Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
You might remember that I just posted this chef interview from our time spent with Chef Oringer on board Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam and during our Mediterranean cruise this past June. In addition to the interview, we ogled over his iPhone photos of foods and markets that he discovered in the Mediterranean.
While on board the ship as guest chef, Oringer conducted two cooking demonstrations in the Food & Wine’s Culinary Arts Center. One of these demos included a recipe for making clear tomato water that is literally the “essence of a fresh tomato”. He likes to serve this as a palate cleanser after cocktails and prior to dinner. However, you can also use this tomato water to create a Vodka Tomato Water Martini. With little coaxing, I did just that. Are you surprised?
Using the last of the season’s local tomatoes (just regular tomatoes, it is not necessary to use Heirloom tomatoes for this recipe), I prepared them according to the directions in this video of Chef Oringer.
I strained my tomato purée through very fine, damp cheesecloth and still had a small amount of tomato pulp. I strained it again to remove some of the residual color. If I had used more layers of cheesecloth and strained it one more time it would have been perfectly clear, but enough with the straining, it’s cocktail time.
I added Ketel One vodka to taste and did a quick shake in the cocktail shaker. I did not use ice in the shaker because it would dilute the tomato water. You can chill the glass with ice and water if you prefer a cold martini glass.
A little bit of chopped fennel and a few tomato pieces (or any other veggies you might like to use) and you have a festive drink that is an ideal companion to your Sunday brunch.
Clear tomato water can also be used to make an updated Bloody Mary (as Chef Oringer suggests). Accented with celery and seasoned with Tabasco or other favorites, this drink will be a fresh take on a traditional favorite and will impress your guests.
* Photograph courtesy of Clio Restaurant
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Clear Tomato Martini
Yield: 2 Martinis
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Use a dampened cheesecloth or kitchen towel to strain the tomato purée and let it strain overnight in the refrigerator. I used approximately 1 1/2 pounds of ripe tomatoes. This yielded about 8 ounces of clear tomato water.
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered (or if using smaller ones, halved or whole)
Chopped tomatoes, diced jicama, halved cherry tomatoes, and torn fresh basil, for garnish
Vodka, if desired
1. Wash and quarter tomatoes. Place in a food processor, add salt (quite a bit to extract the juices from the tomatoes) and purée until the mixture is pink and the consistency of a frappé.
2. Place the mixture in a colander that has been lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth or a dampened kitchen towel and place over a bowl. Let the mixture strain overnight.
3. For a palate cleanser - Pour into martini glasses and garnish with fresh vegetables and basil. Alternatively, shake the clear tomato water with vodka to taste and pour into martini glasses and serve as a cocktail with garnishes, as desired.
Chef Ken Oringer