April Recipe of the Month: Roasted Steak Crostini with Arugula and Lemon Aioli

This recipe makes a great appetizer or can be enjoyed as an open-faced sandwich with a green salad for a light meal. Flat iron steak is nearly as tender as tenderloin but is more economical. The marbling in this cut adds flavor, and the meat grills beautifully. If you can’t find it, try substituting hanger steak or tenderloin. Seasoning with black pepper adds a piquant roundness to the meat. Vibrant lemon aioli and crisp arugula enhance each bite with flavor and texture. The crostini pair well with red wine.

Ingredients

Makes 12 crostini

1½ lbs flat iron steak

3 Tbsp cracked black pepper

2 Tbsp kosher salt

¼ cup aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar from Modena), divided

Macrina Baguette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 bunches fresh arugula

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 egg yolks

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tsp chopped garlic

1½ cups canola or sunflower oil

Directions:

Season both sides of the flat iron steak with the cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of aceto balsamico over the steak and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the baguette on the bias (diagonal cuts) into slices measuring roughly a ½-inch thick. Slices should be about 4 inches long. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the baguette with olive oil and grill until crisp and marked by the grill. Set aside.

Wash and remove the fibrous stems from the arugula. Set aside in paper towels to dry. Zest the lemon and set aside.

To make the aioli, whisk the yolks, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, mustard and garlic in a medium bowl until combined. Continuing to whisk vigorously, add the canola oil in a slow stream until it’s fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the aioli until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Preheat the grill pan or your grill to medium-high and sear each side of the steak with grill marks, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven (or place the steaks to the side of the flame on your outdoor grill and cover) for 6 to 8 minutes. For medium-rare steaks, the internal temperature should be 135°F. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.

Spread the grilled crostini out on a platter and top each with 1 tsp of aioli. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula leaves with the lemon zest, the remaining lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the arugula between the crostini.

Thinly slice the steak and place 2 to 3 slices on each crostini. Finish the crostini with a dollop of aioli and a drizzle of aceto balsamico. Enjoy!

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March Recipe of the Month: Boston Cream Cupcakes

This riff on the American classic makes decadent cupcakes fit for any occasion. Its combination of buttery yellow cake, silky pastry cream and dark chocolate ganache has been popular since the first Boston Cream Pie in 1881. While making all three elements may look like a lot of work, you can make the pastry cream and ganache while the cupcakes are baking. Once everything cools, filling and frosting the cupcakes is quick and easy.

INGREDIENTS
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

Cupcakes

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature

1½ cups granulated sugar

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3½ tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Pastry Cream

2 cups half and half

½ cup granulated sugar, divided

Pinch salt

4 egg yolks

¼ cup cornstarch

½ tsp powdered gelatin

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Ganache Frosting

1½ cups whipping cream

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the top of a 12 cup standard muffin tin lightly with oil to prevent the tops from sticking after baking. Place cupcake liners in the tin.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for 3 to 4 minutes. It should be soft and pale in color.

While the butter is creaming, sift the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter in 3 additions. Stop the mixer between each addition to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix for another minute to breakdown any remaining clumps of butter.

Keep the mixer on low speed and add the egg mixture in 3 additions. Continue to scrape the sides of the bowl between additions. Once all the egg mixture is added, increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute.

Scoop the batter into each liner until about ¾ full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cupcakes should be set on top and golden brown at the edges. Let cool for 45 minutes.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Place the half and half and ¼ cup sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar, salt, egg yolks, cornstarch and gelatin.

Add small amounts of the scalded half and half to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to temper the yolk mixture. When ¾ of the half and half is combined, pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the pastry cream thickens, remove it from the heat to prevent curdling. Whisk in the vanilla and butter and combine well. Strain the pastry cream into a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap against the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the covered pastry cream for 45 minutes or until cool.

Ganache Frosting

In a medium saucepan, warm the whipping cream over medium heat. When it begins to boil, turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Whisk to dissolve the chocolate. Pour the ganache into a bowl and let cool for 30 minutes. Swirl it with a spatula occasionally for even cooling. Refrigerate the ganache for the last 10 minutes. The ganache should be smooth and spreadable.

