Brightening Winter Days by Julie Busteed

After the hoopla of Christmas and the excitement of snow days has worn off, winter can tend to drag on. The grey days seem unending, and I look forward to the beginning of spring – the first peek at daffodils and the robin’s song.

But I’ve found that we also need to enjoy the moment – live in the moment.  Even during the grey days.  It’s a good opportunity to get together with friends and cheer each other on to spring. 

I had the opportunity to do this recently – enjoy some good company and food.  It was a simple meal, but made special by sharing it with friends.  It even inspired one of my guests to try her hand at a new recipe. 

So take some time to connect with friends over a meal or coffee.  It will brighten up your winter day as we anticipate the coming colors

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Serves 6
For the pastry
  1. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  3. 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  4. 1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
  1. 1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
  4. 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. Pinch of sugar
  7. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  8. 3/4 cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves.
  1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
  5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Dinner Table Design Dilemmas…. Done! by Deb Forkins

Recently, while preparing for holiday dinner parties, Deb Giampoli took stock of her 35 plus year old formal china. Feeling her dishes were a bit tired and out of date, Deb looked at selling them online, but was discouraged by the lack of resale value. Instead, she called Marcel’s and spoke to Jill. “I always love the tablescapes when I come into Marcel’s and I vaguely recalled hearing about the Table Design service. Jill encouraged me to come into the store and bring in my china, which I did.” Deb brought in her Christmas dishes and worked with Dana for a little over an hour. Dana pulled out runners, table cloths, napkins, centerpieces and candles as Deb gave the YAY or NAY. “ We had so much fun!” Deb left completely overjoyed and went home to prepare her holiday table (photo right).

Soon thereafter, Deb returned to Marcel’s with her formal china in tow. After a second session of frenzied designing, Deb went home with a few new items that completely changed the way she felt about her china. “Now I have a beautiful table with so many options. My old pieces were contemporized with the addition of just a few new items. I am feeling so very hip and happening!” Deb’s new table designs have also sparked her interest in the art of napkin folding. Check out this gorgeous table design featuring Deb’s china on a Marcel’s inspired table and Deb’s rosette folded napkins!

Anyone who has ever set foot into Marcel’s knows the gorgeous table settings surrounding the store. Of course, there is a lot of LOVELY in the store to work with, but our talented staff know how to pull it all together. We know about the power of layering linens, mixing metals, adding just the right amount of playfulness to a formal setting. A well designed table is really about the ability to pair the items you have and to work with, not against them. If you are struggling with this, take advantage of Marcel’s complimentary Table Styling Service. Bring in your dishes, your colors, whatever you have that you want to work with and we will you help create a beautiful table design.

You do not have to wait for a dinner party to use this service. Give the store a call and set up an appointment for the Table Styling Service. As Deb Giampoli notes, “A table is reflective of YOU. A pretty table that has been well designed invites your guests to sit there longer…” and isn’t that the whole point of getting together?

Come To My Farm by Elliott Papineau

  It started as a tweet to the masses from Chef John Shields about sourcing black walnuts and Elliott Papineau answered.  His parents owned a 20 acre property in Bourbonnias and had an abundance of the trees on what is known as “The Farm”. 

Alan and Rebecca Papineau, both retired, bought The Farm in 2012 as a hobby to grow produce for themselves.  Each year, the plots would become larger due to Alan’s relentless desire for more tillable land and Rebecca’s intellectual curiosity driven by her lifelong dedication to botany.  Elliott saw this passion and coupled it with his love for cooking to form the idea of a chef and farm partnership. 

Chefs John and Karen came to The Farm on a whim, not knowing what to expect from these strangers. What followed was a true collaboration with the Papineau’s, keepers of The Farm’s natural pantry. 

The collaboration has blossomed into a full-on partnership.  John and Karen inform the operations at The Farm, and The Farm shapes the menus at Smyth + The Loyalist.  With over 200 different herbs, vegetables, fruits, and native plants, The Farm is as much a source of inspiration as it is a supplier to the restaurants. 

Back at Smyth + The Loyalist, the Shields take the product, along with their inspiration, weaving both into the menus to create two unique experiences in two distinct spaces.  

