But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
-Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
You're probably wondering why on earth I'm doing a recipe for cucumber sandwiches. It's a sandwich, for Pete's sake!
Yes, but it's a cucumber sandwich. They're the epitome of high tea, delicate little bites that were once part of high society in Britain in the 1800's. There is such thing as a perfect cucumber sandwich.
They should be made to be eaten in two bites, trimmed of it's crust, each piece of bread (white and thin, which means I get a big fat X for mine!), smeared right to the edges with a perfect amount of butter.
The cucumber is peeled and sliced thinly to match the length and width of the sandwich. If you have a mandolin, use it, it makes amazing perfectly paper-thin slices.
If you want to get a little fancy you add a little cream cheese to each piece of bread on top of the butter, and chives or dill. Just enough cream cheese to taste it, mind you, not enough to squeeze out and get over your fingers.
And each piece is sliced like a rectangle, using a sharp knife, so as not to flatten the bread. If you don't have a good knife, use well scrubbed scissors. I like cutting mine before the cucumber goes on, but that's just my preference.
You can make these in advance, contrary to what people say. You just need to dampen a tea towel and wrap it over the sandwiches and place in the fridge.
Cucumber sandwiches are also mentioned in the following literature:
The Importance of Being Ernest
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Running with Scissors
The Amulet of Samarkand
The Linden Walk