Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Linton Hopkins



January 2013



Chef Linton Kicks Off the 2013 Southern Chefs Series

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

January 20 and 21 marked the kickoff to the new year for the Southern Chefs Series, now in its 4th full season.  Ten eager participants arrived at my door on Sunday afternoon to learn from a master.  Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, and H&F Bread Co. and a 2012 co-winner for Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, donned his apron, unpacked his coolers of food, and began instructing his protégés in the preparation of what was termed a “Southern Masala” dinner, this to be contrasted with the next day’s “Southern Classic” lunch.  The mood was light, the instruction complete, and the resulting meals delicious, colorful, and world’s apart in flavors, despite the fact, as Chef Linton pointed out, southern India and Georgia are on the same latitude and have many foods and preparations in common.

Uniquely, none of the students had attended any previous Southern Chefs Series classes, but all left indicating they plan to enroll in additional classes, citing the intimate setting, personal interaction, and Linton’s attention to each person as favorite aspects of the class.  Fabulous, wonderful, and beautiful are adjectives participants used to describe the experience.

Our Sunday Masala Dinner featured tandoori BBQ chicken and pork shoulder, fragrant butter-laced pureed mustard greens (recipe below), sea island red pea dal, kale chaat, corn bread with radish, accompaniments (including a saffron laced mango chutney with almonds), and sweet spoonbread with buttermilk and persimmon lassi.  Monday’s Southern Classic lunch included shrimp salad with citrus, lettuce, and fennel; winter squash soup with bacon and herbs; buttermilk yeast rolls; and old fashioned chocolate cake.

Restaurant Eugene’s Fragrant Butter Laced Mustard Greens

(serves 12)

5#          mustard greens
2#          fresh spinach
½ cup   yellow corn flour
4 each    serrano chilies, chopped
1 cup      onion, chopped
5 cups    water
2 each    green bell pepper, chopped
4 tsp      cornstarch, dissolved in 4 tbl water
kosher salt
12 tbl       ghee
½ cup     minced ginger
6 tbl        minced garlic

1.     Destem and wash all greens thoroughly and chop coarsely.
2.    Place corn flour, onions, and serrano chilies into water and bring to a boil; add the greens and bell pepper and 1 tbl of kosher salt; bring back to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
3.    Puree in small batches with a food processor until smooth.
4.   Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened and smooth.
5.    Heat ghee in pan, add aromatics, and cook until they just begin to brown.
6.    Place greens in serving vessel and stir in fragrant ghee.

The proceeds from this expanded season of the Chefs Series will benefit Wholesome Wave  as it prepares to establish additional chapters in the South, making fresh, healthy, local fruits and vegetables affordable and accessible to all.  All of us involved (the chefs, Lori and I who assist, and the photographers) are doing so free of charge.  We will publish a cookbook, also benefiting Wholesome Wave, at the conclusion of the 2013 series, featuring the chefs and recipes from each month.  Registration for future classes is still open.  Call the Inn at Serenbe, 770 463 2610, to reserve your space.
I am thrilled to welcome this year’s outstanding chefs to my kitchen and hope you will join us.



January 2013



New year, new series

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

The Chefs Series is coming, the Chefs Series is coming.

We are less than two weeks from kicking off the expanded Southern Chefs Series cooking classes in my home kitchen in Serenbe, and Linton Hopkins, James Beard Foundation award winner and acclaimed chef/owner of Atlanta standouts Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, and H&F Bread Co., will lead us into the new season with his class on January 20 and 21.

Chef Linton Hopkins

The Series’ classes are filling up, and I don’t want you to miss out.  Call today to reserve your place in what promises to be an outstanding year of classes.  Each of the renowned Southern chefs invited to participate this year will assist you in fine tuning your culinary skills with hands-on instruction and a good measure of fun. 
Excellent meals, comfortable overnight accommodations at the Inn at Serenbe, and lively conversation await.

Chef Linton during the 2012 class

All proceeds from this year’s series will benefit Wholesome Wave, one of the most-effective organizations at improving the accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables!
Call the Inn at Serenbe to reserve your spot, 770 463 2610.  Visit for the complete list of participating chefs. 

I look forward to cooking with you in my kitchen.



September 2012



Southern Chefs Series Welcomes Birmingham’s Chris Hastings

Written by , Posted in Bobby Flay, Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Hugh Acheson, James Beard, Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe

This has been a banner year for Southern Chefs Series chefs as three are 2012 James Beard Foundation top chefs, two for the Southeast region (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV) and one for the South region (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS).  Earlier in the season, we hosted Linton Hopkins and Hugh Acheson, who shared the award for the Southeast region, and this past Sunday and Monday, Chris Hastings, the South region’s honoree made his first trip to my kitchen.  In addition to his James Beard award, Chris beat out Bobby Flay earlier in the year on Iron Chef America!  The BEST chefs really do come to Serenbe; I hope you will also!    

