Moroccan Mussels with Tomatoes and Aioli

January 2019 Recipe of the Month

Moroccan Mussels with Tomatoes and Aioli

This light, sophisticated meal is surprisingly straightforward to prepare and quick enough that it can be a weeknight dinner. It is also easy to double or triple if you’ve got a crowd. Fresh mussels pair perfectly with our new Whole Grain Baguette, which is crusty enough to soak up the delicious broth. The natural sweetness of the stone-ground whole wheat complements the bold flavors of ginger, garlic and harissa. Although it was once hard to find harissa in the Seattle area, the North African chili paste is now widely available at specialty shops and many supermarkets but you can also make your own. With a little prep beforehand, you can step into the kitchen for 10 minutes and emerge with steaming bowls of flavorful mussels. Serve with a dry Riesling and an extra bowl for the empty shells.

Ingredients

Serves 2

Mussels

1 pound live mussels
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium shallot, diced (2 tablespoons)
1-1/2 teaspoons harissa
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely diced
2 tomatoes, medium dice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Aioli

1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Assembly

1 Macrina Whole Grain Baguette
2 tablespoons aioli

Directions:

Mussels

Rinse and remove beards from mussels and set aside in the refrigerator.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the shallots, harissa and ginger. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the mussels and white wine. Cover sauté pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes until mussels open. When all mussels are open, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the cilantro and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Aioli

Whisk the egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice and Dijon in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the canola oil in a slow stream while whisking constantly to emulsify the mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Assembly

Divide mussels between 2 shallow bowls and top with cooking broth. Drizzle aioli over the mussels. Serve with slices of Whole Grain Baguette. Enjoy!

From Field to Table, Our New Whole Grain Baguette

Macrina’s Whole Grain Baguette

Our newest loaf is the result of an inspiring partnership with PCC Community Markets. Using organic wheat grown on PCC Farmland Trust land, we collaborated with PCC to develop a field-to-table baguette that takes advantage of the fantastic food resources that Washington State offers.

Scott Owen, the Grocery Merchandiser for PCC Community Markets, was the creative force behind the partnership. “I’m trying to knit together all of these great local partners, but really put the farmer at the center,” says Scott.

The result is an airy, crusty whole grain baguette with a tender, moist interior and open crumb. The natural sweetness and the rich, complex flavor of whole grain flour shine through, complemented by just a hint of sour from the natural leaven. Not only is it one of our best-tasting breads, but it’s nutritious and supports sustainable local farming.

The Farm

We think of bread as coming from the bakery, but it would be just as natural to talk about the field from which it comes. The Williams Hudson Bay Farm, located near Walla Walla in what may be the best wheat-growing land in the world, is one of the largest Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe farms in the region. It is also a beneficiary of the PCC Farmland Trust, which supports farmland preservation, organic production, and sustainable practices.

Tom and Ray Williams, the third generation to work their family farm, grow the two types of wheat—Edison and Expresso—we blend for our whole wheat baguette. “We’re fortunate that the Walla Walla Valley is an excellent place to grow food,” Tom says. “We have great soil, water, all of the resources that it takes to grow organic crops.”

The Wheat

Organic Edison wheat is a dark northern spring flour developed by a professor in Bellingham and improved by the internationally renowned Bread Lab, located in Mount Vernon. Edison wheat is sweet and buttery with a lovely golden color, and it gives our baguette a robust whole wheat flavor.

Organic Expresso wheat is a hard red type 85 that gives the chewy crust of our baguette its dark, caramel color, lends suppleness to our dough and adds loft and tenderness to the interior of the baked loaf. The slow ferment of our dough helps bring out the rich, earthy flavor of the mildly sweet grain.

“Freshly milled whole grain flours provide the best flavor,” Leslie says. “When I started Macrina in 1993, flours like these weren’t commercially available. What is happening now in the heritage grain movement is one of the most exciting developments in baking in a long time.”

The Grain Mill

A hundred years ago there were thousands of wheat farms across America supplying thousands of local mills. Now, most of those mills have closed. Milling is centralized and flour has become an international commodity. Fortunately, in Washington State we have Cairnspring Mills. Located in the scenic Skagit Valley, the mill is a technologically modern flour mill with the throwback philosophy that the local flour mill is an essential part of a vibrant food economy. They work with local farmers committed to sustainable farming. Every batch of grain is milled separately to preserve the integrity of the grain and the unique flavor of each field.

