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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Category: Soups & Salads

Cheese Tortellini Soup with White Beans

Marc J. Sievers

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Sometimes, there is nothing better than a big bowl of piping hot, satisfying soup. Although soup can be a simple affair, there is no reason at all that you can’t also turn up the luxe factor a bit! For my Cheese Tortellini Soup with White Beans, I started with a store-bought vegetable broth that I infused with thyme, crushed fresh garlic and exotic saffron to kick up the flavor. I especially love the addition of the saffron in this recipe because of the hint of spice and the luxurious golden color it gives to the broth. Top with a generous sprinkle of grated fresh parmesan and pair with warm baguette, et voilà! Weeknight dinner, done!

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

  •  Vegetable Broth – 8 cups, favorite store-bought variety

  • Thyme – 6 sprigs, fresh, tied into a bundle with kitchen string

  • Garlic – 3 cloves

  • Saffron – ½ teaspoon

  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Cheese Tortellini – 10 ounces, favorite fresh store-bought variety

  • White Beans – one 15.5 ounce can, rinsed and well-drained

  • Parmigiano Reggiano – freshly grated, for garnish

Directions 

  1. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the vegetable broth, thyme bundle, garlic, saffron, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Allow to come to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow all the flavors to blend together. 

  2. Next, remove and discard the thyme bundle.   

  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove each garlic clove and crush each one, and return it back into the stock.

  4.  Add the cheese tortellini into the simmering stock and cook according to package directions.  Add the white beans during the last 60 seconds of cooking.  This will prevent the beans from being overcooked.

  5.  Ladle into bowls, top with parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

Tip: To give this soup even more flavor and texture you can add fresh baby spinach when you add in the white beans.  The heat of the soup will wilt the leaves and cook it to perfection in just 60 seconds!

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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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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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Cointreau Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Like so many of you, I like to have different vinaigrettes on-hand in the refrigerator.  A simple salad, when done really well, adds great texture and color to a meal, whether for lunch or dinner.  Salads have been know in my house (and clients, too!) to be an impromptu addition when I am having timing issues in the kitchen (or, when I drain the pasta into the sink without a colander - I blame it on the wine!).  My Cointreau Vinaigrette has a wonderful balance of sharp orange zing from Cointreau, and the freshly squeezed orange juice adds a bit of sweetness.  It is rounded out by the fruity olive oil, blending all of the flavors.   A perfect pairing, indeed!


Cointreau Vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 6)

Cointreau Vinaigrette:

  • Orange Liqueur – 1½ tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)

  • Olive Oil – ⅓ cup

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Orange Juice – 3 tablespoons, freshly squeezed

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Salad Components:

  • Arugula – 5 ounces

  • Hazelnuts – 1 cup, lightly toasted

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Parmesan Cheese – large shavings, for garnish (Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended)

  • Strawberries – 1½ cups, hulled, then thinly sliced

  • Parsley – ¼ cup, fresh, finely minced, Italian flat leaf variety recommended

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Orange Juice – ¼ cup, freshly squeezed

Directions

Cointreau Vinaigrette:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Assembly:

  1. On a large serving platter, arrange the arugula, hazelnuts, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, strawberries, and parsley. Evenly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Next, evenly drizzle the salad with freshly squeezed orange juice.

  3. Add just enough Cointreau Vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad. Toss tableside just before serving.

Tip: I like to serve more vinaigrette in a small pitcher or gravy boat on the side and let guest add more vinaigrette to their salad if they prefer.

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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.

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Watch: Stuffed Croissants with Spinach

Marc J. Sievers

I am just so excited to share with you the first webisdoe of my newest series on YouTube of From My Kitchen To Yours: Table for Two edition!  When I started planning out recipes I wanted to film from my new cookbook, I really wanted to show you how truly easy and elegant my idea of cooking and entertaining for you and your +1 can be.  To launch the new series, I knew my Stuffed Croissants with Spinach would be the perfect recipe!  Not only can you serve these as part of a breakfast or brunch, they are also fabulous with a salad for lunch, or even as a first course for dinner.  Not to mention, the "filling" doubles as a creamy and luxurious spinach dip!

