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La Vie Piquant

La vie piquant—the spicy life!  Everyday is filled with “piquant” moments that are pleasantly stimulation of exciting to the mind.  Whether it is in the form of food, style, design, love, entertaining, or any other inspiring idea or tangible object, “it” should be celebrated!  Here I will be sharing with you simple, beautiful, realistic, doable, and truly re-creatable recipes, entertaining ideas, and home décor pizzazz that will help you interject a little bit of “piquant” into your life – after all, we only live once.  Join me in living la vie piquant!

Filtering by Category: Main Courses

Watch: Truffled Toast with Asparagus

Marc J. Sievers

Truffled Toast with Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite recipes in my cookbook Table for Two.  It is incredibly chic and elegant, much easier to make than it looks, and is a really unique dish that will "Wow!" your guest!  This dish incorporates flavorful asparagus with crisp delicious bread, coated with delicious truffle oil, and topped off with egg yolks that create a luxurious sauce for the whole dish.  You need a sauté pan, a little assembly, and a couple minutes under a broiler, and you will have an over-the-top main course that is sure to impress you guest as much as it will delight their taste buds!

Series 5, Episode 3: Truffled Toast with Asparagus


Truffled Toast with Asparagus 

Ingredients (serves 2, easily expands for larger soirées)

  • Truffle Oil – 6 tablespoons
  • Challah Bread – 2 slices, cut 2-inches thick
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Asparagus – 5 stalks, bottom ends trimmed and discarded, cut ¾-inch on the diagonal, tips included
  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon
  • Garlic – 2 cloves, thinly sliced
  • Fontina Cheese – ½ cup, freshly grated
  • Pecorino Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated
  • Egg Yolks – 4 extra-large, whole, at room temperature, separated into 2 bowls

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.   Place two individual gratin dishes (6-7 inches in diameter) onto a half sheet pan.
  2. Place a slice of bread into each dish.  Make an oval-shaped well in the center of each slice by removing bread about ½-inch deep.
  3. Brush the tops of each slice with 3 tablespoons of truffle oil, allowing the oil to be absorbed in completely.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the tops are lightly toasted.
  5. Meanwhile, in a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.  Once hot, add the asparagus, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Remove from the heat, transfer into a small bowl, and set aside.
  7. Once the bread is finished baking, remove the sheet pan from the oven, top each slice evenly with both cheeses.  Gently place the eggs yolks into the well of each slice, and evenly distribute the asparagus mixture.
  8. Return to the oven and bake for just another 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is just slightly melted.  The egg yolks will still be raw and runny.
  9. Garnish with more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Tip: Because the egg yolks are still raw, you really want to make sure to use fresh eggs for this.  Also, because the egg yolks are still raw, the moment you cut into them, they instantly make a sauce! 

Idea: To give this dish even more truffle flavor, you can replace the sea salt with truffle salt – instant upgrade!  Truffle salt, I think, is a fabulous ingredient to keep on hand.  You can use it on almost anything savory as a finishing salt.


Watch: Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

My Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette is a fantastic combination of incredible flavors and textures and happens to come together without any real effort - my favorite kind of recipe!  Roasting fruit intensifies their flavor and is enhanced even more with my incredibly simple rosemary-infused vinaigrette.  This is one my favorite dishes from my cookbook Table for Two!  It can be served as an entree for lunch or dinner for two, or shared as a salad course for a larger group (I love double-duty recipes!).  A friend recently served the warm fruit with vanilla bean ice cream and said it was a huge hit - who knew?!

Series 5, Episode 3: Roasted Fruit Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette


Roasted Fruit with Rosemary Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a salad course)

Components

  • French Feta – 5 ounces, crumbled
  • Spring Mix Greens – 3 ounces
  • Pecans – ¾ cup, whole halves

Rosemary Vinaigrette

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup
  • Honey – ¼ cup
  • Rosemary – 1 sprig, fresh, about 4 inches
  • Whole Black Peppercorns – ¾ teaspoon
  • Balsamic Vinegar – 1 tablespoon

Roasted Fruit

  • Green Grapes – 1 cup, seedless
  • Red Grapes – 1 cup, seedless
  • Black Plums – 2, cut into quarters, pit removed
  • Peaches – 2, cut into sixths, pit removed
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

Rosemary Vinaigrette

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil, honey, rosemary, and black peppercorns. 
  2. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit for 20 minutes. 
  3. Next, place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl.  Strain the warm mixture, making sure to reserve the peppercorns and rosemary in the sieve.
  4. Lastly, whisk in the balsamic vinegar until full incorporated.  Set aside.

Roasted Fruit

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. Place all of the fruit onto a half sheet pan.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the fruit just begins to release their juices.  During the last 3 minutes, add the pecan halves to the fruit to toast.

Assembly

  1. Arrange the greens onto a platter or a serving bowl.  Evenly distribute the warm fruit, pecans, and crumbled Feta.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.
  2. Serve warm.  


