We had the pleasure of joining in on our American friend's Thanksgiving tradition again this year. Our contributions to the table were an unconscious echo of the green bean salad and pie we prepared previously. First, I chose Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new veganisation of the traditional green bean casserole.
To this uninitiated Aussie, it's far preferable to the traditional concoction of canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup. Moskowitz has us make our own tasty gravy of blended cashews, vege stock and nooch. It thickens to bind sauteed green beans, mushrooms and onions. For me, the only misfortune is that the mushrooms infuse the casserole with a dull grey-brown colour that's not exactly appetising. With my host's approval, I sprinkled the top with Malaysian fried shallots - their golden hue helped spruce things up.
For dessert, Michael and I teamed up to make our favourite apple pie. For the one vegan guest in the gang, I tried my hand at apple roses. I took my cues from Green Gourmet Giraffe. The construction was a little easier than I'd feared, but as Johanna had hinted they're tough to cook evenly. The apple petals darken and the pastry outer crisps long before the centre is cooked. My tartlets were pretty but too chewy, and in need of more jam.
And so we pulled off flavour without looks in one dish, and looks without flavour in another. Perhaps next Thanksgiving we can refine these recipes and see them reach their full potential.
Green bean casserole
(slightly adapted from a recipe at Isa Chandra)
1 cup raw cashews
3 cups stock
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
500g green beans
2 small onions
4 cups mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 cup fried shallots
salt & pepper
Place the cashews in a plastic container with a lid. Cover them with water and soak them for at least 2 hours, and ideally overnight.
Place the cashews in a blender with the stock, flour and yeast flakes. Blend them until they're completely smooth, adjusting the blend speed or switching it off periodically to scrape the sides, as needed.
Trim the beans and chop them into 4cm lengths. Slice the onions into loops. Slice the mushrooms into bite-sized flats.
Heat the olive oil in a large frypan. Add the beans and onion, sauteing them until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteing until they just start releasing water. Pour in the stock mixture from the blender, then sprinkle over salt and pepper. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray a large high-walled rectangular baking dish with oil. Pour the bean mixture into the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it's browned and bubbly. Sprinkle over the fried shallots.