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My mother took me to Buenos Aires a number of times when I was quite small, but the memories that remain with me are tack-sharp, especially the ones involving my first pair of non-Mary Jane shoes (in red, naturally) and food. There were hollow chocolate cubes with tiny collectible toys, hot milk in tall stainless steel-handled glasses accompanied by long bars of chocolate you could dip, like submarines, and swirl until the milk changed from white to marble to brown, and potatoes that souffléd during frying and ended up looking like small golden pillows on my plate.
My very favorite of all was tea at a family friend's home which for me was comprised of white bread (crust removed) spread with butter, cut into quarters. It was dainty and ladylike and made me miss my dolls, who would undoubtedly have enjoyed the event.
England and the Queen Mum might come to mind when you think of tea sandwiches but for me, tea was much below the equatorial belt and in a different language, however, the concept is the same. Teatime is prim and proper and must be served just-so. In olden days there were hats and white gloves and much ceremony.
Today the ritual is unheard of—who has the time for teatime? Certainly not me, but the notion is extremely enticing. I made these sandwiches because it was turning bright green outside and I'll have company over for Easter brunch next week; it felt like perfect timing for something light and elegant.
Cucumber tea sandwiches are classic and, with this recipe, I did want to observe tradition. Do buy a whole loaf of white bread and thinly slice it yourself—you should be able to see light through the pores! Don't skimp on calories by eliminating the butter from the ingredients list or not spreading all of the bread slices: the point is for the butter to act as a barrier between the filling and the bread so you won't have a tray of sodden sandwiches.
The filling here is a spread of labne (yogurt cheese) herbed with dill, chives, and pea shoots, brightened with lemon juice, and rounded out with beefy Worcestershire sauce. Cucumbers are fresh and delicate, but the peppery, crunchy bite of radishes adds nuance to the composition.
It's time for tea! Gather your friends, or dolls, and enjoy.
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