Homemade Tomato Juice and a Classic Cocktail

There are still plenty of tomatoes in the garden, so this weekend I made tomato juice.  And what better use is there for fresh homemade tomato juice than a classic Bloody Mary.  The Bloody Mary is an old-fashioned cocktail that has always been associated with brunch.  The contemporary rendition of the drink now includes garnishes such as pepperoni sticks, cheese cubes, pickled vegetables of all sorts, shrimp, and citrus slices as well as the traditional celery stick.  I tried to keep mine simple; I just wanted the pure, delicate tomato flavor to shine through.  I couldn’t resist just a little decor on the top of the glass; a dip into citrus salt and some cute cherry tomatoes and shrimp to snack on.   It is truly a delicious drink and would be great with brunch, or alongside your favorite game-night snacks.  Try it for bridge or poker night, along with some savory meat pies .

Homemade Tomato Juice:
(makes about 4 cups)
3 pounds fresh, ripe garden tomatoes, washed, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 fat garlic clove, sliced
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
2 large celery stalks, with leaves, coarsely chopped
a large handful of parsley, roughly chopped (tender stems are okay)
6-8 leaves romaine (or any other lettuce you may have languishing in the crisper drawer), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
freshly ground white pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Let it simmer away, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the mixture is very soupy.  Remove from the heat and pass through the fine blade of a food mill.  You can adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, or hot sauce and Worcestershire  sauce to taste.  Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator.  It will separate slightly on standing, just stir to re-combine.  Will keep for 4 to 5 days.
(adapted from www.farmgirlfare.com)

Citrus Salt
1/4 cup flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Mix the salt and zests together thoroughly with your fingertips.  Place a on a small baking sheet or pie plate and place in a 225F oven to dry.  This will take about 30 minutes.  Cool and store in an air-tight container.  Use as a finishing salt.
(from www.101cookbooks.com/archives/citrus-salt-recipe.html)

Now to make your Bloody Mary:

Place a quantity of citrus salt on a small, flat plate.  Rub the rim of an approximately 10 ounce tumbler with fresh lemon juice.  Dip the glass into the salt, applying an even coating of salt around the upper edge of the glass.  In a cocktail shaker, stir together 1 1/2 ounces vodka (Grey Goose is my favorite), 6 ounces of homemade tomato juice, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a drop or two of hot sauce, and a jot of horseradish, if you like.  Fill the prepared glass with ice cubes and pour in the tomato mix.  Garnish with the traditional celery stick (with leaves), cherry tomatoes, cooked cocktail shrimp, pepperoni stick or slices, sharp cheese cubes, and/or pickled vegetables.  Arrange your skewered garnishes artfully atop the drink and enjoy!

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