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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Cocktail Party

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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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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A Royal Wedding Breakfast!

Marc J. Sievers

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When WGN News asked me to design a segment for the ultimate watch party for the royal wedding of Price Harry & Megan Markle, I happily said "yes"!  Since the royal nuptials are being broadcast live from London, coverage begins in some TV-land markets as early as 2am - YIKES!  I thought A Royal Wedding Breakfast soireé was the perfect way to gather with friend on Saturday morning and watch the festivities unfold (and a perfect excuse to stay in your jammies!).  Below I have included detailed images, my WGN News segment, and shoppable links (all from behind the scenes!) so you can easily recreate my Royal Wedding Breakfast for yourself at home! 

Trader Joes

Toasted Crumpets with Mascarpone and Strawberry Preserves

Buttery Croissants filled with Scrambled Eggs & Spinach

Vanilla Bean Yogurt with Dehydrated Raspberries, Fresh Blackberries, & Granola

Vosges Chocolates

Lemon Raspberry Petit Gateaux

Rosé BonBons

Chocolate Truffles “Les Fleus” Collection

Loose Leaf Tea

Earl Grey Rose

Earl Grey Lavender

Offray Ribbon

1/8” in colors Wine, Lemongrass, Silver, Ivory, & Pink

Caspari

Paper Table Cover in “Gold”

Flower Tubes

Plastic Water Flower Tubes

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Watch: The Perfect Cocktail Party Pair

Marc J. Sievers

Hotel and restaurant bars can be a fabulous source of inspiration for entertaining at home.  And entertaining for two shouldn't be any less glamorous than for 10!  My Fried Blue Cheese Olives were inspired by a former menu staple at RL in Chicago, and fond memories of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston helped me to create a simplified update on classic Amaretto Sour Martinis.  These are the perfect pair for a cocktail party just for two!  You can find both recipes in my cookbook Table for Two!

Truth be told, I love making cocktails at home but prefer not to be bothered with having to measure out a long list of ingredients and garnish with little drops and drizzles of things - I get bored way too fast for that!  My Amaretto Sour Martinis are so simple to make and can be made ahead of time and kept in a glass pitcher until you are ready to shake them over ice and serve them perfectly chilled.  

My Fried Blue Cheese Olives are almost as simple as the martinis and truly have that WOW! factor.  These are my go-to when I want to serve something warm with drinks.  You can't make them ahead of time, but they cook so quickly that you can make them just before your guest arrives - and then watch their face light up with excitement for such a delicious and perfect pairing!  

Series 5, Episode 2: The Perfect Cocktail Party Pair


Amaretto Sour Martinis 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Amaretto – 6 ounces (Disaronno® recommended)

  • Lime Juice – 2 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Lemon Juice – 2 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Maraschino Cherries – for garnish

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the amaretto, lime juice, lemon juice, honey, and a handful of ice. Shake until very cold, about 60 seconds (it is longer than you realize, but worth the work-out).

  2. Pour evenly into each martini glass.

  3. Serve immediately.


Fried Blue Cheese Olives

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Canola Oil – 1½ cups

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten

  • Dried Breadcrumbs – ½ cup, plain

  • Blue Cheese Olives – 16, patted dry, at room temperature

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over high heat, add the oil. Line a plate with a layer of paper towels. Set aside.

  2. Place the lightly beaten egg in a small, shallow bowl. In an additional small bowl, add the bread crumbs.

  3. Roll each olive through the egg, then through the breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Coat all of the olives and set aside together.

  4. Once the oil has reached 350 degrees F (use a candy thermometer to be accurate), and working in small batches, gently place the olives in the hot oil. Once golden brown, remove the olives with a small slotted spoon and place on the plate prepared with paper towel to drain.

  5. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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Table for Two!

