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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Vanilla

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!

Watch: Another #MJSmoments on YouTube.  Subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here!


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

Directions

  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

Directions

  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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Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Entertaining friends, family, and clients is something that truly brings me joy.  Surprising people with little details, thoughtfully crafted tablescapes, and rustic food is my life’s passion and interest.  Ever since I was a little boy growing up alongside my nana (Ms. Rita Madonna Hillard-Berube) poking about the china cabinets, cupboards, and pantry to set the table or to help cook was, and still is, where you can find me!

The holidays in our 3rd floor walk-up apartment were always bountiful, festive, and magical.  The tinsel clad tree in the living room, the electric candles in all 18 windows, the stockings and Christmas cards hung around the doorways, and the constant ebb and flow of family and friends – and the food that seemed to (and still does!) go on forever.  Nothing was fussy, perfect, or over-calculated.  Everything was infused with love – the key ingredient.

As I look back to the parts of the holidays (and birthdays, card nights, and other celebrations) that stuck with me, the main theme was always every inch of our Farley Street apartment was utilized.  The kitchen table was piled high with hors d’oeuvres, the tiny kitchen counter was set up with drinks, the coffee table had dips (Bugles and Shrimp dip, to be exact), cookies, fudge, and so on.  That was the key to keeping the festivities moving about, encouraged mingling, and ultimately allowed for what seemed like a never ending party!  Now, fast forward to present day.  I am 33 and still following in nana’s footsteps: Cooking and entertaining for friends and family but with a Marc Sievers twist! 

The iconic Christmas cookie – seen in every grocery store, specialty food shop, and home cook’s kitchen in America – is still one of my favorite components this time of year.  Buttery, crisp, and covered in course sanding sugar, my Vanilla Christmas Cookies are the closest I have gotten to the memories of my childhood.  They are fuss-free, and the ingredients (including the colored sugars) can be found at your local grocery store.  For a slightly more elegant look (as elegant as sanding sugars can be!), I found matte silver and gold Wilton sanding sugars at my local crafts store. 

For my annual Christmas party, I wanted to create a focal point for my coffee table that would double as part edible and part décor.  Setting up vignettes like I mentioned above really allows your guests to mingle about your entire space, or at least the space you want them in (serving in the powder room is not something I have tried, yet!).  A quick trip to my corner pharmacy (I still love those “seasonal” aisles), I found an adorable iron ornament tree, which I used to hang my Christmas cookies on – take that “cookie platter!”  As guests indulge in the festive cookies, keep a tray of extra cookies strung with ribbons on hand to refill the tree, and a separate tray piled high with cookies (arranged in another area of your entertaining space) minus the ribbons for those “cookie-aholic” guests (that’s me!).

This holiday season while you are entertaining, make sure you too are enjoying this marvelous time of year.  Focus on a few things and do them really well – it’s better to have fewer components if they are delicious, well thought out, and filled with love!  Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me, I hope that my memoires sparked some of your own.  From my home to yours – I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the brightest year ahead!


Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Ingredients (makes 2-3 dozen cookies)

  • Flour – 3 ½ cups, all purpose

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 1 ½ cups, granulated

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter. With the mixer set to medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla.

  4. Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

  5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flat disk, wrap each one in waxed paper, and chill for 1 hour.

  6. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough with festive cookie cutters. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Using the end of a chopstick, make a hole in the top of each cookie.

  7. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

  9. Once cooled, string ribbon through each hole and hang.

  10. Repeat the above process until all the dough has been baked.

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