“Cairnspring works directly with the baker to customize the milling process to their needs,” Leslie says. “Unlike most millers who process whole grain, Cairnspring removes some of the bran, while still keeping the integrity of the flour. They provide a steady supply of the high-grade flours we need and the consistency is remarkable.”

The Dough

Freshly-milled whole grain flours work best with a slow fermentation, which helps develop subtle, bright flavors and hydrates the bran. We use our Casera starter, which is the original Macrina starter Leslie created from Champagne grapes planted in her backyard. A slow rise is a critical part of developing the grain-forward flavor and airy crumb of the loaf. Then, as with all our breads, we hand form each baguette and bake it until the crust is dark and caramelized.

The Bread

“I am as excited to be baking today as I was when I opened Macrina 25 years ago,” Leslie says. “Developing our Whole Wheat Baguette was a fun challenge. I visited the Williams Hudson Bay Farm to meet Tom and Ray. Standing in the wheat field gives you a whole new appreciation for what it takes to create a delicious product. We are privileged to be able to use some of the incredible wheat grown there and to have Cairnspring Mills to mill it freshly for us. Through PCC Community Markets, our Whole Grain Baguette will be widely available and bread lovers will taste just how good freshly-milled whole grain flour tastes.”

December Recipe of the Month: Panettone French Toast

Panettone French Toast with Ricotta and Fresh Cranberry Compote

In Italy, the arrival of panettone in the stores means the holidays are near. This sweet, rich bread filled with raisins and candied orange originated in Milan and spread throughout Italy (and the world) in the 20th century. There are plenty of imported commercial panettone out there, but there’s nothing like a fresh artisanal version of the famous Italian bread. We offer ours exclusively in December, with our final bake on Christmas Eve. It is incredible on its own – especially when served with a glass of Prosecco or a dollop of mascarpone – but it also makes delicious French toast. For such an elegant holiday brunch item, this recipe is easy to prepare and won’t take you more than 30 minutes to pull together.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and destemmed
1 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons orange zest, divided
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 Macrina Panettone
5 eggs
1-1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Unsalted butter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Bring to a simmer and cook until cranberries release their juice and the sauce starts to thicken; about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the remaining tablespoon of orange zest. Set aside.

Remove the paper mold from the panettone. Slicing top to bottom, cut four slices that are each about 1-1/2″ thick. Then cut each slice in half diagonally. Make a slit midway on the diagonally cut side of each piece and gently spoon a dollop of sweetened ricotta into each pouch. Set aside.

To make the custard, combine the eggs, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, brown sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine the remaining cup of whipping cream, 1/4 cup of sugar and teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until the cream retains soft peaks. Refrigerate until needed.

Dip panettone slices in the custard to coat both sides. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to rest.

Place a medium sauté pan or pancake griddle over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. Once the butter is sizzling, add as many half slices as will fit. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip when underside is a deep golden brown. As the pieces finish, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Add more butter to your pan as needed. When you’ve sautéed all the slices, place them in the oven for 3-5 minutes to ensure you’ve cooked them all the way through.

Place 2 halves of French toast on each plate and top with a generous spoonful of cranberry compote and sweetened whipped cream. With the sweetness of the bread, compote and cream, maple syrup isn’t necessary, but indulge if it is calling you!

Holiday Entertaining: From Simple to Spectacular

Sometimes when I’m entertaining, I’ve got the time and energy to spend all day in the kitchen making something wicked good. Other times, I need something great that I can whip out in almost no time at all. Macrina has all kinds of things that will help with your holiday entertaining, from grab-and-go treats to key elements of more elaborate creations. By keeping a few essentials like crostini and flatbread in your pantry and savory spreads and tapenades in your fridge, you’ll be ready with many possibilities for snacks and appetizers when friends drop by or you need to bring a dish to a gathering.

Here are a few of my favorite combos for the holidays:

• Macrina’s Holiday Quiche with side salads from our case (a great impromptu lunch).

