Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt

Sense a theme? It's tomato season and we have loads, so I thought that it would be appropriate to serve them two ways at the party I attended last night. These are definitely an adult treat. If you serve them at a party where there will be children, try to make sure they're out of the way of little hands.

Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt

1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, mixed color if possible
1/2 cup vodka
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar
Chopped basil
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

Cut a small X in bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes 5 at a time in a 2-quart saucepan of boiling water for 5-7 seconds, then immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water. Drain and peel tomatoes. Transfer to a shallow dish.

Stir together vodka, vinegar, sugar and basil in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pour over tomatoes and toss gently to coat. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes.

Stir together salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve with tomatoes for dipping.

Bacon and Basil Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

These have been one of the most successful hors d'oeuvres I've made in my relatively brief history of cooking. There are really only two reasons I don't make them more: the short season for tomatoes and the tediousness of coring out tomatoes. I don't have a spoon that is quite small enough, and it's a bit of a chore. They're worth the effort though. I've been contemplating trying out our yellow stuffer tomatoes with the filling as a first course. I think it could be delicious with a little lettuce chopped up along with the basil. This recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.

Bacon and Basil Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Makes 14 Hors D'Oeuvres

14 (1-inch-diameter) cherry tomatoes
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 pound bacon
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sour cream
Freshly Ground Pepper

Cut 1/8-inch-thick slice from the bottom and top of each tomato with a serrated knife. The bottom slice helps the tomato stand upright. Scoop out pulp and seeds with a small spoon or melon ball cutter. Sprinkle tomato shells with salt and invert on paper towels to drain for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and cool, then finely crumble.

Stir together bacon, shallots, basil, mayonnaise, sour cream, and pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Divide mixture evenly among tomato shells and arrange in a serving dish.