“What I love about brunch is that everyone who comes tends to be in a good mood because it’s the first thing they’re doing that day,” says cookbook author and entertaining expert Marc J. Sievers, from his penthouse in Riverwalk Lofts in Lawrence, where he grew up. “The food can be casual and everyone can have an extra glass of champagne or wine because they have the whole day for the effects to wear off.”
One of Sievers’s go-to brunch dishes is the topic of his most recent cookbook, French Omelettes (Little Prince Press, 2019). “Unlike American omelets, where all the fillings go inside, French omelettes are made with just eggs, salt, pepper, and a little butter, and the fillings go on top. Because the eggs cook so quickly, French omelettes are tender and velvety,” he says.
Sievers learned how to make French omelettes watching his culinary idol, Julia Child, prepare them on her PBS television show, The French Chef. The entire process takes about 20 seconds, which means you can serve your guest in minutes. Toppings can range from fresh chopped herbs to caramelized onions and mushrooms, sautéed in advance and kept warm on the stove.
To round out the meal, consider a leafy green salad and some steamed asparagus or string beans topped with Sievers’s Vinaigrette Vert enriched with crème frâiche. Because everyone loves warm pastries with hot coffee or tea—which you can brew in advance and store in thermal carafes—heat up some muffins, scones, and croissants from your favorite bakery. Halved figs or whole strawberries offer small bites of sweetness, along with petite, pastel-colored macarons. For a decadent dose of chocolate, try Sievers’s flourless chocolate and cognac cake, which he likens to eating a chocolate-Cognac truffle.
One of Sievers’s favorite libations is Taittinger Rosé champagne chilled on ice with a glam garnish of rose petals. “The champagne is a beautiful color and pairs really well with all kinds of food,” he says. “The bubbles feel special and it’s a wonderful way to treat yourself and guests at the end of the week.” Lay out some fruit juice and seltzer and you’re all set.
Regarding table decor, nothing says “spring” quite like fresh flowers. Floral designer Sandra Sigman, who owns Les Fleurs in Andover, created the arrangements for Sievers’s table using roses, ranunculus, Dutch frill tulips, poppies, and greenery for texture and balance. “I wanted something loose, airy, and not too fussy, so I made two wreath-shaped arrangements in pinks, pale apricots, and yellows,” she says.
To balance out the arrangements, she filled small cordial glasses with buds and trailed them down the table. You can mimic this look using similar-colored blooms arranged in two low containers and bud vases. Candles add a welcoming glow, even at brunch, and pink feels warmer than icy white. While you’re at it, pull out that fine china, silver, and linen you’ve been saving for a special occasion—because this brunch is it! Simply mix in some casual pieces to prevent the table from appearing too precious, such as rattan chargers under the Limoges and everyday water tumblers next to crystal flutes.
“Everybody needs a little ‘happy’ now,” says Sigman, given all that we’ve been through. And this sweet spring brunch is the perfect way to provide it.
The following three recipes are adapted from French Omelettes by Marc J. Sievers (Little Prince Press, 2019).
Simple French Omelette
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
¼ teaspoon each, sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Beat eggs with salt and pepper in a small bowl until well mixed.
2. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add butter and swirl to coat bottom and sides of pan. When foam subsides, add eggs. Allow eggs to sit for 5 to 10 seconds before swirling skillet over heat. Egg edges will start to cook and center portion bubble. Continue swirling pan for another 5 to 10 seconds. Once eggs begin to set with just a bit of wetness in center, jerk skillet several times back and forth until egg mass folds over onto itself. Omelette will be in far lip of pan.
3. Grasp skillet handle from underneath and rest lip of pan (where omelette has formed) slightly off center onto bottom of a plate. Gently reverse pan to drop omelette onto plate.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
½ cup roughly chopped dill
¼ cup each, roughly chopped tarragon and basil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped chives
1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint
½ cup crème frâiche
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon each, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1. In bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients except olive oil. Pulse mixture until blended. With motor running, slowly add olive oil.
Flourless Chocolate & Cognac Cake
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
½ cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting pan
5 ounces 72% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon each, cinnamon and sea salt
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature
Crème frâiche, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter top of parchment paper and lightly dust entire pan with cocoa powder.
3. Place chocolate, cream, and honey in a medium heat-proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until mixture is smooth; let rest 10 minutes. Gently stir in cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, along with 1 tablespoon of Cognac. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure mixture is well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25 minutes or until top is just set but cake still a bit wobbly.
4. Remove cake from oven and drizzle top with remaining 2 tablespoons of Cognac. Let cake cool slightly before removing from pan to cool completely. Cut cake into 8 slices and serve with crème frâiche.