Assembly

Remove the cooled cupcakes from the muffin tin. With a spoon or a small scoop, remove a large gumball size scoop from the center of each cupcake. Fill each cupcake with cooled pastry cream. Using a spatula, generously spread chocolate ganache frosting across the tops and garnish as you please. Chocolate shavings, brandied cherries or colored sprinkles are our favorite toppings.

Enjoy!

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The (Tasty) Benefits of Heritage Grains

Does “great taste” come to mind when you think of heritage grains?

Many Americans consider heritage grains a health food—something they should eat, not something they want to eat. Fortunately, that appears to be on the cusp of change. Top chefs and bakers have been cooking with new heritage grain hybrids to thrilling results.

One of my favorite events of the year is Grain Gathering, an annual three-day event held every July at the Bread Lab (the event started in 2011). Expert bakers, millers, grain scientists, farmers, and industry representatives gather in the Skagit Valley. Their goal is to break the dominance of commodity wheat and to find a way to sell America on the benefits of heritage grains. Flavor is the number one selling point. Nutrition is another along with environmental sustainability. Virtually every community in America used to grow wheat. More robust heritage wheat hybrids could again make this economically feasible, benefitting local economies.

At a Grain Gathering a few years ago, I was introduced to two hybrids developed by Bread Lab. One is called Skagit Magic, which is grown in the Skagit Valley and milled at nearby Cairn Springs Mill. The other is called Expresso Wheat (or, in the lab, T-85). It is grown in Walla Walla and also milled at Cairn Springs Mill. When I started Macrina, flours like these just weren’t available.

For Macrina’s twenty-fifth anniversary this year, I developed two new breads that utilized these new organic flours. I spent many hours playing around with various techniques and found the heritage flours work best with a slow fermentation. This helps develop subtle, bright flavors and hydrates the bran. I made our Skagit Sourdough with the Skagit Magic. This is one of our most grain-forward and flavorful loaves. The Whole Grain Baguette is our other new loaf, which we make with the Expr results. At Macrina, our two latest breads feature heritage wheats—the primary reason being the astonishing flavor they add. Edouardo Jordan, the star chef and creator of JuneBaby, named America’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, opened Lucinda Grain Bar, a concept focused on ancient grains. “As Americans, we eat some of the most flavorless, unhealthy grain-based products in the world,” Jordan said. “Commercialization has stripped down all the nutritional value in our grain product. We are excited to explore the flavor and potential of ancient grains.” Jordan noted that some of the best grains in the world are grown in the Skagit Valley.

The Bread Lab, located in the Skagit Valley, deserves no small amount of credit for this. Part science lab, part high-end bakery, this extension of Washington State University occupies a 12,000 square feet space in Mount Vernon that includes a research and baking kitchen, a cytology lab, the King Arthur Flour Baking School, a milling laboratory and a professional kitchen. The director of the Bread Lab, Dr. Stephen Jones, is currently one of the most influential voices in the food world. Jones is determined to bring diversity to the range of flours widely available. Currently, the bland, chalky white flour born of industrial agriculture is found in almost all the bread sold in America. You won’t find much else at your local supermarket either. By breeding heritage grains that have both taste and nutritional benefits, but that also have the robustness that farmers need to produce high yield crops, Jones hopes to make regional grain farming viable again.

The standard flour available at grocery stores today comes from wheat that has been bred to be optimal for a fast-food hamburger bun. A hundred years ago that wasn’t the case. Diverse wheats grew and were milled in communities across America. Between 1890 and 1930 America went from over 22,000 flour mills to less than 200. The State of Washington had 160. Now there are two. The widespread use of new roller mills that could efficiently strip the grain of both the bran and the germ creating a flour that had an almost indefinite shelf life ushered in this change. This coincided with the rise of the industrial production of food. We got sliced bread in plastic bags and the phrase, “The greatest thing since sliced bread.” However, we lost a wide range of regional flours milled from an incredible range of wheats, many of which had much better flavor than what worked best for industrial bakeries. Not to mention nutrition. Jones writes, “By using only the white portion of the seed, wheat is reduced from a nutrient-dense food to one that lacks basic nutrition.”

