Are you looking for something to serve in the tea breaks at your club’s cricket matches? Or perhaps you would like to offer your guests a light mid-afternoon snack? You might also be looking for a nice addition to a picnic and a luncheon.
The answer: serve cucumber sandwiches. They are, of course, very British, and modern variants (largely of American origin) exist, involving cream cheese. Also, chopped dill or spices, brown bread, salmon, and even bread with crusts left intact (don’t do this). My recipe is of the American origin, and it is a favorite of mine.
Cucumber sandwiches are often eaten in the summer months, thus the saying, “cool as a cucumber.” They are special, both in appearance and taste. You will end up inventing situations where you can serve them.
Some writers have attempted to draw out an association between the daintiness of the sandwich and the perceived effeteness of the British aristocracy. Cucumber sandwiches are often used as a kind of shorthand in novels and films to identify upper-class people, occasionally in a derogatory manner.
The match is over. Show us the way to tea and the sandwiches.
8 ouncesCream cheese, softened
1/3 cupMayonnaise with EVOO if possible
1 largeCucumber, sliced paper-thin
1/4 teaspoonfulGarlic powder
1/4 teaspoonfulKosher salt
1 TablespoonfulDill fresh, chopped
16 slicesSandwich bread
I use white bread, but pumpernickel can also be used, or the two can be mixed to make attractive sandwiches.
The thickness of the bread is a personal choice. It can be sliced so thin one can almost see through it, or it can have some “heft” to it by choosing a bread with a more compact texture and thicker slice. I like to have it just thick enough where I can easily spread the cream cheese component.
The bread can be cut into quarters (for appetizers) or into halves as actual sandwiches.
Time: 40 Minutes
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until completely incorporated.
Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chopped dill to the mixture.
Spread on 8 slices of sandwich bread. Add the slices of cucumber to one slice and layer according to the amount you prefer. Close sandwiches.
Cut crusts from bread, forming square sandwiches. Cut each sandwich into quarters for appetizers, or into halves for a regular sandwich.
Serve with a malt vinegar and ground pepper to dash inside the sandwich if your guests are so inclined.
Great with tea. Also great as an accompaniment to vichyssoise soup and sliced fresh tomatoes.
A crisp white wine such as a sauvignon blanc is a good pairing.
This recipe is a close approximation to the one from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara