fact, make up any kind of ice cream sundae you like (minus cream and wafers though unfortunately)!!
  • Fruit Salad - hardly a pudding in my view (not enough calories) but wash and chop up the fruit of your choice, add some syrup water and serve with a blob or two of dairy free ice cream.
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding - Sainsbury's own free from version. I've not tried this but might have to give this one a go.


Bit more effort required (ok, so a little bit more cooking skill needed now)
  • Apple Crumble - of course it doesn't have to be apple; use whatever fruit you prefer, I also love rhubarb in my crumble. Serve with dairy free custard, or ice cream.
A family favourite
  • Fruit Flan - the base is basically a fat-less sponge. Replace the butter (for greasing) with Pure margarine. Once cooked and cooled, make some jelly. When this is half-set, add fresh, tinned or stewed fruit, then fill your flan case. Serve with cream or yoghurt substitute, dairy free ice cream or even dairy free custard!
  • Rice pudding - make it in the usual way, but just use your preferred milk substitute.
  • Baked Apple - made with Bramley apples. Most recipes tell you to use butter, but the way my parents have always done it, is just to core a big cooking apple; score around the circumference, with a knife (to let the apple expand, as it heats up) and stuff the core with dates and brown sugar (although you could use other dried fruit and even nuts, if you prefer). The apples are then placed in an oven-proof dish (whose bottom is just covered with a little water) and the apples are sprinkled with about a dessert spoonful of water before being baked in the oven, at around Gas mark 4 for about 40 minutes. When cooked, serve with a dairy free accompaniment of your choice and drizzle the sauce (that has gathered around the apples, whilst cooking) over the top!
  • Apple Flan. If you can't be bothered to make dairy free pastry, I believe some of the ready to roll pastry in supermarkets is dairy free. Alternatively, I think Sainsbury's Basics (frozen) Apple pie is dairy free - just get it out, heat it up, add some custard and you're ready to roll!
  • Trifle - made without cream, sadly. Make fat free sponge, in a tray rather than a flan tin. Chop it up and place it in the bottom of a large bowl. Make some jelly, add fruit when half set and layer the mixture over the sponge. Layer dairy free custard over the top. Hold the cream, but add sprinkles of whatever variety you require - flaked almonds, chopped dried fruit, hundreds and thousands, dairy free chocolate, etc.
  • Soya Cheesecake - minus the cheese. Try this recipe from 'Milk-Free Zone' by SNDRi. Melt 25g of Pure, mix in 6 crushed milk free biscuits (eg. Hobnobs or Doves Digestives) and press into ramekins (4x6cms). Spoon 500g of soya yoghurt/dessert over the top. Add a layer of strawberries (about 8 halved strawberries should do it). Then, make some vegetarian quick-jel jelly and spread thinly over the fruit. Refrigerate, for about 30 mins.

Proper cooking (I'm a wannabe chef get me out of here!)
Not my area of expertise - see above! However, try the Pure website - they do recipes. There are also other online dairy free recipes, some of which may be American, so you may need to translate some of the measurements. Alternatively, there are a few good cooking blogs out there. I like Pig in the Kitchen, although (surprise, surprise) I haven't actually tried out any of the recipes yet!

It may be, however, that you have a good recipe, or idea, and you'd like to share it with us, please feel free, we'd love to hear from you!!


* Please note: ideas not recipes. Remember, I'm no Nigella although I have included links to some online recipes (not necessarily dairy free, so substitute where you need to) where I can, to be helpful!

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