Chris, chef/co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham with his wife Idie, had been a finalist in the category previously.  He was up against four chefs from New Orleans this year and beat out the competition.  Cook with him, and you’ll soon find out why he was chosen!  

Chris is a brilliant chef who makes cooking seem effortless.  I’m excited he accepted the invitation to teach this year and is on the schedule for next year as well!

The ten participants in his class this past weekend were the winners for having registered for his class.  His rapport with students of all skill levels is something to behold.  He is down-to-earth and wonderfully personable.  It was fun to have Chef Chris in my kitchen. 

He is the first visiting chef to include a cocktail hour (complete with a signature cocktail) with his class.  Chris’ was the Donnie Draper Cocktail made from his housemade bitters and sassafras syrup.  This was a smooth libation and so tasty you’ll want to drive to Hot and Hot to try it for yourself.  It’s got a kick, so plan for a designated driver.  And, as it’s dove season, he also treated us to doves harvested the day before, and what a treat they were!

If you missed his class this year, call now to register for his class next year, July 28-29, 2013.  Classes for the 2013 Southern Chefs Series are already filling up.  If you want a chance to learn from Chris and any of the other outstanding chefs, call the Inn at Serenbe today to reserve your spot, 770 463 2610.

In the meantime, try Chris’ outstanding recipe for shrimp gazpacho with lemon oil.  It is refreshing and satisfying. 

Chris Hastings’ Shrimp Gazpacho with Lemon Oil

This is our Southern take on a classic Spanish soup.  Because it is always served cold, it is a light and refreshing meal for a sultry Southern day. You can substitute jumbo lump blue crabmeat for the shrimp, if you prefer.  Many good olive oil companies also produce lemon oil in which the olives are pressed with fresh lemons, creating fragrant, flavorful oil. Lemon oil adds a bright, rich quality to this soup.

Serves 6; about 6 cups

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, about 3 to 4 medium tomatoes

1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber

1/2 cup finely diced zucchini

1/2 cup finely diced yellow squash

1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced tomato

1/2 cup seeded and finely diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup seeded and finely diced yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup finely diced Poblano pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

26 large (21 to 25 count) cooked, peeled, and diced fresh shrimp, about 1 pound

12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons lemon oil

Slice each of the tomatoes into 4 quarters. Place the tomatoes in a food mill and turn until all of the juice is extracted. You will need about 2 cups of the fresh tomato juice. Discard the tomato seeds and peel. Alternatively, the tomatoes can be seeded, roughly chopped, and pureed in a food processor or blender. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and discard any solids. 

Combine the tomato juice and the next 9 ingredients (cucumber through vinegar) into a large bowl, stirring well to combine. Season the soup with the salt and pepper and stir in the diced shrimp. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the soup is well chilled. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish each serving with 1 teaspoon of the chopped basil and 1/2 tablespoon of lemon oil. Serve chilled.

Buen provecho.



September 2012



2013 Southern Chefs Series Lineup Announced!

Written by , Posted in Anne Quatrano, Hugh Acheson, Kevin Gillespie, Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Michel Nischan, Serenbe Farmhouse, Southern Chefs Series, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

The lineup of amazing Southern chefs for the 2013 Southern Chefs Series is sure to interest foodies from the region – and beyond!  Registrations are being accepted now for the coming year’s Southern Chefs Series, and we’ve made it bigger and better than ever!  Twelve of the South’s best chefs will be cooking in my kitchen, and I want you to be part of the fun! 

It’s been difficult keeping this under wraps for the past few weeks as dates and chefs were confirmed; I’m so happy to be able to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.  

One of the best parts of the coming series is that all the proceeds will go to a seed fund to help establish additional Wholesome Wave chapters in our region.  Wholesome Wave Georgia, launched in 2009, is going strong, and Wholesome Wave founder Chef Michel Nischan’s goal is to establish additional Southern chapters.  Your participation in the Chefs Series will help achieve this important goal.  

Wholesome Wave’s mission is to improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities.  Doing so creates economic viability through local food commerce that can rebuild our nation’s food system.  Wholesome Wave, a national 501(c)(3) organization, partners with farm-to-retail venues, community leaders, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and government entities to implement programs that benefit both consumers in underserved communities and the farmers who provide for them. 

The organization reaches over 28 states, working with more than 60 community-based organizations that manage more than 300 farm-to-retail venues and impact nearly 2,500 farmers.  Wholesome Wave’s innovative programs address issues of food insecurity, farm viability, economic vitality of local communities, and diet-related diseases.