Smyth, with its two stars in the 2018 Michelin guide and winner of Best New Restaurant at the 2018 Jean Banchet awards, is a showcase of technique and ingredients balanced with straight forward presentation and zero pretense.  Walking in to the restaurant, the Shields welcome you to their home and the space evokes a comforting feeling. On any given night you may start with an oyster presented on apple and radish ice, followed by squab liver mouse tart with dried corn.  Aged beef rib-eye with accentuating components such as a brioche doughnut highlight the multi-course affair. Moving into the sweeter section of the menu, a chocolate bar with raspberry preserves and shiitake mushroom powder remind you that this is comfort with a conscious.  

Downstairs at The Loyalist, the comfort level extends as you tuck into a booth or step up to the bar.  A cocktail or beer followed by a few bites, and maybe a “Dirty Burg” (The Loyalist’s take on a classic cheeseburger), are what the regulars of this subterranean hideaway have recently had to share with restaurant adventurers after multiple national accolades. The creativity on the menu is not lost here, but is hidden in each dish’s depth. Beets and endive with smoked trout followed by leek mimosa or a variety of oysters could easily get you started.  Other dishes will move through the seasons such as a bone-in shortrib and house-made cavatelli.  A classic sundae would be a fitting end to a meal at The Loyalist, but the flavors here always let you know this is not a standard inn.  

With two busy restaurants and two young children, John and Karen are delighted to share an afternoon at Marcel’s. Join us on March 4th for a special event presented by Le Creuset & Marcel’s Culinary Experience, as John and Karen showcase their refined yet approachable way with food and hospitality in a way that makes you feel at home. Register online or call (630) 790-8500 to reserve your seat for this one of a kind cooking demonstration!

‘Twas The Season by Kelly Montgomery

It ‘s been said that there are 3 seasons in the retail year:  Before Christmas. Christmas. And after Christmas. Yes. Absolutely. 

Here’s how it goes at Marcels:

It begins in the spring, giving new meaning to ‘keep Christmas in your heart all year.” Dana and Jill will scour catalogs, scout a few shows and start ordering holiday merchandise. Snow men in June? It’s hard to put yourself in the mindset, but there they are.

Fast forward a few months. It’s late summer and the orders start trickling in through the back door.  And then it snowballs. It’s a fun little perk of our job. We get a chance to preview the merchandise customers won’t see for months. Ha! 

Next thing you know, someone is saying, me included,  “Hey Rita, did you see those mice ornaments? They have new outfits this year!” or “Guys! Come check out the Juliska stuff that just came in!” 

Before you know it, it’s mid-November. You’ll find our retail staff (and a few random awesome people who show up year after year) bringing up boxes and boxes of holiday merchandise and decorating the store. The whole thing.  In approximately 5 hours. It must get done, (since the very next night is Ladies Night Out!) 

And so the season begins—for you, our customer, bringing familiar faces and new ones as well, in varying degrees excited, stressed, dazed, hangry, focused, exhausted, over caffeinated, under caffeinated (or even a little tipsy!) Yes, we know. And it’s OK!

Shockingly early in December customers will begin to triumphantly shout, “I’m done! I had this one gift to get and now I’m finally done!” This, of course, sets off a growing panic here, and across the retail industry, that we haven’t even started!! Nor had we noticed since we all genuinely like working together. It’s fun to see the whole team in action at the same time. Organized chaos!

Somehow or other it all gets done so we can focus on getting ready for our own Christmas now. And soon enough, next Christmas for you all.

This might sound like the Nightmare Before Christmas more than anything else, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Something I didn’t really grasp until this year, when I couldn’t participate much due to a thumb injury and rehab. 

But more than the preparation and start to the holiday bustle, it’s the mulled cider. The private office parties and events. The samples. The smells from the kitchen. Everything. Like one constant Christmas Eve for however many days that I realize I miss. And, I’m missing out on. Cook. Create. Celebrate never meant more than during the holidays.

It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yes. Absolutely.

Happy Holidays everybody.

