The Art of the Tea Sandwich

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From top to bottom: Smoked Salmon with Caper Tartare, Cucumber with Mint Cream Cheese, and Coronation Chicken Sandwiches

I had a friend who once told me his ex-girlfriend would never order sandwiches at a restaurant because if she pays for food, she demands more than someone just stacking ingredients between two pieces of bread. I can see the logic, but man, I love sandwiches! I order sandwiches all the time!

There is an art to the sandwich however, and for High Tea, I didn’t want to just stack ingredients between two pieces of bread. The first step, of course, is the bread! Before I even decided what flavors our High Tea sandwiches were going to be, I developed a recipe for a soft white loaf of bread that would bring honor to the fillings. The Perfect Sandwich bread, I called it, and is a fairly fool-proof recipe, you can even use a stand mixer to do your kneading for you. The proof times are also incredibly forgiving, so you can work the 3-4 hour recipe into your cooking routine as you work on the fillings, lets say! I won’t rewrite the recipe here, but click this link for the Perfect Sandwich Bread!

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The next step is curating two to three sandwiches whose flavors would work well together. I have a few friends that are either vegetarian or pescatarian, and one who refuses to eat fish, so I wanted to create something that would suit all. I went with the traditional Coronation Chicken Sandwich, with a bit of a twist, of course, a Cucumber and Cream Cheese, and a Smoked Salmon and Caper Sandwich.

Each recipe below will create 16 finger sandwiches. For a party of 10-15, I prepared two portions of the Coronation Chicken and Cucumber sandwiches and one portion of the Smoked Salmon. I used about two loaves of the white sandwich bread to make 64 finger sandwiches. Make sure to slice the bread thinly and evenly, a bit over a quarter of an inch thick. After you build the sandwiches, press them gently and slice off the crusts before slicing them carefully into four finger sandwiches.

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Tea sandwiches with my prized Lomonosov Imperial porcelain tea set. This one is signed and editioned and decorated with 24 carat gold. Sigh! Designed by S.Yakovleva and A.Vorobievskiy

Coronation Chicken

1 tbsp olive oil
4 1/5 tsp curry Madras
1 tsp turmeric
3 boiled chicken breasts, sliced thinly and then broken up into small pieces
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise, to taste
2 tbsp mango jam
1 tbsp golden raisins, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
butter, to spread
8 slices of white bread

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and toast the curry powder and turmeric for about a minute.
  2. Add in the broken up chicken and mix to coat. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Butter both sides of bread and divide filling between the sandwiches.
  5. Remove crusts and slice each sandwich into four finger sandwiches.
  6. Makes 16 finger sandwiches.
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Tea Sandwiches and Macaron – photo by Gonzo Beck

Cucumber with Mint Cream Cheese

1 English cucumber, trimmed to length of bread and thinly sliced lengthwise
8 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
butter, to spread
8 slices of white bread

  1. Spread out cucumbers on several plates and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 20 minutes.
  2. Pat cucumbers dry on both sides.
  3. Beat together cream cheese, mint and lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Butter both sides of bread.
  5. Divide cream cheese mixture between all slices of bread.
  6. Carefully place about 3 slices of cucumber on one side of bread.
  7. Sandwich with the second prepared slice.
  8. Cut off crusts and slice each sandwich into four finger sandwiches.
  9. Makes 16 finger sandwiches.

Smoked Salmon with Caper Tartar Dressing

scant 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp capers, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp gherkin pickles, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz smoked salmon
butter, to spread
8 slices of rye bread

  1. Mix mayonnaise, capers, gherkins, parsley, chives, and lemon together.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Butter both sides of bread.
  4. Spread half with the tartar mixture.
  5. Divide salmon between the sandwiches.
  6. Cut off crusts and slice each sandwich into four finger sandwiches.
  7. Makes 16 finger sandwiches.

Total cooking time: 2 hours if making all of the recipes, about 40 minutes total time for each. Each recipe serves 2-4 guests.

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