Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vegan Dulce de Coco (Coconut Caramel) Recipe

A delcious vegan alternative to dulce de leche.

From Bon Appétit magazine, December 2007

Makes 2.5 cups

2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Whisk coconut milk, sugar, and coarse salt in heavy large skillet over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer sauce to small jars. Cool completely, then cover sauce and chill.

Can be made 1 month ahead. Keep chilled.

Chickpea Cutlets, Baked Potato Bar, Pretzel Sticks with Dulce de Coco

Dinner 1/31 by Amy and Juan

• Chickpea Cutlets

• Baked Potato Bar

• Pretzel Sticks with Dulce de Coco

Chickpea Cutlets from Isa and Terry's Veganomicon are a great variation on seitan and a nice way to cut the amount of pure gluten goes into my system. Kind of like how you can make brownies with prune puree or something. :) Anyway, last time I made the Chickpea Cutlets, we fried them, so this time I thought it would be fun to bake them. I liked the texture of them a bit more this time (and it uses *much* less oil, so I'll probably keep making them this way.

Baked potato bar is one of my favorite ways to eat potatoes. Tonight's toppings included nutritional yeast cheez sauce (The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, hickory bits (Vegan Vittles, tofu sour cream (Garden of Vegan) and our own canned salsa made from our garden's bounty this past summer.

The most exciting part of this meal was the Dulce de Coco. Juan is from Argentina and loves dulce de leche. It's something that I've been trying to find a good vegan version of, but it's MILK. Condensed, sweetened milk and nothing more. So, it's been a bit of a challenge and I'd kind of given up. Then, by a random series of events, I ended up with a copy of Bon Appétit from December 2007. In it is a recipe for Coconut Dulce de Leche and lo and behold, it's vegan! I just had to try it. The end result wasn't exactly like dulce de leche, but it was a wonderful coconutty caramel-like sauce. We served it with some pretzels from the local general store.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seitan Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Mushroom Gravy

Dinner 1/30 by Dan

• Seitan Steaks

• Mashed Potatoes

• Green Beans

• Mushroom Gravy

Dan used an interesting technique for the seitan steaks. He put black and crushed red pepper into the mix and then baked them straightaway without than boiling them first. The result was like a bread/seitan hybrid. Very unusual!

The mashed potatoes were made with potatoes from a neighboring organic farm. He served it with some mushroom gravy based on his family's special recipe. The green beans used Ironweed green beans that we canned two summers ago. Dan made a yummy sauce to go on them, but I don't remember what he said was in it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Black Bean Chili, Brown Rice, Green Beans, Tamari Walnuts

Dinner 1/28 by Rachel

• Black Bean Chili

• Brown Rice

• Green Beans

• Tamari Walnuts

Tonight, Rachel made a black bean chili from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna J. Sass. It had cinnamon, cumin and fennel in it which Tony said made it "a nice melange of flavors with a different burst of flavor in every bite". Chili seems to have two usual serving companions: rice or cornbread, and tonight Rachel went with long grain brown rice.

The green beans were canned over the summer from our organic garden. She cooked them dry in a pan which helped dry them out a little (since they come out of the can a bit soggy). The toasted tamari walnuts were a very nice addition and a bit of a treat. We have lots of black walnuts on our land, but they tend to be harder to work with, so these were from a package bought in a store. One of these years, we should probably learn how to process them. Until then, I'll watch the itty bitty hazelnut trees in our yard grow and dream.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lentil Loaf, Greens and Tomatoes, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dinner 1/24 by Juan

• Lentil Loaf

• Greens and Tomatoes

• Chocolate Chip Cookies

Juan made some lentil loaf from The New Farm Cookbook. It's basically cooked brown rice and red lentils mixed together with spices and baked in the oven. It's one of those things that's easier to cut and serve once it's had some time to cool down and set out of the oven.

