Devilled Eggs with Avocado and Bacon

Devilled eggs are considered rather retro nowadays, but like prawn cocktails, cheeseballs and vol-au-vents, the old recipes are all still really nice and deserve to be dusted off once in a while.

Devilled Eggs

These ones are very simple and have bacon and avocado, but there are many variations to try. The eggs would be perfect for an Easter table, but I think they are good any time of year.

I have a special devilled egg plate that I just bought. I needed to replace my nice egg-shaped one that my husband smashed (allegedly) by accident! He does think I have too many plates though, as if you can have too many plates!

Devilled Eggs1

Ingredients:
6 Eggs – I used extra large
1-2tbs Mayonnaise
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp smoked paprika plus extra for garnish
Pinch of salt and pepper
3 slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled and chopped finely
Small bunch of chives, finely chopped
Half an avocado, cut into small chunks
A little lemon juice to stop the avocado from discolouring

Method:
I have tried various ways of ensuring the yolks are centred, including laying the eggs on their sides overnight, but it doesn’t always work. I find the easiest way is to give each egg a little shake before placing it in the water. Just enough to move the yolk inside the egg – not enough to break it!

I use this method to hard boil my eggs:
Place the eggs in water and bring up to the boil. As soon as the water is at a rolling boil, turn off the heat, put a lid on and time for 17 minutes. This is for extra-large eggs, I find any less time and the yolks are still a little waxy in the middle. As soon as the time is up, plunge them into iced water and peel the shells off, taking care not to pull chunks of egg white off.

Devilled Egg1

Cut the eggs in half length-ways and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place the egg halves onto a plate.

Add enough mayonnaise and mash with a fork to make a smooth consistency. Then add the mustard, salt, pepper and paprika and mix thoroughly. Some people like to pass the yolks through a sieve, but I don’t think that’s necessary.

You can either use a piping bag with a small star tip to pipe pretty stars, or just place the yolk mixture into a plastic bag, cut off the corner and squeeze little mounds into the waiting egg halves.

Stud each egg with a little chunk of avocado and sprinkle over the chopped bacon and chives and finish with a little more of the smoked paprika. You could also heat things up and use cayenne pepper.

Devilled Egg

These are perfect little snacks for a buffet table, picnic or canapé with drinks.

Smoky and Spicy Cheese Ball

Since I made my very first cheese ball here, it was so good, I have been needing an excuse to create new ones.

cheeseball2b

With the festive season upon us, a cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead addition to a any party or buffet table. Served with cruditiés or crackers, they are really good for feeding a crowd and delicious to eat.

This one is all about smoky and spicy flavours. Smoky cheese, smoked paprika, smoky and spicy chipotle chillies and the crust has chopped smoky almonds, smoked paprika and lots of crispy shards of smoky bacon goodness. Like my first cheese ball recipe, I haven’t used any extra salt in this at all.

cheeseball2

Ingredients:
8oz/226g room temperature cream cheese
8oz/226g room temperature Applewood smoked cheddar, grated
Small bunch of chives, very finely chopped
1-2tbs of chipotle chilli paste.
1 roasted red pepper, skinned and finely chopped. You can easily cheat and use one from a jar for this.
2tsp smoked paprika – sweet or spicy, the choice is yours
Freshly ground black pepper

Crust:
1 pack of salted smoked almonds, very finely chopped
6 thin slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp – then cool and finely chop
Freshly ground black pepper
2tsp smoked paprika
Crackers for serving

cheeseball slice

Method:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, peppers, paprika and chilli and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Place onto cling film and form into a ball. Refrigerate for at least two hours in order for it to firm up and be rolled in the crust ingredients.

On a plate, spread out the chopped almonds and bacon. Season the plate all over with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over the paprika so you have an even coating.

cheeseball slice2

Then just roll the cheese ball around in the crust ingredients, until fully coated. This is ready to serve immediately but will only get better if left to come up to room temperature. Otherwise you can refrigerate for up to 3 days.

cracker1

This could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using more of the other ingredients to coat the outside.

Roasted Acorn Squash Quiche with Chestnuts, Bacon and Stilton

There are so many lovely pumpkins and squashes around at the moment and I love trying as many as possible.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche

I think my favourite way of cooking squash is to roast it in the oven. Either simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, or adding spices and chilli.

These quiches contain roasted Acorn squash and I have left the skins on as they are fairly thin and roast up really nicely. Sometimes the older and bigger squashes have very thick skins and I tend to peel those.

Along with the squash, these quiches have crispy, smoked bacon, chestnuts and plenty of Stilton cheese, so lots of big flavours going on. I don’t add any salt to the eggs and cream as I think the bacon and Stilton add enough salt of their own, but this is my preference.

This recipe makes four individual quiches. I used 12.5cm, deep fill tartlet tins with removable bases, but you can easily make one large one.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche2

Crust:
400g all-purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
230g very cold butter cut into cubes and chilled again
95ml iced water

Ingredients:
2 Acorn squashes, topped, tailed, halved and seeds removed
5 extra-large eggs
¾ pint double/heavy cream
300g Blue Stilton cheese broken in to large crumbles
320g Good quality smoked streaky bacon
180g pack of prepared sweet chestnuts, roughly broken up
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs olive oil

Method:
Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas, or rough breadcrumbs. Add the iced water a little a time while pulsing the food processor, just until the dough just comes together. You might not need all of the water.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Leave to chill for 30 minutes.

On a floured board, roll out the pastry and then, taking care not to stretch the dough, line the tins with the pastry, re-rolling until all the tins are done. Place the pastry cases in the fridge and chill for another 30 minutes.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche3

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Line the pastry cases with parchment paper or foil, fill with baking beans and place in the oven to blind bake for 15-20 minutes. Take the pastry shells out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and then return to the oven for further 5 minutes or until the pastry feels dry. Leave to cool before adding the filling.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche1

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F

Cut the halved squashes into slices, just over 1cm thick and rub them all over in 1tbs olive oil with 1tsp of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast them in the oven until the squash is tender and catching on the edges. This will take around 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick the slices are.

While the squash is roasting, fry the bacon until the fat renders out and it is crisp, set aside on kitchen paper to cool before chopping into small, bite-sized pieces.

Lower the oven to 180°C/360°F

Place the blind baked pastry shells on a baking tray to make transporting to the oven easier.

Place a couple of slices of squash in the bases of each quiche, then layer over the bacon, chestnuts and chunks of Stilton cheese. Divide the filling between the 4 cases and top each one with another couple of slices of the squash.

Whisk the eggs, cream together with more freshly ground black pepper and pour over the quiches until each one is full.

Taking care not to spill, place the tray with the quiches in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until just set in the middle. The quiche will be nicely puffed and golden brown and will smell very good indeed.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche slice

This quiche is really good hot or cold and half of one of these makes for a really nice lunch with a little salad.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche plate1

The big autumnal flavours of the quiche make it perfect for an autumn party, picnic, Thanksgiving or Christmas and just the thing for a lunchbox.