White chocolate and strawberries creme brulee

When my friends come over and I want to treat them well, I will do my absolute best. This. Just this statement.

It was one of those gloomy afternoons that I wanted to just crawl into bed and wake up after 20 years. I got a call from my friend to ask how was I and if I wanted to have coffee within the hour. I said sure. It would have been a pleasure. So I got my sorry arse off the sofa and started thinking. He has a great affection for strawberries and white chocolate (yes, all the desserts you see here that contain these two ingredients are made for him) so I opened the freezer and took the strawberries out.

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I wanted to do something that he didn’t have before. So I decided to go with a crème Brûlée. We prepared the coffee once the dessert was ready and we didn’t talk much. We ate 4 ramekins of crème Brûlée between us. We probably needed insulin shots after wards but it was totally worth it! Let’s make it!

Serves: 6 (normal people)

Time needed: 45 minutes plus cooling time

You will need:
1 cup of cream
1 cup of full fat milk
4 large egg yolks
120 grams of white chocolate
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 vanilla sachets
200 grams of strawberries, chopped to small pieces

Let’s get going!

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Preheat your oven to 165 degrees Celsius. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until pale. Set them aside. In a smaller bowl, chop the white chocolate to small pieces. In a small pan, heat the milk, cream and vanilla over medium to high heat, stirring constantly to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pour the hot milk over the white chocolate and stir to melt it. As soon as it melts and it is mixed evenly, start pouring it over the egg yolks beating constantly so that they don’t cook. Now you have the mixture ready. Set it aside. Prepare your ramekins. Place a few strawberries in each one, fill them with the mixture up to 2/3 and add a few more strawberries. Place the now filled ramekins in a large pan and fill the pan until it is half way up the ramekins. Bake them in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is set but still jiggles.

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Allow them to cool to room temperature, and set them in the fridge for 2 hours.

I don’t own a blowtorch to make the caramel on top so what I did was, I made caramel out of sugar. Just pour some sugar in a pan over medium to high heat and let it melt. Be careful when handling hot caramel; it is scathing. Once melted, I used a spoon and quickly drizzled it over the custards. Enjoy your crème Brûlée with a cup of coffee and in the company of a dear friend!

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Until next time,

The digital cook

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Steaks, vegetables and garlic bread

Typical Saturday night. I went to my parent’s house in the village, played a bit with my nephews, started creating a new project about the universe. I was expecting this Saturday to go as all other where I was just laying on the sofa watching a movie and munching on pop corn. Apparently, it didn’t. I got a call from one of my best friends and he told me he had a surprise. He purchased from a lovely butcher shop here in Limassol 3 aged T-bone steaks and he was coming over to cook them. So I went home, prepared some oven vegetables, a loaf of garlic bread with cheese and we cooked them to perfection. The first one we cooked it rare and it was the juiciest steak I have ever had. We devoured it while we were cooking the other two (you know, to have as a proper meal). We prepared them medium rear with garlic, rosemary and lots of butter. It really was a great steak. A great Saturday night in!

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For the steak recipe:

https://digitalcook.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/steak-potatoes-and-coleslaw/

For the oven baked vegetables:

https://digitalcook.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/oven-baked-vegetables/

For the garlic bread:

https://digitalcook.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/pub-food-2-garlic-bread/

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Enjoy your steak with a glass of red wine!

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Until next time,

The digital cook!

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Baked Strawberry Cheesecake

Happy new year everybody! Another year gone by and I am none the wiser. It was a special occasion when we met with a friend. We wanted to celebrate an achievement and a glorious baked cheesecake was the cake to go. So I wanted to impress him (as you do) because I always want to show my friends that I appreciate and love them. Cheesecake is one of his favourites, so I went over and decided to make a baked cheesecake with strawberries. Gordon Ramsay gives a lovely recipe in his home cooking books so I said that I was making that. I changed it a bit and for your pleasure, here it is. Let’s get going!

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Time needed: 1 hour

Serves: 8-10 people

You will need:
550g cream cheese, at room temperature
160g of icing sugar + 1 tablespoon extra+ extra for dusting
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp of all purpose flour
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
250g strawberries roughly chopped
2 vanilla sachets
150 grams of melted white chocolate

Let’s make it!

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter and then dust with a little bit of icing sugar a cake tin with a spring bottom. In a small bowl put 1/3 of the chopped strawberries with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar. Mix it and set it aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated. Add the beaten eggs in three batches while beating until everything is combined. Add the melted white chocolate, the flour, lemon zest and vanilla and beat well until incorporated. Then fold through 2/3 of the chopped strawberries.

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Add the mixture in the prepared cake tin and tap it against the counter so that all the air bubbles escape. Bake the cheesecake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes until set on the edges but wobbling slightly in the middle.