Over the summer, Juan made this dish a lot with fresh greens and tomatoes and he wanted to see if he could make it in the winter. He used Ironweed greens that we dried over the summer and some canned quarter tomatoes from our garden. I'm not sure of his exact technique, but the end result was a nice greens dish.

Another recipe from The New Farm Cookbook, the chocolate chip cookies were a nice end to the meal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seitan Chunks, Homemade Basil Whole Wheat Pasta, Tomato Sauce, Chocolate Chip Blondies

Dinner 1/23 by Amy and Juan

• Seitan Chunks

• Homemade Basil Whole Wheat Pasta

• Tomato Sauce

• Chocolate Chip Blondies

Juan made some chunks of seitan using his seitan recipe. Some pieces were fried and the rest were baked. The fried pieces are my favorite, but baking them is healthier because they use less oil.

For the pasta, we used Bryanna Grogan Clark's pasta recipe with chickpea flour as the binder. Even though the recipe says to use some whole wheat and some unbleached white, I use all whole wheat and added dried basil for some color and flavor. Juan whipped up some tomato sauce using the tomato puree we canned in the summer from our garden.

Dessert was the chocolate chip blondies from Simple Treats by Ellen Abraham. They were so tasty! And we had all of the ingredients on hand, so that's a bonus!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Black Bean Soup, Samosas, Brown Rice, Peach Chutney

Dinner 1/21 by Brian

• Black Bean Soup

• Samosas

• Brown Rice

• Peach Chutney

Tonight's dinner was black bean soup made with tomato juice as the stock. It had some veggies, but was mostly beans. I'll have to ask Brian what else was in there or if the recipe was from something. He recommended we put the rice into the soup to add a little more texture.

The samosas were filled with potato and corn that we froze over the summer. He handmade each one and they were served with peach chutney we made two summers ago with green peaches thinned from the trees. It also has yummy raisins that have soaked up some of the liquid in the chutney and are now fat and juicy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

There is no such thing as too much Pizza

Dinner 1/19 by Tony

• Tony's Super-Delicious Pizza

Tonight's toppings included: homemade sauerkraut, dilly beans, soysage flavored like pepperoni (pepperoysage?), fried tofu squares, and marinated sun-dried tomatoes.

What else is there to say about Tony's pizza that hasn't been said before? Whole wheat crusts, sauce canned this past summer with our own organic tomatoes, and nutritional yeast cheez from The New Farm Cookbook. Check out Tony's pizza recipe and make some for yourself!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup, Tofu in Brown Sauce and Brown Rice

Dinner 1/18 by Dan

• Hot and Sour Soup

• Tofu in Brown Sauce

• Brown Rice

Dan makes excellent tofu and it's totally inspiring that he makes it from scratch. He uses organic soybeans grown at Sandhill, 3 miles away and some epsom salts. It's always such a treat that I wish we were making it more often! Tonight, he made his tofu with a brown sauce that tasted like garlic, ginger and soy sauce. He served it with some long grain brown rice.

The hot and sour soup was made from the stock Juan had leftover from making seitan last night. Dan added onions, garlic, kimchi, chunks of tofu and some yuba that we had leftover from the great UnTurkey experiments in November. It was definitely hot and spicy and very similar to the hot and sour soups I've had before going vegan. One person commented that what made it taste so authentic was the amount of oil on the surface. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spicy Korean Soup, General Tso's Seitan, Brown Rice

Dinner 1/17 by Juan and Amy

• Spicy Korean Soup

• General Tso's Seitan

• Brown Rice

While in Chicago recently, I went to Amitabul, a vegan Korean restaurant that considers itself a healthy food restaurant. My friend had a spicy "cure all" soup that I tasted a sip of. I thought it was so delicious that I tried to recreate it here. First, I fried up some onion and garlic in some oil with a little salt. Then, I added tomato juice (a by-product of all the tomato sauce we make), water, dried corn, dried kale, some fresh chopped carrots and a pint of Dan's canned spicy kimchi. In the last few minutes, I added some of the 2-year barley miso that Thomas and I made and a package of rice noodles that Juan's mom gave us a while back. The end result was spicy, but spicy in a tasty way. :)

