They are the cliché food served with tea in just about everything supposed to be set in England, and I love cucumbers so I want to try them. So what’s in 'em? I’m assuming it’s more than just cucumbers and bread, as that would be a bit dry…
My (English) grandmother used to make them with butter, and the crusts were cut off.
I think she salted the cucumbers and let them drain first too.
It’s all about the spread…
So, get yourself some cucumbers and slice them thin. (A mandolin is helpful if you have it.) Also pick up some pre-sliced white bread… Pepperidge Farm makes a loaf that is thin sliced, but also a little bit denser than regular Wonder Bread. This is one of those times when unhealthy, cake-like white bread is the way to go.
Now, onto the spread. Mix equal amounts of cream cheese and mayo together for your base. When I make the spread I am shooting for a very ‘herby’ flavor with a little bit of kick to it. I add the following to taste (just use the dried herbs… no need for fresh here since there is so much going on):
salt and pepper
Basically, go into your spice cabinet, see what you have, and if you think it will work, toss it in to taste. What you are going for is a powerful herb flavor, with some heat from the red pepper, and a little zing from the vinegar. Put some spread on 2 slices of bread, add some cucumbers (patted dry so they aren’t too wet), cut off the crusts, and there you go. You are looking for that Zen balance of soft bread, cool, crisp cucumber, a little spice, and an earthy herb flavor.
To give credit where credit is due, the recipe is a modified version of the one in the cook book InterCourses
My mom plays the mandolin, but I think she’d get mad if I got cucumbers on it
I will try something similar to your recipe when I’m back home with all of my herbs. No Worcestershire, though. It has anchovies in it so it’s not vegetarian I was wondering about the bread. It always looks white on the TV and that was one aspect that had made me nervous. I’m glad to know there is a non-gross white bread out there–I will try the Pepperidge Farm kind.
Wow, that’s quite a recipe, sounds delicious. I have to add though, that plain ol’ cucumber sandwiches, sans spread, are really good too. I made them last weekend and the recipe was this simple: peel and slice cucumbers, soak for 30 minutes in red wine vinegar, drain. Then butter bread (I used whole wheat), lay cucumbers on top, add a dash of salt, and voila! I served them as finger food at a party and they went really fast.
How vinegar-y did that make them taste? I get heartburn from vinegar pretty much instantly…
Am I the only one grossed out by the foods other people eat? So, tell me about cucumber sandwiches.
Does not compute.
When I’ve made cucumber sandwiches, I agree, the bread is the key. You want kind of a firm bread (Improvisor is spot on with the description of the bread as “cakey”) so that it holds up without seeming stale. I think it was the Pepperidge Farms bread I used; the slices were very small, so I thought it would make the sandwiches easier since there’d be less cutting.
I’ve made cucumber sandwiches a few ways. I’ve done the cukes salted (to draw out the water) and unsalted (just pressed in paper towels); I didn’t really notice a difference. I’ve put various things on the bread – butter, butter mixed with some dill, cream cheese, cream cheese mixed with dill. As I recall, they were all pretty good, but the butter seemed better than the cream cheese at first, although the cream cheese held up longer.
They really are very nice; just a very clean, simple taste to them.
This is the proper way to make cucumber sandwiches, and is how you would expect them to be served at a traditional English tea (although the salting is optional).
They way I do it:
Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Spread butter on fresh thincut white bread. Place enough cucumber slices on the bread to cover it entirely and top with another buttered slice of bread. Trim off the crusts and excess cucumber. Slice diagonally twice to form four triangles.
The most common appearance of cucumber on a sandwich in Australia (other than salad I guess) is the Vietnamese Pork or Chicken roll. 3 between 2 is a perfect lunch.
If you want “traditional” English cucumber sandwiches, this is the way to do it, though I’d add salt and freshly ground black pepper. But it must be good white bread and proper butter.
I can understand they might seem a bit bland, but they actually have a lovely, fresh, clean taste.
The way we do them at the tea shop is to start with the right cucumbers - English cucumbers! We slice them thin and that’s the end of it - we don’t peel them, salt them or anything.
Because we make around 150-200 cuke sandwiches a day, we use regular white sandwich bread, trimmed into crust-free squares. There may be better breads to use, but our main concern is reliable availability as we go through about 25 loaves a day.
The spread we use is cream cheese lightened (for easier spreading, not for less calories!) with cream. We whirl this up in a stand mixer - five pounds of cream cheese at a time, and cream is added until it looks right.
A thin swipe of the spread on each piece of bread, lay on the sliced cukes, cut it diagonally, and out it goes.
I have no idea if this is “proper” or not, but see where I said we go through 150-200 a day, and tell me it’s not popular.
That pretty much sums up my opinion of the taste of cucumbers in general, which is why I think I’d enjoy the sammiches