Sunday, September 27, 2009

tea sandwiches? how about egg salad?

When was the last time you had tea sandwiches? Did it actually involve tea? I just realized that I have been making and serving tea sandwiches frequently this summer. What a perfect solution for a quick, easy and fairly light, they are just cute. I know that the only difference in tea sandwiches and a regular sandwich is the way they are cut...but, to me, the cut makes all the difference.

It all started late last spring when my book club read three cups of tea, one man's mission to fight terrorism and build school at a time by Greg Martinson and David Oliver reline. Have you read this amazing book? If not, go out as soon as you can and get it, borrow from a friend, Check it out from the library...whatever...just find it. It is beautiful, inspiring and...whatever your politics... so, so important in today's unsettled world. My favorite quote from the book is this passage from Hajji ali...a leader of Baltistan... to Greg Martinson, the book's author:

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die."
Now back to tea sandwiches (a very odd transition)....while the book places an emphasis on the importance on drinking and serving tea as a way of building and maintaining relationships it has absolutely nothing to do with eating sandwiches!! But my book club has evolved into a "foodie" club. Whatever book we read...whether or not it is about food...leads to a dinner at one of our homes. We rotate monthly with a theme menu involving the book's title. So, for Three Cups of Tea, we came up with tea sandwiches. I made mine with egg salad...and that night...sitting around a table in Napa with eight terrific girlfriends...eating, drinking ( not tea) talking, laughing...the book's emphasis on slowing down and taking the time to nurture relationships seemed amazingly appropriate.

Fast forward a few weeks...a non-profit group I belong to works to make life a bit easier for people in need...they visit people in hospitals, visit home bound elderly folks, help families out at funeral receptions, etc...tons of stuff. One thing we do is put on a luncheon every other month for 120-150 primarily senior citizens. We work really hard to decorate, have entertainment (bingo, anyone?) and provide a nice lunch. Somehow, I have become in charge of planning the meal, shopping and overseeing the many, many volunteers who help cook, serve and clean up. I am not able to help in the other areas...but these luncheons are pure joy for me. I am constantly told that they are the highlight of our guests' month...sometimes the only social activity they have. they eat, talk, laugh, catch up with old friends...(sounds a bit like my book club, right?)

So, for our last luncheon, I suggested a menu of tea sandwiches, salad, cupcakes, tea, and lemonade. For our sandwiches, we had: tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, and deviled ham salad. (I confess that I had never heard of deviled ham...but the senior citizens loved them and told me stories about making them when they were children).... I made the egg salad..and 200 chocolate mini cupcakes!!!! Again, tea sandwiches were a hit...

Last week my good friend Karen came for lunch. She always comes with her bull mastiff, Phoebe...and Mosey and Phoebe are fast the visits are always a blast. I decided to make tea sandwiches because, as you can tell, they have become the theme of summer lunches. Again, an afternoon of talking, eating, laughing and catching up.

A frequent occurrence this summer was the number of people asking my how to hard boil eggs..and how to make egg salad. Surprised me at first...but I have come to realize that sometimes easy, basic techniques are just not taught Many people told me they had never hard boiled an egg in their I thought I would share how I do it...and my egg salad recipe. For those of you that are experts, please weigh in as there are so many points of view. I would love to share best practices....for everyone else...please give it a try...and tell me how you do.
So, for hard boiled eggs...there are many opposing tips...add vinegar, don't add vinegar, etc. A few people have told me that it is better to use eggs that are a few days old...too fresh and the shells will stick. I have no idea if that is true..or, if it is, why...but here is what works for me.

hard boiled eggs
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar. Gently add desired number of room temperature eggs to pot using a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to a simmer. (keep an eye on the water to ensure it stays at a do not want the water to come back to a boil.) Cook the eggs for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of eggs. ***note, you should plan to experiment a bit with the timing...most recipes I read advise a shorter cooking time than what works for me...the eggs are never cooked through...try it a few times until you get it the way you like*** 
When the eggs are ready, remove from pot, again using the slotted spoon, and immediately place in an ice water bath. When cool enough to handle, they are ready to peel.

egg salad tea sandwiches
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tbsp finely chopped sweet gherkin pickle
1/2 cup mayonnaise
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
french or sourdough bread, sandwich sliced

Add eggs to mixing bowl. Add onions, chives, gherkins, and 1/2 the mayo to the eggs and gently combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the paprika and stir again. Use as much of the remaining mayo as you like...some people like their salad a bit dry..some whatever works for you. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Assemble sandwiches by first cutting off the crusts if you want a traditional tea sandwich. I love the sometimes I keep them on...these sandwiches are flexible depending on your preferences. Make 6 full-size sandwiches giving each a thin layer of egg salad (about 2 tbsp per sandwich) cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal...and then cut again to make 4 triangles. Plate either by piling them on a big platter, or serving individually with 4 tea sandwiches per person. I sprinkle additional paprika over the plate for a bit of color...

***note, you will have left over egg salad***
Enjoy your tea sandwiches...more importantly...enjoy the people you share them with.

have a good week.
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style."
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Peace Thyme said...
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Joan said...

I loved Three Cups of Tea too. Will try your egg salad recipe very soon.

Rosemaryandthegoat said...

I love egg salad. I'm getting ready to do some for my garden club tea we are having. I'm doing my open face and buying pea shoots and cutting small bunches and inserting in the tops of the sandwiches so they look like they are growing out of the egg. I hope I can get good pictures to post to my blog

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi rosemary! the pea shoot bunches sound like a great idea...really pretty. please let us know if you post to your blog so we can see the photos...