The Palace has announced that they will be serving a light buffet to 650 invited guests following the ceremony on Friday. I guess the Queen figures that she's got to offer a little nibble just to take the edge off, and then everyone can take their hats and go rustle up some lunch elsewhere. And, if you're not one of chosen 650, you're on your own. I have to say, no one I know would throw an event for 1900 guess and not invite everyone to the party. What, the other 1250 guests don't count?
Nonetheless, I saw on the Today show that the Palace kitchen has been busy making canapes for 650. They'll be some hot and some cold. There'll be both savory and sweet "two bite" offerings. Among those thousands of canapes prepared, you just know there'll be a couple of little tea sandwiches. The British do love a grand event, and moreover they do love tradition. And there are few things more traditional than tea sandwiches.
When I think of British little nibbles, I think of tea sandwiches. Now, we Americans are just not a tea sandwich eating crowd. First of all, they tend to be a little dry, and, second of all, there's not a lot between the bread. We Americans love our sandwiches so thick that it's a challenge to fit our mouths around them. (Here in Pittsburgh we put french fries and cole slaw on our sandwiches.) Even a tea sandwich made by an American would probably measure two inches thick.
Nonetheless, it is Royal Week around here so I'm going with the flow. The little sandwiches are in fact tasty if made well. The key is to use very thin bread and just enough filling to hold the bread together. Another thing to remember is that they must be kept moist so, if you make them ahead of time, cover them with a damp paper towel.
These little sandwiches will be a lovely addition to your 3:00 a.m. buffet.
Recipe: Traditional Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
* Note: Pepperidge Farms makes a good quality extra thin sliced white bread which works well for tea sandwiches.
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped watercress leaves
16 slices extra thin white bread
Salt to taste
Place cucumber slices between sheets of paper toweling to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine butter and watercress. Spread butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Lay cucumber slices on the buttered side of 8 slices of bread. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt. Top with remaining slices of buttered bread.
Carefully cut the crusts from each sandwich with a long sharp knife. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut them in half again.
To keep fresh until serving, cover the prepared sandwiches with a damp paper towel.