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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Category: YouTube

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

The old saying, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" is exactly what you will be shouting from rooftops once you make my incredibly luxurious (yet so easy) Vanilla Bean Ice Cream!  There are some recipes that use a handful of really good, flavorful, and fresh ingredients, that result in what I call "heritage recipes." These recipes embody the essence of home cooking and will make an appearance at your table for decades to come.  My ice cream recipe certainly falls into that category!  It uses just four ingredients, takes only minutes to assemble, and is the epitome of what vanilla bean ice cream should taste like, with fresh cream flavored with vanilla and a hint of briny sea salt.

Whether you plan to serve this vanilla bean ice cream on top of a slice of pie, a French apple tart, galette, or by just itself (drizzled with salted caramel sauce, my favorite!), you will be moved to scream for ice cream from rooftops from now on!

Watch: Another #MJSmoments on YouTube.  Subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here!


Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Sugar –⅔ cup, granulated

  • Vanilla Bean Paste – 2 teaspoons

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and fleur de sel. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until very cold.

  3. Once the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

  4. Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

Tip: I love the ease and simplicity of the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

Try my other favorite ice cream recipes here:

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Watch: Truffled Toast with Asparagus

Marc J. Sievers

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

Series 5, Episode 3: Truffled Toast with Asparagus


Truffled Toast with Asparagus 

Ingredients (serves 2, easily expands for larger soirées)

  • Truffle Oil – 6 tablespoons

  • Challah Bread – 2 slices, cut 2-inches thick

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Asparagus – 5 stalks, bottom ends trimmed and discarded, cut ¾-inch on the diagonal, tips included

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, thinly sliced

  • Fontina Cheese – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Pecorino Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated

  • Egg Yolks – 4 extra-large, whole, at room temperature, separated into 2 bowls

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place two individual gratin dishes (6-7 inches in diameter) onto a half sheet pan.

  2. Place a slice of bread into each dish. Make an oval-shaped well in the center of each slice by removing bread about ½-inch deep.

  3. Brush the tops of each slice with 3 tablespoons of truffle oil, allowing the oil to be absorbed in completely.

  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the tops are lightly toasted.

  5. Meanwhile, in a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once hot, add the asparagus, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  6. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat, transfer into a small bowl, and set aside.

  7. Once the bread is finished baking, remove the sheet pan from the oven, top each slice evenly with both cheeses. Gently place the eggs yolks into the well of each slice, and evenly distribute the asparagus mixture.

  8. Return to the oven and bake for just another 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is just slightly melted. The egg yolks will still be raw and runny.

  9. Garnish with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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

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

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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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Will You Be My +1!

Marc J. Sievers

A few weeks ago on my Instagram feed I announced I had a new series of From My Kitchen To Yours launching soon on YouTube.  I am so excited to share with you that the first webisode will air Tuesday April 11th!  This five-part series is focused on some of my favorite recipes from my newest cookbook Table for Two and highlights some chic and flavorful ideas on cooking and entertaining for you and your +1.  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to ensure you are one of the first to see my latest webisode.  I hope you have as much fun watching the new series as I had filming it!

Cheers,

 
 
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Small But Mighty Kitchen!

Marc J. Sievers

My kitchen is my workshop, my office, and my playground!  I spend a great deal of time in my kitchen recipe testing for my new book (coming later this year!) and my blog La Vie Piquant, and of course creating all kinds of dishes and desserts for cocktail and dinner parties.  I have put a lot of thought and love into my kitchen, to make it both functional and inspirational.

Recently, I had a few renovations done to further improve the look and feel of my small but mighty kitchen!  In fact, I’m so excited about the updates that I kicked off Series 4 of From My Kitchen to Yours with a webisode dedicated to giving you a tour of my mighty little kitchen and some of the thinking and purpose behind my design choices.  This is my real kitchen in my apartment in Chicago.  No studio or sets involved!  This is where I do all my creative development for my books, blog, and professional services.  Watch the webisode below, and here I include a few more ideas and detail that didn’t make it into the webisode.

