From Leslie’s Desk: Creating Olivia’s Cookie

Olivia's Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the best things about creating a new recipe is naming it. I generally like to keep the names simple and descriptive, but sometimes you just have to have fun with it. A personal favorite of mine is Olivia’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies, affectionately named after my daughter.

When my daughter was still in her stroller, we would often pass an afternoon by going on an adventure. We toured our neighborhood looking at flowers, pointing out all the different colors we saw, and observing the other children. Halfway through our strolls we would stop for a juice and a cookie. We had some pretty good cookies together, but I had trouble finding just the right one. I wanted Olivia to know the kind of cookie my mom used to make, still warm, bursting with oozing chocolate chips.

The truth was that at the time we didn’t even make a cookie like that at Macrina. We had plenty of great cookies, but not the simple classic I was craving. So, using the basic Toll House recipe as a starting point, we came up with a winner. The name selection was easy and the cookie quickly became our biggest seller. As an added bonus, I now have the pleasure of hearing customers say, “I’ll have an Olivia’s.”

You can recreate this all-star cookie at home with our new Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix available in our cafés. Just add butter, shortening and eggs and we’ll take care of the rest! Before you preheat the oven though, take a look at our tips for baking perfect cookies.

FarmRaiser: Freshening Up the School Fundraiser

School FundraiserMove over glossy gift wrap catalogs and generic chocolate bars! There’s a new school fundraiser in town. With the virtuous goal of bolstering local farms and businesses while also supporting schools, FarmRaiser is freshening up the old-school fundraiser model.

Mark Abbott dreamed up the idea for a fundraiser that offers wholesome products that people actually want after his son sold hundreds of dollars worth of highly processed foods one year. From that initial seed grew FarmRaiser, a fundraising program that allows schools to purchase farm-fresh foods and products from local purveyors at wholesale prices, sell these items at a retail price to friends and families, and then keep most of the profits within their community.

“One of the best things about FarmRaiser is that kids get excited about the products they’re selling, not just the prizes they might get for selling something,” says Christina Carson, chief cultivator at FarmRaiser. “They love seeing farmers bring in boxes of fresh, local produce, smelling freshly baked breads, and learning how to use scales in weighing products.”

School Fundraiser

Our friend Cheri Bloom who runs the gardening education curriculum at Montlake Elementary introduced us to FarmRaiser in 2013. Cheri is always looking for creative ways to build funding for her program while staying true to its mission. FarmRaiser offered the perfect solution, supplementing grants from Les Dames d’Escoffier, Whole Foods Market and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

“What I love about FarmRaiser is that I have seen how successful it has been for local farmers and food artisans and at the same time directly linking with our school’s mission,” says Cheri. “Last year’s campaigns did as well, if not better, than other fundraisers we have had. I expect this year to be better with more awareness of FarmRaiser and the students involvement in the campaigns.”

After teaming up with FarmRaiser at Seattle schools last year, we knew we wanted to take part in this program once again in support of Stevens Elementary, Montlake Elementary and Queen Anne Elementary. This year you’ll find our Cranberry Apricot Nut Bread peeking from FarmRaiser bags alongside Mt. Townsend Creamery cheese, Willie Greens Organic Farms produce, and Loki Fish Company seafood.

“I think it is a win-win,” says Macrina Bakery Founder Leslie Mackie. “We get to expose new customers – young and old – to our products and they get to enjoy a hand-delivered fresh loaf of artisan bread made from flour grown here in Washington state. It’s a really smart way to get kids jazzed about buying local and celebrating the wonderful businesses in their neighborhood!”

Check out FarmRaiser online for more information.

Photos courtesy of FarmRaiser

Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice

Cozy scarves, crisp leaves and piles of orange pumpkins, that’s what fall is made of. Judging from local breweries, coffee shops, and supermarket shelves, we’re not alone in our love of pumpkin. Spiced with cinnamon, sweetened with brown sugar, or blended with butternut squash, pumpkin-spiked pastries and pies have taken over our Autumn Menu. With so many to choose from, we bet you can find a favorite for any time of day.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin & Vegan Pumpkin Scone

Fall Menu

The sun may not be up when we climb out of bed, but the promise of pumpkin keeps us from hitting the snooze button. Both of these breakfast staples are topped with a sprinkle of sugar and toasted pumpkin seeds for extra texture and flavor. Pair them with a cup of Caffé Umbria coffee or a Mocha to kick-start your morning.

