Wild Blackberry Margarita

posted on: Friday, June 13, 2014



As summer's sweltering heat ushers in this weekend's Father's Day festivities, I'm tempted to make a pitcher of these juicy wild blackberry margaritas to help cool me down. Every summer, while my hubby casts his line, I'm eyeing the thorny bushes dotting the American River trail where we live. Vibrant and bursting with so much juicy flavor, these prickly berries will no doubt stain my fingers and make my lips pucker, but I love them...everything about them!

Wild Blackberry Margarita
Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 1 handful wild blackberries, macerated
  • 1 part tequila
  • 1 part cointreau
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • margarita salt to rim edges of glass
  • extra blackberries & lime wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all in a cocktail shaker. Shake, shake shake! Pour into a glass rimmed with salt, and garnish with lime wedge + blackberries, and you know what to do! Cheers!

Memorial Day: Honoring the Brave

posted on: Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 | via Chandara Creative
Memorial Day | via Chandara Creative
As I read news reports surrounding the recent string of political turmoil in Thailand with the military junta barring further dissent against its coup, and hear how anti-nationalist sentiments, especially those against their revered King are banned in that country, I am reminded that the freedom we enjoy today--the freedom that so many of us take for granted because we feel privy to them--do not exist in so many parts of the globe, and they certainly do not exist without the sacrifices of our brave men and women who defend our country.  So, on this day, as families all over America gather together for a day away from work, let us remember the real reason for this holiday, and let us never forget the honorable men and women who sacrificed everything for us on this Memorial Day. 

Celebrating My First Mother's Day

posted on: Sunday, May 11, 2014


It is my first Mother's Day. It is 4:17 am and I've just finished nursing my son, who at 13 weeks, miraculously sleeps through the night in 4-5 hour intervals. And that, my friend, is the best Mother's Day gift of them all.

Wow. It seems all too surreal that the day would come when I would pen these words, and feel incredibly happy doing so. And while I realize that not every night will be like tonight, and that motherhood will not remain free from blemishes, there is one thing I know for sure: mothers are the true healers of this world. The past 3 months have been the most challenging, but the most life-changing and truly rewarding moments. Seeing the compassion that mothers have for one another has been uplifting for my spirits as I attempt to navigate this new vessel--from the emergency texting and Facebook messaging for advice on how to conquer the perils of breastfeeding to witnessing a mother soothe an inconsolable child whose screams ring through the crisp night air, I am in constant awe of the healing powers of the moms in my life.

Our sacrifices run deep, but then, so does our love for our children -- little people who provide us with a recurring reminder of what it means to live with our hearts beating outside of our bodies each and every day we share with them (Thank you, Vickie). And to that, I honor you...Happy Mother's Day!

Fruity Fetish: Banana Blossom

posted on: Monday, April 28, 2014

In the cultures of Southeast Asia, there appears to be a consensus among the mothers that the blossom of the banana tree yields amazing powers when it comes to nursing your baby. A little over two months have flown by since I embraced motherhood, and to say that it's been a huge learning curve is merely an understatement. One of the most challenging aspects in all of this is breastfeeding, but lo and behold, my mother, such as she is, has her age-old remedy: banana blossom, or hua pbee in Laos. Word has it that this richly-hued fruit, with its milky white sap, is the key to helping nursing moms with their milk production. I kid you not.


The trick to preparing your banana blossom for any dish is to soak it in a bath of cold water sprinkled with the citrus from some slices of lime (or lemon). The citric acid in these fruits stops the oxidation process so that the flesh of the blossom doesn't turn an unappetizing dark color. Afterwards, you'll want to drain out the water and use the sliced blossoms immediately in your favorite soup or salad. Stay tuned for more recipes featuring this healthy delicacy in the upcoming month. 

The trick to prepping a perfect banana blossom:  A citrus ice bath prevents discoloration | via Chandara Creative

How to Prepare a Banana Blossom
Serves 2

  • Ingredients 
    • 1 medium-sized banana blossom
    • 2-3 slices of lemon or lime
    • 1 cup water
  • Instructions:
  • 1. Wash and peel away the darker outer 3-4 "petals" of the banana blossom.  Cut in half lengthwise and thinly slice into small pieces. Soak the prepared banana blossom slices in a bath of cold water sprinkled with lemon or lime for at least 10 minutes. Drain and use immediately in your favorite soup or salad.  

