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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Parisian Inspired

Watch: Stuffed Croissants with Spinach

Marc J. Sievers

I am just so excited to share with you the first webisdoe of my newest series on YouTube of From My Kitchen To Yours: Table for Two edition!  When I started planning out recipes I wanted to film from my new cookbook, I really wanted to show you how truly easy and elegant my idea of cooking and entertaining for you and your +1 can be.  To launch the new series, I knew my Stuffed Croissants with Spinach would be the perfect recipe!  Not only can you serve these as part of a breakfast or brunch, they are also fabulous with a salad for lunch, or even as a first course for dinner.  Not to mention, the "filling" doubles as a creamy and luxurious spinach dip!

Series 5, Episode 1: Stuffed Croissants with Spinach


Stuffed Croissants with Spinach

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Plain Croissants – 2, store-bought

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Shallot – 1 small, finely minced

  • Garlic – 1 clove, finely minced

  • Spinach – 1 bag (5 ounces), rough-chopped, reserve 2 whole leaves for garnish

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Gruyère Cheese – 4 tablespoons, freshly grated, divided

  • Mascarpone – 2 tablespoons

  • Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons, freshly grated (Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended)

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

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice each croissant horizontally along the outside curve, but not cutting all the way through—you want to make a “pocket” for the filling to nestle into. Set aside.

  3. In a 10-inch sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes just until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.

  4. Next, add the chopped spinach, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the spinach is wilted and tender.

  5. With a spatula, transfer the hot spinach to a small bowl and add the parmesan, mascarpone, and 2 tablespoons of Gruyère. Stir until the mascarpone is melted.

  6. Next, spoon the mixture evenly into the “pocket” created in each croissant.

  7. Brush the outside of each croissant with egg wash, place a spinach leaf on top of each croissant and brush again with the egg wash. Then, evenly sprinkle each croissant with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Gruyère.

  8. Place onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for 7-9 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the spinach leaf is crisp. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Idea:  This recipe can also be served as a hot spinach dip!  Instead of stuffing the spinach mixture into a croissant, put it in a heat-proof serving bowl alongside a selection of pita chips, tortilla chips, black pepper crackers, or even crisp carrot sticks.

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My Intimate Affair with Paris, in Chicago!

Marc J. Sievers

P.O.S.H. Chicago

In the June issue of Chicago-Woman Magazine, my article INSPIRÈ: A Curated Collection of Parisian Inspiration featured local Chicago boutiques bursting at the seams with fabulous Parisian flare!  As a regular ORD to CDG traveler, there were still more of my favorite Chicago spots with a French accent that I wanted to share with you.  This “Toddlin’ Town” we all love and adore is replete with ways to take a mini Paris-inspired stay-cation just by climbing into the back of an Uber!  From flowers, to bakeries, to hotel silver, fragrance, and French fries, I hope you enjoy a look into my intimate affair with Paris, in Chicago!


Christine Noelle Design

When I stumbled upon Christine Noelle Design tucked away on Oak Street, I was instantly inspired and transported to Flower.fr which is a favorite floral boutique of mine in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood of Paris, on Rue de Babylone.  Christine’s charming, colorful, and delicate studio in Chicago is about simplicity at its best!  Her studio is filled with fresh blooms, rustic farm tables, and French antique touches that set her well apart from others in the city.  Both studios are a must visit!

Flowers: by Christine Noelle Design.  A full service flower studio filled with a fresh daily selection of unique and one-of-a-kind blooms, celebrating each season, while manipulating color, texture, and composition to strike beauty and balance.  Individual blooms and full arrangements available. 

Christine Noelle Design

106 East Oak Street, Chicago, IL 60610

312.475.1500

www.ChristineNoelleDesign.com


Hendrickx Bakery

At Hendrickx Bakery in the Gold Coast, it starts with top quality ingredients:  the best butter directly imported from France, artisanal flour, and lots of patience (as it takes them 18 hours to prepare fold after fold for the perfect croissant dough).  The result is irresistible, light, airy, buttery, flaky.  Your challenge—decide which of their twelve varieties to choose from!  Walking into Hendrickx, which also serves salads, soups, tartines, and other Parisian essentials, is like walking into a patisserie in Paris – instant charm, warmth, and amazing food!  The next time you are in Paris, check out Mamie Gateaux for simple country cakes, food, and charm!

