Mother’s Day Vintage Tea Sandwiches

Mother’s Day Vintage Tea Sandwiches

home cooking

Monica Kass Rogers

culinary historian

My copy of the 1943 Household Searchlight Recipe book from Topeka, Kansas’ Household magazine is especially dog-eared in the “Gelatins,” “Icing and Fillings,” and “Cakes” sections,clues that the books original owner, Mrs. Elbert Jackson, had a sweet tooth. But more apparent? She entertained. The end sheets and margins of the book are filled with hand-scrawled recipes for petit fours, bon-bons, canapes and cocktail nibbles. And the section tab for “Sandwiches” is completely worn through : )

Far from the meat-and-cheese-stacked clubs, panini, and submarines of today, most sandwiches in the ‘30s and ‘40s relied on spreads. Both thrifty and easy, sandwich spreads translated very well into bite-sized morsels for receptions, teas or ladies’ luncheons.

Some vintage sandwich ingredient combinations seem wildly weird now, (the Grapenut cereal and cheese with Tabasco, cat-sup and mustard, for example, or the peanut butter and chopped pickle with cream and onion (!) But the best spreads endured, making their way into the ladies guild and auxiliary club menus that would come to define an accessible sort of ‘50s “fancy”: pretty, tasty, but still a little homey.

With Mother’s Day in the offing, I thought it would be fun to create a post featuring these sorts of sandwich spreads for a make-at-home tea party. There are the “salads”: ham, egg, chicken, and shrimp. There are the herbed butters and cheese blends: pimiento cheese, cream cheese with salmon, or for a lighter flavor– mascarpone cheese sweetened with honey or marmalade. And to put them on? I’ve included a recipe for tiny cream-puff shells to be filled with shrimp salad, an orange-apricot bread baked in soup cans, and nippy cheese cracker rounds. Plus, I’ve provided the basics on trimming and shaping breads for finger sandwiches, and how to make a pinwheel sandwich.

To make the sandwiches, you can use your choice of thin sliced wheat, white or rye breads in whatever shapes you like. Here are tips to help you along the way:

*For finger sandwich consistency and workability, I recommend using purchased breads (thin sliced rye, white and wheat bread, and white sandwich loaf bread.)

*For cutting bread: I use an X-Acto Self-Healing Cutting Mat on my workspace to make trimming the crusts really easy.

*For bread squares: Just line small stacks of the breads up on the grid-lines of the self-healing mat and use a super-sharp bread knife to gently cut through the bread along the lines, trimming away the crusts. Freeze the crusts to make bread pudding later!

*For bread circles: Working with one piece of bread at a time. Use sharp-bottom-edged biscuit, cake or pastry cutters. Press straight down and then twist a bit to ensure you have cut all the way through the bread. Trim away crusts and freeze to make bread pudding later.

*For best presentation: I prefer to trim crusts and shape breads before filling them: The breads and fillings are delicate and squish easily.

*For mini cream puff shells: These taste best right after you make them—please serve the same day you prepare them; fill them right before service.

*Taste and textural variation: I have shaped these recipes to my taste. There is a lot of leeway for variation: The grind of the meat, for example, can be made more coarse, or more smooth, depending on your preference, by pulsing in the food processor more or less. I prefer a smoother grind for the meats to make them easier to fit on finger-sized sandwiches. I’ve added ample amounts of very-finely chopped celery to provide texture. For flavoring to suit taste: Simply adjust seasonings, adding a bit more pepper, or a bit less  mayonnaise.

*I’ve included in my lead photo a few simple veggie options: Radish slices on parsley-buttered baguette slices (my favorite!) and watercress on parsley-buttered bread cut into half-moons. To
make parsley butter: Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, whip 1 stick of softened butter with 2 Tbsp of minced parsley.

 

If there are extras after your party, fillings will keep well tightly covered in the fridge. (They’re also great for snacking on crackers and toast.) Or, you can put these fillings together in a many-splendor rendition of the ‘50s cream-cheese-covered sandwich loaf.

Enjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day!


Ham Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ham, cubed
  • 1 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder
  • ¾ cup Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • ½ cup finely-chopped dill pickle
  • ¾ cup sweet pickle relish
  • 3 Tbsp. very-finely-minced onion
  • ½ cup finely minced celery (Note: Cut three ribs of celery into three long strips each; finely
    mince strips)
  • 1 Tbsp. diced pimiento or preserved red pepper strips

Instructions

  1. Pulse ham in food processor until finely ground, but retaining some texture.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk mustard powder into mayonnaise.
  3. Add ham. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to fill sandwiches.

Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs (You will use all of the yolks and only four of the whites)]
  • ½ cup Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp Coleman’s mustard powder
  • ½ cup finely minced celery (Cut three ribs of celery into three long strips each; finely mince
    strips)
  • ¼ cup finely-chopped dill pickle
  • 2 tsp Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp very finely minced chives
  • 1 Tbsp very finely minced parsley
  • 2 tsp finely snipped dill
  • Salt and finely ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Peel eggs; discard shells. Remove hard boiled yolks to a large mixing bowl. Set whites aside.

  1. Mash yolks.
  2. Whisk mayonnaise with mustard powder. Stir into yolks to make a smooth paste.
  3. Grate four of the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to fill sandwiches.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound low-sodium chicken breast (from the deli counter)
  • ½ cup finely-chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely-chopped dill pickles
  • ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • salt and finely-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp finely snipped fresh tarragon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cube the chicken breast and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
  2. Mix with remaining ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to fill sandwiches.