Series 5, Episode 1: Stuffed Croissants with Spinach


Stuffed Croissants with Spinach

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Plain Croissants – 2, store-bought

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Shallot – 1 small, finely minced

  • Garlic – 1 clove, finely minced

  • Spinach – 1 bag (5 ounces), rough-chopped, reserve 2 whole leaves for garnish

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Gruyère Cheese – 4 tablespoons, freshly grated, divided

  • Mascarpone – 2 tablespoons

  • Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons, freshly grated (Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended)

  • Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice each croissant horizontally along the outside curve, but not cutting all the way through—you want to make a “pocket” for the filling to nestle into. Set aside.

  3. In a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes just until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.

  4. Next, add the chopped spinach, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the spinach is wilted and tender.

  5. With a spatula, transfer the hot spinach to a small bowl and add the parmesan, mascarpone, and 2 tablespoons of Gruyère. Stir until the mascarpone is melted.

  6. Next, spoon the mixture evenly into the “pocket” created in each croissant.

  7. Brush the outside of each croissant with egg wash, place a spinach leaf on top of each croissant and brush again with the egg wash. Then, evenly sprinkle each croissant with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Gruyère.

  8. Place onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for 7-9 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the spinach leaf is crisp. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Idea:  This recipe can also be served as a hot spinach dip!  Instead of stuffing the spinach mixture into a croissant, put it in a heat-proof serving bowl alongside a selection of pita chips, tortilla chips, black pepper crackers, or even crisp carrot sticks.

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Linda's Tomato Salad

Marc J. Sievers

One of my dearest friends, Linda Marie Clark, lives in California and is an award-winning photographer and exceptional watercolor artist.  She also happens to be an amazing cook!  We met about four years ago after she found my cookbook on Amazon.com and started painting my recipes.   It was so incredibly flattering, especially considering her talent!

Having chatted with her for a few months via email at first then telephone, I decided to invite her to Chicago for a visit.  And now, a few years later, we talk every few days, we started a stationary line together, and our friendship has blossomed.

Linda loves to photograph in her garden in California.  A few weeks back she sent me a text with a photo of a beautiful salad she made after a visit to her local farmers market.  It was filled with fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and spicy basil!  She also captured the moment perfectly at sunset in her garden.  Her photograph (and salad!) was just too stunning not to share with you!  Linda’s Tomato Salad has made it onto my table three times already this summer and is always a crowd-pleaser!

Happy Summer!


Linda's Tomato Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Sweet Corn – 2 ears, shucked

  • Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 ½ pounds, 1-inch cubes

  • Basil – ¾ cup, rough chopped

  • Olive Oil – ½ cup

  • Balsamic Vinegar – ¼ cup

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¾ cup, large shavings, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions

  1. Bring a large sauce pan filled with water to a boil. Add the ears of corn and cook for just 3 minutes. Remove the corn for the water and cut the kernels off the cob.

  2. Next, arrange the cubed tomatoes down the center of a serving platter. Scatter the corn evenly onto the tomatoes.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle evenly with basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

  4. Serve alongside a basket of crusty bread.

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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!

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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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Watch: French Bistro Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Every time I am in Paris, I am mesmerized at how simple and delicious the classic bistro food is!  The menus are long and extensive, but each and every dish seems to be accompanied by a petite salad dressed in a light and creamy vinaigrette – the iconic creamy mustard vinaigrette.  There are thousands of cookbooks and online recipes with different versions on this classic vinaigrette with alternating ingredients and measurements.  And truth be told, some of the ones I tried are really very good, just not what I remember from my Parisian experiences. 

So I set off on my vinaigrette journey armed with an obscene amount of oils, jars of different mustards, whisks, and measuring cups.  Batches and batches later I finally figured out a few small but important tricks to recreate this iconic dressing at home in Chicago; Crème Fraiche, a garlic press, and a combination of both olive oil & vegetable oil.  Adding Crème Fraiche gave it more of a creaminess and tang, that when I left it out, it was noticeable in both texture and flavor.  Instead on mincing the garlic and having the vinaigrette have small pieces in it, using the garlic press turned the garlic into almost a paste which incorporated into the dressing better.  Finally, adding both the olive oil and vegetable oil was, I my opinion, the biggest key to my French Bistro Vinaigrette.  Using all olive oil was too heavy in taste, and using all vegetable oil didn’t add any flavor.  Using both was the perfect combination!

