foodgeek's diary


I love to learn and discover new ways to make good food. I hope to share some of my fave recipes here so that anyone, foodgeek or not, can benefit from it somehow. Please chime in...I welcome your comments or just a plain hello would be nice too! If you have any recipes to share please feel free to contact me or post it in a comment in this blog.

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Anadama Bread

Posted by foodgeek on February 28, 2010 at 5:32 PM Comments comments (2)

Finally got going with Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge on 1/31/10. First bread, Anadama - one that I've never heard of before. Apparently there's a story behind the name of this bread - something to the effect of a fisherman who, "...angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, 'Anna, damn her.'"


And so it goes, this bread does indeed consist basically of flour, corn meal, and molasses.


Peter Reinhart's version utilizes a soaker of a mixture of coarse ground corn meal and water, and a sponge consisting of the corn meal soaker with part of the flour, all of the yeast, and water. This method evokes more flavor from the grain.


The whole process took about 2 days in all. The first day the soaker is mixed and set out in room temperature. Second day, the sponge is mixed and set out for about an hour. The bubbles appearing on the surface was a good sign of fermentation.



Next step, mix the remaining ingredients (flour, salt, molasses and butter) to the sponge. I continued to mix (using my stand mixer) until the dough started pulling from the sides. I took it out of the mixer and kneaded by hand to get a better feel for the dough consistency. I didn't take a picture of the kneaded dough this time around but I will in the future. The goal at this point was to have a dough that was, as Peter Reinhart recommended, Peter Reinhart: “...firm but supple and pliable and definitely not sticky.” At this point, the dough is shaped into a ball and placed into an oiled bowl, turned a couple of times to coat the surface, then set aside at room temperature for about 90 minutes for the first rising. It should grow to about double its size. Again, didn't a picture this time but will add in the future.


Next up, shaping the dough. I turned the dough out onto the counter and divided it to 3 parts as instructed. I shaped the dough into loaves as described in the book. I skipped putting them into loaf pans as I only had one pan. I instead set them on a sheet pan, covered them with a lighly oiled plastic wrap and set them out for the second rise at room temperature for about another 90 minutes. This time, I have pictures!



After they have risen, into the oven they went!



The aroma in house while this bread was baking was amazing! The result:



Success! At least to me it was. Thumbs up from the hubby, my taste tester! Sweetness from the molasses, a little bit of a crunch from the corn meal, crispy outside, soft inside, fabulous with just a little butter. Great for sandwiches or as a side bread in meals. Will definitely revisit this recipe again!


My first BBA Challenge bread...tada!

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge

Posted by foodgeek on February 28, 2010 at 3:57 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! Finally found a little bit of time today to add a couple posts.


I've decided to join the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge! The BBA Challenge is a movement started by Nicole, the food blogger of, challenging home bakers across the county and across the world to attempt every single recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. This movement actually started in May of 2009. I have recently just discovered it and decided to join in. I will be posting about it as I go along. It's a slow start so far. I just finished the first 2 breads in the book - Anadama and Artos breads. I will talk about these in the next couple of blogs.


I don't know what it is that has gotten me mesmerized with bread baking. I took a baking class about two or three years ago, learned the basics of artisan bread baking and became hooked ever since. It is both an art form and a science. And the aromas it bestows upon my home is something else! It is the only culinary activity I know of that brings comfort not just in eating the finished product but in making it - the fermenting of yeast, the mixing, kneading and shaping of dough. It's magic! Buying bread from a store, even if it was good artisan bread, just takes away from it all.


I've rambled enough about my love for bread baking. On to actual food recipe blogs. Stay tuned!



The Blue Zones Book Give Away

Posted by foodgeek on February 5, 2010 at 12:51 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi People,

Thought I would share with you an opportunity of getting a signed hardcopy of the book The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.

If you have never heard of The Blue Zones book, it is a good read that will really change your outlook on your diet and just your wellbeing in general. The author went around the world discovering the world’s best practices in health and longevity seeking those communities where there were a higher statistical number of centenarians. The author focused on 4 communities – Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, CA; and Costa Rica. The premise of TBZ was that if you optimize your lifestyle, you may gain back an extra decade of good life.


Interested? Whether you already are a fan of The Blue Zone or interested in reading it, to get your opportunity to get a signed copy, simply go to and follow the instructions on the blog.


I've already signed have until 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 10th to get your chance to win!

In the meantime, stay tuned on this site for more recipe blogs. I am a little behind on this and have a few good bread and vegan recipes to share!


Ta for now!

Pan de Sal - Filipino Salted Bread Rolls

Posted by foodgeek on January 13, 2010 at 2:11 AM Comments comments (0)

 One of my favorite of Filipino breads - pan de sal. There are no Filipino bakeries where I live so getting a batch of this bread on a whim is impossible as I would have to drive a few miles to get good ones. So off to the internet I go to search for a good formula. I found quite a few variations and decided to try this one from The blogger of this site is not only a Filipino, but also someone who has a passion for baking, so I figured his recipe should be good. He also mentions in his blog that he referenced a recipe used by the Philippine team in the 2003-2004 Louis Lesaffre bread baking competition. That got my vote of confidence. Sure enough, they turned out great! And not too complicated to make either!



4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

bread crumbs (optional)



Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until the dough comes together and knead until it becomes a smooth ball. Let rise in a sealed container for about two hours at room temperature or until it doubles in size. Shape the dough into a rope about two inches wide. Let the dough rest for a few minutes to relax the gluten if necessary. Roll the entire length of the dough in bread crumbs.


Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut the dough into 24 pieces. Arrange the dough pieces cut side up in a sealable container lightly sprinkled with either flour or bread crumbs. The rolls will be ready to bake after a 1 1/2 hour final proof at room temperature. At this point, retarding the fermentation by keeping the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to further develop flavor is recommended. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Transfer the pieces of dough to a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees, then bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust turns golden brown.