Marc J. Sievers

For nearly a year, I have been in the process of creating my new cookbook, Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1. And now, finally, it is nearly here! Table for Two debuts November 5 and I am simply bursting with excitement to share it with you! It has been a passion borne from the realization that we entertain for two quite often, and that two is a party! I laid out and wrote my new book with the idea that we each have different plus-ones in our lives—those friendships, relationships, and special connections who deserve our undivided attention. But, cooking (and entertaining) just for two is not always easy. How do you cook and entertain elegantly for two, without it feeling like you’re still throwing a dinner party for ten? Or worse, feeling it’s an effort not even worth making! Table for Two is my answer, presented as an easy-to-use guide.

But, more than just a book of recipes, Table for Two is one-part cookbook, one-part entertaining guide, with a dash of story-telling and memoir. From the very beginning, I set out to address the challenge of cooking and entertaining smartly just for a duo. I created every recipe completely from scratch to ensure each is perfectly portioned for two. I also kept it simple, flavorful, and familiar with elegant recipes you would want to serve to any +1 who is special to you! Giving your undivided attention to your +1 is at the heart of the experience I aimed to capture and guide you through with my cookbook. The food you prepare should support that, and doesn’t need to be complicated, fussy, or overly-extravagant.

What truly sets Table for Two apart is my focus on creating for you a trusted guide. With it, you can set up a catch-up around the coffee table, enjoy a kitchen island soirée, or a marvelous in-bed fête. I have set these scenes and more, with useful ideas, easy menus, and inspired stories, all centered on wonderful recipes with fresh ingredients and straight-forward preparation that doesn’t require exotic tools or wild ingredients.

You do not need to be a wiz in the kitchen, or even an experienced host/ess to entertain at home. What you must be, is willing! Willing to not only learn about fresh ingredients and useful techniques, but also to share that with your +1 and make whoever they are feel as through in that moment they are the only other person in the world that matters! Table for Two is sure to be a welcomed addition to your chef’s library as the first lifestyle cookbook and guide you will turn to for a party of two!

Order your signed copy of Table for Two!


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10 Simple & Helpful Tips for Entertaining

Marc J. Sievers

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It is easy to take a simple get-together at home and turn it into an unforgettable evening—it is all in the details!  I am not talking about over-the-top details, or going to any great expense.  Entertaining at home can be transformed so easily with very simple yet thoughtful attention to seemingly small things that will result in a big impact and leave your guests raving about your soireé!  I have been hosting parties for friends, family, and clients for many years and here I have shared some of the most helpful (and simple!) tips and ideas that will make all the difference for your party and your guests.


10 Simple & Helpful Tips for Entertaining 

  • When hosting a cocktail party, buffet, or potluck choose one type of glass for all beverages, including water. I love using stemless flutes. They are elegant, add height to a table or buffet, and best of all fit into the dishwasher more easily than a traditional stemmed glass.

  • Keep a collection of paper cocktail napkins with different patterns, themes, and colors on hand. Not only are they useful for cocktails and finger foods but will help further the theme or color scheme of your soirée!

  • Always use glass for cocktails and wine—it both tastes and looks better.

  • Have extra clean towels and a trash bin at the ready to quickly manage a spill or broken glass.If you don’t have a coat closet (or it's full!), set up a portable garment rolling rack in the foyer or bedroom for coats. Make sure to have plenty of wooden hangers at the ready.

  • When a guest brings a host(ess) gift open it immediately in front of them so they can see your appreciation. Also, have a spare vase for flowers, room in the refrigerator for chilled wines and champagne, a place for red wine in your wine rack, and extra trays or serving bowls for any food offerings.

  • Keep your pantry stocked with glass (not plastic!) bottles of both still and sparking waters to serve during sit down dinners and cocktail soirées.

  • Edible flowers are an easy way to garnish salads, desserts, and even cocktails and on-the-rocks drinks! Make sure to only use pesticide free varieties. They can be found at many grocery stores or ordered online.

  • When enjoying cocktails or dining al fresco, provide your guests with colorful blankets or pashminas to help keep them comfortable if there is a slight chill in the air. This a wonderful way to add color to your soirée and further evoke the theme of your menu, party, and occasion!