Making my French Bistro Vinaigrette doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment on a variety of salads, even ones with roasted vegetables and fruit.  It is also quite lovely to decorate a cheese plate with – the mustard really comes through the dressing and amps up the flavors of certain cheeses, like Gruyere.  It is also fabulous to serve alongside a crudité platter.  Salad greens, vegetables, cheeses, and fruits are about to become even more exciting!

Watch my webisode on French Bistro Vinaigrette


French Bistro Vinaigrette 

Ingredients (make 1 ¼ cups)

  • Egg Yolks – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press

  • Vegetable Oil – 7 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Tip: This is by far my most favorite vinaigrette and one that I keep constantly on hand.  It can be prepared up to 7 days in advance and stored in an air tight container.  Just remember to make sure you are using both fresh egg yolks and crème fraiche in order for it to maintain its shelf life.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth

Marc J. Sievers

Last year, while Ryan and I were in Paris, we went to an absolutely fabulous and charming Basque restaurant called Beaurepaire.  We went with friends on our last night there.  The restaurant itself was a cozy little place very near to Notre-Dame, on the Left Bank situated at a quaint little cobblestone square along rue de la Bûcherie (one of the oldest streets in Paris).

A friend we were traveling with had suggested the restaurant after she visited it before on a prior trip.  The cuisine is of Northern Basque Country, which is actually in southern France, but is a region of blending cultures where the northern border of Spain and the southern border of France have melded over the centuries.  It is a rustic and earthy cuisine with all of the advantages and refinements brought out in a Parisian restaurant.

We sat at a country-style table and perused the menu, full of surprises, questions, and delights.  I noticed that they had an onion soup available and learned from the waitress that it was, in fact, vegetarian!  She was surprised that I was surprised and further explained that it was made with onions, water, cream, butter, and a little bit of salt and pepper.  C’est tout.

Because my French is non-existent, I asked her again just to make sure we both understood.  She replied emphatically in English, “Absolutely not!  Why would we ever use broth in our onion soup?”  Being a vegetarian, I hardly ever get to enjoy soup at most restaurants as it’s invariably made with some sort of beef or chicken broth (out of laziness, according to our hostess that evening). So, as my first course I elected the Northern Basque-inspired onion soup.

When it arrived I knew I was in for a treat.  The soup was light, rich, and very thin—it rather resembled a sipping broth—and had an aroma I can only describe as deliciously honest.  I knew exactly what was in it.  It was garnished with a few dashes of hot paprika, bit of fresh green herbs, and two pieces of baguette bread lightly toasted with delicious Gruyère cheese melted on top.  After my first sip I literally exclaimed it was the best soup I had ever had in my life.  It was a beautiful savory broth that was lightly flavored with onions and made perfectly luxurious with cream.  It was so incredible that I asked if I could cancel my main course and have an even bigger bowl instead, and of course with more bread!  She happily obliged. 

For almost a year I have talked about the Beaurepaire onion broth, telling anyone who will listen to me about the world’s greatest soup, just how absolutely fantastic it was, and how I was eager to get into the kitchen and try my hand at this delicious savory onion broth.  After a few rounds of testing, especially during the properly chilly winter weather we have been having in Chicago, I finally came up with my version:  Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth.

This is a very thin, but warmly rich, broth that is perfect for sipping at the beginning of a meal, enjoyed on a cold afternoon to warm up after a day of being outside (Après-ski, anyone?!), and especially when you are feeling a bit under the weather—it instantly warms your toes and makes you feel cozy.  I have found that the best serving size is between 5 to 6 ounces.  The flavors are light, well-rounded, and subtle.  Just as the Beaurepaire chef did, I finish my Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth with a dash of hot paprika and some finely minced flat leaf parsley.

You can serve this either in a teacup or mug so it can be sipped slowly and savored (the teacup adds a bit of fun when serving!).  In fact, as I’m writing, I am watching the snow fall on a fabulous and tranquil afternoon and I have a little cup right next to me to help stay warm!