• Macrina’s Cranberry Apricot Nut Crostini (or Wheat Herb Walnut Crostini, if you prefer) with Macrina’s warmed Holiday Brie.

• French toast made with your favorite Macrina Brioche: plain, cinnamon swirl, or raisin (our Panettone will also take your French toast up a notch – check out December’s recipe of the month).

 

• Macrina’s Grilled Winter Pear Crown with Cambozola Black Label cheese and our Fig & Olive tapenade.

• Macrina’s Seeded Baguette warmed and sliced thinly, brushed with melted butter and topped with our Smoked Trout Spread and sautéed capers

• Macrina’s Skagit Sourdough sliced, brushed with olive oil and toasted, topped with prosciutto or serrano ham, goat cheese and our Fig & Olive Tapenade.

• Macrina’s Greek Olive Crostini with burrata cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and flaky salt.

• Macrina’s Warmed Dill Scones with goat cheese, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

• Macrina’s Sardinian Flatbread with truffle salt and roasted artichoke spread (recipe in More from Macrina cookbook) that is topped with fresh crab meat.

• Macrina’s Rye Crostini with our Smoked Trout Spread and chopped preserved lemons (Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi has an excellent recipe for them).

• Strata made with Macrina’s Holiday Porcini Stuffing Mix, caramelized onions, grated gruyere and kale.

• Macrina’s Brioche Slider Buns with curried chicken salad.

• Sliders made with pulled pork and coleslaw on Macrina’s Sodo Rolls.

• Rare roast beef and tarragon aioli on Macrina’s Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Rolls.

If you find yourself in a pinch for brunch, a box of Macrina pastries can save the day. Leftovers also reheat the next day wonderfully. Call us to place an order or visit one of our cafes where our crew can help you find what you need and let us help you with your holiday festivities. Also check out PCC, Town & Country Market, Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market or one of the many retailers who carry our products. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Holidays!

Leslie

Thanksgiving at Macrina

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Food and holidays go hand-in-hand. So does stress. People want fresh handmade baked goods, they just don’t have the time to do everything themselves. During the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, many families rely on us for key elements of their feast, from pie to stuffing to dinner rolls. We make it easier to serve a perfect meal and still have plenty of time to spend with family and friends.

Winter Pear Crown

As I write this, every department at Macrina is humming and the ovens at our wholesale bakery in Kent are working overtime. Stuffing mixes, dinner rolls, pies, crostini, holiday breads, quiche, tapenades, savory spreads and much more are all in peak production.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Many customers have already called in and placed their orders for Thanksgiving Eve. Don’t worry if you haven’t—there’s still time. Our cutoff is Monday, November 19, at noon. We also stock up at the cafés the week of Thanksgiving for customers coming in for a last-minute loaf, pie or whatever else they need to pull together their fabulous feast.

Making Thanksgiving Magic

Behind the Scenes

While production is now in full swing, we’ve been in go-mode for months. This summer we established our projections on all holiday items, designed and printed packaging and labels. Our sales team distributed samples and worked with supermarkets and other retail outlets to plan their holiday orders. In October things really began heating up. Macrina’s production manager, Jane Cho, mapped out workflow and dough production. Our wholesale pastry team, led by Tramy Le, and the wholesale bread team, led by Head Baker, Phuong Bui, were busy making samples and training their members. A small team prepared and labeled all of our bags and boxes, so they’re ready and waiting when all the pies, loaves, rolls, crostini and stuffing mixes come out of the ovens.

Porcini Harvest Rolls

The cafés have also done lots of extra planning. Café crews have all done tastings and are well-versed on all we have to offer. On Thanksgiving Eve, staff comes in very early to prepare all the special orders so pick-ups go smoothly and no one is missing anything they ordered.

“Everyone has been moving fast and working their hardest,” Jane says. “It’s exciting, even fun much of the time, then after months of planning it’s suddenly over. Macrina closes Thanksgiving Day so we all get to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.”

It’s a well-deserved rest before we head into our second-busiest month: December!

If you haven’t placed your holiday orders yet, get them in by noon on Monday, November 19.

