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Tea sandwiches

Tea sandwiches are dainty and delicious. They aren't meant to be filling because they are part of the overall Afternoon Tea experience. They can be savory or sweet and may be triangles, hearts, circles, crescents or other fancy shapes. The bread is always fresh and very thin. More often than not, the tea sandwich is absent of meat, unless it is ground or chopped very fine.

Preparation of the sandwiches
Work on a large enough space that you can cut, spread and assemble all in one spot. Prepare the sandwiches as close to serving time as possible to maintain freshness. Use your creativity when choosing the type of bread -- as long as the slices are very thin, any variety is fine. Examples are whole wheat, white, rye, raisin, pumpernickel, etc.

The crusts should be cut off the bread after slicing with a sharp serrated knife. When spreading your filling or butter be sure to spread no thicker than the thickness of the bread, taking it to the edge and keeping it evenly thick. Do not run over the sides. If a recipe calls for the bread to be buttered before adding the filling, you should neatly and lightly spread with butter first.

Below are some sandwiches to choose from. Simple can be elegant as well. Feel free to experiment and you will create some wonderful tea sandwiches.

Cheese and Orange Marmalade Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup orange marmalade

Directions:
Spread half the slices of buttered bread with the cheese, softened with the cream. Spread the other slices with orange marmalade. Press the slices together.

Cheese and Banana Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup cream
2 bananas
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Directions:
Mash the bananas and mix with the cream cheese. Add the cream and mayonnaise and spread on slices of white bread.

Salmon Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1 cup canned salmon, drained and bones removed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh dill sprigs and lettuce
Bread of your choice

Directions:
Mix the salmon and mayonnaise until it is creamed. Spread on the bread slices and top with a small sprig of fresh dill and a fresh lettuce piece. Note: This basic recipe can be used for tuna or the small canned shrimp that have been chopped finely. You can also substitute watercress, argula or add very thin slices of cucumber or radish.

Radish Tea Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1 cup minced radishes
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 cup cream cheese, softened
6 slices homemade or homestyle bread
3/4 tsp. salt
24 leaves of young argula, spinach or radicchio

Directions:
Combine the minced radishes, poppy seeds, cheese and salt. Blend well. Cover three slices of the bread with the radish mixture -- about 1/4 " thick. Top with the lettuce leaves and another slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into small squares or triangles with a sharp serrated knife. You can vary this by adding VERY thin slices of cucumber on top of the cheese, and Bibb lettuce. For a crunchy treat use Romaine. You may have left over radish mixture depending on the size of your bread.

Pear and Walnut Tea Sandwiches
Ingredients:
8 ozs. cream cheese, softened
4 ozs. blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 (16-oz.) cans pear slices, drained
8 ozs. thinly sliced ham
Your choice of bread: mini bagels, mini croissants or slices of homemade sweet bread, such as Sally Lunn or Oatmeal.

Directions:
In small bowl, combine cream cheese, blue cheese and walnuts; mix well. Spread cheese filling on bottom half of the bread you chose, followed by a layer each of ham slices and pear slices. Top sandwiches with remaining halves. If you are using regular size bread, use a sharp knife to cut into quarters. Note: You can slice canned pears yourself OR use fresh pears as well.

Cucumber Shrimp Tea Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1/3 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup soft cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tsp. fresh minced dill
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 thinly sliced slices of homestyle white bread
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
6 lettuce leaves

Directions:
Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread the cream cheese mixture on three slices of bread. On the other three slices add the shrimp, then arrange the cucumber and radishes evenly on top. Next add one lettuce leaf to each slice, then top with the slices that were covered with the cheese mixture. Press down lightly and cut into triangles with a serrated knife. If necessary you can place a decorative toothpick in each triangle. Notes: Use your favorite type of lettuce. You can also buy small salad shrimp and diced them up into the cheese mixture instead of using the bigger ones.

Cucumber and Nasturtium Sandwiches
Ingredients:
2 medium sized cucumbers
8 thin sliced brown bread
4 nasturtium leaves
Mayonnaise
Onion juice or powder

Directions:
Peel, half, seed and finely chop the cucumbers. Place in a bowl and add a dash or two of the onion juice or powder and enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable. Butter the slices of bread, and for each sandwich spread on enough cucumber mixture to cover lightly. Lay a leaf on top of each piece of bread and top with another one. Trim the crust. Makes four sandwiches. Note: you could substitute any nice lettuce or watercress for the nasturtium. Also when you place these on a platter or each plate be sure to garnish with a nasturtium bloom!

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