Crusts off! How to as­sem­ble sand­wiches for an after­noon tea

The Star Early Edition - - VERVE - Chicken salad. Egg salad. Cheese and chut­ney. Smoked salmon.

IF YOU’D like to in­clude savoury sand­wiches in your plans for an after­noon tea, some at­ten­tion to de­tail is im­por­tant.

Fig­ure on the equiv­a­lent of at least one full sand­wich per guest. Tea sand­wiches are crust­less, of­ten cut in half or into ba­tons (“fin­ger sand­wiches”) or tri­an­gles. Fill the whole sand­wich be­fore re­mov­ing the crusts and di­vid­ing into smaller pieces – it will be eas­ier to as­sem­ble and you’ll end up with neat edges. You can re­serve the crusts for mak­ing crou­tons, bread crumbs, stratas or bread pud­ding.

Spread the fill­ings with re­straint.

The sand­wiches will look nicer and be eas­ier to eat. You can make ex­tra-el­e­gant noshes by us­ing loaves la­belled as thinsliced. Or find un­sliced loaves you can slice thinly your­self.

For added vis­ual ap­peal, con­sider mix­ing white and whole-wheat bread in in­di­vid­ual sand­wiches.

Pumper­nickel is also good for added colour and flavour. You can have a lit­tle fun and think beyond stan­dard sliced bread, too – mini­crois­sants or small phyllo shells can be charm­ing ves­sels, and I’ve even had mini-bagels served at a tea in The Orangery at Kens­ing­ton Palace in Lon­don.

Leave fi­nal assem­bly un­til just be­fore serv­ing, if you can. Fort­num & Ma­son’s The Cook Book by Tom Parker Bowles (Fourth Es­tate, 2016) says that if the sand­wiches have to sit around for more than a few min­utes, a damp pa­per towel on top can help pre­serve the soft­ness of the bread. Fill­ing ideas: Cu­cum­ber. Per­haps the quin­tes­sen­tial tea sand­wich. “Cu­cum­ber sand­wiches, of­ten with ex­tra­ne­ous el­e­ments added th­ese days, are still de rigueur at any proper English tea,” writes Col­man Andrews in The Bri­tish Ta­ble (Abrams, 2016).

He sug­gests sim­ply com­bin­ing cu­cum­ber with salted but­ter on white bread. But cream cheese is also com­monly used, which you can mix with a bit of fresh dill or mint.

Con­sider a corona­tion chicken ren­di­tion, cre­ated for the ac­ces­sion of Queen El­iz­a­beth II in 1953.

Choose your favourite recipe; those made with mus­tard make for a punchy ad­di­tion to the tea spread. Serv­ing the egg with wa­ter­cress is stan­dard prac­tice in Bri­tain; flat-leaf pars­ley or arugula are ac­cept­able stand-ins. Make the cen­tre­piece an aged ched­dar, grated or thinly sliced. Pair it with a chut­ney – Ma­jor Grey’s, made with man­goes, is an English sta­ple, or pick your favourite such as Mrs HS Ball’s Chut­ney – I’m par­tial to Vir­ginia chut­ney, which makes zesty plum and peach chut­neys, in ad­di­tion to Ma­jor Grey’s). The nut­ti­ness of whole-wheat bread com­ple­ments this com­bi­na­tion.

Pull a lit­tle in­spi­ra­tion from the clas­sic bagel sand­wich, with a thin layer of cream cheese, per­haps with a bit of dill, scal­lions or ca­pers.

The Cook Book sug­gests a dress­ing made with mayo, ca­pers, baby gherkins, dill and chives.

Ham. Keep it sim­ple with high-qual­ity, thinly sliced meat and a lit­tle Di­jon mus­tard or honey mus­tard. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

Tea sand­wiches re­quire at­ten­tion to de­tail.

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