Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Gourmet Tea Sandwich

I love to cook and bake, and while I don't consider myself a gourmet cook, I love learning about food. 

I have a friend who is a gourmet cook.  She's taken cooking lessons in France, and has been taught by acclaimed chefs in the United States.  I've learned a lot from her over the years, and consider her a culinary expert, and chef extraordinaire.

Awhile back she hosted a tea party for some of her friends. She shared a photo of a magnificent tea sandwich that she served at the party with an E-group we both belong to. She named the sandwich, "Napoleon of Jamon de Paris, Boursin Cheese, Violet Mustard, and Cornichons." 

As I read her menu I remember thinking, "Cornichons - what are those?" and I promptly did an Internet search.

Earlier this week I received Trader Joe's Fearless Flier in my E-mail inbox. The flier had a drawing of two pickles with the caption, "For every little pickle there is a big story."  It was a cute ad for their Cornichons, and it was also an immediate flashback to Martha's gourmet, signature tea sandwich.  

I contacted her to ask if I could share her sandwich on my blog, and she graciously granted permission, and sent me a photo of it.  It's the most elegant, open-faced sandwich I've ever seen.

If you were like me and didn't know what Cornichons are, you now know they're small, pickled cucumbers.  Cornichon is the French word for gherkin.  Trader Joe's gets their's from the Loire Valley of Southwest France and they have a tart, tangy flavor with a crispy crunch.

The Cornichon garnish in the above photo is resting on a dollop of Violet Mustard.  Violet mustard isn't made from violets as one might think.  It's purple color comes from red grape juice.  Violet mustard has been eaten in French grape growing regions for centuries, although the art of making it became lost for awhile until a French company diligently recreated the recipe.  It is made with freshly pressed red grape juice [including skins, seeds and stems], and coarsely ground mustard seed.  It is naturally sweet and spicy.  It's a pricey condiment - $13 for a 7 oz. jar - unless you make your own, and there are recipes on the Internet.  

Boursin Cheese is a soft cheese with a creamy texture.  It is available in a variety of flavors.  It was developed in Normandy in 1957, and is similar to our American Cream Cheese.

And last, but certainly not least, imported Jambon French ham.

So there you have it - a lovely, impressive French gourmet tea sandwich!   Thank you, Martha, for allowing me to share your signature tea sandwich with my blog readers!

An Internet search brought up another sandwich garnished with Cornichons from Food Network.  It's called a Mini, Grilled, Gruyere and Ham Sammie with Cornichons.   While it may be very tasty, it's not nearly as elegant and impressive as Martha's tea sandwich!

[Photo courtesy of Food Network]

Have you used cornichons in recipes?


  1. Both you and Martha inspire me to be a little more artistic and creative with my tea sandwiches. :-)

  2. I think both of those sandwiches look very interesting, although I'm not a big fan of pickles on sandwiches. Your friend's sandwich is a work of art, and I do love Boursin cheese. Violet mustard sounds wonderful!

  3. I have had this sandwich at Martha's table and it was truly a work of art and delicious too. I have tried reproducing it, but it was the work of art Martha put together. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. The last time I remember specifically buying gherkins was to go with a Hudson's Maurice Salad I made! I agree that your friend's sandwich is quite elegant. I especially like how prettily the filling is piped!

  5. I've not used gherkins in a recipe but do like to serve them alongside a sandwich.


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