Photo from VeganYumYum
There’s not much else that goes as well with a cool glass of Pimm’s than a cucumber sandwich, except perhaps another glass of Pimm’s! Remember that cucumber sandwiches are meant to be subtle additions to your event of repast. The focus of your gathering should be on the friends and fellowship, not the consumables. But, like anything, the devil is in the details, I do say!
The cucumber sandwich belongs to the tea sandwich family, and as such should be small, simple in preparation, and above all easy to eat without making a mess of one’s sundress or slacks. Keep your ingredients to a minimum, there is no real need to be fancy. Guests should find refinement in the manner in which you speak, your carefully chosen attire, and how you are able lose yet another croquet match to a mere child. If the only thing your guests have to discuss at your party is how good the sandwiches are, you have larger problems to tend to. That being said the preparation of cucumber sandwiches should not be taken lightly. Oh no! Shoddy, sloppy sandwiches, if not discussed openly at your party, will certainly be discussed afterwards, and at every subsequent party you or your guests attend.
“Remember David’s party last spring? Oh, those sandwiches were simply dreadful! I couldn’t bite into one without it flopping all over like a beached sardine!”
The only thing you must remember is that the preparation of cucumber sandwiches should be a thoughtful process, but not so thoughtful that it takes your attention away from more pressing matters, such as the removal of dead fowl from the lawn, or the pressing of your suit.
The three main ingredients of a cucumber sandwich are cucumber, bread, and cream cheese. Such simplicity! Beyond these three ingredients feel free to experiment so long as these three ingredients (or at least their function within the sandwich) are honored. For instance the addition of herbs, mainly dill, is often welcome. However the addition of anything beyond these three ingredients must be undertaken with caution. A small piece of smoked salmon will add lovely touch of salty earthiness, but bacon will surely damn the sandwich to whatever Hell it is that ungodly disgusting sandwiches are doomed to.
The most important thing to remember when assembling your cucumber sandwiches is to trim the crusts. Always trim the crusts! This should be done as the final step so that you might create a clean edge on every sandwich. Any overhanging cucumber slices or errant cream cheese will be fixed with a simple slice. There is a famous story that tells of a party host who was so frantic in the making of her cucumber sandwiches that she forgot to trim the crusts! When the sandwiches were presented to guests, with a fine flourish, the host was met with averted eyes and uncomfortable silence. Noticing her faux pas, but too proud to return to the kitchen, she proceeded to offer each and every guest one of her crusty sandwiches, tears streaming from her face. The story ends with the woman leaving the county under the weight of her own shame.
You may choose to serve your cucumber sandwiches closed faced or open faced, the choice is yours. Although, if you choose to serve your sandwiches open faced, be mindful that you do not cut them too small, lest they be confused with canapes and scorned. Closed faced cucumber sandwiches can assume many shapes. Small squares and triangles are often popular. If your party is age appropriate, or you are looking to try your hand at matchmaking (either for a guest, or for yourself!) it is recommended that you cut your cucumber sandwiches into the long rectangles known as ‘Lady Fingers.” This will allow for sufficient innuendo amongst the more flirty of your guests. (hint: If need be, reserve a tray for serving later in the party, this will allow ample time for the object of your desire to have consumed an amount of alcohol sufficient enough to loosen his or her tongue!)
Remember, the focus of your party should be on your guests. Stick to the basics, you should not be working for the sandwiches, the sandwiches should be working for you! Best of luck. Have a wonderful summer!