First Some Hints about making Tea Sandwiches:
Choose a selection of fillings and breads that will be interesting on the platters and on the palates.
For planning purposes, figure on 4 to 6 cut sandwich servings for each person.
Consider some bread-less options.
Choose the best-quality white or wheat bread available. Supermarket choices include Pepperidge Farm “Very Thin” loaves that come in white and whole wheat. A French “Pain de Mie” is considered the standard, and if you want to try making it yourself you can check out this blog entry: home baked pain de mie
. There are also those little breads made by Rubschlager that are easily available. I just don’t understand why they always seem to be to hard.
Never serve end slices. Freezing the bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread slices should be lightly buttered (use unsalted) no matter what filling you use. . Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread the butter to the edge of the bread.
Cut the crusts off the bread with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled, or cut them into shapes with cookie cutters (sharp, thin tin ones work best.) This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal or into thirds or fourths before serving.
Garnish the sandwiches with chopped fresh herbs like parsley, dill, sprouts, or slices of stuffed olives.
Making Sandwiches Ahead of Time :
If you need to make tea sandwiches in advance you will have to figure out how to keep them from drying out. You can stack the uncut sandwiches, wrapped in wax paper and refrigerate, or complete and garnish the sandwiches on the platters, covering them loosely with a sheet of wax paper and then place a damp kitchen towel over the wax paper (never place a damp towel directly on top of the bread because the sandwiches will become soggy. Refrigerate until serving time.
When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator. Uncover sandwiches immediately before serving.
Cucumber Sandwiches are a tea-time standard. I love the traditional ones- nothing but bread, butter, and thinly sliced english cucumbers, but if you are not strangled by tradition, I highly recommend this variation.
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced (about 32 slices)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, rinsed, dry, and chopped fine
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sugar
16 slices best-quality white bread
Salt to taste
Place cucumber slices on a clean kitchen towel (or paper) pressing firmly to remove excess water.
In a small bowl, combine mint, butter, sugar, and cream cheese; spread on one side of each slice of bread. Lay cucumber slices onto the buttered side of 8 slices of bread. Sprinkle with salt. Top with the remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.
Carefully cut the crusts from each sandwich with a long, sharp knife. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again. Decorative shapes can be made with cookie cutters.
Yields 8 whole sandwiches or 16 halves or 32 fourths.
Goat Cheese and Watercress Tea Sandwich
16 thin slices cinnamon-raisin bread,
2 (5 1/2-ounce) logs soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), room temperature
1/2 cup chopped watercress leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted until fragrant, finely chopped
Watercress sprigs (for garnish)
In a medium-size bowl, mix fresh goat cheese and chopped watercress; season with salt and a small amount of finely ground fresh pepper. Spread mixture evenly over 8 bread slices. Top with the remaining sliced of bread.
Carefully cut the crusts from each slice of bread with a long, sharp knife. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again. Decorative shapes can be made with cookie cutters.
Roll cut edges of each sandwiches in the softened butter.
Place pecans on plate. Dip buttered edges of sandwiches into pecans, gently pressing the pecans into the butter.
Arrange sandwiches on platter. Garnish with watercress sprigs.Yields 8 whole sandwiches or 16 halves or 32 fourths.
Dill Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
8 hard boiled eggs**
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely-chopped fresh dill
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
20 slices best-quality white bread
Peel eggs and place into a medium bowl. Slice eggs and then coarsely mash them with the back of a fork. Add mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and dill; stir until well blended. NOTE: This mixture can be refrigerated, covered, up to two days.
Spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread. Spread the buttered side of 10 slices of bread with 2 tablespoons egg mixture. Top with remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.
**Put eggs in pan of cold water. Bring to boiling. Cover pan, turn off heat and leave for exactly (egg-xctly) 20 minutes for perfect HB eggs
James Beard’s Famous Onion Sandwich
James Beard’s Famous Onion Sandwich- the Story
8 slices firm-textured white bread, cut into quarters
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large sweet onion, like Vidalia, WallaWalla, or Mauipeeled and sliced into paper-thin slices
Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel, or whatever fancy salt you have
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons of finely chopped chives or parsley
Arrange the bread slices next to one another on a flat work surface. Using a glass or an 1-inch round coo0kie cutter, cut out two (2) small rounds from each sandwich; discard trimmings.
Spread each bread circle with 1 tablespoon butter. Place a thin layer of sliced onions over the butter. Lightly season the onions with salt.
Assemble the sandwiches with remaining bread slices, pressing lightly to make them adhere.
Spread some of the mayonnaise around the outside rim of each sandwich round. Roll the rim of each sandwich in the chives or parsley to coat completely.
Smoked Salmon Sandwiches on Pumpernickel
Smoked Salmon is a very popular and traditional Tea Sandwich Choice. You can vary this recipe by slicing the cucumbers more thickly, and using them instead of bread, producing cucumber-salmon canapes.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced scallion
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers drained
1 teaspoon prepared (white)horseradish
Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons butter, room temperature
8 slices pumpernickel bread
sliced smoked salmon
12 cucumber slices, sliced thin
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, scallion, dill weed, capers, horseradish, and pepper; set aside.
Spread butter thinly over pumpernickel bread slices; spread mayonnaise mixture on each bread slice. Divide salmon and cucumber slices evenly over 4 slices of bread; top with remaining bread slices.
Cut each sandwich in half diagonally. NOTE: May also cut in quarters or small rounds (your choice).