Spice of Life
There’s something different in the air. Over the last few days, we’ve experienced phenomenal weather and slowly but surely the city is re-opening. But, for many of us, we’re still spending far more time at home than we would like.
Let us brighten up your weekend with some delicious recipes - perfect for this time of year, tips on getting your grill ready for summer, and a list of amazing, local shops that are open and offering delivery to help you and your loved ones celebrate life’s most special occasions.
Gardening with Martha: Asparagus
by: Martha Wright, Executive Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Perhaps the king of spring vegetables is asparagus. Even though it is available to us all year, this is the time when Ontario asparagus is widely available. This year especially, we should all be trying to purchase as much Ontario produce as possible. Like many of us, farmers are facing massive challenges right now, so it’s more important than ever to buy local. And it always tastes better when it has been freshly picked.
Asparagus is a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and vitamins C, E, and K.
My favourite cooking method is simply poaching the asparagus in salted water and tossing with either butter or extra virgin olive oil. We also love to grill it on the charcoal grill. Asparagus can also be eaten raw, shaved into salads. Fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, bacon, and a perfectly poached egg are great toppings to make a simple plate of asparagus a more substantial meal. Simple is best when preparing the season’s best ingredients.
Summer Barbecue Tips
by Sean Vodden, Sous Chef and Team Canada BBQ Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Getting your grill ready!
May didn’t get off to the best start, but the last few days of glorious weather have had me thinking about the grill on my back deck. So, I wanted to share a few helpful tips to make sure you are ready to grill your heart out this summer!
Give your grills a good once over
Use a good wire or wooden grill brush to scrape off any rust that may have formed over the winter on the grates and burners. Next, look over your grill to make sure you don’t have any new loose parts, holes, or defects.
Once your grill is clean, use a neutral fat (i.e. canola or vegetable oil) to wipe all of your grates. This will help to season them much the same way you would do for a cast iron pan. Don’t forget to use food grade oil on the hinges of your grill as well.
Last but not least, replace any parts that may have worn out or fallen off. Most replacement parts are fairly inexpensive to replace. This will make your life a lot easier in the long run.
Check your fuel
Checking your fuel for your grill may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to cook, only to realize that I don’t have enough fuel to finish my cooking. This may be as simple as refilling your propane tank or turning on a gas line to your grill. Or you may need to make a stop at your favourite BBQ store to pick up a new bag of charcoal and more wood for your smokers.
I currently have 6 different types of grills and smokers at home. They range from a standard propane grill, to pellet smokers and stick burning offset smokers. Each grill has its own unique set of challenges to open up for the first run of the year. Whether you have a propane grill or a charcoal smoker yourself, if you follow these suggestions, you will have a wonderful cooking season!
Beer Marinated Flank
Marinade time: 1 - 4 hours
Cook time: 10 - 15 minutes
- 1 PC of 2-3 lbs flank steak
- 1 bottle of your favorite full flavoured beer
- ½ c Worcestershire
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tbsp cracked black pepper
- ½ c Steak seasoning or your favorite Beef rub
- Combine beer, Worcestershire, onion, garlic powder, as well as cracked black pepper.
- Place this mixture into a resealable bag with flank steak and refrigerate for 1 - 4 hours.
- After hours of marinating, light your favourite grill and set to 425F.
- Remove flank, and pat dry with paper towel.
- Season both sides of flank steak with steak seasoning or beef rub.
- Grill flank steak for 5 - 7 minutes per side, or until medium rare.
- Let meat rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Use a good instant read thermometer to check the flank steak.
- Medium rare is 121-124F
- Medium is 125-131F
- Slice against the grain of the meat to ensure tender slices of beef. Cutting across the grain of meat will make the slices stringy.
by: Kyla Markland, Bar Manager, Stratus Restaurant
- 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
- 4 ounces of Peach Schnapps
- 3 ounces of Triple sec
- 3 ounces of St Germain Elderflower
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 lime, sliced
- 1 peach, sliced
- 1 green apple, sliced
- 1 cup of strawberries, sliced
- Add all fresh fruit, wine, and spirits to a pitcher. Stir and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
- Pour over ice, top with soda or sprite depending on your desire of sweetness.
- Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy!
Carrot, Apple, & Walnut Bread
by: Eric Marle, Executive Chef, Oak Room
Great for Brunch or just for a quick and healthy snack!
- 1 large egg
- 65g of brown sugar
- 45g (80mL) of canola oil
- 32g of sugar
- 32g of Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 8g (10mL) of vanilla
- 8g of cinnamon
- 2g of nutmeg
- 128g of white flour
- 2g of baking powder
- 2g of baking soda
- 95g of carrots, peeled and shredded
- 95g of Granny-Smith apple, peeled and shredded
- 50g of shelled walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly butter and flour rectangular cake pan.
- In a large bowl mix: egg, brown sugar, canola oil, sugar, yoghurt or sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Gently mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Fold mixture into ingredients preparation.
- Add carrots, apples, and walnuts. Mix while being careful not to over mix.
- Transfer mixture into cake pan.
- Insert into preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden crust is achieved.
- Verify doneness with toothpick before pulling from the oven.
- Set aside for 30 minutes before removing cake from pan.
Homemade Salad Dressings
by: Ray Urban, F & B Manager, Stratus Restaurant
Simple and oh so tasty!
- 1/2 large avocado
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water, or more for thinner consistency
- 1/4 cup cilantro, basil, or parsley
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Blend all ingredients together and serve.
Events in COVID Times
by: Samantha McLeod, Events Director, Stratus Restaurant
Celebrating Loved Ones and Occasions
Our traditions are having to adapt right now, given our current situation. Finding ways to still make your friends and family feel loved on their special occasions are maybe more important than ever. Birthdays, weddings, Mother’s Day, baby showers, and even funerals are all facing postponement or transitioning to online celebrations. So, sending a gift to let them know you are thinking of them goes a long way when we can’t express it in person.
Luckily, shopping online for gifts has never been easier. Trying to use local gift stores and restaurants are especially important right now to ensure these businesses are still thriving when this is all over. Not everything has to be ordered on Amazon!
Here are some great Toronto/Canadian shops that will deliver gifts straight to your friends and family’s doors:
King West Flowers: They’ll send flowers with a note or card for next day delivery.
Baskits: With multiple Toronto store locations and an easy-to-use website for online ordering, they offer luxury gift baskets filled with the best products and brands.
The Chocolateria: Located in Roncesvalles, this handmade chocolate store offers free delivery on orders over $50.
Sweet Flour: This bake shop, with a storefront on Cawthra Ave., delivers delicious baked goods, including birthday cakes and cupcakes.
Toys Cubed: Here to solve your kids’ boredom, this Canadian, family-run business, has great priced toys and activities. They’re offering contact-free delivery across the GTA.
Fruit Suite: They’re an online Toronto delivery service for local, fresh produce and grocery items. Deliveries from them are great for loved ones going through a tough time or who still can’t leave their houses.
Love Me Do Baby: This Liberty Village shop, has the best baby shower gifts, with free local delivery, allowing you to celebrate your friends and family, even from afar.
Send loved ones gift certificates, to be used in the future. This provides restaurants and local shops with income now and offers financial support until they are able to re-open.
Stratus gift certificates are available now by emailing Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org) and can be used when we re-open soon!