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

October Recipe of the Month

Do you love finding new recipes? Sign up for our Recipe of the Month Newsletter!

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!

If you loved this recipe, sign up for our Recipe of the Month Newsletter!

Home-made Favorites: The One-Day Artisan Loaf

One-Day Artisan Loaf

I made this video a few years ago to demonstrate how you make one of my favorite home-made loaves, the One-Day Artisan Loaf. It amazes me how much interest the video still generates. The recipe is simple. It produces a beautiful loaf—domed, with a crisp caramelized crust, irregular crumb and complex flavors.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 11.44.55 AM

I created the One-Day Artisan Loaf for my second cookbook, More From Macrina. The premise of the cookbook adapts Macrina recipes for the home cook. I made all of the recipes with typical home equipment. The inspiration for this loaf came from an article in the New York Times back in November 2006, featuring Jim Lahey, the owner of Manhattan’s Sullivan Street Bakery. The article describes a revolutionary method of creating full-flavored, artisan-style bread mixed entirely by hand, without any kneading. Time and a heavy dutch oven do most of the work that kneading and expensive steam-injected ovens do for professionals. I began fiddling around with the technique to create a version of my own.

one-day artisan loaf

Baking

My recipe includes milk and olive oil. These add a slightly fermented flavor. Rye flour provides another dimension to the flavor. I shorten the preparation time but incorporate a few extra steps for manipulating the dough, including a series of folds that resemble a brief kneading, and a couple of baker’s turns between rises. The results make it worth the extra bit of work.

The video also demonstrates how to make a whole grain version with a garnish of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and diced dried apricots. The whole grains give the loaf the delightful flavor of roasted nuts, notes of apple cider, and an earthy flavor that I love.

One of the keys to baking a beautiful one-day artisan loaf is having a humid atmosphere when the bread first hits the oven. This is where the dutch oven comes in. The hydration level of this dough is high, so when baking in a covered dutch oven, the air inside will remain moist for the first few minutes. The bread achieves a soft outer surface to rise before it forms a hard crust. By using this technique, you’ll end up with a crusty bread that has a rich caramelized color and a lovely depth of flavor, much like one you’d get at Macrina or another artisan bakery.

The Name

When naming this loaf, I thought of the word artisan because of the loaf’s characteristics: a crackly, caramelized crust, a wide, irregular crumb, and a complexity of flavor. A few comments have come in saying the bread isn’t truly artisanal. Most artisan loaves are naturally leavened and use very little if any, commercial yeast. They are also usually slow-fermented overnight and hand-formed. Maybe artisan-like would be a better name. Whatever you want to call it, if you are a fan of a rustic European-style domed loaf, with many of the great qualities of artisanal loaves —that doesn’t keep you in the kitchen all day—this loaf is for you! Start in the morning and you’ll impress your dinner guests with wonderful, freshly baked bread, without breaking a sweat!

Leslie

Panettone

panettone smallThere is hardly a more Italian way of celebrating the holidays than a slice of panettone and a flute of prosecco, a December ritual in homes, cafes, and restaurants throughout Italy. This sweet toque-shaped yeast bread stuffed with raisins and candied orange and lemon peel originated in Milan. It’s often served with a sauce of zabaglione, a custardy sauce made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine, or crema di mascarpone, and accompanied with a glass of sweet wine such as Moscato d’Asti. The name panettone comes from the Italian word “panetto,” a small loaf cake. The addition of the suffix “-one” makes it a large cake.

The origins of the cake date back to a type of leavened cake sweetened with honey and enjoyed by nobility during the Roman Empire. The cake makes cameo appearances in Italian paintings in the 16th century and is associated with Christmas in the 18th-century writings of Pietro Verri, who wrote an epic history of Milan.

But Panettone didn’t become a household item until 1925 when Angelo Motta, a Milanese baker, began commercial production of the bread. He’s credited with modifying the shape from a low, dense loaf to the tall, airy bread we know today. He introduced a natural leavening process, more like that used in sourdough, and allowed the bread to rise three times over 18 hours before baking. This produces the bread’s lightness and soft texture.

Motta’s bread was an enormous success and soon a competitor arose. Giacchino Alemagna created a similar bread, pricing his higher. The competition proved good for both brands, with Motta seen as the panettone of the middle-class, while Alemagna targeted those willing and able to pay premium prices. Today, the brands Motta and Alemagna dominate the market. Over 100 million panettone are produced by Italian bakeries each holiday season. Italy only has 60 million people! Even with about 10% of production bound for export that is a lot of panettone per person.

While commercial production of panettone dominates in Italy and abroad, many small bakeries (or le pasticcerie in Italy) make their traditional versions of the famous bread. Macrina’s version was inspired by a recipe in Carol Field’s wonderful book The Italian Baker. Our loaf is studded with candied citrus and dried fruits and enriched with eggs and butter. Nowadays it’s easy to find decorative paper baking molds, but I prefer to bake these loaves in clay flowerpots, which look beautiful and make great holiday gifts. The dough takes time and cannot be rushed, but it’s more than worth the wait. If you’re looking for an alternative to the version shipped over from Italy you can pick one up at any of our cafes this month, or find my recipe in the Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook. Then grab a bottle of prosecco and invite some friends over for a very Italian holiday celebration.