Apple & Herb Wellington

Marc J. Sievers

When I began testing this recipe for my new cookbook Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1, the combinations of ingredients seemed endless (and they really are!).  I finally settled on a selection of fresh herbs, apple, fragrant fennel and onions.  To give it even more “body”, I added Gruyère cheese that I diced into very small cubes.  This prevented the filling from getting too heavy with melted cheese, and instead created pockets of gently melted Gruyère that added the right amount of richness to the finished dish.  Keep in mind, this recipe does make two larger portions, so I like to serve it alongside a salad dressed in my French Bistro Vinaigrette

What I love most about this recipe is that you can interchange the fresh herbs and filling and have it adapt to be season specific.  During the fall and winter, I like to use fresh sage and rosemary (a perfect vegetarian main course for the holidays!), and replace the parsnip with butternut squash.  In the spring and summer, I love using basil and chives, and replace the apple with zucchini.

Like this recipe, so many other recipes from Table for Two are adaptable to help make entertaining as easy, elegant, and as truly delicious as possible, for you and your plus one!


Apple & Herb Wellington

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Fennel – ¾ cup, ½-inch diced
  • Yellow Onion – 1 medium, ½-inch diced
  • Parsnip – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced
  • Pink Lady Apple – 1 medium, ½-inch diced
  • Thyme – 2 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh
  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon
  • Garlic – 2 cloves, finely minced
  • Parsley – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, Italian flat-leaf variety recommended
  • Whole Cashews – ⅓ cup, rough chopped
  • Golden Raisins - ⅓ cup
  • Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
  • Gruyère Cheese – 3 ounces, ¼-inch cubed
  • Frozen Puff Pastry – 1 sheet, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • *Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Directions

1.     Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.     In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Once hot, add the fennel, onion, parsnip, apples, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender, but not brown.

3.     Add the garlic and parsley and continue cooking for another 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Transfer to a medium bowl to cool for 5 minutes.  Once cooled, stir in the cashews, raisins, and both cheeses.

4.     Next, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry dough to be roughly 12x14-inches.  Cut the dough in half creating 2 pieces measuring 12x7-inces.

5.     Divide the filling evenly onto half of each piece of dough, leaving a ½-inch border.  Brush the border with egg wash*, and fold over top the other half of each side of the dough.  Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges by of the dough by pressing the tines lightly into the dough.  Do this on all three sides or each packet.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

6.     Brush the tops with egg wash*.  Using a small knife, cut three slits on the top of each packet.

7.     Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

8.     Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Marc J. Sievers

There is something so satisfying about making a big batch of really good pasta salad.  It can be so simple, just a few tosses of fresh ingredients while the pasta is hot, and you have an easy and incredibly flavorful dish.  I will admit that pasta salads were not my favorite as a kid—they always seemed to taste bland, and like the refrigerator.  No good!  But I have since solved the flavor challenge.

This recipe actually came about from a recent trip to Hawaii.  Ryan and I were visiting our best friends for a milestone birthday.  But, the day we were flying back to Chicago, they both got stuck at work.  Before we let ourselves out of their apartment to go to the airport, knowing that they were going to be home very late, I wanted to leave them a surprise dinner in their refrigerator!

After a few minutes, I found everything I needed to create a Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad.  Best of all, it only took 15 minutes and we were out the door and our friends had an easy and delicious dinner waiting for them.  Needless to say, they were very happy to come home after a very long day to a ready-made meal that kept perfectly well!  This is easy summer “cooking”, at its best!

Watch: Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad


Pesto & Arugula Pasta Salad

Ingredients (serve 4-6)

  • Fusilli – 1 pound, cooked al dente
  • Pesto – 7 ounces, store-bought
  • Grape Tomatoes – 2 pints, halved
  • Parmesan Cheese – 1 cup, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
  • Baby Arugula – 2 cups, washed and dried
  • Green Onions – ½ cup, thinly sliced
  • Basil – ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh
  • Parsley - ⅓ cup, rough chopped, fresh, Italian Flat-Leaf variety recommended
  • Red Pepper Flakes – ½ teaspoon
  • Lemon Zest – 1 small lemon, zested
  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons
  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. After the pasta has been cooked and drained, and while it is hot, place it into a large bowl.
  2. Immediately add all of the ingredients to the hot pasta and toss until evenly mixed.
  3. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Tip: You can make this in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Before you serve it, check to see if it needs more salt, pepper, and even another handful of fresh arugula or basil mixed in.  I have noticed that as food sits in a cold temperature, some of the flavor “disappears”.  After all, who wants bland food?! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Eggs Provençal

Marc J. Sievers

There is something so incredibly chic about enjoying a breakfast or brunch dish at dinner time—especially when having company over!  It takes people by surprise and with a sense of delight, transforming “just another dinner party” into a relaxed occasion.  With the menu change there’s usually a palpable mood-change—guests let their guard down and the dinner party goes from regular, to memorable.  The power of food always amazes me.

My Eggs Provençal is just the dish to change up your dinner party dynamic.  It is a flavorful combination of eggs, cream, cheese, and lots of fresh herbs.  I love to serve it with an arugula salad tossed in my French Bistro Vinaigrette, Roasted Savory Carrots, a crusty store-bought Baguette, and a dry Champagne or Rosé.

To enhance the chic-factor, I set my table with simple white plates, flatware, and linen napkins, scatter plenty of scentless white votive candles around the table, and use simple juice glasses filled with red or orange roses to add some drama!  Best of all, this elegant dinner comes together in well under an hour.  Happy cooking!


