Side Dish: Tea Time! (April 25, 2011)

Tea Time!

I know that I wrote a post a few years ago about my culinary obsession of the week, bite-sized food. Forgive any light re-tread this week because – I guess I just have babies on the brain – but I wanted to share some recipes for the tiny finger sandwiches you’d get with an afternoon tea service.

We don’t do afternoon tea at Café 429. Well it’s not on the menu, anyway. Lately Saul and Jonathan have been catching up over tea in the early afternoon in that wonderful time after the lunch rush but before we open for dinner. Today while I started prepping the dinner service, I couldn’t help but watch them and remember those sweet moments when Kevin and I first started dating.

Watching Saul coach Jonathan on the finer points of teacup etiquette was incredibly sweet. Sort of like watching two teenagers on a date. (And just so there’s no confusion: tea cups with a handle are held by placing your fingers to the front and back of the handle with your pinkie up for balance… oh and “pinkie up” means slightly tilted, not straight up.)

To complete their afternoon tea I raided the fridge and threw together some finger sandwiches for them. Saul was quick to point out that afternoon tea also consists of scones with jam and clotted cream as well as a series of cookies, shortbreads and other sweets. Just as quickly I reminded him that he was more than welcome to go ahead and make as many scones as he wanted in the kitchen. ;)

If you’d like to have your own afternoon tea service try these simple sandwiches washed down with your favorite tea. Sipped with your pinkie up, of course.

FINGER SANDWICHES
** Choose a good quality, thinly sliced packaged bread. Some manufacturers make white and wheat “very thin” loaves that are perfect for these.

Cucumber-Dill Butter
Makes 16 finger sandwiches

INGREDIENTS
– 36 dime-thin slices hothouse or small Kirby cucumbers, or as needed
– Salt
– 3 tablespoons, unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
– 8 slices bread

1) Spread the cucumber slices out in a single layer on a sheet of paper towel. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let stand.

2) Beat the butter and dill together in a small bowl. Spread the butter onto one side of 8 slices of bread. There will be enough butter to coat each slice very lightly.

3) Arrange the cucumber slices overlapping very slightly over 4 of the bread slices. Top with the remaining bread, pressing each gently. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.

Smoked Salmon-Caper
Makes 16 finger sandwiches

INGREDIENTS
– 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
– 1 tablespoon drained tiny (nonpareil) capers, finely chopped
– Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
– 8 slices of bread
– 4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

1) Stir the mayonnaise and capers together in a small bowl. Season to taste with pepper. Spread the mayo onto one side of the 8 slices of bread. There will be enough mayo to coat each slice lightly.

2) Arrange the smoked salmon slices to cover 4 of the bread slices in a more or less even layer. Top with the remaining bread, pressing each gently. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.