 


Shrimp Salad in Mini Cream-Puff Shells

For the cream puff shells:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs (four for the shells; one for the egg wash)
  • 2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, butter and salt. Heat to a low boil.
  3. Whisk in flour and then stir with a wooden spoon until it gathers up into a smooth mass. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk four of the eggs with the dough on high speed until a glossy, sticky smooth batter results.
  5. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using two tablespoons—one to scoop and the other to scoot the dough out of the scooper spoon—drop rounded tablespoon-sized
    dollops of dough onto the parchment in rows. Irregularity of shape is fine.
  6. Combine the water with the remaining egg in a small bowl, whisk. Brush cream-puff shells with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 400 degree oven until golden and puffed.
  8. Remove from oven and slice puffs open immediately or they will cave in.
  9. Set aside until ready to fill with the shrimp salad.
For the shrimp salad:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. cooked large shrimp, tails removed
  • ¼ cup Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp finely minced preserved Meyer Lemon
  • 1 Tbsp finely snipped fresh dill
  • 3 celery ribs, each cut lengthwise into three strips and finely diced to make ½ cup
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  • 2 Tbsp finely-diced pimiento pepper or jarred red pepper strips
  • Salt and finely-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut each shrimp into tiny pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise with preserved lemon and dill.
  3. Stir in shrimp pieces, diced celery and onion. Carefully fold in pimiento.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to fill into the cream puff shells.

Pimiento Cheese Spread

Ingredients

  • 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup minced pimiento peppers or minced jarred red peppers
  • ½ cup Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Crystal hot sauce (optional, but I always include)
  • 2 tsp Asian sweet chili sauce

Instructions

  1. Using a box grater, select the medium-sized holes and grate cheddar cheese.
  2. Using a fork, whip cream cheese until smooth with mayonnaise. Fold into cheese.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to spread on sandwiches.

 


Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese, Dill & Cucumber Pinwheels

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf trimmed white bread
  • 2 small cucumbers (cut one lengthwise into long thin 1/8-inch spears; slice the other one into very thin rounds)
  • ½ small, sweet onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • ¾ cup smoked salmon
  • 1 package cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Trim crusts from white bread.
  2. Using a heavy rolling pin, roll each piece of bread flat. Set bread aside in a plastic bag.
  3. Combine the cucumber that you sliced into thin rounds with the onion rings, sugar, vinegar, water and dill in a bowl to marinate.
  4. Refrigerate for ½ hour.
  5. Chop the smoked salmon into small pieces.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, blend salmon with cream cheese until smooth.
  7. Drain the liquid from the cucumber and onion rings.
  8. Using a clean cotton towel, press any remaining liquid out of the cucumber and onion.
  9. On a clean work surface, spread a flattened, trimmed bread slice with salmon cream cheese.
  10. On one end of the bread, shingle a few slices of the pickled cucumber with a few threads of the pickled onion.
  11. Over this, place two of the 1/8 inch spears. Rolling up like sushi, carefully roll the bread slice up until you have a roll. Using a sharp knife, trim the ends of the roll and discard.Slice the rest of the roll into five pieces.
  12. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 


Nippy Cheese Crackers with Orange Mascarpone

For crackers:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cheddar pub cheese spread
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sifted flour
For filling:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp good-quality orange marmalade

Instructions

  1. Allow cheese and butter to stand at room temperature until soft.
  2. Cream cheese with butter until smooth. Stir in flour and mix until incorporated.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten into a disk; refrigerate.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 with rack at center level.
  5. Remove dough from fridge; roll out on lightly floured board and cut into rounds with small cookie or biscuit cutter.
  6. Place rounds on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  7. Prick each round with the tines of a fork to make three rows of perforations.
  8. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
  9. Remove to a cooling rack. Whip mascarpone with a fork until smooth; stir in marmalade.
  10. Once crackers have cooled, spread orange mascarpone between crackers to make savory-sweet “sandwich cookies.”

Apricot Orange Bread with Mascarpone Honey

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup dried apricots
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange zestFor filling:
  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese1 to 2 Tbsp good quality honey, OR, good quality apricot jam
  • clean, empty 15-ounce soup cans (do NOT use pop-top cans—the ridge at the top of the opened can will prevent the loaf of bread from releasing after baking.)

Instructions

  1. Place dried apricots in small pan. Cover with water.
  2. Simmer apricots over medium low heat until plumped. Discard water.
  3. Chop apricots. Set aside.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in a sifter. Sift into large mixing bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together egg with oil, milk, orange juice, and orange zest.
  6. Mix—but do not beat—wet ingredients into the dry ones.
  7. Using the handle of a spoon or spatula, generously coat the inside bottom and sides of each can with solid vegetable shortening.
  8. Preheat oven to 350. Divide the batter between the four greased cans; it should fill each can about ½ way.
  9. Coat a piece of foil with vegetable shortening.
  10. Place the four cans in a 9-inch cake pan. Place the cake pan in the oven; invert the shortening-coated foil over the tops of the cans and loosely crimp.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove breads from oven.
  12. Cool well. Invert cans to release breads from cans.
  13. Mix mascarpone cheese with honey OR apricot jam; spread on slices of the bread and combine slices to make sandwich rounds.

Monica Kass Rogers

Monica Kass Rogers

Monica is a food-business and lifestyles feature writer & photographer  with a penchant for reviving vintage recipes. Building on the “Lost Recipes Found” column she originally launched for the Chicago Tribune, Monica now rediscovers vintage in her blog of the same name Lost Recipes Found and continues to write about and photograph contemporary food nationally for restaurants, hotels and magazines.

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