Category: recipe

Wild Mushroom Tostadas with Lime Creme Fraiche

Wild Mushroom Tostadas

It’s mushroom season!

I recently went on a wild edible plant walk here in the Boston area, and our guide told us that the best time to find mushrooms is between Labor Day and Columbus Day. We didn’t find any mushrooms on our walk, but he did get me thinking about making a recipe to show them off. I’m really interested in learning more about local wild, edible plants, so hopefully I’l be rooting around in the woods for some fungus soon.

And if you made the black pepper and cumin pickled carrots from last week, here’s a recipe to try them with.

Oyster and Chanterelle Mushrooms

Any wild mushrooms will do for this recipe, but I picked out two of my favorites today: oyster mushrooms and chanterelles.

Oyster mushrooms can be cultivated, so you are likely to find them outside of peak mushroom season. This also helps make them a bit more affordable than wild harvested mushrooms, but they are still many, many rungs up the ladder from the budget workhorse that is white button mushroom. If you are interested, there are many resources online that describe how you can grow oyster mushrooms yourself, at home.

Chanterelles, however, do not cooperate with human cultivation. This means the mushrooms you see in the store were growing wild in a wood somewhere before they reached the shelves. The effort it takes to locate and collect them, their wonderfully complex flavor, and their perishable nature contribute to their price tag.

A note about using wild mushrooms: if you’re super squicky about eating a little dirt, this may not be the best food for you. Washing mushrooms makes them soggy and sad. I pick off anything that’s big enough to be picked off, and then chop it up and cook away without thinking too hard about what might be on them. As long as the mushrooms are not slimy, don’t have any overly soft spots, aren’t hiding bugs, and don’t smell off… they are declared clean in my kitchen. A little dirt from the middle of a forest won’t hurt you.

And if you found your own, just be careful! Make sure you know what you have before you eat it.

Wild Mushroom Tostadas with Lime Creme Fraiche
Makes Six Tostadas

Six Corn Tortillas
Wild Mushroom Filling (recipe below)
Lime Creme Fraiche (recipe below)
1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced thinly
1 Small Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, roughly chopped
12 Pickled Carrot Sticks (recipe here)
1 Cup Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds

Wild Mushroom Filling
340g or 3/4lb Wild Mushrooms, weighed after trimming
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Earth Balance Spread or Oil
Black Pepper

Lime Creme Fraiche
4 Tbs Tofutti Cream Cheese
4 Tbs Vegenaise Mayo
1 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice

Chopped Mushrooms

Arrange the racks in your oven so one is in the middle and one is in the highest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop your mushrooms into a medium to small dice. Add them to a dry skillet over medium high heat. The mushrooms will begin to release moisture after a few minutes.

Wild Mushroom Filling

After 3-4 minutes of cooking, add the salt, cumin and oregano. Keep an eye on the mushrooms and stir them every 10-15 seconds. Once most of the moisture has cooked out and they begin sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 7 minutes of total cooking time, add the Earth Balance and mix well. Remove mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Corn Tortillas

Place six corn tortillas on a baking sheet. Brush both sides very lightly with olive oil. Put tortillas in the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 8 minutes. The edges of the tortilla should be beginning to curl and they should only barely have the slightest hint of color. Remove from oven.

While the tortillas are baking, mix together the ingredients for the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to use. It will take a lot of whisking to get the mixture smooth, but it will happen if you keep at it!

Mushroom, Jalapeno, Cilantro

Once your tortillas are out of the oven, change the oven to the broil setting. Get everything ready for assembly: sliced jalapenos, cilantro, carrot sticks, cheese, creme fraiche, mushrooms.

Making Wild Mushroom Tostadas

Evenly divide the mushroom mixture across the tortillas. Top with a little vegan cheese. Place in the oven, this time on the very top rack, to broil. DO NOT WALK AWAY! Watch them as they cook until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden brown. Remove immediately.

Top each tostada with a dollop of the lime creme fraiche, some cilantro, a slice or two of jalapeno, and two picked carrot sticks. Serve immediately.

Wild Mushroom Tostadas

Black Pepper and Cumin Pickled Carrots

Pickled Carrots with Cumin and Black Pepper

Black pepper and cumin are two things that I can never have enough of.

