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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Category: Sides

Watermelon & Lime Wedges

Marc J. Sievers

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Summer just isn’t summer without watermelon making an appearance at a barbecue or endlessly repeating the iconic line “I carried a watermelon” from my all-time favorite summer movie Dirty Dancing! While a beautifully ripe melon is definitely a classic all on its own, it’s a lot easier than you think to kick up the flavor and make it truly something special. My Watermelon & Lime Wedges have a generous sprinkle of Maldon flaked sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to enhance the natural sweetness of this summertime favorite while adding zingy lime zest (I love using a classic rasp by Microplane to get just the bright green part of the lime) for something that is uniquely unexpected and completely delicious! And who doesn’t love food on a stick? Sliding a popsicle stick into the wedges is not only fun, it makes these the ultimate grab-and-go snack, allowing your guests to make their rounds at the party and come back for more!

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Apple & Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Marc J. Sievers

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I admit that I have not always been a fan of coleslaw. More often than not, it can be tasteless and the runny texture leaves a lot to be desired. What I do love are interesting, complex flavors and my Apple & Blue Cheese Coleslaw (originally in my second book, Table for Two) is full of unexpected ingredients! Instead of tossing cabbage with just mayo and sour cream, I thought I would shake up the traditional recipe by adding a tangy blue cheese dressing, crisp granny smith apples, golden raisins, and lots of fresh herbs.  The result is a crowd-pleasing dish that has become a staple at client dinner parties as well as on my own table!

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Apple & Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Ingredients (serves 2)

Dressing

  • Mayonnaise – ¼ cup

  • Crème Fraîche – ¼ cup

  • Blue Cheese – 3½ ounces (Danish variety recommended)

  • Half & Half – 1 tablespoon

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press

  • Champagne Vinegar – 2 teaspoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

 Slaw

  • Red Cabbage – 8 ounces, shredded

  • Golden Raisins – ¾ cup

  • Granny Smith Apple – 1 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Scallions – 2 tablespoons, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

  • Parsley – 2 tablespoons, fresh, finely minced (Italian flat leaf parsley recommended)

  • Basil – 1½ tablespoons, fresh, finely minced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

Dressing

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a small bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse until well mixed, but still chunky.  Set aside.

Slaw

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a medium bowl.  Add the dressing and toss until everything is very well mixed.

  2. Serve immediately, or chilled.

Tip: This recipe is a perfect make-ahead option, as it actually tastes better the next day as it sits in the refrigerator allowing the flavors to meld and blend together.

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Warm Pear & Mustard Salad

Marc J. Sievers

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Whether as a side dish or as the center of attention as an entrée, salads have long been a staple that is both easy and satisfying.  But have you ever considered making a warm salad with fruit?  My Warm Pear & Mustard Salad is an elegantly layered combination of sweet and tangy flavors and is hearty enough for the comfort food that we crave all year long! 

If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary to serve at your next dinner party, this salad makes for an earthy presentation alongside my French Savory Tart.  Your guests will love the sharp kick of the Dijon mustard as well as being able to see the beautiful whole seeds from the whole grain mustard. I guarantee they will never look at salads the same way again!

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Warm Pear & Mustard Salad

Ingredients (serves 6) 

  • Baby Arugula – 3 cups

  • Stilton – 5 ounces, crumbled, at room temperature

  • *Baguette Croutons – recipe below

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Shallot – 1 medium, thinly sliced

  • Bosc Pears – 2 large, cored, 1-inch diced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Tarragon – 2 tablespoons, whole leaves

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Whole Grain Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Fleur de Sel – for garnish

Directions 

  1. Arrange the arugula, stilton and croutons onto a large platter.  Set aside. 

  2. In a large sauté set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Once hot, add the shallots.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.   

  3. Next, add the pears, sea salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, until the pears are tender. 

  4. Add the tarragon leaves and both mustards.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring carefully to incorporate the mustards into the oil but to not break up the pears.   

  5. Lastly, spoon the entire mixture over the arugula, stilton and croutons, including all of the olive oil.   

  6. Give the salad a gentle toss, sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and serve warm.

 *Baguette Croutons

Ingredients for Baguette Croutons 

  • Baguette – cut into 1-inch cubes, 3 cups

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Sea Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked 

Directions for Baguette Croutons  

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once melted, add the bread cubes, salt, and pepper. 

