Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Elegant Fall Menu For The Ladies Who Lunch...Apple Fall With Maple Cream

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One of the best transit systems in this country is in New York City.  I can't tell you a lot about the subway, since I refuse to ride it since 9/11,  but the buses are terrific, my favorite the M1- 4 along  5th Avenue heading south with the Madison Avenue one northbound.  I used to take both these buses to work every day when I lived in the city and it was a great start to my day.  Of course, you are riding along two of the chicest avenues in the world and the view of Central Park in the morning is second only to the action in the avenue. 

On the last day of my visit last month,   I was returning home on Madison Avenue around 4 o'clock when someone hopped on the bus that made me giggle.  A tall  40 -something young lady, dreadfully thin, with beatifully styled long blond hair , perfectly groomed,  dressed to the hilt, Hermes bag, unbukled of course,  a sytlish camel suit with silk blouse and pearls, a gold Cartier tank watch and very chic Manolo Blanik shoes.  The minute she sat down, she pulled her Smythson diary out of her bag and made some notes.  Well, well, well...nobody dresses like that in New York, at that hour of the day, unless you are, of course,one of the Ladies Who Lunch!  I'm not going to even venture a guess as to where she had just recently lunched for the possibilities are endless, but it goes to show you the kind of people who ride the bus in NYC

Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley and Betsy Bloomingdale

In case I haven't mentioned it before, Ladies Who Lunch is a phrase to describe "slim, well-off, old-money, well-dressed women who meet for lunch socially, normally during the working week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working. Normally the lunch is in a restaurant, perhaps in a department store during shopping. Sometimes there is the pretext of raising money for charity." (Wikipedia)  That was before the Reagan years.  Since then, these ladies, some of whom employ full time chefs in their households, sometimes meet at home for an elegant lunch, no pretext of charity necessary.

The phrase was popularized by Elaine Stritch in the play Company by Stephen Sondheim. Take a look!

R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining from People Who Really Know How

This dessert is from Anne Bass' chef and appears in the book R.S.V.P by Nan Kempner, a hostess par excellence, clothes horse and Chairman Emeritus of the Ladies Who Lunch.  Everytime I passed Mortimer's, their  favorite restaurant now defunct,  there she was in her corner table by the window.  Mrs. Kempner passed away a few years ago.  Nobody has been able to take her place.  Other members of the club in those days were Mrs. Alfred (Betsy) Bloomingdale, Nancy Reagan's best friend, Mrs. William (Pat) Buckley, Mrs. Oscar (Annette) de la Renta, and Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, chairman in training of the young set.

A Fall Lunch

Green Salad

Apple Fall with Maple Cream
(recipe follows)

Apple Fall With Maple Cream

The secret to this cake is the salted butter, something which is seldom used in baking

Serves 8

1 stick plus 3 TB salted butter
11 Tb sugar
3 large Mutsu apples
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
2C whole milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Confectioners suggar for dusting

Maple Cream
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 pint heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375

Grease a 9 inch springform pan with 2 TB butter & dust with 2 Tb sugar.  Peel and core 2 apples and slice very thin. Layer apple sclices in concentric circles until bottom of the pan is covered.  Sprinkle the apple slices with 1 Tb sugar and dot with 1 Tb butter.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 mins or until the apples are tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Sift the flour together with 6 Tb sugar in a large mixing bowl.  In a cup whisk together the milk and eggs.  Make a well in center of the dry ingredients and pour milk mixture, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined.

In a small saucepan, melt remaining 1/2 C butter with the vanilla in low heat.  Gradually combine with the batter, whisking constantly to combine.

Peel and core the remaining apple and slice very thin.  Pour the batter over the cooked apple slices and arrange the fresh-cut apple slices on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 TB sugar and bake for 1 hour or until cake is puffed., golden and crusty around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool over wire rack for 15-20 minutes.

Make the maple cream while cake cools.  Using a whisk add the maple sugar to cream and beat briskly until soft peaks form.

Invert cake into a serving platter, dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm with the maple cream.

Wine: A robust California Chardonnay or French Burgundy can be served throughout the meal, but not too dry because of the curried flans

All Photos except #2 are by Quentin Bacon  in the book R.S.V.P. by Nan Kempner, unfortunately out of print

Photo #2 Google


  1. I love this post - I read it first thing this morning and then again as I ate my lunch (at my desk, out of zip lock bags). Could you imagine your last name being Bloomingdale or de la Renta or even more fabulous being the actual Princess of Somewhere Amazing. The menu sounds wonderful. It is a perfect November lunch.

  2. Lara
    The only thing I can imagine better than that is being Mrs. Bergdorf Goodman! Actually, there once was a Mrs. Goodman, Mrs. Andy Goodman. She was Cuban and well known to all of us. She did a lot for her Cuban friends when they arrived in New York, after the revolution.

  3. This was fun to read. I wonder if today's women could do this without feeling guilty. I probably really give myself away wondering these things,my simplicity, but still I do wonder. When my children were young, I didn't work outside the home and looking back as fun as it was to meet for brunch like we did, I was always exhausted for the rest of the day. All that talking wore me out! Thanks for the nice recipes. Tomorrow I am going to try the Tuscan Bean Soup.

  4. janfaw

    Of course we could do it! no guilt involved...although, as you say, it is an exhausting proposition. Imagine the time to get ready and then eating and gossiping at the same time...exhausting!

  5. Every so often I'd see Mrs Kempner at the opera or sitting on a banquette
    across from me at a restaurant. On one occasion, she was seen at both,
    and I was afraid she was feeling a bit "stalked", even though it was pure
    coincidence. Her book, which on the surface might appear to be a vanity
    production, is really quite good, direct and unpretentious, and inspires
    one to try those recipes.

  6. I agree, Toby. Betsey Bloomingdale also has a book which I don't own but, amazingly, is in the library here in my small town in Georgia! Not as good as Mrs. Kempner's but has some interesting recipes as well.

  7. I ordered my own copy of R.S.V.P. - looking forward to this one!!!

  8. Perfect! We're having my sister in law for Sunday last time before the kitchen is dismantled..and this is just the thing to make. I'll let you know!


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