While I didn’t outline each and every detail of my new kitchen, I think that ones that I highlighted are really ideas and concepts that can work in any kitchen, regardless of the size.  When you spend as much time in the kitchen as I do, having a space that is as customized to fit your needs is essential.  The kitchen, for me, has never been a place for the latest trendy things—it is a place that artfully combines the functional and the beautiful.  Timeless tools, like a food mill for example, will always have a place in my kitchen, along with cozy details that reflect my tastes and personality.  (Did you catch the photograph above the doorframe?  That’s my Nan’s kitchen where I first learned to cook.)

Here are some of the highlights I mentioned in my webisode, as well as some additional design ideas:

Under-Cabinet Lighting

This small details adds instant warmth to any kitchen.  It also offers a lovely glow during dinner parties, particularly if your kitchen can be seen or is open to the dining room.  I opted for LED lighting that simply plugs into any standard wall outlet—no electrician needed!

Peg Board

My board is the “work horse” of my small kitchen.  Not only do I store some of my most-used kitchen equipment, but it also holds items that are either bulky or hard to store.  For me, having things out in the open reminds that I have them (and to use them!).

Refrigerator

Even though my refrigerator is just a standard size and design, I have customized it to suit my needs.  I changed the function of the crisper draws by removing them completely and lining the base with a rubberized mat to store bottles of Champagne, white wine, and other bottles.  Now, instead of fresh produce disappearing into a drawer to be forgotten, all of my fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits are stored in line-of-sight on the shelves, making it easier to “shop” my own refrigerator. 

That works only because I also organized all the other “stuff” that shares the shelves with my produce, grouping bottles of condiments and other items in clear refrigerator-safe plastic bins.  This saves me from the unwieldy mess that can happen with refrigerator shelves, and the dreaded “lost bottles” or “mystery cheese” that are only ever found again then they break, stink, or you move.

No Microwave

My microwave was positioned directly over my stovetop and was what I stared at all day when in the kitchen cooking—it drove me CRAZY!  So, I had it removed and installed a decorative (but functional) glass shelf in its place.  First, that got the hulking beast of a thing out of my face, and opened up the space.  It also allowed me to free up my limited counter space from the myriad little things that seem to multiply, like salts, pepper, oil, etc.  Now, I store things I use almost every day when cooking:  Salts, pepper mills, a timer, Cognac, and more.  I replaced the microwave with a much smaller model and moved it to the top of the cabinets.  This works for me since I don’t use my microwave very often.  I drilled a small hole in the top of the cabinet to feed the power cord through and plugged it in to the existing power source inside the upper cabinet where the old unit was plugged into.  One the best visual and functional changes to the kitchen.

Baking Center

I purposely segmented my kitchen into areas for different types of cooking:  Savory and sweet.  It also helps when Ryan and I are in the kitchen together.  A planned space is a harmonious space!  My baking center is where I store all of the baking accoutrements, ingredients, pans, and flat sheets of parchment paper.  I store all of my chocolate-based ingredients and nuts and dried fruits in small plastic bins.  This allows me to pull down the bin and riffle through it looking for exactly what I need without making a mess of the entire cabinet every time.

Wall Mounted Knife & Spice Rack

Because counter space is limited and a true commodity in my kitchen, I try to keep as much off the countertops as possible!  I mounted a magnetic knife strip to the wall, opting to get rid of a clunky knife block.  I also did the same with spice racks.  Even my utensil crocs are taller, narrow, and have a small footprint.

Upper Cabinet Storage

Since my cabinets do not go all the way to the ceiling, I have utilized that precious space for storing glass jars with dried grains, beans, large appliances (like a small microwave, convection oven, Champagne/party tub, etc.), and bottles sparkling and still water.