  2. Toast for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown. 

  3. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon

Marc J. Sievers

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If you are someone who really loves onions then you probably love red onions, too! Their mild and sweet flavor make them the perfect partner-in-crime for sandwiches and salads. They are often used raw in recipes, but have you ever thought about how you could elevate a red onion by roasting it in the oven?  My Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon will change the way you think about this kitchen staple and open your taste buds to a new world of flavor!

New to the wonders of Tarragon?  It is a leafy green herb widely used in French cuisine and has a very distinct flavor, similar to anise.  You can serve these fabulous and flavorful onions hot as a side dish or let them come to room temperature and include them as an unexpected but delicious component for a cheese board ( a bit of brie, anyone?).  This dish also makes a sophisticated addition to an arugula salad with my go-to French Bistro Vinaigrette!

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Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Red Onion – 3 large, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, cutting through the root end to keep the wedges intact

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 7 tablespoons, divided

  • Tarragon – 10 sprigs, fresh 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Place the onions, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a half sheet pan and toss together, being careful not to break up the individual wedges of onions.

  3. Next, evenly cover the onions with the sprigs of tarragon.  Brush the sprigs with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  4. Roast for 22-24 minutes until the onions are tender.  Serve hot.

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Pomegranate Guacamole

Marc J. Sievers

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had been in the kitchen testing guacamole recipes and I just had to share my Pomegranate Guacamole recipe with you (how could I keep this from you?)! This classic recipe with a MJS twist is bursting with fresh basil, red onion, and juicy pomegranate seeds. I love serving this dip on a long rectangular platter with pomegranate seeds casually strewn over the top. Not only is it delicious, but I love the drama of the contrasting colors!


Pomegranate Guacamole

Ingredients (makes 3 cups)

  • Lime Juice – 1 small lime, fresh

  • Hass Avocados – 3 ripe, pitted, flesh removed

  • Red Onion – ½ cup, ¼-inch diced

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely chopped

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Pomegranate Seeds – ¾ cup

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add the freshly-squeezed lime juice and avocados.

  2. Using two sharp knives in a crisscross action, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced but still have some texture.

  3. Add the red onion, basil, salt, and pepper, and gently toss.

  4. Lastly, garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Green Apple Guacamole

Marc J. Sievers

I don’t know about you, but I have been eating guacamole all summer long! The past few months I have been testing guacamole recipes with different ingredients, flavors, and textures to give this classic dip an MJS twist. My Green Apple Guacamole is filled with crunchy green apples, spicy green onion, and of course creamy Hass avocados. As it turns out, green apples not only add fabulous crunch, but also a little bit of tartness that really cuts through the richness of the avocados. A classic, updated - enjoy!


Green Apple Guacamole

Ingredients (makes 3 cups)

  • Lime Juice – 1 small lime, fresh

  • Hass Avocados – 3 ripe, pitted, flesh removed

  • Granny Smith Apple – 2 large, cored, ¼-inch diced

  • Jalapeño – 1 small, fresh, seeded, finely diced

  • Green Onion – ½ cup, thinly sliced, white and green parts

  • Parsley – ½ cup, finely minced, Italian flat leaf variety

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add the freshly-squeezed lime juice and avocados.

  2. Using two sharp knives in a crisscross action, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced but still have some texture.

  3. Lastly, add the remaining ingredients and gently toss.

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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


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Simple Roasted Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

I have discovered that the simpler the food the more everyone loves it, this has held true whether cooking for just Ryan, or for a crowd.  Now, do not confuse the word simple with the word boring—there is a huge difference between classic flavors and no flavor at all!  This is exactly what I love about my Simple Roasted Potatoes—I have taken a classic dish and enhanced the flavors as simply as possible.  The resulting recipe is as basic as it gets, yet incredibly delicious.

Roasting the potatoes in a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, really brings out their natural flavor and makes them crispy on the outside and like little fluffy pillows inside.  I love using gorgeous heirloom varieties that come in the most stunning colors, adding even more personality to such a simple but satisfying recipe!


Simple Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • Small Multicolored Potatoes – 1 ¾ pounds, cut in half or quarters (depending on the size)

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place the cut potatoes onto a half sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange them in a single layer.

