MeHi.  My name is Mark and this is my cooking blog.

I get asked a lot for my recipes, so I decided to start this cooking blog.  What you’ll find here will be my recipes and my variations on others’ recipes, my cooking tips and who knows what else. 

I should say up front that I’m lactose intolerant (check out my lactose intolerance site and I also try to live a low-carb lifestyle.  So the recipes you’ll find here will generally be devoid of milk and milk products and try, wherever possible, to be low in carbs.

I hope you enjoy the site and the recipes.


Side Dishes and Snacks12 Nov 2010 06:29 am

On our honeymoon we ate at the Napa Rose in Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel and had a great meal, but one of the highlights was the Star Anise Dark Bread they served from the La Brea Bakery.  Evidently it’s made only for the Napa Rose, so since we couldn’t buy it, I had to make it!

It’s a dark, whole wheat bread, flavored with molasses and star anise.

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

2 cups of all-purpose unbleached white flour
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of vital wheat gluten (see notes)
2 tsp instant yeast
1.5 cups warm water
3 tbs vegetable oil
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 tbs ground star anise powder  (see notes)
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs caramel coloring  (see notes)


Make sure the water is around 100 degrees, no more than 120 or you risk killing the yeast.  Stir the yeast into the water and let it activate for 5 minutes or longer.  Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed to combine the ingredients.  Stop the mixer and add the liquid ingredients including the yeast.  Mix on low speed for 5-7 minutes.  The dough should be a slightly sticky ball.

Roll the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl and cover.  Place the bowl in a warm area and let the dough rise to double it’s volume.  This may take an hour or two depending on the temperature and freshness of the yeast.  Remove the dough and punch it down.  Cut into two equal pieces and form two loaves.  Place the loaves on a lightly greased sheet pan, cover loosely and allow the dough to rise again.   Once the loaves have risen again to about double, bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.   Remove and cool.  Slice, eat and enjoy!

Notes:  Vital wheat gluten is also known as do-pep and you can find it the cheapest in the bulk foods section of better markets or health food stores.  Bob’s Red Mill also has it in packages in the baking aisle of most markets.  Caramel coloring might be a bit harder to find – I get mine at Smart and Final, but try a restaurant or baking supply.  You can omit it if you want, but the bread will be light brown instead of dark brown.  Star anise powder can be had least expensively at an Asian grocery (or try an Indian grocery).