This is yet another recipe that I've come across thanks to Lundulph watching shows that I wouldn't normally watch. This time it was Mary Berry's Easter Feast. What caught his eye was a fish dish cooked by a lovely lady from the West Indies, which Lundulph thought looked very pretty. I went back and watched the whole episode and I'm not sure I want to try it out, not being a fan of fish and seafood in general, but I persisted in watching the whole episode, because Mary Berry was visiting people from different cultures with different Easter traditions and that was very interesting to me. One of the people she visited was from the large Russian community in London and they cooked something wonderfully eye-catching: hard-boiled egg, pickled with beetroots and "deviled", i. e. the yolks scooped out and blended with other things then piped back in.
So the episode barely over, I was tapping away on the computer to find the recipe on the BBC website, sadly it wasn't published, so I watched that segment a couple of times and jotted down what they said and what I saw and here is the result, which I made for the traditional family Easter gathering at our house. The result was very good.
12 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled down and peeled
For the marinade/pickling liquid
3 beet roots, slightly larger than an egg each
3 cloves of garlic
10 corns of allspice
20 black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
5 cm stick of cinnamon
1 pinch of chilli flakes
1 tbsp clear honey
5 dl water
2.5 dl white wine vinegar
For the filling
12 hard-boiled yolks from the eggs
2 tbsp chives
1 tbsp dill
1 tsp Dijon mustard
8 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and pepper
yellow food colouring (optional)
- Trim, peel and rinse the beet roots and use gloves to avoid getting your fingers stained. Cut into chunks of around 2 cm and place in a large saucepan with a lid.
- Peel the shallots, halve or quarter if large and add to the saucepan.
- Peel the garlic and cut in half, then add to the saucepan and follow with the allspice, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and chilli flakes.
- Drizzle over the honey, add the water and vinegar and stir. Then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Remove from the hob and sieve into a glass bowl, which is large enough for the 12 eggs and the marinating liquid. If it looks a bit transparent you can add the pieces of beet root back in, but it's not necessary.
- Leave the liquid to cool completely, and cut out a circle of baking paper to fit the top of the glass bowl.
- When the liquid has cooled, add the whole peeled eggs in, making sure they are fully covered. Place the baking paper on top to make sure the eggs stay under and cover with cling film. Place in the fridge overnight for about 12 h.
- Remove the eggs from the marinade and pat dry, then cut in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the yolks with a small spoon. Set the now bright pink whites aside, cover and put back in the fridge.
- Put the yolks in a food processor and add the other filling ingredients, then blend until as smooth as possible. If the mixture looks a bit pale, add some yellow food colouring.
- When ready to serve, place in a piping bag with a round nozzle. Line up the whites with the flat sides up on your serving dish, then pipe some of the filling into each hole where the yolk used to be. At this point they are ready to serve, but you can decorate with e. g. small pieces of salmon, ham or brightly coloured peppers.
As the family turned up on Good Friday, I spent the evenings of the week before preparing all the food and I made these on the Tuesday already. This was fine, but I discovered that the beet root colouring continues to move inwards into the egg white as time passes. So the whites looked like I wanted them to look on Tuesday when I cut them, but were almost completely pink through and through by Friday when I was ready to serve them. So the effect of pink outside and white inside was a bit lost. But the beet root flavour did come through, which was rather nice I thought.
I also put some lettuce leaves around the eggs on the plate, mainly to make sure they were stable and didn't glide around and topple over. My idea of having each egg on a spoon for everyone to grab one didn't quite work out the way I'd imagined it, which was like a flower, but I didn't have time to go to the local restaurant supply shop to look for suitable spoons for this purpose.
But the eggs were very tasty and very visually appealing. I had some left-over filling mixture and it was a bit on the runny side, so could only be piped with a round nozzle. I think the amount of crème fraîche could be reduced to make a stiffer mixture for a star nozzle. But as I put some cold smoked salmon pieces on top, it didn't really matter much.