Croissants:  by Hendrickx Bakery.  Discover our artisanal breads, croissants, macarons and pastries.  Enjoy a home-made sandwich or soup or salad, all prepared from scratch on the premises by Belgian Chef Renaud Hendrickx and his inspired team.  Before you leave, don't forget to take a peak in the all open kitchen, who knows, Renaud might offer you a sample of one of his new products!

Hendrickx Bakery

100 E Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60611

312.649.6717

www.HendrickxBakery.com


diptyque

Synonymous with French fragrance, diptyque threw opens its doors in Chicago in November 2012 on North Damen Avenue in Wicker Park.  The incredibly elegant and sophisticated interiors by Jennifer Studio gives you the feeling of stepping inside a jewel box filled with complex and layered textiles, finishes, and of course some of the most cultivated fragrances in the world.  My personal favorites are Géranium Rosa, reminiscent of the red geraniums that fill Parisian window boxes in the summer, and Feu de Bois for the woodsy scent of billowing smoke from wood-burning fireplaces in the fall and winter!  

Candles: by diptyque.  The diptyque story began in Paris 51 years ago, at 34 Boulevard St-Germain, with three friends Christiane Gautrot, interior decorator, Desmond Knox-Leet, painter, and Yves Coueslant, theatre administrator and set designer. Previously designing fabrics and wallpaper for Liberty and Sanderson, together they teamed up in 1961 and opened the first diptyque boutique to showcase their fabric designs. With their unique taste, they gradually transformed the store into a chic bazaar offering a fascinating variety of unexpected items, unique to Paris, which the trio brought back from their travels. In 1963, they introduce the first diptyque scented candles – Aubépine, Cannelle and Thé - and a few years later, they launched their first eau de toilette, L’Eau. Today, the brand’s extensive product portfolio includes home and personal fragrances along with a body care line.

 diptyque

1645 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

773.252.3989

www.DiptyqueParis.com


P.O.S.H. Chicago

Whenever I need a retail pick-me-up, I always head to P.O.S.H. on State Street!  With a desire to offer something unique to the consumer that had grown weary of “sameness”, their small shop is met with a warm reception as the search for pieces that haven’t been mass-produced for coast-to-coast consumption is shared by many.  This is where I like to look for unique hostess gifts, celebration gifts, and truly French vintage tabletop décor – it is like walking into a gleaming Parisian dream!  I especially love holiday time as their window displays are just beyond magical! 

Home Décor & Gifts: by P.O.S.H.  “At some point in your life, you want something that feels authentic - something that speaks to you.” That thought is what drives P.O.S.H. to search high and low for the items that stock its shelves - an eclectic assortment of vintage Hotel and Estate Silver, Restaurant China and Dinnerware and an ever-changing mix of European Flea Market Finds. Found in such disparate places as long-shuttered American china warehouses and restaurant supply depots to the antique markets and auction houses of Europe, the items sold at P.O.S.H. are often one-of-a-kind or limited in quantity. From a vintage silverplate tea service once used in an English Country Inn to a beautiful water pitcher from a Grand Hotel in New York, most of our pieces tell a romantic story of an age gone by.

P.O.S.H.

613 N State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

312.280.1602

www.PoshChicago.com


Le Petit Paris

Probably my most-visited French restaurant in Chicago is Le Petit Paris on Chestnut Street.  It is my go-to spot to sit in the bar area and sip a glass of Champagne while nibbling on a basket of pomme frites, as Edith Piaf plays from the wall mounted jukebox!  There are blinking garlands of Christmas lights in the bar, the occasional Valentine decoration on the wall, and even a couple rolling office chairs for “extra seating”, all of which (and more!) equal eclectic perfection!  Le Petit Paris has genuine charm and personality, partly from the ambience, and also from Alain—chef, owner, bartender, and music volume controller (I like it loud!).  He works seven days a week at his restaurant and goes to the markets every morning at 6:30am to secure the day’s freshest produce, meats, fish, and poultry.  He is then in his kitchen preparing and cooking until the doors open for dinner service starting at 5:00pm. This is truly a hidden gem of Chicago!

French Bistro: Le Petit Paris.  Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the ambiance and relaxed atmosphere of our classic French bistro. Chef/Owner Alain Sutbon lights up the evening and provides a warm setting for lively conversation over a glass of red wine and fabulous French cuisine.  Along with our fine selections of French wines, our signature dishes include Duck with Grand Marnier Sauce, Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb, and fish.  Daily trips to the market are used to give you the freshest ingredients!  To complete the evening, try our house-made desserts with a glass of port.  Check often for monthly specials!

