Francese Crostini: Our Favorite Summer Appetizer

Since we’re all spending more time outside soaking up this gorgeous weather, we thought you would enjoy seeing what Leslie has on the grill this summer. This rustic yet elegant Francese Crostini appetizer using our Pane Francese bread toasted right on the grill and topped with fresh, local ingredients is hard to beat. You can make the Fig & Olive Tapenade at home using the recipe below, but we also sell this delicious spread in our cafés. Check out the video to learn about Leslie’s inspiration for this recipe and stop by for a freshly baked loaf of Pane Francese for your next dinner party!

Francese Crostini
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

For the tapenade:
1 cup dried Black Mission figs (about 18), trimmed and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 medium cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup extravirgin olive oil, divided

For the crostini:
*1 loaf Pane Francese
2 fresh Black Mission figs, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
**4 ounces of Camembert, Brie or Cambozola, sliced into 12 pieces

*Available in our cafés.
** Leslie uses Dinah’s Cheese from Kurtwood Farms.

Makes 12 servings

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the dried figs, water and balsamic vinegar to a simmer and cook until the figs are soft and the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

2. Pour the warm figs and cooking liquid into the bowl of a food processor or a blender. Pulse several times to break down the figs; scrape the bowl and purée to a smooth texture. Add the olives, capers, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pulse the mixture until it is spreadable and has a uniform texture. With the machine running, add another 1/4 cup olive oil in a slow stream until the mixture is smooth and easy to spread.

3. Reserve 1 cup of tapenade for the crostini. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week for future use.

4. Slice the bread lengthwise and brush each cut side with the remaining olive oil. Toast the bread cut side down on a grill until golden brown. Alternatively, the loaf can be toasted cut side up in the broiler until golden brown.

5. Divide the reserved tapenade in half and spread evenly on each side of the loaf. Layer each side with 6 slices of cheese and 6 slices of fig, evenly spaced. Sprinkle both sides with almonds and oregano.

6. Slice each length of bread into six pieces, making 12 pieces total. Enjoy!

24 Hours in Minneapolis with Leslie

Gold Medal Flour

Milled in Minneapolis for over 130 years. Photo by Dennis Brekke.

Minneapolis is nicknamed the Mill City for good reason. By the late 1800s, this town situated on the banks of both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, was booming with mills for cotton, paper, wood, wool, and most importantly, flour. Grain grown in the Great Plains was shipped to Minneapolis’ 34 flour mills for production. According to the Mill City Museum, in its heyday, a single mill at Washburn-Crosby (General Mills‘ predecessor) made enough flour for 12 million loaves of bread each day. There’s no doubt about it, flour soon became ingrained in this city’s culture.

Leslie spent some time in Minneapolis recently, admiring the rich heritage one delicious loaf at a time. Here is a sampling of some of her favorite stops along the way.

Stop 1: Sun Street Breads
We filed in line with crowds of people waiting for delicious brunch. Their Biscuit Sandwiches are not to be missed. We selected a combination of biscuits, southern-style sausage gravy, cheddar scrambled eggs and fresh scallions. It was so good! We also had the Sourdough Flapjacks, made with bread starter perfectly balanced with the sweetness of real maple syrup and sweet butter. They are famous for their southern fried biscuits with chicken fried steak, bacon and sausage gravy… Oh my stars! As we were leaving we couldn’t resist getting a loaf of their Bergen Bread packed with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax meal, cracked wheat, rolled oats, and rolled rye. The Bergen Bread was awesome for a midday snack with cheese and fruit. The café had a bustling atmosphere with very friendly and helpful staff.

Patisserie 46 in Minneapolis

Rows of pastries on display at Patisserie 46.

Stop 2: Patisserie 46
Tucked into the Kingfield neighborhood in southwestern Minneapolis, this lovey bakery sits. It offers elegant French-inspired pastries, a great selection of baguettes and levain-style breads; lunch with soup, tartines, sandwiches, quiche and crepes; and the most elegant chocolates! John Kraus, the owner, was a pastry instructor for many years before opening this wonderful bakery. The pastries and bread were devoured in minutes, but the chocolates stopped me in my tracks! A must see!

Salty Tart Bakery in Minneapolis

Starting the day with warm pastries and cookies from Salty Tart Bakery.