To read more about the exciting chefs, with links to their websites, please visit the 2013 Southern Chefs Series button on the Inn at Serenbe’s website.  Registration is $650/participant and includes Sunday afternoon/evening class with dinner, overnight stay at the Inn, and Monday late morning class with lunch.  Classes are limited to 10 participants.  Historically, the series sells out quickly, so register today!

To register, please call the Inn at 770 463 2610.  

For more on Wholesome Wave and their programs, please visit their website

I look forward to cooking with you in the coming year.



July 2012



Catching the Wholesome Wave

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Serenbe Farms, Wholesome Wave Georgia

I have been encouraging you to attend this year’s Southern Chefs Potluck on August 5, benefitting Wholesome Wave Georgia, and there’s more to the story than just the delicious food, fun fellowship, and over-the-top auction items.  It’s important to share the broader story of the good this organization is doing in our great state and in states across the country.

Rows of organic produce at Serenbe Farms
Wholesome Wave programs, in 28 states and the District of Columbia, improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

Because they say it so well, following are the mission and vision statements from the national Wholesome Wave website. 
Wholesome Wave’s mission is to improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities. Doing so creates economic viability through local food commerce that can rebuild our nation’s food system.

Our vision is to help lead the way in developing a more vibrant and equitable food system for everyone by fostering stronger relationships between local and regional agriculture and under-served individuals from both urban and rural communities.

Closer to home, “Wholesome Wave Georgia (WWG) believes that all Georgians should have access to good, wholesome and locally grown food.  Our goal is to increase access to good food for all Georgians while contributing to the local food economy.  By doubling each federal or state nutrition benefit (SNAP, WIC, SFMNP) dollar spent at our partner markets, we leverage existing government food nutrition programs to encourage shopping at local farmers markets.

Fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes
The execution of the Wholesome Wave Georgia program is very simple: Every nutrition benefit dollar spent at a WWG partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper and for the farmer.  This means more money for farmers and that more Georgians gain access to good, wholesome and locally grown food.”

Perhaps armed with this information, you now have a better understanding of why the Southern Chefs Potluck is an important event for our state.  I hope you’ll join me on August 5.  Together, we can do great things for all Georgians. 

Purchase your ticket today for the Southern Chefs Potluck 

Chef Linton Hopkins and me
Tune in to CBS during the 9:00 a.m. hour this Friday, August 3, to Better Mornings Atlanta.  Chef Linton Hopkins and I will be doing a segment on Sunday’s Southern Chefs Potluck.



May 2012



Southern Chef Series at Serenbe Returns

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series

This year marks the third full season of the Serenbe Southern Chef Series.  Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House returned to my kitchen on January 15 and 16 to instruct 10 enthusiastic students in the preparation and presentation of such Southern favorites as gumbo, creamed baby greens with brown butter, the perfect roasted chicken, bananas foster, and chocolate pot de crème.  Chef Linton might just be the region’s most enthusiastic chef!  He and Hugh Acheson, another Serenbe Southern Chef Series participant, were just honored with the James Beard regional chef award for the Southeast region.  Receiving this honor is akin to earning an Oscar.  Congratulations to Linton and Hugh.

It’s great fun to have these chefs in my kitchen and to break bread with them, Serenbe residents, and visitors, who, by the end of the class, are new friends.  
Bon appétit. 

Chef Linton’s Chocolate Pot de Crème

For 6


2 c      heavy cream

½ c     half & half

5 oz     dark chocolate (75% works great)

6         egg yolks

1/3 c  granulated sugar


Heat oven to 325°F.

Bring cream and milk just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth.

Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool 10 minutes, skimming any foam from surface.

Divide custard mixture among six 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Cover each with foil. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove from water. Remove foil. Chill custards until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead.) Cover and keep chilled.




January 2010



Two Days With Linton

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, serenbe, Southern Chef Series

What could be more fun for a Southern foodie than spending 2 days with one of it’s most passionate champions? It was such a pleasure to have Linton Hopkins (Restaurant Eugene and Holeman and Finch) in my kitchen this past Sunday and Monday. He shared not only some of his delicious recipes with us but his extraordinary knowledge about Southern food and it’s history. Stories about sorghum syrup and broken rice, tracing back the origins of some Southern foods.

And then the passion split over into the dishes he came to teach the participants. Braised Beef Short Ribs with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Sautéed Serenbe Farms Spicy Collards, Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Pecan Butter. For lunch Monday, sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with a country ham broth and wild mushrooms. Linton taught the fine art of how to build a salad and stuff deviled eggs (no boundaries- let your imagination go). We finished with Panna Cotta with Coca Cola Cranberry Chutney.
     Then time with Linton- no pretense, no “rock star” attitude. Just sitting around the table in the good old Southern tradition talking about things you love- good food and friends.

                                It was a delicious time in so many ways.

See my next posting for Linton’s gnudi recipe.