  3. Roast for 45-55 minutes, until the edges are crisp and browned, tossing once during the cooking process.

  4. Serve immediately.

Idea: This is the most basic recipe for roasting the smaller varieties of potatoes.  While these are completely delicious and flavorful as is, experiment with different garnishes; fresh parsley, smoked paprika, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or truffle salt.  These are perfect for serving along side breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Marc J. Sievers

During a busy work week when Ryan has late meetings and I have been in the kitchen recipe testing, or writing, the idea of whipping up an elaborate dinner couldn’t be further from my mind!  Instead, when those long days end, we like to relax on the couch, sip wine or Champagne, chat about our day, and “nibble” on cheeses, fruit, bread, and chocolate.  Of course, there are many nights we just do that out of habit—and not a bad habit if I say so myself!  When we want to really indulge, I pull out the big guns, or in our case, fabulous and creamy Triple Cream Brie!

As a lover of all types of French fries, I wanted to find an elegant way to serve one of my favorite basic food groups (they’re a food group, right?!), like on a random Tuesday night or for a Saturday night soirée.  Roasting big wedges of sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the flavor of this almost creamy vegetable, and also makes the outside nicely crisp.  When paired with fresh basil and Triple Cream Brie, and set under a broiler for just a minute, the result is over-the-top flavor and fantastic texture!

My Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries are the perfect thing to serve with drinks at a cocktail party, or alongside a big green salad and hearty soup for either a lunch or dinner (pass the baguette, please!), and especially after a long day when only a giant pan of richness will make the world’s problems melt away! 

From my kitchen to yours – happy cooking!


Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Sweet Potatoes – 4 medium, peeled

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, fresh, finely minced

  • Triple Cream Brie – 4 ½ ounces, with rind, thinly sliced, cut into ¾-inch pieces, chilled

  • Basil – ¼ cup, fresh, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary and garlic. Set aside.

  3. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into three long wedges.

  4. Place the wedges onto a sheet pan and toss with olive oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

  5. Roast for 20 minutes, and then turn each wedge with a spatula. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the rosemary and garlic mixture, and bake for an addition 5 minutes.

  6. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Set the broiler to high.

  7. Place the wedges into an oven-proof serving dish. Evenly distribute the cheese and then place under the broiler until the Brie is bubbly and melted, about 2-3 minutes.

  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Idea: Using a cast iron skillet as a serving dish allows you to go from hot broiler to table – just remember to use a trivet on top of your table.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Fruit Conserve

Marc J. Sievers

A holiday dinner in my family would not be complete without jellied cranberry sauce (with the can lines!) in a little crystal dish on the table!  While I still love that sentiment and tradition, I have upped the game with my Fruit Conserve.  My version of “cranberry sauce” is brimming with flavorful ingredients like dried figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, and currants – just to name a few!  I have even added a few tablespoons of Grand Mariner, an orange liqueur, to add a little more depth of flavor – it is the holidays after all!  What I love the most about this recipe is it can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Leftover conserve is fabulous when warmed through and served over vanilla ice cream or even on crackers with slices of Brie.  A triple-duty recipe, perfect for this time of year!


Fruit Conserve

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • Water – 1 cup

  • Sugar – 1¼ cups

  • Fresh Cranberries – 1 bag (12 ounces)

  • Honey Crisp Apple – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Bosc Pear – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Orange – 1, zested, seeded and ½-inch diced

  • Lemon – 1, zested, juiced

  • Grand Marnier – 3 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Course Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Golden Raisins – ½ cup

  • Dried Black Mission Figs - ½ cup, rough chopped

  • Zante Currants – ½ cup

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

Directions

  1. Start by placing the water, sugar, and cranberries into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberry skins open.

  2. Next, add the apple, pear, orange, zests, and lemon juice. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Finally, off the heat, add the raisins, currants, cherries, figs, cinnamon, salt, and Grand Marnier. Allow to cool and place into the refrigerator to set.

  4. Serve slightly chilled.

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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!


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.

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Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing to eat (and still is!) were mashed potatoes!  The smell of a big pot of potatoes boiling away always reminds me of family dinners and holidays – the best!  While I still prepare traditional mashed potatoes with just milk, butter, salt, and pepper, I have a new twist on a classic – my Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes.  These potatoes are filled with browned butter, garlic, spicy basil, nutmeg, and white pepper, making them a welcomed update to the classic version!

