Thursday, 5 February 2015

Perfect Cucumber Sandwiches

This week we're covering an Afternoon Tea staple: the Cucumber Sandwich. The execution of a perfect cucumber sandwich is more difficult than you would think. The bread needs to be perfectly fresh and whether to peel the cucumber is a hotly-discussed topic. Luckily, we've got it covered, here at Elena's L'Etoile!

(Makes 9)
1/2 cucumber, peeled
6 thin slices of good white bread
Unsalted butter, at room temperature
White pepper

1) Cut the cucumber into slices as thin as you can make them, and put in a colander or sieve. Sprinkle lightly with salt (don't go overboard) and leave for 20 minutes. Taste to check you haven't oversalted them: you can rinse them at this point if so.

2) Lay out a few pieces of kitchen paper on the work surface, place the cucumber slices on them, and pat dry with more paper.

3) Lay out the bread and butter each slice generously. Arrange the cucumber on half the slices, overlapping each round, and sprinkle with ground white pepper. Top with the remaining slices.

4) Pressing down firmly, cut the crusts off, and then cut into neat fingers, triangles or quarters of roughly equal sizes. Serve immediately, with good tea.

Cucumber sandwiches: are you a fan, or are they a silly Victorian affectation that deserves to go the way of the top hat and the whalebone corset? And if not, what do you like to do with this most refreshing of vegetables?

1 comment:

  1. I am not averse to a cucumber sandwich or two, but a much better way with this vegetable – and one that is in keeping with your restaurant – is to cook them with one or other of various traditional French recipes. I really enjoyed one that involved salting and draining on a cloth to remove excess water and then baking them for an hour (yes, really!) with butter, basil, spring onions and pepper, then reduce some cream by heating, season it with salt and pepper, fold it into the hot, baked cucumbers, garnish with parsley and serve with meat, poultry or seafood dishes or as part of a vegetarian meal. Several variations are to be found in the classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. I shall be dining with family and friends at L'Etoile next Thursday, and am greatly looking forward to it! Jonathan Elphick, Starcross, Devon