4 steps to make a perfectly braided pastry

Whether sweet or savory filling, braided pastry serves as a gorgeous entrée for a party or easy dinner for those cold lazy winter. Crank up the oven, prep the frozen ready-to-use sheets, add fillings of your choice, make a fancy braid, and while you sit back and relax, watch the heat do its magic as crispy layered pastry is baked to perfection.
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Step 1: Prepping
Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C. Dust flour on working area, place the pastry sheet, apply oil/butter and egg wash. For Egg wash and its outcome see guidelines here. I used  1 egg whites diluted with 2 tbsp of water.
Step 2: Filling
Sweet: Apple Cinnamon puff pastry
Sliced apple, use green apple if you prefer the tart, sautéed to caramelize in medium heat with butter and cinnamon power. Add sugar/maple syrup or get creative and layer it with Nutella.
Savory: Spinach Ricotta Puff Pastry
Minced filling works best. A good vegetarian option is pan-fried onion, garlic with a bunch of spinach and a nice layer of ricotta/ feta cheese and seasoning.
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Step 3: Braid 
Add your filling to prepped pastry sheet, cut slices both side diagonally, like below. Begin braiding and coating with egg wash/water to hold the braid together.
apple puff pastry
Step 4: Baking
Once the oven is preheated to the desired temperature, slide the pastry sheet onto buttered baking tray or use a parchment baking paper. Pop it into the oven for 15-20 mins, watch pastry puff up and the top layer turns golden brown. Once done, set aside for 5 mins to cool down and serve immediately.
puff pastry
The ingredients for this recipe can be easily found at your local grocery store; for my Aussie reader, make a visit to Aldi or Coles.
You will need:
Puff pastry sheets
Egg white – 1
Flour & oil/butter for preparation
Sweet Filling – Apple – 2, cinnamon 1 tsp, Sugar -2 tbsp
Savory Filling – Chopped Spinach 1/2 a bunch, Onion – 1, garlic – 2 pods, Cheese(ricotta/feta) 1/2 cup and salt & seasoning as per taste.
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6 asymmetrical necklaces for a sassy look

There is nothing more glamourous  than a woman who can embrace her true self with all her perfect imperfections… after all even her reflection is chiral.  A friend once told me that my smile looks different in the mirror than real; Startled, I looked back at my reflection, only to see a mirror image of myself. We never see ourselves the same way that the rest of the world does, only mirror images.
Symmetry does not have a place in nature; every being is truly unique. Moved by the thought, asymmetry has come to be my muse in jewellery making. I enjoy designing two types of asymmetrical necklaces:
  •  Beaded necklaces,  dressy, grandiose and edgy
  • Filigree long neck chains are airy, light, bohemian & casual with layered chains
Earrings divinely mismatched for the flower child souls out there. Keep a watch for the asymmetrical earrings upcoming collection by Kaajewel
Beaded necklace with cluster pendant
Turquoise beaded necklace – Pastel aqua blue 8mm beads stringed with white imitation pearls on one side and pearl cluster silver pendent on another.

Turquoise necklace

Night black beaded necklace – Shiny black bead balanced by german silver bead crown with grey-black rhinestone studded in swirl for pendant with a dangling droplet on the side.

Black gem grey

Brown pearl necklace with bejeweled silver leaf pendant  sold with a matching pair of silver tone clasp earrings.

Maroon pearl leaf necklace

Sea Green turquoise strung with tarnished gem beads and fancy bow tie pendant with pearl and frills. Paired with sea green dangles.

Filigree chain necklace

Antique silver leaf filigree pendant  with fine silver tone chain and asymmetrical grey beads and hanging chain earrings to go with it. Another, the purple one is funky and  my personal favorite with amethyst filigree flower with layers of looped links and silver tone chains.
Leaf chain
Asymmetrical necklace collection

Asymmetrical necklace collection

 

 

Wake up Cookie monster! Chocolate chip cookies

Making a comeback to blogging with the most popular recipe ever! Everyone wants to try it and a few have mastered it, yes…. the perfect chocolate chip cookie, crispy on the outside soft and chewy in the inside; the one that melts like butter when you take your first bite, shows you a taste of heaven.
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Served in morning its breakfast, served with milk its dessert. Who can possibly resist the bittersweet indulgence!
Of course this is adapted from various recipes and it worked out well for me. With the right sugar, always the brown baking sugar for the gooey bite and measured amount of chocolate chip to keep you wanting more. And just like that I coined my very own version of chocolaty goodness that I hope to pass on to my future family.
Psst… I hear it’s the fav kinda cookie that even the cookie monster craves.
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Recipe
Crispy on the outside chewy in the inside Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Often missed the gigantic convention oven that is a common place in  most apartments in US but a Samsung microwave/grill/convection oven in India worked just perfectly. My cousin and I had fun baking this recipe together while in India in a microwave oven using the convection oven setting.

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5 essentials of a perfect cheese platter

There’s a saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” must be true, so I thought to myself that good cheese in cozy ambiance should set the right mood for a romantic dinner. My husband loves cheese and he hoped to find a good restaurant that served a well-assembled cheese board. A homemade cheese platter was long overdue and this was my first time buying cheese for party platter.