Using the cold retardation method will trap gasses just under the surface of the dough, forming blisters or bird’s eyes on the crust after baking. The usual pan de sal do not have such blisters.

The bread crumbs can be considered optional but is necessary to recreate the feel of authentic pan de sal.

Butternut Squash Casserole

Posted by foodgeek on January 13, 2010 at 1:38 AM Comments comments (0)

Learned this one in vegetarian cooking class at Orange Coast College. This was a hit at Thanksgiving potluck at church. Decided to make it again for Thanksgiving dinner at home.



1 butternut squash

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

¼ cup milk

1 egg

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)



Preheat oven 350 degrees. Wrap squash in tin foil and place on cookie sheet.

Bake in oven 350 degrees until soft (1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the squash).

When done, unwrap, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the inside of squash (discard seeds).

Put cooked squash in blender (you can also use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment).

Add in ½ brown sugar.

Blend in the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the pecans and rest of the brown sugar.

Place in greased or sprayed baking dish or casserole.

Top with pecans and rest of the brown sugar.

Bake 15-20 min. until warmed through and sugar is melted. Serve. Yum!


Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Posted by foodgeek on January 13, 2010 at 1:13 AM Comments comments (0)

 Serves 6 to 8. From Cook's Illustrated. Good quick meal for a chilly night. Also makes for a good brown bag lunch. No cream added, but tastes and feels like it.


If half of the soup fills your blender by more than two-thirds, process the soup in three batches. You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot. For an even smoother soup, pass the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer before stirring in the chicken broth in step 2. Serve this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches or topped with croutons.



1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus more for drizzling

1 medium onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)

3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)

Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)

1 bay leaf

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice (I used diced tomatoes since that was what I had in the pantry)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread , crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (or parsley for garnish)



1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven (I used a medium sauce pan since I only made half the recipe) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain (skipped the mashing since I used diced tomatoes). Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.


2. Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth and brandy (if using). Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper and chives and drizzle with olive oil.

No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes

Posted by foodgeek on December 26, 2009 at 12:57 AM Comments comments (1)

Another recipe out of my idol, Sherry Yard's "Desserts By The Yard" book. So easy, yet so good. A big hit at potlucks. Makes 24 mini cheesecakes.

12 vanilla wafer cookies

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp sour cream

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

12 ripe strawberries, hulled, and halved or quartered


Pulse the cookies in a food processor until you have crumbs. Line the cups of two mini muffin pans with paper liners (or use small remekins with or without the liners) and spoon a layer of cookie crumbs into the bottom of each.


In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in the sour cream and lemon juice until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.


Spoon or pipe the filling into the cups. Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours, until set.

Before serving, top each cheesecake with a strawberry piece or two.

Lemon Ginger Cookies

Posted by foodgeek on December 20, 2009 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (2)


I am a big fan of Sherry Yard, Executive Pastry Chef of Spago. This is one of my favorite recipes taken out of her book "The Secrets of Baking". These cookies are much like sugar cookies, but a bit cakier due to the chemical leavening. Lemon and ginger are a refreshing combination.


Makes 3 dozen cookies

Preparation Time 15 mins.

Cooking Time 12 - 15 mins each batch



1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling

1 TBSP grated lemon zest

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/4 cup finely diced crystallized ginger



Sift together flour and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the 3/4 cup sugar, lemon zest, ginger and salt. Cream on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.


Add the egg and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.


On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until just incorporated.


Remove small handfuls of the dough from the mixer and plop down the middle of a sheet of parchment paper, creating a log about 2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the parchment over creating a sausage. Chill for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month. (Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for 30 minutes.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.


When the dough has chilled, remove it from the parchment, pour the remaining 1/4 cup sugar onto the work surface, and roll the log in the sugar. Using a chef's knife, slice 1/3 inch thick rounds off the log. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.


Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes or until brown around the edges, turing the cookie sheet once halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the parchment directly onto a work surface. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 30 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by foodgeek on May 17, 2009 at 3:21 PM Comments comments (0)

A knoff off of DoubleTree Hotel cookies..




1/2 cup rolled oats
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 eggs
3 cups semi-sweet, chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts


Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.

For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies.

Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350°F oven for 16-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.


Strawberry-Lemon Bavarian Cake

Posted by foodgeek on May 16, 2009 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I have made this very refreshing, great for Summer recipe quite a bit. It's a big hit with family and friends. Learned it in baking class. You can actually find the recipe at, but here it is for your convenience..




For the shortbread
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the Bavarian:
3/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
2 envelopes (about 2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
2 cups well chilled heavy cream
1 1/2 pints strawberries, diced (about 3 cups)
about 24 strawberries, halved, for garnish



Make the shortbread:

In a bowl cream together the butter, the sugar, and the vanilla, add the flour,the baking powder,and the salt, and stir the mixture until it forms a dough. Spread the dough evenly in the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden. Let the shortbread cool and chill it in the pan for 15 minutes.


Make the Bavarian:


In a small saucepan stir together the lemon juice, the sugar, the liqueur, and 2 tablespoons water, sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture, and let it soften for 1 minute. Heat the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, until the sugar and the gelatin are dissolved, set the pan in a bowl of cold water (do not add ice), and stir the mixture until it is just cool but still liquid. In a chilled large bowl with an electric mixer beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, with the motor running add the lemon mixture, beating until the mixture is just combined, and fold in the diced strawberries gently but thoroughly.


Pour the Bavarian into the springform pan and chill it, covered, for 4 hours, or until it is set. The cake may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Remove the side of the pan, transfer the cake to a plate, and garnish the top and side with the halved strawberries.