The Shakers were a pious, communal religious sect which broke off from the Quakers and thrived in 19th Century America. They are most often remembered for their well-designed, functional and superbly-crafted furniture, but I’ve come to appreciate that they were exceptional farmers, gardeners and cooks as well. There’s ample evidence of this in the 900 recipes collected in “The Best of Shaker Cooking,” which served as inspiration for this menu. The meal started with a barley and vegetable soup accompanied by whole wheat rosemary biscuits. I hoped to convey the Shakers sense of honestly, quality and simplicity in the main course, pictured above. The main event is a rice croquette which was made of short grain brown rice
cooked with a bit more water so it would be sticky and thereby easily shaped into croquettes. To the rice we added sautéed onions, garlic, shredded carrot and celery and chopped parsley with umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce and salt as seasonings. We formed them into patties and pan-fried them in canola oil. The sauce is a vegan mayonnaise made of soft tofu, vegennaise, capers, parsley and watercress combined in a food processor and seasoned with umeboshi vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. The baked beans follow a Shaker recipe more closely. To save time, I first cooked the navy beans, then added a sauce which consisted of onions and garlic, organic catsup, mustard, molasses, apple juice and a little olive oil and salt and pepper. The sauce and beans were then baked together for about 45 minutes. The carrots were blanched, then given a light glaze of olive oil, maple syrup, salt and dried herbs, then roasted and sprinkled generously with parsley before serving. Finally, red and green cabbages were thinly sliced and dressed separately with fresh lemon and orange juices, apple juice concentrate, salt and pepper. Simple, light and refreshing. Dessert for the evening was the gingerbread cake with caramel sauce described in a previous post.