Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
FZG3mkG-show-poster2x3-nOossfs.png

SoCal Update

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
MZihTLV-show-poster2x3-5CKaGu8.jpg

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Cooking from the World Pantry: Blistered Shishito Pepper and Soft Cheese Toasts

Support Provided By
Blistered Shishito Pepper and Soft Cheese Toasts
Photo by: Maria Zizka

Summer entertaining should be easy and mellow. I love having friends over throughout the year, but there’s something especially wonderful about cooking during the summer. It’s impossible not to be inspired when shopping for ingredients: plump tomatoes look so ripe they might burst, peaches and plums pile up, and fresh basil is sold in bunches as big as bouquets of flowers. When you get home, there’s not much that’s needed to be done in the kitchen. The tomatoes are sliced, sprinkled with salt, and maybe drizzled with olive oil. The basil leaves get torn. The peaches and plums are perfect just as they are. It may be considered the cliché of California cooking, but I’ll always take a beautiful, juicy peach over one that’s been cooked, overly handled, or otherwise messed with.

During summer, I even like to take this hands-off approach to cooking one step further. I leave the final step of assembling a dish to my guests. For a sushi meal, I’ll steam the rice and slice the vegetables and fish, then set everything out on a platter and let my friends roll their own sushi. On a particularly hot day, I’ll gently poach shrimp, squid, cod, and scallops, chill the seafood in the refrigerator, and serve it hours later with garlicky aioli and undressed arugula, letting our guests put together a plate of exactly what they want. The time not spent cooking over a hot stove turns into more time around the table with people I love.

There are plenty of no-fuss appetizers: a small bowl of olives, sweet-and-salty mixed nuts, sliced prosciutto and ripe fruit, a cheese platter. If you’re looking for a first course that fits this summer-style cooking and is a little special, try shishito peppers fried in a pan until blistered in a few spots. Sprinkled with flaky salt, they are as addictive as potato chips and they pair exceptionally well with ice-cold beer.

You may have seen shishito peppers in farmers markets and Asian grocery stores around town. The petite green peppers are easy to come by in the summer months, and they’ve become so popular that Trader Joe’s now sells them pre-bagged.

Most shishito peppers are mild and sweet, with nearly the same level of heat as a bell pepper, but occasionally a rogue one will be fiery enough to surprise you. There’s no way of knowing which pepper that will be. You can count on one spicy shishito in every handful or so. This quality only makes shishito peppers all the more fun to enjoy during summertime.

Blistered Shishito Pepper and Soft Cheese Toasts

If you come across Padrón peppers, they are very similar to shishitos and can definitely be substituted in this recipe.

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

6 to 8 slices country-style bread
1 garlic clove, halved
1 cup fresh, soft cheese (such as farmers cheese, ricotta, or mild goat cheese)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound shishito peppers
Flaky sea salt

Toast the bread (in a toaster, under the broiler, or on a grill) and immediately rub each piece with the garlic.

In a bowl, stir together the soft cheese, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the peppers and stir to coat them in the oil. Cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and turn the peppers. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until blistered in a few spots.

Transfer the peppers to a platter and sprinkle generously with flaky salt. Serve promptly, with the toast and cheese alongside, letting your guests spread the cheese across the toast and top with peppers as they please. (The pepper stems are too fibrous to eat; set a small bowl on the table for tossing the stems.)

Support Provided By
Read More
An asymmetrical ceramic dish holds a small, bite-sized piece of white steamed fish sitting in a thin, broth-y sauce. The fish is topped with a fine green powder. Additionally, someone is pouring more of the sauce from a small ceramic container.

Michelin Star Chef Finds Confidence in the Flavors of His Taiwanese Upbringing

Los Angeles' Kato Restaurant, where the dishes are edible mnemonic devices for Asian Americans, is an homage to Chef Jon Yao's Taiwanese heritage.
A coloring page created by the Los Angeles Public Library's Octavia Lab. An illustration of Manuela C. García sitting next to a phonograph. Behind her is a faint sheet music background.

Manuela C. García, the Voice Behind a Treasure Trove of Old Mexican Songs

Born in Los Angeles in the late 1860s, Manuela C. García is the voice behind over 100 songs in Charles Lummis' recordings of Southwest musical heritage. Known mostly by historians specializing in 19th-century Mexican American music, her voice connects California's present musical history with its past.
A sign for Pine Ave Pier in Long Beach, California.

Where to Explore L.A.'s Most Fascinating Piers, Both Past and Present

As Los Angeles heads into the summer, find some time to see this historical piers and beaches across the county.