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Trini Cheese Paste Recipe

Cheese Paste and CrixIt’s a bit odd to me that I am posting a recipe for cheese paste, because if it’s one food item in the Trini repertoire that should be entirely freeform in its construction, it’s this ubiquitous sandwich spread. But I made it recently and I thought, why not? It’s more than just a sandwich spread really. Sure, everywhere there are sandwiches on offer, you’re bound to find cheese paste – at school parties, tea parties, lunchkits, at the Oval for those who didn’t wake up early enough to cook (or like food they can eat without a plate) or in the North Stand for Panorama. But cheese paste finds its way into puffs, and on toast, where the butter can melt and the cheese softens to create quite a different taste and texture experience. Just crix and cheese paste is such a staple in our food culture, that it was on offer at the Taste of T&T!

Everyone makes their cheese paste differently, to their individual tastes, following methods handed down by their parents, or borne from late night cravings and experimentation. We all have our preferences, many strongly held to the point of fanaticism, I am sure. I know how we are about our food. I have very clear memories of envying certain school friends’ cheese paste sandwiches because they always seemed more interesting (or different) with textures and green and red bits that provided crunch and flavour. I liked Mom’s cheese paste, but remember with 4 children, you tend towards the basic to satisfy their individual pickiness, so we didn’t always have those colourful additions.

Cheese Paste - Ready to eat!Speaking of individual tastes – it’s no secret in my family that we tell Mom she indulged the boy. He was her youngest after all. And battled with the 2nd youngest for most picky eater. She’ll say it was Lilandra, but who went for years eating only yellow roti and curry mango? or only drinking ovaltine or eggnog? That’s right Mom, it was your son. Your son, whose personal request when he was in First Year Infants, had me, at the senior end of primary school, in Standard Five, opening my lunchkit to find sandwiches with bright blue plasticine filling. Sigh. Blue cheese paste. I swapped lunch that day, because once I made that association, there was no returning.

Other students didn’t necessarily find it that odd; blue was a rare choice, certainly, but colouring our cheese pastes was entirely normal in T&T. Who ever went to a school bazaar tea party and got served only yellow cheese paste sandwiches? Oh no, there would be 3 or 4-layer sandwiches, crusts neatly trimmed, each layer a different colour, usually yellow (natural) and pastel pink and green. All very festive. Food colouring never really affected the taste of the cheese paste, so you could do what you wanted if you were creative.

A good cheese paste transcends childhood, however, especially when your tastes have matured to liking the bits of carrot and pimento peppers, spiced up with a good pepper sauce and mustard. Mmmmm… Some people may add celery and maybe green peppers, but with the latter, there’s too much water content and the spread can go bad faster. We zap ours in the food processor, and it comes out smooth and creamy, fairly quickly (although cleaning the blade afterwards is tiresome). But traditionally, before such appliances, grating the cheese and other ingredients sufficed, and the additional texture (not to mention thickness) makes for a great sandwich or filling. Food processors are good if your butter is still hard, and you don’t like chopping or grating carrots etc. There’s no need to add milk or mayonnaise, if you experiment with the proportions of cheese and butter to your liking, you’ll make a great spreadable paste without those ingredients, which may change the taste and shelf life of the sandwich in the hot sun. We like mustard as a complement to many cheesy things (see Lilandra’s macaroni pie recipe for example) but I guess there may be some people out there who don’t…feel free to add your suggestions for additions to cheese paste.

 And now for the recipe!

INGREDIENTS (approximate, please experiment):

Cheese Paste - the Ingredients175-200 gm cheddar cheese (strong flavour needed, I didn’t use that entire block in the photo)

100 gm butter/margarine

1 tsp minced garlic (or more, go brave)

5 cm (2″) of carrot

2 pimento/seasoning peppers (or more – there are not hot peppers, they have the flavour of hot peppers but not the heat)

1 tablespoon of mustard (use whichever type you like, vary the amounts to taste)

dash(es) of good pepper sauce

pinch of black pepper

Cheese Paste - adding the MustardMETHOD:

Process carrots and pimento peppers until fine or desired size. Add cheese and butter and process until smooth and well combined. Taste the mixture at this point to determine if the proportions of cheese and butter are to your liking. Add remaning ingredients and process until combined.

