Food Demos, Who Me? by Tania Pasterz

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” – Ruth Reichl

I am the newest member of the Marcel’s retail team: a group of women that love all things culinary and are passionate about cooking. Shortly after learning the retail ropes and just when I started to feel comfortable; I was informed I was scheduled to do a Food Demonstration. A reallife food demo with a TV monitor, surrounded by customers watching and listening to my every word.

I must confess, being a lover of all things food and entertaining, it is something I’ve dreamt about. Standing alone at my kitchen counter pretending to be some variation of the Barefoot Contessa. That said, just the thought of it gave me anxiety. Pretending alone in my own kitchen was one thing – but real customers, an audience other than my family? What if my food tasted horrible? What if I didn’t have enough? What if I couldn’t talk and cook at the same time? Despite some serious trepidation, I came up with a recipe that I thought would be good and began planning.

The day finally arrived. My food was prepped, my recipe tested and it was time for my own little cooking show to begin (still scared to death mind you). The customers showed up, they asked interesting questions, and liked my dish (Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Eggs)! In fact, one tiny patron (age 4) said, “excuse me but can I say something, this is very artistic.” Literally out of the mouths of babes. My fear melted away and I knew I was hooked.

Almost every Tuesday a member of the retail staff at Marcel’s does a food demonstration. We prepare simple, fast and delicious food designed for busy people. The team member’s name and dish appears on our quarterly calendars for you to pick and choose which demonstration best fits your schedule. There is no charge and no sign up. And you get to leave with a new recipe!

All you need to do is show up, sit down, maybe learn a tidbit or two and taste. 

Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Eggs
  1. 4 carrots, diced
  2. 4 parsnips, diced
  3. 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 6 slices bacon, diced
  8. 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  9. 1 5-ounce package baby arugula or mixed greens (about 8 cups)
  10. 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  11. 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  12. 4 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the carrots, parsnips, red onion, garlic and two tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast, stirring half way through, until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon; discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the skillet.
  3. Whisk the remains 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables, bacon, arugula, parsley and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
  4. Heat the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs and fry until just set, about 4 minutes. Serve over salad and top with more parmesan.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Mandoo Mania by Jenny Chang

My fondest memory of food always centered around making mandoo (aka. Korean dumplings or potstickers). Perhaps that’s the reason I love to eat them so much.  However making them always seemed like such a chore. I didn’t appreciate the labor of love that my mother always put into the vat of filling she made every holiday season, particular for New Year’s Eve.   

Our entire family would gather around lunchtime every New Year’s Eve and devour a big bowl of rice cake soup (made with pure bone broth, of course) to satiate us before beginning the process of filling hundreds of dumplings. My mother made the dough early in the morning and portioned it out into big round dough balls. My father and uncles would each take turns rolling out each rested dough ball into the largest round sheet of dough that covered our entire kitchen table. Then, using an upside down stainless steel rice bowl, cut out each individual dumpling wrapper from the gigantic sheet of dough. With a pile of dumpling wrappers ready to go, my aunts and all of us kids would gather around the huge bowl of mandoo filling and begin the process of filling each wrapper to make the prettiest dumplings around. We would have contests to see who could fold the prettiest dumplings. My older brother always won. To this day, he’s still the best dumpling maker.

Because our extended family was so big, we often needed to make several hundred mandoo to enjoy in our dumpling rice cake soup, a Korean tradition always consumed on New Year’s Day. Plus a bag of frozen mandoo for each family to take home and enjoy at a later time. It was the highlight of my entire year, more so than Christmas or Thanksgiving. You see, New Year’s Eve was the one time a year that our entire family gathered together to laugh, tell stories, and make dumplings for hours on end, much like the scene in the movie… Crazy Rich Asians.

