Farm to Brunch: Touring Seattle Tilth

logoEarly this June I visited Seattle Tilth’s farm incubator in Auburn with Marilyn Mercer, Elizabeth Hall, Mandela Turner, and Crystal Kitchin, Macrina’s brunch team. We were especially excited to visit the farm – Macrina is one of the lucky few establishments that buys freshly grown vegetables from Seattle Tilth for our weekly rotating brunch menus.

Seattle Tilth started in 1978 with its Urban Agriculture Center in Wallingford. The Tilth Association began as an alternative agriculture movement with the aim of supporting and promoting biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. While the parent association disbanded in 1984, Seattle Tilth has continued to grow and thrive with a stated mission today to inspire and educate people to safeguard our natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system. They teach people to grow food organically while taking care of the environment through a wide variety of classes, programs, and community events. There are classes for both kids and adults, many of them located in Seattle’s most diverse and densely populated urban neighborhoods. They’re an amazing resource for organic gardening education in the region.

image_mini

One of their newer programs is the farm incubator.  Matthew McDermott, the director of Seattle Tilth Farm Works, and Chris Iberle, the Food Hub Manager, led us on our tour of their forty-acre site in Auburn. They call it “The Red Barn Farm.”  While we walked through the fields of young starts, Matthew filled us in on the history of the land. Originally owned by former Seattle Supersonics Greg Ballard, who bought the land for a kid’s basketball camp, it was later donated to Seattle Parks and Recreation. They make it available to Seattle Tilth Farm Works as part of their Parks Urban Food Systems program.

The program provides farm business training and support to immigrants, refugees and people with limited resources in South King County. Each year they add ten new farmers to their training program that runs from February to June, reserving ten spots for returning farmers. Their aim is to help new farmers get into small farming, teaching them not just the elements of organic farming through hands-on experience, but also business planning, operations, and marketing. Matthew explains that the average age of an American small farmer is 60 years old. They hope to lower that through their program.

image_preview

Each of the twenty farmers tends a quarter-acre parcel, growing vegetables for Seattle Tilth’s CSA subscription program that provides subscribers with a weekly box full of fresh, delicious produce from June through October. The farm also supplies the fresh produce for their Good Food Bag program, which helps supply healthy organic vegetables to qualifying limited-resource families. We saw peas, radishes, onions, garlic, corn, squash, and pole-beans. In addition to the open fields they have 13 100-foot hoop houses, most of them planted with tomatoes. Due to the low snow pack this year and the possibility of a drought they mandated a water irrigation system. To supplement their water supply, they have a large cistern that collects rainwater. At the end of our tour, we stopped by the cleaning station where the farmers wash and trim their veggies, weighing their daily harvest and logging it onto the weekly production board.

French Toast

It feels good to be a part of a program that is training young farmers in the best practices for sustainable and environmentally sensitive farming. Moreover, their produce is simply delicious. Visit one of our Macrina cafe locations over the weekend and try something off of our rotating brunch menu to see for yourself.

Leslie Mackie

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.

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.

A Bit About Brunch

Buttermilk Waffle

Brunch – that delicious blend of breakfast and lunch – has fuzzy origins. Some food historians believe that the meal is rooted in 19th century Britain when hunting groups would have extravagant mid-morning meals. But, my favorite historical mention comes from an 1895 “Hunter’s Weekly” article:

“Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting.” Guy Beringer wrote in “Brunch: A Plea.” “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

There’s a soothing rhythm to this ambrosial weekend tradition: Champagne, fortified with fresh citrus, is poured into tall glasses; sugary breads are passed among good company, feeling downright communal; concerns drift away with the arrival of savory diversions; and finally, we’re ready to nap.

Here at Macrina, we adore the bustle of brunch. The great din of diners bonding over our food and lingering at the case for just one more pastry or a rustic loaf of bread to go with dinner. For us, it’s satisfying seeing everyone walk away completely contented.

With Memorial Day drawing near, we already hear the brunch buzz as everyone organizes his or her weekend morning gaggle. Our weekend diners get to enjoy not one or two but three days of brunching as we extend our brunch menu to Monday.

So, linger longer this weekend, brunch lovers, and reenact your leisurely meal an extra day.

Indulgent Ideas for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is nearly here, and while we appreciate our mothers every day, we love taking this holiday to truly spoil her with something delectable. Our Mother’s Day brunch menu is sure to delight, and we have something extra special for moms dining with us on Sunday. But we understand that some moms might just love to spend a relaxing morning at home. For those seeking a slower pace to their day, we’ve whipped up a batch of sweet ideas for breakfast-in-bed.

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

  • For the mom who prefers to eat desert first (no matter the time of day) our Mini Rustic Almond Cake topped with rich ganache and tart raspberries is a win.
  • Moms who like some savory with their sweet will appreciate a plate of flaky Buttermilk Biscuits with strawberry or marionberry jam.
  • For those who prefer to add a personal touch to their Mother’s Day breakfast, any of our Brioche loaves take homemade french toast to a whole new realm. Chocolate Cherry Brioche french toast, anyone?
  • And, who says Mother’s Day has to be celebrated in the morning. Our Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake (pictured above), laced with decadent mocha and ripe raspberries, is the perfect end to a perfect day.

Wishing all of the wonderful mothers out there a very happy Mother’s Day! Have a lovely weekend!