Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

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Gastronomically yours,

Cucumbers are Cool

 

Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated members of the gourd family. They are related to squash and cantaloupes alike.   The cucumbers origins are to have originated in Asia and have been cultivated for over 2000 years.

 The creeping vine of a cucumber yields a fruit that we only consume cucumbers at their un-ripened green stage. A ripe cucumber is actually yellow in color and is exceptionally bitter. Cucumbers are divided into two categories; slicers that are usually eaten raw and the smaller picklers used for making pickles and preserves.

 English cucumbers are a variety of cucumber that can grow up to over two feet in length and has a soft edible skin with very few seeds. An abundance of seeds tends to increase the bitterness of the fruit. Some refer to this variety of cucumber as burpless cucumbers because they have low amounts of cucurbitacin, which increases one’s propensity to burp’ after eating them.  

  Field cucumbers are shorter and thicker in comparison to the English cucumber. They are often sold with wax to preserve freshness. These waxed cucumbers should be peeled before consuming. The skins of un-waxed cucumbers are edible and do not require peeling, but you may find that the Field’s skin is tougher than the English variety and will peel them regardless. Another notable difference is that Field’s are usually half the price of the English variety.

 Cucumbers generally are available year-round and are often grown in hot houses protected under glass. Like all produce though, cucumbers taste best when eaten fresh and as close to their source as possible. Ontario grown cucumbers are best during their peak season of June through August.

 With Ontario’s Caribbean like summers one would appreciate that fresh cucumbers are made up of over 90% water. This makes cucumber’s a naturally cooling food that are best served raw.

 The cucumber sandwich is a refreshing British tradition that was often served at tea and is best enjoyed during the summer months. Although many modern interpretations of this sandwich exist which often incorporate other ingredients like cream cheese, dill or smoked salmon; I prefer the traditional English version.

 This week’s recipe is based on the traditional British style using fresh Ontario grown cucumbers wherever you may find them.

 

Cucumber Sandwich

Ingredients;

Eight thick slices of fresh whole wheat bread

One half cup of butter, softened

Two Ontario field cucumbers

One tbsp olive oil

One tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Four tomatoes, sliced thin (optional)

Four leaves of Boston Bib lettuce

One tbsp malt or cider vinegar

 

Method:

Peel the cucumber or score them lengthwise with a fork.  Slice the cucumber into thin pieces. Place the slices in a medium sized non-reactive bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let the sliced cucumbers marinate while continuing with the recipe. Butter the bread carefully to ensure that it is evenly coated all the way to the edges of the bread. This will add flavour to the sandwich but also effectively protects the bread from becoming damp or soggy from the juice that will leach from the slices of cucumber. On one slice of bread, arrange cucumber slices in an even, single layer. Then add a layer of tomatoes and finish with a layer of lettuce. Sprinkle the lettuce lightly with either cider or malt vinegar. Finish the sandwich by adorning it with the top slice of bread. Finally the crusts of the bread are cleanly sliced off and then the sandwich is sliced diagonally twice, creating four small triangular tea sandwiches. Serve immediately. Yields four sandwiches.

 

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