Dumpling making was always a family tradition and one that involved all of the children. That is why, though I don’t like to have other people cook with me in my kitchen because truthfully, I can’t stand to have the mess, I try to include my three children in the mandoo making process and see who folds the prettiest dumplings. Although, these days we don’t roll out our own dumpling wrappers anymore – store bought ones suffice just great, I still take the time to make mandoo for those special occasions. Though one thing does remain. When we make mandoo, we still make at least a hundred or more.

Brussels Sprouts?… Yes, Brussels Sprouts! by Denise Stano

I might be one of the newest members of the Marcel’s retail staff, but I have been a Marcel’s supporter for many years.  You cannot help but look twice at the eye-catching window displays (how about that Snow family and the gorgeous Simon Pearce trees!!), walk into the store and are greeted by the aromas coming from the chef’s cooking classes, you are immediately hooked.

My first class experience at Marcel’s was a private party in 2012.  I was working at another retail store in town (aka AliKat) and we decided to hold our Christmas party in mid-November.  Holiday retail hours can be brutal and exhausting, so beginning the season early with a fun party seemed like a good idea…especially in case any Scrooge-like temperaments emerged as the season progressed!

We gathered with spouses and significant others on a Saturday evening with Chef Paul. He worked out a delicious menu for us to prepare and we read the recipes with anticipation…Beef Tenderloin Medallions, Wild Mushroom Ragout, Brussel Sprouts with Anchovies, Capers and Walnuts…what?  Brussel sprouts…??

He inquired as to how many of us liked the tiny cabbage-shaped veggie ….. and of course, no one raised their hand.  He assured us that after preparing this recipe we would all become Brussel sprout converts.  We smiled politely at his statement though I know we were all very doubtful.  We followed his instructions for our cruciferous side dish while secretly looking forward to the Baby Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting dessert that was to follow.  But guess what? After roasting those little cabbages and tossing them with Chef Paul’s amazing dressing, we all were in agreement that it was our favorite part of the meal. We unanimously said YES to Brussel sprouts.

Many of us served them at our Holiday table the next week, and in my family it has officially become our most requested side dish.  So if you are like so many and turn your nose up at the thought of Brussel sprouts on your menu, do yourself a favor and give these a try.  I promise you will love them and you might just have a new family favorite.

And when you stop in to thank Chef Paul, please pick up the new schedule of classes for the next quarter.  I know you will enjoy a fabulous evening making new friends, learning new cooking techniques and discovering new tastes no matter which class you choose.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Anchovies, Capers and Walnuts
Serves 10
  1. 3 pounds brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  2. 3/4 cup olive oil
  3. salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
  5. 2 shallots, peeled and trimmed
  6. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  7. 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  8. 2 tablespoons honey
  9. 3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
  10. one, 2 ounce tin anchovies, drained and rinsed
  11. 1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine Brussel sprouts and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to coat. Divide Brussel sprouts evenly onto 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and charred in spots. Shift the pans in the oven halfway through the roasting. Remove from oven. Cover and keep warm.
  3. Place steel blade into the work bowl of food processor. With motor running drop the garlic and shallots through feed tube and process until chopped. Add the vinegar, mustard, honey, capers and anchovies. Process to combine. Add remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and process until fairly smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the warm Brussel sprouts and gently toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and scatter walnuts over the top. Serve right away.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Thanksgiving Countdown by Jennifer Dorn

We are a few days away from many peoples’ favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. We celebrate with our families and gather around tables across our community – we are thankful for our bountiful harvest and blessings.  It is a wonderful day and meal. But …yes there may be some stress for cooks out there on this final countdown.  I am lucky to work with many talented cooks that have shared some ideas with me – I have added a few of my own to allow you more time relaxing with family and friends.

First of all, a few things can still be purchased: 

  • Appetizer – order a Cheese & Charcuterie Board from Marché.
  • Dessert – order a delicious locally baked Pumpkin Pies from Marché. Call (630) 790-8890 no later than Saturday, November 17th.  
  • At Marcel’s we are stocked with brining mix and bags for your turkey and we are always available for your last minute kitchen and meal prep needs.

