tea sandwiches à la "...an endless banquet" with Michelle's Genmai Cha sandwich bread
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.
All right,we finally got it together to participate in an Is My Blog Burning? event. We'd been tempted by several IMBBs in the past ("egg" and "orange" come to mind); this one, though, we just couldn't pass up on (even if we are on the road at the moment). Tea has been an important part of our relationship since Michelle put together a "Tea Time with Anthony" tea sampler soon after we met. And these days, tea takes up almost an entire cupboard at our place.
Pictured above is a watercress, smoked salmon, and cream cheese tea sandwich made with genmai cha bread. The bread took a number of tries to get right. Michelle experimented with several different amounts of tea and found that "more is more." She replaced the water in her bread recipe (a recipe for sandwich bread from R.L. Berenbaum's The Bread Bible) with a cup of dry tea steeped in the amount of water called for (3/4 cup). Actually it took a bit more liquid, because the tea swells so you have to compensate for this in order that you end up with 3/4 cup of strong tea. She also kept the toasted rice grains after she steeped the tea and added them to the bread to give it extra flavor and a bit more texture--we also wanted to try and retain genmai cha's distinctive character.
This loaf was inspired by the green matcha bread served by Mariage Freres with some of their tea sandwiches. Our loaf didn't have nearly the color of the Mariage Freres loaf (we have a sneaking suspicion they add a bit of food coloring to their bread), but the main thing is that it was pretty delicious. The tea flavor was subtle (even with that strong batch), but it was certainly present and it went very well with the watercress and the smoked salmon. It's sure to become a standard at our house. Eventually Michelle wants to try a matcha loaf, too.
For our sandwiches, we were dead set on using watercress because our little garden has produced so much this summer and we've been enjoying it so. We first tried a classic watercress sandwich with just watercress and butter, but found that combination a bit on the dull side (although a herbed butter would probably make for a very nice sandwich). We then decided to combine the spiciness of the watercress with some smoked salmon (and just a little bit of cream cheese). This combo was much more to our liking.
Finally, we invited some guests over one afternoon and served our tea sandwiches with Kusmichoff's Troika tea, an old favorite. The setting wasn't the elaborate garden party we'd originally imagined--it was just our living room--but the company was lovely, the tea just as lively as ever, and the sandwiches were a hit.