Alternatively, let the butter soften out of the fridge. Then grate the cheese and carrots, chop the pimento peppers finely, and mix all ingredients to a paste.

Cheese Paste - spreadable cheesinessStore in a sealable container in the fridge for up to a week (undisturbed or in the freezer, you can keep for longer). You will need to take out and bring almost to room temperature for it to be spreadable, however, so take out in small batches unless you’re making loaves of sandwiches for a beach lime, or the Oval.

Slather on crix (crackers) or bread. Use as a filling for your puffs. (Don’t ask me for a puff recipe, I am not yet that ambitious!)

Edit #1 [I know there are other countries in the Caribbean that have cheese paste similar to this - I am interested in the differences.]

Edit #2 [When I decided to blog on Cheese Paste, I didn't think it was necessarily suited to a fixed recipe. Frankly, I wasn't sure it would be an interesting post, or fill any need. When Lilandra and I were called upon to make some cheese paste sandwiches for my brother and family (for their 2-day travels), I decided this was something I needed to document. And I love the comments and now I see that there are apparently people searching for "cheese paste recipe", so I am glad to be of service.

These sandwiches, which range from the simple to the exotic, judging by your responses, have a special place in my childhood memories, and I am glad to have evoked some small part of your memories. I really like the reminisces, and to be honest, revel in the unforeseen consequences of the post, sending you in search of cheese, craving cheese-space sandwiches. I have decided to incorporate the suggestions and variations in the body of the post, to truly reflect the nature of this simple spread.]

Variations:

* Different Cheeses – cottage, cream, blue
* Onions (chopped or grated)
* Chives
* Chadon Beni
* Boiled Egg
* Mushrooms
* Mayonnaise
* Bitters
* (Sugar?)

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60 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. This one is like the coco post since I am now craving a Kiss bread and cheese paste sandwich with the ends cut off and cut diagonally :)

    A childhood can be considered good or bad depending on the quality of cheese paste that made it into a child’s lunch kit. In the past, mothers guarded their cheese paste recipes like Angostura guarded their bitters mixture. In fact, a dash or two of bitters in the cheese paste was never made public; until now that is :)

    1. aka_lol on February 10th, 2008 at 5:17 pm
  2. I’ve already had one comment on Flickr, possibly questioning the carrot, and being pro-mayonnaise – she’s Jamaican, but I am sure there are Trinis who think that way.
    I like the fact that every cheese paste sandwich can be an adventure :-D
    Whenever we made cheese paste sandwiches in bulk, there’d be fights over the ends of the bread for eating right away. Or wishing for uneven number of slices in the loaf…more sacrificed to the immediate consumption of freshly made cheese paste.

    2. Chennette on February 10th, 2008 at 10:38 pm
  3. Cheese spread…interesting this is something I remember from our sojourn on that other island. We did have colourful sandwiches and I do think that most likely they did indeed have and still have mayonnaise but i loved those coloured goodies that were usually saved for the sanctum of birthday parties. To this day I still go for cheese paste—more likely spread in my region of the world, over anything else offered. Somehow the food colouring and I suppose the rarity made them more exciting to the palate…

    3. Rone on February 10th, 2008 at 11:17 pm
  4. colour, and little triangle sandwiches – big big draw, even as an adult
    plus no matter what else is in it, it has cheese, so it must be edible and good in some way

    4. Chennette on February 11th, 2008 at 1:07 am
  5. I remember someone using just a touch of sugar in cheese paste to cut the “edge.” I tried it once and it was ok but I prefer the full mustard tang. In Trinidad, cheddar cheese is the the cheese of choice but the different brands of cheddar all have different taste and cheese choice can make or break a paste or a party :)

    5. aka_lol on February 11th, 2008 at 12:12 pm
  6. Mmmm yum,this is almost exactly as I make it! I also do versions adding cream cheese and chives, good quality blue cheese, or chopped mushrooms. Havent made cheese paste for months,so maybe I’ll do it again soon!

