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Cucumber cups are small cups made from thick cucumber slices. Typically only about 1 inch (about 2cm) tall, the sections used to make little cups are seeded and then filled with whatever the cook desires. They may hold summery liqueur or shot mixes, salads, compotes, or hummus. Making cucumber cups at home may require a bit of practice, but party guests often love them. They make very simple appetizers that work well for both casual and fine dining.
Long, slender cucumbers generally work best for making cucumber cups. They are supposed to be just a bite of food, so a very wide cucumber cup may be difficult to eat, particularly if the contents are a bit messy. English cucumbers often work well, because they don’t need to be peeled, but one may use a long, slender ordinary cucumber as well. The fact that English cucumbers are seedless doesn’t matter in this case because the cook will be slicing away the center of each cucumber cup whether it contains seeds or not.
Each section cut from the vegetable that is meant for making cucumber cups must be perfectly straight on the top and bottom. A crooked cut usually yields a crooked cup, meaning the vessel could tilt and threaten to spill its contents. Straight, 1 to 1.5 inch (2 cm to 3 cm) tall columns are usually the perfect size for each cucumber section.
Removing the centers of the cucumber slices is typically the most difficult part. One must gently poke the tip of a knife, vertically, down into each slice, aiming for about 1/8 inch (about 1/4 cm) away from the edge of the cucumber section. Using a gentle sawing motion, the cook guides the knife in a circle around the inside of the slice, being careful not to poke through the bottom and render the cup useless. When the circle is complete, the cook may gently twist the center portion of the cucumber cup until its interior pops free.
Once all of the cups are formed, the cook may fill cucumber cups with anything he or she likes. Drink options include alcoholic shots made with melon liqueur, tequila, or any other light flavors. Strawberry or plain lemonade works well for kids. Food options include garlic or red pepper hummus, dried fruit compote with nuts, tiny tropical fruit salads, and chicken or seafood salads. Party hosts may also set out empty cucumber cups with several filling options. In this way, cucumber cups can give an appetizer tray a variety of flavors without much work for the host.
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