Once cooked, let the cake to come to room temperature and remove it from the tin, running a knife around the edges to loosen it if necessary. Serve a large wedge of the cheesecake with some of the remaining strawberries and some of the liquid that was released by the fruit. Enjoy it with good company and a large cup of coffee or tea!

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You can have the mellow voice of Gordon Ramsay to guide you through this by clicking on the link below:

Until next time,

The digital cook

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Pizza rolls

I think I am getting very lazy lately. Not so much lazy per se, but being too busy at times I am too exhausted to write a new blog post despite the new recipes and pictures that I have stored. So today, a lovely Sunday, I decided to post a new recipe. This one is very easy. I made it with my nephews when they were over. They wanted something savoury to eat with their hot chocolate and then pancakes with honey as a dessert. Who am I to say no to these adorable kids? So we searched my fridge and pantry and we came up with pizza rolls. Yep. You only need 6 ingredients. And 25 minutes in the oven. And they are done. Let’s make it!

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Serves 3-4 people as an afternoon snack

Time needed: 35 minutes (includes cooking time)

You will need:
1 sheet of puff pastry
A jar of readymade tomato sauce (I use Pomodoro e Basilico from Barilla)
4 slices of smoked cured ham
1 green bell pepper finely chopped
10 black olives, pip removed and sliced
2 handfuls of grated mozzarella

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Let’s get going!

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. On a floured surface, open the puff pastry sheet. Smear it with the sauce, sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top and roll it into a log. Using a very sharp knife cut it into disks about 1 inch thick. Lay a tray with oven paper and place the disks about 3 centimetres apart. Bake them until golden brown. Enjoy them with your afternoon coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

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Until next time,

The digital cook

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Grilled pineapple with caramel sauce

I went to visit my nephews three days ago. They are always going on that they want to try some of my recipes (they actually have favourites) and they pick ingredients that they like and we make it into something beautiful. And I say we, because cooking and baking are a team effort when it comes to my boys. Saturday last was a day that they actually surprised me. They wanted to try my home made burgers. They told me to tone the chillies down and make them as normal. I couldn’t believe my ears. And the best thing is that my younger nephew wanted to try them as well and he is a very picky eater being six and all. So we made the burgers with basil, garlic, chillies, herbs, onions, parmesan. The boys loved them.

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I was so pleased to hear them tell me that they are amazing and that they prefer them to readymade burgers (something unheard of until that day). But I was even more surprised when they asked me for a dessert with pineapple. So I went through my recipes and I found this amazing Gordon Ramsay recipe with pineapple. The kids loved it and I am sure you will too! Let’s make it!

Time needed: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

You will need:
1 pineapple cut into quarters lengthwise, and then into eights
1 and a half cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of cold water
6 tablespoons of cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1 sachet of vanilla
Sprinkle of cinnamon

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Let’s get going!

In a griddle pan that is very hot place the pineapple on one side to grill it. Dust it with a little sugar and let it cook until grill marks form. Turn it on the other side and grill. Take it out on a board and set it aside. In a large non stick pan over high heat add the sugar, cinnamon, water and vanilla. Without stirring let it turn into deep amber colour and remove from heat. Remember not to stir it while on the heat and if you let it get too brown it will go bitter. Remove from heat and add the butter. Whisk carefully until is melted. Add the cream and whisk. Return it to the heat and once it bubbles (it shouldn’t take more than 1 minute) drizzle it over the grilled pineapple. Enjoy it with your afternoon tea or coffee or after a great lunch!

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Until next time,

The digital cook

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No bake Oreo cheesecake

You know how I always try to please and take care of my friends and love ones? Well this time was no different. I wanted to make something that I haven’t done before and the idea came to me while watching the food network. There was this delicious looking Oreo cheesecake that I wanted to try out. But me being me, I didn’t even bother with the recipe. Instinctively, I knew what to be done and I how to do it with minimum effort and to taste great. I have this gift (as my friends call it) you see. I know what is inside a cake, I can recognise ingredients, I know what is missing, I just know. I think this comes from years of experience, watching too many cooking shows, baking for too long and the baker’s and chef’s fire that burns inside me. I had one of my best friends over but I didn’t tell him what I made for dessert. He always tries to guess what the dessert will be but he is almost always caught by surprise. Same thing happened today as well. He walks in and tells me that he takes his coffee with no sugar and with a little bit of milk and a large white chocolate lava cake (which I made for him two weeks ago; for the recipe see here: https://digitalcook.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/white-chocolate-lava-cake-with-strawberries/). I said that I already knew how he likes his coffee but is a no go on the white chocolate lava cake. His face drops and asks what is for dessert. When I showed him, his faces lit up and he couldn’t stop eating. He actually said and I quote: “This dessert is heavenly. I think I just climaxed”. Hahahahahah. Well, I don’t know if it was that good, but it surely was heavenly. And when I gave him the rest to take home with him, his sister messaged me to tell me that the cake was divine and that I should have been working for a hotel as a pastry chef. OK. I think I have tooted my own horn long enough! Enjoy the cheesecake!

