Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

marie nygren



March 2014



Cooking Chicken for Paul Hawken

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Miscellaneous, Recipe Articles, serenbe

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Years ago, when the Serenbe community was still a dream, the first person Steve and I told about it was our dear friend Ray Anderson. Ray was the founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial modular floor coverings, and one of the first CEOs in the world to make corporate sustainability his mission. When we told Ray our plan, he said: “You’re crazy, you have to do this and I’m going to do everything I can do help you.”

Ray connected us with so many people who helped inform and shape our vision, and one of them was Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, author and one of the world’s foremost leaders on sustainability. Paul wrote The Ecology of Commerce; Growing A Business; Natural Capitalism; and Blessed Unrest: How The Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being And Why No One Saw It Coming. Paul has affected world change with his books, and when he speaks I’m so taken with his passion for the environment.

So when he called and asked me to get a group of influential women together who could potentially become investors in a new hair color product he was working on, I said yes. It was my way of repaying the favor Ray had done for us all those years ago.

Paul stayed at Serenbe for three days. One night he presented his product and the next day he was spoke at our first Creative Changemaker Series. But on that first night, we had a private dinner for him with the members of Steve’s Biophilic Institute group. I found whole chickens from a farm in South Georgia at Fern’s Market, roasted them and served them with the feet and everything.

Fresh chickens vary, but this free-range and scratch fed, which means it was lean and very delicate, not big and moist like chickens you might find in the grocery store. I served it with sautéed cabbage and roasted okra on the side.

Before he left, Paul said, “Marie’s, as long as you’re cooking, I’ll come back anytime.”

Roasted Whole Chicken
  • 1 whole chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh lemon

Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, salt and pepper. Take whole sprigs of fresh thyme and put it into the cavity of the bird and under the skin of its breast.

Roast it at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. When it’s done, let the meat rest a bit and squeeze fresh lemon juice all over it before cutting into small pieces and serving.



April 2013



Chef Andrea Reusing Visits Serenbe

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

On a recent spring weekend, the Southern Chefs Series welcomed Chef Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill’s Lantern Restaurant to my kitchen.  What a weekend it was!


One of the most exciting aspects of the series for me is the exposure to the many talented chefs and the range of menus, flavors, and experiences they bring to their class.  It’s such a joy to have the opportunity to try different types of cuisine in an intimate class setting.  Sometimes we “travel” to other regions of the country through a guest chef’s chosen menu, and other times, I feel as though we boarded a plane and landed in an exotic locale.  We traveled far with Andrea and what a culinary journey it was!

Chef Andrea enjoying class.

Chef Andrea enjoying class.

Andrea’s menu was inspired and clever.  On Sunday afternoon, we prepared and then enjoyed warm paneer, kombacha and date salad with red watercress, vadouvan shrimp with spicy carrot puree and cardamon rice, and Louisiana tangerine sorbet with candied kumquat.  In Monday’s class, we prepared and happily consumed all night pot-au-fen (French beef stew) with spring vegetables in broth and crushed strawberry mess (see recipe below).

Kombacha and date salad with red watercress - it's gorgeous!

Kombacha and date salad with red watercress – it’s gorgeous!

We are having a fabulous time with each guest chef in the 2013 expanded Southern Chefs Series.  There are still spaces available in future classes.  Proceeds from this year’s series benefit Wholesome Wave.  Visit the Inn at Serenbe online for information on upcoming classes and call the Inn to register for Southern Chefs Series classes, 770 463 2610.

Crushed Strawberry Mess, Delicious!

Crushed Strawberry Mess, Delicious!

Crushed Strawberry Mess

Serves 4

For the meringue:
3 egg whites from jumbo eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
a pinch of kosher salt

For the strawberries:
About 25 very ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
3 to 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar, or to taste
2 pinches of kosher salt

For the cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar or honey, or to taste
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds removed by scraping with a sharp knife

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with half the sugar at medium speed until they are foamy.  Beat in the remaining sugar, the cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.  Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment to form 12 to 14 mounds, and bake for 30 minutes.  Continue to bake for an additional hour with the oven door slightly ajar.  When done, the meringues will be crisp and dry on the outside and tender and fluffy within.  (Serve within 4 hours.)

Place the strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the sugar and salt.  Crush them with a potato masher or large fork until they are juicy and a spoonable consistency but still chunky.  Let the strawberries sit for 15 minutes before serving.

