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Ladies Luncheon Ideas

I'm having my grandmother, mother, aunt and cousin over for a belated Mother's Day lunch, and am a bit stymied for ideas. The only good one I can come up with is a variation on pavlova for dessert - I was thinking of using a combination of Greek yogurt and whipped cream instead of just the cream, with meringue and fruit (makes it a bit healthier). Any suggestions for a main dish? Aunt doesn't eat red meat, and grandmother doesn't like anything too "ethnic".

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  1. Quiche and finger sandwiches?

    1. Pureed pea soup in cream soup cups if you have them, or regular teacups and saucers if not.

      A plate of shrimp or chicken salad in a butter lettuce cup, a sliced tomato with Alouette spinach-artichoke spread as dressing, a deviled egg half. Herbed foccacia or cheesy muffins and butter.

      Note: A blender gives you a really smooth soup. Frozen petit pois work great. Ham broth gives great flavor.

      1. The first idea that pops into my head is: pan seared salmon and a salad with some sort of citrus dressing.

        1. Country Captain is a wonderful Ladies' Lunch standby. A mild chicken curry served with steamed rice, thought to have been Southern in origin but actually East Indian. The recipe is thought to have been around since the eighteenth century and still wonderful.
          Find the Cecily Brownstone recipe from when she was writing for the Associated Press and ran the James Beard salon in Greenwich Village in the '60s.
          It's in the Molly O'Neill New York Cookbook. The original Brownstone recipe is still better than any of the pretenders. Can't improve on the best.

          4 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            Now that sounds so very good and no trouble. What good idea for a tea with the Indian influence!! You gave me a great idea!

            1. re: MakingSense

              I'm not sure my grandmother would go for that (it's also a bit hot here for midday curry) but it sounds wonderful, and I'll definitely check out the recipe since I have that cookbook.

              1. re: Amuse Bouches

                It's a mild curry that generations of women enjoyed at Ladies' Lunches before air conditioning. She might even remember it. It was really popular in the 50s and 60s.. Sort of an exotic Chicken รก la King. Check out the story in the Molly O'Neill cookbook.

                Interesting historically with the current fashion of Indian food in America that this recipe has been around for so long. Dates to the days of the British presence in India and the Caribbean as well as in the port cities of the East Coast of the US.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  MakingSense Exactly correct!!! This is just such a wonderful suggestion. I would love that recipe it would be so fun to share the history at a party, I'll check with the library.Curry, the first air conditioning system known to man was sheer genious.

            2. I did a ladies' lunch earlier this spring with pureed pea soup in teacups (great suggestion) and plates of smoked salmon with snipped chives and a salad with a citrus dressing with loads of fresh mint (adapted from the Fine Cooking grapefruit-arugula salad in a recent issue) and nice crusty bread. Went over a treat, especially with my 80+ guest. (Had planned to do salmon fish cakes with homemade tartar sauce but got squeezed on time.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: GretchenS

                What about a vegetable frittata and a spinach salad with cheese, fruit and nuts. Serve with different kinds of breads and muffins.

              2. Chopped Cobb Salad and a vegetable quiche served with lemonade mixed with Prosecco wine.
                The curry idea is lovely, too. Or a mild curried chicken salad served in lettuce cups.
                Your dessert idea sounds terrific. Maybe some fresh raspberries or blackberries to go with it.

                1. I like to make salade nicoise for such events - and serve it on a giant pate a choux ring. Looks v. elegant, and you can use good canned/jarred tuna if you don't want to go the route of seared tuna, which is what I usually do.

                  1. My friend and I hosted a "high tea" with the girls a couple of weekends ago. We had 4 varieties of tea and mimosas, and I made small, dainty dill cucumber and smoked sandwiches with wasabi mayo. That plus an assortment of scones with clotted cream, nice jam (accented with brandy) and small bite-sized pastries completed our meal. It was such a blast.

                    You can always add the pea soup as a little amuse bouche, and expand the sandwich selection (so many ideas!) and you'll have a more complete meal.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kayonyc

                      I love doing teas!

                      Someone else mentioned serving soup in tea cups, but I've actually found that using demitasse cups, if you have them, makes it easier to sip etc.