Cheese Sticks in Egg Roll Wrappers
Crunchy at first bite. Sizzling hot to the touch. A second crackly bite revealed the moist, melted cheese getting gooey within the crisp egg roll wrapper. I closed my eyes in reverie, at the memory this crisp cheese stick brought. The cheese stick was a warm comfort. The memory was priceless.
The cheese sticks recipe was simple. But it represented a multitude of memories. Perhaps even hundreds.
The memories started with an email invite to the “100 Years” homecoming. My alma mater was calling. The university where I attended college, St. Paul’s University of Manila was going to celebrate their Centennial Celebration. It was going to be a big event with hundreds of alumni attendees. I had not seen my college classmates for years. I smiled at the thought of the memories it would evoke. The friends I made during my college years had become my friends for life, and I was eager to see them again.
“You won’t be around at the next 100 years celebration”, was the email message of our former dean. Yes, Mrs. M. was right. Quickly, I looked at the dates. I checked the internet for airfares. I looked at my schedule. Suddenly I was on fire. I was inspired. I knew I could make the trip and squeeze in a thousand other things on my itinerary of 3 weeks. I was motivated by this thought: I could turn it into a culinary trip. And one packed with memories!
My trip back to the Philippines from January to February 2012 was memorable. My flight was a 20+ hour plane ride, that started in the USA east coast and ended in Manila, a day after.
FAMILY, FRIENDS, and FOOD. These 3 were a common ingredient in every single day of my trip. I was forever surrounded by family and good friends. There was never a single minute when I wasn’t surrounded by people who loved and cared for me. And yes, my college classmates, they were the ones who knew me to the core….they were my friends for life !
And without fail, FOOD was the centerpiece of every reunion. Filipino meals are characterized by the 3 basics of breakfast, lunch and dinner. What makes us unique is that “merienda”, an in-between snack is a way of life. To give up “merienda” would be odd. To not serve “merienda” at all to guests visiting would be considered rude .
“Let’s get together!” was often an inviting message I received from numerous old friends and family I had not seen for years. If I could not make it for lunch or dinner, the invite invariably turned to “how about merienda?”
Personally, I love “meriendas” in Manila. It’s casual and easy. There is less pressure to rush through the meal. And oh my, the “merienda” offerings are often superb snacks. The Filipino merienda is a meal in itself. Noodles or “pancit” can be present. Soups like “arroz caldo” or “chicken mami” paired with “siopao”, steamed pork buns are also regulars. Or if one prefers, there are numerous cakes, pastries, all made from scratch or homemade. Merienda is often downed with a tall, cold drink…..I especially enjoyed the freshly squeezed fruit juices….and always, MANGO JUICE was my signature drink !
Back here in the USA, after a long Philippine trip, I started to create my own “after the trip” memories . My tummy still yearned for the “meriendas” I was treated to in between meals. So I whipped up a combination of Asian-fusion snacks, using Jarlsberg cheese.
I had good memories of Jarlsberg, from attending last year’s “Eat Write Retreat” conference in Washington D.C. One of the first events we had last year showcased Jarlsberg cheese and as attendees, we hungrily devoured the delish appetizers they sponsors served us. Since then, I’ve always had a chunk of Jarlsberg cheese around the house. Its milky flavors, soft texture and skim-milk qualities have always gone well with whatever I chose to pair the cheese with.
When I returned I found a batch of egg roll wrappers in my freezer. I took a look at the large wedge of Jarlsberg cheese I just purchased. And I knew instantly what I was going to make with both! Cheese sticks!
The process was easy. I simply sliced the Jarlsberg cheese into 2-inch long sticks. I cut each wrapper in half and I placed one Jarlsberg slice of cheese. I rolled it up like I was rolling a slim burrito.
Then I deep fried them quickly in a non-stick pan. In five quick minutes, the hot skillet with the vegetable oil turned the cheese sticks into a bunch of crisp, brown beauties. I drained them on paper towels. Sprinkled the cheese sticks with some confectioners’ sugar…..then paired it with a nice, ripe golden mango. It was like magic ! My “merienda” memories were made! Thanks to Jarlsberg cheese!
JARLSBERG CHEESE STICKS in EGG WRAPPERS
Servings : 2 to 4
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
10- 12 pieces Jarlsberg cheese sticks,thinly sliced 2-inches long
6 pieces egg roll wrappers, cut in half at the center (this will give 12 wrappers)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch dispersed in ¼ cup water, for sealing the wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
- Slice the Jarlsberg cheese to a long, thin strip-like stick measuring 2 inches.
- Cut the egg rolls in half.
- Place one cheese stick in the center of the wrapper. Roll it up like a burrito, making sure to seal the all the edges with the water-cornstarch mixture.
- Keep the wrapped cheese sticks in the refrigerator or freezer for at least an hour, for easier handling.
- Once ready to cook, prepare a non-stick medium skillet. Over medium high heat, pour some vegetable oil for frying. When the oil is hot enough, quickly deep fry the cheese sticks wrapped in egg rolls. These will cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from pan once the wrapper turns brown.
- Drain the cooked cheese sticks on paper towels. When slightly cooled, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with a fresh, ripe mango or any fruit in season.
COOK’S COMMENTS: Egg roll wrappers are flat, square, thin, crepe-like and can be found in the freezer section of major supermarkets or Asian groceries.
Notes: I’m hoping Jarlsberg USA sends me to the “Eat, Write, Retreat” Conference 2012. For more details, visit the Jarlsberg USA site and check out conference event information at the” Eat Write Retreat “site.Appetizers and Sides, Breakfast, Cooking, Desserts and Sweets, Dinner, Events Holidays, Featured, Fruit, Lunch, Noodles Rice Pasta, Travel by Elizabeth Q.