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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 07

Assiette de Fromage

Marc J. Sievers

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A cheese plate is a must when entertaining French-style!  Cheese is presented in smaller amounts and seen as something to nibble on as you and your guests bridge the time between the main course and the dessert.  And sometimes cheese takes the place of dessert.  A single variety is served, and sometimes an assortment depending on the number of guests at your soirée.  It is presented elegantly on a wooden board or a dinner plate.  You can also make individual servings on salad or dessert plates—this is especially lovely as it really makes an impression of thoughtfulness. 

I let the cheese sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving (never serve cheese straight from the refrigerator).  This helps to showcase the natural texture and flavor.  Whichever way you choose, your presentation should be simple and restrained—and never gluttonous! Learn more below about how to create your own Assiette de Fromage, straight from my new cookbook, French Omelettes: Your New House Meal!

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Accompaniments—you can create a beautiful assiette with things like fresh and dried fruits, slices of baguette, hearty crackers, cornichons, preserves, and fresh herbs, tucked into one another—in small quantities.  When available, I add edible flowers from the grocery store for color, texture, and taste—guests are always surprised and delighted by culinary blooms.  Less is more when it comes to any selection of accompaniments.

Cheese—many grocery stores now carry a fabulous assortment of the most common and recognizable types of French cheeses.  If you have a specialty cheese shop in your town, ask them to recommend a few types to pair with your menu—in some cases they will even place special orders.  But if you are shopping at your local grocery store, these are the five types of French cheese most readily found:

Comté – a hard, unpasteurized cow's milk cheese with a slightly nutty flavor (Gruyère is similar in flavor and a perfect substitute)

Roquefort – a creamy, sheep’s milk cheese with a pungent flavor (think of it as a more flavorful blue cheese similar to the texture of Gorgonzola)

Camembert – a soft-ripening, cow’s milk cheese with an edible white rind and an earthy, grassy and even mushroom-y flavor (with a soft and creamy texture)

Chèvre – a goat’s milk cheese with a tangy kick (pictured to the left drizzled with olive oil, pink pepper, fleur de sel, and fresh thyme leaves)

Mimolette – a hard cheese with a sweet and subtle caramel flavor (it has a fudgy texture and electric-orange color)

Watch my how-to video: Assiette de Fromage

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My 5 Favorite French Finds in Paris

Marc J. Sievers

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I have been traveling to Paris for years and it never ceases to amaze me— with its wonderful food, and always interesting sights, sounds and endless opportunities for people watching. When I was in the city earlier this year, putting the final touches on my new book, I thought that it would be nice to share some of my favorite French finds with you, many of which are only found in France, which means I stock up before heading back home!

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Poilâne Bread (but can be shipped to the US)

The first thing Ryan and I do when we arrive to Paris is drop our bags and walk to Poilâne: I get a piece of bread and Ryan gets an apple tart (and we share a croissant as we walk to lunch at Café de Flore). The bread made here is the most famous (and most photographed!) bread in the world, for good reason.  A bread with sourdough tang, deep wheat flavor yet still light—perfect for cheeses, tartines, jams, and French salted butter. Avoid “le jet lag” and shop online and have Poilâne delivered to your doorstep!

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Adrienne M—Fleuriste Paris

Amongst the many beautiful things in Paris, there is the wealth of florists that are located all throughout the city. Adrienne M— Fleuriste Paris is a small boutique-style florist overflowing with some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen! It is a truly jaw-dropping floral experience, that is a must-see for any fan of gorgeous florals.  I love that the shop is organized by color, resulting in modern, color-blocked arrangements that lure in passerbys all day long.  

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Monoprix “Santal” Candle

Monoprix is the equivalent to your local grocery store and where I shop to get our apartment set up with “the basics”—I save La Grande Epicerie for the fine food splurges. The private label Santal candle from Monoprix is one of my top-travel finds and costs less than a bottle of French wine! The scent of this candle is sandalwood but with a slight floral undertone; it really is a unique scent. I usually bring back an embarrassing number of candles and burn them when I need a little Parisian moment back home stateside.

