Wednesday, October 21, 2009

197. Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt (p. 26)

OK, it's time to stop sulking. Gourmet's gone, and it's not coming back. (But if you believe Ruth Reichl, the death of every other magazine isn't very far behind. It sounds a little like sour grapes, but she just might be onto something.) So, it's time to move on and get back to blogging. And boy do I have a huge backlog of recipes to get through!

But before I do, I have to comment on something I saw on today. Every year, there are a few "big" cookbooks that are released around the holidays. This year, those books are David Chang's Momofuku, and Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home. In what I think is a wonderful development, two intrepid bloggers have already stepped up to take on the challenge of cooking through these two ambitious books. EatMeDaily isn't so sanguine. Here's what they have to say about the cook-through phenomenon: "this schtick is starting to get old." Well, folks, the snarky food blog is a schtick that's not all that original either. That said, I just can't hate you, EatMeDaily. Can't we all get along?

Now that I've got that off my chest. Back to the food. This recipe, which I made as an hors d'oeuvre for my family's Labor Day cookout (I told you I had a backlog!), could easily be renamed "Bloody Mary Bites." These boozy, zesty, spicy and salty nibbles were a nice surprise, even though they weren't my favorite recipe from The Book.

For the last few weeks of August and the first few weeks of September, my CSA box included some delicious red and yellow cherry and grape tomatoes. Sweet and flavorful, they were great on their own by the handful as a snack, but I was happy to sacrifice a pint to this recipe. First I peeled the tomatoes. I made a small "x" on the bottom of each tomato and blanched them in boiling water for just a few seconds before shocking them in ice water. Just like magic, the peels slipped right off. A little bit of a pain, but necessary for the vodka to permeate the tomato flesh.

Next, I combined some vodka, white wine vinegar, lemon zest and some superfine sugar. I marinated the tomatoes in the vodka mixture for about an hour, and I served them with a small bowl of mixed kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper for dipping.

These hors d'oeuvres were potent little bites. There's a lot of bold tastes here: vodka, lemon zest, salt and pepper. They made quite an impression, although I didn't really love them. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I'm not a big vodka fan.

Date Cooked: September 5, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B-

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