In the meantime, combine the cream, the sugar or honey, and the vanilla seeds and pulp in a medium bowl (save the vanilla pod for another use).  With a whisk or an electric mixer, whip the cream until it is thickened and softly set but not firm.  Whip the yogurt and fold together.

To serve, arrange the meringues, strawberries and juice, and the cream in layers on a platter or individual plates.



March 2013



Women Cook Everywhere

Written by , Posted in marie nygren

I had to keep this quiet for some months, but I can now announce that the fabulous publication Where Women Cook included the story of my journey with food in their spring 2013 edition, which is now on newsstands or available for purchase online.  You should find the magazine locally at Costco, Barnes and Noble, Jo-Ann’s, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.

Last October, the engaging Jo Packham, creator and editor-in-chief of Where Women Cook, Where Women Create, and Where Women Create Business, and Dana Waldon, a talented photographer, visited Serenbe for the photo shoot.

We had a great time both in the kitchen as I prepared garlic shrimp and grits with greens and while walking the garden.  Now that the issue is out, I can sing Jo’s praises for the outstanding publications she produces for and about women!


I am humbled to have been included in Where Women Cook and hope you will enjoy the issue as much as I have been relishing it.  Nine other women are featured, hailing from Washington (state), Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, California, New York, and Mexico.  I think you’ll be intrigued by their stories and inspired to make the many and varied recipes included in the spring edition.

Here’s to women everywhere for the many reasons we take pride and pleasure in cooking!



March 2013



All Eyes on Chef Anne Quatrano

Written by , Posted in Anne Quatrano, marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series, Star Provisions, The Inn at Serenbe

Oh, the thrill…The Southern Chefs Series‘ February guest chef was Anne Quatrano.  I adore Anne, queen of Star Provisions, Bacchanalia, Abattoir, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Floataway Cafe, and Summerland Farms.  Chef Anne graced this past weekend’s class with her wit, stories, tips and techniques, and infinite wisdom.
The 10 class participants held on her every word and eagerly tested their new or refined skills in the preparation of two sumptuous meals.  Dinner featured a salad of winter citrus, radish, fennel, Caramont Farm Esmontonian cheese, and Summerland Farms microgreens; pan-seared halibut, green garlic, greens, fine herbs, and preserved Meyer lemon; quail with heirloom grains, roasted mushrooms, and preserved pears; chocolate souffle with chantilly cream; and madeleines.  Lunch was a feast of celery root soup, pickled Vidalia onion, and pesto; peeky toe crab toast (see recipe below); winter lettuces with pecan, apple, lemon, and olive oil; and ginger cookies.

I am invigorated in the presence of Anne and always learn something new from her.  By the buzz in my kitchen, I think the others felt the same.  There was great energy and camaraderie among the group.

The beauty of the Southern Chefs Series classes is participants get to learn from the best of the South’s best in a casual, intimate setting.  We work together to create delicious and memorable meals and leave knowing we can recreate these meals in our own kitchens. The featured chefs are down-to-earth people who make preparing great food approachable for every level of cook.

What are you waiting for?  Join us this year for what Forbes lists as 1 of 5 Foodie Fantasy Camps.  Call the Inn at Serenbe today to register, 770 463 2610.

Chef Anne Quatrano’s Peeky Toe Crab Toast

Serves 4

4 thick slices sourdough bread
1/2 pound peeky toe crab meat (may substitute lobster for crab if desired)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for brushing bread
Black pepper
1 tablespoon spicy mayonnaise
Fresh herbs

Brush each side of the bread with olive oil and toast under the broiler or on a grill.  Pick through the crab meat to ensure there are no shells; try to retain the large pieces of crab.  Toss the crab with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Top each slice of toast with crab.  Put small dots of spicy mayonnaise on top of the crab and garnish with the freshly picked herbs.



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.



December 2012



Farmhouse Dining – Holiday Style

Written by , Posted in farmhouse, marie nygren

Earlier in the week, I shared with you my stress relievers.  For some, the idea of preparing holiday meals brings on undue anxiety.  I invite you to leave the cooking to us at the Farmhouse for Christmas Day lunch and New Year’s Eve dinner.