    6. Nicole on February 11th, 2008 at 4:27 pm
  7. Best cheddar brands for this-Anchor or Kraft/Cracker barrel sharp/extra sharp.

    7. Nicole on February 11th, 2008 at 4:29 pm
  8. hehe – I like this inspirational effect – prompting simultaneous cravings, and preparations. Wonder what else from my childhood needs exploring :-D
    aka_lol – hmmm, sugar. I don’t think I would have had the guts to try the sugar…but who knows, I may have had it already!
    Nicoleyes, sharp cheddar cheeses definitely the best
    and I think I should add to the ingredient list, possible green seasonings depending on the mood – chives, parsely, chadon beni, even the celery leaves would go well.

    8. Chennette on February 11th, 2008 at 4:57 pm
  9. Growing up we would say ‘cheese-space’, as if it were one word with a hypen in it. I love ‘cheese-space’ sandwiches. We grew up with the carrot-grated-in-it version, ensconsed in hops bread.. I sort of feared the brightly coloured pinwheel or triangular ones, and never – to this day – am attracted to them. But I love love love crix and ‘cheese-space’ with the mayo and pimento – thankfully I’ve outgrown the carrot!

    9. TamarindBall on February 11th, 2008 at 11:36 pm
  10. OUTGROWN the CARROT?
    iz your time in Jamaica, nah?
    :-P

    10. Chennette on February 12th, 2008 at 12:09 am
  11. I like the idea of colorful cheese. :-)

    11. ewe_are_here on February 12th, 2008 at 6:40 pm
  12. I must have the mayo, though. And a bit of onion in the mix. Yum.

    12. Liane Spicer on February 12th, 2008 at 10:58 pm
  13. Ewe – children love non-food coloured food especially

    alright alright :-) I accept that people like mayo in the cheesepaste…onion though…not a fan of raw onions, but I can see where people who don’t have my hangups could enjoy the combination of cheese and onions.

    13. Chennette on February 12th, 2008 at 11:16 pm
  14. cheese paste is such a great concept. we make it with low-fat cottage cheese sometimes. it’s very versatile too.

    14. bee on February 13th, 2008 at 2:25 am
  15. so far, I haven’t really experimented beyond the traditional cheese paste – most likely because my experimentation era coincided with my sinus allergies, and cheese was the biggest trigger. I look forward to trying new things though.

    15. Chennette on February 13th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
  16. We do have very similar cheese-paste experiences, especially with the multi-coloured sandwiches which I always found attractive.

    I’m lactose intolerant so I have to monitor my dairy intake but there’s nothing quite like a good cheese paste. I’ve never had it with carrots.

    Mom always used to put a couple of boiled eggs in with her cheese paste and I loved that with the flecks of egg whites, the yolks added to the smooth texture. So apart from the cheese, boiled eggs, butter, mustard, salt and hot pepper, nothing else was added. Later on though, I would fold in thinly sliced green onions.

    Now I do all of the above in addition to adding some grated onion, you’d be amazed the flavour that the grated onion gives; try a little bit of sweet relish also – so good. Now you have me craving for a cheese-paste sandwich :)

    16. Cynthia on February 13th, 2008 at 11:30 pm
  17. thanks for the comment Cynthia, especially the description of your variation!
    Everyone should try carrots – they have colour and crunch.

    17. Chennette on February 14th, 2008 at 12:05 am
  18. mayonnaise in cheese paste sends shivers down my spine
    not a good thing

    and why o why did we go through that phase when we only had blue food colouring? that’s the real reason we had blue cheese paste sandwiches
    we wanted coloured cheese paste sandwiches like everybody else in school and mom only had BLUE!!!!

    18. Lilandra on February 14th, 2008 at 11:42 pm
  19. I made cheese-paste yesterday-first time in about two years. Luckily, as I got the cold and that was the only food I felt I could eat ( with whole wheat crix).