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Bonne Maman Collection

Stateside, Bonne Maman preserves and jellies are what is most commonly found in the grocery aisles. But in France, Bonne Maman also has a complete line of pantry-stable (even refrigerated and frozen!) sweets and treats that isn’t found in the U.S.  A French hybrid of Pepperidge Farm, Smuckers, and Pillsbury, Bonne Maman is inexpensive and absolutely delicious! Most items are pre-portioned for a single serving and are perfect for taking on a picnic!

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Boulevard Raspail Market

From homemade breads, local cheese makers to farmers and everything in between, the Raspail Market is always a good idea when you are in Paris. Located on the picturesque Boulevard Raspail just a few blocks from the incredible Hôtel Lutetia (the only grand hotel on the Left Bank) the market is bustling with true French home cooks, chefs, and onlookers. While the market is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, I prefer Sundays as it is all bio (organic) and has the best vendors (and if you are lucky, you will be captivated by an accordion player, organ grinder, or even a lovely woman singing La Vie en Rose—which always makes me swoon!).

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Pantry Brownies

Marc J. Sievers

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Like the search for the perfect LBD or the best olive oil, finding the ultimate brownie recipe is worth all the time and effort, (and it’s delicious!). My Pantry Brownies definitely make the case to be in the running for the ultimate brownie recipe. Decadent and luxurious, these brownies have a crisp, chewy edge that won over everyone who taste-tested them.  If you don’t like a crisp edge, you can bake them at 325 for 45-55 minutes for a softer edge.  Either way, my Pantry Brownies are sure to be a hit!

While some of the ingredients like Pernigotti cocoa powder, Guittard chocolate chips and European-style butter might not be readily available in your local grocery store, they are worth tracking down!  In fact, when I have ingredients that are harder to find, I buy 2 of them, so I can use what I need and also have a backup.  Once you see the difference that these few luxury ingredients make, you will never go back!

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Ingredients (makes 9 large brownies)

  • Butter – 16 tablespoons, unsalted, European-style, melted and cooled, plus more (not melted) for preparing pan

  • Flour – ¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, all-purpose, plus more for preparing pan

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 1 cup, Guittard recommended

  • Sugar – ¾ cup, granulated

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¾ cup, lightly packed

  • Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Cocoa Powder – ¾ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Chocolate Syrup – ½ cup, Hershey’s recommended 

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons

  • Eggs – 3 extra-large, at room temperature, lightly beaten

 Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour an 8x8-inch square pan.  Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of flour and the chocolate chips.  Toss to coat.  Set aside.

  3. Next, in a large bowl add the melted and cooled butter, remaining flour and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until just combined (do not over-mix!).

  4. Using rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips mixed with flour.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is just set.  These are very fudgy brownies and inserting a toothpick into the center will not come out clean.

  6. Once the brownies are done baking, transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Tip: You can certainly serve these brownies warm alongside a scoop (or 2!) or my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or my Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  In fact, your friends and family will thank you!

Storing: I store my cooled and cut brownies in an airtight container.  Place a piece of parchment between each layer so they do not stick together.

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Eric Goujou's Paris Essentials

Marc J. Sievers

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When I was in Paris earlier this year putting the final touches on my new book, I couldn’t wait to visit my dear friend Eric Goujou at his gorgeous shop, La Tuile à Loup! Filled with beautiful, handcrafted French ceramics, La Tuile à Loup is a regular stop for many of the world’s most well-known tastemakers. I own several of his pieces and I love how much personality they bring to a room or a table! Eric himself has impeccable taste, so I wanted to learn a bit more about his everyday life in Paris and his favorite Parisian spots. Take notes for your next Paris adventure!

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What is your house meal?

Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips. Most of my friends in Paris are vegetarian and I have a few intolerances. 

There is a stew from one of Ina Garten's books called The Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, which I love and I do my own version. Because I do not know how to follow a recipe, I always do an interpretation.   Alternatively, I will cook fish. In France it is a very easy go-to meal. 

A fresh fish (Sea Bass, Turbot, John Dory, Dorado) with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Served with roasted veggies. I cook this at least twice a week. 

 How would you describe your entertaining style?

My entertaining style might look formal at first because being a perfectionist, I like to do things just the way I envisioned it in my mind. Nevertheless, it is essential that people feel at ease when they sit around the table. I love to set a table. 

