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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 06

Salt & Pepper Potato Chips with Blue Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

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We have come to expect the traditional bowl of chips at a party. But let’s face it: that can get boring. You do not need to completely abandon the salty, crunchy deliciousness of potato chips, but you can make them a lot more interesting! My Salt & Pepper Potato Chips with Blue Cheese from my second cookbook, Table for Two, will immediately amp up the flavor factor at your next get-together and leave your guests wanting more! I love the addition of Stilton and the fresh zing of the lemon zest in this easy and elegant dish. For a party of two, this pairs perfectly with a glass of very dry champagne or bold red wine. Cheers!

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2, expand recipe as needed)

  • Salt & Pepper Potato Chips – 4 ounces, store-bought

  • Stilton Blue Cheese – 2 ounces, crumbled

  • Chives – 2 tablespoons, fresh, finely chopped

  • Lemon Zest – 1½ teaspoons

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2.  In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, or other oven-proof serving dish, add half of the potato chips.  Then evenly scatter over the chips 1 ounce of blue cheese, 1 tablespoon of chives, and ¾ teaspoon of lemon zest.

  3.  Add another layer of potato chips and the remaining blue cheese.

  4.  Place in the oven for 4-6 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

  5.  Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining chives and lemon zest.  Serve hot.

 TIP:

Any brand of Salt & Pepper potato chips will work for this recipe.  Using a cast iron skillet allows this dish to go from oven to table, just remember to use a trivet to protect your tabletop.

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Dill Pickle Grilled Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

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Sometimes there is nothing that hits the spot better than a classic grilled cheese. You probably already have your go-to recipe, but my Dill Pickle Grilled Cheese has just a couple of extra ingredients that will kick lunchtime up a notch! The vinegary pickles cut through the richness of the cheese, while the dill adds so much flavor. 

And you do not need to use fancy, expensive bread! The bread I have used in this recipe is just classic white country sandwich bread.  I tested it with all kinds of artisan bread, whole wheat bread and even homemade bread but I really loved the simplicity of a childhood staple, like any simple white bread you ate growing up. For entertaining, you can serve this cut into small triangles as an hors d’oeuvre – people go crazy! 

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Ingredients (makes 1 sandwich, expand recipe as needed)

  • Bread – 2 slices, classic white sandwich bread

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Colby Jack Cheese – 2 ounces, freshly grated

  • Dill Pickle Chips – ½ cup, drained

  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  • Heat a panini press or a medium skillet over medium heat.  Place the bread on a cutting board and lightly brush the top of each slice with butter (don’t forget the corners!). Turn the slices over and pile one slice with ½ of the cheese, dill pickle chips, the remaining ½ of the cheese, salt and pepper.  Place the remaining slice of bread on top of the cheese and pickles, buttered side up.

  • Cook the sandwich on the panini press or in the pan for about 5 minutes total, flipping once if using a skillet, until nicely browned on the outside and melty and gooey on the inside.  Transfer the sandwich to the cutting board and let rest for 1 minute.  Serve hot!

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Lemon Pound Cake

Marc J. Sievers

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I love a decadent, extravagant dessert. But sometimes, there really is nothing like a wonderfully simple cake that can quietly take center stage all on its own. My Lemon Pound Cake has been my go-to pound cake recipe for the past 15 years!  It is a version of a recipe I found in an old cookbook that belonged to my nana.  I updated it when I was learning to bake by adding fresh zingy lemon and more salt. Perfect for an everyday treat or for any special occasion, you can serve my Lemon Pound Cake with an elegant sprinkle of fresh berries, a dollop of luscious whipped cream or any of my homemade ice creams (Salted Caramel, anyone?). 

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INGREDIENTS

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Lemon – juice and zest of 1 large lemon

  • Honey – ¼ cup, clover honey preferred

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

PREPARATION NOTES

Yield – 2 loaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 2 (8 ½ by 4 ½  by 2 ½ -inch) loaf pans.

  2. In large bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. 

  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. 

  5. Next, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

  6. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible. 

  7. Transfer pans into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. 

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Tip: Because this recipe makes two loaves, I can keep and enjoy one now and store the other wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the freezer for another time.  Allow the frozen loaf to sit at room temperature (unwrapped) for 2 hours before serving. 