When I started Macrina in 1993, it was thrilling to be part of the artisan bread movement that brought French and Italian-style breads to many cities in America. I’m even more excited about the heritage grain movement—so much so that I’m growing heritage wheat on my Vashon Island farm this year!  Seeing grain scientists, farmers and bakers unite around the idea of building a better tasting and healthier bread may just be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

 

The Ruby Brink: A Dream Destination on Vashon Island 

This island-to-table restaurant is a rare gem that doesn’t unduly abuse the wallet. “We didn’t want to price out the farmers who supply us,” says chef Rustle Biehn. 

Every so often you stumble into a waking dream. The Ruby Brink, an eatery that opened this spring on Vashon Island, is the sort of place that inspires such astonishment. It’s an island-to-table experience, equal parts public house, restaurant, whole-animal butcher shop, and farm kitchen.

Vashon is sometimes described as an island surrounded by reality, both positively and negatively. Still, one thing that is beyond contention is its concentration of independent, organic farms and its pastoral beauty. Led by an ensemble cast, The Ruby Brink was born of a dream to create a gathering place that offered the best of Vashon: comfort, beauty, a kind of timelessness, and the delicious best each season has to give. The unique blend has led to The Ruby Brink becoming an epicurean hub in Vashon’s eclectic community.

Located in the historic Vashon Landing building on the central corner in the town of Vashon, The Ruby Brink’s spacious interior underwent a lengthy remodel as the owners tailored the interior to their vision. The space is comfortable and elegant in a way that feels suitable for an anniversary dinner or a beer and sandwich after a day on the farm. The classic J-shaped bar is an invitation to sidle up and start a conversation. Comfortable booths and an array of variously-sized tables accommodate couples and large groups.

The owners are butcher Lauren Garaventa, chef Rustle Biehn, and bartender Jake Heil. Lauren’s background includes stints at Vashon’s Sea Breeze Farms, one of the local pioneers of sustainably-focused, grass-pastured meat and later at the farm-to-table Rain Shadow Meats in Pioneer Square. She and Rustle were the duo behind Meat & Noodle Soup Club, the celebrated pop-up. Jake moved to the island from Portland where he co-opened and managed the Multnomah Whiskey Library, called one of the 15 best whiskey bars in the world. Of his experience working at one of the most exclusive places in the Northwest, Jake says, “The legacy of that for me is less about whiskey, and more about hospitality. Here I’ve curated a back bar that is less exclusive, more local, but, I think, just as intriguing. Each bottle has a story.”

The Ruby Brink exudes a kind of relaxed island hospitality, refined and timely, without any big-city pretension. This carries over to the food. “Nothing about this says fine-dining except for the amount of attention that gets paid to the ingredients,” Lauren says. “That’s the number one thing we have in common with any of the fine-dining restaurants in Seattle: we’re able to curate our ingredients to a really high standard.”

Not surprising, given The Ruby Brink’s focus on sustainability, local meat and produce, and simple, clear, lovely flavors. It’s healthy food that is so tasty it leaves you craving more. Jake says, “We wanted to make it as accessible as possible, a place for neighbors and people visiting the island to enjoy each other, the space, have drinks, a snack or a meal.”

The butcher shop, located in one corner of the ample space, offers a variety of cuts and meats as well as one of the best-tasting bone broths you’ll find anywhere. “We’re a one-cow-a-month restaurant,” Lauren says. “Figuring out how to divide up the meat between retail and the restaurant is a puzzle. At the end of the month, every bit of the cow is used, eaten, with nothing left.”

This kind of approach requires a lot of planning. Lauren and Rustle confer each afternoon, and a new menu is printed every day. You may not find the same thing on the menu from one visit to the next. What you will find is balanced, flavorful food served in beautifully composed plates. You’ll always find a Meat & Noodle bowl, but the meat and vegetables will vary. And you’ll always find a sausage served on a Macrina Challah Roll, but the type of sausage will change. Both carnivores and vegetarians are sure to find something to love on the list of starters, sandwiches, salads, rice dishes, and entrees like roasted half-chicken or whole pork chops. “We want you to feel like someone cared deeply about the ingredients and prepared them with love,” Jake says. “That feeling passes through everything we do, whether it’s drinks, food, or service.”

Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, and a Vashon resident, says, “The Ruby Brink quickly became a beloved island hang out and gathering spot. The menu showcases what they are getting from local farmers and what Lauren is working on in her butcher shop. The food is always delicious and inspiring. Macrina is very proud to provide The Ruby Brink with bread and flatbreads.”

 

February Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Almond Caramel Tartlet

This classic Parisian dessert is both showy and delicious. The addition of ground almonds gives the buttery crust a richness and wonderfully crumbly texture. It is blissfully delicious and makes an elegant base for the chocolate custard. The caramel topping adds a layer of decadence that might seem a step too far, but because the brandied chocolate pudding is bittersweet, it brings the tart’s three elements into balance. Topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream and cocoa powder, this stunner will bring you back to that lovely patisserie by the Seine.
INGREDIENTS

Makes Eight 3-inch tartlets

Sweet Almond Dough

½ cup whole almonds

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

Chocolate Custard and Caramel Topping

2 cups heavy cream, divided

¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

5 egg yolks

1 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 Tbsp brandy

½ cup water

Optional Garnish

reserved chopped almonds

cocoa powder

whipped cream

DIRECTIONS:

SWEET ALMOND DOUGH

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

Place almonds on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Finely chop in a food processor and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add ⅓ cup of the chopped almonds, flour and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Reserve any remaining chopped almonds for garnishing.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Turn off heat and cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla and almond extracts.

Make a well in the center of the our bowl. Begin adding the melted butter and mix with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Measure 3 Tbsp of the almond dough and press into a 3-inch tartlet shell so that the base and sides are an even thickness. Repeat for each tartlet. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Line each chilled tartlet shell with parchment and fill with pie weights (beans or rice also work). Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove parchment and pie weights. Let cool.

CHOCOLATE CUSTARD AND CARAMEL TOPPING

To make the chocolate custard, scald 1½ cups heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bittersweet chocolate chips to a blender or food processor. Pour the hot cream over the chips and blend until melted.

Combine the egg yolks, 3 Tbsp sugar and brandy in a small bowl. Add to the chocolate mixture in the blender and mix for 3 to 4 minutes.

Fill the baked shells with chocolate mixture nearly to the top, stopping a scant ⅛ inch from the rim of the baked shells—the extra crust will act as a border for the caramel sauce topping.

To make the caramel sauce, add the water and the remaining 1 cup of sugar to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar and cook until the mixture turns golden brown. Run a wet pastry brush around the edges of the pan to prevent any sugar crystals from forming. When medium brown, turn off the heat and slowly add the remaining ½ cup of cream to the mixture. Be careful—this will create lots of steam. Whisk vigorously to combine. Transfer to another bowl. Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes.

Ladle caramel over each tartlet so that they are evenly covered. Garnish with the remaining chopped almonds. Chill the tartlets until cool.

Lightly sweetened whipped cream makes a delicious topping and a sprinkle of cocoa powder makes a handsome garnish.

Printable PDF.

Macrina’s Core Value Winners

When Leslie Mackie opened Macrina Bakery in 1993, she hoped her love of artisan breads would lead to Macrina becoming a community gathering spot. To her delight, that didn’t take long. As the Macrina community grew, we added another café and started wholesaling bread and pastries. Leslie’s spirit of hard work, a positive outlook, and uncompromising quality guided the team that made all this happen.

When we sat down to put these values into words, we didn’t have to look beyond the diverse team of bakers, pastry chefs, savory cooks, baristas, café staff and delivery drivers that make up Macrina. Our employees live the values every day in their mission to enrich communities through the joy of artisan baking.

We’re proud of our 2019 core value winners and the example they set. We wouldn’t be where we are without their shining contributions.

Working Hard: Erica Olsen, Pastry General Manager

When Leslie first met Erica, she was cradled in her mother’s arms. At the time, Leslie was the head baker at Grand Central Bakery and worked with Erica’s mom. More than 25 years later, Erica had graduated from the Seattle Culinary Academy with honors. She joined Macrina in 2017, and was quickly promoted to Pastry General Manager. Erica and her team of pastry chefs produce all of Macrina’s pastries. Erica’s hard work, ambition, and dedication continue to make Macrina more efficient and consistent each year. Her skill is on display in each delicious and beautiful pastry.

