Sensational Southern Seafood

With Famous Author Nathalie Dupree

ND HeaderImage 
June 2019 Issue

by Logan Cherry & Lindsay Gifford
Recipes, Information & Photos provided by Nathalie Dupree and Gibbs Smith Publishing

Seafood tastes different in the South. It’s no rumor the shrimp is pinker, oysters juicier and fish flakier. Some attribute this to the magic of the South’s brackish water, or because it’s prepared using recipes passed down through generations. With sensational seafood in mind, we went to revered cookbook author and guru, Nathalie Dupree for a tasty peek at her Southern cuisine. We were lucky enough to interview Nathalie, who speaks with the unwavering voice of an expert, “Our seafood is just better. There’s no other way to describe it, it’s taste all the way. Fish are what they eat and here the shrimp just eat better things.”

Nathalie has become a household name for elevating the type of southern food we’ve grown up smelling in Grandma’s kitchen. From fresh shrimp and grits—Nathalie’s favorite—to fluffy biscuits smothered with butter and jam, she’s found a way to capture the soul of southern cuisine and bundle it into 750+ recipes and 14 cookbooks. She welcomes young, old, experienced and greenhorns to fearlessly tie on an apron, roll up their sleeves and get to it.

Despite her gift, Nathalie didn’t always consider being a chef, “You don’t wake up and say I have a talent for this,” she said. It wasn’t until she stepped in for the chef in her sophomore year college dorm that she unearthed a yearning. “You wake up and think gee, I love doing this, and I love feeding a crowd.” However, this realization was anything but easy. “I told my mother I wanted to be a chef, and she said, ‘Oh no, ladies don’t cook,’” Nathalie said, describing the culinary scene of the 60s.
 
It wasn’t until she and her husband (at the time) moved to London that she caught her second break, “I didn’t even know there were cooking schools…” the chef revealed. “I met this girl who was going to Cordon Bleu the next day, so I inquired ‘What is that?’ She said it’s a cooking school, so I showed up the next day.”

Nathalie reminisces of her attempts to re-create the recipes she learned at the school. “It was a mess,” she exclaimed. Thankfully, Nathalie stayed resilient, “I decided I didn’t want to be a lady anymore, I wanted to be a cook.” The “cook” has now been bestowed numerous awards, including the honor of “Grande Dame” for Les Dames d’Escoffier—an award for women who have excelled in the culinary field.

While Nathalie has traveled the world and grown to love cuisines like Spanish, Italian and French, there’s something that always pulls her back to southern food. “I think most of us want honest food,” she explained. “I like honest French and Italian food. It’s because they’re so close to the earth, and that’s what I also love about southern food.” Nathalie searches for honest fare that glorifies the fresh, local ingredients of the South and urges her followers to do the same. The recipes that follow are a small selection of the hundreds of her marvelous southern cuisine featured in her cookbooks Shrimp and Grits, Southern Biscuits, and Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking. And, a little birdie told us Nathalie has yet another cookbook in the works that will feature her favorite recipes of all time!  
To learn more about Nathalie Dupree, visit: www.nathaliedupree.com.


Quick Tomato-Bacon Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4ND ShrimpandGrits

½–¾ cup Grits
2 Tbsps Butter
6 strips Bacon, cut in ¼ inch slices
1 lb small raw Shrimp, peeled
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
3 Scallions, thinly sliced, white and
   green parts separated
¼ cup All-purpose flour
2 medium Tomatoes, peeled, seeded,
   and sliced into strips
1½ cups Half-and-Half or milk
Salt
Cayenne pepper or white pepper
Arugula, for garnish (optional)

This is my go-to recipe for a simple supper that is good enough for company. When it’s just my husband and myself, I reduce the quantity by half. It’s not necessary to be exact about this recipe, which makes it a good one to remember when time is of the essence.

Cook grits in 2–3 cups of boiling liquid according to package directions. Stir the butter into hot cooked grits.

Sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove ⅓ of the bacon, drain, and reserve as a garnish. Add the shrimp, garlic, and scallion whites to the remaining bacon and grease. Sauté until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the tomatoes and half-and-half or milk, stirring until incorporated. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Add the shrimp and season to taste with salt and cayenne or white pepper.

Divide the grits among four bowls, spoon over the shrimp and sauce, garnish with the scallion greens, arugula, and crumbled bacon, and serve.


Shrimp Burgers
Serves 4

1 lb Shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined    
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
2 Green onions, chopped           
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice             
Salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp Lemon rind, grated, no white attached    
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Creole seasoning (see pg. 51), optional    
2 Tbsp Oil, cook’s preference
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley, thyme, or lemon balm, chopped
1 cup Breadcrumbs (cornbread, cracker, or panko)
Cocktail Sauce, optional             
Tartar Sauce, optional

Chop shrimp roughly into¼ inch pieces and set aside. Combine onion, lemon juice, lemon rind, parsley, optional seasoning, and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Toss in the shrimp and breadcrumbs, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg. Mixture will still be loose.

