How fun would it be to invent a recipe with your name on it that decades later is known and loved by scores of people you’ve never met? Louisville caterer Jennie Benedict wrote herself into the history books with this simple tea sandwich recipe that is now a Kentucky tradition. If you’re planning a Kentucky Derby party, put on your hat and make some Benedictine sandwiches to serve!
- Cucumber (an English one, if you’ve got it, but “regular” will work, too)
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp. finely minced onion
- Mayonnaise or sour cream (optional – simply used to make it easier to spread)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 drops of Tabasco
- 2-3 drops green food coloring
- Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
- White bread, crusts removed (or low carb tortillas, cut out with a round scalloped-edge cookie cutter)
We Yankees didn’t know what we had been missing! A trip to the hair salon in Louisville changed all that as we struck up a conversation with a lovely lady who used to own her own restaurant. She advised us of certain foods that are considered Derby “musts,” including the brainchild of Jennie Benedict, Benedictine Finger Sandwiches. I had an opportunity to taste them at Michele’s and couldn’t wait to share what I learned with my mother and friends when I returned home. Ingredients assembled, I started peeling the cucumber.
Peel the cuke, cut it in half horizontally, then use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds into your garbage bowl. Next, pull out a grater and start grating!
The lady at the salon emphasized the need to squeeze the moisture out of the shredded cucumber. Her technique was to roll it up in napkins and apply pressure. I got out my paper towels and did the same. I had no idea cucumbers were such watery little things. I didn’t think I would ever get them dry! I finally did, however, so I was off to mash my cream cheese.
You want to end up with 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of “dry” cucumber shreds. Allowing the cuke pieces to await mixing on a paper towel seemed like a good way to capture any residual moisture. Don’t forget, on your cream cheese, you need it to be very soft before you start mixing anything into it.
2 drops of green food coloring stirred into the cream cheese. Then I added the very finely grated onion.
Next, I added the cucumber, a pinch of salt and a couple of drops of Tabasco. Because my cream cheese was so soft, I saw no need to adulterate the spread with either mayo or sour cream.
I made some of the little sandwiches with the classic white bread. I made the rest with low carb flour tortillas. Thin slices of cucumber with pretty edges (from the Kiwi Thai vegetable peeler) made a lovely garnish.
Did I mention BACON? Oh, yes. I learned that the B&B is an accepted variation of this Kentucky classic. Bread, then Benedictine, then bacon, topped by another slice of bread. I also made some with cooked crumbled bacon on top of a top-dressed sandwich.
Scrumptious – with or without the bacon! The fresh crunch of the cucumbers makes these little jewels taste like summer.