March 12, 2012
Creamy Cucumber Cups
Yesterday I had an English cucumber sitting in the crisper than needed using, but the idea of a salad just wasn't cutting it. English cucumbers are quite large, so I sliced off a bit to make a couple of cucumber and spinach tea sandwiches for my two youngest and I to have during tea time. The rest of the cucumber was turned into this delicious treat.
The three of us frequently have "high tea" on Saturday and Sunday instead of having a classic American lunch. Mama here likes to sleep in on the weekends if she's able... so breakfast is usually more like brunch and no one is hungry again until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. By then it's really too close to dinner time to have a big lunch, so we started having tea instead. I brew up a pot of tea and the three of us sit at the dining room table with some soft music and some finger foods and spend an hour or so talking and sharing the happenings of the past week. They think it's fun, love the little snacks and fancy tea cups and I love that special time for us to connect and relax together.
These adorable cucumber cups were made from things I had on hand at the time. There are so many variations I could think of that would make these really delicious. You could stuff them with a chicken or tuna salad mixture. Egg salad would be good too. Shrimp or crab salad. Hummus. Guacamole. Salsa. Cottage cheese, plain or fancied up with some chive and finely minced red onion. You could also use this method with some fresh zucchini instead of cucumber. Raw zucchini is really delicious, in case you've never tried it. The possiblities are really only limited by your imagination and likes! I love that it's a low-carb vehicle for many foods that one might normally use bread or crackers for.
Creamy Cucumber Cups
1 English cucumber, cut and scooped out as described. Reserve the flesh you remove.
3/4 cup softened cream cheese.
2 teaspoons "Fox Point Seasoning" or other freeze dried vegetable blend.
1.5 teaspoons "Sun dried tomato flakes."
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, cilantro, or dill.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cheesecloth large enough to hold about 1 cup
1. Slice cucumber into 3/4 to 1 inch rounds. With a small teaspoon hollow out each round to create a cup. Make sure you don't scoop out too much of the bottom or else you won't have a stable cup to fill. Reserve the flesh you scoop from the cucumber. You will be using it in the filling. Place your hollowed cups on a place and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to fill them.
2. In a small bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sun dried tomato flakes and Fox Point seasoning. Set aside.
3. Chop the remaining cucumber flesh into fine pieces.
4. Place chopped cucumber flesh onto the center of a piece of cheesecloth and gather edges to make a pouch.
5. Twist cheesecloth with cucumber flesh inside to get rid of excess liquid.
6. Add squeezed cucumber flesh to the cream cheese mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, if possible, to allow flavors to marry and to allow freeze dried vegetables to soften and rehydrate.
7. Remove from refrigerator and stir well to soften mixture to a spreadable consistency.
8. Finely chop whatever fresh herb you choose and add to cream cheese mixture. (adding a fresh herb is important, it brightens the whole mixture and gives another layer of flavor.)
9. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste.
10. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into a pastry piping bag or if you don't have one a heavy "Ziploc" type freezer bag with a corner cut off after it's filled with the cream cheese mixture will work too.
11. Before filling, you may need to blot dry the cucumber cups with a clean paper towel if they are too wet.
12. Fill each cucumber cup with cream cheese mixture from your piping bag or zip lock.
13. Garnish, if you like, with a tiny herb leaf and serve immediately.
Makes approximately 10-12 cups
I used Penzeys' "Fox Point Seasoning" which can be found *here*
I also used Williams-Sonoma's Sun Dried Tomato Flakes which can be found *here*