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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Fleur de Sel

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

The old saying, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" is exactly what you will be shouting from rooftops once you make my incredibly luxurious (yet so easy) Vanilla Bean Ice Cream!  There are some recipes that use a handful of really good, flavorful, and fresh ingredients, that result in what I call "heritage recipes." These recipes embody the essence of home cooking and will make an appearance at your table for decades to come.  My ice cream recipe certainly falls into that category!  It uses just four ingredients, takes only minutes to assemble, and is the epitome of what vanilla bean ice cream should taste like, with fresh cream flavored with vanilla and a hint of briny sea salt.

Whether you plan to serve this vanilla bean ice cream on top of a slice of pie, a French apple tart, galette, or by just itself (drizzled with salted caramel sauce, my favorite!), you will be moved to scream for ice cream from rooftops from now on!

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Sugar –⅔ cup, granulated

  • Vanilla Bean Paste – 2 teaspoons

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon


  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and fleur de sel. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until very cold.

  3. Once the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

  4. 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.

Try my other favorite ice cream recipes here:

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Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever I travel I like to bring home food and entertaining inspiration from some of the world’s most extraordinary stores.  When I was in Berlin in early December, I was shopping in the candy department at KaDeWe (it is an entire floor!) and came across a beautiful bar of white chocolate with dehydrated strawberries.  I snapped a photo and continued on.  After getting over my jet-lag, I headed into my kitchen in Chicago and I recreated my version using white chocolate chips that are readily found in all grocery stores and freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joe's.  After a few batches, the addition of vanilla bean seeds and French sea salt where the magic ingredients!  The vanilla added depth of flavor to the chocolate and the salt took it from a sweet treat to an elegant homemade candy - a truly winning combination!

Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

  • White Chocolate Chips – 20 ounces

  • Vanilla Bean Seeds – 1 teaspoon

  • Fleur de Sel – ¾ teaspoon

  • Freeze Dried Strawberry Slices – 1 ounce


  1. Using a pencil, draw a 9x11-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over and place it onto a half sheet pan. Set aside.

  2. Add three quarters of the white chocolate chips to a heat-proof glass bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for exactly 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate, return it to the microwave, and heat on high for another 30 seconds. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted.

  3. Once it is just melted, add the remaining chocolate chips and vanilla bean seeds and stir until it's completely smooth.

  4. Pour the warm melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly to fill the drawn rectangle on the prepared sheet of parchment.

  5. Next, while the chocolate is still warm, evenly sprinkle over the fleur de sel. Arrange the freeze dried strawberry slices to fill the entire chocolate surface.

  6. Allow to sit at room temperature for 3 hours to set. Break into pieces are serve.

Tip: In addition to the whole slices of strawberries, I also use the “strawberry dust” at the bottom of the bag.  It adds even more flavor to each bite of chocolate bark and also looks fabulous!  

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Fig & Truffle Nibbles

Marc J. Sievers

During the holidays, time seems to be a luxury as everyone is preparing to entertain family and friends.  Over the years, I have hosted many holidays at home and have always strived to find the balance of not only being the host with the most, but also enjoy the day myself as a guest at my own party!

This elegant no-cook hors d’oeuvre couldn’t be easier, and perfectly showcases the delicate flavor of fresh figs.  My Fig & Truffle Nibbles allows guests to have a “little something” while sipping their favorite libation and catching up with one another, but not so much that they will be stuffed before dinner (and dessert!).

I like to serve these on little spoons (available online) for a little added flair, but you can also serve them in endive leaves, on a water cracker, or on a platter with cocktail picks.  Not only are these a fabulously luxurious hors d’oeuvre, but they are extremely satisfying for any festive gathering!

Fig & Truffle Nibbles

Ingredients (expand recipe as needed)

  • Fresh Figs - halved

  • Truffle-Balsamic Vinegar

  • Honey

  • Fleur de Sel

  • Black Pepper - freshly cracked

  • Fresh Thyme - whole leaves


  1. Simply drizzle small, even amounts of truffle vinegar and honey on the cut side of fresh figs. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves.

  2. Serve at room temperature.

Tip: These can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours.  Allow them to come to room temperature before serving. 

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Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Marc J. Sievers

When I am hosting a party, I am always looking for impressive yet easy things to serve my guests.  I love when a recipe calls for both salty and sweet ingredients, like my Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine!  The salty butter and salty caramel, bold flavor of the chocolate, and crunchy cashews are the perfect combination to satisfy even the pickiest of palates!

Serve this tartine as part of a cocktail soirée, cut in bite-sized pieces, or as a dessert.  Plan for one tartine per person.  Or just make one for yourself and enjoy it with a glass of red wine or champagne – c’est parfait!   

A tartine is a French open-faced sandwich, like the Italian version of a bruschetta, that can be topped with anything truly fabulous and flavorful.  Creating a tartine can be as easy as going through your pantry and refrigerator and choosing ingredients that will pair well and compliment one another.  The most important ingredient is the bread!  Try to choose a bread that is hearty, crusty, and full of flavor like a Tuscan Pane – my favorite bread for a tartine – keep the plain white bread for homemade breadcrumbs!

Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • French Boule – 1 large slice, lightly toasted and fully cooled (you can also use Sourdough, Wheat, or Tuscan Pane)

  • Salted Butter – 1 tablespoon, at room temperature

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 tablespoon, 72% cacao, shaved

  • Roasted Cashews – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, rough chopped

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 2 teaspoons, at room temperature, favorite store-bought brand


  1. Spread the butter evenly onto one side of the cooled, toasted bread.

  2. Sprinkle the shaved chocolate and cashews evenly onto the buttered side of the bread, and then drizzle with caramel.

  3. Lastly, cut into desired sized pieces and serve.

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Provençal Boule

Marc J. Sievers

I’m often asked what my guilty pleasures are and I have to admit that FABULOUS bread and flavored butters are on the top of my list!  When I’m in the mood to bake my own bread, my Provencal Boule is my go-to recipe.  It’s a very “user friendly” recipe and requires hardly any kneading.  The flavors are earthy, the crust is crunchy and it pairs well with my flavored butters and a glass of wine or champagne for dinner, when only that combination will do after a long day!

Ingredients (makes 1 boule)

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose

  • Yeast – 1 packet, active dry yeast (¼ ounce)

  • Fleur de Sel (French sea salt) – 1¾ teaspoons

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Herbs de Provence – 2 tablespoons

  • Black Pepper – ½ – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – 2 teaspoons

  • Water – 1½ cups, warm


First Day

  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey. Allow the yeast to fully dissolve, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add flour, salt and herbs de Provence. Stir until blended; the dough will be very sticky. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

Next Day

  1. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, quickly fold the dough onto itself twice then shape the dough into a ball.

  2. Line the same bowl with large pieces of parchment paper and evenly sprinkle with flour. Place the dough, seam side down, into the bowl and dust with more flower. Cover the bowl with a clean cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more that doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. Next, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a cast iron pot with lid in the preheated over for at lease 30 minutes while the dough is rising. The pot should be at least 2-¾ quart sized.

  4. To prepare the dough after the second rise, remove the cotton towel and drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper.

  5. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and rest on a heat-resistant surface. Lift the ends of the parchment paper from the bowl and place into the hot pot.

  6. Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and continue baking until the loaf is crusty and nicely browned (about 15-25 minutes more). Keep your eye on the bread at this point as it can burn easily.

  7. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and place the loaf on a wire rack to cool completely.

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