Food - - Contents -

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.

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