Follow Jess on ‘The Road to What Matters’

Follow Jess’s culinary journey on The Road to What Matters- a culinary road trip from LA to San Francisco in partnership with Volvo, as she interviews Chefs, Winemakers and Industry Insiders along the way. Watch Here!




How to Throw a Summer Outdoor Dinner Party, Part 2: The Tablescape (& Video)

Studio 5 Video Segment

Now that the recipes are prepped, and ready to go, it’s time to build your beautiful outdoor dinner tablescape. The first step, and your best bet for super simple (and cheap!) decor, is to check around your home for your favorite serving items, vases, accessories, fabric / fabric remnants etc. Together, with some simple DIY projects (below) you can have a creative shabby chic tablescape in no time.

Get inspired by what you find, and pick a color palate. My theme came from the various pretty pink rose bushes in the yard, and from the fresh berries in the cobbler! Bonus: I had these vibrant teal blue linen napkins in my stash, and they were the perfect tie in for a pop of color.

Have a look outside around your neighborhood for some flowers and greenery that you can clip and use to adorn the table. A little bit of something fresh & lovely is key for any table. Once you’ve got a nice collection of some of your favorite accessory items, its time to put it all together.

A tip for assembling a beautiful table is to remember that layers create hierarchy. Table cloth (or not..), table runner and placemats create a nice base, and then you build up from there. Don’t be afraid to use a little height!

Watch the video here!

Learn the tricks of the table!


On to the projects….

Twine Vases: Save some jars from your favorite spaghetti sauce, olives, jam… you get the idea. Remove the labels and glue, and wash. Using a thick ball of twine, and a glue gun, press the end of twine into a dollop of hot glue somewhere around the center of the jar. Bring the twine up to the jar’s neck, and start to tightly wrap the twine around the jar. Add a spot of glue every so often, and work your way down. When you reach the bottom of the jar, finish with about an inch long line of glue. Cut the twine, and seal down any fray with a final touch of the glue.


Fabric Placemats: Cut sheets of cardboard into rectangles approximately 15″ x 9″. If you can’t get exact size pieces, that is OK. Using sturdy packing tape, you can affix 2 pieces together to create the size. Just make sure the tape is tight, and the cardboard pieces are both firm. Next, lay the cardboard onto a piece of fabric about about 2″ larger all around (17″ x 11″). Wrap the cardboard like a present, and hot glue the fabric down (make sure you make smooth, tight seams so that there are no loose gaps and bumps on the front of your placemat!).


Jar Lanterns: More jars! Save them up ahead of time… Wrap a piece of wire around the mouth of the jar, twist tightly and fashion a little wire handle. Pop in little LED candles, and hang from any place in the yard. WARNING: do not use real flame candles for hanging lanterns.


‘Chalkboard’ Placecards: For these you will need, cardstock, matte black spray paint, scissors and tape. Cut place cards into whatever size you like. I made these 3″x 5″ folded. Next, create a stencil for the outside border. The easiest option is to just cut a rectangle to the size of your place card and cut out an inside rectangle 0.5″- 1″ shorter, (ie: 2″x4″). This way, you will have a nice white boarder around the side of the card. Tape the stencil to the front of the card, and spray paint away. Allow to dry, and remove the stencil.

How to Throw a Summer Outdoor Dinner Party, Part 1: The Recipes!

The days are long, the air is fresh & sweet, and that back yard that you’ve put so much work into over the past spring weeks is just begging you to throw a party. One of my favorite ways to entertain is to bring the indoors-out by hosting an outdoor dinner party. A beautiful outdoor dinner soiree is easy to host, and here I’ve got three simple, summery recipes that are sure to impress. The best part? Each recipe only uses 5-6 ingredients!

Watch the video ‘How-To’ here!


Super Simple Dinner Party!

Watch Video


Balsamic Pork Chop, Apple Fennel Salad

Apple Fennel Salad

For Salad:

  • 1 bulb fennel, shaved or sliced thinly
  • 1 Granny Smith green apple, cored and sliced thinly
  • 6 cups spring mix greens
  • fresh goat cheese or goat cheese crumbles

In a large bowl, top the spring greens with fennel shavings, apple slices, and goat cheese crumbles. Toss with lemon-cider dressing.

For Dressing:

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs.  apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. sugar (if desired)

Place all ingredients in a jar with top screwed on tightly, and shake until combined.

Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops


  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash black pepper (if desired)
  • 4 – 6  pork chops, approx 1/2 in thick (1.5-2lbs.)


1. Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly

2. place chops in a gallon sized storage bag. Pour marinade over the pork, and seal tightly. Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.

3. Grill on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Remove from grill and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

Berry Oat Crumble


  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c plus 1 Tbs. sugar (set the 1 Tbs. aside)
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups berries, rinsed (your choice, if using strawberries, quarter them)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square baking dish.

2. In a bowl, mix the berries and 1 Tbs. sugar and toss well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, and sugar. Cut in butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly manually or with a mixer until crumbly.

4. Pour the berries into the greased baking dish, and cover with crumble topping.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until berries are bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Pesto 3 Ways: Recipes and Video

Lip Smackin' Good

Who doesn’t love pesto? Personally, I have never met someone who would challenge that question, and these three quick and fresh recipes could change any doubter’s mind. Since pesto freezes beautifully, it’s a great sauce to make ahead and keep on hand for a quick and delicious dinner any night of the week. Toss with your favorite pasta, veggies, or bake with chicken or pork for a great flavor boost.