Eric’s Paris Faves:

For Everyday Essentials

  • Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche - 24 Rue de Sèvres 75007 PARIS

The Best Cocktails

  • Bar Hemingway at The Ritz - Place Vendome 75001 Paris

Favorite Florists

  • Traditional: Georges Francois - 38 Rue Delambre 75014 Paris

  • Modern: Lily Valley - 101 Rue Monge 75005 Paris 

Favorite Spots for Dinner with Visiting Friends

  • David Toutain - 29 Rue Surcouf 75007 Paris

  • Shouk - 59 Rue de Lancry 75010 Paris

For a quiet cup of coffee

  • Telescope - 5 Rue Villedo 75001 Paris

#bts at La Tuile à Loup

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Everyday Lemon Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

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I have a secret to tell you: I can’t keep a secret! My new cookbook, Earthy & Elegant: French Omelettes will be released on October 16th and I just couldn’t wait to share one of the recipes with you! The book is full of chic, easy recipes for classic French omelettes and components to serve alongside them. My Everyday Lemon Vinaigrette is a dressing that adds a bright touch of lemon to awaken even the simplest bowl of greens. This is by far my favorite lemon vinaigrette and one that I always have in the refrigerator.  The flavors are both sharp from the lemon but with just a hint of sweetness from the honey.  The best part? It can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored in the same jar in which it was made! One less thing to do when preparing for a dinner party. Click here to order my new book so you can make your own bistro-worthy French omelettes for family and friends!

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Ingredients (makes 2/3 cup )

  • Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons

  • Lemon Juice – ½ cup, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 4 teaspoons

  • Dijon Mustard – 1 ½ teaspoons

  • Olive Oil – ½ cup

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked 

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds until the vinaigrette is well-blended.  Set aside.

Entertaining Tip: I like to serve the extra lemon vinaigrette on the side in the same jar with a little spoon and allow guests to add more if they like. Or, for a fancier effect, serve it in a small pitcher or even a silver creamer (dust off that old tea set)!

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Farm Stand Peach Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

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Regardless of the season, ice cream is always a treat that satisfies like no other. My Farm Stand Peach Ice Cream celebrates fresh peaches in all their glory and it is so easy to make! Peaches are my husband Ryan’s favorite stone fruit and he calls this the perfect combination of ice cream and peach pie. He loves all of my ice cream recipes, but this one is definitely at the top of his list! I believe that simplicity always wins and this recipe is a stellar example of how a handful of familiar grocery store ingredients can be transformed into the most luscious ice cream!

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Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

Ice Cream Base

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

    Sugar – ⅔ cups, granulated

  •  Honey – 2 teaspoons

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

Peach Compote

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Peaches – 1 pound, pitted, ¼-inch diced, skins still on

  • Dark Brown Sugar -  ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

Directions

Ice Cream Base

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the sugar is just dissolved, about 5 minutes. You can tell the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit of the cream between your fingertips. If there are no granules, it is done.

  2.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill until very cold, or overnight.

Peach Compote

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once melted, add the peached, dark brown sugar and cinnamon.

  2. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very tender and their natural juices start to release.

  3. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Assembly

  1. Once the mixture is very cold, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.  About 2 minutes before the ice cream base is finished churning, add in the chilled peach mixture and allow it to be fully incorporated into the ice cream. 

  2.  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: https://www.cuisinart.com/shopping/appliances/ice_cream/ice-21

 

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Veggie Sliders

Marc J. Sievers

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This is a two-parter!  First, the Fresh Thyme Mayo was something I created back in 2011 for a TV show Ryan and I competed on for Food Network called Bobby’s Dinner Battle: Battle Chicago where three teams of two people cooked for Bobby Flay (he was in my kitchen!) and other judges for the title of Best Home Cook of Chicago.  This Mayo was a huge hit and ultimately helped us win!  Second, Ryan and I absolutely adore hotel bars — a favorite spot of ours is Gibson’s Chicago where Ryan orders the filet mignon sliders and a vodka martini (shaken, of course).  I am always a bit envious since I have yet to come across a vegetarian version in any bar.  But now I can re-create a similar atmosphere at home, vodka martini included!