Form shrimp mixture into four patties. Wrap patties in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

When ready to cook, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add burgers and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned on the underside. Use two spatulas to turn the burgers over, and continue cooking on the other side another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve on buns, with optional sauces if desired.

Variation: Cook burgers on the grill in a grill basket 4 to 5 minutes per side.


Baby Crab CakesND Crabcakes
Makes 16 crab cakes

1 lb lump Crabmeat, picked over and
   cleaned, all shell fragments removed
1 Egg white, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp All-purpose flour
2 Tbsps fresh Chives, finely chopped
1 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground
¼ tsp hot Red pepper, ground
2 tsps coarse Salt, divided  
3 Tbsps Butter, divided
3 tsps Oil, cook’s preference, divided
Lemon wedges, optional

Move the crabmeat to a large bowl and pour the egg white over the crabmeat in a slow stream, stopping occasionally to mix. When the crabmeat has absorbed the egg and feels slightly sticky to the touch, sift the flour over the crabmeat. Sprinkle with chives, peppers, and 1 tsp salt. Stir lightly from the bottom, but don’t overhandle.

Separate the crabmeat into 16 cakes by gently rolling each portion in a flattened palm. Gently press down to form the cake and move to a large plate. Sprinkle with remaining salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Melt half of the butter and half of the oil in a large skillet. Move 8 of the crab cakes to the hot fat and cook until a crust forms, about 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a thin metal or plastic spatula and cook another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and melt the remaining butter and oil. Cook remaining crab cakes in the same fashion. Serve hot with optional lemon wedges.


Bacon Shrimp and Grits Frittata
Serves 2ND Frittata

¾ cup hot cooked Grits
2 Tbsps Olive Oil, divided
1½ cups Red or yellow bell pepper,
     finely chopped
2–3 strips Bacon, cut into slices and
     cooked until crisp, or 1 slice
     smoked sausage chopped into
     ½-inch pieces
¼ lb medium raw Shrimp, peeled
5 large Eggs, lightly beaten
2–3 Scallions, white and green
     part, sliced
½ cup Sharp cheddar cheese,
     finely grated
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cayenne pepper
Salt

Spread the hot grits ½ inch thick on a nonstick baking sheet. Chill for at least 30 minutes. When ready to use, cut into ½ inch pieces. Preheat the broiler. On the stovetop, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a 9-inch broiler-proof nonstick frying pan or cast-iron skillet. Add the bell pepper and sauté briefly with the bacon or sausage and shrimp until the shrimp turn pink.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl with the scallions, cheddar, and Parmesan. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Stir in the bell pepper mixture and the pieces of grits.

Wipe out the pan if necessary. Add the remaining oil to the same frying pan, and when it is very hot but not smoking, pour in the egg mixture. Cook the frittata over medium heat, without stirring, for about 8 to 10 minutes. The center should be a little soft, and the edges will be set. Wrap the handle in a double thickness of aluminum foil to protect it, and put the frittata under the broiler for a few minutes, until golden on top. Let the frittata set in the pan a few minutes before sliding it onto a serving plate and cutting into wedges.


Roasted Fish Fillets with Creole Sauce and Pecans
Serves 4 to 6

6 (6 oz.) fresh Sea trout or mahi mahi
     fillets, bones reserved to make
     stock for sauce
Creole Seasoning (right)
2 large Eggs
1 cup Milk
2 cups All-purpose flour
½ cup Butter, melted
2 Tbsps Oil
Pecan Butter:
1 cup Pecans, roasted, chopped, divided
3 Tbsps Oil (cook’s preference)
¼ cup Butter
Juice of ½ Lemon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Hot sauce
1 recipe Creole Brown Fish Sauce
  (right )

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse and pat the fish dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the trout with the seasoning mixture. Lightly mix the eggs and milk together. Toss the flour on a plate with more Creole Seasoning to taste, and dredge the trout fillets with it, using only one hand and keeping the other clean. Dip each fillet in the egg wash and then dredge with the flour again.

Preheat a 9-inch ovenproof skillet and add ½ cup melted butter and oil. Heat the butter to foaming and add the fillets. Brown one side, then turn over and move the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the fillets, about 5 minutes, cooking in batches if necessary. Remove the skillet from the oven and set the hot trout aside on a warm platter.

