Hors D'Oeuvres & First Courses The Book

23. Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes With Pepper and Salt p.26

the recipe

This looked like a really simple recipe. Just cherry tomatoes in a vodka based marinade. The blurb in The Book tells us that “what makes these tomatoes special is that they’re peeled. Don’t worry; after you blanch them their skins slip right off”. The book lies! I blanched them well, even a few seconds longer than recommended in loads of boiling water. The skins absolutely didn’t slip off, and peeling the slightly loosened skins was a huge huge pain. The active time for this was more like 2 hours than 45 minutes. I’ll presume that I just don’t know how to peel a tomato though.

The marinade was quite good. Vodka and tomatoes are a classic pairing, apparently there are flavour compounds in tomatoes that are only soluble in alcohol, and without it we’re missing out on part of what the tomato has to give. The zest and vinegar gave the tomatoes a nice citrus bite. It’s becoming a recurring refrain here, but there was too much sugar on these. The recipe calls for a tablespoon to be added, and while I see where they were going with the sweet / citrus / vodka contrast I think they went too far. Vodka is quite sweet on its own, I’d say a teaspoon of sugar would have been more than sufficient. Maybe they calculated that amount using less naturally sweet cherry tomatoes? Who can say.

While peeling these little guys was a big hassle, it really did let the marinade penetrate the tomatoes. The tomatoes were flavour packed, and because they were peeled but not cooked you still got the delightful feeling of them popping in your mouth. I think they were tasty, but on the whole not worth the effort.


I'm a graduate student in Montreal. I spend most of my time studying drug addiction using brain imaging techniques. I'm also a foodie, exploring the culinary world both in and out of my kitchen.

13 replies on “23. Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes With Pepper and Salt p.26”

I remember thinking that these were good, if not a little over-saturated with vodka. The flavour was so intense that two or three seemed to be plenty. I did however, appreciate that they could be eaten with toothpicks. There is a definite lacuna with regards to foods that can be eaten with little sticks.

I feel like you’re cheating at this stage. Are you going to do all the salad dressings/vinaigrettes from the book as well?

MVB: Food on a stick is mans second greatest invention. The spork is number one.

AL: Yup, if it has a title I’m going to do it. In fact there’s a whole chapter on Sauces and Salsas. The last few entries have been food I brought to a cocktail party so there hasn’t been anything too substantial. But yes, absolutely, appetizers are a valid class of food, as are relishes, chutneys, little bits of toast, etc. There will be recipes for basics like chicken stock, a cake with a special sauce will be two recipes. In fact the Beef Wellington you came over for is going to be three. There’s the Beef Wellington itself, the cilantro walnut filling, and the sour cream pastry dough. I didn’t write the book, I just play by its rules.

I hate cherry tomatoes. I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with that “popping in mouth” thing. I find it disturbing.
I think our divergent opinions on that subject go a long way towards explaining why our relationship never worked out.

What’s the point of cherry tomatoes if they’re not allowed to pop? They’re more expensive than normal tomatoes, so why not just use them? I guess their other advantage is that it’s easy for the tomato hating heretics of the world to pick them out of a salad without risking contamination, but I’m not into pandering to their “special needs”.

And, honestly yes.. I think our divergent opinions on food were one of the reasons we couldn’t make it work. You’re better as a snarky friend than a snarky girlfriend anyway.

I personally like the sensation of a cherry tomatoe bursting due to the incredible power of my teeth. It makes me feel like I have conquered the vegetable and hence am a powerful person.

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