This is a recipe for something I have made for many many years without a recipe. But tonight I decided to measure the amounts. Yes, tonight is ‘Id ul Fitr. And no, while this is a family favourite, it is not a traditional Eid recipe. But I needed to cook something. To feel like Eid when I’m here in Guyana alone (no family and close friends traveling). And to have something home made to take into the office to announce “Eid is here! It’s the end of Ramadan!” Especially since, as this ‘Id is not a holiday in Guyana it’s not really at the forefront of people’s minds.
So in addition to a not-so-sweet mango-pineapple cobbler/crumble thingy (I’ll explain later), I made these cheese rolls. These rolls originated from a recipe in Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook, which is one of those books Mom had from long long time, and which I always referred to growing up to figure out how to make something (days before the internet, that’s what we used kids, BOOKS, no Google, just an index). You can tell the book is old-school, but it was very useful. And she had a recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits, which I turned to when I wanted to replicate KFC American biscuits or scones (I learned from Form 1 Home Ec. that scones and American biscuits were related, both belonging to the rubbed-in method of baking).
And Cheese Pimento Rolls was one of the variations for those Baking Powder Biscuits. Now, I have no idea what she meant by pimento back then – since pimento is used to refer to allspice sometimes – but I knew about what Trinis called pimento peppers, which are the seasoning not-hot, thin-skinned peppers that we use in everything (almost). And that seemed like a nice complement to cheese. I can vaguely remember the first few times I made this that it seemed a bit bland, so we started adding mustard (mustard goes with cheese – see cheese paste, macaroni pie). But as I learned about the tricks to get such biscuits fluffy (shortening), tasty (butter) and keeping things cold, alternating between milk and water, I think I got a feel for making it without consulting the recipe again. So it usually is made depending on the texture I want, or the ingredients I have. And I most recently learned that cheese and onion is a classic combination for a really good reason.
And tonight I measured what I did.
CHEESE ROLLS RECIPE
4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter (cold)
3 tbsp shortening (Cold)
2 cups cold water (or milk) approx.
500 g shredded cheddar cheese (approx amount, substitute any cheese)
1 tbsp mustard (or to taste)
2-tbsp minced onions
2-3 pimento peppers chopped
1 leaf chopped chadon beni (bandhania, culantro)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Making the Dough:
1. Mix together dry ingredients. Add butter and shortening (diced) and rub into flour until resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add water 1 cup at a time and gradually mix into flour until the dough comes together. Try not to overwork the dough.
3. Separate dough into two portions.
4. One piece of dough at a time, roll out to a rectangle about 1 cm thick.
6. Evenly sprinkle cheese, onions, pimentos, bandhania and black pepper, leaving the 2 cm edge clear.
7. Start rolling from a long edge (not the empty edge), slowly and tightly trying not to leave any air spaces (but don’t stress about it, it’s just to help seal in the cheese when you cut it, when baked it holds together fine). You can pinch the dough as you go along. When you’re done rolling, tuck in the sides to make flat ends of the roll, and pinch the long edge together with the roll to seal the ends.
8. Slice roll, about 2 cm thick and place cut side down on a greased baking sheet.
9. Repeat for 2nd piece of dough.
10. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until golden-brown on the bottom.
This makes about 15-20 rolls, depending on how you cut. You may need more cheese. 😀
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