Eggs Provençal

Ingredients (serve 6)

  • Eggs – 12 extra-large
  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Yellow Onion – 1 medium, ¼-inch diced
  • Kosher Salt – 2 teaspoons, divided
  • Black Pepper – 3 teaspoons, divided
  • Garlic – 6 cloves, finely minced
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted
  • Mozzarella Cheese– 1 cup, shredded
  • Rosemary – 2 tablespoons, fresh, finely minced
  • Thyme – 3 tablespoons, fresh, finely minced
  • Arugula – 3 cups, pre-washed
  • Parmesan Cheese – freshly grated, for garnish, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions

  1. In a large bowl crack the eggs and whisk vigorously until the whites and yolks are completely incorporated and the mixture is a pale yellow.  Set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Once hot add onions and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper.  Sauté for 7 to 9 minutes or until translucent and slightly tender.  Next, add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the butter to the center of the pan and melt.
  3. Next, add the shredded mozzarella to the egg mixture, then add the rosemary, thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper.  Whisk vigorously to thoroughly mix and immediately pour into the center of the sauté pan.
  4. Gently stir the eggs, constantly scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a spatula.  The mixture will slowly come together and begin to thicken.  Remove from the heat after about 8 minutes, when the eggs are wet-looking and gooey, but no longer runny.  Continue to gently stir off the heat for another minute.
  5. Next, transfer the eggs to the center of a serving platter.  Garnish with arugula and big shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  6. Serve immediately. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


A Creative Approach to Everyday Tablescapes

Marc J. Sievers

Designing tablescapes is something I have been doing for clients for years.  The word “tablescape” sometimes scares people as it conjures images of towering floral arrangements, polished gleaming silver, and layers of fine China.  While that specific image is certainly an option—glorious in its own right—the word tablescape also can refer to everyday tabletop design that have well thought out concepts and choices to help accentuate your personal style, décor, and theme of your soirée, while also showcasing your everyday dishes, glassware, flatware, linens, and other casual pieces you may have.

This May, in celebration for Mother’s Day, I was asked by WGN Chicago to showcase a Mother’s Day brunch extravaganza!  Since Spring is in full swing (most of the days!), I wanted to create a colorful table filled with flowers, texture, thoughtful touches, and an easy and elegant main dish, my Eggs Provençal from my cookbook Entertaining with Love.  In addition to shopping for the ingredients I needed to prepare brunch, I also relied on my local Trader Joe’s for the best overnight croissants (they are available in plain, almond, or chocolate!), another favorite local grocer for an edible and over-the-top gift basket, and stunning flowers, all budget-friendly!

While this tablescape, menu, and basket were each created on the theme of Mother’s Day, they would be equally as fabulous and impressive for a birthday celebration, dinner party, weeknight dinner, or any other celebration with which you want to make a statement—easily using everyday ingredients that are readily available at your local grocery store!  Have fun entertaining!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

 

Watch the clip below to get a video tour.


Easter Brunch Menu

Marc J. Sievers

A well thought out menu can really make a soirée seem effortless, regardless of the time of day, theme, or occasion.  Instead of trying o make everything yourself (there is really no “knead” to make homemade baguettes!), I think a smart host/ess should always have a few tried-and-true store-bought secrets up their sleeve and at the ready.

I rely on few favorite brands that I have tested and know how to work with as ready-made components to enhance my menus and cut preparation time to a much more manageable proportion of my overall prep time.  With certain useful combos, and easy and elegant recipes, I make my guests feel welcomed, special, and most importantly I get to enjoy my own party without being on constant catering duty.  I keep flowers simple, the music light and airy, and set the table the night before.

For Easter, I love hosting a casual brunch filled with some homemade things, some store-bought things, and some easily-assembled things.  This year, Ryan and I will be spending Easter with his parent’s on their farm.  Rather than have a complicated and labor-intensive menu, we decided a brunch would be an easier idea.  Because the farm isn’t surrounded by big grocery stores and specialty food markets, I wanted to plan a menu that included things that were easy to make, had that WOW! factor, and could easily be transported from Chicago to Iowa.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope my brunch menu inspires you to host a wonderful soirée (with lots of bubbly!) filled with family and friends!  Happy Easter! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Easter Brunch Menu

French Savory Tart with Onions & Gruyere (make ahead)

Roasted Carrots with Basil & Dark Chocolate (day of)

Simple Green Salad with French Bistro Vinaigrette (make ahead)

Baguette with Salted Butter (store bought)

Chocolate Bunny Platter (store bought)

Champagne (chilled)

Fresh Orange Juice (store bought)

Sparkling Water (room temperature)

Grocery Store Flowers Turned Fabulous




Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Marc J. Sievers

Inspiration for new recipes really can come from anywhere.  A certain smell, a store window, a trip to a fabulous specialty foods store, and of course a restaurant!  Last year when Linda and I were out to lunch, we both ordered a vegetarian burger filled with roasted beets and nutty farrow – it was so good!  After a few tries, I came up with my Savory Beet & Farrow Cake – an elegant twist on the veggie burger we had at lunch.

Instead of making individual patties, I decided to bake it in cake form, making it elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or cut up into small squares for a cocktail party.  You can roast the vegetables and sauté the onion mixture up to three days ahead of time.  You can store them together in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Then, on the day of your soirée, continue to follow the assembly and cooking directions - et voilà!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking! 


Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main course or up to 12 as an hors d'oeuvre)

  • Sweet Potato – 1 large, peeled, ½-inch diced
  • Beets – 2 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced
  • Farrow – ½ cup, uncooked
  • Water - ½ cup
  • Red Onion – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced
  • Sage – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, fresh
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, finely minced
  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated
  • Panko – 1 cup
  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon, divided
  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, divided
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted
  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – ¼ cup, freshly grated
  • Gruyère – ½ cup, freshly grated
  • Eggs – 5 extra-large, at room temperature
  • Half and Half – ¼ cup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a 9-inch round spring-form pan by buttering both the interior sides and bottom.  Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the top of the parchment paper.  Set aside. 
  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beets onto a sheet pan.  Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning once half way through the roasting time.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, bring ½ cup water to a boil.  Add the farrow, and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender.  The farrow will still have a bite to it.  Drain well and set aside.
  4. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Once heated, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper.  Cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.
  5. Next, add the garlic, nutmeg, and sage, and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add the roasted vegetables and cooked farrow and set aside.
  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and half and half.  Then add both cheeses. 
  7. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and add the panko.  Gently stir to mix completely.
  8. Transfer the mixture into the prepared spring form pan.  Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until set.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


An Autumnal Feast! A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

Marc J. Sievers

This year, Ryan and I are spending my birthday and Thanksgiving in Chicago and will be taking full advantage of our festive city leading up to the big feast!  On my birthday we have dinner plans at my favorite restaurant RL, then will walk over to The Peninsula Chicago to enjoy a cocktail and ice skating atop their Sky Rink—what a fabulous birthday!   On Thanksgiving Day, our menu will consist of things that are store-bought, a few recipes that can be made in advance, and the main course—Gruyere Cheese Soufflé—that will be made right before serving (Julia Child, thank you!). 

In addition to making some of the recipes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I will also set the table in a palette of white, grey, and pumpkin colored plates, bowls, linens, and white un-scented candles.  Simple white roses, fresh herbs, and silver dollar eucalyptus arranged in silver bowls will take center stage!

Last year, my friend and watercolor artist Linda Marie Clark and I launched Watermarc – Art & Appetite, a growing line of vibrant and collectible occasion cards that are created around collections of my original vegetarian recipes and Linda’s whimsical watercolors.  We developed a series of cards titled “An Autumnal Feast” which had some of the most flavorful Fall recipes you could dream of!  That series has since been retired and I have wanted to share my recipes and Linda’s artwork that were a part of the original collection as they are just too delicious and colorful to keep locked up. 

These are some of my favorite recipes I have created as they’re classic delicious twists that really bring home the Autumnal flavors.  Whether you are looking to spice up your holiday menus, inject some variety for a weeknight/end dinner party, or completely revamp what you normally serve, I know these recipes will add the “Wow!” factor, up the flavor factor, and will have your guests asking for more! 

From our home to yours, Ryan and I wish you the most glorious Thanksgiving filled with good food, good wine, and the most important ingredients:  Big pinches of love and appreciation!

Cheers!

An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Vegetarian Chili

Marc J. Sievers

I love recipes that you can make in advance of entertaining that actually taste even better after it sits for a couple of days in the refrigerator and the flavors all blend together!  My Vegetarian Chili - dubbed “I Get a Kick Out of You Chili - is from my cookbook Entertaining with Love and is a perfect example of just that.  This hearty chili is packed with fresh vegetables, black beans, and meatless ground, making it as substantial as a traditional chili made with ground beef.  You can either make this dish entirely on the stovetop, or partly in a slow cooker, whichever method you decide the end result is the same – fabulously delicious!  Best of all, you can top this chili with sour cream, fresh parsley, tortilla chips, avocado wedges, or even charred fresh jalapeños, allowing your guests to be creative and make it their own!  

This recipe is from my cookbook Entertaining with Love.


Vegetarian Chili (serves 6)

Ingredients

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted
  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, medium diced
  • Red Onion – 1 large, medium diced
  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes – 1 (28-ounce) can, crushed
  • Tomato Paste – 3 ounces
  • Garlic – 6 cloves, minced
  • Black Beans – 1 (15-ounce) can
  • Orange Bell Pepper – 1 large, medium diced
  • Red Bell Pepper – 1 large, medium diced
  • Hot Paprika – 1½ teaspoons
  • Cumin – ½ teaspoon
  • Crushed Red Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper – ¼ teaspoon
  • Chili Powder – 3 tablespoons
  • Kosher Salt – 2 teaspoon, divided
  • Black Pepper – 3 teaspoon, divided
  • Meatless Ground Beef – 12 ounces, Quorn® Grounds recommended

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Once hot, add the diced onions and sauté for 3 minutes.  Season with ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Then, add the bell peppers and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.  Next, add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the beef grounds and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small glass bowl combine all of the remaining spices:  Chili Powder, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Hot Paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of black pepper.
  4. Thoroughly drain the black beans and add to the onions and peppers.  Add the can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes.  Stir all together.  Bring to a gentle simmer, and then reduce the heat to low.
  5. Add the combined spices and the tomato paste.  Stir to mix thoroughly.
  6. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to simmer/low.  At this point you can transfer the contents to a slow cooker and set to low heat.  On the stove, keep covered and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  In the slow cooker set to low heat cook for 3 hours.
  7. Serve hot.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Carrot, Leek, & Potato Soup

Marc J. Sievers

There is nothing I find more satisfying than a big bowl of warm soup this time of year!  My Carrot, Leek, & Potato Soup is filled with fresh vegetables that are cooked until just tender, then puréed into a thick and luscious soup that is perfect for a cool evening dining al fresco, a casual supper, or a weekend lunch.  In fact, this soup is so hearty that all you need to serve alongside it is a basket a crusty French bread, a green salad, and a bold red wine—the ultimate in casual yet chic comfort food!  Best of all, you can store containers filled with this fabulous soup in the freezer for those extra-chilly nights when only a bowl of piping hot stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup will do!


