'From the Harvest' recipes [Pictures]
Check out the recipes from our "From the Harvest" series, focusing on ingredients that are in season each week.
Mixed tomato cocktail with oregano & basil simple syrup( Photo and styling by John Houser III, Special to The Baltimore Sun / July 12, 2012 )
"Tomato water is a great ingredient," says John Reusing, owner of Bad Decisions in Fells Point. "Tons of flavor but blends well with a variety of spirits or beer. The reason you won't see tomato drinks at many places, even cocktail places, is because tomato water has a short shelf life, and most people are too scared to try a drink with it. However, if someone is making a tomato cocktail, [they should] give it a try; they might be surprised how great that flavors shine through." That is what this cocktail is based on. The herbaceousness of the tomato comes through in the water that is extracted through pureeing and straining. The flavors are balanced with syrup infused with oregano and basil, lemon juice and a combination of gin and vodka. It's a refreshing yet sturdy drink for a hot summer night. Substitute ginger beer for the vodka and gin for a teetotal version.
For the tomato water:
5 pounds mixed tomatoes, the more varieties the merrier
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the basil/oregano simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oregano
1/2 cup basil
For the cocktail:
4 ounces tomato water
1 ounces basil/oregano simple syrup
2 ounces gin (I used Hendricks)
1 ounce vodka (I used Skyy)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sprigs of rosemary and cherry tomatoes for garnish
To make the tomato water, puree the tomatoes (in batches) in a food processor. Pour into a strainer that is lined with four layers of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl or stock pot to drain. Every 30 minutes, squeeze the cheesecloth to get as much water out of the tomatoes as possible. After two hours, you should have about two quarts. Refrigerate the tomato water until needed.
To make the basil/oregano simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil and oregano. Let steep until cool. Strain.
To make the cocktail, combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until frothy (40 shakes) and strain over ice. Skewer a few cherry tomatoes with the sprig of rosemary and place into the drink for a garnish. Stir.
Tip: Mix the tomato solids left in the cheesecloth after making the tomato water with 1 stick of soft butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Use this tomato compound butter on thick country bread or as a sauce for noodles.