Tasty Summer Weekend Recipes
Spice of Life
It has been the most beautiful summer! We’ve spent a lot of time in the backyard and around the barbecue trying new recipes and revamping our favourite summer classics.
This week’s Spice of Life brings you some PERFECT summer recipes featuring Ontario fresh corn, watermelon, strawberries, and more. Whether you’re entertaining friends in a socially distanced backyard barbecue or simply want to make yourself a spectacular Saturday night dinner, we’ve got the recipes for you.
From Martha’s Kitchen: Watermelon Salad with Habanero-Pickled Onions and Lime Salt
by: Martha Wright, Stratus Executive Chef
Nothing says summer more than juicy watermelons! If you’re looking for a delicious watermelon salad with a bit of a kick, give this recipe a try!
- 1/2 medium red onion (4 oz.), halved and thinly sliced with the grain
- 1 habanero chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced *** if you want to tone down the heat use a jalapeño pepper instead
- 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp plus 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp finely grated lime zest
- 7 medium red radishes (5 oz.), thinly sliced
- 4 1/2 lb seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- In a small bowl, add the onion, chile, bay leaf, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Pack the onion mixture into an 8-ounce jar, then add the vinegar, cover tightly with a lid, and shake well. The pickling liquid may not cover the onion mixture at first, but the onions will wilt over time and end up immersed. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 week, shaking occasionally.
- In a spice grinder or small food processor, pulse the lime zest and 1 tablespoon salt until combined. Transfer to an airtight container and set aside. (The lime salt can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months.)
- Fill a medium bowl with ice water and stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Add the radishes and set aside until very crisp, about 5 minutes. In a strainer set over the sink, drain the radishes, discarding the soaking liquid, then return the radishes to the bowl. Drain the onions, discarding the pickling liquid and the bay leaf, then add them to the bowl with the radishes. Add the watermelon, season with pepper, and gently toss with your hands until combined. Transfer to a large platter, top with the mint and a drizzle of oil, and sprinkle with lime salt to taste just before serving.
BBQ Tips: Grilled Mexican Sweet Corn
by: Sean Vodden, Sous Chef and Team Canada BBQ Chef, Stratus Restaurant
I LOVE corn. There's nothing better than Ontario, farm fresh corn! That’s why I love this scrumptious Grilled Mexican Sweet Corn recipe which can be ready in just 30 minutes.
- 12 pc Ontario Sweet Corn in husk
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 cups crumbled Cotija cheese (Mexican soft cheese)
- 3 - 4 limes sliced in half
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup Tajin seasoning or favourite Mexican seasonings
- Silicone BBQ brush
- Small tray
- Set your favorite grill to 400F.
- Remove any loose corn husks from the cob of corn, do not peel completely.
- Place corn on grill, and leave for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, give each piece of corn a 1/4 turn on the grill. Don’t worry if the husk starts to char.
- Repeat the turning process for 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size of your corn.
- After 15 - 20 minutes of cooking, your corn will be cooked and tender.
- Let cool for 5 - 8 minutes or until you can safely shuck the corn.
- Shuck corn, but do not remove the husk. This will be your handle.
- For added char to your corn. Return the corn to the grill for 3 - 4 minutes until evenly charred. This is optional.
- Paint each piece of corn with mayo until fully coated. Approximately 2 tbsp per cob.
- Crumble Cotija cheese and place into a tray.
- Roll each cob in crumbled cheese.
- Shake tajin seasoning all over corn and sprinkle chopped cilantro.
- Squeeze limes into corn for an added pop of flavour.
- Once your corn is cooked, shuck the corn and return to the grill for added char.
- Grill your limes prior to squeezing onto the corn for added flavour.
Summer Snacks: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Bark
by: Nicole Tisdale, Events Supervisor, Stratus Restaurant
I’ve been looking for a tasty sweet summer snack and stumbled across this delicious and SUPER simple yogurt and strawberry recipe. Give this bark a try! You won’t be disappointed!
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of strawberries
- Mix the yogurt with maple syrup and spread out onto parchment paper.
- Top yogurt with diced strawberries.
- Freeze for 6 hours. Break up and serve.
Quick and Easy Recipes: George’s Stuffed Peppers
by: George Vavaroutsos, Sous Chef, Stratus Restaurant
I’ve always been a big fan of stuffed peppers. They’re tasty, easy to make, and you can make enough for leftovers (who doesn’t love leftovers?!?)!
- 2/3 cup long grain white rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 bell peppers
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cook rice according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, trim about 1/4-inch from tops of bell peppers and then remove stems, ribs, and seeds. Fill a baking dish large enough to fit peppers with about 1/2-inch of water.
- Place peppers upside down in water, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over-medium high heat. Add onion and sauté 3 - 4 minutes. Move onions to one far side of the skillet. Add beef in chunks, season with salt and pepper, then let sear until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes.
- Break up beef and toss with onions and continue to cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until beef is cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Remove from heat, drain off excess fat.
- Stir in tomatoes, half of the tomato sauce, cooked rice, parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Turn peppers upright, sprinkle inside peppers lightly with salt and fill with beef filling. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover with foil and continue to bake 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese, return to oven, and bake until peppers have reached desired tenderness, about 10 - 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
Brown rice will work great here too but keep in mind it will take more than twice as long to cook. If you have leftover rice, you'll need 2 cups cooked rice.
If using leftover rice, consider adding an extra 1/4 cup of tomato sauce or a little broth as it will be drier. For a healthier option ground turkey (85 - 93% lean) will work great in place of ground beef. Just keep in mind it won’t brown the same, so no need to let it sear on bottom.
Events in the Time of COVID: Surprise Trips Around Toronto
by Samantha McLeod, Events Director, Stratus Restaurant
Looking to get out of the city but don’t know where to go? If you’re anything like me, you get tired of having to research and plan every trip for your family and friends and sometimes just wish someone would do it for you. Look no further. A Toronto based company “Guess Where Trips” is doing just that. Check out their Instagram for all of the amazing locations where you may end up!
For a small cost of just $55, you start by selecting one of several themes you are interested in. For example: “Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Roads,” “Wine Time and Hidden Gems,” “Beaches and Breweries,” or “Surprise Me” to name a few. You receive your package in the mail within 5 business days and can take your adventure whenever you’re free to do so. It is a self-directed trip to do on your schedule during their suggested months, based on weather.
Your fully planned itinerary comes in a cute little clue-like package with steps to follow. It includes where you’ll be parking, hiking, dining, etc. so no details are left unanswered for your day-trip outing. These are all COVID-safe trips that are locally located within a few hours’ drive of the city. You can let them know if you’d like an overnight trip and they can arrange that too. You can even select to “gift a trip” to a friend and have it show up in their mailbox as a little surprise. Gentlemen, think of how impressed your partner would be if you surprised them with a fully planned day trip to some beautiful Ontario farms and wineries. So, get out there and enjoy these last few months of great weather exploring your own backyard!