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cupcake & Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie

Fall Menu

When the afternoon lull sets in, the combination of chocolate and pumpkin or spiced cake and brown sugar buttercream will put some bounce back in your step. Teamed up a cupcake or cookie with our cold-brewed iced coffee and sail through the rest of your day.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Compote & Pumpkin Pie Bar

Pumpkin Pie Bar

These desserts were so popular last holiday season, we knew we had to bring them back. Our silky cheesecake and signature bars are full of autumn flavors and intriguing enough to set themselves apart from the pack. Pick one up to enjoy after dinner with a cup of hot cocoa.

Sweet Week: Seattle’s Sweet Tooth Cure

Sweet Week

We’re pretty sure Hot Cakes creator Autumn Martin had visions of sugar plums dancing in her head when she dreamed up Sweet Week. With the structure of Restaurant Week in mind, she gathered the city’s sweetest eateries to highlight toothsome treats at $5 a pop from September 25 through 28. We couldn’t be more excited to join this delightful bunch.

Our creative pastry chefs get together each week to discuss and test new products. Lately they’ve been stirring around ideas for a new peanut butter-filled item. One sugar-laden afternoon, the recipe for our Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cake was born.

“After being invited to participate in Sweet Week with so many other talented shops in the city, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase this new product,” says Production Manager Jane Cho.

Our Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cake is our classic Mom’s Chocolate Cake layered with luscious peanut butter buttercream, resting atop a crunchy peanut butter chocolate crust and wrapped in rich chocolate ganache. This sinfully delectable dessert will be available in a three-inch size for Sweet Week and then in a six-inch and nine-inch size (without the crunchy peanut butter chocolate crust) through Halloween.

Stop by any of our cafés to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cake and then sample the other delicious confections around town!

Tipsy Cow Burger Bar: Built from the Grind Up

Burgers

The Arsonist burger paired with Jacked Up Fries (Hand Cut Kennebec Potato Fries topped with Beecher’s Just Jack and Roasted Jalapeno Sauce) at Tipsy Cow Burger Bar.

Seattle’s red hot love-affair with burgers is swiftly overtaking the Eastside. Enter Redmond’s latest stop on the burger blitz: Tipsy Cow Burger Bar. Of coarse, we believe that the bun makes the burger, so we’re over-the-moon to play a part in this love triangle.

It all started with one man’s dream to bring meaty goodness to the masses. Keith Mourer, co-owner of Tipsy Cow, is a burger man and an avid traveler. During his stopovers in different spots around the country, Keith makes it a point to check out the local burger haunts. Over the years, he has sampled everything from bison to black bean, but his heart has always belonged to one favorite burger.

“The inspiration for Tipsy Cow came from Shake Shack in New York,” says Keith. “I wanted to open a place that’s fun and casual, and we really wanted to build a better burger using great, local ingredients.”

Armed with that simple concept in mind – building a better burger – Keith and fellow co-owner Dave Zimmerman began enlisting a dream team of suppliers.

“That’s actually how we found Macrina Bakery,” Keith says. “We decided to use the Sodo Bun for our burgers and beef from Long Valley Ranch in Central Oregon. We use Snoqualmie Ice Cream for our milkshakes, local distilleries for our vodka and whiskey, Walla Walla sweet onions for our burgers and onion rings. Our fries are made from Kennebec potatoes, cut and fried in-house daily. The Kennebec potato just makes a better fry.”

After Keith and Dave earned their restaurant chops at Kirkland’s Brix Wine Café, they opened Tipsy Cow in 2013 to a throng of burger-hungry supporters. “The community has really welcomed us. Everything has gone off very well; obviously much better than we imagined.”

With a robust menu featuring a myriad of meat and meatless options, snackable sides, and a tap list of 42 draft beers and ciders, Tipsy Cow’s mounting popularity comes as no surprise to us.

“Right now, I’m really into the Scottish ales, like Black Raven’s Second Sight Strong Scotch Ale, and my favorite burger at the moment is The Arsonist. It’s got fire-roasted jalapenos and serranos on it as well as harissa pepper aioli.”

Our server recommended keeping the flames from this burger from reaching five-alarm levels by teaming it up with a handmade milkshake (booze optional) and heaping helping of onion rings made with breadcrumbs from leftover Sodo Buns. Sage advice and well worth heading.

