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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Valentine's Day

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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Bistro Salad

Marc J. Sievers

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday.  Though it is a holiday in my head, it is still a regular workday for most of us.  But, it also promises to be a great start to a romantic weekend.  With that in mind, I want to keep the kitchen time down to a minimum on Friday so that I can kick off my “Valentine’s Weekend” doing what I love most—spending time with my Valentine.

What to do when you want to have a romantic night in sipping Champagne and gazing into your beau’s eyes, but still make a fabulously-delicious dish?  Using a few classics from the traditional Valentine’s Day pantry I created my delicious Bistro Salad, and it assembles faster than Cupid’s arrow can find its mark.

My Bistro Salad combines sweet honey, tangy goat cheese, strawberries, and chocolate making it the perfect romantic (and quick!) dinner on the Day of Love.  It takes just minutes to assemble and will pair perfectly with a bold Cabernet or crisp glass of bubbly.  Most importantly, it will give you the latitude to enjoy a rich and decadent dessert without robbing you of your sense of romance!  Whether you are spending this day with friends or your special someone, I hope the day brings love, hugs, and champagne.  Eat well, laugh often, and above all share the love, for Cupid’s sake!


Bistro Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Greens – 5 ounces, rinsed and well-dried

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Strawberries – 1 cup, hulled and quartered

  • Sliced Almonds – ¼ c cup

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • White Balsamic Vinegar – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 tablespoons, 72%, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions

  1. Place the greens in a serving vessel of your choice.

  2. Evenly distribute the strawberries, nuts, and goat cheese over the greens.

  3. Drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chocolate.

  4. Serve immediately.

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A Bubbly "Kiss"

Marc J. Sievers

No matter the occasion, champagne always makes an appearance at all of my parties, no matter the time of day!  Most of the time, I prefer to not add anything to take away from the delicate taste or it's elegant color.  My Champagne Kiss combines the flavors or true champagne with chocolate and strawberries, the perfect romantic combination!

Tip: Serve this elegant take on champagne with my Chocolate Pot de Crème for a truly decedent night!


Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Champagne (your favorite) - 1 bottle

  • Dark Chocolate - 6 pieces, ½-inch

  • Strawberries - 6, ½-inch sliced

  • Cocoa Powder - ¼ cup

Directions

  1. Pour the cocoa powder onto a small plate. On another small plate pour just enough water to coat the bottom of the plate. Place the rim of a champagne flute into the water then directly into the cocoa powder to cover each rim.

  2. Do this with all the champagne flutes.

  3. Place a piece of chocolate in the bottom of each champagne flute and fill with champagne. Top with a slice of strawberry.

I hope my Champagne Kiss has you seeing hearts this Valentine's Day!  XO

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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A Chocolate Dream-Date!

Marc J. Sievers

A variety of chocolate confections for my Valentine!

A variety of chocolate confections for my Valentine!

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hosting a lunch for my dear friend Susan, who just happens to be a chocolatier!  She travels between Chicago, Seattle, and London (can you believe it!) soaking up everything to do with the art of chocolate.  I asked her to help me make some special handmade chocolates for my valentine Ryan, since this year we want our gifts to be hand-made for one another.

I searched for the perfect, romantic, and sweetest molds I could find.  I finally chose the Eiffel Tower and a simple heart.  Two iconic shapes that instantly make anything and everything seem more romantic!  I also wanted to dip some dried fruit, like apricots and candied orange, ginger and lemon peel into a variety of chocolates.  In the end we made over four pounds of various chocolate delights!  Once Susan and I got started it was addictive (and not just because we were eating every other little creation).  I had Parisian-themed music by Pink Martini (a favorite of mine for dinner parties) playing in the background, we sipped lavender tea with cream, and shared stories of our individual sources of inspiration.

A new take on chocolate dipped cherries. Simply add dried cherries to a milk chocolate bar or chocolate bark for a revamp of a classic!

A new take on chocolate dipped cherries. Simply add dried cherries to a milk chocolate bar or chocolate bark for a revamp of a classic!

The day ended with me walking with Susan to the train station while it was snowing (those amazingly huge snowflakes) like a fabulous scene in a movie!  Regardless of how perfectly (or not) my chocolates turned out, it was the experience and memories that made so special!

Though I love to use chocolate in my cooking, and have perfected a sinfully (or perhaps angelically) decadent Honey Lavender Truffle (page 181 in Entertaining with Love), there are advanced techniques with chocolate that I have found to be daunting.  Susan helped me to navigate some of those techniques, as well as provided reassuring advice along the way.  The experience was both fun an eye-opening.  There was no reason to be put off by my perception of chocolate being difficult to work with.  Lesson learned is that there is always something to learn, but you will never learn it unless you try!  Practice makes perfect (or at least increasingly edible), and you should have fun in the process!

Hand-dipped candied orange, lemon and ginger make for the perfect accompaniment after dinner with a glass of champagne!

Hand-dipped candied orange, lemon and ginger make for the perfect accompaniment after dinner with a glass of champagne!

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Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Mariner & Cherries

Marc J. Sievers

"I love you!"

It can be said in many ways and take many forms and styles.  One of the more thoughtful (and much appreciated) ways of doing so is with the assistance of chocolate!  With Valentine's Day just around the corner I wanted to create a recipe that would be full of love and at least a little something decedent!  How does chocolate, Grand Marnier®, and dried cherries sound?  That's exactly what I thought too:  fabulous!

Fresh from the oven and dusted with confectioner's sugar!

Not only are these individual warm chocolate pots completely irresistible, they are also something that can be made in under 30 minutes.  Perfect for this Valentine's Day that falls on a Thursday.  This can be your "special touch," that would even make take-out or delivery romantic!  You only need a few ingredients, and best of all, they are all at your local grocer:


Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – 5 ounces

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, plus more for preparing ramekins

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Flour – 6 tablespoons, all-purpose

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large eggs, and 1 extra-large egg yolk

  • Kosher Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Powdered Sugar – 1 cup, plus more for dusting

  • Grand Marnier® – 4 tablespoons

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

 Directions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Butter the interior of four 6 to 8 ounce ramekins and place on a baking dish. Set aside.

  3. In a heat proof bowl , over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until just melted. Remove from heat.

  4. Next, add the Grand Mariner®, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whisk until blended.

  5. Slowly whisk in the eggs.

  6. Toss the cherries with the flour, then stir them into the chocolate mixture using a spatula.

  7. Lastly, evenly divide the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, dust with powdered sugar. Allow to stand for 2 minutes before serving.


Tip: To give this dessert a little love-day punch, place a small paper doily with a heart cut from the center over eachramekin and dust with powdered sugar.  Carefully remove the doily and excess powdered sugar before serving.

Trick:  You can actually make these ahead of time!  Bake and dust with powdered sugar. Allow to cool completely, then wrap tightly with foil and place in the refrigerator.  When it's time to serve, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior.  Discard the foil and warm in a microwave for 45 seconds.  Serve immediately.

Entertaining with love has never been so chic and delicious!

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