Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Irresistible Mini Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Ricotta & Mozzarella
with
Roasted Butternut Squash, Agave Syrup, Fried Sage, Violas
and
Arugula, Toasted Hazelnuts, Hazelnut Oil, Borage

I just couldn’t put them away, not just yet. Those mini cast iron skillets in which I served Shrimp & Grits last week were still hanging out on the counter…ready for the next irresistible presentation.

Inspired by my borage plant which is thriving in January and my violas which are still hanging on (condolences to my Chicago peeps), I set out to make some really pretty little pizzas.

Borage Arugula Pizza

Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizza Recipes

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Crusted Ahi over Ponzu with Roasted Garlic Tahini

Togarashi Crusted Ahi over Ponzu with Roasted Garlic Tahini, Serrano, Kaffir Lime, Wasabi, Borage

Togarashi Furikake Crusted Ahi
Over Ponzu
Roasted Garlic Tahini Sauce
Garnished with Serrano, Kaffir Lime Shards, Wasabi, Borage

Choosing the right fish for your dish can have a positive impact on the marine environment and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium would like to help educate local consumers on this important topic. Today, FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosted its first Sustainable Seafood Expo, a fun and delicious way to sample new seafood dishes, wines and craft beers while learning how to make the best selections when dining out or cooking at home.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is one of 200 partners in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which produces pocket guides and a smart phone app recommending which seafood items are “best choices,” “good alternatives” or “avoid.”

sustainable seafood

Seafood Watch recommendations consider the fishery, habitat, species, management, and a host of factors that affect each species. The goal is to help sustain wild, diverse and healthy ocean ecosystems that will exist long into the future. Consumers are encouraged to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. (from Sustainable Seafood Expo press release)

yellowfin tuna

My “contribution” to the event is a recipe for sustainable Yellowfin (Ahi) Tuna, Pole Caught right here off our Pacific Coast.

Togarashi Crusted Ahi Recipe

Yellowfin tuna is found throughout most of the world’s oceans. Many types of gear are used to catch tuna. Not all yellowfin fisheries use ocean-friendly methods and some populations are overfished. Look for troll- or pole-caught yellowfin as the most sustainable option. (from SeafoodWatch here)

Crusted Ahi Recipe

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Wilson The Love Bug

One Eyed Boston Terrier
Wilson The Love Bug

Poor Wilson was brutally attacked by another dog, his eye severely damaged. And then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, his previous owners decided to dump him at a shelter. Boston Buddies (Southern California Boston Terrier Rescue) rescued Wilson, but their veterinarians were unable to save his eye. Yet, in spite of his bad experience, Wilson was a love bug.

After reading about Wilson on their website, I contacted Boston Buddies to say I was interested in him. I was told that he had already found his “forever home” and would be going there the next day. So, please, choose another dog. But I didn’t really have an interest in another dog, so I waited. A couple days later I got a call to say that his “forever home” had fallen through and could I meet him that day? I said that I was going to be out of town for the weekend and could take him on the following Monday. It turned out there was another family that wanted to take him that day, so he was placed with them. When I got home from the trip I received another call saying that Wilson did not get along with the other dogs in the home and did I still want him? YES! I WANT HIM! It sure seemed like we were meant to be together. That was in March of 2006, and he was three years old.

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One Leg of Lamb, Two Presentations

lamb tower ten ingredient

Roasted-then-Grilled Leg of Lamb Medallion
Soy Sauce-Olive Oil-Garlic Marinade, Cracked Pepper Crust

Minted Edamame Puree, Whole Wheat Couscous
Grilled Zucchini, Shiitake, Tomato

lamb au poirve

Roasted-then-Grilled Leg of Lamb Medallion
Soy Sauce-Olive Oil-Garlic Marinade, Cracked Pepper Crust

Minted Edamame Puree, Whole Wheat Couscous
Grilled Zucchini, Shiitake, Scallion

Nine ingredients remain the same. Only one ingredient varies – swap a grilled tomato for a grilled scallion to create two totally different presentations. We served these leg of lamb dishes as a test for the “Lean on Lamb” challenge to create healthy recipes for entertaining. The challenge is to cook a leg of lamb as the main-course for 8 people using no more than 10 ingredients (excluding salt & pepper) with a prep time of under 30 minutes.

After preparing 4 lamb dishes over several days, we decided on Leg of Lamb, Curry Quinoa Crust as the one to submit to the contest. That dish, served over Steamed Spinach with a Curried Heirloom Tomato Salsa with Mint and Avocado & Serrano Chile with Lime had it all – color, flavor, texture, balance plus the seasonal element. Though our Lamb Medallion Stack, Warm Anchovy-Pine Nut Vinaigrette with a Dijon Mustard Anchovy Crust, Polenta Cake, Spinach, Parsley, Tomato was pretty popular too, especially with that warm savory vinaigrette.

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Summer’s Chilled Soup ☆ STAR ☆

chilled summer soup for entertaining

Chilled Marcona Almond & Poblano Chile Soup with Sherry
Crab Salad Pillar with Avocado
Diced Watermelon, Feta and Mint
Borage Blossom Garnish

The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group hosted by Natasha the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is an outstanding monthly event for sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations. June’s summery theme is CHILLED SOUPS.

The chilled almond & chile soup has been a favorite here for over a decade – a STAR of a cold soup that’s hot, smoky, and nutty. If fact, I entered it in a contest at the Los Angeles County Fair years ago, and it won second place. I’ve updated the soup recipe, now using sweet Spanish Marcona almonds and dry Spanish sherry. The basic soup can be simply garnished with bay shrimp or a drizzle of Mexican crema and a few cilantro leaves. Or for entertaining, go all out and build the crab pillar, your guests will be delighted.

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Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage Blossoms

branzino, salmoriglio, ciao fiore

Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage Blossoms

Here we are on the sparkling azure Mediterranean. I’m in the cucina with Chefs Norma and Debi, cooking for opening day of our virtual ristorante Ciao Fiore! Norma is in the process making ricotta fresca for the extravagant antipasti tavola, and Debi is using sodium alginate and calcium chloride to craft the strawberry caviar which will top her lavender & mascarpone panna cotta as a part of the fabulous dessert course.

branzino, borage, salmoriglio, castelvetrano

My job is to execute the main course, and with the risotto already done, imagine my delight as the fishing boat pulled up to the dock, loaded with just-caught branzino! Fresh from the sea pan-seared fillets will be served with salmoriglio, a Sicilian fish sauce made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. For our grand opening, this particular version of the classic sauce will be enhanced with Meyer lemon confit, red chiles, cucumber, and Castelvetrano olives. Borage blossoms will finish the dish, with their sweet cucumber flavor accenting the sauce while their bright blue hue mirrors the sea.

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