You can even make mashed potatoes in advance by keeping them warm in a glass bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap set over a pan of barely simmering water.  They can remain like this for up to 1 hour.  Stir them every 20 minutes to help them maintain an even temperature.  You can add a little bit of warm half and half if they become too thick.  Remember, if making them in advance, stir in the basil just before you serve them, or the basil will turn dark – not a good look!


Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, lightly smashed

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1½ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely minced, fresh

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, set over medium-low heat, add the butter and smashed garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden and the milk solids in the butter have browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Scrape all the browned bits, butter, and garlic into a small blender or food processor. Add the half and half, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth, or about 1 minute.

  4. Pour into a small saucepan and gently reheat. Once hot, turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

  5. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them, and add them back into the pan.

  6. Using a handheld mixer fitted with the beater attachment beat the hot potatoes in the pot until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot half and half mixture and beat until mostly smooth. They should still have a few small lumps for texture.

  7. Lastly, stir in the fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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Baguette Stuffing

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, stuffing is one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving meal!  Instead of preparing a stuffing from a bag (boring!), my Baguette Stuffing only takes a few steps and the result is just delicious and fabulous!  The combination of French bread and rye bread gives this dish a real depth of flavor, along with all of the fresh vegetables, herbs, and of course butter!   This recipe is as equally wonderful with almost-ripe pears.  Simply substitute the apples for pears and follow the same cooking directions.  You can also change the cashews for almonds, or even pecans.  Your traditional bread stuffing is about to get a major flavor makeover!


Baguette Stuffing

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • French Baguette – 24-inch, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Dark Rye Bread – 1 pound loaf, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Butter - 12 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Celery – 5 stalks, ½-inch diced

  • Onions – 2 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Granny Smith Apples – 2 medium, ½-inch diced, peeled, and cored

  • Garlic - 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Flat Leaf Parsley – ½ cup, roughly chopped, fresh

  • Rosemary – 3 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Thyme – 2 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

  • Vegetable Broth – 3 cups (low sodium preferred)

  • Raw Cashews – 1 cup, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

  2. Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the onion, celery, apples, garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the mixture is soft.

  4. In a large bowl toss the bread, onion mixtue, vegetable broth, and cashews.

  5. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

Fresh figs are such a luxury this time of year!  Their normal season begins the first few weeks of June, then they come back to greet us from August through October.  While you can certainly find dried figs year round—they are fabulous to serve with cheeses, in pastas, or just eaten right from the container—fresh figs add such an elegant touch to a party.

In the past, I have written a few recipes using these luscious fruits, but my Warm Figs with Goat Cheese may just become your new favorite way to enjoy fresh figs this time of year!  How can you go wrong with fresh figs drizzled in earthy honey, rosemary, pistachios, and goat cheese?  The aromatic and savory rosemary adds a bit of an autumnal vibe, perfect for the start of this transitional time of year. 

Presentation is very casual as guests can literally spoon the warm figs onto slices of toasted bread.  Or, serve as a salad!  Best of all, you can assemble this dish one hour head of time and allow it to sit at room temperature (no need to take up precious fridge space).  Add the pistachios just before you are ready to bake and then bake as your guests arrive and are greeted by a fabulous and sophisticated aroma that will surely get them excited for what’s to come.

I like to bake and serve this dish in a cast iron skillet or pie plate—from oven to table!  Summer coming to an end isn’t so bad after all!  This is only the beginning of the fabulous fruits of Fall!


Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Ingredients (serves 6 as an hors d’oeuvre, 4 as salad course)

  • Fresh Figs – 1 pint, stems removed and cut in half

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Rosemary – ¾ teaspoon, finely minced

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, at room temperature

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • *Baguette or crackers for serving as a hors d’oeuvre

  • *Arugula for serving as a salad

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Arrange the figs cut side up in a single layer in an oven proof dish or cast iron skillet.

  3. Drizzle the honey over the figs and sprinkle evenly with the pistachios, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over top.

  4. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese begins to soften.

  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

As an hors d’oeuvre – allow guests to spoon the warm figs onto toasted slices of baguette or simple crackers.

As a salad – arrange handfuls of washed arugula onto salad plates (or onto a large platter for family style) and top with the warm figs.  The honey and natural juices from the figs will act as the vinaigrette.

