Blistered Shishito Peppers

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Hot dogs, check. Icy beer, check. Pie, check. Burgers, potato salad, corn. Check. Check. Check.

You probably have most of the bases covered for your next cookout spread but if you’re looking for something unexpected that will win over as many hearts as that bowl of chips, look to blistered shishito peppers.

Platters of these charred peppers have become popular at restaurants, but they’re way easy to make at home and are an excellent start to a meal. The hardest part may be finding shishitos near you. Typically they are picked when still green, and that’s how you’ll find them at the grocery store. (Locally, Trader Joe’s carries them.)

These Japanese peppers are about 4 inches long and wrinkly, like they’ve been out in the sun a bit too long. Shishitos are mild and crowd-pleasing peppers, though it is said that every once in a while you bite into a hot one in the bunch. The numbers I’ve heard for this game of culinary roulette are one hot one for every 10. This keeps things exciting, but just so you know, I’ve bitten into a hot shishito, and it’s not exactly fireworks in your mouth. You’ll be okay.

Shishito Peppers

Shishito peppers don’t need much to shine, just a bit of high heat and a big pinch of flaky salt. And like salty potato chips, you’ll always want to reach for one more. Continue reading  continue reading

Chickpea Chorizo Wrap

Chickpea Chorizo Wrap

I was in the middle seat, which is not where anyone wants to be on a packed plane. Especially on a flight from California to Florida.

But in my hands I cradled a fresh chicken and pesto sandwich from Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. I bet the guy sitting next to me would give up that window seat for a bite.

As I ate, I delighted in the fresh flavors of herbs and vegetables, and thought: It should always be like this. However you travel, a prepacked meal or snack makes the journey much more comfortable and delicious. If a summer road trip is in your future, eating well should be as important as getting an early start on the highway. Packing or picking up food before hitting the road is a good idea whether it’s just you or the whole family, so no one gets hangry.

Chickpea Chorizo Wrap Continue reading  continue reading

Postcard from D.C.

Pasta at Red Hen

“The best thing on the menu is the rigatoni.”

Four of us were tucked into a corner of The Red Hen, a popular restaurant in D.C. right now, at a table our friends Leanna and Drew reserved a month ago. The menu was concise but everything sounded tempting, so we turned to our server for guidance. With no hesitation, she said the rigatoni was the best thing on the menu. Two bottles of wine, two starters, five entrees, one dessert, and four after-dinner coffees later, we all seemed to agree that, yes, the rigatoni was the best. The rigatoni came with a fennel sausage ragù and is the kind of meal you want to eat, always.

In that picture, the rigatoni is up on the left. You can tell because there are two forks digging in to that bowl. After our server made such a declaration, who would be the one to order the rigatoni? Instead, the four of us ordered our own entrees, and we asked for one order of rigatoni for the table.

This is not to say we didn’t love the rest of the meal. There was a lot to love.

To start, we ordered the beef tongue with crispy potato rosti. I’ve eaten tongue before, but never before has it melted in my mouth. The meat was so tender I would not have guessed it was tongue. And it came with chimichurri placed against horseradish cream — a surprising and awesome combination.

We tried orange wine. We shared ricotta crostini with brown butter and truffle honey (delicious, but comes with a surprisingly thin layer of ricotta; you say whipped ricotta, I’m thinking a lofty spread of cheese). We capped off the dinner with bread pudding, four spoons, and espressos for Leanna and me, and coffees for Danny and Drew. Full bellies. Happy hearts.



Sangria at Jaleo Continue reading  continue reading

Five Things


MONDAY. Hope you all had a great weekend celebrating mom and, well, doing your best weekending. Danny’s mom, Kathy, stayed with us this weekend so we brunched and tried a few new-to-us restaurants that I believe are going to become new favorites. I did not do much cooking. I have a saucy chicken dinner that will be making the weeknight and small dinner party rounds at our house coming to a post near you, but til then, I have some links to share with you.

(1) This roundup of thoughts from 25 famous women on female friendships. Hint: they’re the best.

(2) You probably already follow A Cup of Jo, but I’ll mention her here just in case. I really enjoy the content on her lifestyle blog, and she has such a following that sometimes it’s fun just to read through the comments, especially on posts with simple questions. I love her Motherhood Around the World series (it’s fascinating!) and recently I loved this post: 12 Relationship Tips From a Wedding Reporter. This is spot on:

The question to ask before getting married: At the end of the day, marriage is about asking, “Who do you want to sit next to on the couch?” There is so much time on the couch. Who do you want to be next to when you’re sick or feeling down or just want to watch bad reality TV? If you can find that person, then you’ve found something worth hanging on to.

(3) Girl crushing on: Chrissy Teigen.

(4) The best way to store fresh herbs is important information that I’m always wondering about when grabbing a bunch of parsley or rosemary. Now I know why that basil I placed in a jar wilted so quickly! Thanks, Serious Eats, for taking the guesswork out of this.

(5) My Abuelita (pictured above) schooling us on how to work a bar at wedding. Her tip this wedding season? Order a drink for each hand.

Society for News Design Award of Excellence: My Cauliflower Cover!

Cauliflower cover story

My cauliflower cover won an Award of Excellence from the Society for News Design! Say WHAT.

Besides my regular column for the Tampa Bay Times Taste section, I occasionally contribute other features as well. Last spring I turned in a cover story + recipes + photos for a trend story I pitched on the now ubiquitous cauliflower.

I was especially excited about my vision for the cover photo: a moody and sorta sexy cauliflower. The whole point of the story was that cauliflower was having its moment. This versatile vegetable was no bland wallflower anymore, and I wanted the cover photo to convey that. I loved the nearly black and white contrast and the focus on the cauli, especially with recipes that roast the vegetable whole becoming so popular. And of course, I loved the Times’s design and type for the headline. I’m so glad SND loved it, too!

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