spiced-tomato-vodka-jelly

I was so keen to give you a pretty, passion-coloured Valentine’s Day recipe that I decided to ignore the fact that it’s too cold in the UK to eat jelly, and that tomatoes are out of season.

This recipe is influenced by English and French cuisines – and cocktails – and feature East European and American ingredients, too. So it’s a truly fusion affair.

You can buy vegetarian gelatine from most supermarkets; and vegetarian Worcester sauce (without anchovies) is available in health food shops or vegetarian stores. Select a brand of horseradish sauce that’s little more than grated horseradish with cream, if you can – no mean feat, as most are packed with mayonnaise, additives and too much sugar.

I won’t bore you with clichés about how this recipe might spice up your love life, but it will certainly provide an interesting start to your evening. Whether or not you serve it on Valentine’s Day. Serves 2 generously as appetiser.

14 fl oz/ 400 ml tomato juice
1 teaspoon vegetarian gelatine (such as Vege-Gel)
2 scant tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons vodka
2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcester sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons very finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons very finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons very finely chopped green pepper (bell pepper or capsicum)
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
3 tablespoons single cream

Optional garnish (one or more of):
A little extra finely chopped red onion and celery
Fresh parsley
Watercress
Lettuce or lamb’s lettuce

1. Place the tomato juice in a saucepan, add the vegetarian gelatine, and stir until it has dissolved.
2. Then put the saucepan on low heat and gently bring the tomato juice to the boil.
3. Once it has reached the boiling point, remove from the heat immediately. Add the lemon juice, vodka, Worcester sauce, Tabasco, and seasoning. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
4. Place the chopped vegetables evenly in a heart shaped mould (or divide between two bowls or glasses).
5. Pour the tomato jelly on top and leave to set for 30 minutes. Leave the jelly in a cool place, but do not refrigerate.
6. When you are ready to serve, carefully unmould the jelly (if it has been set in a mould). Just before serving, mix the horseradish sauce with cream, and swirl some on top of the jelly. Garnish with extra onion and celery, if you like, and/ or fresh parsley. You can also serve the jelly on a platter lined with watercress or salad leaves, if you wish.

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