Carrot, Leek, & Potato Soup

Ingredients (makes 5 quarts)

  • Yellow Onion – 1 small, ½-inch dice
  • Red Onion – 1 small, ½-inch dice
  • Leeks – 7 stalks, washed, ½-inch dice, both light green and white parts
  • Carrots – 6 large, peeled, ½-inch dice
  • Yukon Gold Potato’s – 5 large, peeled, ½-inch dice
  • Red Pepper – 1 large, ½-inch dice
  • Garlic – 8 cloves, rough chopped
  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted
  • Parsley – ½ cup, rough chopped, flat leaf, plus more for garnish
  • Thyme – 2 tablespoons, rough chopped
  • Black Pepper – 2½ teaspoon, freshly cracked
  • Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Vegetable Stock – 10 cups
  • Half and Half – 1½ cups
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – freshly grated, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pan or stockpot set over medium heat, add the butter.
  2. Once the butter is hot, add the leeks, as well as both yellow and red onions, red peppers, garlic, parsley and thyme.  Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Next, add the vegetable stock, salt, pepper, potatoes, and carrots.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.  
  4. Working in small batches, transfer the soup into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process until coarsely puréed.
  5. Return the puréed soup back into the pot.  Whisk in the half and half and re-heat over medium heat until hot.
  6. Ladle into individual serving bowls and garnish with fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Basil Pesto Risotto

Marc J. Sievers

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, and is probably one of the most versatile things you can make at home.  The base is always Arborio rice—an Italian short grain rice with a creamy and chewy texture—and brought to life with stock and other fresh ingredients.  If in your pantry you have Arborio rice, fresh herbs, left over vegetables (raw or cooked), and a bit of stock or broth, then an easy and cozy dinner can be ready in under 30 minutes (I love that!).  This would also make a fabulous side dish when paired with something like Crispy Eggplant - Oven Style.  

For my Basil Pesto Risotto, I chose to make a version of homemade pesto, swapping out some of the olive oil for heavy cream.  Using all oil made the finished dish too oily, but the addition of heavy cream made the risotto slightly creamy and more elegant.  Because fresh basil and peas are available in most grocery stores year round, take the extra time to make the pesto from scratch, and shuck the peas by hand—you will be amazed at the difference it makes when it comes to flavor and satisfaction!

Happy risotto-making!


Basil Pesto Risotto

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • Basil Leaves – 1½ cups, fresh, lightly packed
  • Garlic – 1 clove, peeled
  • Sliced Almonds – 3 teaspoons
  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons
  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions for the Pesto

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the glass jar of a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Set aside.

Ingredients for the Risotto (serves 2)

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Yellow Onion – 1 cup, ¼-inch diced
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked
  • Italian Arborio Rice – ½ cup
  • Vegetable Stock – 1 ½ cups, barely simmering
  • Basil Pesto – *Recipe above
  • Green Peas – ½ cup, freshly shucked
  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon
  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions for the Risotto

  1. Place the fresh (or frozen) peas in a bowl of very hot tap water for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a small Dutch oven heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the Arborio rice and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  4. Next, pour the hot stock over the onion and rice mixture and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once almost all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, turn off the heat and stir in the pesto sauce, peas, and lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

Idea:  If you do not have a small Dutch oven, any 10-inch skillet with a tight fitting lid will work just fine. 

Tip:  If you want to make this ahead of time and serve it later, reheat over low heat with a few tablespoon of heavy cream.  This will allow the rice to be warmed through without becoming dried out.

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Panko Brioche French Toast

Marc J. Sievers

Growing up, classic French Toast was my breakfast of choice.  My Nan always obliged and not only did she make it for me but for the rest of her grandchildren.  Her recipe was simple yet full of flavor.  I decided to turn up the flavor and add a crunchy and crispy outer layer with panko!  It browns beautifully with the butter and adds that extra sumptuousness that makes breakfast worth getting out of bed.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Marc J. Sievers

Winter is in full swing in Chicago—as it is in so many other parts of the country!  We’ve had snow, the wind whipping off of Lake Michigan, and the result for me has been a craving for a big bowl of piping hot soup.

It was just a few days ago that I got the craving for roasted cauliflower florets with bleu cheese sauce for dipping (a favorite snack of mine!), and I decided to make the roasted florets into a soup.  I wanted a soup that would be satisfying, creamy, and filled with fresh vegetable flavors.  I happened to be out of fresh Rosemary and Thyme, so to flavor the soup I turned to my bottle of Herbes de Provence—and I am glad I did! 

My Roasted Cauliflower Soup has beautiful flavor from the dried herbs, including a light floral taste from the lavender.  And since I had two slices of Max Poilane bread left from my loaf, I made those into Butter Croutons to have float atop my luxurious Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  Ryan opened a bottle of chilled Rosé, I filled two huge bowls full of soup, and we watched some old episodes of The French Chef as we enjoyed the snow fall that evening.  It doesn’t get better than this!