January 2010



Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Wild Mushrooms and Country Ham Broth

Written by , Posted in Linton Hopkins, Recipe Articles

  • 1 fresh sheep’s milk ricotta cheese
  • 1  large egg
  • 1/3 c  finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp  salt
  • 3/4 c  all purpose flour plus additional for coating
1)    Drain ricotta for 24 hours to pull out whey

2)     Mix all and let rest for one hour

3)     Roll into small balls, dust with flour and reserve

4)     Heat salted water to a boil and boil gnudi for 1 and a half minutes. Place immediately into ice water to chill.

5)  When cold remove from water and coat with a small amount of olive oil, reserve

Wild Mushroom Saute
  •  2  c  mixed cleaned mushrooms (morels, chanterelles, porcini, wood ears) Use as many types as you would like or just one or two. Cultivated mushrooms work fine, they are just not as flavorful.
  • 1 ea. shallot, minced
  • 1 ea. lemon, zest
  • 4 tbl  unsalted butter
  • ½ c   chicken stock
  • 3 tbl chopped italian parsley
1)   Cut mushrooms into shapes which highlight their variety, Morels are good if split lengthwise and chanterelles if small enough are great whole.  Porcini are good sliced.

2)    Heat butter over medium high heat until foamy, add shallot and sweat for 1 to 2 min.

3)    Add mushrooms in order of density and desired cooking time (they will cook at different rates)

4)     When all mushrooms are in, bring heat to high and add stock. Reduce till glazed on mushrooms.

5)     Season well with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add parsley and reserve.

Country Ham Broth
  • 1 qt  chicken stock no salt added
  • 1 oz  country ham scraps, including fat
  • 1 ea  shallot sliced
  • 1 ea  bay leaf
  • 1 tsp  sorghum syrup
1)     Heat ham scraps over high heat until just colored.

2)     Add onions and cook one min, add sorghum then bay leaf and stock.

3)     Cook for 20 min at a simmer.

4)     Strain and reduce by half, reduce.

Gnudi, Mushrooms and Broth


1)    Heat a few tbl of oil in thick bottomed pan.
2)   Add gnudi and sauté till colored on two sides and warm throughout.
3)   Divide into 6 bowls.

4)    Top with mushrooms and pour over broth.

5)    Shave parmigiano over the top.

Serves 6



January 2010



Getting ready for Linton

Written by , Posted in "holman and finch", Linton Hopkins, serenbe

Our cousin Caroline and her husband Steve took Steve and I to dinner last night to celebrate my 50th birthday. In anticipation of Linton’s upcoming weekend for the Southern Chef Series, I chose Holman & Finch. What an amazing meal!

Whenever I go out to eat, I usually make a meal of appetizers as I feel they are more interesting and creative compared to the main dishes. The beauty of H & F is all the plates are like the appetizer section- all creative and many are very unusual. And everything is suggested to share- another favorite food activity of mine. (It is a Nygren family tradition when the 5 of us go out to eat that we rotate plates around the table so everyone gets a taste!)

Every dish last night was delicious…… Fish & Chips, Steak Tartare, Fried Oysters, Skate Wing with Fennel, Brussel Sprouts with Benton’s Ham, Roasted Haruki Turnips, Watermelon Radish salad, and Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding cake.

We shared it all and cleaned our plates. I was sopping up the sauces with H & F’s fabulous bread. Every time I eat there it reconfirms what I read in a recent article that one of Atlanta chef’s favorite places to eat when they go out is H & F. And as we were finishing our dinner, Steve’s partner from his Peasant restaurant days, Bob Amick was coming in for dinner with his family. Linton knows his stuff!

It should be a fun filled and delicious class this weekend. I am personally looking forward to making the gnocchi!

There is one opening left if you would like to join Linton in my kitchen with 9 other guests. Call 770.463.2610 for reservations.

**photo by James Camp



December 2009



Southern Chef Series with Linton Hopkins

Written by , Posted in inn at serenbe, Linton Hopkins, marie nygren, Southern Chef Series

I am very excited about our second event in our Southern Chef Series.

Our first of the series with Nathalie Dupree was such a great experience and I am so looking forward to having Chef Linton Hopkins here in my kitchen and sharing that time with an intimate group of guests.

We are welcoming Chef Linton Hopkins on January 24 & 25 to our community of Serenbe.

Spend time in the kitchen and at the dining table with Chef Linton Hopkins, learning to create some of his favorite dishes and hearing stories of his culinary history and passion for good, local food.  This small group experience takes place in my home and at the Inn at Serenbe. 

Linton Hopkins is the chef/owner of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, has competed on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” is a two-time James Beard Award Nominee, and was crowned on of Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2009. He is also proprietor of Holeman & Finch and H&F Bread Co in Atlanta.

For details and reservations, call 770.463.2610. I look forward to you joining us.