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INGREDIENTS (Makes 6 sliders)

Fresh Thyme mayo:

  • Mayonnaise – ¼ cup

  • Dijon Mustard – 1 teaspoon

  • Thyme – ½ teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon, freshly squeezed

  • Sea Salt – 1/8 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1/8 teaspoon, freshly cracked

INGREDIENTS

Veggie Sliders:

  • Cannellini Beans –1 can (15 ounces), drained and rinsed

  • Basil – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Parsley – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh, Italian flat-leaf variety recommended

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Red Onion – 1 small, ¼-inch diced

  • Thyme – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Oregano – ¾ teaspoon, dried, lightly crushed

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Red Pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon

  • Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced

  • Dried Bread Crumbs - ⅓ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, plain variety

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1 tablespoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – 3 tablespoons, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Pretzel Slider Buns – 6, split

  • Gruyere Cheese – ¾ cup, freshly grated, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Fresh Thyme Mayo:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix until incorporated.

Veggie Sliders:

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.  Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl.  Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a small food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the drained beans, basil, and parsley.  Pulse until the beans are almost smooth, but still have a bit of texture.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

  3.  In a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter.  Once hot, add the red onions, thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally.

  4. Next, add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. 

  5. Scrap the onion mixture and any remaining olive oil into the bean mixture.  Add the breadcrumbs, egg, half n half, and Parmesan cheese to the same bowl.  Using a fork, combine all of the ingredients being careful not to compact the mixture. 

  6. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, form 6 balls by lightly rolling the mixture between the palms of your hands.  Place each ball onto the prepared half sheet pan.

  7.  Bake for 10 minutes, then using a spatula, gently flatten each ball into a patty about 1 ½-inches thick.  Then brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the split buns, cut side down, onto the same sheet pan to toast as the patties finish baking. 

  8.  Return the half sheet pan to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  

  9.  Assemble each slider with as much grated Gruyere and Fresh Thyme Mayo as desired, and serve hot. 

Tip: Aside from topping these with Gruyere cheese and my Fresh Thyme Mayo, they can be topped with caramelized onions and Roquefort cheese, Fontina and marinara sauce, or really almost any combination!  Just remember, this recipe does have heavy Italian-inspired flavors, so make sure to play up on that!

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Caprese Skewers

Marc J. Sievers

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When it is hot and steamy outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. But that doesn’t mean that delicious food needs to take a backseat! My version of classic Caprese Skewers is easy, breezy and beautiful, exactly what summer should be all about! Flavorful, ripe San Marzano plum tomatoes pair perfectly with a ribbon of fresh basil and creamy little Bocconcini mozzarella. Assembly could not be easier! In this version, instead of chopping basil as you would in a traditional caprese salad, I take a single leaf and roll it like a little cigar and slide it onto the skewer. Follow with the mozzarella, and spritz gently with my secret ingredient, fresh lemon juice! Not what you would expect, but it adds an amazing burst of citrus that enhances the overall freshness of this dish. Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper, and you have a backyard soirée superstar that will disappear in no time!

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Dill & Lemon Hummus

Marc J. Sievers

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I love a good hummus, don’t you? It works so well for entertaining a crowd and is a satisfying snack at home, any time of the day. But I don’t always have the time to make my own hummus and I might not have tahini or some of the other ingredients on hand. My Dill & Lemon Hummus is a fabulous way to infuse fresh flavor into store-bought hummus. Green onion and dill give this a fresh-from-the-garden touch while the lemon zest provides a kick of citrus that brings it all together. This is perfect for easy entertaining and nobody will know the shortcut of not making hummus from scratch.  It will be our secret;)

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Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Hummus – 16 ounces, plain, favorite store-bought brand

  • Dill – 1 ½ tablespoons, rough chopped, fresh

  • Lemon – 1 small lemon, zested

  • Green Onion – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, white and green parts

  • Parmesan Cheese – ⅓ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons, plus more for garnish

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Pink Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked, for garnish

Directions

  1.  In a medium bowl add the hummus, dill, lemon zest, green onion, parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and black pepper.  Stir to combine. 

  2. Transfer the hummus to a shallow serving bowl, drizzle over more olive oil and garnish with pink pepper.  Serve with slices of English cucumber, crackers or crostini.

