July is Heating Up...
Katelyn Sander

July is Heating Up...

Spice of Life

This is a special edition of the Spice of Life. Not only do we have the recipes and tips from our chefs that you’ve come to love, but we’ve also got the details for tonight’s virtual cooking class with Chef George AND a special feature from the new Food Network Champion – Chef Sean.

Fresh off his Fire Masters victory on the Food Network Canada, Chef Sean answered a few questions for us about what his experience was like cooking in the Fire Masters arena, how he prepared prior to the competition, and what he’s going to do with all his winnings!

Plus, Chef Sean offers up some phenomenal advice for up and coming chefs.

Read the full Q & A here.

Live Cooking Class: Pasta Party

by: George Vavaroutsos, Sous Chef, Stratus Restaurant

Join Chef George tonight for a Pasta Party in your own kitchen, as part of the Toronto Triathlon Festival’s Virtual Race.

If you haven’t picked up your groceries yet, you can find a list of all the ingredients (and kitchen equipment) that you'll need here.

Click here to find out what prep you can do in advance so you won’t feel rushed during the class.

Click here to join the class.

Tonight’s class is just for fun, but if you do cook alongside Chef George, be sure to share photos of your finished dish with us on Instagram and Facebook!

From Martha’s Kitchen: Cold Brew

by: Martha Wright, Stratus Executive Chef

During the summer months, the professional kitchen becomes a veritable hot box. One of my key jobs every summer is to ensure there is an ample supply of cold brew coffee in the walk-in fridge. A caffeinated chef is very important to the functioning of the kitchen.

Cold brew is really as simple as mixing ground coffee beans with water and letting it steep for 24 hours. The next day it is strained and ready to drink. The resulting “brew” is strong, smooth, and mellow in flavour, with very little bitterness or acidity.

A few simple steps will result in coffee shop quality cold brew in your fridge, ready when you want it. Always use a coarser grind on the beans as this keeps the brew from getting bitter overnight. If you’ve got a small home grinder, it’s best to grind the beans in batches, a higher ratio of ground coffee to water. My go to is 3/4 cup ground coffee to 1 litre of water.

Once your brew has been steeping for a day, give it a good stir and let the grounds settle to the bottom of the container. Once all the grounds have settled, start to pass the coffee through a fine mesh strainer, I don’t use a coffee filter, just a slow pour until you get to the bottom of the jar. Avoid pressing or squeezing the coffee grounds, as that extracts bitter flavours. Once strained, the grounds become compost for the yard.

At home, I always have 1 jar on the counter “brewing” overnight and 1 jar of strained cold brew ready in the fridge.

Cold Brew Recipe

  • 3/4 cup coarse ground coffee
  • 1 litre water
  • Combine the two ingredients and let steep overnight, then strain. It’s as simple as that.
  • It will keep for at least a week in the fridge, but probably won’t be around for that long!

**Pro tip: Pour this over a scoop of ice cream (I suggest ED’S Real Scoop Sweet Cream ice cream) and you have an afternoon snack.

BBQ Tips: Coffee Rubbed Grilled Ribeye

by: Sean Vodden, Sous Chef and Team Canada BBQ Chef, Stratus Restaurant

Ready in 20 minutes
Serves 2 people

  • 2 x 1 inch thick ribeye steaks
  • 4 tbsp ground coffee
  • 3 tbsp ancho powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne powder
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
Tools Required:
  • Pair of tongs
  • Meat thermometer
  • Set your favorite grill to 425F.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl to make the coffee rub.
  • Evenly sprinkle rub over all sides of the ribeyes.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  • Place your steaks on your grill and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Quarter turn your steak for 2 more minutes.
  • Flip and repeat last step.
  • Once meat has reached your desired doneness (see tips below), remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • These are the approximate temperatures for doneness of steaks:
    • Rare: 117-120F
    • Medium rare: 121-125F
    • Medium: 126-132F
    • Medium well: 133-140F
    • Well: 141F and above
  • When letting your meat rest, turn the ribeyes over from the side that was last on the heat. The natural juices will go back into the meat while it rests.

