This is a hybridized version of a shepherd’s pie, such as might be concocted by three latter-day wise men from the Orient, their pockets filled with Eastern spices. Inspired by Simon Rimmer’s Oriental Pie recipe, it has been adapted by Melanie Stewart, our Postgraduate Course Manager, who happily includes shiitakes from our garden in the chunky mushroom brew.
Melanie is a multi-talented lady who seasons her life with astrology, reflexology and music, as well as having a great flair for administration. Schumacher College attracts polymaths of all varieties – and these delightful people often stay at the College longer than originally intended, enjoying its wealth of ideas, teamwork and ‘gold’ measured in moments, not money. As Melanie herself said, “Where else could you find a job that involves cooking with interesting people from all over the world one moment, and performing Schubert’s Impromptu No 1 on a grand piano that’s built like a top racehorse the next?”
375g (13oz) large open mushrooms, halved
(preferably field mushrooms or portabellos)
100g (4oz) shiitakes, or more of the above
8 spring onions (1 bunch) or 2 small leeks
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp root ginger ‘matchsticks’, freshly sliced
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise, crushed seeds only
75ml (2½fl oz / 1/3 cup) tamari or soy sauce
100ml (3½fl oz / ½ cup) vegetable stock
80g (3oz / ½ cup) dried cannellini (or other) beans
or 200g (7oz / 1 cup) cooked
A little olive or sunflower oil to sauté
375g (13oz) potatoes
375g (13oz) celeriac or sweet potatoes
50g (2oz / ½ stick) butter (or margarine for dairy-free diets) approx. 50ml (2fl oz / 1/4 cup) milk (or soya milk or water) 2 tbsp cream (or soya cream)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 pinches salt and black pepper to taste
- If using dried cannellini beans, they should be soaked in three times their depth of cold water overnight. Next day, drain and refresh the water so that it covers the beans by three fingers’ width. Bring to the boil and simmer until just tender but not mushy (45-60 minutes).
- Scrub the potatoes and celeriac or sweet potatoes. Cut into large chunks and cook together in salted boiling water, until soft.
- Prepare the mushrooms and spices. If using shiitakes alongside the open mushrooms, quarter or cut into thick strips – they are a bit tougher than the ordinary mushrooms, so need to be cut smaller.
- Trim the roots of the spring onions (or leeks) and remove any dry or tatty-looking leaves. Fry them whole in a little oil until they wilt. (If using leeks, divide into 8cm / 3″-long ‘logs’ and quarter these lengthways before frying.) All the mushrooms can then be added to the pan and cooked for a further 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon and star anise, and cook for another 5 (small quantity) or 15 (large quantity) minutes.
- Add the soy sauce or tamari, drained beans and stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce by half. For large groups, I prefer to remove the cinnamon quills after this. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F / Gas Mark 4).
- Drain the potato / celeriac / sweet potato once tender, and mash up with butter/margarine, milk and cream. Season with mustard, salt and pepper.
- Pour the mushroom/bean mixture into a baking dish, leaving a good 3cm (1″) clear for the mash. Spoon the mash on top and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Grill the top to brown the peaks (or simply place the pie at the top of the oven). Serve with greens of the season.
Variations: Leave out the oriental spices for a plainer pie and experiment with using other pulses.
This recipe is taken from Julia Ponsonby’s Gaia’s Feasts . For more information about the book, click here .