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The question

I love baked brie, but usually the suggestion is to bake it with tree nuts – often almonds. I have a mild tree-nut allergy and would love to try baking it with other flavours so I can have some without breaking out in hives. Ideas?

The answer

That's funny – baked brie makes me break out in hives, too, but then so do devils on horseback, shrimp rings, artichoke dip and Trivial Pursuit.

Thank your allergy for this one – brie baked with nuts is a dinner party cliché. Instead of nuts, why not caramelize some shallots with butter, salt and a few thyme sprigs, then turn up the heat, add some sliced wild mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes before finishing it all with a dousing of fino sherry? (Be sure to cook most of the booze off.) Bake that with your brie for some serious depth and zip – and a whole lot more freshness. Serve it with crostini for texture, plus green olives and a crisp white wine to cut through all the fat.

Follow food writer and restaurant columnist Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail