Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean there aren’t ample opportunities for entertaining—whether it’s a dinner party with friends, a game night with neighbors, or even toasting to a snow day with your partner. One way to make it special? Try out a recipe from the recently released cookbook Beginnings: How the Party Started.

“People have always asked me how ONTHEMARC came to be,” says author Marc Weber, the owner and chef at ONTHEMARC, a Connecticut and New York-based full-service catering company. “So, in early 2016, I embarked on an intense and exciting journey to create a book that might tell my story. I’m always trying to inspire people to work with us and showcase how much love and labor goes into our product.”

The cookbook features a slew of starters, including everything from flatbreads and rolls to sliders, panini and even cocktails (fig bourbon smash, anyone?).

“This cookbook is really crafted for the ambitious home chefs; it’s not meant to be an everyday tool,” explains Weber. “When home chefs want a ‘project’ or recipe challenge, this is a great place to start. We are definitely overly instructive—and avid home chefs will appreciate the specificity of the recipes.”

Ready to jump in? Before you start cooking, here are some of Weber’s tried and true tips for entertaining:

Create the menu first. “My philosophy about entertaining as it relates to food and beverage is that any successful party starts with menu design,” says Weber. He recommends picking a menu that is “realistic and executable,” and to keep things like the number of guests, the season and what you’re able to make in mind.

Say yes to help. Everyone needs help when throwing a party—even professionals, says Weber. “Executing parties is tough, and you can’t do it alone,” he says.

Enjoy yourself. “Once the party starts, let go of everything and just have fun,” he advises. “It is, after all, a party!”

Here are three recipes to start with—and you can find the rest in the cookbook.


chicken frites
Photo: John Lee Pictures for ONTHEMARC

Chicken Frites with Formula 313 Dipping Sauce
Makes 40 to 50 frites

Formula 313 Dipping Sauce
2 cups oyster sauce
2 cups rice wine vinegar
7 tablespoons sriracha
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Chicken Frites
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 large eggs beaten
4 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 quarts vegetable oil for frying
Salt

Formula 313 Dipping Sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisky thoroughly. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chicken Frites
Remove any fat or gristle from the chicken breasts. Cu the chicken into 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 -inch strips, place them in an airtight container and season with about 1 ounce of salt. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. When you’re ready to bread the chicken, drain it of any excess liquid and pat it dry. Put your flour, eggs and panko into three separate containers.

Toss each strip of chicken in the flour, shake off any excess, and then dip it in the egg. Let the excess egg drip off, and finally coat the chicken in the panko. Place the breaded chicken piece on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken and breading components.

Assembly

Heat the oil in your deep fryer to 350°F
Working in batches, fry the breaded chicken pieces for 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Remove them to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.
Serve the frites immediately with the dipping sauce on the side.

Chef’s Notes

What’s Formula 313, you ask? Formula 313, named for the day Erica and I met, is a signature OTM sauce with a cult following. We make it in house and serve it with a variety of hors d’oeuvres, including the chicken frites. It’s love at first bite.

Special Tools: Deep Fryer


beet, goat cheese, and blueberry bruschetta
Photo: John Lee Pictures for ONTHEMARC

Beet, Blueberries and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Makes 48 pieces

Beet Topping
1 pound blanched beets, peeled and finely diced (see note)
1 cup Pickled Blueberries
4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons salt
12 slices pumpernickel bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
0.5 ounce minced fresh chives

Beet Topping
In a large bowl, combine the beets, blueberries, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot and salt. Toss gently to prevent the cheese from breaking up too much.

Assembly
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut each pumpernickel slice into 4 triangles. Drizzle each piece with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place them on large, rimmed baking sheets. Toast in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp.
Remove from the oven and place a spoonful of the topping on each piece of toast. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.

Chef’s Note
Candy Striped Beets are used here, but any variety of beet will do!
To cook whole beets, first give them a good scrubbing, then place them in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, covered, until the beets are easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove from the water and rub off the skins with a paper towel.


onthemarc tequila cocktail
Photo: John Lee Pictures for ONTHEMARC

Tequila Especiado
Makes 1 cocktail

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 lemon wedge
1 cup ice cubes
2 fluid ounces Chile-Spiced Apple Cider
(recipe follows)
2 fluid ounces tequila
0.5 fluid ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Glass: margarita or decorative rocks glass

Ice: blended

Garnish: apple wedge, chili salt rim

Pairing: Jicama Wraps, Steak Tostadas

In a shallow bowl, mix together the salt and chili powder.
Rub the lemon wedge along half the rim of the glass. Dip the glass into the chili powder-salt mixture, allowing the salt to stick to the wet portion of the rim. Set aside.
Place the ice in a blender and add the spiced cider, tequila and lemon juice. Pulse to break up the ice and then blend until smooth. Pour into the rimmed glass and garnish with the apple wedge. Serve immediately.

Chile-Spiced Apple Cider
Makes 1 3/4 cups

2 cups fresh-pressed apple cider
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red chile, halved

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool slightly, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bottle with lid. Seal and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Chef’s Notes
Add seltzer to your spiced cider and pour it over vanilla ice cream for a zesty ice cream float!

Recipes courtesy of ONTHEMARC