Tip: Pink pepper has a slight sweet floral note and really adds an extra layer of flavor, not to mention a colorful garnish!  While I don’t use pink pepper nearly as much as black or white pepper (and always freshly cracked), I always have a glass jar of pink peppercorns in the pantry too.   

Entertaining Tip: You can make this hummus in advance (prepare the hummus without the extra garnish of olive oil and pink pepper) and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.  When you are ready to serve it, allow it to sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  Then transfer the hummus to a serving dish, garnish with olive oil, pink pepper and serve.

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Watermelon & Lime Wedges

Marc J. Sievers

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

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Jet Lag Pasta

Marc J. Sievers

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Traveling is something that I have always loved. Jet lag, not so much. Being in Chicago while still being on Paris time is not exactly my idea of fun… My Jet Lag Pasta, featuring Boursin Cheese, is the perfect easy, go-to dinner for when you are back home after a fabulous trip and you can barely keep your eyes open and need to get something on the table, fast! Whenever Ryan and I return from a vacation abroad, I make this for us- it’s creamy, warm and the ultimate comfort food, regardless of the time of the year. Think of it as a luxe version of mac and cheese! Before we leave, I make sure to have all of the ingredients on hand so everything is there and ready to go when we get back. Even if you don’t have any travel plans on the horizon anytime soon, Jet Lag Pasta is still a great dish for a quick weeknight meal. Or, you can dress things up a bit by adding fresh herbs like basil, flat-leaf Italian parsley, or dill and make it special enough for company!

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 Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ cups

  • Boursin Cheese – 5 ounces, Garlic & Fine Herb variety

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Fusilli – 1 pound, cooked al dente

  • Parmesan Cheese – ½ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions

  1. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the heavy cream. 

  2. Once it begins to simmer, add the Boursin cheese, salt and pepper.  Allow the cheese to slowly melt into the hot cream, stirring occasionally.  Once the cheese is just melted, after about 2 minutes, turn the heat to low and keep the cheese sauce hot but not bubbling. 

  3. Add the cooked hot pasta to the cheese sauce and toss to combine.  Let the pasta cook in the sauce for 1 minute, until the pasta is coated and the sauce has thickened.

  4.  Lastly, off the heat, add the Parmesan cheese, toss to combine and serve. 

Tip: You can make my Jet Lag Pasta with any shape of pasta like bucatini, capellini, bowties or even penne.  Try to time when the cheese sauce is just melted to when you strain the pasta.

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French Carrot Salad

Marc J. Sievers

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Carrot salad is something that can almost be considered a type of ‘street food’ in Paris. You often see it pre-packaged in many of the markets and it is a refreshing change from the typical (and sometimes boring) salads that we reach for during the summer. What I love about my version of French Carrot Salad is that it is simple and full of farmstand-fresh flavor, due to the crisp, grated carrots, flat-leaf Italian parsley and the creamy, luxe vinaigrette that brings it all together.

Don’t skip the step of shredding carrots yourself.  I like to use top carrots (carrots that still have the greens attached) because these tend to be the freshest available in the grocery store and have the best flavor.  While it may be appealing to save a few extra minutes and use pre-shredded carrots, who knows how long they have been in that bag!  Also, if you are at the farmer’s market or your grocery store and you happen to see tri-color carrots, those would be absolutely gorgeous to use for this salad. Perfect to bring along for a picnic!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

Salad

  • Carrots – 1 pound, peeled and finely shredded

  • Parsley – 1 cup of whole leaves, Italian flat-leaf variety

  • Chives – ⅓ cup, finely minced

Vinaigrette

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Honey – 1 teaspoon

  • Dijon Mustard – 1 ½ teaspoons

  • Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon

  • Lemon Juice – 2 tablespoons, freshly squeezed

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

Salad

  1. In a large bowl add the carrots, whole parsley leaves and chives.  Set aside.

Vinaigrette & Assembly

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

  2. Pour the vinaigrette over the carrot mixture and toss. 

  3. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter, garnish with more salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

Tip: You can make the vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance and store in it the refrigerator in same jar you made it in.