Pecan Butter: Purée ½ cup pecans with oil in a blender or food processor. Add the butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce, and blend well. Brush the Pecan Butter over the trout; top with the remaining chopped pecans and the Creole Brown Fish Sauce.

Oven-Roasted Pecans: Toss the shelled pecans in enough melted butter or oil to just cling to the pecans. Spread the pecans evenly in a single layer on an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 350° oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the aroma starts to waft from the oven. The second you smell them, open the oven and test one. If it needs a little bit longer for the flavor to become complex and rich, and the pecan is, well, pecan-shell brown, shake the pan or stir quickly and return to the oven for no more than 1 minute. They roast very quickly, so be alert the entire time they are in the oven.

Browning on the stovetop in a nonstick pan is an alternative method. If roasting pecan pieces, be watchful, as they brown very quickly. Shake or stir over the heat for 2 to 3 minutes for small pieces, up to 5 minutes for pecan halves.

Creole Brown Fish Sauce:
13 Tbsps Butter, cut into pieces, divided
5 Tbsps All-purpose flour
1 cup Fish stock or brown stock or broth
2 Tbsps fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ Lemon

Melt 5 Tbsps of the butter and cook until it turns a rich brown color. Stir in flour and cook until pecan brown. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer. To finish the sauce, whisk in the remaining butter, parsley, and Worcestershire sauce, and without boiling, cook until the butter is completely absorbed into the sauce. Add lemon juice and whisk again until smooth

Creole Seasoning
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed with 1 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsps freshly ground Black pepper
2 Tbsps ground Hot red pepper
1 Tbsp dried Thyme
2 Tbsps Paprika

Mix the oregano, salt, garlic, peppers, thyme, and paprika together in a small bowl. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.


Glorious Seafood Stew

1 cup GritsND SeafoodStew
Water and Shrimp stock
1–2 tsps Saffron, soaked in
   ¼ cup wine or stock, divided
¼ cup Olive Oil
1½ large Onions cut into ½
   inch pieces
3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cup White wine
1 (12 oz.) can peeled Plum tomatoes,
   coarsely chopped
1 Bay leaf
Salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1–2 tsps Sugar (optional)
1½ Tbsps fresh Basil, chopped
2½ Tbps fresh Oregano or thyme,
   finely chopped
1 lb raw Shrimp, peeled
1 lb fresh Sea scallops, cut-up fish,
  clams, mussels, or oysters (optional)

Cook grits according to package directions, using water and shrimp stock. Add half of the saffron mixture to the hot grits.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine, remaining saffron mixture, tomatoes, and bay leaf; simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar if using. Add half the basil and oregano or thyme and continue cooking for a few minutes to blend the flavors. (The stew may be made ahead to this point and refrigerated or frozen.)

When ready to serve, bring the stew to the boil. Add the shrimp and scallops or shell fish, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and the scallops are opaque or the shell fish are open. Divide the grits among 6 bowls, top with the stew, garnish with remaining herbs, and serve.


ND LandLovers

Half-Dollar Ham BiscuitsND HamBiscuits

5 dozen baked Baking Powder Biscuits (below), split    
¾ cup Butter, softened
1 small Onion, finely chopped            
2 Tbsps Poppy seeds
2 to 3 tsps Dijon mustard                 
1 lb Ham, thinly shaved

Prepare biscuits. Mix together the butter, onion, poppy seeds, and mustard in a small bowl. Spread the bottom halves of the biscuits with the onion mixture. Top with the shaved ham and replace the top halves of the biscuits. These may be served right away or stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. To freeze, wrap the biscuits in foil, then in a freezer bag. To reheat, defrost the still-wrapped biscuits in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat biscuits straight from the refrigerator in a 400°F oven, still in tightly wrapped foil, until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Baking Powder Biscuits
Makes 12 to 18 (2-inch) Biscuits

¼ cup chilled shortening, lard, and/or butter, roughly cut into ¼-inch pieces PLUS ¼ cup chilled shortening, lard, and/or butter, roughly cut into ½-inch pieces
2¼ cups All-purpose flour, divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk, divided        
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 425°F. Select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.
Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and the salt in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Scatter the ¼-inch-size pieces of chilled fat over the flour and work in by rubbing fingers with the fat and flour as if snapping thumb and fingers together (or use two forks or knives, or a pastry cutter) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese. Scatter the ½-inch-size pieces of chilled fat over the flour mixture and incorporate until no pieces remain larger than a pea. Shake the bowl occasionally to allow the larger pieces of fat to bounce to the top of the flour, revealing lumps. If this method took longer than 5 minutes, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to rechill the fat. Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour. Pour ¾ cup of the milk into the hollow, reserving ¼ cup milk, and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the milk. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 Tbsps of reserved milk just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a board using some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half, and pat dough out into a ½-inch-thick round. Flour again if necessary, and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough out into a ¼-inch-thick round. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 1½-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. Move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 10 to 14 minutes until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes until the biscuits are light golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly.


