Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

The Inn at Serenbe



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



Mother’s Day at the Farmhouse

Written by , Posted in Serenbe Farmhouse, The Inn at Serenbe

It’s not too early to make plans for Mother’s Day 2013.  Treat the caring mothers in your life to a day or weekend in the country.  The Inn at Serenbe provides comfortable and indulgent accommodations, and there are limitless opportunities for recreation and relaxation for the day or the weekend while visiting Serenbe.

Mother’s Day Menu at the Farmhouse
May 12, 2013 | 11:30am-7pm

Mixed Lettuces with Pickled Red Onion, Radish,
Feta Cheese, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Farmhouse Famous Fried Chicken, or
Seared Trout

Grits Souffle
Garlic Green Beans
Black Eyed Pea Salad

Lemon Pound Cake with Minted Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Please call the Farmhouse at (770) 463-2622 or visit us online at to make your dining reservations. For Inn at Serenbe accommodations, please call (770) 463-2610.



March 2013



This Week at the Farmhouse

Written by , Posted in Serenbe Farmhouse, Serenbe Playhouse, The Inn at Serenbe

Spring is here, and Easter is only days away!  We have a delicious menu planned for this week and a special menu for Easter.

Join us for dinner |  March 28-30, 6-9pm

Butternut Squash Soup, or
Serenbe Farms Mixed Greens with Apples, Pecans, Pickled Shallots, Goat Cheese, and Sorghum Vinaigrette

Flat Iron Steak with Horseradish Potato Puree, Kale, and Bearnaise Sauce,
Seared Salmon with Serenbe Farms Sunchoke Puree, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Asparagus, or
Margaret’s Cheese Souffle with Horseradish Potato Puree, Kale, and Bearnaise Sauce

Banana Pudding Panna Cotta, or
Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Visit Serenbe this Saturday for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, 11:30am-3pm, on the Inn at Serenbe’s croquet lawn.  Meet the Velveteen Rabbit, hunt for Easter eggs, enjoy face painting and storytelling, and meet our farm animals.  The $5/child admission benefits Serenbe Playhouse’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit, coming this summer.  While here, enjoy the Farmhouse’s famous fried chicken lunch, served from 11:30am until 3pm.

Dine with us on Easter Sunday | 11:30-7pm

Mixed Lettuces with Serenbe Farms Radishes, Scallions, Feta Cheese, and Mustard Vinaigrette

Fried Chicken, or
Baked Ham with Coca Cola Glaze

Horseradish Potato Salad
Sauteed Asparagus
Roasted Brown Sugar Carrots

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Call the Farmhouse at (770) 463-2622 or visit us online at to make reservations for the weekend.



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.



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.



December 2012



A Joy to work with

Written by , Posted in The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Inn at Serenbe

Allow me to introduce Joy Belyeu.  Since March 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joy at the Farmhouse.

She came to us with catering experience and readily learned the ways of a restaurant kitchen, becoming an invaluable member of the Farmhouse team.  If Betty Williams, our primary breakfast cook for Inn at Serenbe guests, is my right hand, Joy is the left, and both ladies know how I think.  As a result, whether I’m physically in the kitchen or not is of little concern when these women are on hand.

Joy is a talented cook of both sweet and savory dishes, which is not typical, as a good cook usually specializes in one or the other.  Joy expertly has worked all stations and is currently responsible for desserts at the Farmhouse.  She also has a knack for “tweaking” a recipe, knowing instinctively what ingredient is needed to achieve the desired result.

I think of Joy as the heart and Betty (see September 25, 2012 post) the soul of the Farmhouse and Inn kitchens, respectively, and would be lost without them.  I feel blessed to have an outstanding staff.
Joy is the proud mother of four daughters, two of whom work with us at the Farmhouse.  If you’d like to meet Joy for yourself, you’ll find her at the restaurant Thursdays through Saturdays for our dinner service. 

Congratulations to The Inn at Serenbe for being named a readers’ pick in the “Best Guest Accommodations” category of Lifestyles magazine’s Winter 2012 “Best of 2012” issue.  

A standing ovation to Serenbe Playhouse for being named a readers’ pick in the “Best Place to See a Play” category.




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. 



November 2012



What an Afternoon in the Country it was!

Written by , Posted in Blue Eyed Daisy, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Recipe Articles, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Hil, The Inn at Serenbe

The Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’EscoffierInternational held its 12th annual Afternoon in the Country fundraising event here in Serenbe on November 4th.  It was a spectacular afternoon! We enjoyed glorious fall weather, and the sold out crowd (numbering over 1,800) kept the energy high all afternoon.  The who’s who of the Atlanta metro area’s hospitality industry were on hand serving delicious food and thirst-quenching libations to the guests. 

This was a special year for me in that I was invited to join the ranks of Les Dames as a member this summer.  As well, I participated in the event with my restaurant The Farmhouse.  At our table, we served Serenbe Farms collard slaw (recipe below) and the Farmhouse’s now famous fried chicken.  Serenbe’s other eateries, the Hil and the Blue Eyed Daisy, were also participants.  It’s rewarding to have Serenbe fully represented at this event. 

Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction raised nearly $100,000 and benefitted the Les Dames’ scholarship fund, Wholesome Wave, and Georgia Organics.

A highlight of the afternoon is always the cake raffle; this year’s raffle did not disappoint. Beautifully decorated and uncommonly delicious cakes from the areas best bakers garnered much attention. 

For many Serenbe residents, Afternoon in the Country is the event they most enjoy.  The audible buzz of conversation and laughter confirms this is many people’s favorite event. 

For those of us on the serving side of the tables, it’s an afternoon of constant activity – an invigorating and exhausting day.  When the event wraps up, I’m equally happy for the chance to sit down and sad that we have to wait another year for it to happen again!  We are so fortunate to be the host locale for this terrific event.  I hope you’ll join us next year.

The Farmhouse’s Collard Slaw

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

¼ cup wild honey

½ teaspoon dry mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together. 


4 cups raw collard greens, washed, destemmed, and julienned

1 cup carrot, shredded

1 cup radish, shredded

½ cup honeycrisp apple, diced

¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced

¼-½ cup peanuts, chopped

Place all slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the chopped peanuts.  Serve and enjoy. 



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!