How To Entertain This Month – With Alexandra Dudley

Alexandra Dudley is a food columnist, cookbook author and host of the Come For Supper podcast. In this monthly column, she shares delicious recipes for chic entertaining. This time, it’s a simple, late-summer starter inspired by a Greek holiday – plus, a showstopping pudding.
By Alexandra Dudley /

September is often the time I entertain the most. The August holiday lull is over and although people are heading back to the office, the spirit of summer remains. If the weather allows, I will eat outside as much as possible – usually with a glass of crisp white wine or a Campari and soda. The inspiration for this starter came from a holiday I spent on a tiny Greek island. It is a dish that is best made and served with little time in between and I recommend prepping the whole thing once your guests have arrived. Although simple, there is an air of performance to it that is enjoyable to watch and means you can remain part of the party. Prep the base of the fish stew ahead of time and add the fish just as you tuck into the feta. 

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Stone fruit is at its best during September and I’ve gone with a nectarine galette for pudding. The beauty of a galette is its simplicity. This one is filled with nectarine but peaches, plums or even figs are equally delicious. This organic white wine from Daylesford has a wonderful crisp citrusy note to it that pairs perfectly with the heat and spice of the harissa and saffron in the stew, and the dessert.


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THE STARTER:

Filo-Baked Feta With Harissa, Tahini, Honey & Sesame

I first tried a variation of this at a beach restaurant on a Greek island called Lipsi. They served the filo-wrapped feta warm from the oven and drizzled it with local honey and tahini. To this day it remains one of the most delicious things I have eaten. I love the addition of harissa, which adds a spicy, jammy element to the feta as it bakes.

Serves
2-4
Total Time
30 Minutes
Ingredients
2 sheets of filo pastry
200g of feta cheese
Olive oil
1 heaped tbsp of rose harissa paste (I always use Belazu)
About 1 tbsp of good quality tahini
1 tsp (or more) of runny honey
1 good pinch of toasted sesame seeds
Method
Step 1
Preheat your oven to 200°C Fan.
Step 2
Using a pastry brush (or clean paint brush) brush one sheet of filo pastry with olive oil.
Step 3
Place the feta at the short end of the filo about an inch from the edge. Fold in the short sides then brush the length of the filo with olive oil before folding the feta on itself to create a parcel.
Step 4
Brush another sheet of filo with olive oil, place in the feta parcel and repeat the folding process.
Step 5
Brush the feta parcel with olive oil, transfer onto a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until crisp and golden.
Step 6
Transfer onto a serving plate using a spatula. Drizzle with the tahini and honey and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Enjoy while warm.

THE MAIN COURSE:

Saffron Fish Stew With Hake, Prawns & Squid

This is a deeply flavourful and comforting dish – and with just the right amount of heat, it’s the perfect dish for September. I love the zippy, almost zesty heat of Aleppo pepper. You can find it in most supermarkets and online but if you find yourself short, feel free to use dried chilli or red pepper flakes. I used hake for this, but any firm white fish is suitable.

Serves
2
Total Time
1 Hour
Ingredients
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 good pinch of saffron
1 tsp of Aleppo pepper (or dried chilli or pepper flakes)
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1 large bay leaf
1 glass of dry white wine
200ml of fish stock
400g of chopped tomatoes
150g of filleted hake
6 prawns, shelled and deveined
1 squid
Small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
Salt and pepper
Method
Step 1
Finely slice your fennel and red pepper.
Step 2
In a large heavy based, deep pan heat the olive oil. Fry the fennel and pepper for about ten minutes until soft. Let it catch every so often but don’t let it burn.
Step 3
Add the garlic, saffron, Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, tomato puree and bay leaf and cook for about a minute stirring to combine. Pour in the wine and let it cook off and reduce a little (2-3 minutes).
Step 4
Pour in the fish stock and chopped tomatoes. Stir and bring to the boil before reducing the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes stirring every so often. It should thicken slightly.
Step 5
While the stew base cooks, prepare your fish making sure to devein the prawns. Chop the hake into roughly inch size pieces and slice the squid into roughly 1cm rings.
Step 6
Check the stew base for seasoning and season to taste. I usually add a good dose of black pepper at this point.
Step 7
Add the chopped hake to the stew first and stir to coat. Then add the prawns and squid. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until the prawns are opaque then allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Step 8
Divide into bowls. Top with the chopped parsley and serve with fresh lemon wedges.

THE DESSERT:

Nectarine Galette

I love the laziness of a galette. The messier they look, the better they are. If you like, you can fan the fruit out for a neater finish, but I usually just pour it in. I’ve added a little ground cardamom to this as I love the subtle aroma it adds, especially to the sweet cooking juices.

Serves
4-6
Total Time
2 Hours 30 Minutes
Ingredients
225g of plain flour
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp of light brown soft sugar
140g of butter, cold and cut into cubes
4 tbsp of ice-cold water
4 nectarines
40g of light brown soft sugar (plus extra for finishing)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp of corn flour
1 tsp of ground cardamom
1 large egg yolk
Method
Step 1
Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and combine. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse again until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add the cold water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Step 2
Use your hands to create a disk with the dough taking cannot handle it too much. Wrap in cling film or bees wax wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Step 3
Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.
Step 4
Slice the nectarines into roughly ½cm slices. Place in a bowl with the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cornflour and ground cardamom. Toss to combine.
Step 5
Lightly flour a surface and roll out the pastry until it is roughly 12in in diameter. Carefully transfer it to a parchment-lined baking tray, pour the nectarines into the middle leaving about 2 inches around the edge. Gently fold over the pastry pinching it so that it hugs the peaches snuggly.
Step 6
Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle over with light brown soft sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and serve with good quality vanilla ice-cream.

For more from Alexandra, follow her @AlexandraDudley or visit AlexandraDudley.com.

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