Employee Recipe Series: Scott Romine’s Chopped Cheese

We’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary by sharing some of our staff’s favorite recipes using Macrina Bakery products.

“I took a trip to New York City about a year ago with a buddy to see one of our favorite childhood bands that broke up when I was young and recently got back together. Our lunch each day was either an Italian sandwich or a chopped cheese from different bodegas around the city,” recalls Scott Romine, Human Resources General Manager at Macrina Bakery. This New York bodega staple left an indelible mark on Scott, inspiring him to recreate it at home in Seattle. “Our Ciabatta Bun is airy with a delicate crust but holds up to the filling,” says Scott.

The Chopped Cheese sandwich, for quite some time, maintained a subtle yet fervent following, adored by those who’d savored it in neighborhood bodegas since childhood, yet still a hidden gem to countless others  — earning itself a cult-like status in certain circles. The origin of this blend of ground beef, onions, and cheese on a hero roll can be traced back to the late Carlos Soto, a grill master at Harlem’s Blue Sky Deli (formerly Hajji’s). As Anthony Bourdain and others spread the word, the sandwich captured the hearts and palates of countless food enthusiasts beyond local bodegas.

At Macrina Bakery, the Ciabatta Bun has become a popular choice for many Seattle restaurants as their go-to burger bun. This “Italian slipper bread” is soft and airy, with a thin crust that makes it perfect for sandwiches and burgers.

Chopped Cheese on Ciabatta Buns Recipe


1 Tbsp olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 thin slices cheddar cheese (think American Cheese slices)
4 Macrina Ciabatta Buns
1 tomato, sliced
½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded


Heat the oil in a pan, aiming for the highest possible temperature without causing it to burn. The goal is to imitate a kitchen flattop, so the hotter, the better.

Combine the ground beef, minced onion, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in the pan. Cook until the beef is halfway done, then add the minced garlic.

Once the beef has browned, drain any excess fat. Return the pan to the burner and turn off the heat. Lay the cheese slices on top of the beef. Allow it to sit long enough for the cheese to melt, and then use a spatula to “chop” the cheese into the beef mixture.

Pile the cheesy beef onto the lightly toasted Macrina Ciabatta Buns and garnish with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. Serve with mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup, based on individual preferences.

Scott recommends accompanying the sandwich with a salad or another vegetable dish to create a more balanced meal. As a side, consider Tim’s original or jalapeño chips, and finish off the meal with an Olivia’s Chocolate Chip cookie for dessert. Enjoy!


Win Two Seats at our Maple Leaf Pop-Up Dinner on Thursday, August 10!

Five years ago, we threw a celebratory pop-up dinner for our 25th Anniversary — a smashing success. Now, with our 30th looming, we’re setting the stage again. Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, will collaborate with our Savory Team to serve one of her favorite meals to 30 fortunate guests on Thursday, August 10, at our new Maple Leaf café. Enter to win two dinner seats by sending your treasured Macrina memory to marketing@macrinabakery.com.

One of the best parts of the last pop-up dinner were the stories people shared. They illustrated the many ways Macrina has enhanced their lives. We heard stories of people discovering a community of food lovers at Macrina, or finding a home away from home. One woman treated construction workers remodeling her house to homemade goodies from the Macrina cookbooks every Friday for a year. An almost-daily visitor to Macrina started bringing her daughter to our Belltown café in a stroller 24 years ago. Her daughter now lives across the country, but when visiting she always insists on Macrina for brunch. A man met his future wife at the Sodo café on a blind date and celebrated their love story this Valentine’s Day with a pillow etched with “It All Began With Coffee at Macrina.” A new transplant to Seattle found solace in tea and pastries at our Queen Anne café. We could go on, but we’d rather hear from you.

What are your Macrina stories?

To see this year’s menu, you’ll have to win two seats to the dinner — but here’s a glimpse of the last one. Guests were welcomed with a mingle session featuring sparkling wine, craft cocktails, and appetizers. The first course was a handmade pappardelle pasta with garden tomatoes and fresh herbs. For the main course, attendees selected between beef tenderloin or king salmon, served with smoked risotto, local corn, chanterelles, and gremolata. We poured a favorite Washington state Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. We finished off the meal with an indulgent trio of summer berry pudding, lemon tart, and chocolate torte with red wine glaze, fresh berries and sweetened whipped cream.