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Pistachio Butter

Marc J. Sievers

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We all know about the wonders of butter, but have you ever tried making a compound butter? A quick search of your pantry is all it would take to find a few things to make a delicious butter that can elevate many of your favorite dishes! My Pistachio Butter only calls for four ingredients, but it packs serious and sophisticated flavor. It is perfect to toss with blanched or grilled vegetables or to spread on toast or muffins in the morning.  This is a recipe that adds instant flavor to even the simplest dishes, like sautéed green beans (add the zest of a lemon for a touch of brightness!).  You can also add it to fresh vegetables from your garden, grocery store, or farmers market!

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Ingredients (makes 10 tablespoons)

  • Whole Pistachios – ½ cup, shelled, unsalted

  • Butter – 8 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature, European-style preferred

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

 Directions

  1. In a small sauté pan set over medium heat, add the shelled pistachios and toast for 3-5 minutes until lightly toasted, tossing occasionally.  Transfer them to a cutting board and allow them to cool for 10 minutes.

  2. Once the pistachios are cooled, give them a rough chop.  Transfer the nuts to a small bowl, add in the remaining ingredients and thoroughly mix.

  3. Cut a strip of parchment paper 5-inches wide and place the mixture on the short end of the paper. Roll into a log about 1 inch in diameter, rolling the parchment paper around the butter mixture. Twist ends to close. Chill overnight.

  4. Serve by cutting into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Tip: This butter will keep perfectly fresh stored in the refrigerator or up to 1 week in an airtight container.  A fabulous last-minute addition to recipes where you want extra flavor.

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for anything with salted caramel! Few desserts are as decadent as my homemade Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Making your own ice cream is much easier (and quicker) than you think and you don’t need to bother with trying to make the caramel from scratch, as your favorite store-bought brand of Fleur de Sel caramel sauce works perfectly! I love this straight from the ice cream maker - it has such an elegant texture but also maintains a soft, velvety consistency while in the freezer.  You can serve this (with confidence!) completely solo for dessert, or it can also be paired with a fabulously rich Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous!

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Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ⅓cup, lightly packed

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 10 ounces, favorite store-bought brand

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

 Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add all of the ingredients. 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 manufacturer’s directions.

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

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Crostini de Brie

Marc J. Sievers

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I love a simple but luxe little bite to serve with cocktails or even as a wonderful quick snack. My Crostini de Brie was inspired by a similar dish I had in a cozy French bistro in Milwaukee. It’s crunchy, melty, savory and a bit sweet- everything you want to nibble on with a chilled glass of champagne!

This is the perfect recipe to keep in mind as you hit your local farmer’s markets. Fresh baguette and arugula will be on hand, and the wide variety of locally-harvested honey (try a flavored variety, like truffle or orange blossom) will be showcased beautifully in this fabulously chic hors d’oeuvre. If you are looking for something new to wow your guests with, give this a try!

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Ingredients (serves 6, expand recipe as needed)

  • Baguette – 6 pieces, sliced ¼ inch thick on the diagonal

  • Unsalted Butter – 12 teaspoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Brie – 6 pieces, sliced ¼ inch thick

  • Honey – 6 teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 3 teaspoons

  • Fleur de Sel – 1 ½ teaspoons

  • Arugula – for garnish

Directions

  1.  Preheat the broiler on the highest setting.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.  Set aside. 

  2.  Butter both sides of each baguette slice with 1 teaspoon of butter.  Set aside.

  3.  In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, toast the baguette slices on each side until lightly toasted and golden.  Place onto the prepared half sheet pan.

  4.  Next, top each slice with brie.  Drizzle each slice with 1 teaspoon of honey.  Place under the broiler for 60 seconds until slightly melted but not runny.  Keep an eye on them, they will burn fast!

  5.  Remove from the broiler, sprinkle evenly with pepper, Fleur de Sel and arrange on a serving dish.  Garnish each crostini with a few leaves of arugula and serve warm.

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Salt & Pepper Puff Pastry Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

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More often that not, croutons are an almost forgotten addition to salads and soups. They tend to be pretty flavorless and have a texture that can be, let’s say, a little too crunchy. Who says that croutons can’t be refined? My Salt & Pepper Puff Pastry Croutons are the perfect way to elevate any salad. You can either toss them in, or even serve on the side (in a beautiful basket) as an especially chic bread course!

Believe me, they are so delicious, you might not have any left to make it to the table for your guests! Speaking of guests, these croutons make a fabulous canapé (just sprinkle them with Parmesan or Gruyère) to serve with drinks as your guests arrive. If you are new to baking with puff pastry, one thing to keep in mind is to work quickly. The pastry will become more difficult to handle as it warms up. These can be made in any shape you like, so if you have any fun cookie cutters on hand, get as creative as you want!

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Ingredients

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten

  • Water – 1 tablespoon

  • Frozen Puff Pastry – defrosted overnight in the refrigerator

  • Flour – for preparing work surface

  • Fleur de Sel – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water.

  3. Place 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface.  Brush with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel and 1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper. 

  4. Using a cutter of your choice, cut the sheet of pastry into shapes.  Transfer each piece of pastry to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Tip: You can make these croutons up to two days in advance and store in a sealed container.  Simply reheat on a baking sheet in a 350 degrees F oven for 5 - 10  minutes and you will have perfectly crisp puff pastry croutons!

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The G&A Martini

Marc J. Sievers

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No doubt you have spent many evenings enjoying an Aperol Spritz al fresco (or at your favorite hotel bar!).  I know I have!  But have you ever considered Aperol as the star of a martini?  My G&A Martini brings together the bright, citrus flavor of Aperol, the herbaceous layers of The Botanist gin and with the wonderful fizz of champagne to make for a refreshingly chic take on the most classic of cocktails.  If you are looking for something new to greet your guests with at your next party, you can serve the G&A Martini alongside my Puff Pastry Pinwheels sprinkled with a bit of Gruyère cheese.  For a larger crowd, take a page from the European entertaining playbook and present each drink over ice in small bistro glasses!  Cheers!

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Ingredients (serves 6) 

  • Gin – 6 ounces, Botanist recommended

  • Aperol – 9 ounces

  • Triple Sec – 3 ounces, Cointreau recommended

  • Orange Juice – 3 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Champagne – (1) 750ml bottle, chilled

  • Rosemary – 6 sprigs, for garnish, fresh

  • Orange Slices – 6, for garnish

Directions

  1.  In a tall pitcher, stir together the gin, Aperol, triple sec and orange juice.  Set aside.

  2.  Fill a large cocktail shaker half full with ice.  Pour enough of the drink mixture into the shaker to almost fill it.  Shake the cocktail for a full 30 seconds and strain into martini glasses.

  3.  Top each martini with 4 ounces of chilled champagne.  Garnish each glass with a sprig of rosemary and fresh orange slice.  Serve cold.

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Store-Bought Marinara Sauce, Revamped!

Marc J. Sievers

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I love a homemade, authentic marinara, but sometimes I just want to get dinner on the table fast without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. My version of an elevated store-bought pasta sauce is a fabulous (and quick!) way to add an extra kick to a jar of marinara.  The best part is that you probably already have most of what you need in your pantry! Make sure you start with a good bottle of red wine – you can drink the rest with dinner!  Tossing in some fresh basil at the end gives the sauce a burst of flavor (the heat hitting the basil opens up a whole new world of aromas) and adds a special touch that makes it look and taste like it has been slowly simmering away on the stove all afternoon!

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Ingredients 

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, finely minced

  • Red Pepper Flakes – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Red Wine – ⅓ cup, favorite Italian variety

  • Marinara Sauce – (1) eighteen-ounce jar, favorite store-bought brand

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Basil – ⅓ cup, roughly chopped, fresh

Directions

  1. In a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.  Once hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic. 

  2. Add the red wine and allow it to reduce by half, about 1-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  3. Next, add the marinara sauce and heat until just under the simmering point. 

  4. Right before serving, stir in the butter and basil.  Serve over your favorite pasta.

Tip: If you want to be extra “naughty”, add a splash of heavy cream at the end to give this revamped sauce a slightly creamier texture.  I’ve never known cream to make anything taste worse!

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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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Grocery Store Flowers Made Fabulous: Rose Cluster

Marc J. Sievers

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I absolutely love having fresh flowers at home. What I do not love is breaking the bank for a beautiful arrangement! It is entirely possible to assemble gorgeous floral moments with blooms from your favorite grocery store, and I want to show you how to make a classic rose cluster using roses that I bought from my neighborhood grocer!

For this cluster, I chose a similar color palette and three colors of roses: Pale pink with lime green, ivory, and a soft pink/peach. One of the varieties was a spray rose to add a different size and texture. All you need are flower shears, green floral wire, and a simple glass cylinder (my go-to vessel - they are easy to find, blend into any table setting, and are small enough to arrange multiples down the center of a table, place on a side table, etc.).