Berry Crisp

Leslie’s go-to summer dessert is a freshly baked fruit crisp. While grilling dinner outdoors, this dish can be baking and perfuming your kitchen. Leslie’s Berry Crisp pairs sweet farmers market berries with a no-fuss topping of oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar and butter, baked until golden brown and bubbling. You can put your own twist on this recipe by using your favorite combination of berries and nuts. Served while it’s warm with a scoop homemade vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, it’s the perfect ending to a relaxed alfresco summer dinner.

Berry Crisp
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

For the topping:
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup thick-cut oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (Leslie uses a combination of almonds and pine nuts in the video)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the fruit:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
7 cups of mixed berries (Leslie uses strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in video)

Makes one 9-inch baking dish

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass baking dish with canola oil.

2. To make the topping, whisk together the flour, oats, almonds, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Scatter the butter pieces on top, and using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is coarse and crumbly. Set aside.

3. To prepare the fruit, toss the sugars, flour, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the berries and toss well. Let sit for 10 minutes to macerate (soften and absorb the flavors).

4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the berry mixture to the prepared baking dish. Discard the remaining juice. Dot the topping evenly over the berry mixture.

5. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. The topping will be golden brown and the juices will be bubbling around the edges. To set the crisp, cool for 30 minutes.

Enjoy with vanilla ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar!

2nd Annual Summer Supper & Farm Tour

Leslie Mackie's Vashon Island farm

The farm-to-table movement in Washington is as ubiquitous as blackberry brambles in the summertime and there’s no better place to see it in full bloom than Vashon Island! This farm-filled paradise a stone’s throw from Seattle is the perfect day-trip for food lovers. That’s why it is the venue for the 2nd Annual Summer Supper & Farm Tour this Saturday, August 9!

Join Leslie and the Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Green Tables team at the Vashon Island Farmers Market before heading on a private tour of Kurtwood Farms, home to a happy herd of Jersey cows and renowned for its small-batch artisan cheese. From there, visit Langley Fine Gardens, harvesters of some of the island’s best organic produce, and learn how they grow the perfect sun-ripened tomato. Wind down the day with a dinner of fresh, local food, wine and cocktails at Leslie’s home.

Proceeds from our Summer Supper & Farm Tour help fund food education programs at schools around the Puget Sound. Tickets are going fast, though! Click here to secure your spot and learn more about this event.

Grilled Halibut on Brioche Burger Buns

Our Brioche Burger Buns are the stuff of legend, if we do say so ourselves. Not only do they fly off our shelves, lickety-split, but our wholesale partners (Hello, SkilletThe Swinery, and Re:Public!) can’t get enough of them either. Plush and buttery with just a hint of sweetness, they are profoundly delicious when toasted to a caramelized crisp. Is your mouth watering yet?

Brioche has inspired masterpieces, a knitter’s stitch, and even a font. But ours incite great works of the edible variety. We joined Leslie at her barn to see how she uses these buns to create summer sandwich perfection. With grilled halibut, spicy harissa aioli, and preserved lemons, it’s sure to be a hit at your next barbecue!

Grilled Halibut on Brioche Burger Buns
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

1 pound fresh halibut
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups pure olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground harissa
*1/4 cup preserved lemons
**1 package Brioche Burger Buns

*Leslie uses the Quick Pickled Lemons recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
**Available in our cafés.

Makes 4 sandwiches

1. Preheat a grill to 500°F. Brush grill grate to remove any debris.

2. Cut halibut horizontally to create an even thickness. Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, add tomatoes, and drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Set aside to cool.

4. In a medium bowl, add the egg yolks, Dijon, lemon juice and garlic, and whisk well to combine. While continuing to whisk, add 1 cup of olive oil in a slow, steady stream. The aioli mixture should thicken slightly but should not resemble processed mayonnaise. Stir in harissa and salt to taste.

5. Brush a little olive oil on the preheated grill grate and cook the halibut for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. While the fish is cooking, slice the buns in half and brush the cut side with remaining oil. On the coolest part of the grill, toast the buns cut side down for 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Spread 1 tablespoon of aioli on the inside of each toasted bun half. Then layer 1 tablespoon of preserved lemons on each bottom bun, followed by a piece of halibut, and a quarter of the tomatoes. Sandwich with the top buns and slice each sandwich in half for ease of eating.

Enjoy with a fresh garden salad, roasted potatoes or potato chips. Happy grilling!

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.