  • Use deli style and Chinese take-out container's to send guests home with leftovers. I like to make small labels that say "Thank You", "Come Back Soon", "Something Yummy Awaits You", and "Bon Appétit" to stick on each container. Little details make all the difference!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Watch: Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)

  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons

  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred

  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.

  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. Transfer the mixture into the sieve.

  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.

  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Pomegranate Cosmopolitans

Marc J. Sievers

When I think of making cocktails at home I get instantly overwhelmed with the amount of ingredients many specialty cocktails have.  I want to make drinks at home in under 3 minutes, and with less than 5 ingredients – like my Pomegranate Cosmopolitans!

 These fabulous libations are both a tiny bit tart and slightly sweet, a perfect combination for pre-dinner cocktails, or just a lazy Sunday afternoon at home.  The addition of Prosecco to top off each cocktail adds a bit of a bubbly-tingle, and makes them seem even more celebratory! 

 Cheers everyone!


Pomegranate Cosmopolitans

 Ingredients (makes two 10-ounce cocktails)

  • Pomegranate Juice – ½ cup

  • Triple Sec – ¼ cup

  • Vodka – ¾ cup

  • Lime – 1, juiced

  • Prosecco – 4 tablespoons, chilled, divided

Directions

  1. Start by combining the pomegranate juice, triple sec, vodka, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker.

  2. Fill with ice and shake for 30 to 45 seconds until nicely chilled.

  3. Pour into 2 martini glasses and top off each cocktail with 2 tablespoons of Prosecco.

Tip: You can make a big pitcher of these cosmos in advance and then keep it in the refrigerator.  Shake each cocktail over ice as needed – and remember to top of each cocktail with Prosecco!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Pumpkin & Apple Spread

Marc J. Sievers

I love filling my refrigerator with lots of fabulous preserves, tapenades, and spreads so I can be ready for a last-minute aperitif and nibble with a friend, neighbor, or even Ryan when I least expect it!  In this case, the newest addition to my refrigerator line-up is my Pumpkin & Apple Spread—an absolutely divine combination of savory and sweet flavors. 

Instead of going through the hassle of using fresh pumpkin, I used canned pumpkin purée instead.  Baking it for a few minutes helps to draw out some of the moisture, leaving you with a thick, luxurious, and spreadable base.  Once the warm purée is mixed with apples that have been sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and other autumn-inspired ingredients, the spread can then be used in so many ways.

My Pumpkin & Apple Spread is perfect for serving alongside cheeses or just piled high onto a cracker with some crème fraîche and fresh thyme leaves.  This brightly-colored spread is also wonderful in the morning on toasted brioche with butter, as a topping for pancakes, or stirred into a hot bowl of oatmeal (trust me, every one of those combinations is fabulous!).  Oh, and don’t forget to warm it up and serve it over your favorite ice cream!


Pumpkin & Apple Spread

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

  • Pumpkin Purée – 1 can, 15 ounces (not pie filling)

  • Gala Apple – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Golden Raisins – 1/3 cup

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Light Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Pure Maple Syrup – 1 tablespoon

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – ½ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Black Pepper Water Crackers

  • Crème Fraîche – for garnish

  • Thyme Leaves – fresh, for garnish

Directions

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

  2. Spread the pumpkin purée in an even layer (about 9 x 13) onto the parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once hot add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Transfer the apple mixture into a heat-proof bowl and add the cooked pumpkin, raisins, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

Fresh figs are such a luxury this time of year!  Their normal season begins the first few weeks of June, then they come back to greet us from August through October.  While you can certainly find dried figs year round—they are fabulous to serve with cheeses, in pastas, or just eaten right from the container—fresh figs add such an elegant touch to a party.

