Tomato Elixir and Parmesan Foam recipe by John Williams. The Ritz London

John Williams

John Williams

6th September 2018
John Williams

Tomato Elixir and Parmesan Foam recipe by John Williams. The Ritz London

Why an elixir? Because it’s magical. The tomatoes are not cooked, but macerated for a day before being puréed and transformed into a chilled, aromatic, semi-set jelly. This is layered with Parmesan cream foam just before serving. I remember the first time I saw the foam technique, way back at Claridge’s in the 1990s. A young French chef by the name of Emmanuel Renaut was in the midst of preparing some dishes for me to taste when, suddenly, he started whizzing up all sorts of ingredients. What was he doing? He made a foam of corn purée and cream – nothing else – and this he spooned over a jelly of crayfish. I tasted. It was fabulous. And suddenly the jelly took over. “Wow! Emmanuel, that’s
something else.” It was no surprise that he went on to open his own restaurant, Flocons de Sel, in the French Alps, where he won three Michelin stars. You’ll need an espuma gun to create a perfectly airy Parmesan foam.


  • Serves 6
  • Ingredients
  • For the tomato elixir jelly
  • 4kg (9lb) plum tomatoes (Miranda,
  • which is a baby Roma, is my favourite
  • variety for this dish; otherwise
  • Roma), finely chopped | 1 fennel
  • bulb, trimmed and finely chopped |
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped | 8 tbsp
  • chopped basil leaves | 4 tbsp chopped
  • coriander leaves | 300g (10½oz)
  • tomato ketchup | 5g (1 tsp) sea salt
  • flakes | 6 gelatine leaves
  • For the Parmesan foam
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) milk | 800g (1lb 12oz)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated | 3g (½ tsp)
  • xanthan gum | freshly grated nutmeg,
  • to taste | sea salt f lakes and pepper
  • For the tomato concasse
  • 100g (3½oz) ripe plum tomatoes
  • (we use Miranda) | 1½ tbsp chopped
  • basil leaves
  • To finish (optional)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chives | 2 tsp
  • micro basil leaves | 2 tsp bronze or
  • green fennel fronds | 2 tsp coriander
  • cress | 2 tsp fennel flowers


You will need
digital thermometer | espuma gun (or foam siphon)
Make the jelly
Place all the ingredients except the gelatine in a large bowl, mix well, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, blend the macerated mixture in a food processor or blender, then pass it through a chinois or fine-mesh sieve (we use a coffee filter) to make the elixir.
Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of iced water for 10 minutes to allow them to soften.
Fill a separate large bowl with plenty of ice.
Put a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to create a bain-marie. Pour 100ml (3½fl oz) of the tomato elixir into the bowl. Shake the excess water from the gelatine, add it to the bowl and stir with a balloon whisk until the gelatine has melted and is fully incorporated.
Pour the remaining elixir into a separate bowl. Place this on top of the bowl of ice. Pour in the heated elixir and stir slowly for a minute, trying not to create bubbles.
Pour into a flat-bottomed dish and leave it for about 20 minutes to semi-set (it will not become fully set). Keep it in the refrigerator until required.
Now the foam
In a saucepan, heat the milk to 80˚C (176˚F).
Add the grated Parmesan to the pan, stir well and remove from the heat.
Blend the milk and cheese mixture with a stick blender. Stir in the xanthan gum.
Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then pass through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside until you are ready to siphon it as a foam for the finished dish.
To make the concasse
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the tomatoes to the pan and when the water returns to the boil, leave the tomatoes for 20 seconds. Drain, then place them in a bowl of iced water for 10 minutes. Peel the skins from the tomatoes and remove the seeds.
Finely chop the tomato flesh, adding the basil toward the end.
Finish & serve
Divide the tomato concasse between soup bowls. Scatter in half of the chives, micro basil, fennel fronds and coriander cress or herbs of your choice. Spoon in the semiset jelly (it should be soft so it melts in the mouth on impact), but leave room for the foam.
Pour the Parmesan foam mixture into an espuma gun, then following the manufacturer’s instructions – fire away! – covering everything in the bowl with foam. Garnish with the fennel flowers and remaining herbs. Serve.

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