The oft-told tale about the beginnings of afternoon tea is that Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, staved off a "sinking feeling" between lunch and dinner by rounding out her daily sip with a bit of bread and butter. She did so daily in her private chambers at court, surrounded by a salon of socialites eager to flatter the royal and cater to her whims—and thus an English institution was born.
Dainty watercress and cucumbers sandwiches trimmed of their crust and prepared simply with butter, salt and pepper remain classics at afternoon tea, but we thought that after a couple of hundred years of preparing them that way, perhaps a small tweak was in order. Relish Chef Jon Ashton developed this tempting little bite in honor of Royal Wedding Week. We think it's a stellar new take on a much-beloved favorite.
Modern-Day English Cucumber Sandwiches
Here is a modern look at the classic English sandwich, which lacks the flavor of today’s sophisticated palate.
Sliced white bread, crusts removed
Softened butter, for spreading
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
Mint Sauce (recipe follows)
Butter the bread. Top half the buttered bread slices with cucumber slices. Drizzle mint sauce on the remaining slices of buttered bread and on top of the cucumber slices. Assemble into sandwiches; cut each sandwich into fingers.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 jalapeno, seeds removed coarsely chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup water
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend unitl mixture forms a thick paste. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready for use. Will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.