Saturday, January 24, 2009

Medieval Pies - Mushroom Onion Tarte

Everyone here may not be aware of it, but I've been active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) since 1997. I live in the Kingdom of Calontir.

To give you some background, when I was a kid I was a painfully picky eater. I mean if it wasn't white or sweet, I probably didn't eat it. However, when I joined the SCA my taste buds experienced some major culture shock. In the SCA, you learn to adapt or you starve. I adapted. In fact, there's a saying. If you go home from an SCA feast hungry, it's your own fault. Which means food is plentiful!

I'm very glad I learned to adapt because I've had some very good food. In fact, some I've sampled has been incredible. Of course there is still stuff I don't like and that's what the "gak" bowl is for. If you don't like it, put it in the "gak" bowl to be tossed later.

In Calontir, there are any number of truly extraordinary cooks. One of them is Mistress Catherine Anne Applebee. She redacts recipes and does all kinds of magical things with food. Today's recipe is MY version of one of her recipes. My version isn't period (which means they wouldn't have used these incredients in the Middle Ages, but I love it anyway).

Mushroom Onion Tart (a la Francesca)

I start with a pre-made pie crust and blind bake it at 425F until just done - don't brown it.

Next cook the following in a skillet:

Heat olive oil.

Then add:

1 medium to large sweet onion, diced.
1 pkg button or baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped. I leave off the stems.
salt and pepper to taste
minced garlic to taste
desired spices ** (more about these later)

Cook the entire tasty mess until tender and the onions are translucent. Let cool.

In a bowl mix:
3/4 c. sour cream
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 scant teaspoon nutmeg
minced garlic to taste (yes, I LIKE garlic)
1 T chives (or other herb**) to taste
1 8 oz. pkg of grated cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp or extra sharp)
salt and pepper

Mix together the sour cream, eggs, herbs, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Combine with the cooled mushroom and onion mixture. Add the cheese last. (Yes, I said nutmeg. It makes the dish. Really!)

Pour into the pie crust and bake for 20-30 minutes at 425F until set and lightly brown. The middle should NOT jiggle like Jello.

What emerges is a tart fit for a King. Queen. Lady. Or just me.

**Note: I discovered the most AMAZING ready to use herb...stuff. It is called Gourmet Garden Italian Seasoning Herb Blend. It squeezes like green toothpaste and looks less than appetizing but it smells like heaven! And it tastes like it too!


  1. Ok, that doesn't sound so bad :). We like mushrooms and garlic around here.

  2. It is a highly tasty pie. I make it for myself occasionally and enjoy it very much. It smells like heaven coming out of the oven too!

  3. I love the SCA. It's fun to hang out with friends. I've learned how to weave, make glass beads and any number of other cool things as a result of participating.

  4. Sounds yummy! And I LOVE garlic--and onions. Hated them as a kid, then fell in love in my 30's.

  5. Fun! The modern version sounds good in general... I made a medieval mushroom pie too ( you can see my version at )

    Something that's kind of interesting is that I guess the idea of 'mildly spiced' food, using herbs and onions and things, didn't really appear till the 17th century in Europe, and before that everything was more on par with curries or something -- heavily spiced foods. Even things like lasagne and macaroni were noodles with cheese and spice powders, not vegetably things. (I guess the 'plain' flavors were considered to be like poor person food?)

    As to your version, I think they did have soured cream to an extent in medieval times but it was rarely recommended for use...