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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Watermarc

Mulled Wine

Marc J. Sievers

Every year Ryan and I attend the Christkindlemarket in Chicago which is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.  The Christkindlmarket Chicago brings cherished German and European traditions, with international flair and local charm, to Chicago.  One of my favorite things to get every time I go is something called Glühwein or mulled wine usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices.  It is typically served hot and is a traditional drink during colder months.  Think of it like the European cousin of Sangria.

My version of Mulled Wine gets it's depth of flavor from a good Cabernet Sauvignon, spiced apple cider, peppercorns, and other aromatics!  You can allow the wine to sit on the stove at the lowest heat keeping it warm throughout your party and guests can serve themselves.  Of course, this can be made days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to serve, gently re-heat over a low flame, then toast to good health!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Mulled Wine

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Spiced Apple Cider – 4 cups

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – 1 bottle (750ml)

  • Honey – ½ cup

  • Black Peppercorns – 25, whole

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 4

  • Cloves – 8, whole

  • Star Anise – 3, whole

  • Orange – 1 large, juiced

  • Orange Peel – For garnish


  1. Start by cutting two pieces of cheesecloth into 8×8-inch squares and layer them to make a single sachet.

  2. In the center of the cheesecloth place the orange peels, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. Pull the four corners of the doubled-up cheese cloth together and tie tightly with kitchen string to form a sachet.

  3. Next, combine the cider, orange juice, honey, and wine in a heavy-bottomed pot or large sauce pan). Add the sachet, and bring to a low boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer, allowing the wine to mull for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Fruit Conserve

Marc J. Sievers

A holiday dinner in my family would not be complete without jellied cranberry sauce (with the can lines!) in a little crystal dish on the table!  While I still love that sentiment and tradition, I have upped the game with my Fruit Conserve.  My version of “cranberry sauce” is brimming with flavorful ingredients like dried figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, and currants – just to name a few!  I have even added a few tablespoons of Grand Mariner, an orange liqueur, to add a little more depth of flavor – it is the holidays after all!  What I love the most about this recipe is it can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Leftover conserve is fabulous when warmed through and served over vanilla ice cream or even on crackers with slices of Brie.  A triple-duty recipe, perfect for this time of year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Fruit Conserve

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • Water – 1 cup

  • Sugar – 1¼ cups

  • Fresh Cranberries – 1 bag (12 ounces)

  • Honey Crisp Apple – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Bosc Pear – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Orange – 1, zested, seeded and ½-inch diced

  • Lemon – 1, zested, juiced

  • Grand Marnier – 3 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Course Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Golden Raisins – ½ cup

  • Dried Black Mission Figs - ½ cup, rough chopped

  • Zante Currants – ½ cup

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup


  1. Start by placing the water, sugar, and cranberries into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberry skins open.

  2. Next, add the apple, pear, orange, zests, and lemon juice. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Finally, off the heat, add the raisins, currants, cherries, figs, cinnamon, salt, and Grand Marnier. Allow to cool and place into the refrigerator to set.

  4. Serve slightly chilled.

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Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Marc J. Sievers

Inspiration for new recipes really can come from anywhere.  A certain smell, a store window, a trip to a fabulous specialty foods store, and of course a restaurant!  Last year when Linda and I were out to lunch, we both ordered a vegetarian burger filled with roasted beets and nutty farrow – it was so good!  After a few tries, I came up with my Savory Beet & Farrow Cake – an elegant twist on the veggie burger we had at lunch.

Instead of making individual patties, I decided to bake it in cake form, making it elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or cut up into small squares for a cocktail party.  You can roast the vegetables and sauté the onion mixture up to three days ahead of time.  You can store them together in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Then, on the day of your soirée, continue to follow the assembly and cooking directions - et voilà!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking! 

Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main course or up to 12 as an hors d'oeuvre)

  • Sweet Potato – 1 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Beets – 2 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Farrow – ½ cup, uncooked

  • Water - ½ cup

  • Red Onion – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Sage – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, finely minced

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Panko – 1 cup

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon, divided

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, divided

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Parmigiano Reggiano – ¼ cup, freshly grated

  • Gruyère – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Eggs – 5 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – ¼ cup


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch round spring-form pan by buttering both the interior sides and bottom. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the top of the parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beets onto a sheet pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, turning once half way through the roasting time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, bring ½ cup water to a boil. Add the farrow, and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. The farrow will still have a bite to it. Drain well and set aside.

  4. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once heated, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.

  5. Next, add the garlic, nutmeg, and sage, and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and cooked farrow and set aside.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and half and half. Then add both cheeses.

  7. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and add the panko. Gently stir to mix completely.

