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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Basil

Pomegranate Guacamole

Marc J. Sievers

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had been in the kitchen testing guacamole recipes and I just had to share my Pomegranate Guacamole recipe with you (how could I keep this from you?)! This classic recipe with a MJS twist is bursting with fresh basil, red onion, and juicy pomegranate seeds. I love serving this dip on a long rectangular platter with pomegranate seeds casually strewn over the top. Not only is it delicious, but I love the drama of the contrasting colors!


Pomegranate Guacamole

Ingredients (makes 3 cups)

  • Lime Juice – 1 small lime, fresh

  • Hass Avocados – 3 ripe, pitted, flesh removed

  • Red Onion – ½ cup, ¼-inch diced

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely chopped

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Pomegranate Seeds – ¾ cup

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add the freshly-squeezed lime juice and avocados.

  2. Using two sharp knives in a crisscross action, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced but still have some texture.

  3. Add the red onion, basil, salt, and pepper, and gently toss.

  4. Lastly, garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Linda's Tomato Salad

Marc J. Sievers

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

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

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

Happy Summer!


Linda's Tomato Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Sweet Corn – 2 ears, shucked

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

  • Basil – ¾ cup, rough chopped

  • Olive Oil – ½ cup

  • Balsamic Vinegar – ¼ cup

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

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

Directions

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

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

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

  4. Serve alongside a basket of crusty bread.

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Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Marc J. Sievers

During a busy work week when Ryan has late meetings and I have been in the kitchen recipe testing, or writing, the idea of whipping up an elaborate dinner couldn’t be further from my mind!  Instead, when those long days end, we like to relax on the couch, sip wine or Champagne, chat about our day, and “nibble” on cheeses, fruit, bread, and chocolate.  Of course, there are many nights we just do that out of habit—and not a bad habit if I say so myself!  When we want to really indulge, I pull out the big guns, or in our case, fabulous and creamy Triple Cream Brie!

As a lover of all types of French fries, I wanted to find an elegant way to serve one of my favorite basic food groups (they’re a food group, right?!), like on a random Tuesday night or for a Saturday night soirée.  Roasting big wedges of sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the flavor of this almost creamy vegetable, and also makes the outside nicely crisp.  When paired with fresh basil and Triple Cream Brie, and set under a broiler for just a minute, the result is over-the-top flavor and fantastic texture!

My Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries are the perfect thing to serve with drinks at a cocktail party, or alongside a big green salad and hearty soup for either a lunch or dinner (pass the baguette, please!), and especially after a long day when only a giant pan of richness will make the world’s problems melt away! 

From my kitchen to yours – happy cooking!


Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Sweet Potatoes – 4 medium, peeled

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, fresh, finely minced

  • Triple Cream Brie – 4 ½ ounces, with rind, thinly sliced, cut into ¾-inch pieces, chilled

  • Basil – ¼ cup, fresh, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary and garlic. Set aside.

  3. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into three long wedges.

  4. Place the wedges onto a sheet pan and toss with olive oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

  5. Roast for 20 minutes, and then turn each wedge with a spatula. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the rosemary and garlic mixture, and bake for an addition 5 minutes.

  6. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Set the broiler to high.

  7. Place the wedges into an oven-proof serving dish. Evenly distribute the cheese and then place under the broiler until the Brie is bubbly and melted, about 2-3 minutes.

  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Idea: Using a cast iron skillet as a serving dish allows you to go from hot broiler to table – just remember to use a trivet on top of your table.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing to eat (and still is!) were mashed potatoes!  The smell of a big pot of potatoes boiling away always reminds me of family dinners and holidays – the best!  While I still prepare traditional mashed potatoes with just milk, butter, salt, and pepper, I have a new twist on a classic – my Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes.  These potatoes are filled with browned butter, garlic, spicy basil, nutmeg, and white pepper, making them a welcomed update to the classic version!