Stop 3: Salty Tart Bakery
It took a bit of a search to find this bakery. It is located in the Midtown Global Market, nestled in the center of the block-long cross-cultural textile and food concessions. The best time to visit is in the morning when the display is full of warm pastries and cookies. I bought one cream-filled brioche; simple but out of this world. I immediately bought two more to bring back to Seattle to share at Macrina. The richness of the brioche filled with vanilla bean-scented pastry cream is very simple but stunning!

Borough in Minneapolis

Lamb with fresh fava beans, couscous and harissa at Borough.

Stop 4: Borough
We didn’t have reservations but were able to find seats at the bar. This was awesome as we had a window into the kitchen, which was very entertaining and fun to watch. The octopus was excellent with yam, soy and cilantro. The grilled prawns was also a great first course. The menu changes often, but we enjoyed the grilled shrimp with ricotta cavatelli, tomatoes and English peas. The lamb entrée was succulent with lamb loin, belly and cheeks, fresh fava beans, couscous and harissa. The Parlour downstairs is more casual with hand-cut fries and juicy burgers that will make you drool.

Stop 5: Digs
This is a sweet shop packed with art from local artists, yarn, unique cards, housewares, earrings, stoneware cups and custom T-shirts. It was so much fun to spend an hour and find all the birthday and graduation gifts needed for the next few months! Very special finds! Owner Linda Schneewind is a wealth of information.

Open House Event: See Sodo Behind the Scenes

BBGA Open House

In conjunction with The Bread Bakers Guild of America (BBGA), we are proud to participate the 4th Annual International Guild Open House! Everyone is welcome to take part in this event that showcases the people and products that define Macrina.

The open house takes place this Saturday, June 21, from 2 to 5 p.m. at our Sodo locationLeslie Mackie and Jane Cho will take you behind the scenes at our bakery; sample some of our newly released breads, including the Raisin Pumpernickel, Pizza Bianca and Seeded Sardinian Flatbread; and share their baking tips and tricks. Attendees will also take home a Macrina Bakery 20th Anniversary tote bag and freshly baked loaf of bread while supplies last.

More than 51 bakeries across the country are participating in this open house event, which was created by the BBGA as a way for communities to connect with their local bakeries. For us, the open house gives the Seattle community an opportunity to experience the art and passion we put behind our products.

Comprised of industry professionals, educators, students, and home bakers from around the world, the BBGA formed in 1993 to shape the skills and knowledge of the baking community through education. Visit BBGA online for more information and events.

Pizza Bianca: A New Lunch Favorite

Pizza Bianca

Adorned with dimples, flakes of sea salt and just a hint of fresh rosemary, Pizza Bianca is the latest addition to our Lunch Menu. With its chewy exterior and bubbles throughout the crumb, it’s perfect for soaking up sandwich spreads. Inspired by co-owner Matt Galvin’s favorite lunch when he lived in Italy, this bread is a new house favorite at Macrina.

“Our Pizza Bianca is closer to a thin, airy focaccia,” says Leslie Mackie. “It is a very simple but habit-forming obsession. It is so versatile as it is so good used as a sandwich bread – grilled or not – or eaten plain, dunking it in a favorite hummus or Tuscan Bean Spread.”

Pizza Bianca and Schiacciata are very similar and some may refer to each as the same. Our Schiaccatta was made with a larger amount of olive oil and flavored with freshly chopped herbs, giving it an almost flaky texture. Leslie was looking for something lighter for our sandwiches and played around with a Pizza Bianca recipe until it was just right.

Now you can enjoy this bread as part of our lunch sandwich rotation. This week we’re layering it with roasted artichoke hearts, zucchini, Mama Lil’s peppers, provolone, organic field greens and Tuscan White Bean Spread for our Verdure Sandwich.

Father’s Day: Macrina Bakery Dads Know Best

They coached our childhood sports teams, entertained us with cheesy jokes, taught us how to dance, and held our hands through life’s tough moments. Where would we be without Dad? We sat down with a couple of our team members to talk about the Father’s Day, food, and their hardest job, fatherhood.

Scott France
Co-owner and father of two

Father's Day

What’s the best Father’s Day gift you ever received?
The best Father’s Day gift was a picture calendar of my children and family. Even though it’s expired, I still keep it with me.

How would you like to spend the day this year?
I would love to sleep in and watch three World Cup games on Father’s Day.

