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 instalment of her monthly column, she shares a summery dinner party menu that makes tomatoes the star of the show – plus a simple yet delicious galette for dessert.
By Alexandra Dudley

I have a large bowl that always sits on my kitchen table. It acts simultaneously as a vessel for ingredients as well as a dinner party centrepiece. Most of the time it is filled with lemons or a variety of citrus fruits. During autumn I love to fill it with knobbly squash or fiery red pumpkins, and around Christmas it’s usually filled with walnuts. But in the summer I fill it with tomatoes. People often ask for tips about how to make a table look enticing without using flowers. A bowl of tomatoes or lemons might not seem like the most exciting thing to add to a dinner table but the abundance of anything, be it lemons, tomatoes or onions, somehow makes it all the more enchanting. 

Naturally, I have been cooking a lot with tomatoes this month as June is when they are at their best. I cooked the dishes below for Sunday lunch with friends last week and filled the bowl with tomatoes. Despite having eaten tomatoes followed by tomatoes, I noticed people plucking tomatoes from the vines to go with the cheese (I had completely forgotten the crackers). I did not make pudding, but should have, so I’ve offered a recipe here. I tend to use frozen blueberries for this as the recipe calls for quite a lot. Make sure you stock up on good vanilla ice-cream too.

The start of summer is worth celebrating and I am a big fan of pairing food with champagne. This Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut is my favourite to pair with fish.


Tomato Salad With Anchovy Dressing

Good tomatoes are worth making a fuss about and this salad is all about the tomatoes. Anchovies, garlic and parsley give the dressing a little oomph but the magic comes from the tomatoes themselves. The trick here is to macerate the tomatoes (letting them sit for a while in a good pinch of salt). As they rest, they release some of their flavourful juices which make the base of this dressing.

Total Time
40 Minutes
800g of tomatoes (I like large vine tomatoes)
1 tin of anchovies, drained of their oil (keep the oil for the hake if you are making it)
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of parsley, leaves picked
2 tbsp of muscatel vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 tbsp of olive oil
50g of pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
Step 1

Slice the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large colander placed over a bowl (this is to catch the juices). Toss with a good pinch of salt and leave to macerate for half an hour. The tomatoes should release some of their flavourful juices which are the base for the dressing.

Step 2

Finely chop the anchovies and garlic, and add to the bowl with the tomato juices. Then whisk in the vinegar and olive oil. Throw in your tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts. Toss well and serve.

Baked Hake With Tomatoes & Parsley-Dill Butter

Lemon, butter and herbs are a winning combination when paired with fish – and this is a simple on- tray dish that works well for a dinner party. Get the cherry tomatoes into the oven as you enjoy a starter or mingle over drinks – and once the fish is in, you’ll be eating in 20 minutes. I love to serve this with some simple new potatoes, but a loaf of crusty bread is a sensible addition as the buttery tomato juices are delicious.

Total Time
50 Minutes
700g of cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt
The oil from a tin of anchovies (if you are making the tomato salad)
800g of hake loin
40g of butter
1 lemon
For the butter:
70g of butter
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Handful of dill, fronds picked and finely chopped
Handful of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
Step 1

Preheat the oven to 250°C Fan.

Step 2

Place the tomatoes into a large roasting dish (large enough to fit in the tomatoes and hake), drizzle with olive oil and a good pinch of salt. If you have made the tomato salad, I like to throw in the oil from a tin of anchovies too. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. The tomatoes should be part cooked and have released some of their juices.

Step 3

Remove the tray from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C. Make some room for the fish in the centre of the tomatoes and place the hake in, skin side down. Season the fish well with sea salt then layer with slices of butter. Zest over the lemon and layer over lemon slices. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Step 4

While your fish is cooking make the dill butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Take it off the heat and add the lemon zest, pinch of salt, and chopped dill and parsley.

Step 5

Serve hot with the herbed butter spooned generously over the fish and tomatoes.

Blueberry Hazelnut Galette

The wonderful thing about a galette is the messier it looks the better it usually is. I’ve added hazelnuts to the pastry in this one as well as sprinkling a layer of hazelnuts under the fruit which helps to absorb some of the juices. This is best eaten warm and is particularly good with some vanilla ice-cream.

170g of spelt flour
50g of toasted hazelnuts, pulsed in a food processor into a breadcrumb consistency
30g of icing sugar
1 pinch of fine sea salt
130g of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
1-2 tbsp of ice-cold water
Egg white, to glaze
For the blueberries:
450g of blueberries, fresh or frozen
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp of lemon juice
50g of caster sugar
1 tbsp of corn flour
For the hazelnut layer:
50g of toasted hazelnuts, pulsed in a food processor into a breadcrumb consistency
30g of caster sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
Step 1

Place the flour, salt, 50g of pulsed hazelnuts and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and pulse briefly to combine.

Step 2

Add the cold cubed butter and pulse again until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.

Step 3

Add the egg and pulse until the dough just comes together. Use your hands to create a disk with the dough, taking care not to handle it too much. Wrap in cling film or beeswax wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (or in a pinch for time, you can put it in the freezer for 20 minutes).

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

Step 5

In a large bowl, mix the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, caster sugar and corn flour.

Step 6

In a separate bowl combine the hazelnut layer ingredients.

Step 7

Flour a surface and roll the pastry into a large circle about 12in in diameter. Transfer to the parchment lined tray.

Step 8

Sprinkle over the hazelnut mix, leaving a 5cm boarder, then top with the blueberries.

Step 9

Work your way around the galette to fold it round the blueberries. Don’t worry about this looking messy.

Step 10

Brush the pastry edges with egg white and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.

Step 11

Bake for 45 minutes until the blueberries are bubbling and the pastry is golden.

Step 12

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

For more from Alexandra, follow her @AlexandraDudley or visit

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