Leslie

Amy Bui, General Manager Wholesale Sales

Growing Up with Macrina

Few know Macrina’s products like Amy Bui does. She’s grown up with them. Her father is Phuong Bui, our Head Baker and longest-tenured employee. “I remember her running around the café,” Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, said. “She couldn’t have been more than three when she first started coming in.”

Amy remembers those days as well. She didn’t go to work with her father often but loved the experience when she did. “I loved being in the kitchen with Leslie. I’d beg her to give me a task so I could help. I’d stand on a milk crate and stir large pots she had on the burners or she would give me a lump of dough to play with on the forming table to keep me busy.”

Working at Macrina

In 2011, we hired Amy as a Customer Service Representative. She had a knack for building relationships with our customers. She kept a list of all our wholesale customers and made a point of eating at as many of the restaurants as she could. “Over my seven years here, I have eaten at 161 restaurants serving Macrina products,” Amy said, adding, “More to come!”

Soon, Amy moved into a series of management positions, proving her value at every new job. She served as our Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager before we promoted her to General Manager of Wholesale Sales in November of 2018.

“Amy is uniquely qualified for this job,” said Scott France, Macrina’s President. “She has shown tremendous commitment to our artisan bakery and is dedicated to exceptional customer service.”

“We have the best products this city has to offer,” Amy said. “Being able to stand 100 percent behind the products you’re selling makes the job easy.”

Starting as a Customer Service Representative gave Amy a ground floor view of all the moving parts that must operate fluidly so that the many hand-formed artisanal products can be baked daily and delivered early in the morning to hundreds of customers around the Seattle area.

“Fanny Alvarado, Macrina’s Wholesale Manager, has been a great mentor to me,” Amy said. “Fanny also started in an entry-level job here and worked her way up and up. She sets the bar high for expectations in customer service and job productivity and has supported me through all challenges and frustrations I’ve had.”

And how does it feel to spend your days selling so many things your dad has helped make? “It’s awesome. I love that I get to see him every day, since I wouldn’t otherwise.”

November Recipe of the Month

Winter Pear Crown Bread Salad with Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast

This warm bread salad features our Winter Pear Crown loaf, a seasonal favorite made with Washington State pears. Its natural sweetness pairs nicely with savory squash, spinach, walnuts and currants. The hearty salad goes well with prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast—a method of preperation that was shared with me by our Savory Manager, Marilyn Mercer. Finding boneless breasts with the skin on can be a challenge, but it’s worth seeking them out as the chicken will be more flavorful. Central Market, PCC, or other stores with butcher shops will most likely have them. A full-bodied red wine makes this beautiful autumn dinner complete.

– Leslie Mackie

Ingredients:

Serves 4
4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on
4 slices prosciutto
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus additional for seasoning to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Delicata squash, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, cored and cut into 1/2″ semi-circles
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2″ wedges
1/2 Macrina Winter Pear Crown loaf
1/2 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons dried currants
4 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped, divided
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cups fresh baby spinach, packed
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Season chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons of thyme. Wrap each in a slice of prosciutto. Set aside with seam side down.

Toss squash with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and spread across one half of the rimmed baking sheet. Season lightly with salt.

Toss pears with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and spread on the other half of the baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes until cooked through and squash is golden brown on the edges. Let cool.

Cut half of a Winter Pear Crown into 1″ slices. Tear the slices into smaller crouton-sized pieces. Place on the second baking sheet, along with the walnuts. Roast for 10-15 minutes to dry the bread and toast the nuts. Let cool.

For the dressing, combine the currants, 2 tablespoons of shallots, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. While whisking continuously, slowly add 1/4 cup canola oil and the extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with cracked black pepper. Set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken breasts skin side down and sauté until deep golden brown. Turn to caramelize the other side. Place sauté pan in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until internal temperature registers 165°F on an instant-read meat thermometer.

While chicken is roasting, place the squash, pears, walnuts and toasted bread in a large bowl. In a sauté pan, warm the sherry dressing and add the spinach, tossing lightly to wilt. Add the spinach and warm dressing to the bowl. Gently toss all ingredients together. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Plate chicken breasts. To the sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons shallots, 1/2 teaspoon garlic and the remaining thyme. Sauté for 1-2 minutes and deglaze with 1 cup white wine. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Turn off heat, add the butter, and whisk until dissolved.