All Food, No Dishes

Only one cabinet has mugs and everyday drinking glasses in it, otherwise I made a conscious choice to store only food and equipment for preparing food in the kitchen.  That way the kitchen is fully functional as the place for food prep and cooking, and the dining room is fully functional with all of the dishes and glassware at the ready in the cabinets and buffet that are located right near the dining table.  At first, it felt like I was breaking some sort of kitchen rule.  But, once I realized that it was functionally awkward to do it any other way, it just made sense and works so well.

Décor Updates

I had the countertops replaced with a light quartz and changed the wall color from a dark chocolate brown to a lighter French gray.  I kept the blond cabinets as the wood tone softens the space while keeping it airy.  My signature color is orange (have you noticed around here?!) and so I chose to paint the peg board orange and let the color peek through the utensils, pans, and equipment.  It gives a lively energy and really makes the peg board a fun focal point that’s part of the ambiance and design of the kitchen.  But, I didn’t use the orange any other place.  In small spaces it is easy to overdo it.  And on that note, I removed many of the decorative bobbles I used to have on the walls.  Over time it started to feel a bit cluttered and became a bit heavy.  With the new lighter French gray, I decided to pair everything down to what is most meaningful to me.  The uncluttered look helps when I get whipped up into a frenzy in the kitchen and don’t feel overwhelmed.

Lastly, I had the tile floors redone to match the wood floors in the rest of the apartment.  The darker floors actually soften the space and make it warmer without making it feel smaller.  In fact, by having the wood of the apartment extend into the kitchen it actually feels more cohesive and connected, and even a bit larger.  It is amazing how updating just a few square feet of space can have such a dramatic effect.

Over-Head Lighting

I mentioned the under-counter, but I also updated the lights in the ceiling with “daylight” toned LED lights and put them on dimmers.  When I really need bright light in the kitchen I can crank them up and see what I need to see, without additional heat.

Little Adjustments

My kitchen, like everyone else’s, has its quirks.  One of which is no dedicated ventilation.  So, I bought a tower fan that hides just outside the kitchen.  When I’m baking or using all the burners at once, it slides over and circulates the air wonderfully.  A little addition that has made an enormous difference.

I also have a very shallow sink (the dishwasher is below it) with no possibility of a sprayer.  So, I found a fabulous Italian spring-mounted faucet with a sprayer built in!  And lastly, I softened the door frame (which has no door) with an asymmetrical curtain, which can be drawn to close off the space visually if I ever want to during a dinner party.

I hope these design ideas and tips that I’ve developed for my kitchen are useful and you find some inspiration for taking a fresh approach with your own space.  I’m always curious and trying to innovate, so if you have your own ideas please share them in a comment below!

Happy kitchening!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Panko Brioche French Toast

Marc J. Sievers

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

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Goodies for Santa - Winter Hot Chocolate & Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Marc J. Sievers

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  As a little boy I would count down the days until it was time to listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, and of course Christmas Eve.  I would leave cookies and milk for Santa, chocolates for his elves, and baby carrots for Rudolph.  In the morning I would rush to the table to see if the goodies were gone, and sure enough each year there were crumbs left behind and a note from Santa thanking me for thinking of him!  To this day I still leave Santa and his little helpers goodies on Christmas Eve, the tradition and magic lives on!


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


Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Ingredients (makes 24 cookies)

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Light Brown Sugar – ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Flour – 1⅓ cups, all-purpose

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Cream of Tartar – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – 1½ teaspoons

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a small bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and set to medium speed cream together the butter, honey, vanilla, granulated sugar, and ½ cup of light brown sugar, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the egg and allow to mix until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl making sure everything is well mixed.

  6. In a shallow bowl or plate combine the cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar.

  7. Using a 1¼-inch metal scoop, scoop the dough and release each ball directly into the cinnamon/sugar mixture and gently roll it around.

  8. Arrange the dough balls two-inches apart onto the prepared sheet pan. Lightly press down the tops of each ball.

  9. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

  10. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Tip: When baking, the light brown sugar on the outside will caramelize slightly adding a depth of flavor to this fresh take on an iconic cookie.