Tonight, was also a new twist on an old favorite. Instead of making his usual seitan, Juan tried the recipe from Veganomicon. It used straight wheat gluten, so we were dubious from the beginning. How could it not come out like rubber? In the end, we had some gluten that was textured surprisingly like a cross between silken tofu and shitake mushrooms (in my opinion). I think we'll fry the leftovers before lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Jelly Donut Cupcakes

Dinner 1/16 by Amy and Juan

• Chickpea Cutlets

• Mashed Potatoes

• Green Beans

• Jelly Donut Cupcakes

I've been reading about the Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets all over the interblag, so I couldn't wait to try it. A mix of mashed chickpeas and wheat gluten, we fried 'em up as suggested. Next time, we'll try baking them for variety. In general, people liked them and we saw knives at the table for the first time in a while. :)

Mashed potatoes were made for potatoes we've been storing in the back pantry. We bought a whole bunch from a neighboring organic farmer. The green beans were canned last summer or the summer before, raw packed with just a little salt. We cooked them up with fried onions, salt, pepper and some soy sauce. We also served up some BBQ sauce for slatherin'.

Dessert was another recipe from the Veganomicon. We don't usually have a lot of sugar around (be it it's all non-bioregional and stuff), but for authenticity and ease of cooking, I used a little from the stash we use for canning jams. The jam was a quince jelly (it's officially called dulce de membrillo and comes in a big block) that Juan's family bought us from the Latin market in NY while we were visiting. It's something that he grew up eating and still enjoys. If I haven't mentioned it, he's a handsome Argentine guy and I'm not just saying that because he's my hubby. :) Anyway, check out the little squares of jelly in the cupcakes:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snobby Joes, Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns, Sweet Potato Fries, Pickles, Clove Cookies

Dinner 1/14 by Brian

• Snobby Joes

• Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns

• Sweet Potato Fries

• Pickles

• Clove Cookies

As promised, Brian dove into the Veganomicon for our first recipe to try. The Snobby Joes were something that we actually have all of the ingredients on hand to make with the exception of the green pepper. The sandwich buns were made using the The New Farm Cookbook's recipe for Soft Sandwich Buns. Made using wheat from Sandhill only 3 miles away and ground in our electric mill, the bread doesn't get any fresher than this!

The sweet potato fries were made with sweet potatoes we bought from a neighboring organic farm in the fall and have been storing for use over the winter. The pickles were made by Dan during the summer with cucumbers that he grew in his garden. He used a vinegar brine and they were very crispy.

For dessert, Brian made clove cookies from the Simple Treats cookbook. Instead of sugar, he used sorghum from Sandhill as the sweetener. The molassesy-ness of sorghum is perfect for spice cookies of any kind since its flavor just blends in. It also helps give the cookies a beautiful golden color. Once, when I was traveling, I tried to make chocolate chip cookies out of white flour and sugar and they were sadly pale. Not like these:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Potato Carrot Pakoras, Curried Black Eyed Peas, Brown Basmati Rice, Chutneys

Dinner 1/12 by Amy

• Potato Carrot Pakoras

• Curried Black Eyed Peas

• Brown Basmati Rice

• Chutneys

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a comment to this blog where someone asked if we make Indian food. These recipes come from the pages of "The Spice Box" by Manju Shivraj Singh. An excellent book of vegetarian Indian recipes which is well-worn in our kitchen. Since this was my first cook shift back, I thought I'd be making chapati and dessert as well, but time just snuck away from me. Perhaps next time!

The pakoras were made with chickpea flour mixed with lots of spices including dried mint leaves from our garden and a fresh blend of homemade garam masala. I added some carrots (which Dan is managing to preserve in the garden through the winter!), potatoes and onions to the batter so they had some nutrients and weren't just fried deliciousness. :D We used some pear chutney and peach chutney as condiments to dip them in. They were made a couple of years ago with fruit from our neighbor's trees that they happily shared.