    19. Nicole on February 15th, 2008 at 10:52 pm
  20. Blue cheese paste! Reminds me of going to little parties when I was small and you would get piece of sweet bread some popcorn and a bread and cheese paste.I saw all the colours… green, pink, red, and of course blue. So you’re not alone. Me personally I like mine with grated carrots and slight pepper with of course a plate of CRIX. I just like how the pepper and the sharpness of the cheddar bites your tongue.

    20. Padilla on February 16th, 2008 at 3:40 pm
  21. I Haven’t had cheese paste in so long and people here don’t seem to know anything about it!

    21. Marsha on February 21st, 2008 at 12:38 pm
  22. Cheese paste? Sounds delicious… and I’m sure better than eating crackers with cheese spread that happens sometimes to me ;)

    Have a good day, Margot

    22. Coffee and Vanilla on February 21st, 2008 at 4:48 pm
  23. me that loves cheese i havent heard of this yet..i bet this is awesomely delicious with my home made crackers :-)

    23. dhanggit on February 24th, 2008 at 5:45 am
  24. When I googled Cheese paste i never had a clue I’d find a Trini site and recipe. I’m Trini, needing to make some sandwiches for my sisters graduation, so I was delighted. But more than that, I’m delighted by the site! Keep it up!

    25. Renata on April 16th, 2008 at 10:48 am
  25. Hi Renata and welcome! Glad you like the blog. I am glad to meet someone who googled cheese paste, because I never expected it when I first wrote this post :-D

    26. Chennette on April 17th, 2008 at 11:18 am
  26. Thanks so much for putting up the cheese paste recipe! I live in the US now and my kids love to try new Trini foods! (in fact I was looking up your paratha recipe when I found this one. Your paratha recipe is the only one I use). Anyway, I see a food processor in the cheese paste post. Is that absolutely needed? Or can I get around it somehow?

    27. Nika on April 27th, 2008 at 2:16 pm
  27. Hi Nika – Thanks for the nice comments!
    And no, you do not need a food processor. You can grate the cheese and carrots, chop any other ingredients finely, and make sure the butter is soft enough to mix into a paste.

    28. Chennette on April 27th, 2008 at 2:21 pm
  28. We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger [at] gmail [dot] com if interested. Thanks :)

    29. Sophie on August 14th, 2008 at 7:53 am
  29. my website is not cooking it’s health and beauty, but the cheese paste taste good, it was my first time making cheese paste.

    30. Clive on August 21st, 2008 at 9:51 pm
  30. I love this! I googled cheese paste and your site and recipe pops up. Best of all it comes with a story, like most Trinidadians, everything comes with a back ground story. Any hoot I am going to use this recipe, as is or sans carrot, for my Dancing Queen Party on Friday. This will make a great addtion to my appetizers and cocktails. I am putting them into puffs.
    Thanks again from one Trini to another Trini.

    32. Camile on August 26th, 2008 at 9:56 am
  31. Hi Camile and welcome! Yes, I really think more Trinis should be blogging – an unfettered opportunity to pontificate and do some story-telling, what better than that?
    good luck with the party – I assume it’s ABBA-themed?

    33. Chennette on August 26th, 2008 at 12:55 pm
  32. Hmm interesting cheese paste with carrots and mustard and magarine I never heard of before. I’m from Trinidad and this is new to me, also I found it so interesting to see so many trinis not liking the concept of having mayo in their cheese paste. How I learn to make cheese paste is by grating the cheese adding mayo a little bit of mustard just enought to get the colouring right, grating onions for a little flavor and adding a little bit of sugar oh and also adding pepper sauce for a nice spicy taste. Trust me it comes out well because my mom use to get people hooked on them. I will also try your recipe just for a change i’m not sure if I will be a big fan though because cheese paste without mayo to me foreign.

    37. Andrea on November 18th, 2008 at 11:21 am
  33. Hi Andrea – I have probably had that kind of cheese paste before – where it’s cheese with mayo and the other flavours. I’ve never liked the taste of mayo with the cheese paste though, but I guess it depends how much you put in. Actually, the 2 main Trini voices against mayo in the comments, are me and my sister, so it’s a family thing :-) most of the others support mayonnaise in cheese paste!
    You’ve really never had cheese paste made with butter? See, sometimes it seems T&T is bigger than we think, with all these variations :-D Let me know how your foray into cheese paste with butter goes!