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Serves: 8-10 people

Time needed: 20 minutes + overnight refrigeration

You will need:
2 store bought readymade chocolate sponges
300 grams of cream cheese
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 vanilla sachets
100 grams of white chocolate
300 ml of double cream (I used double cream substitute with only 13% fat; it’s my favourite)
3 large egg whites
Half a glass of milk
10 Oreo cookies
For the butterscotch:
1 and a half cups of sugar
1/3 of the cup of water
1 vanilla sachet
1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of cream

Let’s make it!

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Get yourself a pan with a spring bottom. Place the first sponge on the bottom, and using a brush soak it with the milk. Set it aside. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese with the 3 tablespoons of sugar until well incorporated. Set it aside. In a different bowl, beat the double cream with one vanilla sachet until very stiff. In a third bowl beat the egg whites with the remaining vanilla until stiff peaks form and is glossy. In a double boiler melt the white chocolate.

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Now let’s combine. Using a spatula carefully fold the cream in the cream cheese mixture. Then, in thirds, fold the egg whites in the mixture. Lastly mix the melted white chocolate in the bowl with the filling mixture. Pour it over the wet sponge cake and top with the other one. Using a brush wet the top sponge with milk and set it in the fridge overnight. About 20 minutes before serving time, prepare the butterscotch. In a pan place the sugar, vanilla and water and bring it to a boil without stirring. Once the caramel goes brown in colour immediately remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted.

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Add the cream and return it to the stove until it bubbles stirring constantly. Once it starts bubbling remove it from the heat and empty it in a bowl to cool down a bit. Remove the cake from the spring form and set it on a serving plate or board. Top with the caramel and crush the Oreo cookies on top. Serve it and enjoy it with a lovely cup of hot tea or coffee!

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Until next time,

The digital cook

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White chocolate lava cake with strawberries

The first ten days of October are already gone and it is getting hotter here. No rain, no clouds, no wind. It is like August. I really miss winter. I really do procrastinate some times. I don’t know. I think I am lazy on top of everything else. I wanted to write a beautiful blog post regarding my culinary experiences in France but I keep putting it off. All I want to do all day is sit on my arse and read. Not that is a bad thing. It’s just, time goes by so easily and I don’t get to enjoy life some times. I need to change my priorities I think. Be more active, go out more, and see more friends. Even that, the seeing friends thing, still I’d rather have them over and cook for them instead of going out. I just want to cook, bake and read. I think this is a dead end. I really need to revaluate my life and where it is headed. All these thoughts go through my head when I read a book. And all the thinking and reading take place while listening to some music and drinking tea. While I usually ignore my surroundings when reading, for me it is just background noise, this time I paused and listened to the song playing. Often the only thing playing is jazz or blues with no words, you know, classic jazz. But the rhythm seemed familiar. And that made me stop reading. This reminded me of something old and very familiar. It came to me as an epiphany. It was “Strawberry Fields” by The Beatles. I closed the book thinking. I had frozen strawberries in the freezer. And what goes amazingly well with strawberries? White chocolate. I stood up. I was torn between finishing the book and preparing something great. And my mind was made up. I would prepare the dessert to enjoy it with a cup of tea while reading my book. And so I did. I finished the book that day while devouring the dessert with my cup of tea. It’s a hard job but somebody’s got to do it.

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Time needed: 31 minutes

Serves: 4

You will need:
300 grams of frozen strawberries
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of icing sugar + 1 extra for dusting
180 grams of good quality white chocolate
80 grams of butter
2 large free range eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of crystallised sugar
Pinch of salt
2 vanilla sachets
1/4 cup of flour

Let’s make it.

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Place your frozen strawberries in a bowl and place them on your kitchen counter to thaw at least an hour before you start preparing the cakes. Get 4 ramekins. Using a brush and some butter, apply it in the ramekins using upward strokes. This will help the cake to rise evenly. Set them in the freezer for 10 minutes and repeat. After the second time, add a tablespoon of icing sugar in the first mould and tip it to cover the bottom and sides of the ramekin. Tip the remaining in the second ramekin and repeat with all of them. Set them in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie stirring constantly. Once it is melted remove it from the heat and set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks until frothy. Add the crystallised sugar, vanilla and salt and beat again until pale. Add the melted chocolate and stir it in until well combined. Add the flour and mix using a spatula until everything is incorporated. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and place them in the oven.

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Cook them blindly for 12 minutes checking after that every minute to make sure that the top is nicely browned and a bit firm to the touch. At the 16 minute mark they should be ready. If you over bake them, they will turn to muffins. Take them out of the oven and let them rest for a minute. In the mean time the strawberries should have thawed. Add the lemon juice and icing sugar and mix well. Tip the ramekins into individual plates, add a few of the strawberries with some syrup and serve them immediately with a nice cup of coffee or tea!

Until next time,

The digital cook

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