Wednesday, October 21, 2009

sweet treat from a blushing bride - recipe: caramel corn

Although it’s been over three hours since I left the wedding of our good friends Shawn & Jessica, I’m still a little choked-up. It was an amazing, teary-eyed (in a good way!) celebration of their love and commitment to each other.

I adore attending weddings – even if I don’t know the bride and/or groom. My favourite part of a wedding celebration by far (even more than the food) is the speeches. I’m so glad that David remembered to stuff his pockets with Kleenex for me this afternoon! So many beautiful, heartfelt sentiments, such loving family and friends - it was a privilege to attend.

Shawn and Jessica had a relatively short engagement – as Jessica’s sister Suzanne said today; “When you meet someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start right away.” They’re so perfect for one another, why wait?

At Jessica’s bridal shower a few weeks ago, she gave each of her friends a personalized card, outlining all of the qualities that she admires most in us and how those personality traits inspire her to have the best life possible with Shawn. In addition to the card, she also gave each of us a bag of her famous caramel corn, which she learned to make from her grandmother. Yes, Jess truly is this thoughtful.

Congratulations to my dear friends Shawn and Jessica – may your life together be as sweet as Grandma’s caramel corn!

jessica's caramel corn


  • seven quarts popped popcorn
  • two cups brown sugar
  • one cup butter
  • one-half cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • one-half teaspoon baking soda
  • one-half teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 250º F.
  • Boil sugar, butter and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and add the salt, baking soda and the vanilla. (The mixture will foam when the baking soda is added).
  • Pour the caramel over the popped corn and stir carefully.
  • Put popcorn onto a large pan into the oven and bake for 20-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so (note: if you want really chewy popcorn, don’t put it in the oven at all).
  • Crumble as it cools

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

roasted veggies a quick little way to help a busy family - recipe: simple roasted broccoli

OK, a confession — my kitchen is probably feeling a little bit lonely lately. I haven’t been cooking as much as I usually do.

I’m juggling catering events, catching up with clients, training new staff to gear up for our Christmas season and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life (what’s that again?). That’s in addition to never-ending household chores and spending quality time with my husband and son.

What else is new? Well, David is back to working full-time — he’s finished his parental leave, and my little guy is learning the ropes (OK, the building blocks) at daycare, so it’s definitely been an adjustment for all three of us.

Along with takeout pizza, we’ve been enjoying our fair share of Dana Shortt Gourmet entrées from my shop. What I’m preparing at home, however, are easy and healthy veggie side dishes to serve alongside all of these ready-for-us mains.

As of September, I began my obsession with roasting vegetables. I actually crave them during the day. Almost every evening, I roast something. It could be cauliflower, carrots, squash, tomatoes, onions, roma beans, fennel or my favourite, broccoli.

The technique is so simple — cut the washed veggies to your desired size, dry, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven until the vegetables are crisp tender and the edges are caramelized. I love the taste of the “frizzled” broccoli florets and the darkened stalks. Little Johnny will even eat broccoli prepared this way for breakfast!

A quick reminder, Dana Shortt Gourment’s second annual charity bake sale is Oct. 7 from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m.

All profits will go to Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region. If you have a moment, please drop by the shop to support this worthy organization.

simple roasted broccoli


  • 1 large bunch broccoli (cut the florets into two-inch pieces and the stalk into one-inch pieces)
  • olive oil (note: I use the garlic oil featured in my July 1, 2009 column)
  • salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 425º F.
  • Wash the broccoli.
  • Cut the florets and stalk into small pieces (note: if you decide on larger pieces of broccoli, you will need to roast it longer).
  • Dry the broccoli pieces with paper towel.
  • Place broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil (note: each piece of broccoli should be covered in a thin coating of oil).
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake in oven until the broccoli florets are frizzled and stalks are lightly golden in colour; about 17-23 minutes (the time will depend on your oven and the size of your broccoli pieces).

catering, gourmet food shop, gift baskets