By Juli Kellner
Soup for breakfast? “The idea came from one of my day care moms,” says Mary Grover. “She mentioned that she had been served strawberry soup at a bed and breakfast in Door County, but the innkeeper wouldn’t divulge the recipe.”
This tip came just after Mary and her husband, Brian, were opening a bed-and-breakfast inn.
So Mary went on an Internet search for strawberry soup recipes.
“I tried a couple, and this was the very best; it’s made with yogurt and orange juice, and, of course, strawberries. I’ve been making it ever since.”
That was nine years ago. “I had a home day care for 24 years, and my husband, Brian, owned an auto body shop.”
After a major fire cooled Brian’s interest in his business, he decided to sell. “A real estate agent told us that it would probably take a year to find a buyer for the shop; instead it took a week.”
Suddenly the far off dream of operating a bed and breakfast moved front and center. “Brian and I had talked about opening a B&B, but thought we would have all sorts of time to do research and ponder it. Our timeline got crunched a bit. I closed the day care, and the next week opened Solglimt as a B&B.”
Solglimt, named from a Danish word that describes how the sun sparkles on the water, is near the water and not far from the Aerial Lift Bridge on Duluth’s Park Point.
“When we were looking for a name for our newly remodeled house, our friends happened to be having a big wedding with all sorts of family from Denmark. One of them suggested, ‘Solglimt,’ and we knew it was just perfect.”
Perfect also seems to describe the Grovers’ experience as innkeepers.
“We’re just so incredibly happy. It’s such a pleasure to make other people happy. For instance, the couple who just checked out this morning got engaged while they were here. And that happens all the time.
“For so many couples, Solglimt is the place where they celebrate special occasions and anniversaries. What is better than that?”
The perfect B&B experience, of course, involves a good Breakfast as well as a comfortable Bed.
Mary, whose background is in home economics, has enjoyed discovering and revising recipes for her guests.
“We keep a database … about what our guests like or don’t like. It includes what dishes a guest has been served, what their preferences are, if they’re vegetarian, how they like their coffee, what their favorite tea is. So we won’t serve our guests the same dish twice, unless they specifically request that we do so. And if they have a Solglimt favorite, we’ll make certain that’s just what’s on the menu.”
Chances are their favorite coffee will be Solglimt’s special blend roasted exclusively by Duluth’s Alakef Coffee.
After a couple of decades of day care, and helping to raise an entire generation of Park Point kids, Mary delights in hunting for recipes that will enchant adults.
“But I still love green eggs and ham for Dr. Seuss’s birthday and St. Patty’s Day.”
Mary’s elegant version includes spinach and is served on Black Forest ham with a tomato rose courtesy of Brian.
“He is the artistic one, and loves creating our decorative flourishes. The French would call him Solglimt’s garde manger.”
Brian’s artistic flair can come out when serving the strawberry soup, which he sometimes does in a martini glass with a strawberry in the olive’s traditional place.
Mary also loves to make her lemon cream and apricot scones, especially for first-time guests.
“People think scones are brittle and dry and mine are so moist, then I serve them with lemon curd.
“And, of course, I love to make my Strawberry Soup,” she adds. “And I will share the recipe.”
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 qt. Stonyfield French Vanilla Cream Top yogurt
1 qt. orange juice
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. honey
Sliced strawberries for garnish
Mint for garnish
Wash and hull strawberries.
Put into food processor and chop (not too fine). Mix with yogurt, orange juice, sugar and honey. Chill well (very well).
Lemon Cream & Apricot Scones
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. (plus 2 Tbsp.) sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chopped dried apricots
1 Tbsp. (plus 1 tsp.) grated lemon peel
1-1/4 c. whipping cream
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in apricots and 1 tablespoon of the lemon peel. Add whipping cream and stir just until dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until dough holds together. Form dough into 10-inch diameter circle, 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer wedges to large baking sheet, spacing evenly (on parchment paper works nicely). Combine remaining sugar and lemon peel in small bowl. Brush scones with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Bake scones until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool slightly.
To make an appetizer size, one batch will make 40 two-bite scones. Bake for 12 minutes. For an extra treat, serve with the lemon curd.
6 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
In a medium saucepan whisk eggs, sugar and zest to combine. Whisk in lemon juice; add butter.
Cook lemon mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Immediately pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of curd, and refrigerate until cool, at least 2 hours. This will keep for 3 days.