Spice of Life
Today, we celebrate the most important women in our lives – our mothers, mother in laws, grandmothers, wives, partners, daughters… But this year, Mother’s Day won’t be celebrated the way it normally is.
Maybe you’ll Facetime your loved ones to celebrate the day. Maybe you’ll drop off a present or flowers on the front step. Maybe you’ll make their favourite recipes and share memories with your own kids. However you spend the day, we want to celebrate with you.
Delicious and Easy Homemade Salad Dressings
by Ray Urban, F&B Manager, Stratus Restaurant
I am one of those people that don’t actually like salad that much. I like vegetables but in order for me to truly enjoy them I need a variety of flavours, textures and a great dressing. I am always left disappointed by the store-bought dressings and puzzled by the many ingredients that I am unable to pronounce properly.
Below is my favourite dressing you can make right at home that turned my veggie eating chore to gourmet delicious meals.
Asian Ginger Dressing
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- In a 1 pint glass jar or larger, combine the garlic, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water (Blend all ingredients together for thicker creamier dressing)
- Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well
- Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey
- Let cool, and shake well before serving
- Store covered in the refrigerator
Proper Poaching Technique
by George Vavaroutsos, Sous Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Poaching is a "wet"-heat cooking method that ranges in temperatures from 140 - 190oF/60 - 88oC. There are two common or more regularly used applications of poaching: shallow or submerged/deep poaching.
Shallow Poaching uses a greased pan and a small amount of liquid to slowly cook a piece of protein in an oven or on the stove top with a tight-fitting lid. This technique is best used for fish/shellfish and chicken breasts. Sauces can then be prepared from the remaining cooking liquid after your chosen item is finished cooking.
Submerged/Deep Poaching is poaching an egg or poaching a pear in wine. This method will give the best results for meats, eggs, shellfish, poultry, and fruits. This method can also be done starting from room temperature oil when cooking lean or delicate items as it will allow it to retain more moisture than starting from hot liquid.
Poaching of items may be done in a variety of liquids. Fats, wine, water, and vinegar all make for delicious options when paired with this technique. Be sure to include your favourite aromatics in your chosen liquid to heighten the flavours of your finished product. Poaching in fats or oils is known as confit and is most often referred to in the famous duck leg confit.
by Kyla Markland, Bar Manager and Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Stratus Restaurant
Kale is one of the most commonly known veggies we refer to as a “superfood.” Kale is full of vitamins A, C, K and other essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This healthy veggie helps to improve your heart health and reduce inflammation. Kale is low in calories and high in nutrients which boosts your immunity and supports your overall health. An excellent addition to soups, smoothies, juices or homemade kale chips.
Crispy Kale Chips Recipe
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and coat with coconut oil. Be sure to cover the full surface of kale
- Arrange the kale pieces on baking sheets
- Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy
- Remove from oven and add salt to taste (the chips will be crispier the longer they cool)
Gardening with Martha: Rhubarb
by Martha Wright, Executive Chef, Stratus Restaurant
One of the first perennial vegetables to come up in the garden is rhubarb. It’s true, rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit. It is the one plant in the vegetable garden that assures us that summer is getting closer. While we anxiously await the planting season to begin, there’s always rhubarb. I was lucky enough to inherit a huge and reliable plant in my allotment garden when I took it over years ago.
While the leaves are poisonous, the stalks are deliciously sour. The easiest way to prepare it is to slice it into equal sized pieces, cover with water, add a little sugar, bring it to a boil, then take it off the heat to cool. It will keep cooking during cool down. Amounts of sugar vary depending on what type of rhubarb you have (some are naturally more sour than others), and how sweet you like things. I try to always have a container in my fridge this time of year. It makes for a fast breakfast on yoghurt, a quick topping for oatmeal and is amazing on ice cream. Or, if you are like our F&B Manager, Ray Urban, you can just eat it “au naturale” fresh from the garden.
Easy Pico de Gallo
by Sean Vodden, Sous Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Here’s a quick and easy Pico de Gallo recipe for anytime of the year, not just Cinco de Mayo.
- 3 Roma tomatoes, finely diced without seeds
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, very finely diced
- 1 lime, juiced. Get every drop out of your lime
- 1/4 b chopped cilantro
- 1 Tbsp Valentina hot sauce. You can substitute your favourite hot sauce
- 2 good pinches of salt, more if it’s needed
Mix everything together and enjoy!
Know Your Wine
by Gaurav Ashwani, Assistant F&B Manager and Certified Sommelier WSET 3, Stratus Restaurant
Wine names can be very confusing. People who are new to the world of wine often have difficulty figuring out exactly what they are drinking. This is because wines are named in two different ways. They may be named either for the variety of grapes used or the region in which the grapes were grown.
Why the inconsistency? Just different points of view. Newer wine making regions such as the United States and Australia tend to name their wines after the grape variety, while most European wines are named for the region where the grapes were grown.
Grape Varietal Wine Names
A wine named after its grape variety is called a varietal. It certainly makes sense to name a wine after the grape used to make it. If you open a bottle of Chardonnay, you can be assured that you are drinking wine made with Chardonnay grapes.
Just keep in mind that a varietal wine is named after the predominant grape used to make the wine. There may be juice from other grapes blended with the juice of the predominant grape. There are laws that dictate the minimum percentage of a grape variety that must be present in order to name the wine after the grape. These laws vary by country and state but generally fall between 75% and 90%.
Usually, the wine label will not indicate if other grapes were used or in what amount.
Regional Wine Names
Why would wine makers choose to name a wine after the region in which it was produced? Most of these wines do not even indicate what kind of grapes were used to make the wine. Producers who use regional wine names believe they are actually providing far more detailed information than varietals do.
So, they are providing more information by providing less information? It sounds crazy, but yes. The wine bottle label may say Chardonnay, but it may contain as little as 75% of Chardonnay inside. And who knows what other grapes were used and in what amount. Sure the bottle may tell you that the wine was produced in California. But last we checked California was huge, and those grapes could have come from anywhere.
European countries have wine laws that govern what kind of grapes can be used to make wine bearing the name of the region. Therefore, by providing the name of the place where the grapes were grown they are also telling you which grapes were used to make the wine.
But what if you don't know which grapes are allowed to be grown in which region? No problem...I included a list of common regional wine names and the grapes that are grown in them below.
Grapes and Wine Regions
Here are some of the most common and well known places that have wines named after them. Please note that the grapes listed are the major grape of each region. The region may also grow small amounts of other grapes.
Red wines - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
White wines - Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc
Red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines – Chardonnay
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier
Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao, and Touriga Francesca
Red wines - Tempranillo and Grenache
White wines – Viura
Palomino and Moscatel
Gargenega and Trebbiano