You all know how I am about Tea Parties. I love using pretty, delicate china and noshing on tasty little nibbles of sweets and savories. There's something celebratory about being fancy, if that makes sense, and something to treasure about taking time out to be with people you love.
Many people associate cucumber sandwiches with tea, as well they should. They are indulgent, very British, and offer little sustenance, which is part of why they "go" with tea, historically: the Victorian upper classes could afford cucumbers (they weren't available for an affordable price until the Edwardian era), and the upper class could eat snacks with little protein because they'd get their nutrition in other meals. (Contrast this with the lower classes, who ate meat pasties or hearty sandwiches with their tea.)
|- Cucumber sandwiches|
The first cucumber sandwiches--the most authentic cucumber sandwiches--are made with very thin, buttered white bread and cucumbers. Nothing else. The cucumbers are added at the last minute to prevent the bread from getting soggy, and then crusts are removed before the sandwich is cut into four small triangles.
More modern recipes forego butter and use benedictine (a blend of cream cheese, cucumber juice, and onion juice), green chutney, or other flavorful spins, but Americans prefer cream cheese as a base.
If you do a google search, you'll find some pretty amazing, beautiful recipes.
I make a few pretty good types of cucumber sandwiches. Recipes below. I know the title of the post is the "very best" cucumber sandwich, but the truth is, the best one is the one you make yourself, to your tastes, to share with your loved ones. Whenever I make cucumber sandwiches for a tea, my kids help, and we end up in the kitchen eating the scraps and extras, chatting and enjoying.
So no matter the recipe, that's the very best cucumber sandwich, in my book.
My Recipes: (no portions given so you can adjust to your needs and tastes)
Susanne's Cucumber Sandwiches
Cucumber, peeled, sliced thin, laid on paper towels and sprinkled with salt (to draw out the moisture so the sandwiches don't get soggy)
Whipped cream cheese, softened
Dill weed, dry or fresh
Chopped fresh parsley, optional, and butter or more cream cheese
Spread bread with softened cream cheese. Sprinkle with dill weed (use more if using fresh than dry). Layer cucumber slices atop dill weed. Top with another slice of bread. Remove crusts and slice on diagonal to make four small sandwiches. If desired, butter or spread cream cheese on long edges of sandwich and press fresh parsley into the butter or cheese. Lay sandwiches on a short edge so they sit up like slides, with the parsley on the "slide".
Susanne's Apricot-topped Cucumber Sandwiches
Cucumber, peeled, sliced thin, laid on paper towels and sprinkled with salt
Whipped cream cheese, softened
Spread bread with softened cream cheese. Remove crusts and cut into four squares. Atop each square, add 1-3 slices of cucumber, as desired. Add a small dollop of apricot preserves on top, and top with a single sliced almond.