The few days leading up to Thanksgiving can be used to chop ingredients – yup this could take hours so go ahead and start early.  My co-worker Sharon chops the onions, celery and carrots and places them in labeled zip lock bags for time saving minutes on the big day.

Let your slow cooker do some extra work for you. Use it to keep extra side dishes or an extra turkey breast warm.

The day before, make many of your side dishes.  Bake your potatoes the day ahead and use the Powder Horn Potato recipe below.  It is one of our family’s favorites.  Did I mention that at our house it is all about the sides?!

Set the table early. My sister-in-law is so organized that she sets out her serving dishes/utensils and labels each one with a sticky note for use on the big day. This way you know what will go where and whether or not you need to make a last minute trip to Marcel’s for that one servingware piece still needed. One year we took old family photos/school pictures and made them into place card settings. Make it FUN because now you are ready and will have time for the details.

All of us here at Marcel’s are very thankful for our loyal customers and we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Powder Horn Potatoes
Serves 8
  1. 10 medium potatoes
  2. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  3. 8 ounces cheddar cheese grated
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops or chives
  5. 2 cups sour cream
  6. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bake Potatoes in their skins at 400* for 40 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool overnight.
  2. Thanksgiving morning peel and grate potatoes mix together butter, cheese, onion, sour cream, salt and pepper and stir into potatoes. Pour mixture into lightly greased 2 1/2 quart casserole baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins or until lightly browned.
  1. From: Creme de Colorado Cookbook
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Summertime Sales and More by Teri Hiben

Summer slows us down. The days take on a casual and fun-loving flavor. We’re ready to jump in and get outside to go for a bike ride and stroll around the farmer’s market to pick up some of summer’s bounty. We enjoy outdoor concerts, parades, food on the grill, lightening bugs…

In Glen Ellyn, one sure sign of the middle of summer is the annual Sidewalk Sale (this year from July 26-28). And the weather forecast is looking good! Historic Main Street is closed to traffic, there’s music in the air, tents and tables full of bargains line the street. The stage is set for a Glen Ellyn street party! It’s a great time to grab a friend, put the kids in the wagon and head downtown to wander among the tables loaded with discounted merchandise. You’ll run into friends and neighbors and have time to catch up for a bit. Maybe you’ll discover a new store or two in the process.

I know at Marcel’s we’ve been carefully selecting merchandise for the sidewalk sale this year. We’re motivated to generously discount items to make room for fun new merchandise coming this fall, so our tables will be full of bargains. We’ll be offering some summery accents for your home you can use right away for the rest of the summer or you may find seasonal decorations for the holidays ahead. Be sure to stop by our tent to discover some especially tempting surprise discounts awaiting you. You’re sure to find a few treasures for your home.

Don’t miss the fun! We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Dining Al Fresco by Didi Foth

Definition of al fresco: taking place or located in the open air: outdoor, outdoors. An al fresco lunch, an al fresco café, dining al fresco.

One of the things I look forward to most when summer arrives is being able to eat outside. All my friends know that if you make a reservation for lunch or dinner with me, a request for an outdoor table is a must, even on the warmest (or coolest) days. I feel the need to take advantage of every beautiful day since our warm weather is limited here in the Midwest.

My favorite place for al fresco dining, though, is on my own patio. I love sitting in my garden on a beautiful night with a summer menu, a pretty table, candlelight, and a great playlist. Nothing could be better! Over the years I have learned a few things to make the dining experience fun, beautiful and not stressful.

1. Keep the recipes simple: Food always seems easier in the summer. A trip to the farmers market can be the inspiration for the menu. A colorful summer salad and freshly picked local vegetables are perfect to accompany my husband’s pick on the grill. A freshly baked baguette and cheese (from Marché) and fresh fruit for dessert and the menu is set.