Even though you’re surrounded by Macrina goodies on a daily basis, is there something from this year’s lineup that you can’t resist?
My current favorite on the Father’s Day menu are the Buttermilk Chocolate Cups. They’re awesome.

Phuong Bui
Head Baker and father of two

Father's Day

Is there a Father’s Day gift that stands out among the bunch?
I have no favorites. I appreciate all the gifts I have received from my children and wife.

How does your family like to spend Father’s Day?
We usually go out to eat and either watch a movie or find some other activity to do. It doesn’t matter what happens on Father’s Day as long as I get to spend time with my kids and wife.

As head baker, you’ve tasted everything on the menu a hundred times over. Which Father’s Day menu item is your favorite?
Cinnamon Apple Pull-Apart. This has always been a product that I’ve loved while working here. I have a big sweet tooth!

If you’re still stumped for Father’s Day ideas, there’s one thing we know he’ll love: Food! Bring Dad by for brunch (it’s not just for Mom, you know) and treat him to something sweet.

Meet Our Family: Tramy Thi Le

Immigration Heritage Month

This June marks the first Immigration Heritage Month, which was initiated by Welcome.us and officially recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives. We take pride in our racially and ethnically diverse family, knowing that we aren’t all so different. Each of us found our way to Macrina through our love of good food and people.

Led by Vietnam-native Tramy Thi Le, our Wholesale Department is made up largely of Vietnamese immigrants. Managing a team of professional bakers requires a wealth of patience, a heap of resilience and a healthy dose of humor. In Tramy’s case, it also requires expertise in two languages.

Tramy and her husband moved to America from Vietnam nearly 14 years ago. The couple was ready for a big change and a better life, and they were willing to make some sacrifices along the way.

Tramy credits adjusting to the chilly Pacific Northwest climate from balmy Vietnam as the biggest hurdle, not the language barrier. “I went to school to learn English as a second language at Seattle Central Community College. After I finished school, my husband’s friend was doing social work and knew where I could find a job. He introduced me to Macrina Bakery.”

Tramy’s previous career as a teacher didn’t exactly set her up with the knowledge she needed at Macrina to craft everything from scones to cookies for our expansive list of wholesale partners, but her love of cooking gave her a foundation from which to build. Tramy’s incredible work ethic fueled her passion and she spent six years learning everything she could in the Wholesale Pastry Department. She soon landed the job of Wholesale Pastry assistant manager and then moved up to general manager.

“Right now, I manage 20 people and many of them are Vietnamese,” she says. “Professional baking is fine for me, because I have so much experience now. I know each of the products; its color, ingredients, when it is ready. That’s all easy for me. But, the big challenge is training the new people. Some people don’t speak English well, or they only speak a little bit.”

Not only does Tramy bridge the gap between our wholesale partners and the bakery, she serves as a liason for our team members; translating, teaching and even transcribing recipes from English into Vietnamese. But, Tramy says, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Macrina is like my home. We’re very busy all the time, but I’m very happy here. I just come in every day and smile.”

Marination: Everyday Aloha on a Really Good Bun

Kamala, Roz, Marination

A line of hungry customers trails out of a blue-trimmed building reminiscent of a beach shack as gulls fly overhead and waves from the water taxi’s wake lap against the shore. Behind us, divers suit up in the parking lot. We slowly trickle into the building, but no one seems antsy about the wait. Instead everyone pores over the menu, snaps photos against the backdrop of Seattle’s skyline bathed in the early evening glow, and talks about what’s good here. The short answer? Everything.

The Marination trifecta – Marination Mobile, Marination Station, and Marination Ma Kai – serves up Hawaiian-Korean no-fuss food fittingly wrapped in the breezy slogan: Everyday aloha. Co-owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison previously worked in public education on national educational policy reform, and after hitting hard times during the recession, decided to open up a food truck in 2009.

“We were inspired by Kogi in L.A.,” remembers Kamala. “They were the first ones to hit the streets with Korean tacos. We added the Hawaiian part and away we went.”

Recently the duo brought a new head chef aboard after previous chef Josh Kelly went on to pursue new culinary adventures (more on that later). Angie Roberts, who’s résumé reads like a Seattle foodie’s bucket list (Flying Fish, Boka Restaurant and Bar, and The Hollywood Tavern) couldn’t be more thrilled for a change of pace.