Add a generous scoop of bread salad to each plate and spoon sauce over each chicken breast. I like to serve this autumn dinner with a bottle of full-bodied Tempranillo.

Enjoy!

Fuel Coffee: Coffee Done Right

Fuel Coffee is a perfect example of the independent coffee shop, full of personality, passion, and community. I’m honored that Fuel Coffee has been carrying Macrina products for so many years.

Leslie

 

A Favorite Spot

In Seattle, where coffee flows like rain, coffee shops are almost cliché. Yet, despite their prevalence, just about everyone can name their favorite spot. Some are drawn to a particular vibe, others to velvety foam, some to their favorite single-origin pour over, and others to the neighborhood gathering spot. Fuel Coffee is one of those neighborhood gathering spots that has gained fans citywide by offering excellent coffee and food, unpretentious comfort, and an independent spirit. Also, a steady team of experienced baristas spoil the many regulars with velvety foam, perfectly drawn shots of espresso, and even pour overs.

Dani Cone started Fuel Coffee in 2005 after 13 years of slinging coffee at one place or another. Her first barista job was at a deli on Mercer Island while still in high school. A barista job helped her through college in Oregon, and when she returned to Seattle, she worked at Caffe Vita for several years. She loved the subculture of coffeehouses and the kinetic nature of the whole industry. She loved the way coffee houses fostered community and inspired companionship. So she applied for an SBA loan, got it, and opened the first Fuel Coffee on 19th Ave E on Capitol Hill.

“I love how coffee brings together people from all walks of life,” Dani says. “No matter what type of person you are, there’s a place for you.”

Coffee Done Right

Even back in 2005, Seattle had a surplus of coffeehouses, and many told her she was crazy to open another one. But Dani was determined. “I love that there are so many great coffeehouses in Seattle,” Dani says. “There are lots of people and everyone drinks coffee. I wasn’t worried about what everyone else was doing. We just wanted to focus on what we were doing and make sure we were doing it the best, each day, for each customer.”

Fuel Coffee drew a loyal following immediately. Not more than a year after the café opened her landlord offered her a space in Montlake. Dani says, “My original business plan was to open a coffee shop and live out my days as a barista, happy as a clam. That was it.” But the opportunity felt too good to pass up and the second Fuel Coffee was born. Then just six months later a space she’d looked at in Wallingford opened up and that landlord reached out to her. Crazy as it was, she opened her third café in as many years.

While Dani couldn’t possibly be in all three places at once, her personality fills all three locations—in the well-trained staff, the carefully chosen items for sale, and the decor, a mix of hand-picked thrift shop gems, like the old Mobil oilcans and iconoclastic selection of picture books and tchotchkes that line the floor-to-ceiling shelves at the café on 19th.

Fuel Coffee and Beyond

Building on the success of Fuel Coffee, Dani has also gone on to create High 5 Pie (which she has since sold) and Cone & Steiner, a neighborhood market with locations on Capitol Hill and downtown. Dani says, “I love creating places for people to come together over good food and drink. That’s the common denominator. I also just really love coffee and eating.”

Thirteen years later, in this rapidly growing city, Fuel Coffee has become part of the fabric of the city. It feels like the prototype of so many of the city’s neighborhood gems. “I wanted Fuel Coffee to be a welcoming place for all people,” Dani says. “I wanted it to be a place where people would gather over great coffee and food, slow down for a little bit, and enjoy the company of others.”

You can find Fuel Coffee at:

Capitol Hill: 610 19th Avenue East, 98112

Montlake: 2300 24th Avenue East, 98112

Wallingford: 1705 North 45th Street, 98103

Thanh Huyen Dang: Bread General Manager

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina. 

When I interviewed and hired Huyen Dang she was still a senior in high school. Our wholesale pastry manager, Tramy Le, recommended her. Right away Huyen made an impression with her hard work and attention to detail. Over the years she’s proved she can handle big responsibilities. Not only does she know how to do just about every job in production, she is frequently on the floor helping whichever group most needs the help. She plays a key role in our success.

