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Dear Chef,

I am a vegetarian and I try to be very health conscious, eating mainly non-processed foods. For Thanksgiving, I’m planning a big meal and I asked my mother, who is from New Orleans, for some recipes. She sent me this recipe, which she made once in a while at home as is incredibly delicious.

Looking at the recipe, I was frightened by the list of ingredients, which includes Kraft Garlic Cheese (use Velveeta & garlic salt if unavailable) and Salad Supreme spice mix. I was hoping someone could offer fresher, less processed substitutes for this recipe because somehow the result is incredibly delicious!

8 ounce can of mushroom pieces
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 stick butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 roll (6 ounces) Kraft Garlic Cheese (use Velveeta & garlic salt if unavailable)
Salad Supreme (purchase in the spice aisle)
1 box of frozen chopped broccoli
Saute onion in butter. Cook broccoli, drain and chop fine. Add remaining ingredients to onion and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or French bread sliced into small rounds.

Claudia from Cambridge, Massachusetts

What a great question! Your mother’s recipe is a variation on green bean casserole. The base of the casserole is a veloute sauce, which is replaced by cream of mushroom soup. The beans are replaced by broccoli. Cheese is optional in this dish; I suggest grating sharp cheddar on top of the casserole before baking. I don’t know “salad supreme,” but a well-seasoned veloute does not need more spice. Here is my version of this recipe:

Green Bean Casserole
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (button and/or shiitake mushrooms)
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
¼ cup dry sherry wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried porcini powder (optional, but intensifies the mushroom taste)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
hot red pepper flakes to taste, if desired
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and blanched (or broccoli crowns)

In a large saute pan, heat the butter and saute the onions and mushrooms on medium-high heat until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms and onions are well-browned. Add the garlic. Add the flour and stir to dissolve. Add the sherry and reduce by half. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add cream and porcini powder, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To blanch the beans, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the beans until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes, then chill in an ice-water bath. Put the beans in a baking dish and fold in the sauce. Bake until hot, about 20 minutes at 350.

If desired, deep-fry onion or shallot or leeks slices and place on top of the casserole for a crunchy topping.