Secret Garden Recipe: Two Exquisite Tea Sandwiches

by Julie Ruble on January 11, 2011 · 39 comments

When I was little, I didn’t lust after coins or stamps or postcards or anything particularly, ah, collectible. Instead, I coveted tiny things. When my mother would head to torturous craft stores to pick up sewing supplies, the dollhouse aisle was a haven. Package after package boasted teensy soda bottles, itty bitty magazines (with readable headlines!), miniature lamps, pint-sized armoires, and on and on. I always tried to pick a particularly adorable item to ask Mom for, but then I’d realize with a measure of disgust that I didn’t really know what I’d do with a set of tiny kitchen utensils. At any rate, miniatures have always had my heart.

Maybe I am secretly a gnome.

One sort of miniature that did frequently end up coming home with me was tea sets. I sought them out everywhere I went — toy stores, souvenir shops, craft stores, department stores, gas stations. You’d be surprised where you can find tea sets. I had medium sets, tiny sets, super-ultra-tiny sets. There were teapots with elegant designs, cutesy designs, holiday designs, and even one where every dish was shaped like a flower.

Despite my plethora of tea sets, I never once sat down and had tea. I displayed them, fiddled with them, and every now and then acted out a sad little version of a teddy bear tea party, but I don’t think a drop of tea or a crumb of a crumpet ever touched a single dish. What a shame, because there are very few food events more classy and sweet than a tea party.

For my sister’s Secret Garden Party, I remedied the situation. It was a tea party to the extreme, complete with a colorful tablecloth, Mom’s best china, some sweet decor, and the most important part: an elaborate spread of indulgent finger foods. These savory, delicate finger sandwiches were one of the biggest hits on the table.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches



Recipe by: Great Party Recipes
Yields: about 40 finger sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced very thinly
3/4 cup butter, room temperature so it’s soft and spreadable
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
20 pieces thin-sliced bread with crusts removed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Place the cucumber slices in a colander, lightly salt them, and let them drain for 1-2 hours to remove some of the moisture.

Combine the soft butter and garlic in a bowl and spread onto one side of each slice of bread. In a separate bowl, stir together lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Place the cucumber slices into this mixture and toss to coat them well. On each of 10 slices of bread, arrange overlapping cucumber slices. Top with remaining 10 slices and quarter. Serve immediately.

Classic Cucumber Tea Sandwiches were cool, buttery, and satisfyingly crisp. Providing the perfect complement was the salty, bold flavor of Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches with a kick of paprika. Both sandwiches were devoured (daintily, of course) in between scones, croissants, and lemonade.

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches



Recipe by: Great Party Recipes
Yields: about 40 finger sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature so it’s soft and spreadable
20 slices bread, thin-sliced with crusts removed
1/2 cup capers
12 ounces thin-sliced smoked salmon
lemon juice
Pepper to taste
mayonnaise (optional)
paprika (optional)

Directions:
Spread cream cheese on each slice of bread (one side only) and dot with capers (I liked quite a few capers). Arrange the smoked salmon on 10 bread slices, with a squeeze of lemon juice on each. Pepper generously (to taste), top with remaining 10 bread slices, and quarter (using a serrated knife). Brush long side of each tea sandwich with mayonnaise very lightly and dip into paprika to coat. Tap to remove excess paprika. Serve immediately.

Don’t repeat my childhood mistake of overlooking the tea party. Whether it’s for a gardenful of guests, a roomful of family, or a handful of (conveniently disinterested) stuffed animals, whip up some of these simple tea sandwiches. With minimal kitchen time and a short ingredient list, they provide a ton of pinky-pointing deliciousness. How about you? What’s your favorite tea party friendly dish? Scones, croissants, muffins, pastries, petit fours? Or are you a savory tea sandwich person yourself?

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