Remaining Positive: Sergio Castaneda, Delivery General Manager

Sergio has been with Macrina since 2002 and oversees a large team of delivery drivers. When Sergio is asked how his day went, he always answers with a smile and an honest response, often detailing positive solutions he found to unexpected challenges Most days, he’s in at 4 A.M. working shoulder to shoulder with the packers and drivers to ensure our customers get their orders on time. Before most have us have even awakened, he’s dealt with mechanical issues, staffing, and drivers stuck in traffic. Tall in stature, his employees call him the gentle giant.

Never Settling: Thanh Huyen Dang, Bread General Manager

Thanh Huyen Dang, who goes by Huyen (pronounced “Wen”), has worked at Macrina since 2002 and as the Bread General Manager since 2012. She works tirelessly to find efficiencies in wholesale production, pushes through challenges, and jumps in to assist managers and employees whenever help is needed. She holds her team to high standards and effectively communicates the many details required to produce so many hand-formed loaves with an exacting consistency. Huyen takes on more responsibility each year and works with her team to ensure our food safety plan is rigidly followed

Embracing Diversity: Trevor Kitchin, Food Safety General Manager

Trevor manages an integral department—food safety—and does so with an international team. Together they speak five languages. To ensure everyone is clear on the many details they must master, Trevor has become an expert in communication. A gentle soul, he is patient and takes the time to huddle frequently with his team so that all policies and procedures are understood and executed. He makes a point to make everyone feel welcome and respected.

Integrity in All We Do: Amy Bui, Wholesale Sales Manager

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. Amy first started coming to Macrina to visit her dad when she was three. Now, all grown up, Amy heads our wholesale sales team. She builds and maintains trusting relationships with our customers through integrity— of product, of communication, and of her word. Additionally, her savvy command of technology has elevated the efficiency of our sales team.

Derby: Inspired Comfort Food, Unique Setting

Located inside a Sodo club for car lovers, the restaurant Derby offers a great bar scene and excellent food. 

The food isn’t served on the hood of a Ferrari, but you’d be excused for remembering it that way. The Shop, a club for gearheads, houses the upscale comfort food restaurant Derby. The spacious, sleek dining area has broad windows opening onto rows and rows of exquisite vehicles gleaming in the clean, well-lit garage. While that’s unique, it’s hardly the best reason to visit Derby. Come for the food (and leave with Lamborghini dreams).

Executive Chef Nick Taseris serves the kind of food your mother might have made if she was a professionally-trained chef that sourced high-quality meats and produce from the Pacific Northwest. Take, for example, their Bad-Ass BLT. It’s served on lightly toasted Macrina sourdough, with thick slices of good tomato, just-ripe avocado, lettuce—and the namesake Bad-Ass Bacon. Not only is this probably not how your mother referred to her bacon, but it’s also nothing like the bacon most of us grew up eating. Derby gets the meat cut in quarter-pound strips from a ranch in Pendleton, Oregon. Nick and his crew coat it in a house-made cayenne-maple glaze, slow-roast it, drizzle it with maple syrup and sprinkle it with Maldon salt. It’s thick, rich, and bursting with salty-sweet flavor. And, yes, you can order a side of the bacon all day off the happy hour menu.

Raised in Texas, Nick brings some of that Lone Star smokehouse know-how to the cuisine. The beef brisket, pastrami, and corned beef are smoked in-house, low and slow, and the tender meat is served in generous portions. You won’t go wrong with the Pastrami Reuben on Macrina’s rye bread, or the Brisket Sandwich served with bbq sauce.

And as with any pub-style fare worth racing for, the burger better be good enough to land pole position. Derby’s is a winner. A Macrina Brioche Bun, topped with sesame seeds, is slathered in Derby sauce (horseradish-infused aioli) and holds a hefty patty topped with American cheese, red onion marmalade, house-made pickles and a thick slice of good tomato. The medium-cut fries are crisp with a light, fluffy interior. You won’t leave hungry.

For those inclined to lighter fare, the Cobb, Chicken Caeser, and Steak salads do not disappoint. The dinner menu builds on the lunch menu to offer a few hearty entrees, including a pasta, crab cakes, and a smoked meatloaf. For those with a Maserati metabolism, Derby’s poutine has a Texas inflection with their house-smoked brisket and red-eye gravy. Order one to share. Or if you’re in that YOLO state of mind—indulge. You can always retire to the heavy leather sofas and chairs in Derby’s lounge for an after-dinner bourbon and another lingering gaze at the two and four-wheeled beauties preening in the garage.