2. Bring the inside outside: I love bringing my dishes and glassware outside to set the table. It makes everything feel more special than using paper or plastic. My tablescape is often dictated by what is blooming in my yard. I enjoy cutting flowers and picking the tablecloth or placemats that best match the colors in my garden at the time. (I have Juliska Berry and Thread dishes in Whitewash and these go with any color scheme that I choose to use.)

3. Add some light when it gets dark: Candlelight makes everything prettier! I use candles everywhere while entertaining. Votives, hurricanes and lanterns all create a wonderful summer atmosphere.

4. Make a playlist: Have a playlist set before the evening starts so that it creates the mood or theme you have in mind. Music can get a party started and keep it going.

5. Have a signature cocktail or drink: It’s always fun to have a drink waiting for people when they arrive.

6. Don’t forget the bugs: Make sure to find a way to limit bug bites – citronella, candles, fans, bug spray. Nothing can push people inside faster than pesky mosquitoes.

Enjoy your summer nights entertaining al fresco. It makes summer so much more enjoyable and a welcome memory when the days get colder. Stop by Marcel’s and we can help you set the perfect summer table with beautiful tablecloths, placemats, napkins and candles!

Also, we are having our Juliska Placesetting Completion Event –thru June 30th!
Purchase 7 pieces of dinnerware, glassware or flatware and receive the 8th piece free all month long!

My Love of Marcel’s Cooking Classes by Graeme Reinhart

Welcome to our guest blogger Graeme Reinhart who has been taking classes in the Marcel’s kitchen since we opened and is currently enjoying his time in our classes for 12 – 16 year olds.  Read on for more about Graeme and his love of cooking.  Thanks for sharing, Graeme!
How long have you been taking classes at Marcels? 
I think I’ve been taking these classes for close to 6 years.  I know I was really excited when I got to start going to the Mid-Kid classes. Now I’m in the Big Kid classes. 
What do you enjoy most about the cooking classes?
I enjoy learning how to cook and learning new techniques, such as when we learned different knife skills.  The first trick I remember Chef Jamie teaching us was to always crack your eggs into separate bowls in case one egg wasn’t good.  I also remember the tip about washing your hands with a metal spoon to get rid of the garlic smell.  And of course, I like getting the discount to use at the end of class so I can get some new cooking gadgets. 
What are some key things you have learned from these classes?
The tips and tricks; why certain things in cooking are the way they are, and what gives certain foods their taste.
How would you like to use these skills in the future?
I want to continue to learn more advanced skills because it seems like we are refining our skills in these classes.  I like to know the correct way of doing things because the correct way is usually easier and if it is the correct way, it usually tastes better!  Chef Robin told us to always cut peppers with the skin down, that way it’s easier to cut them. She also taught us the right way to cut an onion, and I’m still trying to remind my mom not to cut the root!
Can you tell of a time you made the recipes outside the cooking class?
I’ve made the jalapeño coleslaw chicken sandwiches for out of state friends. I make the egg drop soup every so often as an after school snack.  I also liked recreating the lemon chicken, lasagna and a lot of the desserts too.  I still need to make the clam chowder that was so good. 
Do you have a favorite kind of food you like to eat?  
I’m pretty adventurous. I love trying new things so I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. 
Any thoughts of becoming a chef?
No, not at all.  I think it’d be difficult job, but I do want to learn how to cook better. 
What kind of class would you like to see that you haven’t experienced yet?
I’d like to cook foods from exotic countries and learn more advanced techniques.
To register for one of our fabulous kids classes, click on the appropriate age below:

The Bee’s Knees,’ A Real Royal Experience by Jenny Lorish

   Nothing brings me more joy, than when a newly engaged couple comes in to register for their upcoming nuptials. It is such a joyous occasion, everyone is happy and excited. Marcel’s has so many things any royal, or non-royal couple can use to start their new life together! We carry exceptional items for any lifestyle: kitchen gadgets, pots and pans, small appliances, and my favorites, beautiful dinnerware, flatware and glassware. Plus, home decorations and specialty items by many talented artists, are abundant at Marcel’s. We carry many lovely vendors like Juliska, Michael Aram, Le Cruset, Arte Italica, and the list goes on. Unique merchandise, is carefully selected by Jill and Dana, and is sure to make anyone feel like royalty.

