I have to brag a little about this recipe. “Summer Garden Bloody Mary Mix” is a homemade tomato juice cocktail mixer using ripe, juicy tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and fresh basil and parsley. It is full of summer garden flavors with a little “zip.” This tomato cocktail mixer recipe is delicious — much better than anything you will find in a retail store. And it is easy to make, too. Just roast the tomatoes and jalapeño peppers, saute the onions and celery. Then let everything simmer on the stove with a few more seasonings as the aroma of fresh herbs fills the air. Strain out the solids, dip the rim of glasses in course salt, add vodka and we are ready to go and enjoy the hot summer morning — in the shade.
Louisiana Garden and Basil
Plus, this is a good recipe to use the basil growing in my summer garden. This year I planted one seed packet. Basil grows like a weed in Louisiana and all my seeds grew. I transplanted and transplanted the basil in my garden to thin out the seedlings and finally moved some of the small plants to pots. These plants are right outside my back door and easy to get to. Just a couple of steps away. I have more basil than I know what to do with. (My dog in the background looks like an ant, but I assure you that it is just the camera angle.)
Delta Airlines and Bloody Mary Mix Story
My facination with Bloody Mary mixes started many years ago when I used to fly home on Delta Airlines to visit my family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. You know you are traveling on a small airplane when the pilot leaves the cockpit and asks the passengers to change seats to balance the weight of the plane. This was Piedmont Airlines and the plane was a very small double wing propeller plane. I’m sure this was prior to airport security. These were the only planes which flew into the tiny airport at Weyers Cave, Virginia, which had one runway and was surrounded by farm fields. The noisy plane ride was worth it. I loved exiting the plane and smelling freshly cut hay. Plus, there was free parking at the front entrance of the airport. My folks lived only a 15 minute drive away. Hey, it takes 15 minutes just to circle around the terminal at some airports such as Houston Intercontinental and Denver. Eventually Piedmont Airlines ceased to exist. Delta began to fly into the Shenandoah Valley. On one of these hectic trips home — just to relax on the Delta flight — I ordered a Blood Mary cocktail after observing another passenger’s drink. The cocktail was delicious. What had I been missing. The generous stewardess not only shared the brand of Blood Mary mix, but the friendly pilot gave me Delta wings! Those are the things that can only happen at small, rural airports. Although the Bloody Mary mix was great, I knew I could make a homemade version which was just as good. I’ve been waiting all these years to find a recipe.
I love ripe, tomatoes and can’t wait for summer to come get my “tomato fix.” I’ve always wanted to make homemade “Bloody Marys.” I found my recipe on the internet site, Chili Pepper Madness, and took notice. The appeal of the recipe was all the vegetables and herbs that were added to the tomato mix. Plus, the recipe included hot peppers. It was my summer garden just bursting with flavor in my morning cocktail! I am sure that my recipe isn’t as “hot” as the original one. But, that’s okay. It includes traditional ingredients such as horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, plus wine vinegar and celery seed. (I omitted the lemon juice in my final recipe.) These ingredients help perk up the cocktail mix. Plus, one advantage of a homemade mix is that you can titrate the salt/sodium — my tomato juice mix has much less salt than the store bought varieties and is much healthier for you.
Recipe Key — Ripe Tomatoes
The key to this recipe is using juicy and ripe, flavorful tomatoes. You just can’t use tomatoes which are muchy and bland. Heirloom tomatoes work well in this recipe. I lucked out and found some wonderful Creole tomatoes to use in making my Bloody Mary mix.
Creole tomatoes refer specifically to ones which are grown in the parishes (counties) south of New Orleans in the rich soil along the Mississippi River. It refers to the place where the tomatoes are grown rather than a specific variety. In the 1960’s, the LSU Agricultural Center developed a “Creole Tomato.” However, apparently the seed stock was misplaced. So, Creole tomatoes can be one of several varieties. My Creole tomatoes are from Rouse’s Grocery Market (a New Orleans grocery chain). They must have been a sale “loss leader” because these tomatoes were listed at a “knock-down” price. I loaded up my basket and plan to go back for more.
Creole tomatoes are large and sweet — due to the soil where they are grown. They are the best!
