Eat these now: Shishito Peppers

grilled shishito peppers


This mild pepper from Japan has become quite the culinary rage over the last handful of years.  I first had them as a snack in a benefit cooking master class for Slow Food NYC, and have been growing them in my garden ever since.

Shishito peppers are slender, bright green, and about the length of your index finger.  They are super flavorful yet mild, with about one in a dozen delivering a memorable amount of heat.  Consider it a party game.

I love serving a huge platter of grilled shishitos with cold cocktails at the start of a big summer dinner party.  Quick, easy, impressive, slightly unusual and pretty much universally adored--there should be no hesitation in adding these to the menu.  Padron peppers can be prepared and served the same way, but will be hotter in flavor overall.

We are in high shishito season right now, so keep an eye out at the market, and definitely grow your own next summer.

Grilled Shishito Peppers

Fresh Shishito Peppers
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Grilled shishitos always fly off the platter when I serve them.  Plan for at least 3-4 per person, if not many more.  

Wash the peppers and dry thoroughly.

In a large bowl, toss peppers with a generous pour of olive oil, until evenly coated.

Grill on high medium-heat until evenly blistered and slightly charred.

Remove peppers from grill and transfer directly to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with kosher or other coarse salt, and a very liberal squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Serve immediately with additional lemon wedges.

grilled shishito pepper tapas

Trick of the Trade: the Bottle Brush

bottle brush from pitchforkdiaries.com

Never had one of these in my life until I had a kid.  Should have had one decades earlier.

(this is the one I own.  A friend recently captioned a photo on facebook of the same one, titling it "Ziggy Starbrush")

My bottle brush sits in our dish rack right next to the sink.  It is there to, as stated, wash baby bottles.  But over the past 21 months, I have found myself reaching for it again and again for lots of hard-to-scrub objects that were once dreaded chores.

  • Champagne flutes!  Formerly I tried all methods of reaching to try to scrub some dried dust out of the very bottom of these slender vessels--including several hot, soapy paper towels wrapped methodically around a chopstick.

  • All wine glasses!

  • Blender!  My beloved Vita Prep is my single most favorite appliance ever owned, but does not have a removable bottom.  The bottle brush works perfectly.

  • Flower vases! Particularly long and slender ones.  Particularly if the flowers have been sitting in it for a week.

  • Mason jars!  (Any jars.)

These really should be marketed farer and wider than baby registry check-lists.

Any other brilliant uses you've come across?  Let me know in the comments.



Salad Dressing of the Week: Yogurt Blue Cheese
yogurt blue cheese dressing


This is a rich, luxurious, and even slightly healthier take on a classic blue cheese dressing.  It certainly marries beautifully with a big old bacon-scattered wedge salad, or as a spread on a tomato and wheat toast sandwich.  But also try it alongside grilled zucchini, eggplant, and even grilled peaches.

Blue cheeses tend to be pretty robust and on the salty side, so taste as you go and you may not need to add any additional salt at all.

Yogurt Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
by Catie Baumer Schwalb

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste, if needed at all

Whisk the olive oil into the yogurt to evenly combine.  Gently fold in the blue cheese.  Mash some of the cheese to distribute better throughout the dressing, leave some big chunks for great texture.

Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for an hour or two to chill.


Trick of the Trade: Pot Lid meets Corks

pot lid with corks from PitchforkDiaries.com

Most of our cookware have lids that are completely constructed of metal of some variety.  Especially the copper pieces.  They are my favorite to cook with, stellar conductors of heat, but OUCH if you grab the lid without thinking.

Above is the lid from our prized giant stock pot that forever sits on our stovetop, as it is so darn pretty.  A few years ago we were at a friend's for dinner who had the same one, and spotted this genius solution for the scalding handle or the annoyance of constantly searching for a pot holder.  Jam two corks from previously enjoyed wine bottles (we happened to be able to dig up a few), under the handle and problem solved.  The corks don't conduct any of the heat, and they even stay put through (hand) washing.

corks on a pot lid

Salad Dressing of the Week: Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
sesame ginger vinaigretteI love this dressing and use it all year long--but particularly in the summer over a bowl of fresh sliced cucumbers, or a batch of quick-blanched fresh broccoli or green beans, or sauteed greens, all from the garden.

Toasted sesame oil, one of my most favorite pantry staples ever, is widely available, but if you pick it up in an asian market or anywhere in Chinatown, it will be dollars cheaper per bottle.

By Catie Baumer Schwalb
Makes approximately ¼ cup

Rice Vinegar, 1 TBS
Garlic, ½ clove, crushed and finely chopped
Fresh Ginger, ½ tsp, grated
Toasted Sesame Oil, 3 TBS
Salt, to taste

Combine the vinegar, garlic and ginger in a bowl, and allow to sit for 10 minutes, to infuse the vinegar with the flavor of the garlic and ginger. Then, while whisking constantly, pour the sesame oil into the bowl in a slow, thin stream. Taste, and adjust salt.

Serve as a dressing for a green salad, tossed with cooked vegetables (green beans, broccoli, carrots, sautéed greens) or as a marinade for grilled meats.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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