Fajitas

Summer is here. The hot weather demands for company in the backyard, soft music playing, cool drinks and a special meal. Last night, my best man and his wife invited me over to their lovely house for such a dinner.

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The table was set under the beautiful large lemon tree, classical jazz was playing over and there was a huge pitch of margaritas waiting for us. Their maid of honour flew from Greece to see us so we planned this ahead. There were colourful lights hanging from the lemon tree and almost no sound coming from anywhere except from the pc playing those smooth tunes.

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I suggested we made a dinner that was festive and people could help themselves. Nothing formal, but nice, summery, a good company to our margaritas and enough to fill us up. I offered to cook and they do the drinks. So I prepared a lovely Caribbean/Mexican chicken with lots of peppers, spices and chicken. The /Caribbean goes to the fact that the spices we used were a mixture of the two cuisines. I also made guacamole.

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We had a lovely night, we laughed, we drank, we ate and we passed the night chatting away and having fun. You can find all the recipes below to prepare your own summery feast to treat you friends and loved ones.

Guacamole
1 avocado
1 lemon (juice only)
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium sized tomato cut in really small cubes
Salt, pepper, chilli flakes

Cut the avocado in half; remove the pit and using a teaspoon empty the flesh in a small bowl. Using a fork melt the avocado into a paste. Add all of the ingredients, season to your liking and mix thoroughly. Taste it. Adjust any seasoning and acidity using extra lemon juice, cover with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Sour cream
250 grams of Greek yoghurt
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt, white pepper

In a small bowl mix the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, cover in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Fajitas
2 large chicken breasts cut in small pieces
2 chicken drums deboned skin removed and cut in small pieces
2 chicken drumsticks deboned skin removed and cut in small pieces
3 tablespoons of olive oil plus 3 for sautéing
Half a teaspoon of paprika
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Half a teaspoon of oregano
4 garlic cloves finely minced
1 large of each yellow, red and orange bell pepper cut into thin strips
1 large onion finely chopped
1 handful of chopped coriander

In a mortar place half the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Smash them using the pestle to a paste. Add the cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes and oregano and pound it until it is thoroughly mixed. Add some rounds of freshly grounded pepper and mix it using a teaspoon. Add to this mixture 3 tablespoons of olive oil and create a paste. In a large bowl add the chicken pieces and the mixture you have just created. Using your hands mix the chicken with the seasoning until the chicken pieces are all well covered. Cover and let it sit aside for 30 minutes to marinate well.

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In a large frying pan with a lid over medium to high heat add the rest of the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions and peppers. Let them sauté for 2 minutes stirring often. Add the garlic and give it a stir. Add the chicken with the marinade. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Take off the heat, mix in the coriander and let the pan covered for the food to rest and the flavours to develop for 5 more minutes. In the meantime, chop some fresh lettuce and warm your tortillas. Set up the table with a plate of tortilla chips, the guacamole, the sour cream, the chicken and vegetables, the warm tortillas and the margarita pitcher.

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Enjoy a lovely evening with your friends and loved ones, under the summer night sky with the company of the smooth jazz on the radio!

TIPS:
– You can substitute the coriander with parsley
-You may increase the heat by adding more chilli flakes in the marinade. This recipe is very mild as my friends don’t like spicy food.
-Lemons can be switched for limes if you have available.
-I used a mix of dark and white meat for the fajitas because darker meat that is deboned has more flavour than the chicken breast. Feel free to use only either if you prefer.

Until next time,

The digital cook

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Tagliatelle with chicken

It’s been almost two months since I had something posted. Many reasons behind it. Each one more boring than the other one. So I will not bore you with details of my personal life. However, in the past couple of months I haven’t stopped cooking and baking. I had friends over, I cooked for my family, I made a couple of projects with my nephews. All in all, it was a busy couple of months. I have a recipe for you today that will definitely hit the spot. This pasta dish has all the qualifications for a lovely dinner for two, a family feast or a treat for you when you want to curl on the couch with a glass of wine and watch some crappy movie. Yeap, I said it. Crappy. Because we all know, although we hesitate to admit, we kind of have a soft spot for cheesy, horrible movies be that horror with bad CGI, sappy romantic comedies or even “cultured” cinema. I will not elaborate on the last one, as I have watched my fair share of movies that have been glorified and praised by critics but by the end of them I felt like I aged 58 years or lost the will to live. So we won’t go there. But a man has to eat! So on with the recipe. A lovely tagliatelle recipe with chicken. Let’s make it!

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Serves: 2
Time taken: 25 minutes

You will need:
300 grams tagliatelle (or 8 tagliatelle nests)
1 handful of chopped parsley
1 orange bell pepper cut into thin strips
1 medium sized onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large chicken breast cut into 2 centimetre cubes
150 grams of cream
1 handful of grated parmesan
1 tablespoon of olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the chicken
2 tablespoons of white wine
1 tablespoon of brandy
Salt and pepper

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Boil the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Strain it and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on it. Mix it so that it doesn’t stick together. Keep half a cup of the boiling liquid aside.

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In a large pan add the rest of the olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the chicken and cook it until browned on all sides. Add the pepper, onion and the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the brandy and lower the heat to medium. Let it evaporate for 2 minutes and add the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the bits that stuck to the bottom and let it simmer for 4 minutes. Add two tablespoons of the reserved pasta liquid. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and add the pasta to the pan. Add almost all the parsley and give it a stir so that the sauce covers the pasta and everything is mixed completely. Get it off the stove, sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and the grated Parmesan. Serve it immediately with a chilled glass of white wine!

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Until next time,

The digital cook.

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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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