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Bite-size sandwiches pack flavor for Christmas get-together

December 12, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Without much effort, tea sandwiches could bail out a boring appetizer plate at your next holiday gathering.

They're are also a creative way to repurpose leftovers.

The Herald-Mail took tips from former gourmet food store owner Cheryle McCarter, 51, who lives in Hagerstown. For the past three years, McCarter has hosted an annual Christmas luncheon tea with her friends.

This year, the savories on McCarter's menu included a tea sandwich of turkey on cranberry bread and a Blue Pear Tea Sandwich made of slivers of soft pears, blue cheese and raisin bread.

She used leftover ham for the Hawaiian ham salad sandwich she presented on the day The Herald-Mail visited.

"It's just fun," McCarter said. "You're together with your friends. You have a good time."

McCarter, a Clear Spring native, said she got her cooking chops from her mother, the late Catherine Poole. "All her cookies were perfect," McCarter said.

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McCarter said she has kept up her love for cooking as a wife and mother. She has an adult son, 26-year-old Austen McCarter.

McCarter and her husband, Jack, 51, owned Maple's Gourmet, near Penn Avenue Meats. Before McCarter closed her retail store in 2007 due to the bad economy, she said she sold the sort of things you'd eat at a traditional British tea.

While her mother made "scads" of tiny cookies and luncheon tea-style foods, McCarter said she doesn't know whether her family has any ties to England.

"My mother's mother was a Miles, but no one's ever traced it back," she said.

But what really exposed her to her tea culture, McCarter said, were her visits to tea rooms in Gettysburg, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa., with her girlfriends.

"I thought, 'I can do this,'" she said.




Hawaiian ham sandwiches



2 cups cooked ham, ground (baked or country)
2 tablespoons pineapple preserves
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
6 slices wheat bread
Crushed pineapple for garnish

Mix ham, preserves and mayonnaise. Use a round cookie cutter to cut the wheat bread. Spread one slice of bread with ham mixture, cut in half, then top with a dab of crushed pineapple.

Serves six.

- Courtesy of Cheryle McCarter, of Hagerstown




Cranberry turkey tea sandwiches



1 15.6-ounce box of Pillsbury- brand cranberry quick bread
8 ounces thinly sliced deli turkey
Softened butter or margarine

Bake cranberry bread according to package instructions for a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan, and allow it to cool. Slice bread in to 1/8-inch slices. Spread one slice with softened butter or margarine and cut the slice in half. Cover one half with turkey and place the other half on top of the meat. Trim the crusts, if you'd prefer.

Serves 6.

- Courtesy of Cheryle McCarter, of Hagerstown




Blue Pear Tea Sandwiches



4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 ounces blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 or 2 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (see cook's note)
At least six slices of raisin bread

Mix cream cheese, blue cheese, sour cream and walnuts. Spread two slices of raisin bread lightly with the cream cheese mixture. Place 2 or 3 slices of pear on cream cheese, then top with another slice of bread. Trim crusts and cut into fourths.

Serves six people.

Cook's note: Use canned pears as an alternate.

- Courtesy of Cheryle McCarter, of Hagerstown




Dill cucumber slices



4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
Cocktail-size pumpernickel bread or rye bread
1/4 of an English cucumber, peeled and sliced thin.
Dill weed for garnish

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, dill weed, celery salt and onion powder. Spread the mixture on a slice of bread. Place one or two slices of cucumber on top.

Garnish with a light sprinkle of dill weed.

Serves 6.

- Courtesy of Cheryle McCarter, of Hagerstown




Host a holiday luncheon of your own



Hagerstown resident Cheryle McCarter shared her recipe for luncheon tea sandwiches. But here's a menu to give you some ideas, if you want to do host your own.

o Caramel scones with brandied whipped cream and caramel sauce

o Tomato bisque

o Roasted pear and bacon salad

Savories

o Turkey a la king over puff pastry shells

o Hawaiian ham salad on wheat bread

o Cranberry turkey tea sandwiches

o Dill cucumber sandwiches

Sweets

o Peppermint shortbread bites

o Peanut butter crunch bars

o White Christmas bars

o Profiteroles

Teas

o Caramel cream brulee

o Cranberry autumn

o Christmas tea

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