My friend and I had the pleasure of dining at New York City’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park the other day (stay tuned: review to follow)! The experience elevated cuisine and the dining experience to a whole new level. One of the most unique and enjoyable taste sensations we experienced was something called Tomato Tea. It seemed like a sort of consommé and spiced/herbal tea combined. The aroma was that of mulling spices or apple cider, the taste was more savory. I may want to trade in my standard chicken soup next time I have a cold for this–or better yet, why wait to be under the weather? Enjoy this light, flavorful treat now! Note: Recipe below is courtesy of Eleven Madison Park. The Tomato Water used in the recipe is adapted for use by Fred Bollaci–Tomato Water is a popular replacement for chicken stock in vegetarian or vegan recipes, and when used in place of broth or stock in making Risotto, will produce a delicious, tomato-infused dish, that is not the least bit “red” in color.
2 L Tomato Water
18 G lemon verbena
14 G lemon thyme
6 EA juniper berries
4 EA black peppercorns
2 EA star anise
Salt to taste
Reduce Tomato Water by half (cook it down over medium-low heat). Toast the juniper, black peppercorn, and star anise until fragrant (can use oven or toaster, do not burn). When the tomato water is reduced and flavorful, bring the temperature to 180 degrees F. Add the toasted spices, lemon thyme, and lemon verbena. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through an apron and serve like a consommé or in a cup like tea.
TOMATO WATER (adapted for use in this recipe by Fred Bollaci)
4 pounds vine-ripened red tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 medium shallots
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Large sieve set and non-reactive bowl
two 18-inch-square pieces cheesecloth
Rinse tomatoes well under running water, dry, and quarter. Peel and dice the shallots, rinse basil, remove most of stems, tear leaves into pieces. In a food processor purée tomatoes with basil, shallot, salt, and vinegar until smooth. Line a large sieve set over a tall nonreactive bowl with cheesecloth and carefully pour the tomato purée into the center of cheesecloth. Gather sides of cheesecloth up over purée to form a large sack and, carefully tie neck of the sack securely with kitchen string. Tie the sack to a wooden spoon longer than diameter of kettle and remove sieve. Put spoon across top of kettle, suspending sack inside kettle and leaving enough room underneath sack so that it will not sit in tomato water that accumulates. Let sack hang in refrigerator at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a sieve, at the end of the 8 hours, press remaining tomatoes to extract all liquid, then filter the Tomato Water before using.
Without squeezing sack, discard it and its contents and transfer tomato water to a bowl. Tomato water keeps, covered and chilled up to 3 days.