In the past, I have written a few recipes using these luscious fruits, but my Warm Figs with Goat Cheese may just become your new favorite way to enjoy fresh figs this time of year!  How can you go wrong with fresh figs drizzled in earthy honey, rosemary, pistachios, and goat cheese?  The aromatic and savory rosemary adds a bit of an autumnal vibe, perfect for the start of this transitional time of year. 

Presentation is very casual as guests can literally spoon the warm figs onto slices of toasted bread.  Or, serve as a salad!  Best of all, you can assemble this dish one hour head of time and allow it to sit at room temperature (no need to take up precious fridge space).  Add the pistachios just before you are ready to bake and then bake as your guests arrive and are greeted by a fabulous and sophisticated aroma that will surely get them excited for what’s to come.

I like to bake and serve this dish in a cast iron skillet or pie plate—from oven to table!  Summer coming to an end isn’t so bad after all!  This is only the beginning of the fabulous fruits of Fall!


Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Ingredients (serves 6 as an hors d’oeuvre, 4 as salad course)

  • Fresh Figs – 1 pint, stems removed and cut in half

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Rosemary – ¾ teaspoon, finely minced

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, at room temperature

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • *Baguette or crackers for serving as a hors d’oeuvre

  • *Arugula for serving as a salad

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Arrange the figs cut side up in a single layer in an oven proof dish or cast iron skillet.

  3. Drizzle the honey over the figs and sprinkle evenly with the pistachios, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over top.

  4. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese begins to soften.

  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

As an hors d’oeuvre – allow guests to spoon the warm figs onto toasted slices of baguette or simple crackers.

As a salad – arrange handfuls of washed arugula onto salad plates (or onto a large platter for family style) and top with the warm figs.  The honey and natural juices from the figs will act as the vinaigrette.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Marc J. Sievers

There is something very satisfying about simple food that is less about the fuss and all about the flavor.  From the ingredients, to the preparation, to the taste, some of the best-tasting dishes can be the simplest to make.  My Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions have only five ingredients, take hardly any real kitchen effort, and just roast away in the oven, giving your kitchen an aromatic hint of sweet onions and tangy vinegar. 

Besides my Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions being so incredibly simple to make, they can be served in a variety of very savvy ways.  Give these few ideas a try:

·         As part of a roasted vegetable platter,

·         As a side with a French Omelettes and green salad,

·         As part of cocktail hour alongside Roquefort cheese, slices of baguette, roasted cashews, and other little nibbles.

If you decide to serve as part of cocktail hour, have some small cocktail forks on hand so guests can pick up each onion with ease.  And make sure to invite guests to savor the luxurious balsamic syrup with pieces of baguette.

Sometimes the most flavorful and enjoyable dishes can come from the simplest of ingredients, like pearl onions.  And what a benefit that this is also one of the easiest!


Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Golden Pearl Onions – 10ounces, fresh

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a small oven-proof dish with aluminum foil. Set aside.

  2. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer. Drop in the whole pearl onions for 5 minutes to help loosen their skins. Drain the onions. Using a small knife, cut off the ends and peel each onion.

  3. Add the peeled onions, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the prepared dish.. Toss to evenly coat.

  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing 3 times during the cooking process, until the onions are tender and the vinegar has reduced to a think syrup.

  5. Serve hot or room temperature.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary

Marc J. Sievers

My recipe for Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary has been brought to life with vibrant watercolor by my friend and artist Linda Marie Clark. This recipe and watercolor was part of the Watermarc – Art & Appetite special edition Summer Series 2014.

As the temperature rises in Chicago (and I hope where you are, too!), my desire to sip summer cocktails is in full swing!  To me, a summer cocktail, in this case my Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary, is refreshingly light with a sweet and savory love affair.  It is a drink filled with fresh sweet peaches and spicy rosemary that come together and marry-nate in a perfectly blush-colored wine.  You can serve either by the glass for yourself as you take a bubble bath to cool off and relax, or make ahead of time for a humid summer’s evening cookout where only a crisp chilled cocktail will do. 

