Food to get you through (another) lockdown
Spice of Life
We’re continuing to share some of our favourite healthy recipes to mark the start of 2021, but we’ve also sprinkled in a few treats (who doesn’t love mocktails and sweet treats?)! Plus some bonus content for those who are bored in lockdown, and fantastic neighbourhood gems for you to visit and support across the city!
For those who love food as much as we do…
We asked our team to share some of their favourite food and restaurant podcasts – and we weren’t disappointed! This week, we’re featuring the favourite of Sean Vodden, Stratus’ Sous Chef – Heston’s Journey to the Centre of Food.
Take a trip with the world’s most creative chef, as he takes a forensic deep dive inside our food. Exploring the amazing hidden secrets and wonderful depths locked within our simplest ingredients.
Click here to learn more or to listen to an episode!
Mocktails for Dry January
This year, Dry January has been a bit of a struggle for many of us. But, if you’re sticking with it, kudos! Let us help by offering up a few of our favourite mocktails – Rosemary and Cucumber Infused Ginger Beer & Orange Cranberry Spritzer.
Rosemary and Cucumber Infused Ginger Beer
This rosemary and cucumber infused ginger beer makes the perfect mocktail. Recipe from Recipes from a Pantry.
- 4 cups (1 L) of ginger beer, sugar free
- 1/2 a cucumber, sliced
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, slightly crushed
- Extra rosemary sprigs, to serve
- Add all ingredients into a jug and stir.
- Cover and refrigerate for between 2 – 4 hours.
- Serve over ice and garnish with extra rosemary sprigs.
Orange Cranberry Spritzer
This deliciously refreshing mocktail is just as fancy as any cocktail. Recipe from Sweet and Savory by Shinee.
- 4 cups (1 L) of 100% cranberry juice, chilled
- 2 cups (475 ml) pulp-free orange juice, chilled
- 4 cups (1 L) ginger ale, chilled
- Frozen cranberries in place of ice
- Orange slices for garnish (optional)
- In a large pitcher, mix cranberry juice and orange juice.
- When ready to serve, add ginger ale and frozen cranberries.
Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice
If you’re looking to eat less meat this year, this delicious recipe is perfect. The tofu will soak up the spicy peanut sauce’s flavours, while allowing the rest of the dish’s flavours to shine through. Recipe from the New York Times.
- 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the pan and drizzling
- 2/3 cup lime juice (from about 5 limes), and zest of 1 lime
- Kosher salt
- 8 baby bell peppers or 1 medium bell pepper (any colour will do), stemmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
- Black pepper
- 1 cup long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp red miso
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 2 tsp chopped habanero pepper, stem and seeds removed, or 1 tbsp sambal
- 2 tbsp buckwheat honey or molasses
- 2 (14 oz) packages of extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced crosswire, 1/4 inch thick
- 3 cups peppery greens, like arugula, mizuna, or baby mustard greens
- 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Heat the oven to 450F and lightly brush a large rimmed sheet pan with oil.
- In a small bowl, stir 4 tablespoons lime juice with 1/2 teaspoon salt until salt dissolves. Add the sliced peppers, a few cracks of black pepper, and set aside.
- In a small pot, combine the rice with 1 cup water and the coconut milk. Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low until the rice is just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, until ready to serve.
- In a medium bowl, whisk 4 tablespoons lime juice with the peanut butter, miso, ginger, fish sauce (if using), habanero, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon honey and 3/4 cup water. Stir until smooth and season to taste with salt.
- Arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet and season with salt. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce over each, covering the top and allowing the sauce to run down and coat the sides. Drizzle the tops with some oil, and roast until glaze is set, deep brown and caramelized along the edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining lime juice and 1 tablespoon honey to the leftover peanut sauce in the bowl to make the dressing; set aside.
- Divide the greens among bowls. Add the lime zest and half the sliced scallions to the rice, then fluff with a fork. Top the greens with the rice, then the tofu. Spoon the peanut dressing over everything, and garnish with the drained pickled peppers and remaining sliced scallions.
- Peanut sauce can be made 2 to 3 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
Baking was extremely popular during the city’s first lockdown, so we thought now was the perfect time to highlight another bread recipe you can try! This no-knead bread uses no special ingredients, equipment, or techniques and takes very little effort. Recipe from the New York Times.
- 3 1/3 cups (430 g) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (390 ml) water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70F.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that’s okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares
These scrumptious sweet treats are the perfect substitute for peanut butter cups. And, more importantly, they’re easy to make, so they’re the perfect afternoon activity for you and your kids! Recipe from the Big Oven.
For the peanut butter bar:
- 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 cup (250 g) creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
- 2 cups (240 g) graham cracker crumbs
For the chocolate topping:
- 1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup (65 g) creamy peanut butter
To make the peanut butter layer:
- Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil or parchment paper, making sure to leave some overhang for easy removal, and set aside.
- Combine the melted butter and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until fully combined. Then, add the graham cracker crumbs, 1 cup at a time, and mix until fully combined.
- Scoop the peanut butter mixture into the prepared baking pan and press it down into one even layer. Set aside.
To make the chocolate topping:
- Add the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-30 increments, stirring well after each increment, until completely melted and smooth.
- Pour the melted chocolate mixture on top of the peanut butter layer and spread it around into one even layer.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 and 1/2 hours or until the bars are firm and the chocolate topping is set. Once the bars are firm, lift them out of the pan using the overhang from the foil or parchment paper, slice, and enjoy!
- Store leftover bars in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing instructions: Bars will freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
We all know that local businesses have continued to be impacted by the lockdowns, so we’re happy to continue featuring some of our neighbourhood favourites. We encourage you to continue supporting local establishments where and when you can!
Sugar Kane: Offering excellent Caribbean and Cajun cuisine, and located in Greektown, this gem owned by 3 sisters from Scarborough, is a can’t miss if you’re in the mood for some Jerk! Currently open for pick-up and take-out, guests love the Uncle Ben’s Salt Fish Cakes, Jerk Chicken Fettuccine, and the Braised Oxtail Bowl.
St. James Town Steaks & Chops: Located in Cabbage Town, this awesome butcher and fine foods shop, features a deli counter as well. The meat here is of excellent quality, local, and reasonably priced, and the staff are always happy to make great suggestions. Our favourite buy is their homemade sausages, often turning to the Rosemary Mint Lamb, Sundried Tomato Turkey, and Chorizo.
Gerrard Street Bakery: This bakery offers baked goods inspired by North American classics and childhood favourites, but, with a twist. Located in East Chinatown, they offer handmade baked goods – including incredible potpies, treats, and bread – that will bring you comfort and joy. Plus, they’ve been voted as having the city’s best buttertarts, according to BlogTO.