This was the first time I've tried the Curried Black Eyed Peas recipe. It involved boiling the black eyed peas in water with a little bit of vinegar. Then frying some cumin seeds in a pan, adding onions, garlic, tumeric, ground coriander, tomato sauce, salt and sorghum. After it started to bubble, I turned off the heat and stirred in garam masala. Brown basmati with some cumin sprinkled on top rounded out the meal.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Enchiladas, Spanish Rice

Dinner 1/11 by Tony

Tonight, Tony made enchiladas from The New Farm Cookbook. They were homemade whole wheat tortillas filled with beans and then baked with sauce made with fried onion, garlic, cumin, salt, and chili powder with flour to thicken it. Then it was topped with nutritional yeast cheeze.

Alongside them was Spanish Rice. I didn't ask the specifics, but I imagine he cooked the rice in some of our own tomato juice from summer's abundance. The rice is a long grain organic brown rice that we get from a bulk food company that carries natural and organic goods. We're pretty lucky that they deliver to the general store in town and we can go pick it up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Laird Peas, Grits, Root Bake, Cherry Tarts

Dinner 1/10 by Rachel

• Laird Peas

• Grits

• Root Bake

• Cherry Tarts

Finally, after a long break of traveling and small numbers, Bobolink has gotten the band back together. That's right, we're back and better than ever. Things you can look forward to seeing (thanks to the generous gifts of our friends and families) include recipes from Veganomicon and Love, Eric and Sanae. As well as our snazzy new pasta drying rack and cast iron bread baker! Life in Bobolink is pretty sweet. :)

Tonight, Rachel whipped up one of my favorite bean dishes. Laird Peas are the creation of our neighbor and friend, Laird from Sandhill Farm community. He is also the originator of Laird Balls (chickpea "meat"balls great with tomato sauce), but that's for another dinner. To make them, take cooked chickpeas and fry them in a little oil in a pan. Once they have a nice fried outside, spray them with some soy sauce and continue cooking them until the soy sauce caramelizes onto the chickpeas. Then, consume in deliciously (and potentially embarrassingly) large quantities. They may not sound like much, but they are always a crowd pleaser. Laird's a pretty nifty guy, so I encourage you to make a big bowl of Laird Peas and check out his blog at

I believe the grits were purchased at Zimmerman's, our local general store. It's not something that we stock all the time, so it was a nice treat. I put some Earth Balance (that was left over from cookie baking last month) on mine, but I saw other folks topping theirs with honey, too. The root bake included carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onion, garlic, rosemary and salt.

The cherry tarts were made with cherries that were canned in 2006. Rachel made up a whole wheat crust with wheat from Sandhill Farm. Tart and tasty, these were a delicious end to the meal.

Vegan Banana Walnut Brownie

Breakfast 1/10 by Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago

Okay, so this isn't a Bobolink meal, exactly (though I did eat it for breakfast) and it's not something that anyone in the co-op made (though I wish they would), but it was something worth sharing. Juan and I (along with our generous hostess), stopped by Bleeding Heart Bakery for some treats to bring on the train with us on the way back to DR. I picked the Vegan Banana Walnut Brownie. It was, without a doubt...



I've made dozens of brownie recipes since becoming vegan and all of them are either too cakey or so moist they never solidify. This brownie was the perfect balance of moist and crusty. With perfect walnut halves dotting the top. And best of all, it's organic! It was the brownie that I'd almost given up the search for and now will haunt my dreams (since I don't think I'll be up in Chicago nearly often enough to meet my Recommended Daily Brownie Allowance).

Now that you know they're there (and they come in other flavors that I was a fool not to buy!), go and partake in their brownie manna, but don't think that one bar will feed the masses. Buy yourself a few!

Bleeding Heart Bakery
1955 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657