Winter Hot Chocolate

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles & Winter Hot Chocolate are two classics with a Marc Sievers twist!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Light Brown Sugar – ¾ cup

  • Half and Half – 3½ cups

  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Vanilla Bean – seeds of 1 large pod

  • White Chocolate – 5 ounces, roughly chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – unsweetened, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium-low heat add the half and half. Allow it to come to just below the simmering point.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, salt, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and the white chocolate.

  3. In the pan, quickly whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted.

  4. Gently reheat over low heat, and then carefully ladle into mugs.

  5. Garnish each mug with a dash of cocoa powder and a marshmallow (or two)!

Tip: Make a BOOZY version by adding in a shot (or, two!) of Butterscotch Schnapps,, Caramel Baileys, or your favorite spiced liquor! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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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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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.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Summertime Couscous

Marc J. Sievers

When farmers markets are in full swing I love making recipes that really highlight in-season vegetables!  My Summertime Couscous is filled with tomatoes, peppers, Persian cucumbers, and roasted artichoke hearts.  Then everything is dressed (fabulously!) with olive oil and lots of lemon juice and zest.

It’s fresh, simple, and always a crowd-pleaser.  The best part, it can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.  Making it ahead of time actually helps all the flavors meld together, really flavoring everything perfectly!  Happy chopping!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Summertime Picnic for a complete tutorial:


Summertime Couscous

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Israeli Couscous – 8 ounces, cooked to package directions

  • Red Onion – ½ cup, finely diced

  • Orange Pepper – 1 medium, roughly chopped

  • Persian Cucumbers – 2 cups, roughly chopped

  • Grape Tomatoes – 1 cup, halved

  • Golden Raisins – ¾ cup

  • Pine Nuts – ½ cup, lightly toasted

  • Basil – ½ cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Dill – ¼ cup, fresh, minced

  • Lemon – 2 medium, zested and juiced

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Artichoke Hearts – 1 cup, canned or frozen (defrosted)

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

Directions

  1. While the couscous is still warm, add all of the ingredients and stir until well combined. Serve at room temperature.

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Haricot Jaune with Garlic

Marc J. Sievers

For an updated version of haricot vert (green beans in French) with garlic, I chose to use haricot jaune (yellow beans in French) in my super-chic recipe for Haricot Jaune with Garlic.  I think these add just the right amount of sophistication to a classic dish without making it seem “too fussy”.  They also look so appetizing against a white platter covered in fresh green basil and parsley!  This recipe is just as good room temperature as it is right from the stove.  You can easily add your own twist to this dish with lemon zest, orange zest, or other fresh herbs.  Happy creating!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Summertime Picnic for a complete tutorial.


Haricot Jaune with Garlic

Ingredients (serves 3 - 4)

  • Haricots Jaunes (French string beans) – 12 ounces, fresh

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced

  • Shallots – ⅓ cup, finely minced

  • Parsley – ½ cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Basil – ¼ cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.

  2. Once the water comes to a boil, cook the haricot jaune for 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately strain the beans and plunge into the bowl of ice water. This is called “shocking” and will stop the cooking process and allow the beans to retain its vivid yellow color.

  3. Next, in a 12-inch sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute.

  5. Add the beans, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly and heat the beans through.

  6. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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Strawberry & Goat Cheese “Hero”

Marc J. Sievers

Goat-Cheese-and-Strawberry-Hero.png

Transforming one dish into something totally different is exactly how my Strawberry & Goat Cheeses “Hero” came about.  I was sitting at a chic little Chicago bistro waiting for the strawberry and goat cheese salad I ordered for lunch, while I simultaneously ate the ENTIRE bread basket that was filled with fresh baguette slices (and butter!).

