Snow Day Sausage Puffs

I live in Toronto.  It's an ok place to live.  We have a good subway system.  We have lots of bike lanes.  We have wooded areas where you can run and walk and bike and picnic.  We have lots and lots of cultural stuff.  We have lots of areas in the city where you can get great stuff from other countries and lots of diversity in our population.  We have freedom, we have support systems for people who need it.  It's the place that we happily call home for now.  What we in Toronto don't do so well though is... snow.
I know.  I know!  We live in Canada and crap.  For some of you that might mean we live in igloos - just for the record I don't, neither do any of my friends or any one in this country that I've ever met... in my life.  We Canadians though should know what to do to deal with snow.  If you go out to Alberta or up to Quebec, hell, just about anywhere else in the province of Ontario even, they know what to do with snow.  Toronto... well, allow me to illustrate.  About 10 years ago we got a lot of snow in a 24 hour period and over the course of about 2 weeks we got about 80 cm.  That's a lot of snow, yeah, but our mayor called in the army to help us dig out.  The army for god's sake!  It's still a source of embarrassment for most Tdot residents and as far as the rest of the country is concerned we'll never live it down.

Most recently, ie. Today!, I'm home from work for the day, in the middle of the week.  The reason that I'm home is because all the schools have been closed.  They are not closed because we got a lot of snow, that we couldn't dig ourselves out, that we couldn't get to our cars, that we couldn't walk through... we closed our schools because we thought we were going to get a lot of snow... a whole 15 - 20 cm here in the city.  When we woke up this morning, thinking we were getting a lot of snow and closing our schools in anticipation, there was in reality about 8 cm on the ground.  So, here we go again being the brunt of jokes for the rest of the country... but really people, 8 cm!!!
Please don't misunderstand me and think that I'm complaining though because I got a day off work.  If living in a city that is the brunt of jokes for the rest of my country means that every time it snows, or even 'maybe will' snow, more than 10 cm that I get a day off work... well, then bring on the jokes!
Because this blog is called 'When I'm not at Work', here is what I did today instead of being at work...

Sausage Puffs aka Pigs in Blankets
made about 40 piggies

1 pkg ready made puff pastry (so sue me)
1 1/2 lbs sausage of your choice (I used mild italian), casings removed
1 small onion, diced
1 med/small carrot shredded
dash of nutmeg
1 egg
sesame seeds for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.

In a bowl combine the sausage, onion and carrot with your hands until it's all squished together and stuck in your finger nails!  Add in the nutmeg (and maybe a dash of honey if you are feeling in the mood).  In a heated pot or caste iron frying pan, cook the pork mixture until the meat is cooked through.  Set aside.
Flatten the puff pastry on your counter and cut each piece (mine came in two pieces) lengthwise so that you have 4 rectangles.

In a small bowl, crack the egg and whisk it until the yolk is combined.  Keep nearby.
Have the sesame seeds ready.
Place a quarter of the meat mixture lengthwise on each of the 4 pieces of puff pastry.  Brush some of the egg on the pastry edges left by the meat.  Roll the pastry lengthwise, making sure that the edges are fairly secured by the egg.  Brush the top of each roll with more egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cut each roll at about 1 1/2 inch lengths (unless you want 'em longer) and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry has puffed and is golden.
Cool for about 10 minutes before digging in...

Dulce de Leche Cookies

I have a confession to make.
It's hard for me to admit this.  It's almost embarrassing.
But, here it is.... I don't eat most of the things that I bake.
Wow, that was like a weight lifted off of me.  It's true.  I don't have a much of a sweet tooth anymore.  It's diminished significantly with age and I've gotten much pickier about what I actually put in my mouth.  The thing that I enjoy is making the stuff, not eating it.  It took me a long while to figure that out.  It occurred to me a long time ago that quite often once I had prepared a big meal that when I finally sat down to eat it I wasn't particularly interested anymore.  I would just as well preferred to sit down to some toast and natural peanut butter with honey on top.  Simple is what I like to eat but I think it's fun to make all the other stuff.
Fortunately, I have kids and friends who are very happy to eat the stuff for me.  Usually I at least taste what I've made, I mean just once.  Sometimes, sadly, I don't.  So I rely on Kid #1 ('cause Kid #2 cannot articulate any detail or nuance around food yet... only lego) and friends like KT to do that work for me.  It's a hard sell as you can imagine.  Here's the thing though, I really do want to taste these, I mean look at them.

Something this cute and squidgy needs to be eaten... although one hasn't quite made it into my mouth yet.

I really have wanted to make these cookies for an age but was really afraid to try the dulce de leche stuff which was dumb.  Why was it dumb??? A)  Because the dulce de leche was so ridiculously easy and B) Because these cookies are off the chain worth it.  I can't believe that cookies with no egg, no milk, not very much sugar (except the sweetened condensed milk in the middle - forgot about that for a second ;-) and very few ingredients could bake up so light and airy.  The texture is almost like a puff pastry... and then you've got this caramel stuff in the middle that's all oozy and sweet and beyond wonderful...  So, if you took my advice and threw a can or two of sweetened condensed milk into a simmering bath for a few hours and now you've got some of the stuff searching for a raison d'etre then Baby... this is your thing!

Dulce de Leche Cookies adapted from 'Martha Stewart's Cookies'
makes about 2 1/2 doz

2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
In a bowl, combine the flour and icing sugar.  Add in the chunks of room temperature butter.

My new pastry cutter!

Cut in the butter until it forms a crumbly texture.  Add in the water slowly, mixing continuously, until it forms a ball kind of shape.

Form the batter into to flat disc shapes and refrigerate for about an hour.
Roll each disc out on a lightly floured surface until it gets to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a round shape (I used something about 2 inches or so across) cut the cookies out and place on the cookie sheet.  Save unused dough, reform and cut out more... etc.
Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating in the middle of the baking time.
Remove from oven and cool the cookies completely on a cooling rack.

Place about 1 lg tsp of dulce de leche on the bottom of a disc and place a second disc on top until you've finished it all.
If you are not eating them all in one day (!) then store the cookies unfilled and fill as needed.  The cookies will last longer unfilled.

Dulce de Leche... basically

This has got to be one of the most unappetizing pictures that I've ever posted.

Why this post is happening:
I've really wanted to try this for a long time.
I've seen so many other bloggers doing this.  (therefore I can too)
Who doesn't like dulce de leche?
I really wanted to make the cookies that you are going to see in the next post.

The first time I came across 'dulce de leche' it was a 'Haagen dazs' flavour.  It looked like caramel on the package and I was going to be alone for the weekend.  So, it came home with me and kept me company while D was away and kept me hittin' the pavement hard when he came back... worth every step though ;-)

Dulce de leche is like caramel and you can buy it in specialty shops and pay whatever for it.  However, after much deliberation and desperation to make some cookies that are soon to come, I decided that it was worth trying to make it on my own.

Having never attempted it before I can now tell you that it was stupidly easy.  I didn't have any problems with the can both in the cooking and in the opening.  The result looked pretty damn much like the same crap they sell you in the 'special' shops and tasted as good as any I've ever experienced.  In short... do it.

This is what the can looked like after 3 1/2 hrs in a water bath

Stupid easy 'Dulce de leche'
makes as many cans as you want...

1 (or so) cans of Sweetened condensed milk
1 big pot with lid

Remove wrapper from can.
Place can in pot.
Cover can with water.
Bring to boil, cover and let it simmer for about  3 1/2 - 4 hours.  Cool completely, removing from the water whenever you can lift it out without burning yourself ('cause i used my hands).  Wait 'til it cools and then open her up....

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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