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I love you, Mom!

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“There is way too much food.”

– Ram Swaroop, 82

For our annual Mother’s Day Brunch, we always gather at my parents house to celebrate all the Moms in our family including my mom, my aunts and sisters-in-law.

This year I organized it with my sister Suki. We decided to have all the people who aren’t parents to contribute to the potluck. Even my teen-age nephews and nieces. We have a family full of incredible chefs and I wanted to taste something from all the age groups from 12 to 45.

As a result, we had a ton of food including Mexican quiche, veggie quiche, crab quiche, rosemary potatoes, macaroni cole slaw,
veggie kabobs, turkey tacos, fajitas, salsa, guacamole, chips, quinoa salad, fruit salad, bagels, lemon tiramasu trifle, Dinesh‘s chocolate cheesecake bars and cookies.

Everyone brought their A-game and everything was delicious. It was a tasty way to show how much we care about the Moms in our family.

Thanks to all our Moms especially my beautiful, smart, encouraging, loving Mom for making the choice to take on the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. You make the world a better place.

Below, one of the earliest pictures i have of me and Mom. I love you Mom!

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Sinfully sweet

This sweet and rich concoction is simple. Just brownies, topped with mini-marshmallows and then drenched in chocolate frosting. One bite is all I needed for a sugar buzz, but others had several servings of this chocolate treat.

“It’s delicious!”

Anne Yemma, host of the Labor Day barbecue I went to in Trabuco Canyon

My former colleague from the Los Angeles Times, Mark Yemma invited me to his beautiful home for a Labor Day bbq. I told him I would be there and bring brownies or cookies. I ended up making these Birthday Brownies for his party.

We ate them with the chocolate cake since the BBQ doubled as a birthday bash for Mark’s upcoming birthday. Another former colleague, Dave Campbell,  also told me that my concoction was tasty. And asked for a second serving! What a great feeling to have made something that everyone enjoys.

For photos of the party, click here.

For recipe of the brownies, click here

All chocolate, no sugar

These cookies taste so sweet you'll be stunned they are sugar-free.

“Excellent.”

– Shalini Dore, senior editor at Variety

It was a cold and rainy day. A perfect day to stay home and bake some chocolate chip cookies. Only these are the sugar-free variety so I could have all the sweet taste without the harm of sugar since I am fairly addicted to the stuff. There is Splenda is in it but that’s all.

These are easy, quick and chockful of the sensuous flavor of chocolate … you’ll fool everyone. The secret is the applesauce it it.

Want to try for yourself, click here for the recipe.

Tasty & quick party fare

Fried ravioli was just one of the items on the spread for the holiday party. Others included grilled turkey sausage, mini-pastrami sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, chocolate fudge-raspberry cake and cookies.

“This is addictive.”

– Stephanie Endo, a guest at the 2011 holiday party, declared as she munched on some fried ravioli

It was time for our annual holiday party and we wanted a simple, fun spread to soak up all the liquor that our guests might be indulging in that night so we decided to do some sweets: a triple layer Chocolate Fudge-Raspberry Cake and some store-bought cookies and pair those with some savory dishes: Mini Pastrami Bites, Fried Ravioli, grilled sausage with spicy mustard and a couple varieties of flatbread pizza. Our only requirement of all the dishes were that they be tasty, quick to make and be easy finger-food type options for our guests who would be mingling and talking as they ate.

The cake I finished assembling the night before the party but the rest of the food we made in a few hours just before the open house holiday party started at noon.

Food-lover’s delight

The Produce Market on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada offers a plethora of culinary delights from vegetables to meat to pate to jam to fruit to seafood to chocolate to pastries like the ones above. I found the sight of these perfectly formed puff pastries with their savory fillings to be especially titillating.

I spent most of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Vancouver with four close friends: Ed De La Fuente, Brian Choo, Bobby Boos and Marian Liu. One of the places we wanted to see was Granville Island which is just minutes from downtown Vancouver where we were staying.

So on a rainy Saturday afternoon we headed to the highly walkable village area. After we got some nourishment at Agro Cafe Coffee and Roasting House we headed on over to the famous Granville Island Public Market.

Once inside we are bombarded by the sights of fresh fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see. The food will bring you to the market but the real charm is in the vendors who offer you their advice on how to eat or cook their wares. There are about 50 or so stalls and stores of every kind imaginable and all of these shops include at least one expert on the types of food they sell. It’s intoxicating to talk food with someone who has a background in it.

The Public Market is open until 7 p.m. all the days of the week.

If your visit occurs between June and October you can check out the Farmer’s Market that the Island hosts every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. immediately across the street from the Public Market adjacent to the Net Loft.  Like most farmers’ markets this one is cash-only.

A bit of chocolate heaven

The season of chocolate continues with this tiramousse that I whipped up today for a New Year's Eve party tonight. This recipe was easy and has a deep chocolate taste tinged with coffee.

“It’s intense and chocolatey.”

Sunjay Swaroop, at the family New Year’s Eve party

This mousse was easy! The most time-consuming part of it was melting the chocolate, which is done in the microwave. The other ingredients are mixed in a blender and then you combine the two. It’s that simple … and the deep chocolate flavor is enhanced by a red wine when you serve it.

Want to make it for yourself? Click here.

Truffle Doughnuts

These incredible confections were made from a recipe by Sherry Yard. The are crisp and crunchy on the outside and molten chocolate on the inside.

This is an incredible treat that you want to make right before you serve. They need to be eaten hot!

This is so scrumptious that it’s hard to believe it can be this easy. Kudos to Sherry Yard for making a delectable treat so simple, easy and fast.

After I had made the batter, I was wondering how a flash fry (30 seconds on each side in scorching hot oil) would allow the soft batter to cook solidly. Turns out I needn’t have worried. The Panko crust of the exterior fries up crispy and light while the inside turns into molten chocolate. Quite a heady delight!