Pickles, on the other hand, I can usually do with a lot less of. Or, you know, none. None’s fine. Pickles live in the part of my brain labeled yuck.

I was talking to my friend Bill and mentioned my dislike for pickled things. The conversation went a bit like this after my confession:

“Do you like vinegar?”
“Do you like sugar?”
“Do you like salt?”
“Do you like vegetables?”
“Well, then you like all that stuff together. You like pickles.”


It’s sort of embarrassing to be really into food but dislike things that are wildly popular. (We’ve discussed my dislike of garlic previously, but that’s another post. And a lost cause.) Every so often I revisit my blacklist and see if anything on it can be crossed off. Oftentimes I try to overcome my dislikes by forcing myself to try them in new ways until something starts to click.

Cumin and Black Pepper

My conversation with Bill rattled around in my head for a bit and I realized that he’s probably right. I would probably like pickles, provided they were made in a way I liked, with spices I’m fond of. Skip the dill, get rid of the garlic, and maybe, to be safe, start with something that isn’t a cucumber. Baby steps. Pickle therapy.

Fresh CuminNow, a note on spices. Do you have whole spices at home? Are they sort of fresh? I like whole spices, but I am guilty of letting them sit for longer than they should. Think about what’s in your rack right now and be honest — when was the last time you replaced stuff? Did you purchase them from somewhere that has high-turnover, or had they been sitting for months before you brought them home?

If you want to get back on the fresh spice train, and don’t think your local stores have anything worth investing in, find yourself a quality spice store that takes online orders. I have used The Spice House back in my home state of Illinois for years and am always impressed with their stuff.

It’s good to have fresh cumin, but please please please tell me you are using whole peppercorns, in a grinder. If I could only have one whole spice in my house it would absolutely be black pepper. Pre-ground pepper is sad. Fresh, whole peppercorns are amazing. Swoon-worthy. Get some.

Okay, enough yapping. On to the recipe. I was heavily influenced by this post by David Lebovitz during my carrot pickle research, so many thanks to him and his informative post.

Pickled Carrots
For a 1 pint jar

1 Pound Carrots (about 5-6), peeled and chopped as described
1 1/4 Cups Water
1 Cup Vinegar (cider, white wine, etc)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Whole Cumin Seeds
1 Tbs Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Bay Leaves (optional)

Pickling Spices

Mix together your picking spices and set aside. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.


One pound of carrots is roughly equivalent to 5 or 6 large carrots. If you have a choice, pick out fewer large, thick carrots as opposed to more thin carrots. Thicker carrots will be much easier to chop up.

Chopping Carrots

After your carrots are peeled, stand one up in your jar and chop it to 1 or 1 1/2 inches from the rim. Use this piece of a carrot as a template to chop all the carrots down to the correct size.

Chopping Carrots

Once all your carrots are the correct size, chop each piece in half lengthwise to give a nice sturdy base (carrot above, on the left). With a large, sharp chef’s knife (bigger is easier for this task), begin slicing the carrots lengthwise into 1/8 or 1/16 inch thicknesses. You don’t have to go crazy or be a perfectionist. You want them thin enough to take to the picking liquid, but thick enough to retain crunch.

Chopped Carrots

Once all the carrots are chopped, drop them into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. You do not want to over-cook them, you just want to loosen them up a bit so they can take to the pickling easier.

Drain the carrots well, and add the remaining ingredients to the hot pan. Bring to a simmer and let cook on low for another 2-3 minutes.


Add the blanched carrots to the liquid and let sit until room temperature, or at least cool enough to handle.

Jarring the pickles

With VERY clean hands, load up the pickles into your jar.

Jarring the pickles

Pour the picking liquid and all the spices into the jar.

Place your jar in the fridge. They will be ready to eat in 24 hours, and should keep for a good two weeks. They are great with your favorite vegan cheese and crackers, mixed into salad, with tacos, in sushi, falafel, or on their own.

They are pretty damn good. If I like them, you probably will, too.

By the way, as an experiment, I used a tiny bit of the hot pickling liquid and poured it over freshly sliced cucumbers. That works, too, and they remain crisp. The liquid should work with just about anything you have on hand!

Jarring the pickles