It’s HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday today, and although people are already celebrating, many of the official activities aren’t planned to start until May. But that doesn’t mean you can’t knock up a few royally-approved sandwiches to toast to her Maj!
I’ve put together five easy sandwich recipes which can be enjoyed as a picnic or as part of afternoon tea. The only real difference would be how you cut them! In order to make sandwiches for high or afternoon tea, you cut off the crusts and cut the sandwich into three fingers (cutting across the longest edge, so your fingers are wide and fat, not slim and long!). For picnics, you might like to cut your sandwiches into triangles. If it’s everyday boring old lunch, then just cut them into two rectangles. This is a secret sandwich language devised by Brits so we know exactly how posh the situation is. Don’t tell anyone…
One of the first things that springs to mind when we’re talking royal food is Coronation Chicken. This is like a basic American chicken salad, but jazzed up with Indian influences. Created in the 50s by Rosemary Hume, it was originally called poulet reine Elizabeth! The dish was created to be easy to prepare in advance and consume in front of the TV, watching the Coronation.
At its most simplest, Coronation Chicken is just a combination of curry powder, mayonnaise and chicken, but if you can’t get your hands on curry powder, you might like to know how to make your own. Mix 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp mustard powder, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1 tsp turmeric together. If any of these are too spicy for you, leave them out. You can add in some chilli powder if you like, but Coronation Chicken isn’t supposed to be hot!
Then, mix 200g of cooked chicken with 1 tsp of curry powder, 1 tbsp mango chutney, 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce and 3 tbsp mayonnaise together. This is your filling!
This filling will probably make three or four rounds of sandwiches – I like to add in some little gem lettuce, but you can also add in flaked almonds and coriander too. If you’re preparing this for a salad, use less mayo and lay it on a bed of lettuce.
Next up is a royal recipe adapted from Tea Fit For A Queen – recipes inspired by London’s royal palaces. Cucumber sandwiches are one of the most iconic of all British sandwiches, but I must confess I don’t know anyone who makes or eats them regularly. This is the kind of sandwich filling that means you must be somewhere posh!
Peel, deseed and chop one whole cucumber, then mix in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, and some finely chopped mint leaves and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes.
Take one slice of brown bread and one of white, butter both sides (to stop the moisture from the cucumber making the bread soggy!) and lay the drained cucumber slices on the top.
This is absolutely delicious and well worth making – so refreshing and light! It was the surprise hit of my tasting session with friends! And, just as with the Coronation Chicken, you can serve this filling as a stand alone salad.(This filling will make around three to four rounds of sandwiches.)
This next filling isn’t really glamorous, but it’s such a staple I couldn’t leave it out. And, I serve mine with a little twist – it’s cheese and pickle sandwiches!
You can use Branston Sandwich Pickle in this, but I prefer to buy caramelised red onion chutney. My secret trick is to spread the bread very thinly with mayonnaise – it gives the cheese an extra hint of creaminess and contrasts beautifully with the pickle! I stole this idea from Pret A Manger and I’m never giving it back. HA HA HA!
By the way, you can grate your cheese, you can slice it, or you can crumble it into small, thin pieces with a knife by doing little cuts into the cheese, which is my favourite way. Each one has its own texture, and does make a difference to the final sandwich.
The next sandwich is one of my favourites – a traditional ham sandwich, pepped up with some Dijonnaise. It’s traditional to serve ham sandwiches with English mustard, but I like to mix Dijon mustard in with mayonnaise and use it to spread on the bread.
The key part here is to get good quality ham – my favourite is Wiltshire, but any dry or crumbly ham is good. I can’t give you quantities for batches, but you’ll be using one or two slices of ham per round, around four slices of tomato, and three or four lettuce leaves.
Spread your Dijonnaise on both sides of the bread, and lay the fillings inside. So simple!
Last but not least – egg mayonnaise, that nursery staple. It’s not so popular for lunch these days because the smell of the eggs will make everyone around you despise you, but for a celebration you can’t go wrong! You can mix in some chopped chives if you’re feeling fancy, but the old-school traditional way to prepare this is with cress.
Here’s my secret to perfect hard boiled eggs every time – add them to a pot of cold water in a single layer with around an inch of water at the top. Bring to the boil, and as soon as the water is boiling, remove them from the heat and place a lid on the top of the saucepan. Leave for ten minutes. As soon as the time is up, plunge them into iced water until they’re cold! Very easy, and great results every time, I promise.
You’ll want to use one egg per round of sandwiches – mix in 1 tbsp of mayonnaise to hard boiled eggs, and a pinch of cress or chives (finely chopped). Then add to your sandwiches – no need to butter these, but feel free to add salt to the mixture!
Tah dah! My five sandwich recipes for a right royal high tea, or picnic. I’ll be sharing some more recipes in the run-up to the celebrations, so keep checking back!
Before I go, here’s a cool infographic created by NRS Healthcare, which lists 90 facts about the Queen at 90! Enjoy! (And visit their blog here to find out about their good work, too!)