Mushroom Pasties

Mushrooms of one night are best, if they are small, red inside and closed at the top, and they should be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled, and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and
spice powder. The Goodman of Paris (trans. Eileen Power)

This is probably the first medieval recipe I ever cooked, with the newly formed Mordenvale Company of Cooks (though we didn’t have a name at that point), using the recipe in Maggie Black’s Medieval Cookbook, except we varied the amount of cheese. Since then I’ve cooked it many times, because it provides a great vegetarian option that can be made vegan easily, and non-vegetarians tend to love it too.

One of the great frustrations with medieval recipes is ingredients like “spice powder.” What spices?! It is probable that each medieval cook had their own preferred blends. Maggie Black suggests mustard and pepper, which is delicious and what I use most often when I make these. However, it is probably not what the Goodman intended, and he does have another recipe for “spice powder.”

Item,take half a quarter of clove wood, called stem of cloves, half a quarter of cinnamon, half a quarter of pepper, half a quarter of ginger, half a quarter of nutmeg, half a quarter of grain of paradise, and reduce them all to powder.

I would suggest a 1/4 tsp each of cloves, pepper and grains of paradise, and a 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and ginger to create the spice powder.

Ingredients

1 quantity fair paste 30mL extra virgin olive oil
500g button mushrooms 1 tsp Goodman’s spice powder
125g cheese (choose your favourite type)

Method

  1. Chop the mushrooms finely and soak in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Then drain them well.
  2. Grate or crumble the cheese through the mushrooms, then add the oil and spice powder, and salt to taste, and mix well.
  3. Roll out the fair paste to around 3 mm thick, and cut into 6 square shapes.
  4. Spoon a portion of the mushroom mix into the centre of each paste square, and brush the edges with water or egg to help the edges stick.
  5. Press the edges of the fair paste together well, ensuring there are no breaks in the pastry or the edges.
  6. Put the pasties on a lined baking tray, and bake in a 200°C oven for around 15 minutes, or until they are golden and smelling yummy.
  7. Serve hot or cold.

Notes

  • Grains of Paradise, or Melegueta pepper, is native to west Africa, and became very fashionable in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However it had fallen out of fashion by the sixteenth century. You can find it from specialist spice merchants.
  • If possible, buy your spices whole and grate or grind them together – you will get a lot more potency from your spices.
  • Maggie Black’s recipe uses mustard and pepper. It is a very tasty combination, and the Goodman did love mustard, however the spice powder described above is probably what he meant.
  • If the mushrooms are small and young enough, it’s not necessary to peel the mushrooms or remove the stems, unless you’ve gathered them from the wild and you don’t know what’s happened to them.
  • Terrence Scully (2002, 97) suggests it’s not necessary to parboil the mushrooms; however once when I made them I forgot and the mushrooms were unpleasantly leathery in the final pasty.

Mushroom pasties

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.

Anon., trans. Eileen Power. The Goodman of Paris.

Black, Maggie (2012). The Medieval Cookbook.

Scully, D.Eleanor and Scully, Terence. Early French Cookery.

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