Hello, dear friends.  Thank you for making these for the wedding reception so I can spend time with my family (if you’re reading this for fun, thanks for being here in general).  These are make same day sandwiches to avoid stale bread on the outside and soggy bread on the inside. And read the picture captions for helpful hints.

Joie’s Cucumber Sandwiches with Zing (makes 48 small rectangular sandwiches)

Ingredients:

  • 3 med (2 large) cucumbers
  • 3 c water
  • 1 1/2 c cider vinegar
  • 16 oz neufchâtel
  • 1/2 c light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (paprika can be substituted, depending on availability and/or allergies and/or distaste – either is completely acceptable for the reception)
  • 2 loaves potato bread

Helpful items:

  • A large tray for the sandwiches
  • parchment paper/wax paper/butcher paper to put between layers of sandwiches
  • paper towels for draining

Ingredients and helpful items

Note: My cucumber sandwiches have three “secrets” to them to make them so tasty: the cider vinegar bath (see note two), nutmeg (or paprika) in the filling, and potato bread.  These are what make them so darn tasty.  I use Orowheat Country Potato bread.  For most accurate results, I suggest using that brand.  It’s available at King Soopers for sure, but I’m pretty sure Safeway and Albertsons have it as well.  Also, I use light mayonnaise and neufchâtel (as opposed to cream cheese) because these are bad enough for you as is.  You can make it with regular mayo or cream cheese if you prefer. Just make sure, if you’re making these for the reception, to let us know if these are “full fat” versions (also, if you used paprika rather than nutmeg) so we can label the different trays.

Note Two: I cannot take full credit for this recipe.  I got the basic stuff from here, but adjusted it for my preferred tastes.  That’s where the framework came from and I am very grateful for the internet for introducing me to the vinegar bath.  I added oomf and got something similar, but definitely (in my opinion) better.

Score the sides of the cucumbers after cutting off the ends using a fork.  You may have small pieces fly off the ends (see below).  That’s okay – as neat as these cucumbers look, they aren’t part of the final look, so they can be as messy as needs be.  The point is giving more access to the vinegar bath for soaking in.

Dig deep enough to hit the flesh.

Dig deep enough to hit the flesh.

Chop the cucumbers.  The slices should be medium-sized.

We want medium cucumber slices - somewhere around 3/16th of an inch (I know that is ridiculously specific, but a quarter inch is too thick, I promise). There's no need to be this precise, but measure your first couple chops and adjust accordingly.

We want medium cucumber slices – somewhere around 3/16th – 1/4 of an inch (I know that is ridiculously specific, but more than a quarter inch is too thick, I promise). There’s no need to be this precise, but measure your first couple chops and adjust accordingly.

This is what your chopped cucumbers should look like.  Place them in a bowl after chopping.

This is what your chopped cucumbers should look like. Place them in a bowl after chopping.

Pour the vinegar and water into the bowl.  If you need more solution to cover all your slices, that’s fine.  The bath is two parts water, one part vinegar.  Adjust amounts as needed for your particular bowl, just make sure the bath covers all the slices.

Pour the water and vinegar over the cucumber slices.

Pour the water and vinegar over the cucumber slices.

You can mix the water/vinegar beforehand, but I found that using the scoring fork to mix in the bowl is just as effective and you don’t need an extra bowl for the water/vinegar mix.  Let sit for 30 min minimum.

Mix the water, vinegar, and cucumbers together.

Mix the water, vinegar, and cucumbers together before sitting.

Next, we make the filling. Put the neufchâtel, mayo, and all spices in a blender.

I find cutting it into fourths is helpful for easier blending, but you know your blender best.

I find cutting it into fourths is helpful for easier blending, but you know your blender best.  DO whatever works for your appliance.

This gives just a tiny bit more workability to the filling by thinning out that stubbornly thick neufchâtel.

This gives just a tiny bit more workability to the filling by thinning out that stubbornly thick neufchâtel.

Neufchâtel plus mayo plus spices.

Neufchâtel plus mayo plus spices.

This is what it looks like.  It's fluffy and speckled from the nutmeg and slightly darker from the Worcestershire sauce.  It's DELICIOUS.

This is what it looks like. It’s fluffy and speckled from the nutmeg and slightly darker from the Worcestershire sauce. It’s DELICIOUS. Go ahead, use a cracker to try it.  I’m right, aren’t I?

If your 30 minutes aren’t up, wait it out.  It’s  worth it.  When the 30 minutes are up (and you can go longer if you need to) drain off the excess solution from the slices between paper towels, pressing the top towel until you can see all the cucumbers stuck to it.  Leave them between the towels for five minutes.

If you feel your cucumbers are still wet after the five minute drain, go ahead and do a second drain between two new paper towels.

If you feel your cucumbers are still too wet after the five minute drain, go ahead and do a second drain between two new paper towels. (Ignore the other cookbook, it’s not reference material although I realize it looks like it might be.  Or go to Smitten Kitchen and revel in the delicious later.)

Post-draining, lay out the bread (including the top pieces for ease of access) on a cutting board.  Spread the filling on half your pieces.

The filling has a good taste on its own, you don't want to butter the bread with, nor do you want to drown the bread.  Think a decent layer of jam - just enough.  I recommend using a new cutting board, the old one has lots of cucumber and vinegar water on it.

The filling has a good taste on its own, you don’t want to butter the bread with, nor do you want to drown the bread. Think a decent layer of jam – just enough. I recommend using a new cutting board, the old one has lots of cucumber and vinegar water on it.

Each large sandwich takes five cucumber slices. Close then take off the edges.

Each large sandwich takes five cucumber slices. Close then take off the edges.

Why not spread it on all the pieces and just have a stack of bread waiting on the side for tops?  Cutting space.  About half your board will be occupied by sandwich when you’re done, and you can use the other half to cut the crusts off, placing them in a scrap bowl or trash (I recommend scrap bowl for curious tasters).

Crusts off, cut in thirds.  Yum.

Crusts off, cut in thirds. Yum.

Place the finished products in your large pan/serving plate and start round two!  Repeat until you run out of bread.  Do not use the heels – they are not aesthetically pleasing.  Neatness is key to the look of these sandwiches.

THIS IS GOOD!  It means your final sandwiches aren't too light on filling or cucumber.  I use the crusts to shove into snacky, wandering hands that wish to try the reserved sandwiches.

EXTRAS ARE GOOD! It means your final sandwiches aren’t too light on filling or cucumber. I use the crusts to shove into snacky hands that wish to try the reserved sandwiches.  It’s how I fended off Elder Moose when I first made these.  He ate a good portion, very little were thrown away.

Have some! Try this recipe for yourself!  Reward your work! (Thank you.)

Here’s the best use for the heels: home snacking. Have some! Try this recipe for yourself! Reward your hard work! (Thank you.)

Then bring the rest to us for the reception.  Or, if you’re not one of our reception helpers, take them to a party.  Divide the recipe in half and make a snack for a fancy dinner at your place between friends.  These are exceptionally good appetizers – they’re light, but they have character.  Or, ZING!

If you're thinking this looks disturbingly like your Thanksgiving turkey pan, it probably does.  I needed a disposable pan and the roasting pans were on clearance.

If you’re thinking this container looks disturbingly like your Thanksgiving turkey pan, it probably does. I needed a disposable pan and the roasting pans were on clearance.

Thanks again, everyone.  E-mail me with questions here or ask my mother for my number and call or text.  We really appreciate your time and effort which allows us to have a nice family weekend.

Oh, and when you get the chance, let me know how you like the recipe in the comments or via e-mail, no matter if you’re a reception helper or just a cucumber sandwich maker!

~Joie

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