Pineapple roti, lemongrass-kaffir leaf ice cream & chili caramel

Pineapple Roti
Don’t wait for summer to try this. Vanilla ice cream works if lemongrass/kaffir is not an option.

The 3 scoops of ice cream in the previous post may have resembled the colors of Neapolitan, but strawberry is the only one to fit the description. The remaining 2 – lemongrass-kaffir lime leaf, cardamom coffee – are flavors that grabbed my attention on MasterChef Australia. Both are exotic, bold, intriguing combinations that we immediately loved even without the extra dessert components that made up the whole plate.

The dish above is from a recipe by contestant Tamara Graffen and the element to catch my eye was the roti bread she prepared as part of the plating. I’m familiar with Indian roti, but this roti, or more precisely roti canai, is part of southeast Asian cuisine and differs in look and texture. Crunchy, flaky, butter-kissed layers of fried dough that works with savory or sweet dishes. I’ve been making these 2-3 times a week to serve on the side with curry because they are that good!

Making roti canai

Look for roti canai on the web and you might come across a guy tossing dough in the air like a pizza pro. The simplified home version is easier, and requires gentle patting and stretching with the fingertips to achieve a transparent thinness. A few bits of cold butter goes on top before folding into thirds from top to bottom, then left to right.

Roti canai

I love watching these puff up on a hot skillet. And that delicious aroma of melting butter…

Roti canai

My favorite part is the next step. The roti is scrunched up by clapping your hands around it. Clap! Clap! Clap! I find this part so therapeutic?!

The roti can be made several hours ahead of time and warmed in the oven, but you really want to devour these right out of the skillet. The full recipe can be found here.


Looking out the window

Face in the window banknote
20€ banknote – hold it up to the light and a face appears

Our faces have been doing a lot of that lately (like in the past 3 weeks!) as it’s too cold to venture out for a proper walk in the woods. This might drive anyone crazy being stuck inside all the time, but look at these two – do they seem bored out of their little minds or just plain lazy?

Mister and Maddie

If you thought bored, that would be the Westie, because cold is nothing to her Scottish roots. She’s been a little out of sorts though with some bladder issues, suffering from incontinence on occasion and the frequent need to pee. Thank goodness for absorbent pet mats. A visit to the vet for an ultrasound shows a growth (benign) in her bladder that is getting bigger, but slowly. The vet had to shave “little windows”, as she called it, on both sides of Maddie’s body to do the screening. It should grow out in a couple of months!

Maddie sporting her 'little windows' look
Rockin’ the ‘window look’ my dog butt

Despite the icy weather, there’s no lack of things to do around the house and definitely extra time to whip up something in the kitchen. What do I do? I think the photo below gives a general idea but you’d be surprised at how a simple frozen treat transforms into a special dessert with a few extra elements.

Not neapolitan

Baklava apples with lemon yogurt and apple pickles

Baklava apple with lemon yogurt

Inspired by a recipe on MasterChef Australia, these baklava apples take the plain stuff-and-bake version to new heights. Lemon yogurt adds a nice creamy zing, and a mixed nut baklava roll compliments the dish. The real surprise though is in the apple “pickles” flavored with lemon juice and rosewater.

Envy apples

Baking apples are best for making these (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Pink Lady) but I used Envy. Envy is new on the market here and has an amazingly sweet, floral taste that is fabulous for just eating. It’s probably not the best for open-dish baking as the flesh is really firm and crisp. It took 75 minutes in the oven at 190°C (fan on) to get them soft enough, but wrapped in foil and baked next to embers in the wood oven, they were done in an hour.

For 2 baklava apples you will need:

2 large baking apples
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater
3 sheets (14.5-inch/37cm x 9.5-inch/24cm) phyllo dough
Clarified butter, melted

For the baklava rolls

1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a good pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon chopped pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon dessicated coconut
Honey for brushing over the top after baking

For the apple “pickles”

One apple, peeled, cut in half and core removed
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 teaspoons rosewater
a pinch of cinnamon powder

To serve

Lemon yogurt or lemon ice cream
baby mint leaves (optional)
candied rose petals (optional)

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F, fan on. Slice 1/4-inch off the top of the apples. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core and seeds. Peel and remove the skins, leaving the bottoms intact.

Combine the walnuts, almonds, raisins, sugar and rosewater. Set aside until ready for use.

Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on work surface, short end facing toward you. Brush with clarified butter; repeat with remaining sheets. Cut into 3 equal strips. Lay the apple at the bottom of the strip and roll. Gently press phyllo wrapping to conform to the apple’s shape. Repeat with 2nd apple.

For rolled baklava, combine all of the ingredients except the honey. Sprinkle this mixture over the surface of the third strip and roll up tightly starting from the bottom end.

Baklava apple prep

Generously stuff apples with the reserved mixture and place apples and rolled baklava on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the outer surface of wrapped apples and baklava roll with melted clarified butter. Drizzle some butter over the stuffed apples as well. Bake the baklava roll for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove, cut in half crosswise and brush with warmed honey. Continue baking the stuffed apples for 20-30 minutes until the tip of a small paring knife easily slips in when pierced.

Baklava apples unbaked

While the apples are baking, make the apple pickles. Cut the halves into very thin slices and combine with lemon juice, rosewater and cinnamon; set aside.

When the apples are done, remove from oven and set each into serving dishes. Add a spoonful of lemon yogurt to the side and top with baklava half. Arrange apple pickle segments around the baked apple. Garnish with candied rose petals and mint leaves.

Baklava apple dessert