Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback
So this week I finalised my Christmas menu for what I’m going to be cooking for all the family when they arrive from Christmas Eve onwards. It wasn’t that hard to be honest, as I took the menu I made for last Christmas and merely changed the header from Christmas 2013 to Christmas 2014. Gone are the days of festive experimentation, that is now what my blog is for.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Like any family, mine is picky and I have to cater across the board. Some don’t like smoked salmon, some can’t imagine Christmas without it. For those that hate the sight of Christmas Pudding, not to fear, there is trifle on hand. Then of course I have the usual brussel sprout debate, shall I bother with them when only a couple of people eat them? There is no question, unless I want sulks over the lunch table. A couple of years ago I broke from tradition and made a Ham Hock and Chicken Pie on Christmas Eve instead of the usual Honey Glazed Ham and there were definite murmours of discontent despite the pie being one of the best things that has come out of my kitchen. Lo and behold when I visited a certain member of my family over New Year a Baked Christmas Ham was presented for supper. The hint was duly noted.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

I don’t know how it came to pass that Devils on Horseback have to make an appearance by about 11am on Christmas morning just after we have finished opening our presents, especially since we’ve been stuffing ourselves with bacon rolls all morning. But then, there is always room for more bacon. I hate to admit it but I was getting a little tired of them each year so this time round I have jazzed them up a bit and I have to say that it has reinvigorated my love for them. They were missing a bit of oomph for me so I have mixed in some hot and smoky chipotle in adobo with a generous amount of citrusy marmalade and spread it on the bacon rashers before rolling them up with the prunes. Now, they have bite, a Chrismas kick with the marmalade and to finish it off I have given them a glaze of marmalade after they emerge from the grill to avoid the bacon going dry if they are going to be sat on a plate for a bit. Not that they will as they are usually wolfed down within seconds.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Just make sure you use good bacon and freshly opened sticky prunes.

The Devils on Horseback go down well with everyone, except of course for Mum who balks at the idea of sweet and savoury things together and wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. Oh well, you can’t please everyone.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Makes 24

90g marmalade
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
200g stoned prunes (about 24)
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon, halved widthways

  1. Turn the grill onto its highest setting.
  2. Mash up 60g of the marmalade with the chipotle until evenly mixed.
  3. Spread about ½ teaspoon of the marmalade and chipotle mixture on one side of the bacon rasher.
  4. Place a prune at one end of the bacon rasher and roll up, securing with a cocktail stick.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Place the devils underneath the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
  7. Meanwhile melt the remaining 30g of marmalade in a small saucepan until runny.
  8. Once the devils are ready, remove them from the grill and brush with the marmalade to glaze.
  9. Serve immediately.

Halloween Party Dips

Halloween Party Dips

I wonder sometimes if my body is made up of mostly houmous. I eat it by the bucketload and there is usually more than one variety in my fridge just so I have a choice between smooth or course. I count myself very lucky that I live in Haringey where Turkish food is prolific, although that certainly doesn’t help my addiction. I read recently in the Guardian that more than 40% of Britons have a pot of houmous in the fridge and it is now seen as a grocery staple. So that makes me feel much better that I am not alone in my affliction.

It was whilst I was stuffing my face with houmous last night that I considered whether there may be an alternative. Dinner parties at home, Christmas morning, late night board games are always accompanied by a pot of houmous and it’s not that I’m getting bored of it. Never!!! But perhaps those around me might. So, keeping in mind the bunches of parties coming up, I am challenging myself to have a houmous free existence for the next few months so I have had to come up with some different options. After all, dips are still a necessity, aren’t they?

Avocado HoumousSo, at the end of an afternoon filled with chopping, whizzing, spicing and tasting I actually think I have cracked it. These dips are not only much more attractive than the rather dour chickpea beige but they are also sublimely moreish which is exactly what you want when trying to polish off a bag of kettle chips. Although technically one of the recipes isn’t mine and belongs to the divine Silvena Rowe and don’t worry that one contains tahini, lemon juice and garlic so it’s practically houmous anyway.
Butternut Squash DipThe butternut squash dip is made by roasting the lovely orange flesh with lots of spice which makes it deliciously rich. The chorizo is by no means essential, you can quite happily make a veggie version and you won’t be missing out at all. Or you could pair the butternut squash with some lamb chops to make a wonderful accompaniment as part of a main meal.

I will usually devour dips indefinitely with a packet of Clearspring’s sticky rice crackers assisting me in the task which I think you can get in most supermarkets now. They are a slightly healthier alternative to those kettle chips.

Butternut Squash with Chorizo Dip

60ml olive oil
1 x butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of ¼ orange
1 tbsp Fino or other dry sherry
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 x chorizo sausages, diced small

  1. In a large baking dish mix together all the ingredients, bar the chorizo, and place in an oven preheated to 180°C. Roast for 45mins – 1 hour, giving it a good turn over halfway through until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Pulse the butternut squash in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Place the chorizo in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to crisp up.
  4. Serve the butternut squash dip with the chorizo piled on top.

Silvena Rowe’s Avocado and Sumac Whip

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sumac
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Scrape the avocados from their skins and blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thick and smooth.
  3. Serve with the sesame seeds scattered on top.