Holiday Menus at the Farmhouse

Christmas 2012

Lunch served from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm

Farmhouse Garden Lettuces with Granny Smith Apples, Pecans, Dried Cranberries, and Cranberry Vinaigrette – or – Serenbe Farms Sweet Potato Soup

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Onion Sauce, Serenbe Farms Roasted Carrots, Serenbe Farms Cabbage with Apples and Sorghum Gastrique, and Grits Soufflé


Apple Caramel Cake – or – Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie

New Year’s Eve 2012

Dinner served from 6:00 pm to 10:00

Sweet Onion Veloute, Country Ham and Poached Golden Raisins 
– or – Lobster Salad with Serenbe Farms Radishes, Potato Crisp, and Tarragon Vinaigrette

Gulf Coast Fish with Parsnip Puree, Roasted Parsnips, Serenbe Farms Chard, Pecans, and House-made Bacon – or – Rocking Chair Ranch Braised Short Ribs with Potato Puree, Serenbe Farms Collards, Red Onion Marmalade, and Beef Jus
Grapefruit Ginger Granita

Champagne Crème Brûlée

Please call the Farmhouse at 770 463 2622 or visit us online at to make your reservations.
My very best wishes for safe, memorable, and festive holiday celebrations for you and yours.



November 2012



Farmhouse and Serenbe Happenings

Written by , Posted in Fern's Market, marie nygren, serenbe, Serenbe Farmhouse, Serenbe Playhouse, Serenbe Stables

This Weekend’s Dinner Menu at The Farmhouse

November 29 – December 1
Dinner served 6pm – 9pm

Farmhouse garden lettuces with Farmhouse garden radishes, bleu cheese, and herb vinaigrette – or – sweet potato soup with candied pecans


Stuffed chicken breast with Serenbe Farms cauliflower puree, Farmhouse garden swiss chard, and bacon – or – baked pork chops with Serenbe Farms cabbage, granny smith apples, Georgia peanuts, and apple cider jus

Apple turnovers with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce– or –
chocolate sticky toffee pudding
Visit the Farmhouse on line to make your reservation.
Come early and enjoy 2-for-1 happy hour from 4pm to 6pm.

There are many festive events in Serenbe, and you’re invited to participate:

  • Santa comes to Serenbe December 1, 8, and 15 for family (or individual) photos.  To ensure your special time with Santa, reservations are required and accepted by the Inn at Serenbe, 770 463 2610. 
  • Serenbe Playhouse’s holiday production, A Diva’s Christmas, will be held at the Hil in Serenbe on December 1 and in various venues throughout metro Atlanta during the month of December.  Visit Serenbe Playhouse on line for dates, times, and locations and to purchase tickets.
  • Purchase fresh Christmas trees, garland, and wreaths at Fern’sMarket on December 1 and 8.
  • Serenbe’s merchants offer wonderful goods and services. Fill your shopping needs in Serenbe. 
  • Find unique gifts from area artisans at the Holiday Bazaar in the Serenbe Stables December 14-16 (Dec 14, 3-7 pm; Dec 15 and 16, 11 am – 5 pm).
  • Unwind and enjoy a delicious meal at one of our eateries: The Farmhouse, the Hil, and the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop.




November 2012



Miller Union’s Steven Satterfield visits my kitchen

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Southern Chefs Series, Steven Satterfield

With my talented friend Steven Satterfield

This month, Steven Satterfield, of the acclaimed Atlanta restaurant Miller Union, graced my kitchen for the November installment of the Southern Chefs Series.  What a great time we had!  Steven is gracious, funny, interesting, and a consummate professional.  Oh, and how he debones a chicken, making it look effortless…crazy good.

From this…
Steven’s menu included wonderfully savory flavors one associates with autumn: grilled pork tenderloin with an apple cider vinegar basting sauce; roasted butternut squash and apples; farro and roots; bean salad in vinaigrette, featuring field peas and roma beans; a crispy salad tossed with a tangy Dijon mustard/champagne vinegar/ginger root dressing; griddled pastured chicken (see photos); a to-die-for potato, sweet potato and sunchoke salad; and roasted pepper and eggplant soup (recipe follows). 

…in process…
to this…in preparation for several dishes
We chopped, diced, and roasted to our heart’s content, and the results were outstanding.  It’s impossible, really, to fully describe the complexity of the flavors.  Suffice it to say, we are excited that Steven will be returning for the expanded 2013 Southern Chef’s Series. In the coming year, he’ll be our June chef. I’m already looking forward to experiencing an early summer menu of Steven’s.  I know we will be equally impressed and completely sated after those meals. 

From this…

to this…it was as good as it looks
Please enjoy Steven’s soup with its subtle hint of heat and savory goodness.  You’ll want to serve this soup with a crusty loaf of bread so you can soak up every drop…it’s that good.

