An Easy Snack Recipe for Cucumber Sandwiches: Cool, Creamy, Crunchy Cuke Crisps
Cucumber sandwiches are considered to be of British origin. The traditional version calls for paper-thin slices of cucumbers encased between crustless slices of lightly buttered bread. My family’s delectable version substitutes rye krisp for bread and adds flavored cream cheese.
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), which are native to India, are thought to have been introduced into Europe by the Greeks or the Romans. By the ninth century cucumbers were featured in the French gardens of Charlemagne (ca. 742 – January 28, 814), King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor. The first appearance of the creeping vine with abundant, edible fruit in England, which occurred in the early fourteenth century, apparently was not successful. Soon the cucumber was forgotten until it staged an astounding comeback with its reintroduction two and a half centuries later in the mid-sixteenth century. During Christopher Columbus’ second New World voyage, a round trip from Cadiz to the Caribbean and back to Spain’s southwestern port city, lasting from September 24, 1493 to June 11, 1496, he planted cucumbers on Haiti in 1494. In the twenty-first century cucumbers are found throughout the inhabited world, and China is the leading producer with around 60 percent of the global market output.
In the United Kingdom, cucumber sandwiches assert their esteemed position as quintessential snack favorites for afternoon tea and are favored as dainty refreshments during tea breaks at cricket matches.
In my childhood, my siblings and I learned about cucumber delicacies from our father, whose mother, Rose, had received a proper English upbringing from her mother, Lydia, who had been born in England. Variations were created by and for my mother, who was gluten sensitive. Cucumber sandwiches enjoyed new “digs” atop breads baked with such exotic wheat substitutes as cornstarch, potato, or tapioca. Also, Wasa crispbread varieties, a scrumptious product of health-conscious Sweden, were popular bread substitutes at family meals.
My favorite Wasa crispbread is multi grain, which blends barley, oats, rye, and wheat into a full-bodied taste with a crunchy texture. Each rectangular multi grain crisp, about 4-3/4 inches (12 centimeters) long by about 2-1/2 inches (6 centimeters) wide, is flecked with oat flakes and rye bran, a topping which imparts an extra oomph of crunchiness to each thickly textured slice.
For an interesting twist on the traditional cucumber sandwich, the crispbread variation offers a crunchy tastiness.
In addition, the gentle butteriness of the traditional fare is enhanced with a spread of creamy cream cheese, usually flavored.
Cucumbers may be thinly sliced widthwise with a sharp knife. Or, they may be sliced lengthwise into paper thin shavings with a mandoline slicer. My preference is for the super thin lengthwise shavings, in which a subtle freshness and a captivating coolness linger as an aftertaste. This option eliminates the precarious placement of cuke rounds, which are jostled by their neighborly rounds and often embarrassingly displaced when a diner bites into the sandwich.
Thus, my family’s recipe for Cuke Crisps promises an eminently satisfying taste sensation which is cool as a cucumber, creamy as cream cheese, and crunchy as Wasa crispbread.
My Family’s Recipe for Cool ‘n Creamy Cuke Crisps
- Wasa multi grain crispbread (or choice of other varieties such as rye, sesame, or sourdough)
- Cream cheese, flavored, honey nut or chive and onion
- Cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise, paper thin (Note: I store the peelings in the freezer for later use in stews)
- lemon, halved, for fresh squeezing onto cucumber slices (Note: after squeezing, I store the lemons in the freezer for later use in fruit pureés or in whole-lemon lemon beverages)
- Mandoline slicer or sharp knife
- Butter knife
- Spatula, small
1) With a butter knife, gently spread a thin layer of butter on each crisp.
2) With a small spatula, place a few dollops of cream cheese on each crisp and then spread to cover crisp.
3) Top cream cheese with cuke shavings, according to taste (my preference: 3 slices).
4) Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice across the top cuke slice.
5) Serve open faced or as sandwiches.
Enjoy the cool, creamy, crunchy sensation.
Copyright: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, by Stessily.