Topsy Turvy

I love upside down cakes. Pineapple is the traditional cake, but any basic recipe can be a terrific vehicle for lots of other fruits... pears, peaches, apples, mangoes, oranges, cherries and, in today's recipe, apricots.

There are many traditional "upside-down" desert preparations and most are based on caramel bottoms that become the tops. The French tart tatin has long been a favorite of mine. Since moving to the Southwest, I have come to love flan, the Mexican version of crème caramel. In Brazil, they have a cake called bolo de banana which I have actually seen made in a microwave. I have yet to eat a bolo de banana but feel my day is coming for that adventure.

This cake today was inspired by a purchase of 12 lovely apricots at the grocery store. I could smell them as I passed them and thought, "Wow, they are ripe!" But, when I got them home and bit into one, it was quite sour and not what I craved.


Past(a) Perfect!

There are some days when you absolutely need pasta. Need. For me, they are the days when stress gets the better part of me, and nothing soothes like a bowl of starchy, toothsome, savory pasta.

But, I have to admit that I am very carefully watching what I am eating lately. It is not because the doctor said so, it is because I realize that it is simply too easy to ignore the fact that I am 'of a certain age' and I should be eating better. And I feel better - and sleep better - because of it.

Happily, when Mark and I drove across country to our new home in the Arizona desert in 2005, we decided that we would not eat any junk food or fast food along the way. No Mickey D's, no Burger König, no highway rest stop junk food. To our surprise, it was easy.


Crisp & Delicious

Sounds like an apple, eh?  Well, it's not... although I have been enjoying apple chunks for my mid-morning snacks lately.  This week's recipe if for individual blueberry crisps that border on healthy.  Actually, when you consider the ingredients - blueberries, oats, almonds - it really is healthy.  My version is based on one I found online (Epicurious) but I made a few changes/additions to suit my palate.

The first time I made it, I didn't feel there was quite enough topping, so I remedied that.  Also, as blueberries are naturally sweet, it had a sweetness that some of the reviewers said was "cloying" and they cut the sugar in half.  While I found that statement pretty silly (considering the recipe only has 6 tablespoons of sugar total compared to my mother's crisp which has close to 2 cups!), I did find it needed a little acid to brighten the flavors. Lemon zest did the trick.


Bacon. Eggs. Toast.

As Mark and I sat down to eat our (mostly) healthy supper of Salade Lyonnaise, he looked at it and said, "I get it! Bacon, eggs and toast on a salad!" I hadn't thought of it that way before, but he was right.  That is pretty much all it is.  But it is so tasty and has all my favorite elements: health (salad), allure (anything food + French) and comfort (bacon, eggs, toast).

What you see here today in my photos is not an official Salade Lyonnaise.  To be official, the lettuce used must be frisée. And the bacon really should be French lardons - not a smoky American cut.  However, when cleaning out the refrigerator to avoid waste, I used what I had on hand - a combination of mâche (lamb's lettuce) and romaine, with some maple-smoked bacon.  No one (well, neither Mark nor I) complained.