Steven Satterfield’s Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Soup

Oven roast 2 large or three small whole eggplant; cool, peel

Oven roast 4 large or 6 small peppers; cool, peel, reserve liquid

Oven roast 3 fresh tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme sprigs; cool, peel

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 small or 1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 hot pepper, seeded

¼ cup local honey

2 quarts chicken stock

kosher salt

black pepper

smoked paprika

Heat butter and olive oil in a soup pot and add onions, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Sweat until translucent.  Add roasted vegetables, stock, and remaining ingredients.  Simmer 30-45 minutes and taste for seasoning.  Remove bay leaf and blend until smooth.  Serve hot in individual bowls.  Garnish with smoked paprika and drizzle with olive oil. 

Some members of our class with Steven
Happy Thanksgiving to all.



November 2012



Giving thanks

Written by , Posted in Fern's Market, marie nygren, Serenbe Community, Serenbe Farms, Steve Nygren, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

As we enter the holiday season, I find it important to pause and consider all that I have to be thankful for and what is truly important.  The “things” in life, while nice and very often convenient, are just that – things.  I am grateful for the blessings that have been bestowed on me, my family, and the many wonderful people with whom I associate both personally and professionally.

Toasting our exceptional Inn and Farmhouse staff
Steve and I are blessed to live in a forward-thinking community of caring and compassionate people in an environment that harkens back to villages of the past.  Serenbe is really such a study in contrasts. We employ all the latest in building technology and comforts here, but our community is based on old English hamlets from centuries ago.  
One of Serenbe’s resident goats
In Serenbe, we pick up our mail from central locations, walk to unique shops and restaurants on unpaved paths through meadows and woods, watch live theatre productions in the open air, and have the option to purchase local food products from our farmers market and community grocer

From the first time Steve and I saw this property, now known as Serenbe, we knew we had come “home.”  It feels as though we were entrusted with ensuring this beautiful piece of land was preserved and protected in ways not imagined by developers of previous decades.  Learning to be good stewards of the land has been humbling, sometimes trying, but always joyful. 

Steve and me with our daughters Garnie, Quinn, and Kara
I am particularly thankful to have my three beautiful and interesting daughters living nearby.  There is no joy greater than to be surrounded by family and dear friends.  I also appreciate having a satisfying career and outstanding staff with whom to work – these enrich my life. 

During this time of Thanksgiving, may you also pause to consider your blessings. 



October 2012



2013 Southern Chefs Series classes filling up – register today

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Southern Chefs Series, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe, Wholesome Wave

2013 Southern Chefs Series classes filling up – register today

Chef Chris Hastings
and “students”

The 2013 Southern Chefs Series is attracting attention, and classes are filling up. To date, three classes are sold out, with others nearing capacity.  If you want to work side-by-side with the bestchefs in the South, many of whom are James Beard Foundation awarded chefs, you’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity and register now! 

January 20-21, Linton Hopkins, Georgia

February 24-25, Anne Quatrano, Georgia

March 24-25, Andrea Reusing, North Carolina

Chef Kevin Gillespie

April 14-15, Sean Brock, South Carolina

May 19-20, Hugh Acheson, Georgia

June 23-24, Steven Satterfield, Georgia

July 28-29, Chris Hastings, Alabama

August 25-26, John Besh, Louisiana

September 29-30, Tyler Brown, Tennessee

October 27-28, Kevin Gillespie, Georgia

November 10-11, Johnny Currence, Mississippi

December 1-2, me! Marie Nygren, Georgia with

Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan, Connecticut

Chefs Series participants busy at work
Chef Michel Nischan

Proceeds from the coming year’s classes will go to a seed fund to establish additional Wholesome Wave chapters.  Wholesome Wave Georgia, launched in 2009, is going strong, and Wholesome Wave founder Chef Michel Nischan’s goal is to establish additional Southern chapters.   

Wholesome Wave improves access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to historically underserved communities.  Wholesome Wave programs benefit consumers and the farmers who provide for them. 

One of their innovative programs is the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP), which matches the value of a consumers federal nutrition benefits (i.e. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], formerly Food Stamps) when used to purchase fresh, healthy, local produce at participating farmers markets. 

Chef Anne Quatrano and Star Provisions
cheese monger Tim Gaddis

Every SNAP dollar spent at a Wholesome Wave partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper andthe farmer.  DVCP consumers realize health benefits, and farmers reap the economic benefit.  Wholesome Wave programs impact the economy and the health and well-being of the communities and consumers they serve.  

To register for Chefs Series classes, please call the Inn at Serenbe at 770 463 2610.  

See you in my kitchen!