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After some research on Google God, I learnt the 5 essentials of a cheese platter:

Good Cheese

Of Course!
Something smooth – Goat cheese or brie cheese
Something bitter – Blue cheese or pesto gouda
Something sharp – Double Gloucester spring onion or aged cheddar
Something crunchy – Provolone or parmesan
Make use of all farm animals, cheese make of cow, goat or sheep milk. Select cheese from a variety of family, texture and age.

The Vehicle

Cracker – Go for neutral cracker, salted cracker, I added some sesame sprinkled cracker
Bread – French bread or sourdough are great choices, keep it plain and simple here

Sides

Olives – Green and black olive soaked in extra virgin olive oil and red paprika
Fruits and juice – easy choice, OJ! Orange juice adding some tangy
Mixed nuts – Add some crunch, pistachios, roasted almond even cashew will do

Dips

Hummus dip – plain or flavored hummus; blends well with cracker and olives
Honey or fruit preserve – adding sweetness in palette

Plating

Yes Plating that’s the fifth essential! You may have the best ingredient in hand but an utterly wrong presentation will be an epic fail when it comes to cheese platter. Get creative, slice it dice it, leave a block cheese and serve it in room temperature. Place a few knives extra for your guests.
What more would  you need? Well, lots of food love, finesse and don’t forget to dress up your dinner table a little

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…and that’s my celebratory post, my 67th blog post on the third anniversary of my blogging experience.
Tip: Bangalore foodies can visit the cheese and produce section of Nature’s Basket or Gourmet Westside for most these ingredients. Have fun!

 

Exotic Jaisalmer- the golden fort

“Sonar Killa” is a Hindi word for the golden fort, describes the beauty of this majestic site in the northwestern part of India. Jaisalmer meaning ‘the hill fort of Jaisal’ was once home to the Rajputs – a tribe of traders and warriors.
Located amidst the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer fort was built in 1156 AD by the King Rawal Jaisal.
While France awed the world with Romanesque, Gothic architecture and had begun the construction of the renowned Notre Dame cathedral; the Rajputs created this extraordinary fort with high tower, elaborate turrets, temples and palace filled with Hindu and Jain sculptures, a cultural localization. Rising close to twenty-five floors from the desert floor, the tall fort walls built with yellow sand-stone shimmer a lovely honey gold at sundown.
Apart from the golden fort, the city is famous for its mesmerizing “haveli” or mansions that once housed the royal families in town. The beauty of this place is its ancient yet culturally outstanding architecture. The gates carved from rosewood, pillars containing beautiful dance poses, arches and gazebos bear elaborate sculpted details of flowers, chariot wheels and other rich Indian designs, which shows a significant part of history in itself. This place narrates the remains of its royal past and a glimpse of life in an unspoken medieval era. After all, ‘banjaras’ – the gypsy tribe originated here, later migrated Europe and suffered genocide.
Legends state that this site was chosen on the advice of a Hindu sage, for its golden glow of the desert, forming a perfect camouflage to protect the city’s accumulated wealth against the invaders. Situated on crossroads of business and trade routes, the kingdom flourished by levying taxes on the merchants, travelling between Persia, Egypt and India. The Rajputs stayed independent for centuries, until Mughals invaded the city, yet maintained a good relationship. The kingdom, later faced a major recession, during the British rule due to upcoming coastal regions in south India, that were the East India Company’s vantage points.
Jaisalmer is the last of living forts in India, inhabited by more than 2000 families and thriving even today. The city had its first boost of tourist back in 70’s, after being featured in an Indian cinema. Despite the extreme climatic and peculiar travel conditions, this place remains one of the most visited tourist destination and famous showplace for celebrity weddings and events.
My trip to Jaisalmer with my family was one of the most memorable and exotic vacations. We flew into Ahmedabad and planned a road trip for the rest of our way into Rajasthan. We were welcomed by a few drought struck villages with endless barren landscape of cracked clay beds and vast emptiness; the essence of this place sure comes in small and surprising doses. One after the other, the emotions evoked by this landscape was out of the world for someone from the tropical southern India. Late afternoon, the day was blazing hot, when the dunes appeared at a distance, the air-filled with excitement, for it was my first trip to a desert. Longing to feel the warmth of the sand against our feet while we watch the sunset, we took the camel safari (A must-do in Jaisalmer). After a short, bumpy, and thrilling camel ride deep into the desert, here we were at the desert national forest.
Wind blowing over the ocean of sand hills reshaped the dunes constantly.  Walking on the sand was an exciting challenge; we played and rolled down the steeps of a nature-made playground in fairy-tale proportions. Tired and exhausted, we gazed the never-ending desert while the colors of earth and sky changed during Sunset in the horizon.
The sound of melodious chiraka’s music in the air, with a view of local folk artists dancing and entertaining at a distance made it a fabulous evening.
A silhouette of camel ridden by men wearing turbans, walking on the sand dunes and against the crimson red-blue twilight at the background was a treat to our eyes.
Our evening ended with a grand dance show by the local woman wearing “ghagras”- colorful swirling skirts, luscious local cuisine as we sat around the warmth of a bon fire while the desert temperature dropped drastically. A camp out on the dunes on that cold December night watching the sky lit by arrays of sparkling stars seemed dreamy. With a genie and flying carpet, the whole experience was almost like a sleepover at the Agrabah, a Disney creation.
Next morning, we unveiled the beauty of golden fort, walked around the oldest inhabited citadel, took a boat ride in Gadisar Lake to better reach the pavilions in the water-body and visited two famous ‘havelis’. While we explore the labyrinth of narrow streets, I realized a striking aspect of this fort city. The place is frozen in time, soaked in art and culture that has been the very definition of this place.  The walls were filled with hand crafted cloth dolls, carved wall hangings, silk patchwork quilt bejeweled with stones and mirror work, vibrant rugs and unique home décor items. Not just the streets, the local vendors too staged themselves as actors that lived in the past, dressed in turbans made of tie-dye and yellow scarf and ancient attires.
Several photo worthy moments admiring the brilliant life-style and I walk past the four corners in the bazaar, when a young girl approached asking, “Would you buy some bangles?” Her kohl-lined eyes sparkled in eagerness, when she handed over a dozen mirrored red bangles from her tray. Too hard to resist this wearable souvenir, I purchased it to make both of us happy.
Are the ancient forts and palaces just a mere remain of the flourished past? Or may be a lesson from ancestors, a window into the primitive art, life and culture? Don’t you wonder?
Originally written for  Featuring Magazine and published in issue 2.
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Ear cuff, a raging spring fashion

