Cooks Corner

Pickle power: Tangy veggies give sandwiches a piquant crunch

Make these Asian-style pickled vegetables in just a few minutes.

Store in a non-reactive container — a glass jar, ceramic bowl with cover or sealable hard plastic — for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

I like to add them to a cold plate of sliced grilled meat or chicken, but they also add a piquant crunch to burgers or sausages. Traditionally, these perk up a Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.

You can add or subtract vegetables to suit your tastes but I like to stick with root vegetables with plenty of crunch — jicama, golden beets, turnips, carrots and celery all work well, but if you’ve got zucchini or squash to use up, try using a potato peeler to create thin strips to add to the mix. Find more quick pickling recipes at

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. I am hoping your readers will help me find a recipe I’ve lost for a spice cake made with pinto beans. It may sound crazy, but this was a prize-winning recipe I got at a country fair that celebrated pintos; we happened upon it on a road trip about 15 years ago. I made the cake over and over again because it was absolutely delicious. Then it disappeared in a move. The other ingredients included apples and walnuts.

Linda Taylor, Johnson City, Texas

Reader Question: Jimmy Stewart Barbecue

Q. Please, please help! My late sister-in-law used to make what she swore was Jimmy Stewart’s barbecue sauce in giant batches that she brought to our annual family reunion on Labor Day. We used it on grilled chicken, burgers, ribs or whatever.

No one ever got the recipe from her and our cookout just won’t be the same. I’d like to make this and put the recipe on “Remembering LouLou” cards to pass out. Do you know how I could track down this recipe?

Becky Fromm

A. I am hopelessly addicted to browsing old cookbooks at estate sales and thrift stores, and have a collection that threatens to take over my whole office. Among my quirkiest is a 1981 cookbook by Johna Blinn, who wrote a syndicated celebrity cooking column for years for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, appearing in more than 150 newspapers.

There are recipes in her Celebrity Cookbook for everyone from Walter Cronkite to Natalie Wood, Peter Max to Farrah Fawcett and hundreds more, coupled with fantastic caricatures. I found Jimmy Stewart’s Barbecue Sauce with pork spare ribs in the collection and hope it sparks fond memories for your family.

Cookbook Corner

This wonderfully easy Angry Sicilian Pasta is perfect for hot summer nights when you don’t want to do much cooking.

It’s from Michele Scicolone’s The Italian Vegetable Cookbook ($30, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a wonderfully inclusive collection of 200 recipes from Italian farmers, produce markets, chefs and her own grandparents for classic antipasti, soups, pasta, main dishes and desserts. Her recipes are uncomplicated but delicious, and include both classic and imaginative new Italian dishes.

The “angry” in the dish’s title refers to the inclusion of crushed red pepper, but frankly the little bit in the recipe does not provide much heat at all, and I added a lot more.

My grandfather, who emigrated to America from Italy at the turn of the 20th Century, made a version of this dish that added oil-cured black olives as well, and sometimes a bit of anchovy or a can of ceci, and I never knew him to use spearmint in any dish.

But that’s the beauty of this simple preparation — you can add or subtract at will to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.

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