My Favorite Things by Jennifer Dorn

Remember the song “ My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music or Oprah’s Favorite Things List? This song and theme have been going through my mind since joining Marcel’s team in May. I had shopped at Marcel’s for over 5 years and I did have a “MY favorite things list” – that go to hostess gift and favorite pantry items. My recipes were never without a little help from the  S.A.L.T. Sisters (Mojo Seasoning Blend) or a Garnier-Thiebaut French dish towel ready for a house warming gift. Since I joined the team here, I have been asking the staff about their favorite products and have added many more to my list!


I must admit it has been a bit overwhelming learning about all of the 100’s of products here at Marcel’s. So I started by asking each staff member to tell me about their favorite things. I could not wait to try Teri’s Hot Pepper Bacon Jam, Kathy’s Filotea linguine pasta or Dana’s Beef Goulash soup mix… so many favorites you get the idea – and so much fun for me to learn about these new things!


I recently added the linguine pasta to our family’s favorite Shrimp Scampi – ahh YES, a success! Come taste this in my demo on November 28th.  


So stop by the store and I may sing you a song and show you a few of my favorite things – and I hope to learn about some of yours. I still have my list and it’s growing!   

A Taste From Our Kitchens by Teri Hiben

There are so many things I have enjoyed about working at Marcel’s for the past 6 years – yes, it’s been 6 years!  I learn so much interacting with our talented and generous chefs who share their tips and recipes.  It’s been a joy to work alongside so many great people here on staff who have become dear friends.  And I am thankful to continue to get to know so many of you as you come through the store, talking food and entertaining, sharing recipes.  One of my favorite roles has been sharing one of my recipes during our weekly Tuesday demos.  Did you know we have free demos every Tuesday?  One of us, on staff, at Marcel’s prepares a favorite dish each Tuesday between 11am and 2pm.  Everyone is welcome to stop in for a quick taste, grab the recipe, or to sit and enjoy a bite while watching the entire process as we make the entrée, side dish, appetizer or dessert.

And, for those who are working or otherwise unable to come to our demos, each demonstrated recipe is available on our website.  Over the years we have compiled quite a nice collection of recipes from these demos.  Also on the site are chef recipes for you to enjoy making and serving at home.  Some of these dishes have become favorites in my home.  Have you tried Janie’s Penne with Beef and Arugula?  Jill’s Mussels with White Wine?  Or Rita’s Mardi Gras Jambalaya?  I highly recommend them – and so many others!

With the start of the fall schedule, our Tuesday demos are again in full swing.  Here’s what’s ahead in the next weeks:

Aug. 29 Julie’s Easy Lemon Sole Meunier

Sept. 5 Sharon’s Chicken with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Sept. 12 Deb’s Quick and Simple Asian Tilapia

Sept. 19 Julie’s Wheatberry Waffles

And on Sept. 26, our 6th birthday, I’ll be dishing up a special Anniversary treat! Please join us in the kitchen on Tuesdays.

Food As A Gift by Deb Forkins

After lamenting my less than stellar rhubarb harvest last year, a dear friend brought me over this homemade rhubarb treasure.  She is a fabulous cook, and the pie was delicious….but it was the big D on that pie that was the most delish!  Edible friendship!

One Sunday, I came home from working at Marcel’s to dinner in the oven.  Marc had made his specialty quiche, adding zucchini to my half.  Again, the best part of that dinner was my name on my half of the quiche in zucchini peel.  Edible love.

Sharing the gift of food is a universal gesture of love and friendship, compassion and kindness.  A meal to a family struggling with challenges, chicken soup to a sick friend, cookies to your new neighbor…food has always been a way that we reach out to one another, to connect.  We all know this.  The food itself may or may not be a fabulous culinary creation, but the gesture speaks volumes.

In her cookbook, Food Gift Love, author and chef Maggie Battista shares some tips to make you the quintessential food gifter:

  • Know your recipient. (always best to play to the audience.)
  • Master a signature food gift so you can make it quickly and have the ingredients in your head.
  • Embrace imperfection. (my favorite tip!)
  • Put a label on it. (ingredients and date created)
  • Summer and fall are the best time to make gifts when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it’s a less hectic time of the year.
  • Reuse old jars, cups and boxes that can be cleaned and repurposed.

At risk of sounding corny, “what the world needs now is love.”  And edible love is just the best. 