    38. Chennette on November 18th, 2008 at 11:36 am
  34. I’m not a Trini, but and American married to a Trini, and I guess I have adopted cheese paste for my very own. It’s a simple version she taught me to make: cheese, mustard, butter, pepper sauce. Very delicious. I think I might even be able to make it for my in-laws with some success. Making it in a food processer is a great idea! (certainly makes the grating cheese part into a joy since it only takes about 20 seconds to shred a pound of cheese). Thanks for the article, it was great. Now I will have to go over to check out Lilandra’s Macaroni Pie Recipe.

    39. Drew on November 19th, 2008 at 8:50 pm
  35. Hey Drew! I see you’ve got the basics for great cheese paste down already :-) Food processors are great – you can get such smooth spreadable texture (if that’s what you want of course) even if you add the “frills” like veggies of some kind!

    40. Chennette on November 19th, 2008 at 10:01 pm
  36. Omigod I remember my mother making yellow and green cheese paste sandwiches for every birthday party I had as a child. good times, good times.

    41. bbj on February 13th, 2009 at 11:21 pm
  37. Thank you sooo much for the recipe. I’m Guyanese and was googleing cheese paste and this one came up. This is the closest to the Guyanese recipe that remember except I don’t think we use carrots and colors but we use onions or green onions.

    I like making it with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp or Extra Sharp (Anchor is too expensive in Orlando) and I just use some of their Pepperjack for the hottness. However the first and last time I made it I tried to use blender to avoid grating and it ended up coming out like Velvetta due to over blending and had people and my masjid asking me “is this halal?”. I totally lost the consistency of real “cheese space” BTW readers Cabot’s, like Anchor is Halal and can be found just about everywhere in the US.

    This time around I’m leaving it in the hands of a Jamaican first timer but I’m sure this recipe will give her better success than I had. Thanks again

    42. Lianne on February 26th, 2009 at 3:29 am
  38. assalamu ‘alaikum Lianne – nice to have you drop by.
    I seriously think the cheese paste recipe is one of my favourite posts simply because of the reminisces and stories like yours :-D
    Don’t you love masjid people who like to query halaalness :-D of food brought by muslims…different cultures I guess, but I think there’s a hadith about not questioning your muslim brother, but will check…
    My sister, Lilandra used to buy the Cabot cheeses when she lived in MA – extra sharp sounds like good flavour.
    in any event, achieving velveeta doesn’t sound like such a bad thing! a blender was probably overkill, a food processor is perfect – and no grating there either!!

    43. Chennette on February 26th, 2009 at 8:32 pm
  39. u could open a can of tuna in there too, it makes it taste even better… im eating that right now..lol

    44. andrew on March 10th, 2009 at 10:59 pm
  40. weyy, I have never tried that!
    yuh mean, one day I could go somewhere and instead of being offered the usual cheese paste OR tuna sandwich I could get a cheesepastetuna sandwich???
    it boggles the mind!

    45. Chennette on March 11th, 2009 at 7:07 pm
  41. I’m a Trini-American and I surely remebered acquiring a taste for those spicy cheese paste sandwiches. It’s been years since I had one until recently I was at a Trini friend’s kid’s party and to my surprise they were passing out those lovely trimmed triangle filled with spicy cheese paste. It inspired me to search for variations on the recipe, so thanx!

    46. sinful4life on June 14th, 2009 at 12:53 pm
  42. i jus wanted to say i tried ur recipe and it was great, and i just wanted to say “crix the vital supply” lolz, ……..17yrs

    47. i_miss_trini on July 19th, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  43. Thanks :-) Glad you liked it. Crix is the best!!

    48. Chennette on July 20th, 2009 at 12:28 pm
  44. I also put some milk (in substitute of mayonnaise) to add moisture(?) when making the cheese paste.

