Green cabled hat – and a trip to Europe

It’s been quite a while since my last post here…I went to Europe at the end of August for a little over two week vacation.
I first flew to Stockholm and spent a couple of days exploring the city, then flew on to Budapest, just in time to get there for my older nieces’ wedding. The event turned out just as they planned, the guests appeared to enjoy themselves as well, it was a beautiful summer day – and I took over 800 photographs. Which is partly the reason why I have been absent here – I am slowly working my way through the gigantic digital pile of pictures.
But back to the trip – after the wedding I left for my old school town, Sárospatak, in the north-eastern part of Hungary, to meet up with some of my high school class mates. Due to the fact that the wedding was in August, I was not able to go back for our 30 year high school reunion at the end of May, so this was my “make-up” for the missed reunion.
Then my brother, sister and brother-in-law picked me up in Sárospatak, and we drove to Slovakia to spend a couple of days exploring some historic towns, castles and the Tatra mountains.
This was my vacation in a nutshell – I am hoping to carve out some time to upload some photos and write a bit more in detail about trip, and hopefully post some pictures from the wedding as well.


The knitting project I completed while traveling was this green cabled hat for Michael. The yarn – Juniper Farm Farm Moonshine – is amazing. It is so soft, and the color I used, Forest, is a gorgeous deep green shade. I will definitely use this yarn again for a future project.
If you would like the details of the hat, you can find it on my Ravelry page.

Mango coconut pudding

Mango coconut puddingINGREDIENTS
½ cup (125ml) boiled hot water
1 packet (1 tbsp) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
1 cup (250ml) fresh ripe mango puree (about 2 medium mangoes)

some diced mangoes and shredded coconut to garnish

In a medium bowl, whisk together the gelatin and boiled hot water until no lumps remain.
Whisk in the sugar and salt until dissolved.
Stir in the coconut milk, then mango puree until mixture is smooth.
Pour into 4 ramekins or small bowls. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Recipe adapted from

Fresh vegetable spring roll with peanut or garlic-ginger-soy dipping sauces

Fresh vegetable spring roll with two dipping saucesRoll ingredients
1-1 1/2 cup thinly shredded purple cabbage
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned
2 large carrots, julienned
8-10 asparagus spears, steamed and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces
3 green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
about 2 cups sprouts
10-12 rice papers (I used 22 cm papers)

Fill a large bowl with hot water.
Soak a single rice paper in the hot water until it’s completely soft and flexible. This could take anywhere from a few seconds to more than 30 seconds depending on the brand/type of rice paper. I have best results soaking them for about 30 seconds.
Gently shake the excess water from the rice paper, lay it straight out onto your work space.
Let it sit for about 30 seconds to absorb any excess water, the papers won’t stick together properly if they’re really wet.

Lay some cabbage and some of the julienned vegetables down in the middle of the wrap, top with asparagus, green onions and sprouts. Try to keep the fillings laid neatly, making sure to leave ample room on each side to easily fold the wrap. Lift the side of the rice paper that’s closest to you, gently pull it forward (away from you) over the fillings. Hold the wrap firmly while you fold in each end of the wrap. Continue rolling to seal the seam.

Peanut Sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar (or maple syrup)
2-3 tbsp water to thin

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously OR combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse.
Store extra sauce in the fridge. I like to keep mine in a glass salad dressing bottle. It may thicken up when refrigerated, I just run my bottle under hot running tap water until it softens back to a liquid.
Makes approx. ½ cup of sauce.

Recipe adapted from

Garlic-ginger-soy Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1-2 tbsp water to thin
Pinch of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Recipe adapted from

Spelt ravioli with Swiss chard, pine nut and ricotta filling

Home made pasta admittedly is quite a bit of work – not difficult, but it certainly takes more time than opening a package of store-bought pasta and dumping into a pot of boiling water. But all that time spent with mixing up the flour, eggs, water, olive oil and salt, passing the dough through the pasta maker (or rolling out with a rolling pin), creating little mounds of filling, and cutting it into individual little packets – is so well worth it when you bite into that wholesome goodness of spelt pasta. Experiment with the filling, if you like – you can replace the Swiss chard with fresh spinach or arugula, for example.

