May 8, 2011

Travels near and far

It's been rather quiet around here lately. As well as starting a new job (chaotic!), I've been hopping around Asia too. So please forgive me if my updates are a bit sparse. First, we went to Cebu in the Philippines for the Easter weekend, where we lazed around and went island hopping and I ordered at least six green mango smoothies (much tangier and tastier than regular ripe yellow mangoes).

Then it was back to HK and work. I saw some pretty Japanese candies at the local supermarket. I had to get a smartphone for work (urgh! I have a terrible, compulsive email-checking habit) so I got an iPhone 4 and have been playing around with the Instagram app.

This weekend, I hopped on a plane and visited an old college friend for her birthday. She runs a chocolate and confectionery factory near Xiamen, in Fujian province. Here's a photo of the sea there, in Zhangzhou. Xiamen was prettier and the air was cleaner than I expected. It's a fast-developing middle-tier city, but it's also a relatively nice beach town with some good boutique shopping and an appreciation of music and arts culture.

I've got three more cities to visit before the end of May: next week I'm headed to Bangkok for work, then to New York the week after (also for meetings) and then a couple days' layover in Vancouver so I can renew my driver's license. Then it's back to Hong Kong and hopefully no more travel until July when Jon and I head to Wisconsin and the UP (Michigan) to visit family.

May 1, 2011

Pineapple almond upside-down cake

 I'm normally a huge fan of pineapple (my mother always soaked fresh pineapple in brine "to get the dirt out" before serving it to us as children, which I absolutely hated and left me with a lifelong wariness of the fruit), but I confess I do have a soft spot for sweet, sticky, caramel classic - pineapple upside down cake.

Here's an adaption of a great recipe that I tested out from the BBC Good Food Cookbook which gives you a simple soft sponge cake topped with crunchy caramel, sweet-tart pineapple, and nutty roasted almonds. I've adjusted the recipe to fit a 8"/20cm square pan, but if you want to make a slightly larger, taller, cake , simply double and bake in a 22cm square or 20cm round baking pan.

I also got rid of the maraschino/glacé cherries as a topping, as I've always been slightly grossed out by their glaringly gaudy artificial redness and their cloying sweetness. But of course, each to his/her own, so feel free to add them if you like. Just don't tell me. :)