You can even make mashed potatoes in advance by keeping them warm in a glass bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap set over a pan of barely simmering water.  They can remain like this for up to 1 hour.  Stir them every 20 minutes to help them maintain an even temperature.  You can add a little bit of warm half and half if they become too thick.  Remember, if making them in advance, stir in the basil just before you serve them, or the basil will turn dark – not a good look!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, lightly smashed

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1½ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely minced, fresh

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, set over medium-low heat, add the butter and smashed garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden and the milk solids in the butter have browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Scrape all the browned bits, butter, and garlic into a small blender or food processor. Add the half and half, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth, or about 1 minute.

  4. Pour into a small saucepan and gently reheat. Once hot, turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

  5. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them, and add them back into the pan.

  6. Using a handheld mixer fitted with the beater attachment beat the hot potatoes in the pot until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot half and half mixture and beat until mostly smooth. They should still have a few small lumps for texture.

  7. Lastly, stir in the fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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Basil Pesto Risotto

Marc J. Sievers

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, and is probably one of the most versatile things you can make at home.  The base is always Arborio rice—an Italian short grain rice with a creamy and chewy texture—and brought to life with stock and other fresh ingredients.  If in your pantry you have Arborio rice, fresh herbs, left over vegetables (raw or cooked), and a bit of stock or broth, then an easy and cozy dinner can be ready in under 30 minutes (I love that!).  This would also make a fabulous side dish when paired with something like Crispy Eggplant - Oven Style.  

For my Basil Pesto Risotto, I chose to make a version of homemade pesto, swapping out some of the olive oil for heavy cream.  Using all oil made the finished dish too oily, but the addition of heavy cream made the risotto slightly creamy and more elegant.  Because fresh basil and peas are available in most grocery stores year round, take the extra time to make the pesto from scratch, and shuck the peas by hand—you will be amazed at the difference it makes when it comes to flavor and satisfaction!

Happy risotto-making!


Basil Pesto Risotto

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • Basil Leaves – 1½ cups, fresh, lightly packed

  • Garlic – 1 clove, peeled

  • Sliced Almonds – 3 teaspoons

  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions for the Pesto

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the glass jar of a blender and puree until mostly smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients for the Risotto (serves 2)

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Yellow Onion – 1 cup, ¼-inch diced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Italian Arborio Rice – ½ cup

  • Vegetable Stock – 1 ½ cups, barely simmering

  • Basil Pesto – *Recipe above

  • Green Peas – ½ cup, freshly shucked

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions for the Risotto

  1. Place the fresh (or frozen) peas in a bowl of very hot tap water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a small Dutch oven heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the Arborio rice and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly toasted.

  4. Next, pour the hot stock over the onion and rice mixture and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Once almost all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, turn off the heat and stir in the pesto sauce, peas, and lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Idea:  If you do not have a small Dutch oven, any 10-inch skillet with a tight fitting lid will work just fine. 

Tip:  If you want to make this ahead of time and serve it later, reheat over low heat with a few tablespoon of heavy cream.  This will allow the rice to be warmed through without becoming dried out.

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Raspberry Basil Cooler

Marc J. Sievers

The basil and raspberries at my local farmers market this morning looked too incredibly delicious to pass up!  Knowing that I had vodka, rum, Prosecco, and sparkling water at home, the idea of making a refreshing cocktail was the first to come to mind.  Typically, I only order mixed cocktails when I am out on the town—the ones I usually order are tedious with a drop of this, a splash of that, and don’t forget the twist!

At home, I try to create cocktails that I can shake-shake-shake in under two minutes, and that are not overly sweet.  I especially like to use fresh ingredients whenever possible and not rely on flavorings or other artificial ingredients (just more I have to have on hand, taking up space in my cabinet for that once-a-year use).

My Raspberry Basil Cooler is a drink you can interchange with whatever you have in your cabinet; vodka OR rum, lime OR lemon, Prosecco OR sparkling water, which makes it a flexible and easy go-to cocktail to entertain with since your guests can swap out whatever they would like. 

This refreshing drink is also fabulous without the use of spirits for a non-alcoholic variation.  Just substitute sparkling water for the rum and Prosecco and you’ll have a delicious “mocktail”! 

It’s cocktail time!


Raspberry Basil Cooler 

Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail, expand as needed)

  • White Rum – ¼ cup

  • Lime Juice – Half of a small lime

  • Extra Fine Sugar – 1 teaspoon

  • Basil – 5 small leaves, fresh

  • Raspberries – 8 whole berries

  • Prosecco – For finishing

Directions

  1. Place the raspberries, basil, lime juice, and sugar into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon to smash the ingredients until the berries are broken up.

  2. Add the rum and stir for 20 seconds.

  3. Fill your desired serving glass with ice, pour the rum mixture over the ice, and top off the glass with Prosecco.

  4. Gently stir, taste, and toast!

Note:  This is a rustic cocktail that derives its natural flavor from the muddled berries and basil.  This includes the seeds, which remain in the glass as a pulp.  This is normal, and delicious to eat!

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Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

During the holidays (and all year long), one of my favorite things to indulge in are mashed potatoes.  Growing up my Nan would serve huge bowls of them coated in melted butter and lightly seasoned with black pepper.  Just the anticipation from the smell of the boiling potatoes and the starchy air coming from the kitchen would make my mouth water!  Fast forward a “few” years, and it’s now my turn to host holidays and get-togethers while still maintaining the traditions of years past.

This year I really wanted to make a version of mashed potatoes that showcased the earthy taste of roasted potatoes and the freshness of basil.  Roasting the potatoes really deepens their flavor and the little browned bits that collect on the bottom of the pan add a slight crunch.  Since most holiday dishes use fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage I thought introducing basil would be a welcomed flavor to awaken the taste buds!  Take a glance at my Savory French Tart that features a seasoned rosemary crust and is perfect for serving as an hors d’oeuvre with champagne or a glass of wine before the feast.

Follow my recipe below and surprise your family and friends with a simple yet unique take on a classic dish!


Roasted Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4 - 5)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

  • Butter – 6 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Whole Milk – 1 ⅓ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Gruyere – 1 cup, finely grated, plus more for garnish

  • Basil – ¼ cup, finely minced, plus more for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place the potatoes onto a sheet pan and toss with oil olive. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking time.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over low heat add the butter and lightly smashed garlic cloves. Allow the butter to melt completely and simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. Then add the milk and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove the whole garlic pieces and discard them.

  5. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc-blade over a large heat-proof bowl. Process the potatoes and all the browned bits from the bottom of the sheet pan through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth.

  6. As soon as the potatoes are milled, whisk in the warm butter-and-milk mixture, salt, pepper, Gruyere, and basil.

  7. Garnish with a light sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper, grated Gruyere, and fresh basil. Serve hot

Tip: Use a rasp to grate the Gruyere in order to get very fine shreds.  These fine shreds will be completely absorbed into the potatoes allowing them to be very creamy and have a slight nutty texture.

Idea: Mashed potatoes may be kept warm in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water.  Just cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap first, making sure to keep it away from the flame.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Cheers! St. Germain with Bubbles!

Marc J. Sievers

I recently did an interview for Blendabout.com, a social dinning website that matches people with common interests into small groups for meals at restaurants all over the country.  BlendAbout schedules group meals for approximately six people that share the same interests, allowing users to connect and mingle comfortably.  They asked me all about cocktails, a topic I do know a thing-or-two about!  I wanted to create a cocktail that was something guests would be impressed by, with a unique flavor profile, and could be made easily in large quantities.

Since I love St. Germain which is an elderflower flavored liqueur, I knew I wanted to highlight the beautiful, floral notes.  My St. Germain with Bubbles is now the most requested cocktail from clients when I am hosting their dinner parties!  Cheers!


St. Germain with Bubbles

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • St. Germain – 6 tablespoons, divided

  • Champagne – (your favorite) – 1 bottle, chilled

  • Basil – 6 leaves, small

  • Blueberries – 18, gently smashed (using the back of a spoon)

  • Lemon Juice – 6 teaspoons, divided

  • Lemon Curls – for garnish

  • Sugar – 6 cubes

Directions

  1. Start by filling 6 flutes with champagne.

  2. Next, evenly divide the St. Germain and lemon juice into each flute.

  3. Garnish with basil, blueberries and lemon curls.

  4. Right before serving, drop a sugar cube into each flute.

Tip: While the basil and blueberries do not add a lot of flavor directly to the aperitif, it’s an unexpected (but FABULOUS!) surprise at the end when you bite and get the spiciness of the basil and sweetness of the blueberry.  It almost acts as a palette cleanser and readies your taste buds for what’s next!

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Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Artichoke Capellini

Marc J. Sievers

Having friends over for a casual dinner is about to get seriously delicious!  My Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Artichoke Capellini is the perfect meal to throw together during the week or on the weekend.  It’s filled with easy-to-find ingredients and you do not need to be a whiz is the kitchen to whip up this flavorful meal!  Pair it with a rustic sour dough boule, a simple green salad, and a bottle (or 2!) of wine.  Mangia bene, vivi felice!


Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Artichoke Capellini

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Artichoke Hearts – (2) twelve-ounce bags, frozen

  • Olive Oil – ⅓ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black pepper – 1½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

  • Capellini – 1 pound, dry

  • Shallots – 2 medium, finely diced

  • Mini Heirloom Tomatoes – 4 cups, halved

  • Garlic – 10 cloves, finely minced

  • Lemon Zest – ⅓ cup

  • Crushed Red pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon

  • Crushed Tomatoes – (2) 15-ounce cans

  • Heavy Cream – ⅓ cup

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Basil – ½ cup, roughly chopped

  • Pecorino – ½ cut, freshly grated

  • Bocconcini – eight-ounces, quartered

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  2. Place the frozen artichoke hearts on a sheet pan.  Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

  3. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing twice during cooking.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

  4. Next, in a 14-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add ⅓ cup of olive oil and the butter.

  5. Once the olive is hot, add the shallots, garlic, crushed red pepper, sea salt, and pepper.

  6. Cook for 8 - 9 minutes, stirring occasionally until the shallots and garlic are tender but not browned.

  7. Add the heavy cream and crushed tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  8. Then add the lemon zest, roasted artichoke hearts, and mini heirloom tomatoes.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then cover with a lid and turn off the heat.

  9. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Cook the capellini according to package directions.

  10. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well, and add it to the sauce.

  11. Lastly, toss the pasta with the sauce, basil, and bocconcini.  Garnish with pecorino and more salt and pepper to taste.

  12. Serve immediately.

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It's FIG-alicious!

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, I have been enjoying farmer's markets all summer!  This time of year Black Mission Figs are just about everywhere.  They have a very delicate texture, small crunchy seeds, a sweet-earthy flavor, and a vibrant pink-colored interior.   I recently wrote a recipe for BlendAbout.com highlighting these delicious figs in my Fig & Stilton Salad recipe.  The response was so great that I wanted to write two more recipes showcasing this beautiful fruit and very similar ingredients, showing you how layering ingredients in different ways can create a whole new dish!

Since I love rustic and earthy food I wanted to create a bruschetta with figs.  I started out with some of my favorite ingredients like baguette, basil, and Spanish onions.  After a few rounds of testing (and eating!), my recipe for Rustic Fig Bruschetta was finished!  It’s loaded with caramelized onions, garlic, Stilton, figs, and some other lip-smacking ingredients!

Next, I wanted to create a canapé that would be perfect for a summer cocktail soirée with champagne, of course!  Since the interior of a fig is so beautiful, I wanted to showcase both the color and texture.  I always keep my favorite black pepper water crackers on hand, and I knew instantly that I wanted to balance the slightly spicy cracker with a bit of sweetness and fresh flavors.  My Fresh Fig Canapé is both visually beautiful and flavorful, it’s sure to be a smash (darling) at your next gathering.

I hope my recipes for Fig & Stilton Salad, Rustic Fig Bruschetta, and Fresh Fig Canapé show you that it only takes a few fresh and quality ingredients to prepare beautiful, elegant, and simple dishes!  Next week I have some FABULOUS breakfast dishes to share with you!  How does Orange Custard French Toast and Orange Summer Pound Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze sound?!  See you in a week!  Sending love from my kitchen to yours!


Rustic Fig Bruschetta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Spanish onion – 1 ½ cups, thinly sliced

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons, divided

  • Butter – 2 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon, granulated

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, roughly chopped

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Black Mission Figs – 5 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Demi baguette – cut in half length-wise

  • Basil – ¼ cup, freshly chopped

  • Stilton – 1/3 cup, crumbled

Directions

  1. Start by heating the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat.

  2. Add the onions, and cook for 20-22 minutes or until the onions are very tender and caramelized.

  3. Next, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic and cook for an additional minute, being very careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  4. Preheat the broiler.

  5. Using the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, evenly butter each cut-side of the baguette. Place prepared baguette onto a baking sheet.

  6. Place under the broiler and cook until golden brown on top, about 2 to 4 minutes.

  7. Remove from the broiler and set aside.

  8. Lastly, layer each half of the baguette with the onion mixture, cut figs, and Stilton. Evenly drizzle with honey.

  9. Place under the broiler again, until the cheese is nicely melted, about 1 to 3 minutes. The edges of the bread can burn easily, so make sure to keep your eye on it.

  10. Lastly, remove from the broiler and top with fresh basil.

  11. Cut into large pieces and serve immediately.


Fresh Fig Canapé

Ingredients (serves 10 - three per person)

  • Black Mission Figs – 8 medium, cut ¼-inch thick

  • Stilton – ½ -inch sized crumbles, 30 total pieces

  • Basil – 30 small fresh leaves

  • Dark Chocolate – 1/3 cup, freshly grated

  • Black Pepper Water Crackers – 30 (plain water crackers will also work)

  • Black Pepper – for garnish, freshly cracked

  • Honey Comb – ½-inch sized pieces, 30 total (regular honey will also work)

Directions

  1. Simply layer each cracker with a slice of fig, a piece of Stilton, a piece of honey comb, a basil leaf, a small pinch of black pepper, and top with a sprinkling of dark chocolate.

  2. Arrange on a silver platter or flat board.

  3. Expand recipe as needed.

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Haricot Jaune with Garlic

Marc J. Sievers

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


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


Haricot Jaune with Garlic

Ingredients (serves 3 - 4)

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

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced

  • Shallots – ⅓ cup, finely minced

  • Parsley – ½ cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Basil – ¼ cup, fresh, roughly chopped

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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Roasted Savory Carrots

Marc J. Sievers

Carrots get a rustic and chic makeover!

With Easter right around the corner, I’m sure many of you are in the midst of planning the menu!  While I still prepare many of my families traditional recipes, I am always looking to reinvent a classic, like carrots.  My recipe for Roasted Savory Carrots combines flavor like honey, basil, lemon and dark chocolate, what a combination!  Roasting the carrots also helps bring out the natural sweetness and earthy flavor.

Not only are these perfect for Easter or when hosting company, but they are a fabulous addition to any casual weeknight meal.  The steps are simple and the ingredients are found at your local grocery store, making this the perfect elevated home-cooked recipe!


Roasted Savory Carrots

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • Carrots – 2 pounds, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then in 2-inch pieces

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Basil – 3/4 cup, freshly chopped, divided

  • Lemon – 1 medium, zested

  • Dark Chocolate - 4 tablespoons, freshly shaved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. On a sheet pan, toss the carrots, olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.

  3. Place into the oven for 30 minutes, tossing once during the cooking process.

  4. In a large bowl combine the lemon zest, honey, butter and 1/2 cup of basil. Add the carrots and toss until evenly coated.

  5. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of basil. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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Crispy Eggplant – Oven-Style!