Le Petit Paris

260 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611

312.787.8260 (Call for reservations)

www.LePetitParis.net

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Watch: French Bistro Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Every time I am in Paris, I am mesmerized at how simple and delicious the classic bistro food is!  The menus are long and extensive, but each and every dish seems to be accompanied by a petite salad dressed in a light and creamy vinaigrette – the iconic creamy mustard vinaigrette.  There are thousands of cookbooks and online recipes with different versions on this classic vinaigrette with alternating ingredients and measurements.  And truth be told, some of the ones I tried are really very good, just not what I remember from my Parisian experiences. 

So I set off on my vinaigrette journey armed with an obscene amount of oils, jars of different mustards, whisks, and measuring cups.  Batches and batches later I finally figured out a few small but important tricks to recreate this iconic dressing at home in Chicago; Crème Fraiche, a garlic press, and a combination of both olive oil & vegetable oil.  Adding Crème Fraiche gave it more of a creaminess and tang, that when I left it out, it was noticeable in both texture and flavor.  Instead on mincing the garlic and having the vinaigrette have small pieces in it, using the garlic press turned the garlic into almost a paste which incorporated into the dressing better.  Finally, adding both the olive oil and vegetable oil was, I my opinion, the biggest key to my French Bistro Vinaigrette.  Using all olive oil was too heavy in taste, and using all vegetable oil didn’t add any flavor.  Using both was the perfect combination!

Making my French Bistro Vinaigrette doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment on a variety of salads, even ones with roasted vegetables and fruit.  It is also quite lovely to decorate a cheese plate with – the mustard really comes through the dressing and amps up the flavors of certain cheeses, like Gruyere.  It is also fabulous to serve alongside a crudité platter.  Salad greens, vegetables, cheeses, and fruits are about to become even more exciting!

Watch my webisode on French Bistro Vinaigrette


French Bistro Vinaigrette 

Ingredients (make 1 ¼ cups)

  • Egg Yolks – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press

  • Vegetable Oil – 7 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Tip: This is by far my most favorite vinaigrette and one that I keep constantly on hand.  It can be prepared up to 7 days in advance and stored in an air tight container.  Just remember to make sure you are using both fresh egg yolks and crème fraiche in order for it to maintain its shelf life.  

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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The City of Lights - Paris!

Marc J. Sievers

The City of Lights – Paris, France – in my opinion should be called “The City of Inspiration”!  Having just spent eight glorious days there eating, shopping, and of course enjoying some fabulous French wines, I brought home a million (and one!) food, décor, and style ideas.  The weather was mostly sunny, the air was filled with smells of freshly baked bread, and the gardens and trees were just starting to get their Spring buds—it was the perfect backdrop for my first trip with my husband Ryan to celebrate our third wedding anniversary with great friends. 

Since I have been home (for about 8 grueling American days) I have been going through the almost 1,200 photos that I took during my trip — everything from street vendors, patisseries, bistros, flowers and of course the Eiffel Tower and Versailles.  In the coming months, sprinkled amongst my regular posts, I will be sharing Paris-inspired posts, each filled with original recipes, décor ideas, and style concepts that will take you on a virtual vacation and impart some Parisian flair into your everyday living.  Grab your beret!  Our first stop is Ralph’s!

Ralph’s is Ralph Lauren’s second restaurant—the first was RL in Chicago—which opened in 2010 in the romantic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in Paris.  It was also the backdrop to our anniversary dinner!  RL in Chicago is our “go-to” restaurant whether we are grabbing a quick lunch, aperitif, or a cozy dinner, so the only place we could imagine creating a lasting memory for our anniversary dinner on our first trip to Paris was Ralph’s.  The moment we stepped out of the taxi (at a very un-Parisian early 7:00pm) we knew we were in for a stunningly beautiful evening.  As we walked through the heavy double outer doors, through the stone vestibule, and into the swoon-worthy inner courtyard, I couldn’t help but to stop and peak through the windows on the world-famous designer’s Paris flagship boutique.

