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Distilled Bruchetta
There's lots of crunch and flavour in every bite of this twist on an Italian classic. I think that bruchetta is as much about texture as it is flavour. I used to make the mistake of simply toasting the bread. But it often resulted in a dry, crumbly foundation for the topping — most of which ended up on my shirt. Now I make the extra effort to fry the bread so the center stays soft (and my laundry bills stay low). I find it equally important to meticulously chop everything to approximately the same size so that each spoonful of the topping contains an equal share of all ingredients. And lastly, a pinch of kosher salt just before serving adds a little explosion of saltiness as it hits the tongue.
1. Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over a moderate heat. Gently fry bread slices until golden on each side (but centers stay soft) and set aside.
2. Combine and mix the rest of the oil with tomatoes, scallions, green olives, basil leaves, vodka, vermouth and black pepper in a large bowl, cover and set aside.
3. When ready to serve, bruise the cloves of garlic (by giving them a whack with a rolling pin or flat side of a chef?s knife) and rub onto each toast. Discard garlic, add a spoonful of tomato mixture and a pinch of coarse salt to each toast, and lay onto a serving platter garnished with sprigs of basil.
For an extra kick, add 1-2 teaspoons of KGB Sauce(see page 124), or hot red pepper sauce to tomato mixture.

Makes 20-24

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Fresh French baguette — cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) slices
6 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2 small scallions (spring onions), finely chopped
4tablespoons green olives, finely chopped
40g (1.5oz) basil leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of vodka, or Basil Vodka(see page 146)
1 tablespoon vermouth
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or course sea salt
2-3 garlic cloves
Sprigs of basil to garnish platter