Happy Holidays, Leslie

Garden Pumpkin Pie Video

Last year was the first year I grew my own squash for our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. We did a taste test between canned and fresh, and surprise, fresh squash won. My favorite pumpkin variety is the New England Pie Pumpkin. You can find the seeds in many local garden stores. It’s fun planting a garden in April, nurturing it through the summer and waiting for the squash to ripen in the fall. It’s even more fun cutting that pumpkin up and turning it into pie!

The pie crust recipe I use is Flaky Pie Dough from More From Macrina cookbook. We sell this pie as well as many other Thanksgiving treats at our cafes. Do come visit and see what we’ve got cooking. Watch the video to learn how I prepare my special pumpkin pie and follow the recipe links below.

Garden Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Flaky Pie Dough Recipe

Summer Harvest Cooking Video

The best meals always seem to be the spontaneous ones. During summer harvest season, I let the garden inspire my meals. For this lunch, I picked what was ripe, and pulled together a quick and delicious meal for my neighbors. With vegetables this fresh, they don’t need a lot of fuss so I leaned towards simple preparations that allow the natural flavors to shine.

Our meal consisted of a sugar snap pea guacamole, oven-roasted sliced beets, simple marinated grilled chicken with herbs and garlic (served with a pistol sauce that was not covered in the video, but in the recipe below), and a just-picked garden salad with a fresh raspberry vinaigrette. Enjoying the gift of a warm, sunny day we dined by the garden. I think food tastes better outside, especially while sharing stories with friends and a nice bottle of chilled rosé.

Watch the video above to learn more about how I prepared the meal.

You can find the recipes here.

Crostini with Snap Pea Guacamole

Roasted Beets

Grilled Chicken with Pistou Sauce

Garden Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

One-Day Artisan Loaf


You can make very flavorful artisan bread at home by using a technique that’s somewhat new in the bread-baking world: the no-knead method. I use this technique at home all the time and feel sure it will become a favorite of yours as well. The recipes I make this way don’t call for a homemade starter to build flavor. All you need is time, a heavy dutch oven, flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt.

One of the keys to baking a beautiful artisan loaf is having a humid atmosphere when the bread first hits the oven. The covered dutch oven keeps the inside air moist for the first few minutes of baking, allowing the bread’s soft outer surface to rise before it forms a hard crust. The result is a really beautiful loaf—domed, crusty, caramelized to a deep brown color, and full of complex flavors. I’ve found that baking in a cast-iron pot creates the all-time best results for home bread baking.

Click to enjoy recipes for my One-Day Artisan Loaf, One-Day Artisan Whole Grain Loaf and Pesto Ham & Cheese Sandwich.

Going Greek: Baking with Greek Yogurt

Baking with Greek Yogurt

Savoring the benefits of Greek yogurt doesn’t have to end with breakfast. Photo by Meng He.

Greek yogurt has invaded my supermarket, bumping many of the old regular brands off the shelf. It even became a cold war subject in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to allow a shipment of Greek yogurt to reach the United States Olympic team at the winter games in Sochi. Why all the fuss about something as commonplace as yogurt? Was Putin seeking a competitive advantage? Who knows, but Greek yogurt does have health advantages over regular yogurt, with more beneficial probiotic bacteria and a higher protein content. It’s also lower in both natural sugars and sodium. That’s just a bonus. What I like best is its rich flavor and satisfying, creamy mouthfeel. The superior thickness is achieved by straining out the excess whey, giving it that memorable texture and a delicious tang that brings back indelible memories of travels to Santorini and Crete.

Recently the Washington State Dairy Council asked us to develop a recipe featuring Greek yogurt. So we tweaked our Fruit & Yogurt Tart recipe to include the ingredient and now we’re wondering how we ever lived without it. Inspired, we experimented and adjusted other recipes too. We’re now serving our housemade Granola Parfait over a silky dollop of honeyed Greek yogurt and fresh berry compote. We’re also scooping it into batters for some of our cakes and tarts, substituting it for other fats. It enhances textures, creating a finer, more consistent crumb, and adding moisture. Carrying flavor much like butter does, with the perk of extra protein. Judge the results for yourself by trying a slice of our Budapest Coffee Cake or Lemon Sour Cherry Coffee Cake, a sturdy but tender treat that doesn’t just go with breakfast, at least at my house.

When you’re picking up Greek yogurt, to eat or for baking, be sure the label lists only milk and active cultures as ingredients. Some companies add powdered milk protein, starches, and gums to thicken it. This shortcuts the lengthy straining process and the extra milk it requires, saving money in production. Quality is the sacrifice. So grab some plain Greek yogurt and try the recipe below for my Fruit & Greek Yogurt Tart. Or experiment like we did, replacing some or all of the butter or sour cream in your favorite recipes. However it turns out, you’ll discover that once you go Greek, at least with yogurt, you’ll never go back.