Processed with VSCO with s1 presetPasta ingredients:
2 cups spelt flour
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 heaping pinch of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Add all ingredients in the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, and mix on low until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add water, if too wet, add flour – a little bit at a time. On a floured surface, finish kneading by hand until dough is soft. Cover in cling wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Filling ingredients:
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and ribs discarded and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tbs. pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese

Sauté garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat, until fragrant and pine nuts are light brown in color. Add Swiss chard in batches. As the Swiss chard wilts and cooks down a bit, add more. Continue until all the Swiss chard is added. Season with salt and pepper. Cook covered, until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. Add ricotta cheese and stir. This filling can be chilled in the fridge while the dough is being rolled out.

Making the ravioli

After letting the dough rest, divide it in half, then in half again -you’ll have four little balls. Flatten your first piece of dough into a rectangle. Dust with flour, so it won’t stick to the rollers. Feed through pasta machine at its lowest setting. Do this a few times until the dough looks nice and combined and then turn the dial on the pasta machine to next setting. Run through once. Turn the dial to the next setting. Run through again. Again, dust with flour as needed or, to be on the safe side, between every turn. My machine goes to 9, but I usually only roll my pasta sheets for ravioli out to a 7 or 8. If you roll your pasta out too thin, you risk it coming apart while folding or boiling. Continue for each section of dough.

Along half of your rolled out pasta sheet, place a teaspoonful of filling about an inch apart. Cover with a sheet of pasta, and press down between the piles of filling to flatten. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the ravioli apart, then lay the ravioli on a towel lined baking dish.
The ravioli can be cooked right away or placed in the freezer. Once frozen they can be put in a gallon ziplock bag for longer term freezer storage. Regardless of whether you are eating them now or later, to cook the ravioli, just boil some water, and cook the ravioli until they float, about 3-4 minutes if fresh and a little longer if frozen.

Top with marinara sauce and chopped fresh basil.

Pasta recipe adapted from and filling recipe adapted from

Apricot spelt cake with almond, yogurt and olive oil

Apricot spelt cake with almond, yogurt and olive oilIngredients
3/4 cup (150 g) organic cane sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (190 ml) yogurt (or milk)
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup (210g) spelt flour
1/4 cup (25g) ground almonds or almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 vanilla bean
6 apricots, quartered and pitted (about 500 g)
Powdered sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a 9-inch cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and brush sides and bottom with a bit of olive oil.
In a bowl, mix the sugar and zest together. Work the zest into the sugar rubbing between fingers – this releases the natural oils in the zest. Add the eggs, yogurt, olive oil and almond extract. Whisk together until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, ground almond or almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Scrape in the beans from the vanilla bean and mix well.
Add the liquids into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Top the cake with the apricots in a circular pattern.
Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes until cool enough to handle. Invert onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from

Basil walnut pesto

walnut basil pestoFresh basil has amazing health benefits – and it grows very easily both in the garden, or a pot. For this recipe I used 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves and it made a jam jar-size worth of pesto. It can easily be doubled, though, and frozen in an ice cube tray for later – pesto keeps in the freezer up to a year.
If you make the quantity below, it will fit in a small food processor – if you double it, use the full-size version.


2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
2-4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more.
Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. (If you’re planning on freezing it, omit the cheese and stir it in once you defrost it.)

Recipe adapted from

Pesto salmon and tomatoes in foil

Pesto salmon with tomatoes in foilIngredients

4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp pesto, homemade or store-bought
1 lime
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 large pieces of foil (about 9×11 inches)
Put 2 pieces of salmon on one piece of foil and spread 1 Tbsp pesto over the top of each. Layer half of the tomatoes over the two pieces of salmon. Cut lime in half, slice 4 thin slices, set aside slices. Drizzle juice from remainder of 1 half over each fillet, as well as 1 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, lay 1 slice of lime over each filet. Wrap sides of foil in and roll and crimp edge to seal, then wrap ends upward to seal (don’t wrap too tightly you want the heat to be able to circulate well). Repeat with other two pieces of salmon.
Place two foil packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until salmon has cooked through, about 20 – 28 minutes (cook time will vary depending on thickness of salmon and desired degree of doneness).

Recipe adapted from