This is the perfect time to be creative! If you prefer a monochromatic story, as I have shown here, select blooms that are in a similar color palette. For a more daring arrangement, shake it up a bit and choose a variety of hues for an eclectic centerpiece. Happy arranging!

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A Few Simple Tips to Arrange the Cluster

  • For a table setting, I think flowers should not be taller than 8-10 inches.  Measure your arrangement using my technique in the video. 

  • Cut stems at a diagonal when arranging.  I like to change the water and re-cut the stems daily to ensure my flowers stay fresh.

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Cognac Hot Chocolate

Marc J. Sievers

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If you’re like me, you get to a point when you just need a moment during the winter months where you can just sit back and feel cozy. I love bundling up and watching snow fall (especially at the beach!), but sometimes, I need a little escape from the cold. I decided that now would be the perfect time for a luxe, chocolaty pick-me-up to relax and recharge.

My Cognac Hot Chocolate is a rich, layered and complex version of traditional hot chocolate, but with a little kick, courtesy of the addition of cognac.  Far from the hot chocolate of your childhood, this treat is sophisticated and worthy of a few quiet moments to sit, enjoy and stay warm indoors. Cheers!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Whole Milk – 3 cups

  • Half-and-Half – 2 cups

  • Milk Chocolate – 5 ounces, rough chopped

  • Dark Chocolate – 8 ounces, 72% cacao, rough chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – ¼ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoons, lightly packed

  • Vanilla – 1 ½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Salted Caramel Sauce – 4 tablespoons, favorite store-bought brand

  • Cognac – 1 cup, Rémy Martin 1738 recommended

  • Cinnamon Sticks – for stirrers and garnish (if desired)

 Directions 

  1. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the milk and half-and-half.  Heat to just below the simmering point. 

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the remaining ingredients, except the cinnamon sticks. 

  3. Using a whisk, vigorously whisk the mixture until it is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. 

  4. Gently reheat over medium heat, ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick, a bit of frothed milk or whipped cream (if desired).

Tip: You can prepare the hot chocolate up to five days in advance and store it in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the top of the hot chocolate and set in the refrigerator.  The plastic wrap will help prevent a skin from forming on the top of the hot chocolate.

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Simple French Omelette

Marc J. Sievers

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Any French bistro worth its Fleur de Sel has a classic omelette on the menu, ready to be served at any time of the day or evening.  A delicious canvas for all kinds of savory toppings, the French omelette is a simple and elegant option for breakfast during the week, for lunch, brunch, dinner, or a late-night kitchen rendezvous (with a glass of champagne!). 

No need to make a special grocery run, as even the most spare of kitchens is sure to have a couple of eggs and a few basic seasonings on hand to whip up this quick and easy meal.  Don’t be nervous about presentation!  With a little practice (and a few flicks of the wrist), you will be a pro in no time.  Et Voilà, my Simple French Omelette!

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Ingredients (makes 1 omelette, multiply recipe as needed) 

  • Eggs – 2, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Chives – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, for garnish

Directions 

  1. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, salt, and pepper until the yolks and whites are fully incorporated.

  2. Place a 10-inch non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Allow the pan to get very hot, but not smoking.

  3. Add the butter and swirl it around to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Once the butter is completely melted, the foam has subsided, pour the eggs into the center of the butter.

  4. Allow the eggs to sit for just a few seconds before you begin swirling the pan over the heat.

  5. Continue the swirling motion for roughly 20 to 25 seconds. Once the eggs begin to set and there is just a little bit of wetness in the center, jerk the pan several times back and forth in order to fold the eggs onto itself. The finished omelette will end up in the far lip of the pan.

  6. Grasp the handle of the pan from underneath and rest the far lip of the pan (where the omelette has formed) slightly off-center onto the bottom of a dinner plate.

  7. Gently turn the pan upside down over the plate. The omelette will then drop into position.

  8. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.

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Roasted Red Onions with Tarragon

Marc J. Sievers

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

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

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Ingredients (serves 6)

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

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 7 tablespoons, divided

  • Tarragon – 10 sprigs, fresh 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

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

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

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

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Buttery Pinwheels

Marc J. Sievers

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Baking with frozen puff pastry doesn’t have to be intimidating! By working carefully, you can make the most of every delicious, flaky layer of this delicate but satisfying freezer staple. My elegant Buttery Pinwheels, crisp and fresh from the oven, can be served at breakfast with jam, at lunch with fresh fruit and a green salad, or at dinner with salted butter.   