Reflecting on our last pop-up dinner, Leslie says, “Watching the guests arrive was a joy. I recognized many faces, mentally associating stories with people. Over the next three hours, the room buzzed with laughter and lively conversation. I flitted from kitchen to dining room, relishing the sight of strangers introducing themselves and soon sharing stories over a meal at Macrina. I heard new friends planning to meet up in the future!”

Send your Macrina stories to marketing@macrinabakery.com by August 1 with the subject line “Macrina Pop-Up Dinner Contest” for a shot at two seats to an unforgettable dinner!

Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake

With our 30th Anniversary approaching, I’m revisiting some of my favorite recipes. This version of our Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake is a lighter version of a gem from our first cookbook, Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook, that was published in celebration of our 10-year anniversary in 2003. Our wonderful editor, Suzanne De Galan, loved this recipe and fervently lobbied to have it included. The original cake was an indulgent treat, rich and dense with chocolate, butter and sweet cherries. In tune with contemporary tastes, I’ve lightened up the batter and added fresh cherries to celebrate the lovely Bing cherries grown here in Washington state. Enjoy!
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here. 

Makes one 12-inch Bundt cake

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted + 12 oz unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature
2 cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted and cut in half (individually quick frozen cherries also work well)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1½ cups dark cocoa powder
2¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3¼ cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp brandy or vanilla extract
5 eggs
1½ cups buttermilk

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare a 12-inch Bundt pan by brushing with 2 Tbsp melted butter and dust with flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cherries and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the remaining 3 sticks of butter, sugar and brandy or vanilla using the paddle attachment. Begin on slow speed for 2 minutes, then increase to medium speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale and light in texture. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl after adding a few eggs.

Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. With the last addition of flour, fold in the cherries and chocolate chips. Mix until all ingredients are just incorporated.

Pour or scoop the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top for even baking.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache glaze. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it just reaches a boil, then remove from heat. Add both types of chocolate chips to the hot cream, whisking until the chips are completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Let cool for 1 hour.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish.

Drizzle the warm ganache over the cake, and garnish with fresh cherries and edible flowers, if desired.

Our New Seeded Multigrain Loaf

Our SEEDED Multigrain loaf is our most whole-grain loaf to date.

“When I started Macrina, thirty years ago, it was thrilling to be part of the artisan bread movement that brought French and Italian-style breads to many cities in America,” says Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder. “These days, I’m even more excited about the heritage grain movement. The new flours that are available now make me as excited to be baking today as I was when I opened Macrina.”

As our 30th Anniversary quickly approaches, and an increasing number of customer request whole grain breads, Leslie has created a new loaf that is our most whole grain loaf to date. In addition to providing a pleasing texture, the higher fiber in the whole grain flours offer greater nutritional density, an important consideration of ours.

The Seeded Multigrain Loaf features locally grown and milled organic flours from Cairnspring Mills located in the Skagit Valley. The best reason for using local flours is the flavor, but it’s also good for the local economy and reduces shipping distances. Additionally, the farmers growing the grains Cairnspring purchases and mills use environmentally friendly farming methods to reduce their carbon footprint.

To make the loaf, we start by toasting and soaking a nine-grain cereal. Then we add our Casera starter — the first ever created at Macrina — and a blend of flours, including whole grain wheat and rye flours, ground pumpkin and sunflower seeds, sea salt, and a touch of honey and molasses. The fermentation period is over eight hours, which adds flavor and longevity. Before baking we roll the loaf in toasted sunflower seeds and bake it to achieve a crisp and caramelized crust.

Leslie says, “This loaf celebrates our local economy, our reverence for the great work Bread Lab and Cairnsprings Mill are doing, and meets our customers’ desire for a tasty whole grain bread.”

Check out all the upcoming events we have in store for our 30th Anniversary!