Nathalie’s Watermelon Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Honey
½ cup Olive Oil
Salt
1 pint Blueberries
Black pepper, freshly ground
Fresh herbs to taste, such as chopped fresh Basil, thyme, or rosemary
2 cups Arugula, mâche, or baby spinach
2–3 cups Watermelon, cubed
6 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsps Red or sherry wine vinegar

Whisk the mustard and honey with vinegar in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs from the garden if available. Toss to coat the greens with the dressing (reserve any extra dressing), and divide among 4 to 6 serving plates with the watermelon, blueberries, and cheese. If using for a cookout, assemble salad ingredients together in a large serving bowl and dress just before serving. Pass extra dressing if desired.

Selecting and Slicing a Watermelon: Look for a firm, symmetrical melon that is filled out at the blossom end, has a dull (rather than shiny) surface, and shows a yellow, white, or pale green to yellow underside. A ripe melon will last 4 days in a cool place or a week when refrigerated. The easiest way to slice a watermelon is to cut it in half horizontally, then slice each half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, turn the blade to where the red meat of the watermelon meets the white rind and slice down the length of the watermelon. To cut into triangles, slice vertically; otherwise, cut into cubes.


Roasted Tomato Tart

1 (8- or 9-inch) piecrustND TomatoTart
1½ cups grated or sliced fresh
    Mozzarella, soft goat cheese, or
    other cheese, divided
2 Tbsps chopped fresh Basil, thyme,
    oregano, or marjoram, optional
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes:
2 lbs. Tomatoes
3-4 Tbsps Oil, cook’s preference
Salt
2-3 Tbsps Basil, thyme, or oregano, chopped

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat oven to 450°. Slice large tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices, or in wedges if small. Oil or foil-line a rimmed baking sheet. Add the tomatoes in a single layer, not touching each other. Sprinkle with salt and herbs. Drizzle the tops of the tomatoes with the oil. Bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are curled around the edges. As the tomatoes caramelize, they may get a little black around the edges. To many tomato aficionados, this can only make them better. Cool tomatoes, move to a container, and top with 2 tablespoons of oil. Use as directed in a recipe or freeze for future use.

Prebake the piecrust in a tart pan or free-form and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375°. Layer the bottom of the piecrust with the cheese, reserving ¼ cup for the top. Add the tomatoes, spreading evenly over the cheese. Move to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven for a few minutes. Add herbs if desired. Allow to rest 5 minutes before cutting. Variation: Substitute roasted grape or cherry tomatoes.
Note: The amount of tomatoes will vary depending on the size of the tart.


White Lily Sweet Cake Biscuits
Makes 8 to 10ND SweetCakes

¼ cup chilled Butter, roughly cut into ¼-inch pieces PLUS ¼ cup chilled Butter, roughly cut into ½-inch pieces
3 cups sliced Strawberries or whole raspberries, sweetened with ¼ cup sugar
Butter, softened or melted, for finishing
2¼ cups Self-rising flour, divided
¼ cup granulated Sugar
1 cup Blueberries (optional)
1 large Egg
⅔ cup Heavy cream, divided
1 cup Heavy cream, whipped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Select the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, use an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan, or ovenproof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.

Fork-sift or whisk 2 cups of flour and sugar in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Scatter the ¼ inch-size pieces of chilled butter over the flour and work in by rubbing fingers with the butter and flour as if snapping thumb and fingers together (or use two forks or knives, or a pastry cutter) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese. Scatter the ½ inch-size pieces of chilled butter over the flour mixture and continue snapping thumb and fingers together until no pieces remain larger than a pea. Shake the bowl occasionally to allow the larger pieces of butter to bounce to the top of the flour, revealing any lumps. If this method took longer than 5 minutes, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to rechill the butter.

Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Lightly beat together the egg and ⅓ cup of the cream, and pour the mixture into the hollow, reserving the remaining ⅓ cup of the cream. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the liquid. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 Tbsps of reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

Lightly sprinkle a board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half, and pat dough out into a ⅓ to ½ inch-thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if necessary, and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough out into a ½ inch-thick round for a normal biscuit, ¾ inch- thick for a tall biscuit, and 1-inch-thick for a giant biscuit. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter.

Move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Brush tops lightly with some of the reserved cream. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 12 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Continue baking another 6 to 9 minutes until the biscuits are light golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly.

Toss berries together. Split biscuits in half and spoon fruit between layers. Replace top layer and spoon on additional fruit. Add whipped cream on top. Garnish with fresh whole fruit.

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