The Shopper Kitchen: Art of the Finger Sandwich

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By ANGELA MCRAE, The Shopper Kitchen

One of the things I most enjoy about the return of warmer weather is that sandwiches can easily serve as meals. A sandwich with a cold filling is often my lunch choice in spring and summer, and depending on how they are presented, many sandwiches can serve as food for brunches, lunches, receptions, and all sorts of springtime occasions, everything from birthdays and bridal showers to graduation parties and more.

“Finger sandwiches” have long been a staple of party tables. I used to think that the name referred to the fact that we eat them with our fingers, but then I read that, instead, it’s simply a reference to the sandwich being the width of a finger.

If I may offer you one tip that will forever change your sandwich making, it is this: Freeze your bread before cutting it into triangles, rectangles, or other shapes. My friend Marilyn Miller of Portland, Oregon, shared this tip with me years ago, and it revolutionized my sandwich making when preparing finger sandwiches. No longer did I have to fret over sandwiches with smooshed bread. By freezing the bread and cutting it ahead of time, you have bread that will stand up to just about any filling, and by the time your guests sit down to brunch or lunch or the party, the bread will have softened and have the perfect texture—and appearance.

One easy sandwich I learned to make years ago is the ribbon sandwich, which is the three-layer-cake-slice of finger sandwiches. It’s basically a multiple-layered sandwich sliced into thin “fingers” with “ribbons” of filling in between. Whip out three slices of your frozen bread, cut off the crusts, then spread a thin layer of filling over the first slice. Top with the second slice of bread. Add a second thin layer of filling. Top with the third slice of bread and you’re done. Then you can slice the layers into three or four fingers, and you will have ribbons of filling showing.

One easy recipe I’ve enjoyed using for ribbon sandwiches is this tasty cheese spread, a recipe that came from a booklet I found on eBay. The recipes were published by the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Venice, Florida, and dated 1999. A tasty change from the usual pimiento cheese, this spread also makes for a pretty presentation.

Chili Cheddar Sandwiches

3 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup or less onion, finely chopped or grated
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped or grated
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chili sauce

Grate cheese in a medium bowl and add other ingredients. Combine well. Makes 40-80 finger sandwiches, depending on the size.

Note: I halved this recipe since I was making it for just my husband and me, and we ate on it for days! Also, I used all green bell pepper in my version, and I thought the spread looked pretty made into these ribbon sandwiches.

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