Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

Ah, the Great Cheese Roll. The epitome of comfort food in all its toasted, cheesy, buttery, get-it-in-your-mouth-quick-before-it-runs-down-your-chin-y glory, these bad boys are the perfect antidote to a cold Dunedin eve. Not only are they tasty, inexpensive, and easy to make, they take pride of place amongst the triple star, the blue and gold scarf, the Bluff oyster, and those endearing patches of mould growing in North East Valley flats, as die-hard symbols of the South.

According to research conducted by Otago’s own Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, recipes for the savoury cheese filling in the southern stalwart date back to the 1920s, though the earliest recipe resembling the current day cheese roll or “rat-trap” traces back to an article in The New Zealand Truth, published in 1935. And whilst they now have to contend with more exotic café fodder (back off you paninis and croissants), most good southern cafés and tearooms still stock these cheesey snacks, complete with lashings of butter and a good ol’ fashioned parsley garnish.

What follows is an amalgamation of various recipes imparted to me by friends and family members. These are so handy to have waiting in the freezer for a quick and easy lunch or to have with some tasty soup on those sub-zero Otago nights. Mmmmm – just like your Grandma made.


- 2 loaves of white or multigrain sandwich sliced bread
- 250gm cream cheese
- 1 x packet of onion soup mix
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 500g grated tasty cheese
- 1 tin of plain evaporated milk


1 In a large bowl, combine the evaporated milk, cream cheese, onion soup mix and mustard powder. If you like, you can soften the cream cheese beforehand so that it blends in more easily.

2 Add the grated tasty cheese to the mixture and stir it in so that there is no dry cheese. It should be quite thick, similar to the consistency of porridge; if the mixture is too runny, add some more grated cheese, or, if it’s a little thick, add a tiny bit of boiling water.

3 Spread one heaped dessert spoon of mixture on a slice of bread leaving 2cm without spread on one edge of the bread, and then roll towards the mixture-free edge. Repeat until your mixture runs out. This should make about 32 rolls.

4 Place in the empty bread bags and freeze.

5 Variations: replace onion soup mixture with one medium-sized finely-diced onion, a small can of crushed pineapple, or a can of creamed corn.
This article first appeared in Issue 14, 2013.
Posted 6:05pm Sunday 7th July 2013 by Kirsty Dunn.