The particular window I peek through first was the jewelry salon, where sitting atop a fireplace mantle were two ornate Chinese ginger jars filled with dozens of red roses.  They took my breath away.  These two simple components—materialized on a truly grand scale—were somehow going to come back to Chicago with me!  For months I had been struggling with just how to finish the sideboard in my dining room—no longer!  As I tucked that idea into the back of my mind, walked through the courtyard, and stepped into the “magazine worthy” restaurant, the simple and elegant theme of the red roses continued at the bar, on every table with small clusters in simple glass vases, and even fifteen feet in the air by way of towering mantle pieces crowned with velvety red roses.  I felt as though I was in a chic and fabulous dream!  The rest of the evening was filled with champagne, laughter with close friends, scrumptious food, and lasting memories that I will cherish for years to come.




Inspiration is about seeing something that impresses you in a way that you want to create your own interpretation of it and adapt into your own style, scale, and budget. Inspiration is about being inspired—motivated by something, based on a particular example, feeling, or flavor, and is not about copying or duplicating. Inspiration comes in many forms and from countless sources and well-executed inspirational experience will incorporate details you love and want to pay homage to. - MJS


TIP: When arranging small clusters of roses, arrange them at least 3 days before your soirée. This will allow each bloom to open up and become more full.  Change the water everyday and re-cut each stem ¼ inch to ensure the flowers stay fresh and drink as much water as possible.  

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Champagne Party - #BFF Style! for VRAI Magazine

Marc J. Sievers

Love is in the air at The Sievers!  Each year Ryan and I celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with a quiet home-cooked meal in an intimate vignette set up in our own home.  We typically watch a Disney movie (Cinderella is my all-time favorite!), enjoy a decedent dessert, and pop a bottle of really good wine.  We love being in love!  This year we are going to do something different by hosting a cocktail party to celebrating with our BFF’s.  It will be an evening filled with delicious nibbles, fabulous Champagne, and lots of laughter.  Not only will our soirée be memorable, it will be filled with completely store-bought items from my local grocery store.  This night will be about being with friends and not being in the kitchen (well, except to get more Champagne!).

A successful party is not measured by how many items you make from scratch, but rather how much laughter fills your home!  For my St. Valentine’s Day cocktail party I designed the evening around a completely over-the-top salty and sweet nibbles tray and glamorous rosé bubbles bar.  Let me walk you through the Champagne bar:


The Bubbles Bar

  1. Start by selecting your Champagne flutes. I like to use a different design for each guest to reflect their personality and to help them remember with flute is theirs. Use a tray—I chose silver—to set the flutes on. This will make even the simplest glassware feel more special, while also adding a bit of sophistication and sparkle to your bar area. A tray will also “contain” the flutes and help to visually organize your bar top and keep things from looking “strewn about all willy-nilly”—I use this professional entertaining phase all the time.

  2. Next, choose your favorite Champagne. I prefer a Brut Rosé which is flavorful, complex, and dry, making it both versatile with food and delicious by itself as an aperitif.

  3. I prefer to set out only one bottle of champagne at a time in a small ice-filled bucket. Opening a bottle of champagne has such a celebratory feel about it, so I like to do it in front of everyone. This also allows each bottle to stay as fresh as possible.

  4. Candles, candles, and more candles! I have a collection of candle holders that range in size. I love mixing them and using different heights to get a more dramatic feel.

  5. Paper cocktail napkins are the perfect way to help carry through a theme. I found the most “romantic” tray I had and used that to hold heart-themed napkins.

  6. Finally, I scatter crystals all around the flutes, Champagne chiller, and bar top. They really do add a depth of glamour, and they reflect the flames of the candles.


The Nibbles Tray

  1. Start by selecting your tray or platter. I love this silver spinning server for cocktail parties. It has many different sections which makes arranging food so simple. Guests can spin the tray for easy self-service regardless of where they are sitting on the sofa.

  2. Next, it’s time to shop! I went to my local grocery store and chose things that were different in texture, flavor, and color. For this party, I wanted to create a completely over-the-top selection of nibbles, while still trying to incorporate very recognizable St. Valentine’s Day-themed foods. I choose things that are salty, sweet, and savory. My go-to items are:

  • Gruyere

  • Freshly baked baguette

  • Strawberries

  • Chocolate Truffles

  • Salt & Pepper Potato Chips

  • Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar (for dipping)

      3.  Lastly, set out small plates and napkins.  A vase of scent-less flowers (as to not compete           with your food) finishes out the look.  Et voila—it’s party time!

Idea: If you don’t have a spinner server try using small bowls set atop a tray or just a large platter. 

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