Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas Special #3: Devils on Horseback PLUS!!!! Giles Coren's pea and ham soup (see end)

That's prunes wrapped in bacon to you and me.

I really love these, I think they are both grotesque and fatally delicious. My husband says that they don't really go with any kind of drink he can think of, but after a bit of discussion we concluded that they would be okay with champagne or a glass of quite pissy white wine. Or a flat, dark ale he said. (Not really the thing for a cocktail party though...)

Anyway, they are quite a standard Christmas canape and here's how to make them.

You will need:

Smoked streaky bacon
Cognac or armagnac - this is optional
Cocktail sticks

Preheat your oven to 170C

1 Soak your prunes in the booze for an hour or so, if using. I think this does make a difference and is worth doing if you can.

2 Cut the prunes in half, as an entire prune wrapped in bacon (as I've done here) is, on reflection, a tiny bit too much of a mouthful

3 Wrap the prune halves in the streaky bacon about one and a quarter times, cut off the slack and secure with a cocktail stick. Make sure the stick goes through both ends of the bacon or it will flop apart in the oven

4 Lightly grease a baking tray with veg oil and put on your prunes. Most recipes say bake at 200C for 12-15 minutes, but I am of the school that believes you ought to cook bacon long and low, not fast and hot. So what I do is put in the 170C oven for about 20-25 minutes and turn half-way through.


In other news, my husband wanted me to take a picture of the pea and ham soup he made out of some ham stock left over from when I boiled a ham the other day.

So I said "Okay, shall we have a very rare picture of your face on the blog?"
And he said "Yeah okay. It'll be an even rarer one of me wearing my glasses."

And then my camera stopped working and the best picture I could get was this one:

The soup was really nice. Here's how he did it:

"i put about 200g of yellow split peas (well-rinsed) into about a litre of the ham stock with no seasonings at all, because the ham was very salty and had been cooked with plenty of herbs and parsley and bay and black pepper anyway. i put in a couple of medium sized onions though, roughly chopped. cooked the lot at a fast simmer for the length of time it said on the lentil packet, which i think was 25 minutes-ish, or until the peas squish easily against the pan wall with a spoon, which they did. then let it cool for ten minutes, flipping it between a couple of pans to speed it up (cos you don't want to be so hot that it takes a plasticcy smell off the blender) then poured it into the upright blender jug and frazzed it till it was smooth, thirty seconds or so. then i chopped up the old ham ends and bits and pieces quite small (a big fistful altogether) and chucked them into the saucepan, put the soup back in, brought back to a simmer for a couple of seconds and served. makes four big bowls. meant to garnish with parsley, forgot."

And here is how you boil a ham:

For a 3kg rolled smoked bacon joint (for 6) put in a large casserole pot and cover with water. Add 3 bay leaves, peppercorns, tied parsley stalks, celery and a small onion studded with cloves. Put on the hob, bring to the boil and skim off the scummy stuff.

Simmer gently for 2.5 hours. And, I swear to God, that's all there is to it.


  1. Sherry! Sherry is what goes with devils on horseback. Yum - used to sneaking these as a kid when my parents had parties.

  2. I've never eaten a devil on horseback but they look delicious. Would you ask Giles for the pea and ham soup recipe please as I'd love to try it, especially as I'm buying a ham for Christmas. Thanks. Great photo by the way, it reminds me of those magic eye illusions where everything reveals itself when you go cross-eyed. xx

  3. I think maybe the reason why your camera stopped working could be because it was set to auto, without flash? It looks like it was trying to take a photo without a flash in a room that's too dark for that to work, so it decided to compensate with a long shutter speed that made everything a bit blurry (and still too dark).

    The solution would be to enable the flash (though this could make your husband look a bit shiny) or go onto the aperture priority setting and choose the lowest possible number for the aperture, ideally around 1.8 or 2. That might still be a bit blurry though, depending on how dark it is.

    Learning how to work expensive cameras like that one is tricky; mine's taken me a couple of years! Usually when a camera's not doing what you want it to, the "expert" opinion is just to buy a new lens that costs thousands of pounds, which isn't exactly practical. But I'm sure you can get yours to behave the way you'd like eventually! x

    p.s. Sorry for the boring techy comment. Those devils on horseback look delicious! And that picture of them is really nice. So it can take good photos!

  4. You can also try apricots wrapped with bacon, they work really well too. And in terms of drinks, try a buttery Chardonnay like a white Burgundy.

  5. Charlotte NEVER apologise for a techy comment. I need all the help I can get. Alas, alas, if only the answer were that it was set to auto but no flash. I've tried absolutely everything, ever setting, every light combo, every aperture setting. I even read the instructions.

    I think what I've done, if the camera is in perfect working order (which I'm starting to doubt) is that I've flicked some kind of weird internal setting and I don't know what it is.

    But thank God I've got a photographer friend coming round tomorrow who is going to have a look at it. It'll be something really obvious, like it's not switched on, or whatever... xxx

  6. When you say 'skim off the scummy stuff', does it come back? Do I need to return and re-skim periodically? Or will it all appear in the first attempt?

  7. Alas indeed! That must be SO annoying! I hope your photographer friend works their photography magic on it. Having a posh but wilful camera is incredibly frustrating. Good luck! xxx

  8. You'll need to do a big scum skim after it's done its boiling and that ought to be it - any more scum that appears will only be a little bit. it's actually very tasty stuff - it just doesn't look very nice.

  9. Thank you for the soup recipe. xx

  10. In your honour:

  11. Yay - it's time for Devils on Horseback again!! Made your cranberry sauce yesterday too. :-)