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Parisian Fresh Flower and Garden Herb Arrangement

Marc J. Sievers

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Contrary to what you may think, having a burst of beautiful blooms on your table does not have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, constructing a high-impact arrangement only requires a trip to your local grocery store! I think it is fun to get creative when it comes to florals and I love the idea of mixing in some fresh herbs with the flowers. There is something so modern and chic about bringing in edible, garden elements as part of the centerpiece for a table setting. Here, I have mixed in some bright green sage leaves with mint and aromatic rosemary. I placed all of the herbs in small drinking glasses filled with water to keep them happy and maintain their color!

The star of this arrangement are peonies that are in their full glory. When you buy peonies at the market, you want to make sure that you buy blooms that are still tight, so as to allow them to open up slowly over the course of a few days. I nestled the peonies in the glasses with the herbs and added a few loose tulip heads in for good measure! For a little mood lighting, I lit a few unscented candles. I mean, doesn’t everyone look better with a little candlelight?

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Roasted Vine Tomato French Omelette

Marc J. Sievers

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You already know how much I love serving French omelettes as my house meal- the dish that I prepare for first-time guests to my home. Do you have a house meal? If not, you might want to consider a fabulous and simple French omelette. It is the perfect backdrop for an endless variety of delicious toppings, and they are not just for breakfast! My Roasted Vine Tomato French Omelette is not only gorgeous, it is also amazingly easy as a weekday dinner or makes for an impressive presentation served in multiples on a platter for entertaining. Roasting the tomatoes releases their full depth of earthy flavor and adds a splash of color that definitely lets your guests eat with their eyes first!

Want to learn more about French omelettes? Be sure to pre-order my new cookbook, Earthy & Elegant: French Omelettes!

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Roasted Vine Tomato French Omelette

Ingredients (makes 1 omelette, multiply recipe as needed)

Tomatoes

  • Vine Tomatoes – 1 stem (plus any that fall off the vine)

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

French Omelette

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

  • Sea  Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Butter  – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Parmesan Cheese - 1 tablespoon, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions

Tomatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the stem of tomatoes onto a half sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are wilted but not bursting.  Set aside.

French Omelette

  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 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 and the foam has started to subside, pour the eggs into the center of the butter (be careful to not let the butter turn brown).

  4. Allow the eggs to sit for just a 5 - 10 seconds before you begin swirling the pan over the heat, until the edges just start to cook and the center of the eggs begin to bubble.

  5. Continue the swirling motion for another 5 - 10 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 the warm stem of tomatoes, parmesan cheese, more salt, black pepper and serve.

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An Easy Parisian Breakfast

Marc J. Sievers

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They say that breakfast is ‘the most important meal of the day’. But I also think it can be a perfect casual moment for entertaining, whether you are hosting out-of-town guests or doing an early-morning catch-up with friends! An easy Parisian breakfast is also a way to break out of the boring egg-and-toast routine and do something a little more chic and elevated during a long weekend or any day you have more time to slow down and enjoy the morning. All it takes is a quick trip to your favorite grocery store! Here, I have assembled a few things that are quintessentially Parisian: freshly baked croissants and country bread, ripe strawberries, a delicious berry jam, yogurt in individual ceramic jars and a black tea for a (very necessary) shot of caffeine! Arrange the components on some of your favorite serving platters or a beautiful wooden board for a delightfully French way to start your day, regardless of the season!

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Parmesan & Arugula Tartine

Marc J. Sievers

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There are few dishes more iconically French than the tartine. Think of a tartine as the chic, Parisian older sister of the open-faced sandwich. Simple and easy to make, tartines are a delicious combination of a few really good ingredients. My Parmesan & Arugula Tartine starts with a good crusty country bread that can be found in any bakery or grocery store. Start by toasting a thin slice of bread in a toaster until it is crisp and golden. Let it cool for a minute then schmear a little of my Vert Vinaigrette on top, add shavings of spicy Parmigiano-Reggiano, a few leaves of crisp arugula and finish with some fleur de sel and black pepper, et voilà! I like to serve this as chic little lunch or cut into pieces for an hors d’oeuvre (both with a glass of white wine!). However you serve this, make sure it is often!