They are also perfect to make ahead for entertaining a crowd! Just assemble, refrigerate and bake right before your guests arrive.  Or you can even bake them ahead of time, store them for up to two days in an air-tight container and re-crisp them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes – et voila! Watch my video below as I show you step by step how to make these beautiful pinwheels yourself. It’s easier than you think!

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Directions

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

  2. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside.  Place 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry onto the baking sheet.  

  3. Cut the pastry into 4 individual squares.  For each square, use a paring knife to cut from each corner toward the center, stopping 1-inch from the center.   

  4. You will have a 1-inch circle in the center of each square, and all of the corners will be cut in half.  To create each pinwheel, lift one half of a corner and fold the point toward the center of the square.  Continuing around the square, fold each of the three remaining corner points toward the center of the square, and gently press all 4 points together to form a pinwheel shape.   

  5. Brush the dough with the beaten egg.  Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, until the pinwheels are puffed and golden brown.

Tip: Before baking, you can sprinkle a bit of Parmesan or Gruyere cheese onto each pinwheel and serve these with a glass of wine or champagne as a fabulous hors d’oeuvre!

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Fresh Fruit & Yogurt Platter

Marc J. Sievers

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Who says that entertaining has to be confined to evenings?  I find that low-key morning gatherings for breakfast or brunch are a great way to catch up (and spill the T—not literally!) with friends, but still allows for everyone to have the rest of the afternoon to themselves. Breakfast entertaining should be just as easy and fun as a cocktail party, while being no less delicious!  My Fresh Fruit & Yogurt Platter is a beautiful showstopper that is light, layered with flavor, and quick to assemble.  

Perfect for any time of the year, this delicately sweet dish is made with a variety of berries, but you can switch up the fruit and play around with the color palette—add slices of kiwi and honeydew for fresh green, or slices of pineapple and mango.  Choose what is in season and highlight the freshness and full flavors of the berries, melons, and tree fruits that are perfectly ripe. Serve with your favorite coffee, tea, or fresh-squeezed juices.  This platter also makes for a simple and gorgeous breakfast meal for an overnight house guest.  A fabulous way to start off your day.  Enjoy!  

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Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Platter (serves 6)

 Ingredients 

  • Sweetened Shredded Coconut – ¼ cup

  • Greek Yogurt – 32 ounces, plain

  • Vanilla – ½ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Maple Syrup – 3 tablespoons, Grade A

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • Orange Zest – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Granola – 3 cups, favorite store-bought brand

  • Blackberries – 1 cup

  • Raspberries – 1 cup

Directions 

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the coconut and cook for 3-5 minutes until lightly toasted, tossing occasionally.  Set aside. 

  2. Next, in a large bowl, add the yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, orange zest, and salt.  Whisk until combined. 

  3. Lastly, spoon the yogurt onto a large platter or low shallow bowl.  Arrange the granola, blackberries, and raspberries over the top.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Serve immediately.

 

Tip:  You can prepare the yogurt up to two days in advance and store it in the mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and set in the refrigerator. 

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Gruyère Fondue

Marc J. Sievers

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Back in the 1970’s fondue was all the rage, with bubbling fondue pots being the star at many a chic get-together around the country. While no longer the fad du jour it used to be, I happen to think that an old-fashioned, cozy fondue party is a fabulous way to gather with friends in the middle of a long, cold winter!

My fondue is simple to make; you don’t need any special equipment- just a heavy-bottomed, heat-proof pan that you can set over a small candle or a sterno can. Fondue is traditionally served with a crusty bread, but I also love to pair it with a medley of perfectly roasted potatoes. Did you also know that you can prepare fondue in advance? You can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and reheat in a pan with a few splashes of white wine or heavy cream just before serving. This dish is comfort food and a soirée starter all in one. Add a bottle (or two) of a bold red wine, a big green salad with my French Bistro Vinaigrette, really fun friends and you’re all set!

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Gruyère Fondue

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Gruyere – 14 ounces, freshly grated

  • Fontina – 3 ounces – freshly grated

  • Flour – 2 tablespoons, all-purpose

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Shallots – ¾ cup, ¼” diced

  • Thyme – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, thinly sliced

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • White Wine – 1 ½ cups, Chardonnay recommended

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine both cheeses and the flour and toss to coat.  Set aside. 

  2. Next, in a medium heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once hot add the shallots and thyme and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally until the shallots are translucent.  Add the garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and cook for 60 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. 

