Smile Politely

Bloody Mary on a stick

As fair season draws to a close with the Illinois State Fair this week, the question becomes: what can’t you eat on a stick? Perhaps not surprisingly in the list of fair foods sold “on a stick,” not too many are vegetables, except for the occasional fried pickle. Corn dogs, candy bars, and Twinkies have far more fat content and thus, far more allure. But, add a little vodka and tomatoes, too, could become a contender.

I first made these a few years ago when several friends and I all had shares in the same CSA. We would frequently end up at potluck dinners with the same dish, only to have to go home with half a bowl of slaw or Jerusalem salad or whatever was plentiful in the harvest that week. However, when I took these little appetizers, I got to go home with an empty bowl.

These are one of the more perfect ways to enjoy summer and at the same time console oneself about its drawing to an all too rapid close. You do have to slip the skins off the tomatoes for the alcohol and spices to penetrate, but this takes very little time. Be careful not to cool the tomatoes when peeling them or they will not absorb as much flavor. Like potatoes in potato salad, the tomatoes will absorb more flavor if they are dressed while warm. These are best chilled, but become quite potent if made too far ahead. Serve them with toothpicks and watch your surplus of cherry tomatoes disappear.


Bloody Marys on a Stick

  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 2 dozen cherry tomatoes
  • freshly ground pepper
  • celery salt
  • ½ c vodka
  • ¼ to ½ t horseradish
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Several dashes of sauce from chipotles in adobo or generous sprinkling of smoked chipotle powder
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Slip skins of tomatoes by placing in boiling water for 30 seconds. Rinse the tomatoes under cool water in the sink, but don’t cool them off with the water. The skins should slide off easily. Remove stem spot with a sharp knife. Place peeled tomatoes in a shallow bowl.

Sprinkle tomatoes with a dash of freshly ground black pepper and a generous sprinkling of celery salt. If you don’t have celery salt, you can use kosher salt, but the flavor will be different. Mix horseradish, Worcestershire and chipotle into vodka in a glass or measuring cup. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. If you happen to have a dark beer open, you can add a dash of it to give this dish a little more depth, literally and figuratively. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to marinate for a couple of hours at room temperature. Turn them in the liquid a few times to make sure that they marinade evenly. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill prior to serving.

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