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Eclectic Parisian Table Setting

Marc J. Sievers

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Regardless of where I am entertaining, whether at my home in Chicago, or while I am traveling, a beautiful table is always where I begin. When I was in Paris working on my new book, I invited some friends over and decided to set a table that was a little different than what I would normally do at home: something more eclectic and colorful that would be the perfect backdrop to a lively and fun evening! I began to build this table setting with some gorgeous pink hydrangeas (my favorite flower!) that I found at the market. Hydrangeas do not have a scent and I paired them with white unscented candles, so as to not have anything competing with the smell of the delicious food on the table!

When it comes to layering the table, now is the time to bring out some of those amazing and interesting pieces you have collected over the years but haven’t had a chance to use yet. The more colorful, the better! Instead of worrying about everything matching, think about a single color that you want to showcase, like I have done here with pink- the color is highlighted not only in the flowers, but on the placemats and on the small plates I have used in the setting. The only rule here is to have fun with the process and show off your favorite pieces!

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Vinaigrette Vert

Marc J. Sievers

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You have probably heard of ‘Green Goddess’ dressing from the 70’s!  My Vinaigrette Vert  (‘vert’ means ‘green’ in French) is a reimagining of that classic recipe with a version that is no less herbaceous, but with a modern more flavorful, lighter (and French) twist, using crème fraiche instead of mayonnaise or sour cream as a base.  I love the bounty of fresh herbs that go into this vinaigrette, and I have found that using a food processor cuts down on the time spent chopping all of those herbs significantly.  Why spend time chopping when you can be eating?  This is a fabulous and versatile recipe that should be a staple in your rotation, as it makes for a deliciously fresh way to dress a plate of greens, a perfect accompaniment for crudités or a spread on a tartine!

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Ingredients (makes 1 cup)

  • Crème Fraiche – ½ cup

  • Sherry Vinegar – 1 teaspoon

  • Dill – ½ cup, roughly chopped

  • Tarragon – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

  • Basil – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

  • Chives – 3 tablespoons, roughly chopped

  • Mint Leaves – 1 tablespoon, roughly chopped

  • Parsley – 1 cup, roughly chopped, Italian flat leaf variety

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, roughly chopped

  • Lemon Juice - 3 tablespoons, freshly squeezed

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

  • Olive Oil – ½ cup

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all of the ingredients except the olive oil.

  2. Pulse a few times to combine the crème fraiche and fresh herbs.

  3. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube. 

  4. Transfer the dressing to a serving bowl and serve alongside a green salad.

Tip: You can also serve this vinaigrette as a dip for a vegetable crudité, use as a sauce on grilled or roasted vegetables and as a spread on tartines and sandwiches.

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Fresh Herb and Vegetable Table Garland Table Garland

Marc J. Sievers

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You know that I love flowers for entertaining, but there is something so earthy and elegant about a table garland made with fresh herbs and colorful vegetables! The markets in Paris are stocked full of fresh produce and it was the perfect inspiration for a table arrangement for a gathering of friends for the evening. The fact that everything can be bought from your favorite local grocery store or farm stand (or picked that day from your garden) makes this fabulous for an impromptu dinner party or just an innovative way to add some color to a regular weekday meal. This is so easy to arrange! I placed a small head of lettuce in a bowl with some water (to keep it crisp) and put some asparagus and herbs into simple water glasses. I rounded out the garland with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes in a basket and a beautiful head of radishes on a vintage silver tray. A show stopping baguette wreath was the finishing touch to bring a bit of Paris to the table!

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Parisian Kitchen Picnic

Marc J. Sievers

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Even when I am traveling, I always find time to entertain. When I was in Paris last month working on my new book, I invited some friends over for a casual kitchen picnic. After recipe testing all day long, cooking was not on the menu! I made things easy for myself and bought some gorgeous and deliciously French bites that I knew would be instant crowd-pleasers, like a couple of sweet and savory tarts, mini quiches, fresh fruit and super-luxe truffle potato chips. I wanted to make sure that I had a variety of flavors and textures on the table, but also kept in mind what would make it easy for my guests to help themselves throughout the evening. The best part? You can recreate this with items from your favorite grocery store! Most supermarkets have prepared food sections that offer a great selection of delicious picnic-ready components, like tarts, salads and olives. Pick up a few condiments, like fig preserves and dijon mustard, grab a fresh baguette, some fresh flowers and of course wine! Most definitely cannot forget the wine!

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