In case you didn’t hear, ear cuff are the hottest accessory this season. Chic and sassy, it’s been a raging fall trend in Hollywood and our Bollywood fashionista are showing off in style too!  Wearing ear bling will highlight your lady-like contour of earlobe beautifully. No painful piercing needed, affordable, just clip-on and go, who wouldn’t love it? It’s wearable runway trend this year, so go make a dramatic statement with lone-lobbed cuff.
Turquoise ear cuff
Turquoise ear cuff – Sterling silver
A whole bunch of styles of ear cuffs are out there. Accessorize with a studded and spiked punk-rock cuffs, delicate feathery chain wear, wire-wrapped danglers or the ultra-sophisticated ‘red carpet’ choice those bedazzled mega ear wraps.
Deccan Chronicle mentions Kaajewel
“Lend Me Your Ear”, I’m happy to share that “Golden butterfly ear cuff” from Kaajewel is mentioned in today’s newspaper. Check out Bangalore Deccan Chronicle Kiosk section (p.25). Kaajewel designs wire-wrapped ear-cuffs with either chains, crystal or a combination of both. For an everyday look, an airy mini wire-wrapped cuffs are a great choice! Trend yourself to beaded turquoise, crystal or chains ready.
Desi women aren’t new to loud ear accessories. May it be a 90’s Bollywood 3-tier chains jhumka or multiple ear piercing, ethnically, we have always portrayed grandeur in ear-wear. Although cuffed earrings may seem daunting but it is quite easy if you keep it minimalistic!
Easy ways to accessorize with ear cuffs:
Asymmetry is the key unless you are dressing up as an elf for a halloween party. Like those long feather earrings, you may go bare on the other ear or wear a stone stud or a pearl.
For an evening out, dress it up with a ponytail or pretty hair updo. You can also pair a beaded cuff with denim and a playful tee and a side-swept braid or messy bun to get an edgy look. Go easy on your make-up and spike those necklaces for today. It’s good to keep you curls tied and off your face to flaunt those ear cuffs!

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How to make a Ruffle bead bracelet

Cute little bow ribbons, fancy laces, flowing ruffles with a bit of bling is good to make a your outfit ooze femininity. With that in mind, I added a ruffle-y ribbon to my jewelry design. Quite simple, this design is almost viral on pinterest  do-it-yourself community. Tangy orange beads interweaved with navy blue ribbon, just like the LucidMemoirs logo! This is a slight variation form the usual pearl bracelet, finished with silver filigree spacer beads.
Ruffle bracelet

Pinspiration 

There are a whole bunch of ribbon pearl bracelet out there but I love how this Eileen has shared this DIY on YesMissy so perfectly! I followed these instructions and finished it in a jiffy.
Pssst… check out her gorgeous nail color, such a summery happy palette!
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…and now, here’s me, being a pretentious book reader. I’m just posing for the bracelet while my husband click a few interesting shots.Ribbon ruffle
Well, Is it just me or, are other people out there? I hardly ever read  books as much and I’m usually never ashamed to admit the fact that books, especially big fat novels are boring! Even the best-sellers. I think this holds good for most jewelry artists, we wouldn’t mind spending 6 straight hours cooped up in a corner with open boxes of beads, tools and messy table but something like reading is often considered taxing.
You can also find this bracelet on Kaajewel eStore.
Photo courtesy – Kiran @ f2infiniti