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Recipe: Bloody Mary Tomatoes, from 'The Extraordinary Cookbook'

Here's a recipe from "The Extraordinary Cookbook," featured in today's Buffalo News. One of Stefan Gates' simpler party ideas is turning cherry tomatoes into little vodka bombs. The recipe comes complete with a cautionary tale:

Be very careful when you pass these around, since they are disarmingly tasty and sneakily alcoholic. They are also perfectly bite-sized, so you’ll find yourself popping them into your mouth one after the other like grapes, and, before you know it, you and your friends will be completely legless.

The following story is a salutary lesson—and too funny to keep to myself. A few years ago, we held a big lunch party after my daughter’s baptism, and the lovely vicar kindly agreed to come along, accompanied by the equally lovely lady minister. Anyone who thought their presence might add a little gravity to the situation was to be sorely disappointed, however.

It all started when the Bloody Mary tomatoes came out, and both vicar and minister tucked in with great enthusiasm. It’s possible that I forgot to mention that the tomatoes were packed with vodka, but anyone could have been forgiven for thinking that they were just very tasty. And, of course, vodka can be strangely hard to detect, especially when you’ve got a glass of wine in the
other hand.

Anyway, both vicar and minister enjoyed the tomatoes enormously, so much so that by the time they sat down to eat they were already slurring their words. The vicar struck up a ferocious theological argument with the minister and before long I heard him use a phrase that was, well, let’s just say, it was very naughty. Upon hearing himself utter said phrase, it dawned on him that perhaps it was time to leave.

He and the minister thanked us all profusely and ambled out. A few moments later, we heard an enormous crash,and we all raced out to the hallway to find the vicar and the minister rolling on the floor in fits of giggles, having knocked a large picture off the wall. Luckily, damage was done to neither property nor preacher, so I gave them both a hug and sent them wandering off down the street.

Bloody Mary Tomatoes

serves 6

30 ripe cherry tomatoes (about 2 pounds), the tastiest you can find

1 1/2 cups good vodka

1/4 cup sherry (optional—if you don’t have any, replace with vodka)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon freshly grated

horseradish (optional)

4 fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

celery salt and table salt, to serve

Prick each tomato several times using a toothpick. In a bowl, mix together the vodka, sherry, Worcestershire sauce,Tabasco sauce, horseradish, and thyme.

Place the tomatoes in a large jar (or several small jars), then pour over the marinade until they are covered. (If necessary,add a little more vodka so that all are submerged.) Leave for at least two days. The tomatoes get a little wizened and overly alcoholic after a few weeks, and by the time they are a month old, they are over the hill and should be put in a food processor with chopped tomatoes to make a ferocious Bloody Mary.

Serve the tomatoes with a small dipping bowl of equal measures of celery salt mixed with table salt.

(From "The Extraordinary Cookbook," by Stefan Gates, Kyle Books, 224 pages, $29.95)

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Food and Drink
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