Succulent summer sandwiches

Last updated 15:11 10/01/2014
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MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
WHAT COULD BE BETTER?: Sparkling wine and some nice sandwiches on a summer afternoon.

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At the Table

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This story has been inspired by an afternoon Christmas Eve ham glazing party I was invited to by friends John and Woodi Moore (of Wakefield Quay House fame). This is an annual event at their home for friends to come and glaze their hams.

Woodi uses a tried and true recipe that she whips up for each eager ham glazer who dons an apron and tends their beast in the oven while sipping on a glass of bubbles and eating delicious sandwiches.

The idea of an afternoon party with trays of delicious sandwiches, unpretentious and tried and true is one that I am determined to host when the weather settles down and we can be guaranteed of a lovely blue day.

Woodi had made, amongst others, egg sandwiches, specifically for Ali Boswijk, she said but they were scoffed down by all and sundry (including myself and I can't remember the last time I ate a traditional egg sandwich).

It was those moreish beauties that got me started on this trip down memory lane and into the kitchen of my mother where egg sandwiches and asparagus rolls were de rigueur at many afternoon tea parties.

My version of an afternoon tea party would be without the pot of tea and with a refreshing alcoholic beverage and I am thinking that at my party we will drink mojitos. Lots of mint and ice and soda and a little white rum.

My sandwich list is a little more eclectic than my mothers and has to include a little Mediterranean and Scandinavian as well.

I am not a huge bread fan and really enjoy the open sandwiches of Scandanavia and my period of living in Denmark introduced me to many delicious combinations. They do tend to be more complex to eat standing up so they must be cut into mouth-sized pieces for a garden party where plates will not be included for the guests to manage their load.

Mediterranean options are also wonderful, especially right now when we have so many great tomatoes and fresh basil available and their tastes need no other adornment for a wonderful flavour hit.

My mother always used butter in her sandwiches but I prefer a homemade mayonnaise- flavoured with lemon and fresh herbs. This adds more flavour and helps to hold the sandwich filling to the bread better than butter will do.

I think that six sandwich options are ample for a party and you need to make enough to allow for two sandwiches per person. It is excellent to use a variety of breads: white and light for the fillings that are more delicate and where the flavours will be masked by the flavours in the bread. Light brown bread is an alternative to the white and looks good on the same plate as the white for contrast. Open sandwiches (that means only one piece of bread to support the filling) need a firm bread to hold the filling.

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Most importantly remember that this is finger food and whether it is an open or closed sandwich you want to make sure that their form is intact and will hold well on the path to the mouth.

Also, remember to have some good quality paper napkins to hand around with the sandwiches, those that also hold their form as well.

Here are five sandwich options for you to try this summer:

LEMON PRAWN AND CHIVE SANDWICHES

This amount makes six whole sandwiches (18 s of a sandwich)

125g of cooked prawns cut into small pieces
3tbs sour cream
1tbs of fresh lemon herb mayonnaise
3 tbs of finely chopped chives.
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Finely grated rind of lemon
12 pieces of white bread
Red mesculin leaves finely chopped

Mix the ingredients together and place a good portion onto each slice of white bread.

Cover with another piece of bread.

Cut off the crusts and slice in three.

Refrigerate the sandwiches until you are ready to serve them.

EGG SANDWICHES

This amount makes four whole sandwiches (12 s of a sandwich)

2 whole eggs hard boiled
1tbs of finely chopped parsley
1 tbs of finely chopped chives
1 tsp of finely chopped fennel, dill or tarragon
2 tbs of lemon mayonnaise
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
watercress leaves finely chopped
8 slices soft brown bread- you can use white bread or a combination of both

Mix the ingredients together and place a good portion onto each slice of bread.

Cover with another piece of bread.

Cut off the crusts (or not) and slice in three.

Refrigerate the sandwiches until you are ready to serve them.

SMOKED SALMON AND CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES

Makes 12 sandwiches

100g of cold smoked salmon in thin slices
Cream cheese for spreading
6 slices of soft brown bread or firm bread like a Vogel loaf or bruchetta
2 tbs of finely chopped capers

Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese to taste- not too much or the bread will get too soft.

Add a little caper to each slice of bread and top with a slice of salmon.

Chop each piece of bread into triangles.

TOMATO, BASIL AND MOZZARELLA ON CROSTINI

12 crostini (use French bread or ciabatta cut into slices and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and bake in the oven until dry and crisp)
4 large ripe tomatoes cut into slices
A fresh mozzarella cut into thin slices
12 large basil leaves
A little lemon mayonnaise

Add a little mayo to each slice of bread - this will help hold the tomato to the bread.

Add a tomato slice, the cheese and the basil leaf.

ASPARAGUS ROLLS

This makes six sandwiches

6 spears of asparagus lightly steamed so they are still crunchy
6 slices of white or brown bread with the crusts cut off
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs of lemon mayonnaise

Smear the bread with 1 tsp of the mayonnaise.

Cut the asparagus spear in 2 and place over the bread.

Roll the bread diagonally and place the end of the roll face down on the plate.

Refrigerate until you are ready to use.

SALAMI, REMOULADE AND FRIED ONION OPEN SANDWICHES

Makes 12 sandwiches

6 slices of Vogel bread or similar cut into half or triangles
2 tbs of picallili pickle
2 tbs of lemon mayonnaise
12 slices of good quality salami
2 small onions
4 tbs of flour
cup of vegetable oil for frying
Slice the onions into thin rings and toss in the flour.

Fry in the oil until the onion is crispy on all sides.

Drain on paper towels.

Combine the pickle and the mayonnaise.

Assemble the sandwiches by placing 2salami slices on the bread then a spoonful of the remoulade and top with the onions.

Cut each sandwich in two to serve or even four pieces to simplify the eating process.

- Nelson

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