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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Croutons

Salt & Pepper Puff Pastry Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

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

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

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Ingredients

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten

  • Water – 1 tablespoon

  • Frozen Puff Pastry – defrosted overnight in the refrigerator

  • Flour – for preparing work surface

  • Fleur de Sel – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Marc J. Sievers

Winter is in full swing in Chicago—as it is in so many other parts of the country!  We’ve had snow, the wind whipping off of Lake Michigan, and the result for me has been a craving for a big bowl of piping hot soup.

It was just a few days ago that I got the craving for roasted cauliflower florets with bleu cheese sauce for dipping (a favorite snack of mine!), and I decided to make the roasted florets into a soup.  I wanted a soup that would be satisfying, creamy, and filled with fresh vegetable flavors.  I happened to be out of fresh Rosemary and Thyme, so to flavor the soup I turned to my bottle of Herbes de Provence—and I am glad I did! 

My Roasted Cauliflower Soup has beautiful flavor from the dried herbs, including a light floral taste from the lavender.  And since I had two slices of Max Poilane bread left from my loaf, I made those into Butter Croutons to have float atop my luxurious Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  Ryan opened a bottle of chilled Rosé, I filled two huge bowls full of soup, and we watched some old episodes of The French Chef as we enjoyed the snow fall that evening.  It doesn’t get better than this!


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients (serves 4 as main course, 6 as soup course)

  • Cauliflower – 2 heads, just florets

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons, divided

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Carrot – 1 large, peeled, and ½-inch diced

  • Yellow Onion – 1 small, ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Herbes de Provence – 1 teaspoon, dried, lightly crushed

  • Vegetable Stock – 4 cups

  • Half and Half – 1 cup

  • Green Onions – 3 stalks, trimmed, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Place the cauliflower florets onto a sheet pan and toss with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium heat, add the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the carrots and onions. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.

  4. Add the garlic and Herbes de Provence and cook for another 1-2 minutes more, being careful not to burn the garlic.

  5. Add the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a slow boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  6. Add the roasted cauliflower. Using an immersion blender or food processor, pureé the soup until smooth and thick. Stir in the half and half. Reheat over medium heat until just heated through.

  7. Garnish with green onions and croutons. Serve hot.


Butter Croutons

Ingredients

  • Bread – 2 slices, cut into ½-inch cubes

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the bread cubes. Toast for 5-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

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