Remember that one time when I said that I didn’t know how to cook? Well, that wasn’t entirely true. While yes, I still leave most of the meal-making to others and have yet to best my sworn enemy, Roasted Chicken, there is one thing that I make, and I make it very well. And it just so happens to be perfect for, say, sitting on your couch this Sunday, watching a major sporting event, and consuming more calories than you have cash in the bank.
That dish? Cheese Rolls.
Before I delve into my rich history with Cheese Rolls, because you know I’m going to, let me say that I am fully aware that this recipe requires little time, fresh ingredients, or, let’s face it, skill. We’re talking about pinwheels here, people. But one thing I’ve learned since working at Sur La Table is that it doesn’t have to be all Gougères (you are a beautiful mystery to me), Deep Fried Sous Vide Eggs (hi, we are getting married) and Steak Sliders with Applewood Bacon-Cabernet Reduction and Blue Cheese (whoa) all the time. It’s making and enjoying food that matters most, even if, as in this case, part of the food in question might have come from a tube.
So: Cheese Rolls.
I first learned about Cheese Rolls in the 9th grade, during a show-and-tell type assignment designed to
publicly shame us scar us for life test our public speaking skills. I showed the class how to train a dog to dance, using Tiden, our surly family Westie, who ignored my commands but wowed ’em with cuteness. I can still see him looking up at me as I tried in vain to pose his furry arms in a crude version of a disco move, his little eyes twinkling as if to say, “I will kill you in your sleep for this.” He wouldn’t budge. The class loved it.
Once that experience was seared onto my brain for life, it was time for the next presenter. Enter Kelsie Bartholomew*, who handed out a recipe for something called “Cheese Rolls.” Was there a toaster oven? Samples? Where was my dog? Those details are long gone, but I know that I left class that day with a photocopy of her recipe, handwritten in the perfect, bubble-like lettering coveted by 14-year old girls everywhere, and thought, “These sound amazing. I could totally make these.”
So totally make them I did. And I’ve been making them ever since. Considering that I graduated from high school in 1923 (feels like it, ok?), ever since is a really long time. Through the years, Cheese Rolls have become my signature snack. They’re a Thanksgiving staple, a sports-watching must, and the reason why my brother still invites me over.
Dedicated to Tiden
“Not dancing in our hearts forever”
- 1 tube pre-made crescent dough, separated into 4 rectangles. I bow down to you if you can make your own.
- A small pile of freshly grated medium cheddar cheese. Let’s say 1 ½ cups. Pre-shredded is fine, but I like the melt on fresh better. See how I said that like a pro?
- A handful of minced scallion
- Enough mayonnaise to “glue” it all together when mixed. Start with a tablespoon, see what happens.
- A few dashes of garlic salt
- Sharp white cheddar, diced bacon, fresh cracked black pepper. I love this version, but the classic recipe always seems to be more of a crowd-pleaser.
- Mozzarella, diced sun-dried tomatoes, basil
- That plus pepperoni
- Sub diced jalapeno for scallions in original version
Mix ingredients and spread thinly over rectangles of dough (do not separate into triangles). Roll mixture-covered dough tightly and slice into ½-inch disks. Place cut side down on ungreased nonstick baking sheet/jellyroll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12-16 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.
So there you have it: Cheese Rolls. Like I said, nothing fancy. Cheese Rolls have been around. But they’re good, they’re hot, they’re easy to make, and they’re guaranteed to get eaten up like candy. Come game day, when you’ve got your team playing**, your people around you, and your soft pants on,*** what else do you need?
*Not her real name. I’ve always wanted to change a name in something! Felt good.
***No shame. I am who I am.