Today’s Entertaining With feature has us flush with emotion. As a Camille Styles intern, Cara Greenstein rocked our worlds with her love of everything food, and her knack for whipping up culinary creations in a flash. Fast forward just a few short years, and our little grasshopper has moved back to her hometown of Memphis, where she’s quickly made a name for herself as a bonafide foodie, and the author behind Caramelized Blog. Click through to see her gorgeous (yet totally approachable) take on a southern brunch, and be sure to bookmark her mouth-watering recipes for your next laid back weekend gathering…
Cara heads out to a nearby farmer’s market to source everything needed for a fresh, laid back brunch. The flowers and produce from Whitten Farms never disappoint.
Your must-have entertaining tool:
A bouquet of blooms and my large wood cutting board — the multifunctional canvas for prep or final presentation.
A small bloom and greenery are used to embellish a crisp all-white place setting.
What’s on the menu this morning?
- Tennessee Whiskey Peach Smash Cocktail
- Green Tomato & Lump Crab Benedict with Arugula Pesto
- Mini Buttermilk Biscuits
- Local Peaches
- Cold Brew Coffee
Your signature entertaining dish:
I let the season guide my signatures, so I lean into the challenge of choosing ingredients first to inspire a recipe. During these piping hot weeks on the Mississippi River, it’s a bright arugula salad with peaches and ricotta, or simple seafood with olive oil and sea salt.
The taste you’re always craving:
Eggs. Whether poached, fried or scrambled, I crave their simplicity and additive role to any dish I’m preparing.
The perfect party playlist includes:
Avett Brothers and Fleetwood Mac; though after seeing Taylor Swift live earlier this summer, I wouldn’t mind a few 1989 hits.
Always in my refrigerator:
Flat-leaf parsley, eggs, 2-3 cheeses, peaches from the next-door farmers market, Chardonnay and Le Croix
The entertaining rule I rarely break:
Southern hospitality above all else. It’s the key to a memorable and meaningful gathering, especially in Tennessee.
What (if anything) scares you about entertaining?
I feel the pressure for perfection when my name is on the hostess line. I choose to not play it safe, but rather, prepare low-maintenance dishes that highlight ingredients and present themselves effortlessly.
*I just perfected oven-baked poached eggs for the mini benedict. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and fill each muffin tin cup with a tablespoon of water and a gently cracked egg. Bake for 12 minutes, until whites are set but yolks are runny! Perfect for a crowd.
Current favorite color palette for parties:
Bright white with rustic flourishes. Fresh ingredients naturally add the pop of color, especially against crisp white Paper & Clay ceramics.
Your standard hostess outfit:
White flowy top, ripped jeans, and cowboy boots. I swear they’re more comfortable than slippers!
Cara’s guest Brit McDaniel handmade each dish and mug used at brunch. When it comes to setting a gorgeous table, nothing beats one-of-a-kind ceramics.
The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:
I’ve captured spectacular culinary moments of over one hundred restaurants on Caramelized, though nothing beats the Italian escape of Manhattan’s original Il Mulino. The dim house lights charged me to savor each course through reminiscent memory rather than an iPhone lens. Light-as-air gnocchi, squid ink linguini with lobster, and veal piccata standouts were shared among my family and boyfriend with full-bodied glasses of red. You could taste the passion behind each bite.
My dream dinner guests:
Kate Middleton, Jeni Britton Bauer (of Jeni’s Ice Creams), and the Bon Appetît magazine editors.
*pictured here: Cara and interior designer Ashley York Binkley share a laugh over cold brew coffee.
My entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Refreshing, simple and seasonal