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Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Marc J. Sievers

There is something very satisfying about simple food that is less about the fuss and all about the flavor.  From the ingredients, to the preparation, to the taste, some of the best-tasting dishes can be the simplest to make.  My Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions have only five ingredients, take hardly any real kitchen effort, and just roast away in the oven, giving your kitchen an aromatic hint of sweet onions and tangy vinegar. 

Besides my Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions being so incredibly simple to make, they can be served in a variety of very savvy ways.  Give these few ideas a try:

·         As part of a roasted vegetable platter,

·         As a side with a French Omelettes and green salad,

·         As part of cocktail hour alongside Roquefort cheese, slices of baguette, roasted cashews, and other little nibbles.

If you decide to serve as part of cocktail hour, have some small cocktail forks on hand so guests can pick up each onion with ease.  And make sure to invite guests to savor the luxurious balsamic syrup with pieces of baguette.

Sometimes the most flavorful and enjoyable dishes can come from the simplest of ingredients, like pearl onions.  And what a benefit that this is also one of the easiest!


Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Golden Pearl Onions – 10ounces, fresh

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a small oven-proof dish with aluminum foil. Set aside.

  2. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer. Drop in the whole pearl onions for 5 minutes to help loosen their skins. Drain the onions. Using a small knife, cut off the ends and peel each onion.

  3. Add the peeled onions, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the prepared dish.. Toss to evenly coat.

  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing 3 times during the cooking process, until the onions are tender and the vinegar has reduced to a think syrup.

  5. Serve hot or room temperature.

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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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Golden Raisin Bread

Marc J. Sievers

When life gives you golden raisins make them into bread—isn’t that how that “famous” saying goes?  Or perhaps that was something to do with lemons, which in this case you can also add to bread!  Needless to say, those two ingredients are the stars in my newest recipe for Golden Raisin Bread.

While I did not start with the intention to make this exact recipe, it just evolved on its own, and turned out to be what I now consider as one of my top ten recipes of all time.  And yes, I realize that is a huge statement!

When I headed into my kitchen last week I began testing an Irish Soda Bread recipe, in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.  I spent almost two days reading through recipes from my library of cookbooks, and scouring the internet for articles and reviews of recipes that seemed noteworthy.  I wanted to make sure my recipe stayed true to the original roots of Irish Soda Bread, at which point I stumbled upon the official web site for The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Breads.  I found it to be absolutely fascinating!

As I read through the history of this iconic bread, I learned that traditional Irish Soda Bread has just four ingredients:  Buttermilk, flour, salt, and baking soda.  Any deviation from that simple formula would not only make it not authentic, but it would also change the flavor, texture, and appearance.   Instead of trying to “re-create” an historic tradition, I decided to take the base ingredients, add other flavorings, and try to create something new and different, but grounded in the theme of an Irish Soda Bread.

After scrumptious taste-testing and almost eight loaves of bread later, my Golden Raisin Bread was finished!  I transformed the classic recipe with additions like lemon zest, brown sugar, and golden raisins—a simple bread loaf became something perfect to serve at breakfast (toasted with raspberry preserves), at teatime (accompanied by clotted cream), or even as part of a bread basket with lunch or dinner (salted butter, anyone?!).

The texture is somewhere between a biscuit and a scone, the lemon zest adds a lovely brightness, and the golden raisins add both sweetness and a fabulous texture.  The entire recipe is prepared using a big bowl and rubber spatula—no electric mixer, no rising, no fuss.  All of the ingredients are readily found at your local grocery store, and from start to finish takes less than 60 minutes—making it the perfect bread to bake on a whim!


Golden Raisin Bread

Ingredients

  • Flour – 4 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoon

  • Baking Soda – 2 teaspoons

  • Cream of Tartar – ½ teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 4 tablespoons

  • Buttermilk – 2 cups, cold

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, plus 1 extra-large yolk, at room temperature

  • Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons

  • Golden Raisins – 2 cups

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, sift together 4 cups of flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and raisins. Toss to coat. Set aside.

  4. In another small bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and lemon zest. Lightly beat to break up the yolks.

  5. Next, add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold everything together until it is just combine.

  6. Add the raisins and fold them into the dough.

  7. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times until it forms a round loaf, roughly 9-inches around by 3-inches high.