Happy cooking!


Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth

 

Ingredients (makes about 7 cups)

  • Yellow Onions – 10 cups, sliced ¼-inch thick

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, thinly sliced

  • Sea Salt – 1 ¼ teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Water – 10 cups

  • Heavy Cream – ¾ cup

  • Hot Paprika – for garnish, optional

  • Flat Leaf Parsley – finely minced, for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, add the butter. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes until translucent and tender, stirring occasionally.

  2. Next, add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes. Then, remove from the heat.

  3. Using a slotted spoon and working in small batches, remove all of the onion and garlic pieces and place them into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press to expel as much liquid as possible. Once all of the onions have been processed, return all of the liquid back into the pan.

  4. Stir in the heavy cream and gently reheat over low heat.

  5. Check for seasoning, and serve. Garnish with a few dashes of hot paprika and a little fresh parsley, if desired.

Tip: This broth can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Gently reheat over a low heat before serving.

Idea: Since this is really more of a sipping broth it is really meant to either start a meal, or be served as a goûter (afternoon snack) to help warm you up on a chilly afternoon or evening.  Of course, just the broth alone is a fabulous light lunch or dinner with a big green salad, baguette, and some cheeses—très chic!  It is equally as flavorful with or without the addition of garnishes. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Apple Salad with Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things about writing recipes is surprising readers and my guests with complex flavors by using everyday ingredients!  My Apple Salad with Croutons made its television debut on WGN TV Midday News: Lunchbreak and the star of the dish was my simple and incredibly flavorful homemade vinaigrette!

I made the vinaigrette with cinnamon, honey, and apple cider vinegar as my secret ingredients.  All of those flavors are classic combinations with apple, and the addition of tart cranberries, intense Blue Cheese, nuts, and crunchy croutons creates a layered and complex salad with wonderfully everyday ingredients. A match made in food-flavor heaven!  In fact, I served this same salad on Thanksgiving Day, and the entire platter was devoured with guests actually asking for seconds – of salad!  


Apple Salad with Croutons

Ingredients for Salad (serves 8)

  • Granny Smith Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Honey Crisp Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/3 cup

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Dried Cranberries – ½ cup

  • Pistachios – ½ cup

  • Candied Pecans – ½ cup

  • Blue Cheese – 4 ounces, crumbled

  • Arugula or Spring Mix – 8 ounces

Directions for Salad

  1. Start by placing the cut apples in a large bowl of cold water. Add the lemon juice, and allow to sit until ready to serve.

  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking vigorously. Set aside.

  3. Drain the apples.

  4. Arrange the greens down the center of a big platter. Add the apples, dried cranberries, pistachios, pecans, and blue cheese on top. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

  5. Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Croutons

  • Demi Baguette – 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.

  2. Toast for 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

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Curried Pumpkin Soup

Marc J. Sievers

I love taking a classic flavor, like pumpkin, and giving it a flavor-makeover!  My Curried Pumpkin Soup is a new classic in my home this time of year.  The flavors are still very traditional, but the addition of dried yellow curry powder make it a feel a little bit more special and, dare I say, exotic!  This is a perfect soup for a chilly autumn or winter day!  This soup can be prepared up to three days in advance of serving and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze large containers of soup to be enjoyed at a later time.  Gently re-heat in a large pot over medium-low heat – soup anytime!

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!


Curried Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Carrots – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Leeks – 2 large, ½-inch sliced (white and light green parts only)

  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, ½-inch diced

  • Honeycrisp Apples – 2 medium, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely minced

  • Pumpkin Purée – 2 cans (15 ounces each), plus ½ cup (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • Vegetable Broth – 8 cups (preferably low sodium)

  • Thyme – 2 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • White Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Yellow Curry Powder (mild) – 3½ teaspoons, divided

  • Half and Half – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Butter – 6 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons

Directions

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the onions, leeks, apples, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and 3 teaspoons of curry powder. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the vegetable stock and 30 ounces of the pumpkin puree. Continue cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Carefully transfer the hot contents of the pot into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Purée for 2 minutes until mostly smooth. The soup should still have a slight texture. Note that you may have to do this in smaller batches if you are working with a smaller processor or blender.

