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Recipe by Cliff Pleau, culinary director, Seasons 52

Seasons 52

4505 La Jolla Village Drive Suite C-1, La Jolla

My earliest memory of wanting to be a chef was when I was about four years old. I was still sucking my thumb and my dad was pretty upset by this. One day he put Tabasco sauce on my thumb to deter me, but I loved it. I always look back to that moment as the start of my career.

Cooking appealed to me as both an alternative lifestyle and a career. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world and worked for great chefs. But making people happy with great food and drink and helping people celebrate living well is what I find to be ultimately gratifying.

It came to a point in my cooking where I realized that having a job in hospitality meant that I needed to be of service. This was right around the time I heard about the West Coast chefs Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. I threw out my classical traditions, let go of what I knew, and set out to seek what I didn’t know. I wanted to explore new culinary frontiers and innovations in California. I began to understand that being healthy is not just what you put into your mouth, but how you behave. I wanted to share these ideas with the people I feed.

When I’m not working, I visit our restaurants or eat at home and test recipes. I cook everything outdoors over a wood-burning charcoal fire and make simple things like fresh fish and herbs and salads. Cooking for family is so rewarding and enjoyable, never too fancy and it’s always healthy and delicious.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • 3 portobello mushroom caps, grilled or broiled and sliced
  • Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons truffle oil (divided use)
  • ½ cup grated four-cheese mix; parmesan cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella
  • 1 handful fresh organic spinach leaves (approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons garlic; chopped or minced, roasted or caramelized
  • 2/3 cup non-fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup Caesar dressing

How to do it

Wash the mushroom caps gently and scrape and discard the dark part. Brush the caps with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can grill or broil in your oven on the “broil” setting.

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare all ingredients for the flatbread and prepare dough by rolling it out until thin. Brush dough lightly with truffle oil. Sprinkle with ¼ cup four-cheese mix. Tear spinach leaves over the cheese. Layer thinly sliced grilled portobello mushrooms over spinach and sprinkle with roasted or caramelized chopped garlic. Top with remaining ¼ cup four-cheese mix.

Bake flatbread until crispy golden brown. Remove and cut. Garnish with a zig-zag of truffle sour cream, dispensed from a squeeze bottle.

For truffle sour cream:

Combine 6 ounces (2/3 cup) of non-fat sour cream and 6 ounces (2/3 cup) of bottled Caesar dressing with 1 to 2 tablespoons of truffle oil and whisk together in a small bowl.

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