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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Baking

Fig & Cream Scones

Marc J. Sievers

Scones may be one of the easiest things to bake, and with endless flavor combinations!  They can be savory or sweet, and are the perfect addition to a brunch, afternoon tea, or even as a dessert warmed through with a scoop of ice cream.

The process of making scones is really combining just a few simple ingredients and then adding a signature flavor—in this case, dried figs.  Dried Black Mission Figs are a pantry staple in my house.  I love to serve them with cheese boards, as a nibble with drinks, in pasta dishes, and especially in my Fig & Cream Scones.

For this recipe, I increased the salt slightly as it helps to balance the natural sweetness of the figs and cream.  If you really want to up the flavor factor, serve these with English Clotted Cream (or unsalted French butter) and fig preserves – pure heaven!

Happy cooking!


Fig & Cream Scones

Ingredients (makes 8 scones)

  • Flour – 2 cups, all purpose, plus 1 tablespoon

  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, very cold, diced

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

  • Heavy Cream – ½ cup, very cold

  • Dried Figs – 1 cup, diced ½-inch, Black Mission variety preferred

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

Directions

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

  2. In a small bowl, toss the diced figs with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the remaining 2 cups of flour, as well as the sugar, baking powder, salt, and cold butter. Mix on low speed until the butter resembles the size of peas.

  4. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the cold heavy cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs. Mix until just combined. The dough will be very sticky.

  5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough into a disc.

  6. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square, roughly ¾-inch thick. Cut the square into quarters, and cut each quarter in half, as a triangle.

  7. Place each scone onto the prepared sheet pan and brush with egg wash*.

  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops and edges are lightly brown.

  9. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a pastry blender to quickly break the butter into pea-sized pieces.  Then, add the cold cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs.  With your hand slightly cupped quickly work the liquid and figs into the flour.  Follow the remaining direction numbered 5 through 9.

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Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things to do at home is have a pot of tea with Ryan on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Throughout the years I have collected antique silver and porcelain teapots, sugar bowls, creamers, and other accessories to create my own special and unique tea service at home.  I have also done a good job at building up my tea selection and always keep a little tin of cookies or biscuits on hand to enjoy, as the English do so well.

When I want to make something homemade for a special treat my go-to recipe is my Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies!  They are buttery and crisp, and have such a well-rounded flavor that pairs perfectly with black tea (my favorite is Earl Grey Lavender) with honey and cream.

Whether you enjoy a cup of tea on the go (wrap a single cookie in parchment), set an elaborate table for tea time (serve these on a silver platter), or just want to eat scrumptious shortbread (these also make fabulous gifts), these are perfectly versatile and delicious.  I hope you love them as much as I do.  Now, if only I had a bigger tin!  Hats on, pinkies up, its tea time!


Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies 

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Butter - 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar - ⅓ cup, granulated

  • Vanilla - ½ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Sea Salt - ⅛ teaspoon

  • Honey - 2 tablespoons

  • Lemon Zest - 1 ½ tablespoons

  • Flour - 1 cup + 2 tablespoons, all-purpose

  • Lavender - 2 tablespoons, dried, lightly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment set to medium speed, mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the vanilla, sea salt, honey, and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated.

  4. Next, with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and lavender. Mix until the dough comes together,

  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the dough and place onto a floured surface.

  7. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness and use a fluted edged cutter to cut out cookies. Gather excess dough and repeat process of rolling and cutting.

  8. Place cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the pan into the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

  9. Remove from the refrigerator, place into the preheated oven and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a light brown.

  10. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Golden Raisin Bread

Marc J. Sievers

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

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

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

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

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

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


Golden Raisin Bread

Ingredients

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

  • Baking Soda – 2 teaspoons

  • Cream of Tartar – ½ teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 4 tablespoons

  • Buttermilk – 2 cups, cold

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

  • Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons

  • Golden Raisins – 2 cups

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, melted

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Developing new recipes allows me the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of ingredients.  Whether they are from my local grocery store, a gourmet food shop, or even an ethnic market, the possibilities and combinations are endless.  Sometimes navigating your way down the aisles and seeing the amount of variety there is when it comes to brands, packaging, and price (we have all had those “YIKES!” moments), can be a bit overwhelming.  Usually when I am testing a recipe that has a star ingredient, like chocolate, I go straight for the best quality I can find but still in my price range.  The outcome – my Triple Chocolate Cookies – so incredibly luxurious in both texture and taste that I have had to stop keeping some of the ingredients in the house because I can’t stop making (and ultimately eating!) them.

These cookies are filled with rich Pernigotti Cocoa Powder, Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips, and French Président Butter.  While most of my posts and recipes encourage you to shop at your local grocery, this recipe is one I highly recommend you splurge on these few ingredients.  If your local grocery doesn't have these particular brands, you can easily find them online and have them shipped directly to you, even the butter


Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Flour – 1 cup, all-purpose

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cocoa Powder – ¾ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups, lightly packed

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

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature, Président (or another European-style) recommenced

  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 11.5 ounces (1 bag), Guittard recommended

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a single baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa power. Set aside.

  3. In another medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla until there are no lumps from the brown sugar. Set aside.

  4. In a small microwave safe bowl add the butter and unsweetened chopped chocolate. Microwave on half power for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth.

  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until completely combined.

  6. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour mixture. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Allow the dough to rest for exactly 20 minutes at room temperature.

  7. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Only 6 cookies will fit per baking sheet, per baking cycle.

  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until just set, rotating the sheet tray once halfway through baking time.

  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat above steps to finish baking the other 6 cookies.

Idea: These cookies can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over top – a truly decedent treat!

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