Mini-sandwiches are dainty. And sexy. There’s something so appealing about picking up a small piece of bread and munching on it. The act itself is so much more beguiling than watching someone bite into an oversized sandwich with sauces and condiments dripping down his or her chin.
The British, I think, epitomize this ineffable mixture of daintiness and sexiness in their afternoon tea where mini cucumber sandwiches are often served. Traditionally, cucumber sandwiches are a bread-butter-and-cucumber affair. As plain and as simple as that may sound, the panache is in the execution. The bread has to be sliced very thin — thin enough to allow light to pass through. The cucumber has to be paper-thin.
Well, I don’t have the skills to slice bread that thin. But, with the help of my trusty mandoline, I can produce paper-thin slices of cucumber. But because we’re flagrant carnivores, I just had to add very thinly sliced salami to my cucumber sandwiches.
For that added zest and zing, I spread the bread with homemade mayonnaise, made with whole-grain mustard, instead of butter. The result? Mini-sandwiches that are equally great as an afternoon snack paired with coffee, tea or fruit juice, or finger food for a cocktail party.
So, how do you make the sandwiches look neat?
The edges. Pay attention to the edges. Make sure that nothing protrudes.
And make sure that all edges look the same from every angle.
See how everything is laid out?
- 4 slices white loaf bread
- 4 very thin slices good-quality salami
- 1/2 cucumber peeled (see notes below) and sliced paper-thin
- 2 teaspoons tangy mayonnaise
Cut off the crusts of the bread. Spread two slices with mayonnaise.
Cut the salami into halves. Arrange two pieces on the bread so that the cut sides are parallel to the “near” and “far” edges.
Lay two more pieces of salami on the bread, this time, the cut sides parallel to the side edges. With this kind of arrangement, when you cut each sandwich into four smaller pieces, there will be salami peaking through all the edges.
Start piling on the cucumber slices. I think I made three of four layers.
Cover with the two remaining slices of bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters. Serve, savor and enjoy.
Some cooks like to use a fork to rake through the skin of the cucumber which produces an attractive pattern. In this country though, it is rather hard to find cucumber with fine thin skins. So, I just peel off the skin completely.