One of my favorite dishes at The Pineapple Room at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville is their Shrimp and Grits. Fantastic! So when I saw Salud! at Whole Foods was offering a class on making this treat I jumped at the chance to learn.
It was a “Lunch Express” demonstration class – meaning you observe and ask questions but don’t actually cook the recipes. But at the end you are served everything demonstrated for lunch. How cool is that… kind of like sitting at a Chef’s table.
The menu for the day was, of course, Shrimp & Grits, and also Heirloom Tomato Tart and Summer Fruit Cobbler.
Since grits take a while to cook, Merijoy had started them earlier in the morning. (A tip was if your grits get too firm, add cream to them and stir.)
So the first recipe she did was the tomato tart.
She used plum tomatoes and pulled extra moisture out by resting them on paper towels (you don’t want your puff pastry to get soggy).
Didn’t it turn out pretty? It would be perfect to serve at a luncheon.
The grits recipe also had andouille sausage. This is a spicy Cajun sausage, so if you are not familiar with it, be careful when you pick your level of ‘hot’. Even the mild has kick… the poor woman next to me thought she was going to burn up! (Frankly I thought it was fine).
The sausage was browned first, and then the shrimp were quickly cooked in the leftover oil. From there the cream sauce was made and everything tossed back together.
The grits were plated and the shrimp and andouille mixture added on top. Yummy!
And we finished with a nice peach and nectarine cobbler.
(Whole Foods requests I not post the signature dish of the class, so here is the wonderful tomato tart. If you would like to take a class at Whole Foods check to see if they are available in your area at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/cookingclasses.php ).
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Unbleached all-purpose flour for work surface
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 heirloom plum tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup fresh basil, cut chiffonade
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust work surface with flour and unfold puff pastry onto work surface. Roll out the puff pastry to a 12X15 inch rectangle. From it, cut one 9X15 inch rectangle and three 1X15 inch strips (cutting one of those strips into two 1X7 inch strips). Place the rectangle on the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Brush all the pastry strips with the egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan evenly over shell. Use the strips around the edge of the rectangle to make a “frame”.
Bake 13 to 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350*F, continue to bake until light golden brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack; increase oven temperature to 425*F.
Combine garlic, olive oil and pinch each salt and pepper in small bowl; set aside.
While the shell bakes, place tomato slices in a single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.
Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over warm (or cool, if made ahead) baked shell. Shingle tomato slices widthwise on top of cheese; brush tomatoes with garlic oil.
Bake until shell is deep golden brown and cheese is melted, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes, sprinkle with basil, slide onto cutting board or serving platter, cut into pieces and serve.