Lunch Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Dinner Wed–Sat 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Sun–Tues 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Brunch Sat, Sun 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Happy Hour Menu Daily 3 p.m.– 6 p.m.

 

North Bend’s Huxdotter Coffee: Worth a Detour

The long-time local favorite now has spacious indoor seating and an expanded menu. 

In episode one of the original Twin Peaks, filmed in North Bend, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper tastes a cup of the fictitious town’s brew—he liked it black as midnight on a moonless night—and declares it, “damn fine.” That was the same year that Huxdotter Coffee opened. Located less than two minutes from I-90, just past the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, the first drive-through in North Bend quickly became the busiest spot in the area to grab a coffee.

Photo CreditAaron Locke/BCRA

Now that drive-through with “damn fine” coffee has grown up. Huxdotter Coffee’s new home is a surprisingly modern building of wood, glass and steel that opened for business last August. Not only does the new building have an improved drive-through, but it also has a roomy interior with soaring ceilings. An array of tables and counter seats provide a welcome space for those wishing to leisurely enjoy espresso drinks and pastries, made-to-order lunch sandwiches and hot breakfast sandwiches. Others use the free wifi to get some work done while they sip their coffee.

The inspired new digs are the brainchild of Jeremy Westlake, whose local roots run back several generations. Jeremy bought Huxdotter in 2016 with the dream of adding indoor seating and expanding the menu. After two years of planning, construction started. Closing down the busiest drive through in the area for ten months was painful, but the results have proved worth it. The café is full of locals and travelers on their way to Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Si, or Snoqualmie Falls. And the drive-through is faster than ever before, with more room for cars to line up, a better workspace, and even a barista with an iPad who speeds up the wait by walking the line and taking orders when it’s busy.

While contractors worked on the building, Jeremy worked to upgrade Huxdotter’s menu. He visited many bakeries throughout the area, favoring Macrina Bakery. Unfortunately, North Bend was then outside of Macrina’s delivery area. He offered up some estimates of the quantity of bread and pastries he thought he’d need, and an agreement was made to deliver to a restaurant in Issaquah, where Huxdotter could pick the order up. For the first month, Jeremy’s parents drove the 30 minutes to Issaquah and back at 4:30 in the morning so that Huxdotter’s customers would be able to get their Macrina fix when the café opened. It quickly became apparent that Jeremy’s estimates were solid—the café was indeed busy enough to justify expanding a route just for him. Nearly half a year later, the buzz has spread and Huxdotter continues to grow.

One thing about Huxdotter that especially stands out is its friendly, helpful baristas. Even after shutting down ten months for construction, nearly the entire staff returned. Watching the way they hustle to keep the drive-through line moving and the banter at the counter upbeat is invigorating.

When the sun shines on a warm day, the wide garage door that separates the large outdoor patio from the indoor seats opens to merge the two spaces. On a summer afternoon, tired hikers and those returning from work fill the chairs refreshing themselves with coffee, sweet treats or one of the PNW craft beers that rotate through the six taps on hand. Huxdotter also carries quite a variety of canned beers and a small selection of Washington wine.

One wall is decorated with large framed black and white photos of Jeremy’s ancestors who settled in the Snoqualmie Valley generations ago, and on another you’ll find an oversized topographical map of the area—perfect for planning your next hike or visit to the many nearby attractions.

Huxdotter Coffee is open weekdays from 5 A.M. to 7 P.M. and from 6 A.M. to 7 P.M. on weekends 

 

 

November Recipe of the Month: Autumn Breakfast Stew

Vegetable stew for breakfast? This flavorful dish will help power you through the day. Chickpeas and lentils meld with fall vegetables in a garlicky za’atar-flavored tomato sauce. A healthy dash of olive oil, fresh avocado and eggs add protein and nourishment. Mama Lil’s peppers add some zip. No wonder this is such a popular brunch item at our cafés. You can adjust the legumes and vegetables as the seasons change. Serve it with a piece of crusty bread and enjoy a healthy start to your day.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

