I have a friend who has some serious food allergies. She isn't gluten free, or nut free, or vegan - she has to avoid amines and salicylates. This means that lots of fruits and veggies are on the no-go list for her, as is chocolate, raw sugar, anything but plain white flour, and so on. But I like to cook and bake for people - it's how I show my appreciation! So I've tried a few times and failed, but this time I finally got it right.
First, I did some googling and found this website, which lists foods with neglible, low, medium or high salicylate levels, and also marks with a % foods that are naturally high in amines. I identified what was okay, which is not very much. I decided that pears and poppy seeds were a potentially yummy combination, and thought about how to combine them. I decided on a tart, and then searched around for a recipe. In The Joy of Vegan Baking I found a recipe for a pear tart that looked pretty yummy, but it called for vegan cream cheese and I wasn't sure about salicylate or amine levels in that. So I took the concept - a custard tart topped with sweet glazy pears - and played around with it.
In time for my friend's birthday, I went up to the shops and got a package of Orgran pastry mix, and Orgran no-egg to use as the custard powder. I had searched both and found this website, where you can search by allergen and it shows products which are free from those things. Orgran was safe, so I made full use of it. I got home, only to realise that I had spent so much time focusing on the pastry and custard that I had forgotten to buy pears! And this was right in the midst of the QLD floods, so I was fairly certain that I hadn't actually seen any pears in the store - the produce section was almost bear, and surely seeing them would have jogged my memory? Then I realised that the soy milk we make, which is all we had in the fridge, has coconut in it, which is a no-no. So I gave up, and told everyone that next time we got together, I would come armed with this tart.
Two weeks later, we were preparing for Cyclone Anthony (who ended up crossing south of us), but my friend and I had arranged to meet up, so I decided to go ahead and make my tart. I made the pastry, which I was sceptical about - this isn't Orgran's fault, I'm just pretty terrible at pastry. I baked it, and made a tiny tartlet with the extra, which I ate that night. It was so. tough. Just not good. I decided to forge ahead, thinking I would warn my friends that the pastry was no good, but the filling would be okay. So I mixed up my vegan, low-salicylate and low-amine poppy seed custard, which was really yummy, and poured it into the crust and let it set overnight.
The morning of our get-together, I cut up a bunch of Ya pears and sauteed them in nuttelex and raw sugar. I double checked and the only spice on the okay-list was black pepper, so I left the pears plain and spread them on top of the custard. The result was looking pretty good, even if I did know the secret about the pastry.
But in the end, everyone decided against meeting up - the cyclone still felt imminent at that stage, and people were busy preparing. So Andy and I had to eat the tart ourselves, which really did make me sad! We sprinkled it with cinnamon and nutmeg since it was just for us, but other than that it was a gluten free, vegan, low salicylate and low amine dessert. And Andy reckoned the poppy seed pastry felt very posh, so it is something I will definitely do again.