(Check out Chef Kelly Sears’ “Pickling and Preserving Workshop” on Sunday, August 27th to learn the tricks of canning and preserving in anticipation of Christmas 2017 Food Gift Giving!)

No Oven, No Problem by Julie Busteed

Somehow it seems to happen that whenever we have out of town guests, something breaks, or clogs, or freezes. Think plumbers on Christmas Eve, or a dozen guests enjoying the warmth of the fireplace – because the power has gone out. This visit was no different, the day before company arrived our ovens decided to quit working. Not a total disaster since the stovetop still functioned, but I needed to alter my menus none the less.   

It has been several years since we’ve owned a grill and we’ve been planning to get one. As luck would have it, we were gifted a Kamado Joe! Yes, they were those kind of out of town guests, and yes, they probably figured it was their best shot at eating a home cooked meal. 

To be clear, the Kamado Joe is to “grill” as Ferrari is to a riding mower. This thing is on another level. The heat is enclosed entirely in a thick, ceramic shell, making common recipes that say “Bring the temperature to 700 degrees.” My ovens don’t go to 700 degrees…even when they’re working. The delivery crew shows up to assemble the unit dressed like they were going to a wedding… Which they were.  (Thanks Jill and Bob…)  And, like Ferrari, most of the Kamado Joes are red. Think of Marcel’s as the showroom, with free delivery and setup. 

I’ve had to skip over “grill” recipes for many years, and now here was my chance to dive back in. So far, we’ve seared steaks, grilled shrimp, warmed bread, grilled romaine and even baked banana bread. The surprising one was grilling salmon.  I had adapted this salmon recipe for the oven and it had proven quite tasty, but now I was actually able to grill it and wow, what a difference!


Asian Grilled Salmon
  1. 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
  2. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  3. 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  4. 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  1. While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
  3. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
  4. Grilling with high heat is a little like learning a new language. There’s a bit of a transition, but once you have the basics, a lot of exciting culinary adventures become available. And the flavors that will appear are astounding. Plus, it’s a great option to have when your appliances go on the fritz.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

A Repertoire by Amy Patterson

A peek inside of a recipe collection is revealing. Each recipe a star, a collection that inks out a distinct constellation over time – a personal roadmap of traditions, travels, relationships and memories.
My file after 20 years in my own kitchen is scattered amidst pages of heavily annotated cookbooks, dog-eared pages of Fine Cooking, vintage cards in my grandma’s ornate script and a healthy pinch of recipes gathered online. Of the thousands of recipes that could be unearthed in my home, there are a handful that reappear time and again – a motley mix that is a representation of my family’s tastes and sensibilities.  Years of experimentation have mined out our shining stars: an endlessly adaptable loaf of peasant bread, a dead-simple before school pancake recipe, an aromatic chipotle and cumin burger…  
Eggplant Dip is my favored appetizer for a party. Every time I whip this up, I am reminded of my Aunt Lois, who clipped this from the Chicago Tribune in the early 90’s. Or if there is a chill in the air, I’ll appear with a retro batch of Hanky Pankies ready to slide into the oven – a dish that could only be reproduced by someone time traveling from an early 80’s avocado-green kitchen in Minnesota. It invariably requires a dash to the supermarket in a clandestine search of Velveeta. (Not an ingredient that Daniel sources at Marché…)
Nothing makes me happier than sipping a glass of wine, tending a dish braising on the stovetop and daydreaming of the French countryside. Thus a Sunday dinner chez nous is likely Beef Bourguignon with mashed potatoes or a velvety celery root purée (a relatively recent addition to our repertoire).  Another (Italian) candidate would be a long-simmered Bolognese with fresh ribbons of fettuccine helped along by my daughter Lily.
A frenzied weekday often culminates with Salsa Chicken. Chicken thighs, 2 bottles of salsa – one red, one green. Gloriously simple and requested often; so little effort for a tasty taco. The award for most requested weeknight dinner is tied between my “signature” Sausage Pasta or Lily’s favorite – Korean Bulgogi Steak with Coconut Jasmine Rice.
Almond Cake from my battered and beloved copy of Cooking for Mr. Latte is my go-to dessert. This most delicious of cakes can be topped with seasonally appropriate fruit that improves with a leisurely nap on the countertop. If it is up to Gage, he will request Kahlua Vodka Cake, a nice slice of boozy and boxed Americana from my old colleague’s mother out East.
Open my fridge in the summer and you will find a pitcher or two of my Gazpacho – a vibrant melange of fresh vegetables lightly tempered by the addition of country bread and fruity olive oil. This never fails to transport me back to Southern Spain and is perfect for al fresco entertaining on the patio. As we are heading into summer, this is the recipe from my collection that I would love to share with you below.
Next week, we are moving to Idaho. As I pack up our home, I am paying extra care to my cookbooks and recipes. I’ve found several snippets from Marcel’s and I know that many of these recipes will slip into my time-honed repertoire and forever remind me of my connection with this magical and delicious little place.  These are the things that I will hold onto.
Editor’s Note: All of us at Marcel’s and Marché are going to miss Amy and her charming family in our midst.  Amy has been with us since the doors opened and her passion for food and eye for the creative have contributed so much. A bientôt, Patterson family!
  1. 2 cups day-old country bread, torn into pieces
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. pinch of cumin (or more to taste)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  5. 3 pounds ripe in-season tomatoes
  6. 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  7. 1 red pepper, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons red onion
  9. 1/4 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
  10. 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  11. 1/4 pound ham (or pancetta), cubed
  12. 1 thick slice of country-style bread, little cubes for croutons
  1. Place the bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. Place garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
  3. Place the tomatoes (lightly sprinkled with kosher salt), cucumber, red pepper, red onion, soaked bread and cumin/garlic/salt paste in a large bowl. Toss to mix and massage everything together. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Add to blender (it may need to be in 2 batches) along with olive oil. Purée until smooth.
  5. Transfer soup to a large bowl and season with sherry vinegar and salt to taste.
  6. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled. At least 2 hours.
  7. Heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cubed ham and fry until crisp. Remove to bowl leaving olive oil behind. Add cubed bread and fry until browned. (No need for oil with pancetta)
  8. Garnish soup with cubes of ham, croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

