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When I am a guest at a cocktail party—which is rare, because I’m usually the chef at a cocktail party—I like to scope out the hors d’oeuvres. The challenge to making a good hors d’oeuvre is creating something delicious yet easy to eat in a social setting. My mantra is that every successful hors d'oeuvre needs a “vehicle,” something you can easily pick up with your fingers. Guests should be able to hold on to their drinks. If you can’t pick it up easily, it won’t work.
The usual suspects tend to be skewers, crostini, and crackers. With these three vehicles at your disposal, you can turn almost any preparation of ingredients—say, toasted goat cheese, or duck breast—into a successful bite of food. However, if you find yourself bored with these mundane vehicles and yearning for new ideas, consider the egg.
Deviled eggs are a classic party snack. I am drawn to the classics because they actually offer the best opportunities for creativity. In the context of a classic recipe like deviled eggs, cooks have the ability to make a couple of clever substitutions while keeping the essential flavors intact, thus ensuring a final outcome that is inventive yet comforting. Plus, it is far easier to tinker with a classic than to invent something brilliant out of thin air.
In this case, the amount of mayonnaise has been reduced, and it has been replaced with fresh avocado. The essential flavors of the deviled egg remain the same (creamy, savory, a little spicy, hints of lemony freshness), but the avocado refreshes an old classic. To make this recipe even more compelling, I decided to add little pieces of smoked salmon to the filling, and garnish the eggs with fried capers. The subtle taste of high-quality smoked salmon pairs naturally with eggs and avocado, and I like its textural interplay with the creamy yolk mixture. The word sultry even comes to mind. In a different mood, I might have added crispy prosciutto instead of smoked salmon—and called it “deviled green eggs and ham.” Feel free to get creative with these avocado deviled eggs.
The best part about using an egg as an hors d’oeuvre is that it functions as its own vehicle—with no toothpicks to discard or crumbs to dust off. So as spring arrives and we begin to ponder rebirth and the new season, embrace the egg as a symbol of hope, renewal, and a new breath of life—for your hors d’oeuvres, at the least.
For the Fried Capers
- 1 tablespoon capers
- canola oil
For the Deviled Eggs
- 12 hard boiled eggs
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 avocado
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
- 3 ounces smoked salmon, finely diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely grated lemon zest (optional garnish)
Any other ideas for how to top these avocado deviled eggs? Tell us in the comments!