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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.

Birthday guacamole

This quick and easy guacamole is always a hit at any festivity. I have made it for birthday celebrations to be a nice complement to the requisite sweet treat – generally cake.

“This guac if firing on all cylinders: great onion and garlic flavor, nice lime notes, excellent heat and the cumin’s fantastic.”

Ruben Munoz, illustrator & features designer at the Los Angeles Times

I made this guacamole for my friend Alex’s going-away-and-birthday festivities at work today. She has had this guacamole at past birthday celebrations and always praised it so lavishly that I thought she deserved this at her soiree.  It’s fairly easy to make since I had chopped up the tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and peppers the night before. All of these items were ready in the morning for quick assembly as soon as I mashed the avocado, roasted the cumin and juiced the two limes.

It was ready to go in less than 20 minutes. Since the party wasn’t until later that afternoon I refrigerated it so there was time for all the flavors to meld together and heighten the experience once the party did kick off!

Happy birthday, Alex, and good luck on the new gig!

Would you like to make it yourself? Click here for the recipe.

Pizza in a pinch

This slice of BBQ chicken pizza is delicious and so easy that my 9-year-old niece makes it when she visits. She says this is her favorite. And the way she and her twin brother eat it up when she makes it is the proof! Psst … don\’t tell her that it\’s a healthy and balanced meal.

‘This pizza is really good!’

Shailesh Swaroop, my brother said in surprise during a lunchtime visit

My brother, Shailesh, of Carlsbad, Calif., and his two daughters, Sangeeta, 15, and Maya, 13, decided to pop in for a last-minute visit right during lunchtime. They called from South Coast Plaza and said they’d be over in an hour. I don’t know about the teenagers you know but this pair can be finicky about what they’ll eat. My brother’ll eat anything … so I decided to bake this BBQ chicken pizza for lunch.

My brother, Shailesh, gets ready to chow down on the first BBQ chicken pizza out of the oven. He came down from the San Diego area for a brief visit to Orange County with his daughters, Sangeeta and Maya. It’s always fun to see them!

It’s an easy recipe. It includes a crust from the store (something like Boboli), bbq sauce, chicken breast, cilantro, cheese, tomatoes and onions. I cubed up the raw chicken breast, cooked it in bbq sauce and layered the rest of the ingredients on to the crust and baked until the cheese is bubbly. Delicious and easy! My favorite kind of recipe.

It came out of the oven just as they walked in the door. We had it along with some fruit: watermelon, honeydew or strawberries. We all tore through it and could focus on enjoying each other for their brief three-hour visit.

Would you like to make it yourself? Click here for the 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.

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