Ahhh. Spring. My mind immediately wanders to backyard barbecues, garden parties and outdoor festivities.
In reality, spring in the northwest is a combustible combination of all four seasons, often happening at the same time. Even though Mother Nature isn’t going to cooperate and bring us warm weather right away, we are throwing a garden party.
This recipe is one of my favorites not only in its simplicity, but because any combination of foods can be used. The cream cheese pairs well with the smokey ham and fresh cucumber, yet it can also be dressed up and sent to play with any combination of meats and cheeses.
…and you will love how simply and quickly it all comes together. So let’s get to work!
Add fresh herbs and spices to your cream cheese. If you do this, let them chill overnight so the flavors blend well.
What kind, you ask?
Dill, a tiny bit of horseradish and a dash of salt added to cream cheese, works well with smoked salmon.
Small chunks of blue cheese whipped in to the cream cheese paired with either chicken or ham is divine.
Your local grocer has delicious little tubs of cream cheese pre-mixed with herbs and seasonings. Experiment.
We cut strips of sharp cheddar cheese to pair with the smoked ham. If you are looking for a subtler flavor, you may wish to omit the cheddar or add one of your own favorite flavors.
Is time an issue? Prepare/whip your cream cheese and chill the night before. Before prepping your appetizer, remove from refrigerator early enough to allow mixture to soften for easy spreading.
Cucumber Rolls with Ham and Cheese
- 2 large cucumbers
- 1 package smoked ham, thin slice
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cut into strips about an inch wide
- 1 8 ounce package cream, soft and whipped
- Small bit of fresh dill
- The night before: Soften and whip cream cheese to a smooth consistency. Add a small bit of fresh dill. Dill tends to take over the playground so use sparingly. Mix the dill well into the whipped cream cheese, cover and chill overnight.
- Slice cucumbers using a mandolin or peeler. A knife is possible but we’ve already talked about that.
- Slice your ham to the same width as your cucumber or “slightly” larger for that pop of color on the serving tray.
- Lay out all of your cucumber strips on parchment paper.
- Place ham along the length of strip except for about a quarter of an inch at one end. This is the top, where you will secure your roll.
- Spread cream cheese mixture the length of each cucumber slice, again leaving that quarter of an inch at the top.
- Place cheddar cheese, same rules apply.
- Beginning at one end (not the top you’ve left clean) roll up tightly, like a jelly roll and secure with cocktail pin.
Photograph | Elena Shashkina