How To Entertain This Month – With Alexandra Dudley
How To Entertain This Month – With Alexandra Dudley

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, seasonal spinach side dish and a showstopping bake.
By Alexandra Dudley

I love a festive-themed dinner party, but it’s easy to feel bored by too much turkey, potatoes and sprouts. To ensure everyone still has an appetite for their Christmas lunch on the 25th, I prefer to serve a bit of a twist on classic festive flavours. Sticky marmalade chicken has notes of orange and whisky but is peppered with aromatic fennel and caraway seeds. It pairs wonderfully with a citrusy herby dressed spinach and sunflower seed salad. My boozy fruit tart is essentially a giant mince pie, only elevated. Go as boozy as you like with this one and serve it with good double cream.

I cannot resist drinking champagne at this time of year and love a good blanc de blancs. It works especially well as a drink to carry you from pre-drinks through to supper. My go-to is Champagne Lanson. It has a wonderful crisp flavour and delicate bubble.


THE MAIN: Sticky Marmalade Chicken

Marmalade may seem like an odd ingredient to pair with chicken, but it works perfectly in this. The natural sweetness creates a flavourful marinade that becomes glossy and sticky as it cooks. I love a splash of whisky to add depth of flavour and a little festive indulgence. Crispy roasted new potatoes or wild rice go well alongside it, as does the salad below.

Total Time
50 Minutes
2 tbsp of marmalade
50ml of whisky (or use the juice of an orange)
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of carraway seeds
2 tsps of fennel seeds
1 orange sliced into rounds
1 tsp of salt
6 chicken thighs with skin on
Step 1

Preheat your oven to 200°C Fan.

Step 2

Combine the marmalade, whiskey, lemon, oil, seeds and salt in a large bowl. Give it a stir before throwing in your chicken and orange slices.

Step 3

Toss well ensuring everything has a good coating, and transfer to a baking dish.

Step 4

Bake for 40 minutes until sticky and golden.

THE SIDE: Spinach Salad With Zingy Coriander Dressing

Bursting with flavour, this simple salad is one of those sides that tastes good with just about anything. I love to throw it together when I feel the table needs a burst of green. If you are a coriander hater, it would be delicious with basil too.

Total Time
10 Minutes
1 handful of finely chopped coriander
½ lemon, juiced
Zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp of grated garlic
4 tbsps of olive oil
2 tbsps of sunflower seeds
1 large bag spinach
Step 1

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the sunflower seeds for roughly 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Step 2

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. When ready to serve toss the dressing, spinach and sunflower seeds together. Transfer to a serving platter or shallow bowl and serve.

THE PUDDING: Boozy Fruit Tart

I love a festive pudding and this is just that. Sticky dates, raisins and sultanas all married together with Christmas spices and a good glug of whisky. If you don't like alcohol you could use apple juice in the place of the whisky. It is important to assemble the tart with everything as cold as possible, so do not skimp on the chilling time for the pastry. This recipe also works very well for traditional mince pies. Just follow these steps but make it to a smaller size using a cutter and a cupcake pan.

Total Time
2 Hours 30 Minutes
For The Fruit:
50g of butter (plus 2 tbsps more for dotting)
1 bramley apple, peeled & coarsely grated
170g of sultanas
150g of raisins
100g of medjoul dates, pitted & roughly chopped (roughly 5 dates)
1 orange, zest & juice
Zest of ½ a lemon
200ml of whisky, brandy or cognac
1 tsp of mixed spice
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 whole star anise
1 pinch of salt
Icing sugar to finish
For The Pastry:
225g of white spelt flour (plain white works too)
25g of icing sugar
150g of butter, chilled & cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten (plus one extra for brushing)
2 tbsps of ice cold water
Step 1

To make the boozy fruit, place all of the listed ingredients into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat stirring to combine until the butter has melted. Cover with the lid and reduce to a simmer.

Step 2

Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and plump and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Fish out the star anise and allow your fruit to cool fully.

Step 3

To make the pastry, place your flour and icing sugar in the food processor and blitz to combine. Add your butter and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Do not overprocess or you will have a tough pastry.

Step 4

Add your egg and water and process again just until the pastry forms a ball. Tear about one third off and set this aside. Be careful not to handle the pastry too much.

Step 5

Transfer your larger ball of pastry to a lightly floured work surface. Pull off about a third and shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each pastry disk and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Step 6

Preheat your oven to 180ºC Fan.

Step 7

Flour a surface and roll out the large pastry dish to line a 23cm loose bottomed fluted tart dish the pastry. Return to the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Step 8

Spoon in your chilled boozy fruit and dot over about 2 tablespoons of butter breaking it into small pieces as giving the pie and even dotting.

Step 9

Roll out your smaller piece of pastry to a circle about the same size as the tart pan. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife slice it into 9 even width strips (they should be around 2cm wide).

Step 10

Gently layer over your strips in a lattice pattern (over under, over under etc) rotating the tart each time you place another strip on. Seal and trim the edges to your tart pan.

Step 11

Brush the pastry over lightly with beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry has lightly browned. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.

Step 12

Once cooled, sift over icing sugar and serve the tart with some good quality double cream.

For more from Alexandra, follow her @AlexandraDudley or visit

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