Snow in Arizona 1998, oil on canvas, 30 x 22 inches (Hilary and Mimi)
On a cold Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple hours preparing beets, carrots, peppers, seeds, nuts and quinoa. We had a busy week ahead with meetings and social events that would limit my cooking time so I prepared several small dishes to have on hand. With jars and pots of side dishes in my fresh pantry I will have delicious tidbits to add to our meals.
I have made these marinated carrots for many years since discovering the recipe in a British cooking calendar. They are the perfect accompaniment to a sandwich.
Cut 5-8 peeled carrots into chunky matchsticks about 1/4 inch across and any length.
Place them in a large skillet and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for just a minute or two, long enough to slightly soften them. Drain and toss with a mustardy vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Store in a jar in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving. Top with minced green onions or chives and some chopped dill. (I used my dried dill.)
Next I steamed yellow beets until tender, peeled them, cut into batons and tossed with a bit of olive oil. I stored these in the fridge, ready to add to a salad, or dress with lemon and anise seed for a lovely condiment alongside a sandwich.
We had some of them to accompany our Sunday soup, tossed with arugula, pistachios and crumbled goat cheese.
On to the red peppers. I roasted them over the flame on my gas range, peeled them, and cut into strips. Stored in a jar with some crushed garlic and olive oil, they are ready to add to a grilled cheese sandwich or a quinoa salad.
Like these grilled cheese sandwiches made with a smear of chipotle puree, roasted red peppers, cilantro leaves, Mexican quesadilla cheese and Catamount cheese.
I like to have jars of toasted nuts and seeds on hand to add to a salad or to snack on before dinner.
Toast a cup of sunflower or pumpkin seeds in the toaster oven at 300° or in a dry heavy skillet until fragrant, don’t let them burn. Have ready a bowl with a teaspoon of shoyu or tamari. Toss the hot seeds in the sauce. They will sizzle a bit. Let cool. If there is excess shoyu, drain on a paper towel. These have just the right amount of saltiness.
With my pre-cooked quinoa I made a salad. I combined 2 cups of the cooked grain with this vinaigrette: the juice of a lime, 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin, a big pinch of hot red pepper flakes, salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil. I added 2 tablespoons of dried currants, chopped roasted red pepper and a handful of picked cilantro. Other vegetables you might include are cucumber, fennel, green onions, cherry tomatoes and avocado.
Finally, I had a yen for gingersnaps. They seemed a good match with apples or tangerines for a touch of sweetness after studio lunches this week. The recipe comes from Marion Cunningham, but I have altered it some. I make this dough in my Cuisinart but it is easy to make by hand.
Cream together 6 tablespoons butter, 3/8 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Add 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses and 1 large egg. Then stir in 2 cups unbleached flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sometimes I add finely chopped fresh ginger or some crystallized ginger cut into tiny pieces.
Shape into walnut-sized balls, roll in turbinado sugar and place 2 inches apart on a parchment covered or greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes.
My Sunday work done, I couldn’t resist a taste.