Finger sandwiches, also called tea sandwiches, can be filled with a variety of vegetables, meats and condiments, but they all have a few things in common. They are small in size, are crustless and are often cut into whimsical shapes. Finger sandwiches are a key component of a classic British low tea, but they have a place in everyday entertaining and snacking, too. A variety of finger sandwiches typically are served together, offering guests a range of flavors and options.
Watercress Tea Sandwiches
A watercress tea sandwich is simple, but it is a classic for good reason. Watercress is a delicate green that can be found in bunches or in the bagged salad section of a grocery store produce section.
A watercress tea sandwich is composed of just a few ingredients: thinly sliced bread (crust removed), watercress, butter and salt. According to www.watercress.co.uk, watercress became a popular sandwich filler in Britain during the first half of the 20th century. Butter and salt will help temper (and enhance) the peppery flavor of watercress. White bread is a good pairing for the simple flavors of the other ingredients in this sandwich; other tea sandwiches benefit from the character of other breads, including wheat and pumpernickel.
Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Finger Sandwiches
Dark, richly flavored pumpernickel bread is a nice accompaniment to smoked salmon and cream cheese. Find smoked salmon in the seafood section of a grocery store; it should be used within a few days after the package is opened. Choose a plain or peppered variety.
Cucumbers add a nice crunch to this otherwise soft sandwich. Choose English or hothouse cucumbers, which are also called seedless cucumbers (though they do indeed have seeds). The skins of these cucumbers are edible, and their seeds are not as large and tough as those of a standard cucumber.
Regular or herbed cream cheese can be used in this sandwich; no matter which variety is chosen, it should sit out for several minutes before spreading to prevent tearing the bread. Horseradish cream, available prepackaged in the condiment and salad dressing aisle, could be substituted for the cream cheese.
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Silky egg salad is an appropriately light filling for a delicate tea sandwich. Any favorite recipe for egg salad will do, but the ingredients for a small tea sandwich should be chopped more finely than they would be for a lunch-size sandwich.
Egg salad typically includes hard-boiled eggs, onion and mayonnaise. But varieties beyond that stretch as far as the imagination. Chives are a nice addition for flavor and color. Some recipes call for an addition of mustard--any variety can be used. Others include pickle relish. Eggs can be easily hard-boiled at home, but they can also be purchased ready-made at the grocery store.
This is a case in which either light or dark bread would be appropriate; wheat or pumpernickel bread would bring a nutty or deeper contrast to the light egg salad.
Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Save time by buying a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and using the breast meat in these sandwiches. This is another case in which it is appropriate to chop the salad ingredients finely. In a pinch, a hurried cook could buy prepared chicken salad and pulse it a couple of times in a food processor to make the texture more fine. Use onion and celery to add crunch and bright flavor to this classic tea sandwich.
Chicken salad has been a popular sandwich filling for well more than 100 years. It can be creative and contemporary with the addition of a few ingredients. Cooks can consider adding dried cranberries, finely diced tart apple, chopped walnuts or finely chopped green grapes to chicken salad.