Ask Nigel: Making soup and crème fraîche for the lactose-intolerant

Q When making soup, which is better to use: pot barley or pearl barley? Also, what is the difference between the two? Frances

A Frances, either is suitable for soup. Pearl barley is basically pot barley with the husk removed. Pearl will soften and thicken your soups, while pot tends to stay whole. Because the latter takes longer to cook,

I often cook it first before stirring it into the soup.

Q Over the years your recipe for blinis, eaten with smoked salmon and crème fraîche, has become our standard Christmas Day breakfast. What can I replace the crème fraîche with for a lactose-intolerant guest? Best wishes, Sally

A Sally, try an avocado cream with your blini. Take a truly ripe avocado and mash it well with a fork, or better still, in a small food processor. Add a squeeze of lime juice, a drop of Tabasco sauce, then trickle in enough olive oil to make a light cream the texture of crème fraîche.

If your guest likes coriander, then that would be the perfect herb to go with it.

• If you have a cooking question for Nigel, email ask.nigel@observer.co.uk

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.