After my salad arrived (and I ate that, too!) I thought I should take the best components of my salad and wrap them in a crusty baguette!  Plain and simple, no fuss, just fresh ingredients that all compliment one another.  This scrumptious “hero” will take your taste buds up, up, and away!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Summertime Picnic for a complete tutorial:


Strawberry & Goat Cheese “Hero”

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Demi Baguette

  • Goat Cheese – 4 ounces, room temperature

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon

  • Strawberries – 1/2 cup, hulled and sliced

  • Balsamic Reduction – 2-3 tablespoons, store bought

  • Herbed Salad Mix – large handful (arugula may be substituted)

  • Basil – 1/3 cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons

  • Honey- 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Start by slicing the baguette in half lengthwise.

  2. Next, drizzle each cut side with olive oil and honey.

  3. Then, spread evenly with goat cheese. Sprinkle evenly with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

  4. Add the strawberries to one side and greens to the other.

  5. Drizzle evenly with balsamic reduction.

  6. Bring halves together and slice in half.

  7. Serve immediately or wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

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Truffle Butter Fettuccine – An Easy and Elegant Meal

Marc J. Sievers

If you have never experienced truffles or truffle butter, you are about to have a culinary adventure in your own kitchen!

Savory truffles like the one’s used in truffle butter are a rare and extremely expensive mushroom that is considered to be a delicacy due to its intense aroma and characteristic flavor. They have a firm texture and are most often shaved on top of food before serving, although they can also be used to infuse flavor into dishes, oils, and butters. 

Truffles are harvested in the wild using specially trained dogs or pigs that are familiar with the very particular scent.  Because of their very fragrant and unique flavor not everyone admires them as much as others (like me!).  Truffle butter can be found at larger grocery store chains in the cheese department, gourmet food stores, and even online.

My Truffle Butter Fettuccine combines just a few, simple key ingredients that help bring out the luscious and elegant aromatics of the truffle.  Best of all, it take just mere minutes to prepare making it perfect for weeknight dinners or dinner parties on Friday night!  Once you make my version experiment with the addition of other fresh vegetables like sautéed red peppers, yellow onions, and even lemon zest.  I always keep an “extra” in the refrigerator for melting and drizzling over popcorn, instantly transforming it into élégant pop-corn salé (elegant savory popcorn)!  Happy eating!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Truffle Butter Fettuccine for a complete tutorial:


Truffle Butter Fettuccine

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Fettuccine – 1 lb.

  • Truffle Butter – 3½ ounces

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Parsley – 1 cup, flat leaf, whole

  • Heirloom Grape Tomatoes – 2 cups, halved

  • Parmesan – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Green Peas – ½ cup, fresh (or frozen)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Add fettuccine and cook according to package instructions for al dente.

  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch sauté pan set over low heat, add the truffle butter and melt completely.  Then, add the tomatoes to the melted butter to heat through, about 5 minutes

  3. When the fettuccine has 30 seconds of cook time remaining, add the peas to the boiling water.  Drain the pasta and peas well.

  4. Immediately transfer the drained pasta into the sauté pan with the truffle butter and tomatoes.  Add sea salt, black pepper, Parmesan, and parsley.  Toss to coat evenly.

  5. Transfer to a large serving bowl and serve hot.

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Roquefort & Preserves Squares

Marc J. Sievers

The smell of puff pastry baking in the oven is what I would imagine patisserie-heaven would smell like.  Now, add Roquefort cheese and strawberry (or fig) preserves inside and you have a delicious, simple, and unexpected hors d’oeuvre to serve to your guests at your next soirée!

The beauty with my recipe for Roquefort & Preserves Squares is using frozen store-bought puff pastry, good quality store-bought or home-made preserves.  Also, you can assemble this a few hours in advance, leave it in the refrigerator, and bake it right before your guests arrive, et voilà!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Parisian Cocktail Party for a complete tutorial:


Roquefort & Preserves Squares

Ingredients (makes 12 squares)

  • Puff Pastry – 1 package (2 sheets), defrosted

  • Strawberry Preserves – ¾ cup

  • Roquefort – ¾ cup, crumbled

  • Egg – 1 whole, extra-large, beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Begin by laying out one thawed sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface. Lightly roll into a 11-inch by 14-inchrectangle. Place it on the sheet pan.