And So This Is 60… by Dana Williams

Monday, April 3rd. I turned 60 years old. 21,900 days. That’s a lotta days.

People often laugh (okay, at me) when I tell them that I usually wake up with a song in my head but it’s true. It will stay in my head most of the day. Sometimes I’ll add it to our Spotify list at Marcel’s, often having it deleted by one of my beloved coworkers as soon as I turn my back. Seriously, who doesn’t love “One Less Bell To Answer” by The 5th Dimension? Anyway, the last few weeks before the big day,  I was consistently waking up to John Lennon’s “And So This Is Christmas” only it had morphed into “And So This Is 60.” It became a sort of mantra of accomplishments and disappointments, changing at any given moment, all sung to myself to that comforting tune.

The second half of my 59th year was pretty momentous on a very personal level. On Wednesday, October 26th, I decided that enough was enough and that entering my 60’s at 200+ pounds was probably a really bad idea. Major change was needed. With the guidance and support of a wonderful doctor, my husband and sons and one coworker (Hi, Anne), I quietly made the life adjustments needed. My days (mostly, just in case anyone reading this has seen the celebratory birthday pics!)  have consisted of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. BOOM! That’s it. I stayed on the QT until people started to notice – it took about 30 pounds or so – and then I became an open book. One of the things that I find interesting is the assumption that for someone who loves food and cooking as much as I do, this must be a miserable journey! Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, loving to cook has made this process far less painless than one would think. You just need to get creative.

One small piece of equipment that I invested in is a traditional two-tiered  bamboo steamer that we carry at Marcel’s. It offers endless variations using fresh veggies, fish and chicken. I line the baskets with fresh kale, cabbage or Swiss chard, pile loads of vegetables in the top basket and nestle my protein in the bottom basket. I place the steamer in my wok to which I’ve added two inches of broth and twenty to thirty minutes later a complete meal is ready. I’ll add a side of grains or potatoes for my family and everyone’s happy!

So, here I am – 50 pounds down with 15 – 20 to go. I’ve never felt better. I walk two to five miles daily. My darling husband gave me my first new bike in 40 years for my birthday. “And So This Is 60.”  Bring it.