Summer Cocktail: Raspberry Mojito

by: Kyla Markland, Bar Manager, Stratus Restaurant

  • 1/2 cup raspberry puree
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lime, sliced in wedges
  • 4 oz white rum
  • 4 oz club soda

Raspberry Puree: makes 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Ice cubes
  • Mint leaves and fresh raspberries for garnish

 Raspberry Puree:

  • In a small pan, add the raspberries, water, sugar, and salt. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes until thickened. Add to a blender and puree until smooth. Chill. (You can strain the seeds if desired).


  • Combine the mint and lime wedges in a glass and muddle them all together. Add ice cubes, the raspberry puree, rum, and club soda and stir to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Cooking with Neesha: Berry Cherry Duck Breast

by: Neesha de Souza Miljanovic, Food & Beverage Manager, The HUB – kitchen and bar

Serves 2

This duck recipe is a simple way to enjoy this delicious bird. The meat is very lean and an excellent source of zinc. It’s also a red meat, which gives you higher amounts of iron without all the saturated fat of beef. Balanced with berries and green veggies, this meal is perfect for a summertime dinner table that makes you feel like you’re looking out onto a lake, even if you’re stuck in the city.

  • 2 x 8 oz duck breast
  • 300 g of fresh green beans
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 1 tbsp Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 cup dark red cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup wild blueberries


Create the sauce first because it takes longer!


  • In a small sauce pan on medium heat, add 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Add garlic, onion, ginger cook 4 - 5 minutes.
  • Add port wine and cook out the alcohol, 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Add cherries, blueberries, honey, lime zest and juice.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook down for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring and muddling occasionally to create a thick sauce-like texture.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


  • Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil.
  • Cut off tips of green beans and rinse well.
  • Once water is boiling, add green beans and cook for 3 - 5 minutes or to desired tenderness.
  • Strain and set aside.
  • In a medium size pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • Add sliced onions, garlic, and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add green beans, season with salt & pepper, cook for 2 - 3 minutes.


  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Skor (small diagonal cuts) the fat part of the duck breast and season with salt & pepper.
  • In a large nonstick oven-safe pan (cast-iron preferred) on high heat, add 2 tsp olive oil.
  • Place duck breast carefully into pan, fat side down.
  • Cook on high heat for 6 - 8 minutes.
  • Flip and cook for another 4 minutes.
  • Place pan in oven and cook for 2 minutes to achieve medium rare, (more for well-done but this is not recommended as duck breast is quite tough).
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Slice against skor cuts and serve.

Fun Cooking with David: Queso Fresco

by: David Mendonca, Sous Chef, Oak Room

I thought it was about time you had a delicious and guilt-free queso fresco recipe in your back pocket!

  • 1 quart salted water
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer and add about 1 1/2 tsp of salt to make salted water.
  • Break or cut the tofu into large chunks and blanch it in the simmering salted water for 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Drain, squeezing out extra water from the tofu for a more crumbly texture and transfer the tofu to the blender.
  • Add the refined coconut oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and onion powder to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Pause to scrape down the sides of the blender, as needed.
  • Transfer the creamy cheese to a container and let cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.
  • Chill until firm and crumbly in texture. This takes several hours, but gets even better after a day.
  • The queso fresco lasts about 1 - 2 weeks in the fridge.

Neighbourhood Gems: Ed’s Real Scoop

by: Evan Middleton, Supervisor, Stratus Restaurant

If you’re craving an icy treat to cool yourself down on these hot summer days, Ed’s Real Scoop is the place for you!  

They have an incredible offering of all things cold, creamy, and delicious, all of which are hand-made in their shops with real fruit and Ontario dairy products. Their ice cream, gelato, frozen yoghurt, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches will blow your mind. They really have this down to a fine art. 

If you’re looking for a non-dairy option, they have a variety of mouth-watering sorbets which are also fat-free and vegan.

Luckily, Ed’s Real Scoop is easy to find with locations in The Beaches, Leslieville, Roncesvalles, and Mimico.  Next time you’re down by the lake for a bit of summer fun, take it up a notch with a gourmet frozen treat!

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