  4. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the half and half, the remaining ½ teaspoon of curry powder, and the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin purée. Whisk until completely incorporated.

  5. At this point you can gently reheated, and serve.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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Bistro Salad

Marc J. Sievers

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday.  Though it is a holiday in my head, it is still a regular workday for most of us.  But, it also promises to be a great start to a romantic weekend.  With that in mind, I want to keep the kitchen time down to a minimum on Friday so that I can kick off my “Valentine’s Weekend” doing what I love most—spending time with my Valentine.

What to do when you want to have a romantic night in sipping Champagne and gazing into your beau’s eyes, but still make a fabulously-delicious dish?  Using a few classics from the traditional Valentine’s Day pantry I created my delicious Bistro Salad, and it assembles faster than Cupid’s arrow can find its mark.

My Bistro Salad combines sweet honey, tangy goat cheese, strawberries, and chocolate making it the perfect romantic (and quick!) dinner on the Day of Love.  It takes just minutes to assemble and will pair perfectly with a bold Cabernet or crisp glass of bubbly.  Most importantly, it will give you the latitude to enjoy a rich and decadent dessert without robbing you of your sense of romance!  Whether you are spending this day with friends or your special someone, I hope the day brings love, hugs, and champagne.  Eat well, laugh often, and above all share the love, for Cupid’s sake!


Bistro Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Greens – 5 ounces, rinsed and well-dried

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Strawberries – 1 cup, hulled and quartered

  • Sliced Almonds – ¼ c cup

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • White Balsamic Vinegar – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 tablespoons, 72%, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions

  1. Place the greens in a serving vessel of your choice.

  2. Evenly distribute the strawberries, nuts, and goat cheese over the greens.

  3. Drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chocolate.

  4. Serve immediately.

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Fresh Parsley Pesto

Marc J. Sievers

Surprise your taste buds with a twist on traditional pesto with my Fresh Parsley Pesto!  Shinning bright with parsley flavor, rich olive oil, and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano this easy and unique addition to soups, pastas, and sandwiches will add new life to old favorites!  Best of all, it’s all made in a food processor in under 2 minutes.  Eat well, laugh often, and share the love!  Happy eating!


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


Fresh Parsley Pesto

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

  • Parsley – 2½ cups, roughly chopped, flat leaf variety

  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Pine Nuts – ¼ cup

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, roughly chopped

  • Olive Oil – ¾ cup

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a steal blade add the parsley, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process for 30 seconds.

  2. With the processor still running, slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube. Process until the mixture is thoroughly pureed.

  3. Serve immediately.

Tip: Serve this alongside my Thyme & White Bean Soup.

Trick: You can also store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer in an air tight container with a thin layer of olive oil on top.

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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.

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Fig & Stilton Salad

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever fresh figs are in season and available at farmers markets, I always get so excited for the endless possibilities for cheese plates, salads, and desserts!  My Fig & Stilton Salad combines a unique flavor combination of Black Mission Figs, Stilton, and dark chocolate all dressed with an orange vinaigrette.  This is the perfect salad with a glass of champagne or Sauvignon Blanc while dining al fresco during the last few weeks of summer.  Just add a fresh baguette and some honey butter and voila, you have a chic and delicious salad for your guests.


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Orange Zest – 1 tablespoon

  • Orange Juice – 1/3 cup, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – 3/4 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 3/4 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 3/4 cup

  • Arugula – 5 ounces, washed & drained well

  • Black Mission Figs – 8, quartered

  • Pecans – 1 cup, halved

  • Stilton – 3/4 cup, crumbled

  • Dark Chocolate – 4 tables, freshly grated

  • Fleur de Sel – for garnish

Directions

For the Orange Vinaigrette:

  1. Combine the juice, zest, honey, sea salt, and black pepper into a glass bowl. Mix until well incorporated.

  2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

  3. Set aside.

For the salad:

  1. Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and arrange on a large serving platter or bowl.

  2. Evenly distribute the figs, pecans, Stilton and dark chocolate over the dressed arugula.

  3. Garnish with Fleur de Sel.

  4. Serve immediately.

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