  3. Spread the strawberry preserves onto the pastry, leaving a ½-inch border around the entire pastry.

  4. Sprinkle the crumbled cheese evenly on the preserves and within the border.

  5. Next, lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 11-inch by 14-inch rectangle, as you did for the first. Then, brush the border of the first pastry with the egg wash. Lay the second pastry square directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges. Be careful not to stretch or pull the pastry out of shape.

  6. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash, and then cut five slits through the top layer of pastry, for steam to escape. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  7. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn once mid-way through the baking time. Bake until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Cut into strips or squares. Serve warm or room-temperature.

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As Seen on Food Network! Creamed Spinach & Chicago Sliders

Marc J. Sievers

The winner's trophy in our (cleaned) kitchen! (We drank the Champagne that came in it...)

In January, Ryan and I were crowned the Best Home Cooks of Chicago on Bobby's Dinner Battle hosted by Bobby Flay on Food Network!  Being on national television I really wanted to push the boundaries of my culinary skills, so I decided to attempt creamed spinach -- something I have eaten many times in fabulous restaurants but never made at home.

Marc and Ryan competed on Food Network's  Bobby's Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago  hosted by Bobby Flay—and won the title of Best Home Cooks of Chicago!

Marc and Ryan competed on Food Network's Bobby's Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago hosted by Bobby Flay—and won the title of Best Home Cooks of Chicago!

After a crazy whirlwind of four hours in the kitchen, I remember carrying the bowl of my Creamed Spinach over to the eagerly-waiting dinner guests (including Bobby Flay!) practically shaking from both excitement and nervousness!  It was a hit for all six guests that day.  Some even said it was the best creamed spinach they had ever had!

On the other end of the spectrum, we also attempted our version of sliders.  Let's just say they did not receive the same praise as my Creamed Spinach.  After the episode aired, I took the critique in stride and gave our sliders another try.  I remade the recipe into Chicago Sliders and cooked them to perfection, topped with my Fresh Thyme Mayo.


I stepped in front of the camera again, this time at From My Kitchen to Yours (my web series on YouTube) to share these recipes with you.  Happy cooking!


Creamed Spinach

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Spinach – 1 pound, fresh

  • Heavy Cream – 1½ cups

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons

  • Parmesan – ¾, freshly grated

  • Flour – ⅓ cup, all-purpose

  • Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.

  2. Once the water comes to a boil, cook the spinach for 30 to 45 seconds. Immediately strain the spinach and plunge into the bowl of ice water. This is called "shocking" and will stop the cooking process and allow the spinach to retain its vivid green color.

  3. Remove the spinach from the ice water and squeeze all the excess liquid from the spinach. Place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

  4. Next, cook the butter and flour in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, or about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parmesan.

  6. Transfer the white sauce into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 15 to 20 times or until desired consistency is achieved.

  7. Transfer back into a small sauce pan and gently re-heat before serving.


Chicago Sliders

Ingredients (makes 8 sliders)

  • Ground Beef – 1⅓ pounds, Organic, Grass Fed

  • Parsley – ¼ cup, freshly chopped

  • Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Gruyere – 1½ cups, freshly grated

  • Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Mini Pretzel Buns – 8, lightly toasted

  • Arugula – For garnish and topping

Directions

  1. Combine the beef, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Using (two) forks, gently fluff and mix the mixture until incorporated.

  2. Gently shape the meat into 8 small patties, being very careful not to compress the meat.

  3. Next, in a large skillet set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.

  4. Cook the sliders for 3 minutes on one side, then flip each one, top with cheese and cover the pan for an additional 3 minutes. Covering the lid will ensure the cheese gets nicely melted!