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients (serves 4 as main course, 6 as soup course)

  • Cauliflower – 2 heads, just florets
  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons, divided
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted
  • Carrot – 1 large, peeled, and ½-inch diced
  • Yellow Onion – 1 small, ½-inch diced
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced
  • Herbes de Provence – 1 teaspoon, dried, lightly crushed
  • Vegetable Stock – 4 cups
  • Half and Half – 1 cup
  • Green Onions – 3 stalks, trimmed, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets onto a sheet pan and toss with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium heat, add the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once hot, add the carrots and onions.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.
  4. Add the garlic and Herbes de Provence and cook for another 1-2 minutes more, being careful not to burn the garlic. 
  5. Add the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a slow boil.  Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the roasted cauliflower.  Using an immersion blender or food processor, pureé the soup until smooth and thick.  Stir in the half and half.  Reheat over medium heat until just heated through.
  7. Garnish with green onions and croutons.  Serve hot.

Butter Croutons

Ingredients

  • Bread – 2 slices, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once melted, add the bread cubes.  Toast for 5-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

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A Soul-Warming Dish: Sweet Potato Curry

Marc J. Sievers

Winter is one of my favorite seasons because the food can be so comforting, earthy, and filling!  Now that we are well beyond the (typically) over-indulgent holidays we have the opportunity to explore more flavors and ingredients beyond the staple dishes and recipes often repetitively (or traditionally) served in November and December.

To “spice up” your palate and repertoire there is nothing quite like a big bowl of my fragrant Sweet Potato Curry to warm you up while watching the snow fall.  It’s also a dish with a refreshing depth of flavor that not only comes from the spices but also the roasted sweet potatoes and fire-roasted canned tomatoes.

Roasting vegetables is my favorite way to cook them as the caramelization brings out their natural sweetness and imparts (and retains) the most flavor.  While the fire-roasted tomatoes have a kick (they are usually made with green chilies), you can always use crushed tomatoes for a milder flavor.

This recipe was inspired by classic Indian cuisine but uses ingredients familiar to the American palate and that are readily available at any local grocery store.  Get ready for a heart and soul-warming dinner; it is just 30 minutes away!  Eat well, laugh often, and share the love!


Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Sweet Potatoes – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced
  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons, divided
  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon, divided
  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked, divided
  • Red Onion – 1 small, ½-inch diced
  • Red Pepper – ½-inch diced
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced
  • Peas – 1 cup, frozen
  • Half and Half – ½ cup
  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes – (2) 15 ounce cans
  • Yellow Curry Powder – 2 ½ teaspoons
  • Turmeric – ½ teaspoon
  • Cumin – ½ teaspoon
  • Honey – 1 tablespoon
  • Parsley – ½ cup, Italian flat leaf, freshly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes onto a sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil olive, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking time.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sautée pan set over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red onions, and red peppers.   Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the onions and peppers are tender.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Next, add the tomatoes, peas, half and half, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, honey, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Allow to come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.
  7. Transfer to a large serving bowl and add the roasted sweet potatoes.  Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Tip: This dish pairs well with Basmati rice.  For a healthy alternative serve it with a fresh green salad and cucumbers.


French Savory Tarts

Marc J. Sievers

Onion & Goat Cheese Tart

One of the best and most versatile recipes a savvy home cook should have in their repertoire is a simple pastry dough recipe.  Well, are you in for a treat!  One of the components for my Savory French Tart happens to be a buttery pastry crust made with a recipe that does not require any specialty equipment, ingredients, or large amounts of time.  The dough can be transformed into either a sweet or savory base by just adding or subtracting ingredients like white pepper, rosemary, sugar, and other fresh herbs and spices.  You can then use the dough for tarts, pies, quiches, and crostatas.

With the holiday season fast approaching I am always thinking of recipes that I can make in advance, have multiple uses,  and serve to my guests in a few different settings.  My Savory French Tart fits the bill!  I can make it ahead of time and serve it with a simple salad and a bowl of White Bean Soup with Fresh Parsley Pesto for a dinner party, I can serve it at cocktail hour for an hors d’oeuvre, or even as part of a buffet, the list goes on and on!  Happy entertaining!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Savory French Tarts for a complete tutorial:


French Savory Tarts

Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)

Crust

  • Flour – 1½ cups, all-purpose
  • Butter – 1 stick, diced, unsalted, very cold
  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar – 2 teaspoons, granulated
  • White Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Rosemary – 1 tablespoon, fresh, finely minced
  • Water – 8 tablespoons, very cold

Caramelized Onions

  • Yellow Onions – 4 cups, thinly sliced
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted
  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced
  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon, granulated
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon

Custard

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, at room temperature
  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon
  • Nutmeg – ¾ teaspoon, freshly grated