  3. Pour in the wine and allow it to come to a boil. 

  4. Finally, add the cheese mixture in small handfuls and whisk briskly until smooth before adding in more cheese.  Repeat this step until all of the cheese has been added.  

  5. Transfer the fondue to a heat-proof pan set over a candle or sterno can to keep warm and serve immediately.  If the fondue gets a little thick as it sits, add a splash of wine.


    A Few Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Make sure to measure the cheese after cutting away the rind for the most accurate measurement.

  • I like to garnish the fondue with a sprig of fresh thyme and a few of the leaves for a simple, but beautiful presentation.

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The “Fluffy Henderson” Cosmopolitan

Marc J. Sievers

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While a certain show made the “Cosmo” the libation of the early 2000s, it should be in everyone’s repertoire as a classic cocktail perfect for any celebration. I amped up the festive factor with a delicious rim of confectioner’s sugar that adds a layer of delicate sweetness. Not only is it easy to make at home (everything goes into a shaker!), it requires just a few simple but really good ingredients. Check out my video below to watch me re-create this iconic cocktail and hear the hilarious story of how it got its name!

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The “Fluffy Henderson” Cosmopolitan

Ingredients (Makes 1 cocktail, expand as needed)

  • Confectioners Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Lime Juice – ¾ ounces, freshly squeezed, plus more for rimming glass

  • Triple Sec – ¾ ounce, Cointreau recommended

  • Vodka - 2 ounces

  • Cranberry Juice – ¼ ounce

Directions

  1. Pour the confectioner’s sugar onto a small plate.  On another small plate, pour just enough lime juice to coat the bottom of the plate.  Place the rim of a martini glass into the lime juice then directly into the confectioner’s sugar, gently rolling it to cover the rim. 

  2. Place the coated rim onto a piece of parchment paper and allow dry for 20 minutes. 

  3. Next, fill a shaker with ice and add the lime juice, Triple Sec, vodka, and cranberry juice.   

  4. Shake for 30-60 seconds.

  5. Strain the cocktail into the prepared martini glass and serve immediately.

Idea: I love making big batches of these for a party!  You can rim glasses up to 3 hours in advance and allow to dry.  Fill a glass pitcher with the cocktail ingredients and let it sit in the refrigerator.  Then when a guest needs a cocktail, simply fill a shaker with ice, fill the shaker, shake, and serve.  Making cocktails at home has never been so easy!

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Soirée-Sized Cheese Boxes

Marc J. Sievers

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One of the things that I love most with both cooking and entertaining is taking a classic idea and giving it a modern twist! I like to have a cheese plate ready to greet my guests at a party, but I wanted to tweak it a bit this season to make it more special for the holidays. My Soirée-Sized Cheese Boxes are a perfect companion to a glass of bubbles!

Of course, the best part about a traditional cheese board is that it is an easy, no-cook, delicious mix of flavors and textures: hard and soft cheeses, crackers, dried and fresh fruit and sometimes, a little sweetness, like a high-quality dark chocolate (all available at your favorite grocery store!). Think of my Soirée-Sized Cheese Boxes as a chic, updated version of the cheese plate that will wow your family and friends this holiday. You know what’s even better? They can be assembled in advance and kept in the refrigerator!

There’s no rhyme or reason in building these little boxes, so be creative and think about what your guests would love to nibble on as they arrive as well as what would make the most sophisticated presentation.  I started with these adorable and stylish boxes that are available online. I like to use grapes as a base to give some height and to serve as a sweet foundation. Next, layer in other ingredients, like dried apricots and figs, crackers and flatbreads, nuts and cheeses. You can use anything that has great flavor and will complement each other. This a great opportunity to try something new! To round out the boxes I have here, I included two hard cheeses; Pepper Jack and Gruyere, as I am able to cut them into strong geometric forms, and they will keep their shape while in the box. I presented the boxes in an acrylic tray, accented with a bed of beautiful greenery that I also found at my favorite grocery store. It’s simple and sets an elegant tone for the evening.

I love the idea of these boxes as edible and elegant versions of party favors that will be sure to be the life of your holiday soirée!

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 A Few Simple Tips to Arrange the Boxes

  • If you use a dried fruit with a stem, like the figs I have used here, be sure to remove the stems before placing inside the box.

  • Keep in mind that your guests will eat with their eyes first, so vary the height of the ingredients inside the box. You can use a hard cheese to provide the perfect vertical element for visual interest.

  • Add a fresh sprig of Rosemary or Thyme to each box for a little bit of green for an extra festive (and aromatic!) touch!

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