Welcome to July
Spice of Life
The last few months have certainly dragged, but we made it – it’s officially summer! Our chefs have been taking their time away and fine tuning their best and favourite summer recipes to share with all of you. This week’s Spice of Life includes a spectacular recipe for the grill, the perfect salad for dinner tonight, a tasty treat that may remind you of your childhood, and more!
Quick and Easy Recipes: Chickpea Salad
by: George Vavaroutsos, Sous Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Chickpeas are a great way to change up your normal eating patterns. They're delicious, make an excellent meat replacement, and are super cheap if you buy them dry. They love to be paired with big bright flavours – which you’ll find in this awesome salad.
- 1 small red onion, peeled
- 1-2 fresh red chilies, deseeded
- 2 handfuls ripe red or yellow tomatoes
- 1 lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 410g canned chickpeas, drained or around 4 large handfuls of soaked and cooked chickpeas
- 1 handful fresh mint, chopped
- 1 handful fresh basil, finely ripped
- 100 g feta cheese
- Finely slice your red onion and chilies, then roughly chop your tomatoes, mixing them in with the onion and chilies. Scrape all of this with the juice into a bowl and dress with the juice of half a lemon and 3 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste.
- Heat the chickpeas in a pan, then add 90% of them to the bowl. Mush up the remaining chickpeas and add these as well – this will give a nice creamy consistency. Allow to marinate for a little while.
- Just as you're ready to serve, give the salad a final dress with the fresh mint and basil. Taste one last time for seasoning – you may want to add the juice from your remaining lemon half at this point. Place on a nice serving dish and crumble over the feta cheese.
BBQ Tips: Smoked Ribs
by: Sean Vodden, Sous Chef and Team Canada BBQ Chef, Stratus Restaurant
Ready in 5 hours, these spectacular Smoked Ribs will be the highlight of your next barbecue!
- 2 racks of baby back pork ribs
- 1/4 c yellow mustard
- 1/4 c Heath Riles BBQ Everyday Rub*
- 1/2 c Heath Riles BBQ Honey Rub*
- 1/2 c Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Rub*
- 1/2 lb butter
- 2 c apple juice
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 2 c of your favorite BBQ sauce (optional)
- Hickory and cherry wood
*All BBQ rubs can be purchased from www.therubshack.ca
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Medium pot
- BBQ brush
- Butter knife
- Paper towel
- 3/4 c measuring cup
- Light your favourite smoker and set the temperature to 250F.
- Place the ribs meat side down on your work surface.
- Typically, there is a tough membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Use the butter knife to slide down the middle of the rack of ribs. The membrane should begin to lift.
- Use a piece of paper towel to remove all of the membrane, repeat on all racks of ribs.
- Evenly spread the yellow mustard on the back and front of all the racks of ribs.
- Evenly distribute Heath Riles BBQ Everyday Rub over the racks of ribs.
- Repeat process with Honey Rub and then Sweet BBQ rub.
- Once rubbed, let the ribs sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Depending on the size of your wood pieces, add 1 or 2 pieces of each wood to the fire.
- Place the ribs in the smoker meat side up.
- Maintain 250F for 2 hours, adding wood pieces every 30 - 40 minutes.
- In the pot, combine butter, brown sugar, and apple juice and bring to a boil, then turn off.
- Tear off 8 pieces of aluminum foil, 2 inches longer than the length of the ribs.
- Layer 2 pieces of aluminum foil on top of each other and place 1 rack of ribs meat side down. Add 3/4 c of melted liquid to the back side of the ribs and wrap tightly. Repeat with the other 3 racks of ribs.
- Return to the smoker and cook for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, open one package of ribs and use tongs to lift ribs. If the ribs begin to slightly bend under their own weight then your ribs are almost cooked. If the ribs do not bend under their own weight, put back on the smoker for 15 minute intervals until they bend.
- Remove ribs from the package and discard liquid. Lightly dust ribs with Sweet BBQ rub and return to smoker for 5 minutes.
- If you are saucing your ribs, cover ribs in BBQ sauce and place on the smoker for 15 minutes.
- Remove ribs from the smoker and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a smoker. This recipe can be done on a gas grill. When using your gas grill use only half of the total heating elements to set the temperature to 250F.
- If you are using a gas grill, purchase wood chips from a local hardware store.
- Put 1 c of wood chips in a foil package and light on fire. Smother the flames and place on the grill when you begin cooking your ribs.
Summer Cocktail: Aperol Spritz
by: Kyla Markland, Bar Manager, Stratus Restaurant
Cool down on these hot summer days with a refreshing Aperol Spritz!
- 1 1/4 oz Aperol
- 2 oz Prosecco
- Splash of soda
- Orange slice
- Pour into a wine glass, add ice and stir
- Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy!
From the Kitchen of Chef Eric: Warm Tomato, Zucchini, and Goat Cheese Tarts
by: Eric Marle, Executive Chef, Oak Room
These warm tarts are a great choice for brunch or can be a tasty alternative for lunch along with an arugula salad.
- 2 tsp softened butter
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 2 minced green onion
- 3 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 325F
- Brush 4 x 1 cup (250mL) ramekins with butter and set aside.
- Wrap shredded zucchini in clean tea towel, twist and squeeze gently to release excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in onions and basil and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs together and add whipping cream, flour, salt, tabasco, and nutmeg.
- Divide crumbled goat cheese evenly among the ramekins. Top each one with 1/4 of the zucchini mix and 1/4 of the egg mixture. Top each with six cherry tomato halves.
- Arrange ramekins on baking sheet and cook until puffed and egg mixture is set. Generally, 18 to 20 minutes. If possible, place under broil until tops are bubbly and golden 1 to 2 minutes.
- Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Cooking with Neesha: Kraft PB Cookies
by: Neesha de Souza Miljanovic, Food & Beverage Manager, The HUB – kitchen and bar
The best, easiest, and fastest cookies you'll ever make! I used to make these every day after school when I was in 7th grade. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.
- 1 cup Kraft smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar then the peanut butter and mix all together until smooth.
- If mixture is too runny, add more sugar.
- Roll into 2" sized balls and flatten with a fork.
- Decorate with chocolate chips.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not over bake.
- Cool for 5 minutes and serve!
Neighbourhood Gems: Athens Pasteries
by: Evan Middleton, Supervisor, Stratus Restaurant
Athens Pastries has been a staple of Toronto’s Greektown community since 1978, offering authentic Greek pastries and treats that are second to none. The loukomathes (honey balls) are always a popular choice with a delightful texture that is expertly designed for soaking up all the yummy honey flavour that they hold inside.
The spanakopita (spinach pie) is absolutely perfect and a hit with friends and family of all ages. The light, flakey phyllo pastry is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and filled with a perfectly seasoned mixture of spinach and feta cheese. You won’t find a better spanakopita anywhere else in the city.
The cheese pockets are a delicious option as well, with a firmer type of pastry and a light, fluffy cheese filling. They can be a lovely item to build a meal around. Just warm up the cheese pockets at home and serve with a simple tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and some grilled vegetables on the side for a tasty, satisfying summer meal in your backyard.
Whether you’re craving something sweet or savoury, Athens Pastries is not to be missed. They have locations at 509 Danforth Ave., 825 Coxwell Ave., and 2567 Victoria Park Ave. in Toronto, all of which are currently open for takeout.