    49. Sting on December 23rd, 2009 at 4:45 pm
  45. Well I do not like mayo in cheese paste as I like it as a good veggie dish…..And yes I know these days of vegetarian mayo …But from time to time I would add a little evaporated milk if the cheese was too dry ……

    50. trinimom on December 29th, 2009 at 6:21 am
  46. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for this!!! This is exactly whate I needed.
    I’m having a couple guests over today and had no idea what to make for a snakck. Someone suggested that I make cheese paste and put it in sandwiches. I have no idea how to make it and googled and here it was! I’m also Trini, so this worked out wonderful.
    Thank you!

    51. Cathy on February 6th, 2010 at 11:28 am
  47. Sorry about the typos, ^

    52. Cathy on February 6th, 2010 at 11:31 am
  48. You are very welcome :-) Hope it turns out well!

    53. Chennette on February 6th, 2010 at 11:31 am
  49. today i made cheese paste for the first time in years and about the green peppers comment well i roast them before adding them and the flavor is really nice but the secret ingredient is that bitters if you dont like the sharp taster of the chesse i find that it cuts it down a bit well, thanks for this site good to know you can find a site like this.

    54. lisa on May 7th, 2010 at 10:54 am
  50. Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting! The roasted green peppers in the cheese paste sounds like something to try, for sure. Don’t use bitters because of the alcohol content, but I know Trinis mostly throw it anywhere :-D

    55. Chennette on May 7th, 2010 at 8:55 pm
  51. yay!! So thrilled to have this! My VERY VERY picky eater – 7 year old son – and I just got back from a family cruise to the caribbean, where he and I did a special excursion in antigua snorkeling on a catamaran. They provided us with these funky cheese sandwiches, which my son has continued, for days now, to ask me to get the recipe so that I can re-create them for him.

    thank you!

    56. colleen on April 28th, 2011 at 5:56 pm
  52. Hey Colleen – hope they taste like what you got in Antigua :-)

    57. Chennette on April 28th, 2011 at 8:44 pm
  53. Finally i used the cheese paste recipe and the paste was delicious. Actually i made it for the mosque on Eid day and everyone enjoyed it:)

    58. Anisa on September 5th, 2011 at 8:46 pm
  54. Hmmm… one would have thought that we would have been told about using the recipe to make the sandwiches at the masjid so we could taste it…..not to see it on the site. Since it is our recipe we could really tell you how close you came to the real thing…….lol. Miss your chance, next year perhaps………

    59. trinimom on September 12th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
  55. i use mayo instead of butter and include grated onions and carrots, finely chopped pimentos and green peppers, and thinly sliced celery stalks and stuffed green olives. plus i don’t grate the cheese too fine. and of course mustard and pepper sauce. it’s really nice and tan1gy, has a good deal of body, some crunch to add interest, and pretty to look at. try it between a hamburger bun(be sure to get the one with the seeds on top) with a leaf of lettuce. and don’t worry, if you make the sandwiches the night before and leave them in the fridge overnight, they keep all day in the sun (just don’t include the lettuce).

    60. laverne on March 18th, 2012 at 12:55 pm
  56. Happy for this. Thanks. ‘Cause I am planning my daughter’s 6th bday party and I want to use recipes from my childhood.

    61. Nyree on August 23rd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
  57. I added more cheese because there was too much butter. But overall, it was good! Thank you!

    62. Toni on December 30th, 2012 at 1:55 pm
  58. Made it today was great thanks

    63. Joel on January 9th, 2013 at 6:19 am
  59. Spent Christmas 2013 at home in Trinidad. Being there for the Holidays brought back many found memories. For new years I asked my long time friend and neighbor to make cheese sandwiches they were the best. When I was leaving to return to the US my best friend made me some sandwiches for my trip. This was the best since the airlines don’t serve meals. I was looking for the cheese paste recipe and found your blog.

    64. Marcia on February 1st, 2014 at 5:58 pm
  60. Hi Marcia, glad you found the post and blog! Welcome. I have been dreaming recently of making a sada roti stuffed with cheese paste. Your comment has brought it back to mind!

    65. Chennette on February 2nd, 2014 at 2:20 am

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