Fruity Fetish: How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket

posted on: Wednesday, April 23, 2014



These days, time is of the essence. With a little guy that demands to be nursed around the clock, I realize that concocting lavish meals, plating, and photographing them have really become a new challenge to say the least--one that I'll hopefully learn to master in due time. So as I embrace my new role, I'm also going to undertake a new series of posts where I'm going to go back to the basics and share with you some fun how-to posts highlighting cool & easy recipes along with some staple ingredients & condiments of Lao cooking, such as my recipe for toasted rice powder that seems to make its way into every dish I love. If this sounds new to you, then let me just preface this by saying that it's quite possibly the key ingredient into amping the volume of any meaty larb dish or refreshing salad, such as my Calamari + Pomelo Salad I featured a while back. So, those are just some of the upcoming posts that's been brewing in my head for quite some time now.

This week, however, I'm sharing a little bit of sunshine with you with my pineapple fruit basket. In lieu of my baby's first Easter basket, he received his own little fruit basket along with a book. I know what you may be thinking: Chandara, the boy doesn't even have any teeth yet and you're one nutty mommy for making this for him (Yes, guilty as charged), but I couldn't help myself seeing that these are currently what's in season at my local grocer. It was actually a pretty fun project and I was quite happy with the final result. I think it would make a lovely Mother's Day centerpiece as well, so why don't you give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Baby's first gig as mommy's professional hand model. It appears that we are still working out the specifics of his compensation package.

How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Step 1: Wash your pineapple and slice it in half, lengthwise

How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Step 2: Using a small paring knife, slice into the inner perimeter of the pineapple, then make 2 cuts down both sides of its core. I find it easiest
this way since you can then slice out the core, and leave the rest of the edible flesh in tact.

How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Step 3: Carefully slice out the meaty flesh of the pineapple 

How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Tip:  I find it easier to slice small sections of the pineapple which leaves the flesh in tact enough so that you can slice chunks of it for your fruit basket.
How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Step 4: Scoop out the remaining bits of flesh with a spoon. Since these chunks are small and uneven, save them to make some pineapple juice which you can
later sprinkle over the fruit salad you'll be putting into your fruit basket.
How to Carve a Pineapple Fruit Basket | via Chandara Creative
Step 5: Slice up a generous variety of colorful fruits for a vibrant pineapple fruit basket. I made mine with chunks of mangoes, nectarines, strawberries,
guavas, watermelons, and of course, pineapple! 

Published in Hawaii Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, April/May 2014

posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2014

It gives me great pleasure to finally blog about this because I've had to keep mum for a few months. A while back, I think you'll remember my post about my Rambutan Mojito Mocktail, and I guess somebody besides my own circle of friends was reading because the editors of Hawaii Luxury Lifestyle Magazine caught wind of it and decided to publish my work for an article on exotic fruits! I'm tickled as I write this because not only is it published in this amazing magazine, but it's for that beautiful place that is near and dear to my heart. If you're a regular on this blog, you already know just how much I adore the aloha aisles and if you also happen to be enjoying spring break on the islands during this time, be sure to snag yourself a copy before hitting the beaches. Mahalo!



Currently Coveting: Parisian Desserts

posted on: Sunday, March 9, 2014

Oh Paris. It's one of those dreamy destinations that is probably high on everybody's bucket list. I know it's on mine. Everyone who's been to Paris has told me the exact same thing: "Chandara, it's just what you've always imagined..romantic, ethereal, and just perfect!" While I long for the day to come, I'm currently living out my dream vicariously through instagrammers who pretty much packed up their bags for the Eiffel Tower and never looked back.

One of my go-to instagram feeds is from Nicole of Gary Pepper Girl, a fashionista who has the dreamiest of jobs--traveling, eating, and documenting her life in this city.  Another Parisian transplant is Carin of Paris in Four Months, a photographer who captures the most amazing images of her dining and sightseeing excursions. We both use the same camera equipment, and I laughed when I read her post about people attributing her amazing images to her camera versus her photographic talent. There are so many times when I get that same remark, and I wonder if I've ever told a host that their food was amazing because their stove was a great chef! Haha! It's probably the worst thing you can say to a photographer because truly, you can give 10 people the same exact camera equipment and I promise you that you will get a multitude of images where you can easily pick out who clearly has talent and who still has yet a ways to go. 

Photography aside, these bloggers have me lusting over Parisian patisseries where the desserts are just as decadent and eye-catching as their impeccably designed packaging and interior walls. These sinfully luxurious sweet pleasures are what I look forward to whenever I can make my way to Paris. What are your favorites? I'd love to hear!

Laduree in Paris | Lexia Frank Photography via Style Me Pretty



L'éclaire de Génie  | via Farfelue
3. Pierre Hermé
Pierre Herme Ispahan | Via Flickr
4. Angelina

Angelina | via Paris in Four Months

While Paris is still a long way from home, I'll definitely make it a point to hit up Bottega Louie in downtown Los Angeles for their macarons, eclairs, and pastries this summer. I cannot wait!

Bottega Louie | Bryce Covey Photography via SMP Living


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