I’d like to thank everyone for all the kind words and comments you’ve left about the redesign of my blog.
This was a big step for me and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous as to how the new design would be received. There are still a few little issues to be worked out. I want to customize my sidebar a bit further and add some content including the Daring Bakers logo and links, but all in all I’m thrilled!
Now that the redesign is out of the way, it’s time to get back to the serious business of blogging. As many of you know at the beginning of the month I announced that my Flavour of the Month for May 2007 would be the lovely Tea Party by Tracy Stern. A busy schedule and the blog move meant that I haven’t been able to share very much from this book. As a result, this will continue to be the Flavour of the Month for June 2007. There are just too many incredible recipes for me to share with you in the few days left in May.
I have a lot of other news including an account of a wonderful lunch that I had with my own baking heroine, Dorie Greenspan. But until then, I leave you with what is perhaps one of the most recognizeable elements of afternoon tea: tea sandwiches.
There’s something irresistible to me about those perfect, tiny little concoctions that go so well with a cup of tea. I’ve had many variations of tea sandwiches, some good and some not-so-good. Stern has at least a handful of intriguing versions of the perfect tea sandwich. For this post, I decided to focus on two because they both include elements that I love.
The first is the cucumber tea sandwich. I adore cucumbers. During the summer, when it’s just far too hot and humid to cook elaborate meals for dinner (not that we often cook elaborate meals for dinner mind you), the humble tomato and cucumber salad is present on the table almost every night. Especially delicious because the cucumbers are from our very own garden, there’s very little else that I can think of that’s as refreshing as a cucumber.
In Tea Party, Stern has a pretty version of these sandwiches that feature cucumber slices on top of buttered bread garnished with mint leaves. For my version, I decided to forego the mint leaves and make a flavoured butter instead. I bought some lovely chives, which I processed with softened butter in the food processor. I used a scalloped cookie cutter to cut slices of basic white sandwich bread into 2-1/2 inch circles. I spread the chive butter on the rounds of bread and then topped them with thinly sliced cucumber. For a pretty touch I garnished my little sandwiches with chopped chives.
While the greenish tinge to the chive butter might put some people off, I loved the way these little sandwiches looked and I loved the way they tasted even more. The bite of the chives was a nice foil to the freshness of the cucumber.
I chose to try a second tea sandwich from Stern’s book because they featured blue cheese, which I adore. I’m slightly ashamed to admit this but I have been known to polish off huge hunks of blue cheese all by lonesome. I love me my cheese!
Tea Party includes a recipe for Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Pear Tea Sandwiches. While I’m not a huge fan of the pear, I thought I’d give the combination a try. The sandwich begins with a sturdy whole-grain bread that’s spread with a mixture of softened cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese. A sprinkling of chopped walnuts is followed by thin slices of pear. I topped the pear with a second slice of bread, trimmed the ends and cut the sandwiches into rectangles. I garnished with a bit of cheese and a walnut.
These tea sandwiches were delicious! The sweetness of the pear was a perfect match for the tanginess of the blue cheese and the walnut added a nice buttery crunch.
I know I recommend a lot of cookbooks, but if you’re in the market for a cookbook about tea, I highly recommend Stern’s book. These tea sandwiches were delicious and they’re only the tip of the tea iceberg!
Note: Flavoured butters are so easy to make and they’re a wonderful way to add a twist to a multitude of dishes and foods. I like to make up large batches of flavoured butter, roll the butter into logs and then freeze them. This way I have pretty little butter logs to pull out whenever I entertain. Simply slice the logs into rounds and allow them to soften slightly before serving. This chive butter is excellent in sandwiches. I especially love it spread on corn on the cob!
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup chives, roughly chopped
Place the butter and the chives in the bowl of a food processor.
Process until the mixture is smooth.
Use the chive butter immediately or refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it. If you’re going to spreading the butter, let it soften again before using.
The chive butter can be frozen for two weeks.