 – Leslie Mackie

Fruit & Greek Yogurt Tart

Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

Pre-rolled 9” pie shell or one recipe for Flaky Pie Dough (see note below)
3 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups plain (unflavored) Greek low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups fresh seasonal fruit
1/3 cup sliced raw almonds
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Makes a 9-inch tart

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Locate a 9” glass pie pan, aluminum pie tin or 2” fluted tart pan.

2. Place chilled pie shell into the pan, line it with parchment paper, and weight with rice or baking beans. Bake for 30 minutes or until shell is golden brown. Remove rice or beans and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the eggs, sugar and vanilla. With a whisk attachment on medium speed, whip for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes light in color and texture.

4. With the mixer on low speed add in the yogurt. Lower the bowl and scrape down the sides to make sure it is well combined. With the mixer on low speed add the flour gradually to avoid forming lumps. Scrape bowl again to ensure everything is well combined.

5. Pour prepared custard into the pre-baked shell leaving a 1/4-inch border at the edge of the crust. This is to prevent the custard from spilling over the edge when the fruit is added. Scatter berries or sliced fresh fruit over the top of the tart and sprinkle sliced almonds around the edge of the tart.

6. Place the tart on the center rack of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the tart is set in the center.  Check the tart at 30 minutes and rotate for even baking.

7. Remove the tart from the oven and set aside to cool for 1 hour or chill in the refrigerator before serving. Dust with powdered sugar for presentation.

Note: For an absolutely delicious, foolproof pie crust, use our Flaky Pie Dough recipe, then proceed as follows: Place two-thirds of the prepared dough on a floured work surface and begin rolling out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thickness, creating a 15-inch circle (save remaining dough for other uses). Fold pie dough in half and lift into the baking pan, allowing for a 2-inch border beyond the rim. To create the pie rim, fold the pie dough border up and into itself, overlapping with the cut edge visible to the inside of the tart, making a 1/2-inch standing crust. Crimp the edge all around the pie pan and then chill in freezer for 20 minutes. Continue following instructions in Step 2.

Umeboshi Pizzettas: East Meets West

Umeboshi It’s cherry blossom season! Our city is graced with those treasured pops of pink every spring, but do you know the history behind Seattle’s blossom-filled trees? As a token of the friendship between Japan and Washington, Japan’s former Prime Minister Takeo Miki gave Seattle 1,000 cherry blossom trees on May 8, 1976.

Every year since, we have celebrated this bond during the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival. From April 24 through April 26, our diverse community will gather at Seattle Center to learn about Japanese culture through music, fellowship, and (our favorite) food.

We’re excited to contribute our own special homage to this year’s festivities, an Umeboshi Pizzetta. Inspired by Tazue Sasaki, Cherry Blossom Festival committee chair and a regular guest of our café, this pizza is the perfect blend of Japanese and Italian culture. Tazue and her husband Yutaka loved ordering our pizzettas when they were on our menu and thought the flavors of the cheese and dough would nicely contrast the tartness of umeboshi, Japan’s ubiquitous pickled plum.

Leslie Mackie and Jane Cho put their heads together and came up with a delightful combination of umeboshi, Parmesan and Swiss cheese, sesame seeds, and olive oil on a freshly baked crust. You can taste our Umeboshi Pizzetta at the Cherry Blossom festival this weekend.

If you would like to try your hand at making umeboshi pizzas at home, click here for a wonderful pizza dough recipe straight from our More from Macrina Cookbook. But, use the umeboshi sparingly. While delicious, a little bit goes a long way.

Valentine’s Day Brunch: Cherry Brioche French Toast

Cherry Brioche French Toast

Instead of scrambling to find a last-minute Valentine’s Day dinner reservation, whip up a delicious brunch for your Valentine – or your favorite single friends. Our Mini Cherry Brioche is only available for a limited time and it makes a wonderful French toast. Topped with warm maple syrup and rich brandy whipped cream, it’s a sweet way to start the day whether you’re happily single or blissfully coupled.

Cherry Brioche French Toast
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

For the brandy whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

For the French toast:
5 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 Mini Cherry Brioche
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

*Available in our cafés.

Serves 2

Preparing the brandy whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, place the cream, brandy, sugar and vanilla. Mix with a whisk or hand-mixer until the mixture holds its shape, about 2 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Preparing the French toast:
1. In a medium bowl, place the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Pour custard into a shallow baking pan.

2. Cut the brioche into 1-inch thick slices. Dredge each slice in the custard, making sure all sides are evenly coated.

3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil and butter. Lay the brioche slices in the pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.

4. Divide French toast slices among 2 plates. Serve with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dollop of brandy whipped cream.