Best of all – you get drunken’ peaches to eat, with a little extra zing, or serve them over cold ice cream for dessert.  Even the rosemary can be used in a white wine cream sauce over simple egg fettucine noodles for a light supper.

As the summer really heats up, have this recipe on standby so you are always ready with a fabulous summer sipper!  


Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • Rosé – (1) 750ml bottle

  • Triple Sec – ½ cup

  • Italian Sparkling Wine – (1) 750 ml bottle, chilled

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Ultrafine Sugar – 1 tablespoon

  • Peaches – 4, pitted, cut into 8 wedges

  • Rosemary – (6) 4-inch sprigs, fresh

Directions

  1. Pour the Rosé and Triple Sec into a large glass pitcher.

  2. Add the honey and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.

  3. Next add the peaches and rosemary. Chill for 3 hours.

  4. Before serving, add the entire bottle of chilled sparkling wine to the pitcher. Serve immediately.

Tip: For a “milder” libation, simply switch out the sparkling wine for an unflavored sparkling water. 

Idea: Have fun with different fruit and fresh herb combination: Orange & rosemary, strawberry & basil, lemon & thyme. 

A little something extra: Sangria is typically a chilled drink served in Spain and Portugal during the summer months – consisting of wine, fruit, a brandy or liqueur, and sweetener.  The honey used in this recipe adds a subtle sweetness without making it “sugary”.  Red, white, and rosé wines can be used in recipes – each variety offering unique flavors and richness. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


My recipe for Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary has been brought to life with vibrant watercolor by my friend and artist Linda Marie Clark. This recipe and watercolor was part of the Watermarc – Art & Appetite special edition Summer Series 2014.


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Orange Petits Fours

Marc J. Sievers

I was so excited to have my fabulous friend Holly over the other day to finalize testing my recipe for Orange Petits Fours!  She loves food, wine, and life as much as I do.  We both agree, these are little cakes filled with the perfect amount of sweetness and decadence.  The cakes are beaming with citrus flavor, while the ganache has just the right amount of edge from the Grand Marnier.  After we baked and decorated almost 100 of these little cakes, Holly took over and shot this amazing photo!  I opened a bottle of Côtes du Rhone, poured two rather-full glasses, and we toasted to a job well done!  Thank you Holly for all the fun in the kitchen!

These are the perfect little sweet-treats for any soirée!


Ingredients

Batter Ingredients (makes 55 individual cakes)

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 1 cup, granulated

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Orange Zest – ¼ cup, freshly grated, plus more for garnish

  • Orange Juice – ¼ cup, freshly squeezed

  • Flour – 1 ½ cups, all-purpose flour

  • Baking Powder – ¼ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – ¼ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

Orange Syrup Ingredients

  • Sugar – ¾ cup, granulated

  • Orange Juice – ¾ cup, freshly squeezed

Dark Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped

  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ cups

  • Grand Marnier – 4 tablespoons

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

Directions

Batter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 24 count mini cupcake pan.

  2. 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, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time allowing each to fully incorporate. Then add the orange zest.

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

  5. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, honey, and vanilla.

  6. With the mixer set to low speed, add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

  7. Using a 1 ¼ inch metal scoop, fill the wells with a level scoop of the batter.

  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Orange Syrup  

  1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar and orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

  2. After 10 minutes remove the cakes from the pan, place them on a wire rack set over a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap, and spoon 1 teaspoon of orange syrup over each little cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely. TIP: Spooning the warm syrup over warm cakes will allow it to be absorbed better.

  3. Next, Wash, dry, butter and flour the mini muffin pan and repeat the same steps above until all the batter and orange syrup is used.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the heavy cream, honey, dark chocolate, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the Grand Marnier. Stir to combine.

  3. With the little cakes still set on a wire rack over a sheet pan lined with new plastic wrap, drizzle the top and sides of all the cakes with the warm ganache. Garnish with more freshly grated orange zest and insert a party pick into each cupcake for easy serving. Allow the ganache to set completely. Do not refrigerate.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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