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The Allergy-Friendly Valentine’s Day Menu

Valentine’s Day is a big deal in the food industry - whether it’s special menus, romantic themed products or (this year) takeaways and assemble at home kits for candlelit dinners in the kitchen.


Last year we looked at 14 aphrodisiac foods to spice up Valentine's Day celebrations,and this year we’re looking at classic romantic dishes and how lockdown lovers with allergies can enjoy them with just a few simple swaps. Here’s to a 14 February that’s memorable for all the right reasons...

Starters

Camembert with Sourdough

Sourdough

The allergen: The main ingredient in sourdough is bread flour, made from wheat, which means Cereals containing Gluten are present.

Swap for: The best gluten-free flours to use for sourdough are buckwheat flour, brown rice flour or quinoa flour. A wholegrain flour for your starter is crucial because of the nutrient content and sourdough friendly microorganisms. And speaking of sourdough starters, be sure to check that the yeast for the starter is gluten-free. Fresh yeast is naturally gluten-free but some dried yeasts contain wheat flour or wheat starch.

Camembert

The allergen: Cow's Milk is used to make camembert.

Swap for: A non-dairy cheese made from non-dairy milk. To make your own non-dairy camembert, combine cashews (make sure you soak them prior), water, tapioca flour, one garlic clove, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and salt in a blender. Transfer to a saucepan and warm on medium heat until thickened, then transfer to a prepared dish and garnish with rosemary and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese has formed a skin and begun to brown lightly round the edges. Read the full recipe here.

Grilled Scallops

The allergen: Scallops are a Mollusc.

Swap for: King Oyster Mushrooms - a great alternative for vegans or those with an allergy to molluscs. Simply pan fry or grill the mushroom stems with thyme and garlic until crisp and brown. They’ll look unmistakably like scallops but will taste more similar to abalone (a mollusc similar to scallops). Read the full recipe here

Top Tip: Serve with blended pea and fresh mint sauce and grilled asparagus.

Mains

Steak & Potatoes

Peppercorn sauce

The allergen: Milk and/or Gluten. Peppercorn Sauce is typically made using shallots, flour, brandy, peppercorns, stock and dairy - usually heavy cream and butter.

Swap for: A combination of dairy-free milk and dairy-free butter. For a thicker, creamy sauce try a mixture of almond milk and almond butter. For a gluten free sauce, simply swap for gluten free flour or cornflour.

Dauphinoise Potatoes

The allergen: Milk. Dauphinoise potatoes use a lot of dairy - some recipes include butter, cheese and cream fraiche.

Swap for: Dairy-free cream, milk or cheese, then be sure to add cornflour, vegetable stock and nutritional yeast for the extra flavour. Find the recipe here.

Beef Wellington & Mash Potato

The allergen: Milk, Eggs are used to bind the Beef Wellington components and Cereals containing Gluten are usually found in the pastry. Milk and butter are commonly used to flavour mashed potato.

Swap for: Ready made gluten-free puff pastry - or gluten-free flour and xanthan gum if you’re making the pastry from scratch. Substitute the eggs in your recipe with aquafaba (whipped chickpea water, 3 tbsp = 1 egg) or ground flaxseeds (1 tbsp) and water (3 tbsp) and use dairy-free butter or milk for the egg wash. Instead of using traditional butter opt for a plant-based butter.

Top tip: For a meat-free Beef Wellington, use vegan burgers and mould the patties into a thicker sausage shape for the fillet. If you don’t want to use meat substitutes, mushroom wellingtons are also very tasty and pack just as much flavour. Find a lovely recipe here.

Seafood Platter

Lobster

The allergen: Lobster is a Crustacean.

Swap for: Monkfish is a suitably extravagant alternative with a similar texture (assuming of course, whoever’s eating it is not also allergic to fish).

Oysters

The allergen: Oysters are a Mollusc.

Swap for: Salsify is a root vegetable, with a similar appearance to a parsnip when peeled, and a similar taste to oysters. It’s best used with other vegetables to create a gratin or creamy mash. But although the experience of eating it will be different, the taste won’t!

Top Tip: For customers allergic to shellfish but keen to select a tasting board type of dish, suggest a charcuterie board filled with delicious meats, cheeses and olives. It will offer a similar level of variety of flavours and textures.

Desserts

Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

The allergen: Eggs and Milk - nearly all recipes call for whipping cream or milk, eggs and chocolate (which mostly contains milk). Swap for: Choose a good quality dark chocolate made without milk. Opt for dairy-free milk such as almond or soy, and instead of eggs, use silken tofu. Find a recipe here.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Sauce and Cream

The allergen: Eggs and Milk (butter) are common ingredients in sticky toffee pudding, and cream also contains Milk. Cereals containing Gluten are found in flour.

Swap for: For the pudding, make it egg-free by using a tablespoon of ground chia seeds or aquafaba, and dairy-free by using a plant-based butter. Gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour too. Find a gluten-free sticky toffee pudding recipe here.

For dairy-free toffee sauce, use soya cream and dairy-free butter.

White Chocolate and Champagne Truffles

The allergen: Milk solids are a major competent in white chocolate, and most champagne contains Sulphur Dioxide.

Swap for: Vegan white chocolate truffles. To make them blend macadamia and desiccated coconut into a butter, then add melted cocoa butter, organic powdered sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt. Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate and then roll into truffles, covering them in desiccated coconut. Read the full recipe here.

Drinks

Nothing says romance like champagne - that’s why many Valentine’s Day menus feature it so prominently, be it in desserts or standalone drinks. But what can you offer for those with sensitivity or allergies to sulphites? Unfortunately, there aren’t many champagne alternatives that don’t contain sulphites, but you can offer delicious drinks that use clear spirits such as gin and vodka - which contain a much lower histamine content.

Why not try serving Gin Fizz or a Cosmopolitan?

Other Allergens

Celery is a common ingredient in sauces and broths, whilst Mustard is also used to add flavour in many recipes. Peanuts and Nuts are sometimes found in chocolate or other dessert products. Always check ingredients carefully to ensure you can communicate whether any of the 14 major food allergens are or may be present in a recipe.

How Erudus can help you manage allergens

It’s our goal to make adapting challenges and new legislation in the foodservice industry as easily and efficiently as possible. That’s why we’ve created a selection of tools and solutions to help Caterers (and Retailers manage and communicate the allergen content of their products. Our Recipe Builder allows you to instantly find allergen information for a single ingredient, or view the aggregated allergen summary for an entire recipe. Our Allergen and Nutritional Search provides essential allergen and nutritional information across tens of thousands of products, directly from the Manufacturer. And you can find out more about how Erudus can help Caterers here.