  8. Transfer the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until set.

  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing to eat (and still is!) were mashed potatoes!  The smell of a big pot of potatoes boiling away always reminds me of family dinners and holidays – the best!  While I still prepare traditional mashed potatoes with just milk, butter, salt, and pepper, I have a new twist on a classic – my Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes.  These potatoes are filled with browned butter, garlic, spicy basil, nutmeg, and white pepper, making them a welcomed update to the classic version!

You can even make mashed potatoes in advance by keeping them warm in a glass bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap set over a pan of barely simmering water.  They can remain like this for up to 1 hour.  Stir them every 20 minutes to help them maintain an even temperature.  You can add a little bit of warm half and half if they become too thick.  Remember, if making them in advance, stir in the basil just before you serve them, or the basil will turn dark – not a good look!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, lightly smashed

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1½ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely minced, fresh

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, set over medium-low heat, add the butter and smashed garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden and the milk solids in the butter have browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Scrape all the browned bits, butter, and garlic into a small blender or food processor. Add the half and half, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth, or about 1 minute.

  4. Pour into a small saucepan and gently reheat. Once hot, turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

  5. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them, and add them back into the pan.

  6. Using a handheld mixer fitted with the beater attachment beat the hot potatoes in the pot until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot half and half mixture and beat until mostly smooth. They should still have a few small lumps for texture.

  7. Lastly, stir in the fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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Baguette Stuffing

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, stuffing is one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving meal!  Instead of preparing a stuffing from a bag (boring!), my Baguette Stuffing only takes a few steps and the result is just delicious and fabulous!  The combination of French bread and rye bread gives this dish a real depth of flavor, along with all of the fresh vegetables, herbs, and of course butter!   This recipe is as equally wonderful with almost-ripe pears.  Simply substitute the apples for pears and follow the same cooking directions.  You can also change the cashews for almonds, or even pecans.  Your traditional bread stuffing is about to get a major flavor makeover!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Baguette Stuffing

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • French Baguette – 24-inch, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Dark Rye Bread – 1 pound loaf, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Butter - 12 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Celery – 5 stalks, ½-inch diced

  • Onions – 2 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Granny Smith Apples – 2 medium, ½-inch diced, peeled, and cored

  • Garlic - 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Flat Leaf Parsley – ½ cup, roughly chopped, fresh

  • Rosemary – 3 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Thyme – 2 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

  • Vegetable Broth – 3 cups (low sodium preferred)

  • Raw Cashews – 1 cup, rough chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

  2. Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the onion, celery, apples, garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the mixture is soft.

  4. In a large bowl toss the bread, onion mixtue, vegetable broth, and cashews.

  5. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Curried Pumpkin Soup

Marc J. Sievers

I love taking a classic flavor, like pumpkin, and giving it a flavor-makeover!  My Curried Pumpkin Soup is a new classic in my home this time of year.  The flavors are still very traditional, but the addition of dried yellow curry powder make it a feel a little bit more special and, dare I say, exotic!  This is a perfect soup for a chilly autumn or winter day!  This soup can be prepared up to three days in advance of serving and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze large containers of soup to be enjoyed at a later time.  Gently re-heat in a large pot over medium-low heat – soup anytime!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Carrots – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Leeks – 2 large, ½-inch sliced (white and light green parts only)

  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, ½-inch diced

  • Honeycrisp Apples – 2 medium, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely minced

  • Pumpkin Purée – 2 cans (15 ounces each), plus ½ cup (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • Vegetable Broth – 8 cups (preferably low sodium)

  • Thyme – 2 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • White Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Yellow Curry Powder (mild) – 3½ teaspoons, divided

  • Half and Half – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Butter – 6 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the onions, leeks, apples, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and 3 teaspoons of curry powder. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the vegetable stock and 30 ounces of the pumpkin puree. Continue cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Carefully transfer the hot contents of the pot into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Purée for 2 minutes until mostly smooth. The soup should still have a slight texture. Note that you may have to do this in smaller batches if you are working with a smaller processor or blender.

  4. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the half and half, the remaining ½ teaspoon of curry powder, and the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin purée. Whisk until completely incorporated.

  5. At this point you can gently reheated, and serve.

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An Autumnal Feast! A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

Marc J. Sievers

This year, Ryan and I are spending my birthday and Thanksgiving in Chicago and will be taking full advantage of our festive city leading up to the big feast!  On my birthday we have dinner plans at my favorite restaurant RL, then will walk over to The Peninsula Chicago to enjoy a cocktail and ice skating atop their Sky Rink—what a fabulous birthday!   On Thanksgiving Day, our menu will consist of things that are store-bought, a few recipes that can be made in advance, and the main course—Gruyere Cheese Soufflé—that will be made right before serving (Julia Child, thank you!). 

In addition to making some of the recipes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I will also set the table in a palette of white, grey, and pumpkin colored plates, bowls, linens, and white un-scented candles.  Simple white roses, fresh herbs, and silver dollar eucalyptus arranged in silver bowls will take center stage!