“It’s a completely new style of service for me, so I’m definitely learning,” says Angie. “I love that we have a truck in the company and I like that we have so many moving parts. It keeps me on my toes!”

Angie is working on some changes to Marination’s mouthwatering lineup, including a gluten-free option, something for the kids, and a “more significant-sized menu item.” Word on the street is she will also be throwing some blazing-hot beach parties at Ma Kai this summer. She’s not denying the rumors, “Think pig roast with the best view in the city!”

But, some things will never change. Including their much-praised Pork Katsu Sandwich; a healthy cut of crispy pork heaped with tangy slaw and their signature Bulldog Sauce. Kamala and Roz knew there was only one bun for the job of holding in this sandwich’s fillings: our Ciabatta.

Pork Katsu Sandwich, Marination

“In this city we are fortunate to have many bakeries that provide wholesale baked goods for restaurants,” says Kamala. “Macrina had the products we were seeking and hands-down they have the best customer service.” Plus, she says, there is nothing better than our Giuseppe bread right out of the oven. We can’t argue with her.

As Team Marination barrels toward an action-packed summer, Roz and Kamala have decided to throw another pan in the fire. They’re partnering with Josh and his wife Nancy for a bar in Pioneer Square.

“Josh is going to create a small but focused and delicious menu,” Kamala hints at Good Bar’s plan. “One that will have something for everyone. A menu that is just right.”

Given the group’s track record, we imagine it will be nothing short of greatness.

Mother’s Day Brunch

Mother's Day

There is no one more deserving of a home-cooked meal than Mom. We would readily spring to the kitchen and whip up something for her any day of the year, but definitely always on Mother’s Day. While our bakery is filled with delicious things already prepared to dazzle (Cinnamon Rolls drenched in cream cheese frosting! Cloud-like Coconut Cream Tartlets!), you can never go wrong with the DIY route.

Our Mini Macrina Casera loaves are meant to spark creativity in the kitchen this Mother’s Day. We’ve packaged this miniature version of our popular house bread with a card filled with ideas on how to enjoy it. One of our favorites is sliced, toasted and topped with poached eggs and our savory Fennel-Sausage Gravy. We guarantee it will get Mom’s stamp of approval!

Fennel-Sausage Gravy
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

1 medium fennel bulb with fronds
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces (1 cup) bulk Italian chicken sausage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, finely ground
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Makes 4 Servings

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Trim, halve and core the fennel bulb. Chop enough fronds to measure 2 teaspoons and set aside. Placing the halves cut side down on a cutting board, slice them vertically, then slice in the opposite direction, creating a 1/2-inch dice.

3. Toss the diced fennel with the olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading the pieces so they roast evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fennel is golden brown on the edges. Set aside to cool.

4. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the canola oil, coating the bottom of the pan. After about 1 minute when the pan is quite hot, add the sausage. Using a spoon, break the sausage into small pieces, tossing to cook thoroughly. When the sausage is completely cooked (about 4 minutes), pour it into a strainer fitted over a medium bowl to catch the rendered fat. (Often with chicken sausage there is little or no excess fat, but with pork varieties you may see more. You can substitute the rendered sausage fat for the butter called for in this recipe, if you like.) Set aside.

5. Return the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the butter and melt completely. Add the fennel seed, mustard powder, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle in the flour and, using a whisk, combine the dry ingredients with the fat to create a roux (cooked flour and fat that will thicken into the gravy). Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking, until the roux is a deep golden color. Reduce the heat to low and add the milk in a slow stream. Whisk the milk into the roux as you go, combining it completely (almost making a paste) before adding more milk – if you add the milk too quickly, you’ll end up with those dreaded lumps! Add the heavy cream and reserved fennel and sausage. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes – you want to cook out the raw flour taste and all the gravy to thicken. Check the seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper to taste.

6. Ladle about 3/4 cup of warm gravy over toasted bread and poached eggs. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and reserved fennel fronds.

If you don’t use all of the gravy, it freezes well for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, simply warm it in a sauce pan over medium heat with a bit more cream or milk, stirring until smooth. You can find this recipe along with many more brunch favorites in our latest cookbook, More from Macrina.

