Simple Recipes for Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea is such a delight and I would like to share some of my favorite finger sandwich recipes with you. The hardest part of planning a tea party is the amount of time needed to create these delectable sandwiches. You will need to set aside a few hours for preparation and the assembling of the sandwiches but no worries, once you get the hang of it, you will be addicted.
The recipes that I am featuring here are very easy to make and are always a hit at my tea parties. To create the perfect finger sandwich, you need a sturdy bread. My personal preference is Arnold Brick Oven, the 2 pound bag. I also use Pepperidge Farm's Rye and Pumpernickel Deli Swirl. If you have a favorite bread, you can use whatever you like but make sure it isn't too soft and thick. It will not hold up to cutting into small sections and removing the crusts. Soft thicker bread will flatten and you will have a crushed sandwich. As for other finger snacks, you can get creative in whatever you'd like to make. I use a cupcake pan to make mini quiches. I also buy frozen phyllo shells and add all types of ingredients to those. You can fill them with cheese and veggies or cheese and meats but since I am a vegetarian, I stick to the cheese and veggies.
Today, I am going to talk about my five most popular finger sandwiches that are so easy to make. My guests love them so I always include them at our tea parties.
1- Cucumber and radish with cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder and black pepper. 2- Sliced hard boiled egg with fresh basil and mayonnaise.
3- Sliced tomato with Boursin cheese spread.
4- Tuna salad with fresh parsley, chopped celery and mayonnaise on rye and pumpernickel swirl
5- Apple and cream cheese on cinnamon raison bread.
When prepping your vegetables and herbs, save time by preparing them the day before. This way, all you need to do is assemble the sandwiches on the day of your party. If you don’t own a mandoline slicer, I suggest you purchase one. They are a life saver when you need to cut vegetables into very thin slices. I have the OXO Good Grips V blade Mandoline Slicer which runs around $46.00 US dollars. For your cucumber and radish sandwiches, I slice them thin. You can play with the blade’s settings on your mandoline to get them at your desired thickness or if you are cutting them with a knife, go as thin as you can but don’t cut your fingers, be careful. Also, I use English cucumbers, they come wrapped in the clear plastic film. They are much drier than American cucumbers and tend to be sturdy when cut very thin and don't add a lot of moisture to the bread..
When you are ready to assemble your sandwiches, I like to create an assembly line. I have thin plastic cutting sheets that I line up on my table. I lay the bread out in two's and on one side I spread the mayonnaise and the other side I spread the cream cheese. Another good tip is to buy the cream cheese in the plastic tubs and let it get to room temperature. It's a lot easier to spread it when it's not so cold and the plastic tub of cream cheese is much easier to scoop out with a knife or spatula than the blocks of cream cheese. On one slice of bread I sprinkle garlic powder and the other slice I sprinkle black pepper. Assemble your cucumbers and then put the radishes on top of the cucumbers. Close your sandwich up but make sure you have one slice of bread with cream cheese and either the garlic or pepper and the other slice with the mayonnaise and either the garlic or pepper. Don't make the mistake of two garlic powders or two black peppers on one sandwich, or two cream cheese sides or two mayo sides on one sandwich, I've done that a few times so I usually keep the black pepper on the cream cheese slice and the garlic powder on the mayonnaise slice. A routine that keeps me in check.
Moving on to the sliced hard boiled egg with fresh basil and mayo. Again, prep the day before. Boil your eggs and peel them. Wash the basil and cut it up. Store in the refrigerator. When you are assembling the egg sandwiches, set up the assembly line, lay out your bread and put mayonnaise on every slice. It can be at the desired amount that you like. I put a thin layer on each slice so that it doesn’t ooze out. Another good tool to use is an egg slicer. It will cut the eggs nice and thin and so neatly. You can pick one up for under $10.00 US dollars and I use mine all the time whenever I make hard boiled eggs. It‘s a nifty little tool.
Next, the sliced tomatoes with Boursin cheese spread. You can use any type of small tomatoes but when you slice them thin, lay them on paper towels so that the moisture will be absorbed. I usually cut them the day before and layer them on paper towels and place them in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator over night. I spread one slice of bread with Boursin Cheese, choose what ever flavor you prefer and then put the tomatoes on top of the cheese. Lay the other piece of bread on top and cut the crusts off and cut into what ever sizes you like. Another pointer, take the Boursin cheese spread out of the fridge a couple hours ahead of time so it is at room temperature this way it will spread evenly and not break the bread.
The next sandwich is tuna salad made with mayonnaise on marble rye bread. I make the tuna salad the day before. I cut up small pieces of celery and chopped fresh parsley. The parsley adds such a nice flavor to the tuna salad. The amounts of celery and parsley depend on how many cans of tuna you are using along with the amount of mayonnaise. It is your personal preference as to the ratios that you use. I always taste test it to see if it is to my liking so start off conservative and add more as needed. Also, I only use solid white tuna in water. When assembling the sandwiches, I put a thin layer of mayo on each slice of bread.
The last sandwich I'd like to share with you is apples and cream cheese on raisin cinnamon bread. Granny Smith green apples are perfect for this sandwich because they have just the right amount of sweet and sour which pairs so well with cinnamon. It's a mouthful of comfort. I love Pepperidge farm's Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread. This sandwich is fabulous anytime of year but it is my go to sandwich in the Fall season. I slice my apples on the mandoline slicer because it is so much easier. I cut the apple in half and just run it cut side down on the blade. Always use the hand saving attachment that is included with the mandoline. It makes slicing a breeze and you'll keep your fingers intact. I remove the seeds once the apples are cut. I put a thin layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread and two thin slices of apple. Close the sandwich, cut off the crusts and cut into triangles. I find the triangle shape is best when using this brand of bread because it is not a large sized loaf of bread.
When making your sandwiches, keep a large bowl on hand so when you cut off the bread crusts, you can put them into a bowl to keep a neat workspace. Make sure you also keep the sandwiches fresh during this process. I put them on trays and keep them covered with plastic wrap until I am ready to display them for the party. This will keep the bread from getting hard.
I hope this blog post entices you to try your hand at hosting an afternoon tea party. The recipes I featured here are simple and most people enjoy these ingredients. The labor that goes into making those little finger sandwiches creates an artistic setting when they are piled high on beautiful tiered trays along with the setting of pretty plates, teacups and teapots. The effect is magical and most people will feel delighted to experience it. Afternoon tea brings people together to slow down and just enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Tea has a calming affect and those mini size treats are so satisfying, your guests will have the most pleasurable afternoon. Tea time is always a wonderful time.
I hope you will expand on these recipes and make other delicious creations. I am always trying new recipes and some are added to my favorites and some are not always so successful. That's the fun of trying. When you find a winner, your friends and family will reap in the benefits of a wonderful afternoon.