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 an Italy-inspired menu, featuring her crowd-pleasing spaghetti puttanesca…

There is a hilarious story about my grandparents’ first date where my grandmother ordered an artichoke on the waiter’s recommendation. When it arrived – steamed and still very much whole – she didn’t know how to eat it. She tried to distract my grandfather with conversation until he asked why she wasn’t eating. Admitting defeat, my grandmother confessed she didn’t know how and so began their love story, with my grandfather showing her how to peel back the leaves, dipping them one by one into the hot melted butter until she reached the perfectly tender core. 

I always think of them when I serve artichokes at a dinner party, and it makes for a wonderful story around the table. So too does the origin of this month’s main course, spaghetti puttanesca (believed to have been the creation of the women who worked the brothels of Naples). I’ve finished things off with a dainty pudding of soft baked apricots with rosemary and vanilla.

I like to serve this with a magnum of AIX rosé. There is something so joyous about a magnum of rosé and they are perfect when entertaining. I have made a resolution to open use them at dinner parties more often. 


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Globe Artichokes With Homemade Mayonnaise

There is something so indulgent about artichoke leaves dipped into rich glossy mayo. The often lengthy eating of them is one of the reasons I serve them at a dinner party. They are an excellent buffer if things are taking a little longer in the kitchen with the mains. Do not be put off by the idea of homemade mayonnaise, it really is simple. The trick is to take it slow. If you happen to curdle the egg or add too much oil too quickly, just crack another yolk into a clean bowl and slowly add the mixture back into the yolk.

Serves
4
Total Time
47 Minutes
Ingredients
4 globe artichokes
3 large egg yolks
1 heaped tsp of Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
1 large garlic clove, finely grated
Good pinch of salt
100ml of olive oil
200ml of sunflower oil
Method
Step 1
Prepare the artichokes by peeling away the outer leaves until there are six large even ones remaining. Then slice the bottom using a sharp knife to create a flat base. You can choose to cut the top third of the leafy part of the artichoke too, but I prefer to leave it unless they are particularly prickly.
Step 2
Steam them leaf-side down for about 45 minutes, then drain.
Step 3
For the mayonnaise, place the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, finely grated garlic and salt into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine.
Step 4
Combine the olive oil and sunflower oil into a jug and very slowly pour it into the yolks, whisking continuously as you do. Keep whisking and adding the oil slowly until you have a thick, glossy mayonnaise. You may not need to use all of the oil.
Step 5
I like to slightly fan open the artichoke leaves before serving and serve them on a big platter alongside a bowl of the mayonnaise.
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Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

This is an incredibly simple pasta dish that relies primarily on store cupboard ingredients. It is delicious with a subtle kick of heat and rich tomatoey salty sauce. As with most simple recipes, the quality of ingredients is key. Look for good quality anchovies, capers and anchovies if you can.

Serves
4
Total Time
25 Minutes
Ingredients
4 garlic cloves
3 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of chilli flakes
140g of pitted olives (my favourites are taggiasche)
2 tbsp of capers
8 anchovies
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of sugar
360g of spaghetti
Method
Step 1
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Roughly chop the olives and capers and finely chop the anchovies.
Step 2
Add the olive oil to a wide, deep frying pan and cook the chopped garlic gently until sizzling. Take care not to burn it.
Step 3
Add the chilli flakes, olives, capers and anchovies and cook for a minute.
Step 4
Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and sugar and cook gently for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste.
Step 5
Cook the spaghetti according to instructions, stir through the sauce and serve. I like to pile the spaghetti onto a platter and let everyone help themselves at the table. You can add fresh parsley if you like but I like this just as it is.
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Rosemary, Vanilla-Baked Apricots With Whipped Yoghurt Cream

This is one of my favourite summer puddings. Apricots come alive when they’re baked and a hint of vanilla and rosemary work wonders in bringing out their flavour. Vanilla pods are not cheap, but they are worth it. I use them to flavour both the apricots and the yoghurt cream here and you could also add one to a jar of sugar post baking to make vanilla sugar. The whipped yoghurt cream is a lighter take on a traditional vanilla whipped cream. I find the slight tang the yogurt brings offsets the juicy sweetness of the apricots perfectly.

Serves
4
Total Time
30 Minutes
Ingredients
8-10 apricots
1 vanilla pod
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp of runny honey
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
150g of Greek yoghurt
150g of double cream
Amaretti biscuits to serve
Method
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan setting. Halve the apricots, removing the stones and place them into a deep roasting dish.
Step 2
Slice through the vanilla pod and scrape half the seeds into the apricots, add the rest to a medium-sized mixing bowl with the yoghurt.
Step 3
Squeeze the juice of an orange into the apricots, drizzle over the honey, add the rosemary sprigs, and toss well to combine. Then place the apricots cut-side up, dot the rosemary between and add the vanilla pod. Bake for 25 minutes until the apricots are soft but still hold their shape. Allow them to cool.
Step 4
For the whipped yogurt cream, add the cream to the bowl with the yoghurt and the remaining vanilla seeds and whisk until smooth peaks form.
Step 5
To serve, spoon the yoghurt onto a serving dish, top with the apricots and any cooking juices, crush over amaretti biscuits and add fresh rosemary sprigs.

For more from Alexandra, follow @AlexandraDudley & visit AlexandraDudley.com

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