  8. Place the loaf onto the prepared sheet pan. Using a serrated knife, cut an “X” into the top of the loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the melted butter.

  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. The loaf will have a hollow sound when you tap the top.

  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

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Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

During the holidays (and all year long), one of my favorite things to indulge in are mashed potatoes.  Growing up my Nan would serve huge bowls of them coated in melted butter and lightly seasoned with black pepper.  Just the anticipation from the smell of the boiling potatoes and the starchy air coming from the kitchen would make my mouth water!  Fast forward a “few” years, and it’s now my turn to host holidays and get-togethers while still maintaining the traditions of years past.

This year I really wanted to make a version of mashed potatoes that showcased the earthy taste of roasted potatoes and the freshness of basil.  Roasting the potatoes really deepens their flavor and the little browned bits that collect on the bottom of the pan add a slight crunch.  Since most holiday dishes use fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage I thought introducing basil would be a welcomed flavor to awaken the taste buds!  Take a glance at my Savory French Tart that features a seasoned rosemary crust and is perfect for serving as an hors d’oeuvre with champagne or a glass of wine before the feast.

Follow my recipe below and surprise your family and friends with a simple yet unique take on a classic dish!


Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4 - 5)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

  • Butter – 6 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Whole Milk – 1 ⅓ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Gruyere – 1 cup, finely grated, plus more for garnish

  • Basil – ¼ cup, finely minced, plus more for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place the potatoes onto a sheet pan and toss with oil olive. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking time.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over low heat add the butter and lightly smashed garlic cloves. Allow the butter to melt completely and simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. Then add the milk and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove the whole garlic pieces and discard them.

  5. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc-blade over a large heat-proof bowl. Process the potatoes and all the browned bits from the bottom of the sheet pan through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth.

  6. As soon as the potatoes are milled, whisk in the warm butter-and-milk mixture, salt, pepper, Gruyere, and basil.

  7. Garnish with a light sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper, grated Gruyere, and fresh basil. Serve hot

Tip: Use a rasp to grate the Gruyere in order to get very fine shreds.  These fine shreds will be completely absorbed into the potatoes allowing them to be very creamy and have a slight nutty texture.

Idea: Mashed potatoes may be kept warm in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water.  Just cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap first, making sure to keep it away from the flame.

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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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Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Boule

Marc J. Sievers

If you love bread as much as I do, you are going to fall in love with my Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Boule!  This recipe has the sweet flavor of roasted garlic, spiciness of fresh rosemary, and a golden-brown crunchy crust.  There is nothing like the feeling (and taste!) of  homemade, freshly baked bread.

I also love this recipe because it doesn’t require any specialty equipment or hours of kneading, once its mixed, that’s it!  The base of this recipe is what I use for all my “no-knead” boules which makes experimenting with new flavors fairly simple and allows for more time creating new combinations.  If you have never made homemade bread, start here!  Happy baking!


Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Boule

Ingredients (makes 1 boule)

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose

  • Yeast – 1 packet, active dry yeast (¼ ounce)

  • Fleur de Sel (French sea salt) – 1 ¾ teaspoons

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Roasted Garlic- 5 cloves, smaller cloves left whole, larger cloves cut in half

  • Rosemary – 3 tablespoons, freshly minced

  • Black Pepper – 2 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 2 teaspoons

  • Water – 1½ cups, warm

Directions

First Day

  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey. Allow the yeast to fully dissolve, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add flour, salt and rosemary. Stir until blended; the dough will be very sticky.

  3. Gently fold in the garlic.

  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

Next Day

  1. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, quickly fold the dough onto itself twice then shape the dough into a ball.

  2. Line the same bowl with large pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Place the dough, seam side down, into the bowl and dust with more flower. Cover the bowl with a clean cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more that doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. Next, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a cast iron pot with lid in the preheated over for at lease 30 minutes while the dough is rising. The pot should be at least 2-¾ quart sized.

  4. To prepare the dough after the second rise, remove the cotton towel and evenly drizzle the top with olive oil.

  5. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and rest on a heat-resistant surface. Lift the ends of the parchment paper from the bowl and place into the hot pot.

  6. Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and continue baking until the loaf is crusty and browned (about 15-25 minutes more). Keep your eye on the bread at this point as it can burn easily.

  7. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and place the loaf on a wire rack to cool completely.

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