Marc J. Sievers

Eggplant Parmesan was a dish my great-grandmother on my daddy's side would prepare what seemed like daily!  She was no taller than 4'11", wore big '60s framed glasses (think Sophia Petrillo) that teetered on the end of her nose, and she always wore a smock.  My great-grandmother was the matriarch of the kitchen, and beyond!

Crispy eggplant medallions pair perfectly with my Spicy Marinara Sauce!

I remember, when I was a little boy, she would always give me two things:  A crisp dollar bill, and these amazing hard candies that she kept in the front coat closet in a tin, tucked away on the top shelf.  She knew my favorite things to eat were Italian rolls smeared with butter, instant mashed potatoes (tinted yellow from all the butter), and her fried eggplant and homemade sauce!  She was a lovely woman with the heart and soul of an Italian saint.

While I do love to pan fry my eggplant, just as my great-grandmother did, I thought I would create a lighter (and perhaps a bit more healthy) version of this classic recipe!  The oven is the perfect alternative to standing over a pan on the stove top.  While I have a recipe for Crispy Eggplant Parmesan in my new cookbook, Entertaining with Love, that is a perfect indulgent meal, this baked version is a great weeknight entrée!  I've even included my recipe for a truly FABULOUS, yet super simple, spicy marinara sauce!  Cheers to all the great-and-grandmothers out there!


Crispy Eggplant

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Eggplant – 1 large, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch think

  • Bread Crumbs – 1 cup, unseasoned

  • White Pepper – ½ teaspoon

  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon, dried

  • Basil – 1 teaspoon, dried

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Egg – 1, extra large, lightly beaten

  • Milk – ½ cup

  • Parmesan – ⅓ cup, as garnish

Directions

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 475 degrees F.

  2. Combine the egg and milk in a shallow bowl.

  3. Next, add the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and spices in another shallow bowl. Stir to combined.

  4. Pour the olive oil into the base of a half sheet pan, then spread the oil to cover the entire pan. Set aside.

  5. Dip each slice of eggplant into the dry mixture, then the wet mixture, and then again in the dry mixture. Place onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat process until all slices of eggplant have been coated.

  6. Next, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Flip the eggplant and continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is browned and crisp.

  7. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.


Sauce

Ingredients

  • Yellow Onion – ½ cup, finely minced

  • Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – ¼ teaspoon, or to taste

  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Basil – ⅓ cup, finely minced

  • San Marzano Tomatoes – 1 (28-ounce) can, crushed

Directions

  1. Start by heating the olive oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium-low heat

  2. Add the onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and pepper and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, so that the onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Stir in the tomatoes and basil and simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Serve immediately.

Tip: You can also store in an air right container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Craquelins Savoureux (Savory Crackers)

Marc J. Sievers

Craquelins Savoreux

Like many of you, food is constantly on my mind.  To be more specific cheese and chocolate!  I am always trying to invent dishes that can be made in just a few minutes, all the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, and will impress guests.  My Craquelins Savoureux is a delicious combination of Gruyere, dark chocolate, basil, honey, and a crisp cracker.  It fulfills both the sweet and savory side of cravings and also makes for an elevated presentation.  Best of all, this recipe involves zero cooking, so it's great for weeknight entertaining!  You can even individually wrap the components and bring them to a pot-lock (with a bottle of wine), just don't forget a serving tray.  Happy indulging!


Watch my very first webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours on YouTube in which I feature the Craquelins Savoureux:


Craquelins Savoureux

Ingredients (serves 10, expand recipe as needed)

  • Gruyere Cheese – 6 ounces, cut into 30 thin slices

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 ounces, rough chopped

  • Basil – 30 small fresh leaves

  • Water Crackers – 30, plain

  • Honey – In a squeezable container

Directions

  1. Simply layer each cracker with a slice of Gruyere, a basil leaf, a dollop of honey (about the size of a nickel), and topped with a piece of dark chocolate.

  2. Arrange on a serving platter or flat board.

Tip: You can substitute the plain honey for fresh honey comb for added elegance!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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