I have taken a number of cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma from a wonderful teacher, Linda Steidel. I look forward to her classes, not only for the recipes, but to watch her cooking techniques and see what equipment she is using. The thing about cooking teachers is they have to get everything prepared and cooked within a certain time limit, so they have to be as efficient as possible. Linda is the epitome of efficient. She has economy of motion and a less-is-more style that I find fascinating to watch.
And now Linda has a new book coming out called For Every Season There Is a Salad. She worked on it for a year, creating the 100 recipes, doing the food styling and assisting the photographer. On top of everything else she does, I think she must be Super Woman. I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy so I can tell you all about it.
EXTRA! EXTRA! April 27,2010. Linda’s Book has been released! Find out more about it and see photos here.
Oh, and did I say she is calm. The night of the class when she did this Corn Bread Tartlet, there was also a Lobster Pot Pie on the menu. Linda was making the pie dough in a food processor provided by the store and half way through it stopped working. The poor store employee assisting Linda was horrified and kept trying, unsuccessfully, to open the processor and turn it back on. Finally, Linda stopped her, and calmly said it didn’t matter, she would just finish it by hand. Which she did. Calm.
Also on the menu at this class were a beautiful Peach, Mozzarella, Fennel and Prosciutto Salad and a Nectarine-Raspberry Crisp. Linda always makes her food look really beautiful, as you can see from these photographs I took. I used my Sony point and shoot camera and Linda was very gracious about stopping the show to let me get these shots.
Linda has been teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma for fifteen years at their various stores in Southern California. She teaches custom designed classes in private homes for friends celebrating birthdays and special occasions, and has worked with such well-known culinary figures as Jo Bettoja in Italy, Anne Willan at La Varenne, New York’s Peter Kump and experts at the CIA at Greystone. She has also led her students on culinary trips to Provence, Burgundy, Tuscany, Tahiti, Africa and Mexico. You can check out her website at LindaSteidel.com. She has a new thing called The Underground Restaurant that could be very interesting.
These little Corn Bread Tartlets are not only cute, but they make a wonderful appetizer. The corn bread muffin is sweet and crunchy, along with the creamy ricotta cheese and the zing of the tomatoes. I love the way they look. Linda set them out on a cake platter with a pedestal and I could just imagine them on my buffet table. In fact I went home and made them the next day. I hope you give them a try, too.
Corn Bread Tartlets with Ricotta & Tomato
Makes 2 Dozen Tartlets
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose four
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups red and yellow tomatoes, halved, seeded, 1/4-inch dice
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground pepper
¾ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
Basil thinly sliced for garnish.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter two 12-cup mini-muffin pans.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. In another bowl, whisk the milk with the egg and melted butter.
5. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix.
6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them halfway. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
7. After dicing the tomatoes, wrap in paper towels to absorb the moisture.
8. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, Parmesan, basil, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
9. In a small bowl, season the ricotta with salt and pepper.
10. Using a small serrated knife, slice off the domed tops of the muffins. Slice off a small part of the rounded dome to make a stable base, if necessary
11. Top the cut side of the muffins with the ricotta, about a teaspoon of the tomato mixture and garnish with the thinly sliced basil.