½ medium-sized Delicata squash

1 medium zucchini squash

2 red bell peppers

½ cup olive oil, divided

4 tsp za’atar spice, divided

1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 large leek, thinly sliced

2 tsp garlic, finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, medium dice

1 cup dried lentils

2½ cups water

1 cup chickpeas, canned or precooked

1 cup apple cider

¼ cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

8 eggs

1 avocado, peeled and quartered

16 slices Mama Lil’s Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Remove the stem and base of the Delicata squash, then halve the squash and scoop out the seeds (refrigerate one half to use for another dish). Cut the squash into ¾” squares and toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and 2 tsp of za’atar. Spread the seasoned squash on one-third of the prepared baking sheet.

Cut the zucchini into ¾” squares and toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and the final 2 tsp of za’atar. Place on the middle third of the baking sheet.

On the final third of the baking sheet, place the 2 red bell peppers. Brush the exterior with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt.

Roast the squash, zucchini and bell peppers for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender and golden brown. Allow the vegetables to cool for 20 minutes, then peel the bell peppers. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds, then coarsely dice them. Set aside

In a large saucepan, place the final 2 Tbsp of olive oil and sauté the leeks over medium-high heat. Cover to sweat the leeks. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes and garlic, simmer for another 3 minutes. Add the lentils, water and ½ tsp salt. Simmer for 30 minutes to cook the lentils.

Add the roasted peppers, delicata squash, zucchini, chickpeas and apple cider to the large saucepan. Simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes to marry the flavors. Add the Italian parsley and stir to combine.

Divide the stew between 4 plates and start preparing the eggs.

Warm a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and crack 2 eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook to your doneness preference. Top the stew with the eggs and any extra olive oil in the pan. Garnish the plate with a quarter of the sliced avocado and 4 slices of Mama Lil’s Peppers. Repeat for the other 3 plates. The eggs cook quickly, and the stew holds its heat, so all 4 plates will come out warm.

Serve with a slice of Macrina’s Skagit Sourdough toast (our preference), or another hearty loaf.

Summer Supper: Chez Leslie

When Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley on August 28, 1971, no one would have predicted how much she’d change our understanding of natural ingredients, how we grow them, and how we cook them. The proliferation of America’s local-seasonal-organic foods and the farm-to-table movement grew out of this new approach to eating.  

Flash forward to summer 2019. There is no better place to experience ultra-local cuisine than the smallfarm-filled epicurean paradise of Vashon Island. This is a big part of the reason Leslie chose to host Les Dames D’Escoffier’s 7th annual Summer Supper and Farm Tour at her Vashon Island Farm.  

Thirty guests were treated to an exclusive tour of local farms, followed by a four-course al fresco meal on the patio surrounded by hazelnut trees and roaming chickens. Naturally, the dinner featured Vashon Island ingredients. Each course was paired with wines from Palouse Winery and Maury Island Winery 

The farm tour started at Nashi Orchards, a premium producer of handcrafted perry and hard cider. They grow Asian and European pears and heirloom apples on 27 beautiful acres, using sustainable practices. Cheryl and Jim Gerlach, the owners and cider masters, talked the group through a history of the industry. “We work very hard to manage our soil and the condition of our trees to ensure the flavor from our fruit is in every bottle,” Jim said. They helped guests distinguish the subtle differences in the varieties of fruit and took guests on a tour of their new tasting room in the town of Vashon.  

The next stop was to Old Chaser Farm, where Matt Dillon, the award-winning chef behind Sitka & SpruceBar Ferdinand and The London Plane, led tours of the 20-acre organic farm where he raises vegetables and meat, including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens. While walking through the fields of ripe vegetables, Matt talked about Seattle’s current restaurant scene and the importance of sustainability in farming.  

Back at Leslie’s for a cocktail hour, guests snacked on appetizers, including a favorite made with local figs and mascarpone, and enjoyed a signature cocktail made from a local red currant syrup, ginger beer, BSB bourbon, apricot puree and soda water. A naturalist, Greg Rabourn, led guests around Leslie’s farm pointing out wild edible plants we might not recognize.  

Before the meal, everyone gathered for a few words about Green Table Grants. Then guests took their seats, and several long-time Les Dames members began serving food that would have made Alice Waters proud.