Last year, my friend and watercolor artist Linda Marie Clark and I launched Watermarc – Art & Appetite, a growing line of vibrant and collectible occasion cards that are created around collections of my original vegetarian recipes and Linda’s whimsical watercolors.  We developed a series of cards titled “An Autumnal Feast” which had some of the most flavorful Fall recipes you could dream of!  That series has since been retired and I have wanted to share my recipes and Linda’s artwork that were a part of the original collection as they are just too delicious and colorful to keep locked up. 

These are some of my favorite recipes I have created as they’re classic delicious twists that really bring home the Autumnal flavors.  Whether you are looking to spice up your holiday menus, inject some variety for a weeknight/end dinner party, or completely revamp what you normally serve, I know these recipes will add the “Wow!” factor, up the flavor factor, and will have your guests asking for more! 

From our home to yours, Ryan and I wish you the most glorious Thanksgiving filled with good food, good wine, and the most important ingredients:  Big pinches of love and appreciation!


An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

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In My Absence…

Marc J. Sievers

You may have noticed that I have been a little “absent” online as of late.  (Yes, there is a bit of a gap from my last post in April until now.)  Fear not!  I have not succumbed to writer’s block, or worse, a cooking block!  Over the past few months I have been working hard in my super-secret fab-lab-ulous new-ventures laboratory with my friend and collaborator Linda Marie Clark on creating a very special line of fine art paper products called Watermarc – Art & Appetite.  We launched the web site and online store on June 9, and celebrated the debut of Watermarc at Williams-Sonoma Lincoln Park here in Chicago on June 25!

Linda Marie Clark and Marc J. Sievers at a farmer's market in Chicago's Gold Coast.

I am so very excited to share with you the fruits of our efforts to create Watermarc.  Linda is a fabulous artist and photographer.  It is her watercolors that bring to life the collections we created for Watermarc.  I supply perfected savvy recipes and entertaining expertise, and together our contributions create beautiful, useful, collectable, and unique products.

“Watermarc” is, of course, a play on the word “watermark”, but for us “water” represents Linda’s watercolors, “marc” represents my culinary and entertaining expertise, and together “watermarc” is a reference to ink and paint on paper.  Visit the Watermarc website ( and learn more about what we created and how we did it.  Explore the five collections of products we launched just a month ago!

In addition to the debut of Watermarc and its  catalogue of products, I have also been hard at work freshening up my own web site and streamlining things here at  It was time for a fresh look that I could use to really highlight the images associated with my blog posts.  As has been said, we eat with our eyes, and I wanted a web site that better showcases the delicious recipes and know-how I put together for you.

As you can see, I have accomplished just that!  The new design includes my new branding, as well as a refreshed identity for my blog—La Vie Piquant.  My evolution over the last four years has been one of finding my voice in a way that is true to me, but also useful and engaging for my readers and viewers.  La Vie Piquant is the perfect expression of my approach to life, food, style, design, love, and more.

Piquant – pi·quant /ˈpēkənt,-känt/ adjective:  Pleasantly stimulating or exciting to the mind.

Think spicy, intriguing, stimulating, interesting, fascinating, colorful, exciting, lively—these are all attributes I could use to describe food, experiences, recipes, ingredients, style, fashion, design, love, and more.  I want to experience and explore the piquant things in life.  And so Marc’s Weekly is now La Vie Piquantthe spicy life!

I have moved over all of my posts, all the way back to the start of my online sharing in October 2012!  The new format is stunning and is also mobile phone-friendly, another important step in the evolution of my blog.  Just like you, I’m constantly on the go and do a lot of my web surfing on my iPhone.  Now, my web site and La Vie Piquant render beautifully in a mobile browser.  Of course, the best experience is on a large screen so you can soak up the vivid images with each post, but I don’t lug a big monitor around with me, and I suspect you don't either.

In addition to all this updated goodness, I have also revamped my line-up for From My Kitchen to Yours.  New webisodes will be posted on my YouTube channel in the coming months, and my new blog format gives me a great way to integrate all of the media I produce into one rich and complete experience for you without having to jump from site to site.

Welcome to the fresh, updated, and exciting new and La Vie Piquant (you can always jump to my blog directly by way of  Sign up to receive my email announcements and don’t miss any of the fabulous new ideas, recipes, tips, and know-how I have queued up to share with you here on my new web site.  In the coming weeks I will be adding services like private wedding registry planning, themed at-home cooking tutorials, entertaining tutorials, and a scrumptious curated fine foods line (all handmade by moi!).

This has been a wonderful and exciting journey getting to this point, and I’m so energized by this new format and the capability to connect with you in a richer and more vibrant way.  I want to hear from you!  Add your thoughts via the comment box below, and click on the share button and spread the word!  I would not have been able to do all of this if it weren’t for you, so help me to keep it going!

Eat well, laugh often, and share the love!

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