  5. Serve will arugula, Fresh Thyme Mayo and pretzels buns for the ultimate Chicago Slider!


Fresh Thyme Mayo

Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise – ½ cup

  • Mustard – 1 tablespoon, whole grain

  • Thyme – 1 teaspoon, freshly minced

  • Lemon Juice – ½ lemon

  • Lemon Zest - 1 teaspoon

  • Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black pepper – ½ teaspoon

Directions

  1. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix until incorporated.

  2. Use on sliders, sandwiches, or for dipping artichokes.

  3. Enjoy!

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Bobby Flay in My Kitchen!

Marc J. Sievers

...and the Best Home Cooks of Chicago are Marc and Ryan Sievers!

First, let me start by trying to express just how excited Ryan and I are to have competed on Food Network's Bobby's Dinner Battle and been chosen as the Best Home Cooks of Chicago by Bobby Flay!  It was a fantastically fun and enlightening adventure for us and the reward for our teamwork and dedication was spectacular!

Marc and Ryan in their Chicago kitchen, strategizing on a dinner party menu with a speakeasy theme for  Bobby's Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago  hosted by Bobby Flay on Food Network.

Marc and Ryan in their Chicago kitchen, strategizing on a dinner party menu with a speakeasy theme for Bobby's Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago hosted by Bobby Flay on Food Network.

As Ryan and I were reminiscing about the challenges and different stresses in the heat of the kitchen for Bobby's Dinner Battle I realized that, though there was a lot of action and drama, we have actually be through similar experiences when there weren't any cameras rolling (so far minus a celebrity chef and competitors!).

The winner's trophy at home in our (cleaned!) kitchen.

For Bobby's Dinner Battle we had to conceptualize a dinner party based on a theme, with a time constraint for shopping (with a budget), and get our food ready for the table, before our doorbell rang.  We had to impress.  This was no small feat to do with TV cameras chasing us around, but equally is no small feat in everyday life.  Just because most kitchen's don't have a red blinking clock counting down doesn't mean it doesn't sometimes feel like it's there, stressing you out before your dinner party guests arrive.

I host dinner parties and cocktail parties, both personal and for clients, on a weekly basis and I am constantly looking for ways to save time and reduce stress while keeping the experience elevated and a cut above the rest.  As a result I have definitely discovered some useful tips, tricks, and no-nonsense rules of entertaining that I live by!  Here are just a few of my "words of entertaining wisdom" I have up my sleeve (or in my apron pocket) to get your prepared for your next gathering!


  • Choose a theme! Having a theme for your party, and the food you serve, is essential. But, don’t go overboard! Try not to be too literal with your tablescapes. Add smaller details that will evoke your theme's sentiment. By keeping it simple (which is not the same thing as barren), it will always be chic and stylish!

  • Plan a fabulous menu! Choose your dishes to compliment the occasion or theme of your event and balance between starters, side dishes, and the main course. Serving a filling main course? Then prepare fewer and lighter complimentary side dishes. Planning a decedent dessert? Then less is more when it comes to extras like hearty breads or heavy starters.

  • Set your table the night before. One of the easiest tricks to save yourself stress on the day of your party is to have set your table the night before. You can take your time to make sure all of your details are in place, and you will have time to fix or work around any problems you might discover (like a torn tablecloth or wax-encrusted candle stick). This trick will leave you more time on the day of the party for other details, or to just relax.

  • Plan your serving dishes. Decide what serving dishes you are going to use before you even begin cooking. Use sticky notes to organize and help you remember which menu items are going to be placed in which serving dish. This is especially helpful for buffet-style food tables.

  • Bottoms up! My number one secret is to have a glass of champagne or white wine (red will stain your lips) before the start of the party as a toast to a job well-done and to relax a bit! Also, for the first hour or so I will be greeting and catching up with guests as they arrive and it's hard to hug and shake hands with a glass in my hand!


These simple words of entertaining wisdom just skim the surface of what I have included in my cookbook Entertaining with Love!  I promise by following these, and the other rules outlined in my book, you will be sure to have a well-organized and successful party that is fun and you actually enjoy!

Cheers!

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