Sunday, 4 March 2012

High Tea Sandwiches

With the Diamond Jubilee celebrations under way, what is more fitting than serving tea with elegant little sandwiches and sweets?  Just reading a description of paper thin cucumber slices on tiny triangles of bread makes me smile.

My sister and I were making pinwheel tea sandwiches today for a baby shower tomorrow. You want to make these a day ahead so the mixed fillings have some time to set and don't run out onto a duchess's garden party frock.

We started by whipping a half pound of butter with 1/2 cup or less of water in a mixmaster.  Add the water as you go until you have a fluffy consistency.  This makes it easy to spread without tearing the bread and, incidentally, doubles the volume of the butter.  It's a great trick for economy whenever you are making sandwiches for a crowd.

Whipped butter  ~

We had the bakery cut the loaves lengthwise.  It would have been nice if they had told us, in time, that they weren't able to dye the bread blue as we requested.  Not that the dye is good for you, but it would have been sweet for a baby boy's shower.  

Trim the crust from the bread slices. ~

This is sooo handy having my sister here so I'm not trying to take pics with one hand while I cut with the other.  With a rolling pin, lightly roll each slice of bread.  You do the work Lynn and I'll take the pictures.

We don't want to waste all those crusts so we cut them up, bag them and freeze them for making croutons. ~

Take the slices and butter them. ~

You only want a thin layer of butter.  Then spread each with your filling.  We made tuna salad, egg salad, peanut butter and banana, cream cheese with herbs and cream cheese with smoked salmon.  

We got busy talking about making these with our Mom for showers and garden weddings and forgot to take pictures of the next step.  When you have spread a thin layer of filling on top of the butter, lay gherkins across the the bottom of the slice, width wise.  Two small gherkins will fit.  For the peanut butter sandwiches, you replace the gherkin with a small banana.  

Start rolling.  Isn't she doing a great job?  I'm helping her out by telling her stories.  That's worked out really well throughout our lives!  ~

Don't worry about the sides being raggedy.  We're going to fix that later.  Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or more if you start showing your sister blogs you like and forget the time).  

Cut off the raggedy ends and eat them discard them.  ~

Keep slicing the roll.  See how the cute little gherkins make the centre of the pinwheel!  ~

Talk about all the kinds of tea sandwiches we made for my daughter's garden wedding while we put them in plastic containers.  The best part of doing these old fashioned things is the memories that come flooding in!

Here's the trick all our mothers knew.  Put the sandwiches in a container about three deep.  You don't want them squishing each other by doing too many layers.  Then, take a clean tea towel or napkin, wet it and wring it out well. (I don't know why I add the clean towel part.  It's not likely you'd snatch up a floor rag and use that.)  Lay the damp cloth on top of the sandwiches and put the lid on.  The bread won't dry out at all and the fillings will have all night to set.

Make sure you keep a plate of samples out for you and your sister to munch on while you reminisce about all the special occasions and people in your lives. ~

You know the first ones to go are always the egg salad and peanut butter and banana.  My brothers used to call these shooter sandwiches.  That kind of took the poshness out of the whole affair!  DO NOT refer to them as such if any of the royals drop in for tea!

Have a perfectly elegant day!