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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.

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A delightful cupcake

This delicious cupcake uses real strawberries in the cake and a strawberry juice simple syrup in the icing. It's delicious and a joy to look at.

‘This is a heaven cupcake.’

Marcy Springer, Los Angeles Times Sunday night A1 editor

I love to bake and get especially excited when I have a new recipe that I am inspired by. A friend said that one of the best desserts that his mom makes is this strawberry cake that I modified into a cupcake. He warned me that the icing could be a little tricky.

Just the thing to say to make me want to master it! However, I did heed his warning and cooled down the strawberry simple syrup until it was barely warm. Then I folded it into the egg whites that I had whipped until they tripled in size. The result was a light, airy dream of an icing.

I am so glad I gave it a whirl. It was worth every bit of effort that went into it.

I brought in my version of his grandmother’s recipe to work. It happened to be the birthday of friend and Times’ graphic artist Matt Moody on Sunday so this was my way of wishing him a happy day.

People loved them and they went pretty fast. The reaction I enjoyed the most was from web copy editor Jennifer Martin who asked what I was doing at the Times if I could bake like that. That made me feel great! This was before she had even tasted the cupcake. She tried one and was even more effusive with her praise.

Want to make them yourself? Click here for recipe.

Raksha Bandan

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

The family gathered to celebrate Raksha Bandan in Huntington Beach. For those of you that don’t know: Raksha Bandan in an Indian holiday that celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers. The sisters all make some sort of dish for their brothers and tie a rakhi around their brothers’ (and their wives) wrists. For that they are rewarded with a gift, but more often cash. It is a great time.

This year Suki hosted the festivities in the sunny garden with a menu that included quiche, berry salad, pasta salad, tater tots, buttermilk biscuits, mango, strawberries, tea, water, lemonade and juices. Surabhi brought Desi turkey sliders (the hit of the meal!) and potato salad. Sujata contributed samosas with accompanying chutneys.

For dessert there were ice cream sandwiches, brownies, cupcakes, tollhouse cookies, ras malai, assorted pastries.

Everyone enjoyed the festivities and visiting with those who attending including: Dad, Mom, Vijay Chachi, Surabhi, Subodh, Sujata, Sunil, Bansi Dada, Karen, Sunjay, Dinesh, Serena, Murli Dada, Sangeeta, Maya, Suki, myself and special surprise guest my cousin, Vishnupriya Saksena from India who happened to be in California on business.

Fourth festivities

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi's daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, "Three milk cake"), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi’s daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, “Three milk cake”), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The whole family gathered at the home of Vijay Chachi, Subodh and Surabhi to celebrate Independence Day with a BBQ.

We got there around 3 p.m. and were treated to chicken, kebobs, turkey burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies and veggie burgers all made by Subodh. Surabhi was the other half of Team BBQ and made us salsa, guacamole, green salad, chips, potato salad, chutney and the burger trimmings. Karen brought her famous brownies, Bansi Dada brought cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. Suki brought some decadent lime-coconut cupcakes. And, of course, there was ice cream sundaes and the highly-anticipated Tres Leches cake by Shelley.

It was a decadent day where we got to bask in the beautiful California sunshine, eat lots of great food and watch a James Bond movie marathon.

Mother’s Day brunch

The buffet included quiches, bread platter, muffins, scones, fruit, grilled veggies and two decadent desserts (not pictured)

The buffet included quiches, bread platter, muffins, scones, fruit, grilled veggies and two decadent desserts (not pictured)

I hosted a Mother’s Day brunch for the family. Attendees included: Dad, Mom, Suki, Vimlesh Chachi, Sujata, Vijay Chachi, Surabhi, Subodh, Rita, Sitara and Roshan. The Menu included: Turkey and Veggie quiches by Shraddha, Hash Browns by Roshan, Fruit Platter by Sitara, Bread Sampler by Suki, Grilled Vegetables by Subodh, Berry Trifle and Espresso Cheesecake by Surabhi (sadly there are no pix of those!) Coffee, Tea, Apple Juice and fresh-squeezed OJ Thanks to all who contributed!! See the slideshow