Just last week a couple came in with smiles bursting with joy. Their glee was infectious! They sat down with us to go over their lifestyle and interests. Do they entertain? Experienced in the kitchen? Then we showed them what we carry. From start to finish, we helped make the entire experience stress free and fun. They were very interested in the “one of a kind” Terrafirma ceramicware, as well as the personalized engraved Simon Pearce vase and stemware. These pieces always add that ‘special touch’ to any table. The happy couple left the store feeling a sense of peace, knowing one more wedding “to do” is checked of the list!

One of the things I especially like about working at Marcel’s is the special attention we give to each and every customer. Marcel’s is truly a place where you “experience” so many things, especially the bee’s knees’ , if you will, in customer service. Our experienced, seasoned staff truly care, and will go above and beyond for anyone that walks in the door. We have beautiful gift wrap options, and we wrap each gift with care to make everything feel a bit more special. You are sure to feel like royalty when you come to Marcel’s.

Our Gift Registry can accommodate any occasion, Wedding, Anniversary, a special Birthday, you name it. Stop in, or schedule an appointment and we will give you a unique, individualized visit. Our talented retail consultants will walk you through, step by step, to ensure you are registered for gifts that can surely last a lifetime. Having a well thought out registry makes it easy for guests to shop from.

In Marcel’s kitchen we host many cooking classes, and private events. A perfect afternoon tea perhaps and wedding showers are always a big hit. Marcel’s has such a great atmosphere, lots of energy and happy people, great smells and wonderful merchandise, all the aspects of glamorous royal living. Stop into Marcel’s for all your special occasions and we will make everything extra special.

*Bee’s knees’ is a term the English use to describe excellence – the highest quality.

Celebrate Mom With Marcel’s This Mother’s Day!

As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, we once again have the opportunity to celebrate and honor our mothers and all of the women that have helped raise us and our children.  Moms, grandmothers, aunts,  sisters, friends, can all play an important role in our children’s lives.  Finding gifts that matter and are meaningful, can be a bit of a challenge.  What better way to show your love and appreciation than with a hand-made gift and some simple pampering?

Marcel’s is here for you.  Join us on Saturday, May 5th for a special Mother’s Day event where your child will create their very own masterpiece to honor that special woman.  Local artist, Kristin Fischer owner of Muirwood Reclamations, will be at Marcel’s from 11 am – 3 pm to work with your little artist (or artists of any age) to create personalized concrete coasters. These coasters are perfect for a bedside table, coffee cup, or wine glass.  After your artist has created their own coasters, Kristin will take them to be glazed and will return them by Wednesday, May 9th to be picked up from Marcel’s in plenty of time for Mother’s Day.

To start Mother’s Day off on the right note, you and your kids can present her with a darling breakfast-in-bed basket.  This basket will include our housemade individual-size quiche, Hudson Henry granola, a Strawberry and Champagne chocolate bar, spring luncheon napkins and a bit of light culinary reading.  We are also proud to include a bottle of fresh pressed juice from Glen Ellyn’s newest shop, JOY Bar.  Call, stop in the store or order your breakfast basket online.  Baskets are $35.00 and can be picked up on Saturday, May 12th. 

Finally, we will have a Mom’s Day Wish List that mothers, grandmothers, etc. can complete. Have mom or grandma stop into the store to complete her Mom’s Day Wish List or download a copy of the wish list. Is she a connoisseur of kitchen tools? Loves to set a beautiful table?  Now is the time to find the perfect way to honor her!

Happy Mothers Day to all of the women who mother in so many ways!

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 https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/