How To Entertain In February, With Alexandra Dudley
How To Entertain In February, With Alexandra Dudley

How To Entertain In February, With Alexandra Dudley

Alexandra Dudley is a food columnist, cookbook author and host of the Come For Supper podcast. In this instalment of her monthly column, she shares a warming dinner party menu that makes the most of miso – plus, a simple yet delicious dessert.
By Alexandra Dudley

February is a funny month. The novelty of the new year has somewhat worn off and by now, normal programming has resumed. It is usually around now that I begin itching to entertain again. With the forecast still predicting chilly temperatures, I tend to lean towards warming dishes, whether that’s in the form of steaming hot oven bakes or chilli-laced plates to bring a bit of colour to everyone’s cheeks. This month’s menu is a bit of both. A warm saucy peanuty fish finished with fresh chilli, coriander and lime paired with a flavour-punching broccoli rice. Rice is a great thing to cook when entertaining – it’s usually quick to prepare and simple to multiply if you’re feeding many. This rice is packed full of all the good aromatics (ginger, lemongrass, chilli and garlic) and I love to add a good dose of some Thai basil in there too if I can find it. Then there’s a warming winter-spiced pear crumble for pudding with a slosh of double cream. 

I did a dry-ish January and felt pretty good for it. While I think a teetotal life is perhaps not for me, I am loving the rise of the low-alcohol drinks scene. A new favourite of mine is the Session Sauvignon Blanc from Nice. It’s got a lower ABV than standard wine coming in at 3.4% and tastes delicious. It still gives me that fruity lift without the next day’s headache.


Peanut Miso Fish

A simple fish recipe with a rich peanutty miso sauce. Cooking the fish en papilotte ensures that the fish stays beautifully tender while taking on the flavour of the marinade. You can use parchment or foil for this, but I find foil easiest to work with.

100g of crunchy peanut butter
60g of white miso paste
3 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp of honey
15g of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Juice of ½ a lime
4 white fish fillets, such as cod, hake or halibut (skin removed), approx. 600g total
To Serve
Toasted sesame seeds
Chopped peanuts
Sliced chilli
Fresh coriander
Step 1

Preheat oven to 200°C Fan. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, miso, sesame oil, honey, ginger, garlic and lime.

Step 2

Tear 4 large sheets of kitchen foil. Place a fish fillet onto the centre of each. Divide the miso peanut mix between the fillets and coat the mix all over, using your hands. Fold the foil around the fish into a tent shape, making sure there is space above the fish. Then pinch in the sides.

Step 3

Place the fish parcels onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. A good way to check if the fish is done without ruining presentation is to run a knife through its side. If the fish feels soft and flakey it is done, if it feels tough in the centre it needs a few more minutes.

Step 4

Divide among plates and finish with toasted sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, sliced chilli and fresh coriander if you like. I love to serve this alongside some wok-fried greens and my sesame broccoli rice.

Sesame Broccoli Rice

Rice is a great thing to serve when entertaining and this is one of my favourite ways to jazz it up. Its packed full of aromatic flavours with a good kick of chilli and ginger and it works well enjoyed at room temperature too. I love this alongside any lean protein, but it is particularly good alongside white fish.

50g of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
3-4 green birds eye chillis or 1 large green chilli, finely chopped
1 lemongrass, bottom quarter finely chopped
1 head of broccoli
1 bunch coriander
Neutral oil such as sunflower oil
260g of white basmati rice
4 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp of runny honey
Juice of 1 lime, plus extra to serve
1 handful of Thai basil leaves (or regular basil)
Toasted sesame seeds
Step 1

Ensure the top five ingredients are all prepared.

Step 2

Separate the stalk and broccoli florets and finely chop the stalk into small ½cm cubes. Set aside. Roughly chop the remaining florets.

Step 3

Tear the bunch of coriander separating the stems and leaves. Finely chop the stems, adding these to the chopped broccoli stems and roughly shop the remaining coriander leaves, setting these aside.

Step 4

Cook according to packet instructions, drain and keep covered.

Step 5

Combine the sesame oil, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside.

Step 6

In a large heavy based frying pan or casserole pan, heat a glug of neutral oil before adding the finely chopped ginger, spring onions, garlic, chilli and lemongrass. Cook for five minutes over a medium heat until softened. Add the broccoli stalks and coriander stems and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining broccoli florets cook for a further 5 minutes. I tend to add about half a cup of hot water to help it steam.

Step 7

The broccoli should have a little bite. Once cooked add the cooked rice to the pan along with sesame oil mix, coriander and Thai basil leaves. Stir to combine and finish with fresh lime juice and toasted sesame seeds.

Spiced Pear Crumble

I love a crumble this time of year and this one is perfect for February. The fresh nutmeg really adds to the warmth of this, so do try to get your hands on some. It is not hard to find and is usually stocked in most supermarkets. The pears get a further layer of warming winter spice with a cinnamon spiced crumble. I use olive oil in my crumble as it yields for a delicious crunchy golden topping.

6 firm but ripe pears
1 tsp of mixed spice
¼ fresh nutmeg, finely grated
1 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp of light brown soft sugar
For the crumble topping
200g of jumbo oats
150g of flour
100g of light brown soft sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of mixed spice
1 pinch of sea salt
140ml of olive oil
Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan.

Step 2

Peel and roughly chop the pears into roughly 2-inch pieces and toss in a bowl with the flour and sugar. Place into a large oven proof dish.

Step 3

In the same bowl, stir together the dry crumble mix using your hands or a wooden spoon before adding the olive oil. Mix the crumble topping together and pour over the pears, pressing slightly to pack down.

Step 4

Bake for 45 minutes until the crumble is golden and the edges are bubbling. Serve with double cream or vanilla ice cream.

For more from Alexandra, follow her @AlexandraDudley or visit

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