In the Kitchen: Our Best French Toast

French Toast

French toast is the king of weekend brunch. Each week, Head Savory Chef Elizabeth Hall creates a fabulous French toast for our menu. It’s usually stuffed with something amazing like sweetened ricotta or pear butter and topped with anything from seasonal berries and crème fraîche to toasted nuts and whipped cream. As we carry these stacks of toast piled high through the café, it’s never a surprise to hear people swoon. At the end of brunch service we know we’ll find plates scraped clean and lots of happy customers.

The best French toast starts with simple ingredients found in most kitchens and a really good loaf of bread. We reach for generous slices of buttery, sweet Brioche to soak up the eggy custard and caramelize in the pan. Adorned with a dollop of cream or a healthy pour of thick maple syrup, doesn’t matter. A delicious bread is the heart and soul of this meal.

Through Mother’s Day, you can pick up a loaf of our toothsome Chocolate Orange Brioche attached with the recipe for our favorite French toast. Whether you’re surprising Mom with breakfast in bed or treating someone special to an easy weekend brunch, this French toast will make anyone feel loved.

Rain Shadow Meats: A Cut Above the Rest

Rain Shadow Meats

Tucked into Capitol Hill’s adorably hip Melrose Market and a new location situated in up-and-coming Pioneer Square, our wholesale partner Rain Shadow Meats is quickly becoming Seattle’s favorite butcher shop. We sat down with Owner Russell Flint to talk about how he’s changing the butchery business for the better, what’s on the horizon, and which cuts of meat you should be eating.

What makes Rain Shadow Meats unique?

We use everything. We throw some fat and little weird bits that we can’t really do anything with into the compost, but those bones don’t go into the compost until they’ve been worked into stock twice. We are really, truly utilizing every bit of these whole animals that we’re given, which I think is lost on a lot of people. But to me, it’s rad. Nothing goes to waste. Not too many butcher shops can say that they do that.

Are people going for the odd cuts of meat or do they tend to stick with what’s familiar?

Regular customers, people who trust us and have been coming to us for a long time, they ask, “Hey, what should I eat today?” or “What’s cool in the case today?” But the average consumer comes in knowing what they want. They want a ribeye and if there aren’t any ribeyes, they walk out the door. But as you a develop relationship with the customer, they start to trust you, you learn about them and what they like, and you can set things aside for them.

What cuts should people be buying that they may not know about?

I love pork top sirloin. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the butcher’s cut. Not a lot of people know about it. It’s much cheaper than a pork chop but it’s just as good if not better. There’s also a true country-style spare rib, which is where the shoulder ends and the loin starts. Those pieces are always super cheap and really delicious; way better than a pork chop. For beef, I love the top sirloin. It’s a big muscle but usually cheaper than say your ribeyes and tenderloins. You don’t see beef neck very often, but since we butcher the whole animal, we get the neck from the beef. Beef neck braised together with some beef shanks is insanely good.

What do you have in store for Easter?

For Easter, lamb and ham are the meats people want. We work with a smokehouse in Oakland, California. This guy double smokes our bacon, so we asked him to do the same process with our hams. They’re honey cured and then he smokes them with applewood and cools them down and then smokes them again with maple. They turn out this beautiful lacquered dark brown and are absolutely incredible.

Our lamb mainly comes out of Anderson Valley just south of Portland at Anderson Ranch. Reed Anderson has been farming and ranching his whole life and we’ve known him for years. He has beautiful pasture-raised, grass-fed lamb. That area of Oregon is really conducive for lamb as far as the grass and year-round climate goes; it’s super-consistent all year long.

Any plans for a third location?

This is it! The [Pioneer Square] project was huge, a lot bigger than I really anticipated it being. What I’m trying to do is kind of incredible. I don’t think everyone quite gets it yet or they don’t know how to use it yet, but we’ll get there. It’s all about education. As far as a third location goes, I have some ideas. Not another butcher shop, maybe a restaurant or something. Obviously something with food, but it’s going to be a long, long way down the road.

In addition to stocking both locations with every cut of meat imaginable, Rain Shadow Meats in Pioneer Square serves up delicious sandwiches piled high on our bread, housemade charcuterie and rotating specials. Wash it all down with a glass of French wine, a pint of local craft beer, or the savory fizz of celery soda fresh from his girlfriend’s shop, Seattle Seltzer Co.