ASK THE EXPERT
FROM STORING BUTTER TO ADDING FUN TO KIDS’ SALADS, EDITOR SOPHIE GRAY SHARES HER BEST TIPS
From accommodating vegans to the perfect scrambled eggs, our editor Sophie Gray covers your queries
A nut roast is easy to make and looks nice cooked in a mini loaf pan or casserole
Q I am hosting a big Christmas for my meat-loving family, but my son’s new girlfriend is a vegan. How do I accommodate her without doing tons of extra cooking? A
Most vege side dishes are vegetarian friendly, but as vegans also eschew dairy products, substitute butter for oil and have any dressings and sauces in jugs so she and the other guests can add their own. Roast the vegetables in a separate roasting dish and use oil rather than pan drippings. A nut roast is easy to make and looks nice cooked in a mini loaf pan or individual casserole, and a balsamic onion sauce is a great meat-free alternative to gravy. Also suggest she brings a dish to share – that way there will be something on the table she is happy to eat in case it all goes wrong.
Q I like real butter on my toast and in winter keep it out on a butter dish so it is still spreadable. But is this safe in summer when it’s warmer? A
Keeping butter at room temperature for a few days is just fine; its low water content enables it to resist rapid contamination by microbes. Salted butter fares better than unsalted, as the salt content makes it less prone to bacterial growth. Only keep out as much as you’ll use within a few days, and keep it covered. Keep the rest wrapped or covered in the fridge.
Q I really struggle to get my kids to eat salad in the summer; the closest I get is raw carrot sticks – any advice? A
Any meal they can eat with their fingers is usually appealing, particularly if it’s a picnic. Let them sit on the floor and arrange all the raw vegetables on the plate like a picture – perhaps a flower, a face or an animal. Shred lettuce, cut cucumber into thin slices, halve cherry tomatoes, and peel carrot into long curly strips. Also include other nibbly things, such as some dried fruit or slices of cheese cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Lots of colourful bite-sized bits are hard for little fingers to resist.