Leslie

Huyen’s Role at Macrina

Thanh Huyen Dang, who goes by Huyen (pronounced “Wen”), is the general manager of Macrina’s bread production. She oversees the teams that prepare the dough, bake the bread, and do the packing. Overall, Huyen manages nearly 100 people. While she has plenty of office work to tackle, you’ll often find her on the production floor shaping loaves of bread. Huyen says, “Because we form every loaf of bread by hand, it is a lot of work.”

Huyen earned her general manager position through hard work and a talent for managing people. She was still in high school when she started working part-time at Macrina in 2002. After finishing high school, she moved to full time in the wholesale pastry department. Two years later, Phuong Bui, Head Baker, invited Huyen to join him in the bread department as his general. She was promoted to Bread General Manager in 2012. 

While many at Macrina know how hard Huyen works, few know it better than Jane Cho, Macrina’s Production Manager. “Huyen’s work ethic is incomparable,” Jane says. “She has the most positive can-do attitude and is always willing to help with whatever is needed.” 

December is always a hectic month at Macrina with holiday production in full swing. Jane remembers her first holiday rush in her new job as Production Manager vividly. “Huyen and I had already been working for 16 hours and still had a lot to do,” Jane says. “I insisted she go home, but she saw that delivery drivers were already starting to arrive and so much packing still had to be done. We formed a tag-team pack station on the fly. We were delirious from exhaustion and just when we thought we were done, someone rolled up a few more racks of bread. We just looked at each other and started to laugh hysterically.” Jane smiles at the memory of Huyen being right there supporting her through the challenge, then adds, “But here’s the thing about Huyen, she does that for everyone—co-managers and employees in all departments. I am so grateful for her support and guidance.”

Huyen and Family

What makes Huyen’s demanding job even more impressive is that she also has three children, ages fifteen, six, and five, to care for. Fortunately, Huyen comes from a close family, and her parents are available to help with the kids. 

Huyen and her family moved to Seattle from Vietnam when she was ten. She attended Whitman Middle School and Ingraham High School. “At first, learning English made school hard,” she says. “My parents don’t speak English. ESL classes at school helped.” 

Fluent in both English and Vietnamese, Huyen helps many of Macrina’s Vietnamese employees when they need help with a translation. “While I speak Vietnamese at home, there are many words related to baking that I didn’t know. My Vietnamese has gotten better in the time I’ve worked here.”

 

October Recipe of the Month

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Toasted Sesame Semifreddo with Mini Ginger Molasses Cookies

A semifreddo is an Italian, rich gelato-like dessert that is frozen overnight in a loaf pan, sliced and presented like the best ice cream cake you’ve ever had! This recipe is a fun fall dessert inspired by Gina DePalma’s cookbook, Dolce Italiano. The late fruit harvest of figs plays well with the toasted sesame flavors in the semifreddo. To top it off, enjoy with our new Mini Ginger Molasses Cookies. – Leslie Mackie

Ingredients:

Serves 6
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 eggs yolks
1/2 cup tahini
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ripe figs, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely diced
1 tablespoon amaretto, port or brandy
1 package of Macrina’s Mini Ginger Molasses Cookies

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sesame seeds on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

Line a 9″x 5″ loaf pan with plastic wrap extending 5″ on each end to cover the top after it is filled.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip the heavy cream to medium stiff peaks. Transfer to another bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Add the egg yolks, tahini and salt to the bowl of the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix for 3-5 minutes.

Add 5 tablespoons of sugar, the honey and water to a shallow saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the hot sugar mixture, aiming to directly hit the egg mixture (as opposed to the whisk or sides of the bowl). When all the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to high and mix for 2 minutes to aerate and cool. Add the toasted sesame seeds and vanilla extract.

Remove from mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream. When well incorporated, spoon into the lined loaf pan. Cover top of container with the extended plastic wrap to seal the semifreddo. Freeze for 6-8 hours.

Place figs in a medium bowl and add 1 tablespoon sugar, the ginger and amaretto. Toss gently and let steep for at least 2 hours at room temperature.

Unwrap semifreddo and cut into 6 slices. Transfer each slice to a chilled plate, spoon on the spiced figs and serve with a Mini Ginger Molasses Cookie. Enjoy!

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