To make the recipe:
If you don’t have Creole tomatoes, any ripe, juicy tomato can be substituted such as Heirloom tomatoes or the Beefsteak variety.
The recipe is easy to make. Roast the tomatoes and jalapeño pepper in the oven for 30 minutes until the skin is wrinkled and the vegetables are cooked.
Sauté the onion and celery in a large, heavy pot. Remove the tomatoes and pepper from the oven. Peel off the skins. Add to the pot along with all the other ingredients — including the fresh basil and parsley.
Let the tomato juice mixture simmer and bubble on the stove for about 45 minutes.
After cooking, the mixture needs to be strained to obtain tomato juice without solids. A food processor doesn’t work for this task.
I have one of those old-fashioned food mills which work so well to strain the skins and seeds from cooked tomatoes and other vegetable mixtures. This little gadget was used by my mother for years when she canned tomato juice in the summer. I get it out about once or twice a year for this task. It is aluminum so it doesn’t rust. The scrapper goes both ways. It compresses the solid tomatoes and vegetables to squeeze out the juice when you turn in in a clockwise motion. Then you turn it backwards (counterclockwise) to scrap the leftover the solids out of the seive. I discovered that there is a screw on the bottom of the appliance which, when tightened, brings the scraper closer to the seive for finer action. What high tech! Without one of these gadgets, use a fine strainer/sieve and press down with the back of a spoon or a spaula. Work in small batches.
Here’s my strained “Bloody Mary Mix.” This recipe yielded 3 cups of tomato juice. That’s actually not alot of tomato cocktail mix. Hum. It would be very easy to double this recipe.
Of course, you have to have salt for the rim of the cocktail glass. I found that the course Kosher salt stashed away in my cupboard worked great.
I am enjoying summer “Bloody Marys” in my backyard. I am absolutely delighted that this recipe was successful on the first try — even though I changed up the ingredients somewhat; the proportions worked out perfectly. It is a morning cocktail with a little “zing.” Loving my summer tomatoes! And, I’m missing the Shenandoah Valley and all those exhilirating plane trips home.
Summer Garden Bloody Mary Mix
- 4 large (2 – 2.5 lb total wt) ripe tomatoes such as Heirloom, Creole or Beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 (2 oz) large jalapeño pepper (or 2 small peppers)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion chopped, about 1 cup
- 1 stalk celery chopped, about 1/2 cup
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp torn fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp torn fresh parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp celery seed
- 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp prepared horseradish
- course Kosher salt
- Vodka of choice, for serving, if desired
- olives and fresh basil, garnish, if desired
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and oil lightly.
- Core and slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and lay on the baking sheet, cut side down.
- Slice the jalapeño pepper in half, cut off stem, cut out seeds and membrane. Lay on baking sheet, cut side down.
- Roast for 30 minutes until the tomato and pepper skins are wrinkled and the vegetables are cooked.
- Meanwhile, add oil to a large pot and heat to medium. Add chopped onion and celery, stir. Then lower heat and cook for 10 minutes until translucent. Stir frequently. Do not burn the onion.
- Remove tomatoes and jalapeño pepper from oven. Cool slightly.
- Peel the tomatoes and jalapeño pepper, add to the pot along with any juice from baking sheet.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, too — water, white wine vinegar, fresh basil and parsley, salt, celery seeds, Worcestershire sauce and prepared horseradish.
- Bring to a boil. Then turn stove to low heat so the tomato juice mixture just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
- Remove from stove. Cool slightly and use a food mill to strain to move solids and seeds. If no food mill, then use a fine strainer/sieve — in small batches — press down with back of spoon or a spatula to extract as much juice from solids as possible. Discard solids.
- Refrigerate until chilled.
- When ready to serve, wet the rims of small cocktail glasses. Add Kosher salt into a shallow bowl or plate. Dip rims of glasses in salt. Carefully pour in Bloody Mary Mix into cocktail glasses.
- Add favorite vodka, if desired.
- Garnish with olives and fresh basil, if desired.
Woops, Chili Pepper Madness is not allowing a link to their internet side and the original recipe is no longer accessable on their WEB page. I tried!