Directions

Crust

  1. Place the flour, salt, white pepper, sugar, and fresh rosemary into a medium sized bowl.  Whisk to mix ingredients.
  2. Next add the butter.  Use a pastry blender to quickly break the butter into pea-sized pieces.
  3. Add the ice water and with your hand slightly cupped quickly work the water into the flour.
  4. Lightly flour you work surface (a granite or marble countertop is ideal as it keeps the dough very cold).
  5. Press the dough into a roughly shaped ball.
  6. Using the heel of one hand and rapidly press the dough in small amounts onto the board and away from you.  Repeat this process two times.  Doing so will ensure that the butter has been completely blended.
  7. Gather the dough into a smooth ball, dust lightly with flour, and wrap it in waxed paper.
  8. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Butter an 11½ inch tart pan.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  11. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it onto a lightly floured work surface.
  12. Quickly roll out the dough to be slightly larger than your pan and to be about ⅛-inch thick, making sure to lift and turn the dough during the rolling process to prevent it from sticking.
  13. Fold the rolled piece of dough into quarters and gently place it in ¼ or the prepared tart pan.  Unfold the dough inside the tart pan.
  14. Gently press the dough onto the bottom of the tart pan.  Then lift the edges of the dough from underneath and work it around the sides of the tart pan.  Trim off the excess dough by rolling your pin over the top of the pan.
  15. Prick the bottom of the dough all over several times with the tines of a small fork.  Line the dough with parchment paper and fill it to the top with dried beans or pie weights.
  16. Place the tart pan onto a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  17. Carefully remove the parchment paper and beans, prick the bottom of the dough again with a small fork, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Set aside.  Leave the tart pan on the sheet pan.

Caramelized Onions

  1. In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.  Add the onions, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  2. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are very tender and caramelized.
  3. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.
  4. Spread the onions in an even layer on the bottom on the partially baked tart shell.

Custard & Assembly

  1. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the mixture slowly into the tart shell over the onions.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the tart is slightly puffed and golden.
  4. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then unmold the tart from the pan.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Optional Garnish: Before baking, dot the top with goat cheese and ⅛-inch thick sliced rounds of peeled red onion.  Bake as directed.

Tip: Finished tart can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Idea: You can make the dough 2 days ahead of time.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Follow all preparation and baking instructions as written.

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Thyme & White Bean Soup

Marc J. Sievers

Soups are one of my favorite things to make, especially during the fall and winter months.  My Thyme & White Bean Soup with Freshly Parsley Pesto is an update to a classic.  It’s one of those soups that on a cool, crisp autumn day or chilly winter evening will instantly make you and your tummy feel warm and cozy!  Best of all the ingredients can be found at any local grocery store.  Eat well, laugh often, and share the love!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - A Chic Autumn Lunch for a complete tutorial:


Thyme & White Bean Soup

Ingredients (serves 6 - 8)

  • Navy Beans – 1 pound, dry
  • Vegetable Stock – 6 cups, low-sodium
  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup
  • Yellow Onions – 4 cups, roughly chopped
  • Garlic – 10 cloves, minced
  • Thyme – 10 sprigs, fresh
  • Rosemary – 1 sprig, fresh
  • Bay Leaf – 1, dried
  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – 2½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

Directions

First Day

  1. Start by covering the beans with water by 1-inch.  Allow them to soak in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.

Next Day

  1. Remove the beans and drain completely.  Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and onions.  Cook for 18-20 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Using kitchen string, tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs together.  Set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  5. Next, add the vegetable stock, drained beans, bay leaf, and herb bundle.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the beans are tender.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and herb bundle.  Add the salt and pepper.
  8. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steal blade, process the soup until it becomes slightly smooth and thick, about 1-2 minutes.
  9. Serve hot.  Allow each guest to drizzle with Fresh Parsley Pesto.

Tip: Serve this soup alongside my Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Boule.


Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

Marc J. Sievers

I am always looking for new ways to cook with and prepare one of my all-time favorite vegetables, butternut squash.  One of the best cooking methods (and easiest!) to prepare it is roasting.  The roasting process really brings out the sweet flavor and it also caramelizes it slightly while making the edges a bit crisp!  Because roasting happens at such a high temperature, roughly 425-450 degrees, it allows the cubes of squash to cook on the outside and still retain an “al dente” like texture inside, almost the consistency of a cubed potato you would find in soup.

While roasted butternut squash is fabulous by itself (right out of the oven), on salads, sandwiches, and in my Autumnal Risotto, I really wanted to showcase the delicious flavor in an all-time classic like lasagna!  My Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna is filled with other favorites like red peppers, fresh thyme, and the nutty flavor of Gruyere.  Don’t let the size of the pan fool you either!  This lasagna is as hearty as they come, layer after layer, bite by bite, it’s going to be a fabulous roller coater of flavor.  Tie up those apron strings, pour a glass of wine, and get cookin!  Happy yummy-ness!


Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients (serves 4 generously, or 6 accompanied with a salad)

  • Roasted Butternut Squash – 3 cups, recipe below
  • Red Pepper – 2 large, ½-inch diced
  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, ½-inch diced
  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely minced
  • Thyme – 3 tablespoons, freshly minced
  • Nutmeg – ¾ teaspoon
  • Black pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked
  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Flour – ½ cup, all-purpose
  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, divided
  • Milk – 4 cups, whole
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Gruyere – 1 cup, freshly grated
  • Parmesan – 1/2 cup, freshly grated
  • Mozzarella – ½ cup, shredded
  • Lasagna Noodles – ½ pound, no-cook variety

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large sauté pan heat 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat.  Cook the onions and red peppers for 15 to 17 minutes or until tender and the edges are slightly golden brown.  Add the garlic, thyme, and roasted butternut squash.  Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Combine all three cheeses into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a small sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer and then set aside.
  5. In a large sauce pan melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter over low heat.  Add the flour and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  6. Pour the hot milk over the butter mixture.  Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Continue to cook for another 5 to 6 minutes until it becomes thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  7. To assemble the lasagna, coat the bottom of the baking dish moderately with white sauce.  Arrange a layer of noodles to cover the bottom of the dish.  Add 1/₃  of the sauce, 1/₃ of the butternut squash mixture, and 1/₃ of the cheeses.  Repeat the process twice more.  You will have a total of three layers of noodles with three layers butternut squash and cheese in-between.
  8. Place the baking dish onto a sheet pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot.
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Tip: The lasagna may be assembled 1 day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.  Allow the lasagna to sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before following baking instruction.


Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients (makes 3 - 4 cups)

  • Butternut Squash – 1 large, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Sea Salt - 2 teaspoon2
  • Black Pepper - 2 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl toss the cubed squash with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place squash on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.  Halfway through the baking time, toss the squash pieces with a spatula to ensure even roasting and browning.  Remove from oven and let cool.  The squash should be aromatic and lightly caramelized.

Tip: The roasted butternut squash can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Classic French Omelette

Marc J. Sievers

A French style omelette is such a fabulous recipe to have in your repertoire!  They are thinner and more elegant than an American version.  With that being said, you can serve them for breakfast, brunch, and especially dinner.

I love having friends over for dinner and surprising them with my Classic French Omelette and a glass of champagne!  It is such a simple technique that once you have mastered it, you will be able to make a perfect (parfait!) omelette in a matter of seconds.  The recipe outlined below is for my Classic Omelette as well as my Savory Omelette.


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - French Omelettes (filmed in Williams-Sonoma Lincoln Park's grand gourmet kitchen!) for a complete tutorial:


Classic French Omelette

Ingredients (makes 1 omelette, multiply recipe as needed)

  • Eggs – 2, extra-large, at room temperature
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Start by beating the eggs until the yolks and whites are fully incorporated.
  2. Place an 10-inch omelette pan over high heat.  Allow the pan to get very hot.
  3. Add the butter and swirl it around to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan.  Once the butter is completely melted, the foam has subsided, and it begins to turn color add the eggs.
  4. Allow the eggs to sit for just a few seconds before you begin swirling the pan over the heat.
  5. Continue the swirling motion for roughly 20 to 25 seconds.  Once the eggs begin to set and there is just a little bit of wetness in the center, jerk the pan several times back and forth in order to fold the eggs onto itself.  The finished omelette will end up in the far lip of the pan.
  6. Grasp the handle of the pan from underneath and rest the far lip of the pan (where the Omelette has formed) slightly off-center onto the bottom of a dinner plate.
  7. Gently turn the pan upside down over the plate.  The omelette will then drop into position.  Et Voilà, a classic French omelette!

Savory Omelette

Ingredients (makes 1 omelette, multiply recipe as needed)

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic – 1 clove, finely minced
  • Yellow Onion – ½ cup, thinly sliced
  • Triple Cream Brie – 2 slices, ¼-inch thick
  • Parsley – ¼ cup, freshly chopped
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon, plus more for garnish

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set of medium heat add the olive oil and onions.  Allow to cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and tender.
  2. Next add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic.  Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper to the beaten eggs and follow cooking and plating instructions for the classic omelette.
  4. Once the omelette is plated, top with the brie, onion mixture, and fresh parsley.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and serve immediately.

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Oven Mac 'n Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

I have yet to come across someone who doesn’t love mac ‘n cheese!  It’s one of those universal comfort foods that can be made in hundreds of ways, with or without toppings, baked, and even fried!  It can cheer you up on a rainy day, enjoyed by the bowl fill while watching a movie, or served during game night with friends (I’m a champ at monopoly!).  My Oven Mac n’ Cheese uses 4 distinctive cheeses and is topped with fresh garlic bread crumbs made from a toasted baguette.  All in all, this dish is sure to bring smiles and accolades from those who indulge!


Oven Mac 'n Cheese

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • Demi Baguette – cut lengthwise
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature
  • Garlic – 2 cloves, finely minced
  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons, divided
  • Black Pepper – 1½ teaspoons, divided
  • Heavy Cream – 1½ cup
  • Whole Milk – 1½ cups
  • Semi-Soft Fontina – ½ pound, grated
  • Red Leicester – ½ pound, grated, available at Trader Joe's
  • Gruyere – ½ pound, grated
  • Parmesan – ½ pound, grated
  • Elbow Macaroni – 2 pounds, dry

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to highest setting.
  2. Place the garlic, butter, and ½ teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper into a small bowl.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Spread each cut side of the baguette evenly with the butter mixture.
  4. Place the baguette halves cut side up onto a sheet pan.  Place under the broiler for 3 - 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the broiler and place the toasted baguette into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse until the texture resembles course breadcrumbs.  Set aside.
  6. In a medium sauce pan set over low heat add the milk, heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper.
  7. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid.  Set aside.
  8. Next, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rapid boil.  Add dry pasta and cook for half of the suggested cooking time.
  9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  10. Drain the pasta and return it back into the pot.  Add the grated cheeses, warm milk, and cream.  Mix until well combined.
  11. Transfer the cheesy pasta into a 5 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with garlic bread crumbs and place into the oven uncovered.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbly. Serve hot.