Clockwise from Left: Spring Pea & Roasted Tomato Pesto, Classic Pesto, Spinach Mushroom Pesto

Tip: When freezing, just make sure to use an airtight container, and press some plastic wrap over the top before snapping on the lid. If extra air pockets get into the pesto it could cause some of the basil to oxidize and change color from its bright, pretty green.

Makin' Pesto on Studio 5! Watch Video here:

Click Here to watch the video!

Classic Basil Pesto

Yields 2 cups of Pesto

4 cups fresh basil leaves
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ c. pine nuts (I also like to use walnuts or toasted cashews)
½ lemon, juiced
¾ c. shredded parmesan cheese
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Classic Pesto

Add all ingredients to a food processor except for ¼ c. olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

Spinach Mushroom Pesto

Yields about 2 cups of Pesto

¼ lb. (4-5 good size) Brown Crimini mushrooms, Sliced and Roasted (see below for instructions)
Cooking spray
1 c. fresh basil leaves
3 c. fresh spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ lemon, juiced
¼ c. walnuts
¾ c. shredded parmesan cheese
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

To Roast Mushrooms:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the mushroom slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Mushrooms

For Pesto:

Add all ingredients, including roasted mushrooms, to a food processor except for ¼ c. olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

Spring Pea and Roasted Tomato Pesto

Yields about 2 cups of Pesto

½ pint of grape tomatoes, or 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and roasted (see below for roasting directions)
2 cloves garlic
12 oz. package of frozen peas, thawed (use fresh peas if available!)
½ lemon, juiced
¼ c. walnuts
½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

To Roast Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the tomato slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until shriveled and sizzling. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Tomatoes

For Pesto:

Add all ingredients, including roasted tomatoes, to a food processor except for half of the olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

'Sweet Escapes': Chocolatier Blue

When asked to contribute my favorite ‘Sweet Escape’ for a recent Studio 5 segment, the first thing that came to mind were the wonderful, artisanal chocolates of Chocolatier Blue. Chris Blue, the chocolatier behind it all, prides his work on the quality, ‘best of the best’, local and organic ingredients. He focuses wholly on each individual piece and tries to make each individual chocolate its own dessert entity. His unique combinations, and creative recipes make for a decadent treat.

The Chocolatier Blue segment is at time marker: 4:48. See the video here!

Shaved Asparagus Spring Pizza: Recipe & Video

Click here to watch video!

The latest recipe featured on Studio 5 was this yummy, fresh Spring Pizza. It is a great way to incorporate the first flavors of the season baked in a tasty crust. If you are a dough-making fiend, use your favorite recipe for pizza dough. If you are like me, and dough is the enemy, feel free to save a little time and buy some fresh made dough from your favorite pizza restaurant or market. For an added health benefit, use Skim or 1 % milk in the Bechamel sauce. The result will pack all the same flavor, without the added fat and calories.  Recipe below.

Spring Pizza with White Sauce


For Pizza
  • Bechamel sauce (see below)
  • 1 fresh pizza dough ball (can be store bought)
  • ½ bunch asparagus, shaved (about 8-10 stalks)
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chop the whites
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  • 1 Tbs. flour (for your hands to work the dough)
For Bechamel Sauce
  • 4 Tbs. Butter
  • 3 Tbs. Flour
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced)
  • 3 c. Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ c. Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To make one batch of béchamel sauce, heat butter in a sauce pan over medium heat until it is melted and frothy, but not browned. Add garlic. Stir in flour, and mix until roux consistency is smooth and granular (sandy), and has a tan-ish color (about 5-7 minutes). Meanwhile, heat milk in another small sauce pan over medium heat. When milk is warm to the touch (test a spoonful), gradually begin to add milk to the roux mixture while stirring the whole time to ensure a smooth sauce, and to avoid burning on the bottom. When all milk has been incorporated, stir in nutmeg. Add salt and stir in cheese. Remove from burner and set aside.

3.  Flour your hands, and begin to work the pizza dough. Toss the dough in your hands until it has become stretched and pliable, but avoid tearing. Spread dough on a baking sheet. You can create whatever shape you like for your pizza: round, rectangular, oblong… Roll the sides of the dough to form a crust around all edges.

4. Pre-bake dough for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add the spring onion whites, and sweat for 1-2 minutes. Add the asparagus shavings, and mix thoroughly with onions. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over the mixture, and add a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Sautee for an additional minute or two. Remove from heat.

6. Spread your desired amount of béchamel sauce over the pre-baked pizza crust. Add asparagus and onion as topping, and finish off by sprinkling a layer of Parmesan and Romano cheeses over the top of the veggies.

7. Bake pizza (uncovered) at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Use your judgment for when it’s done! The cheese should be bubbly, and the crust golden brown.

My Favorite Things – Give Away!

Have a look at this morning’s segment on KSL’s Studio 5! I had a blast sharing my favorite kitchen must haves as great holiday gift ideas for those on your list who love all things food.

Click here to watch the video!Also, my thanks to me friends at Le Creuset, Sur La Table, Global Knives and Shun Knives, I am happy to be able to host a give away of some of the items you see on the show! Just leave a comment anywhere on Shiso Fresh as to why you love to cook. Winners will be selected at random, and announced in a following blog post. Contest ends December 14 at 10 PM MST. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Make-your-own Holiday Gift Goodies

We did a great Studio 5 segment on tasty holiday treats that you can put into pretty packages and dole out to your friends and family as gifts! What’s a better way to spread holiday cheer than by sharing some comfort sweets?

Look here for recipes for Seasonal Granola, White Chocolate Mint Fudge, and Cinnamon Almond Butter.

Watch the show! Click here.