Monthly Archives: March 2010

Viva la Causa!

There is no food justice without labor justice.  No workers, no farms. No farms, no food.

“In 1962 César Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers – the UFW. He was joined by Dolores Huerta and the union was born. That same year Richard Chávez designed the UFW Eagle and César chose the black and red colors. César told the story of the birth of the eagle. He asked Richard to design the flag, but Richard could not make an eagle that he liked. Finally he sketched one on a piece of brown wrapping paper. He then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on the handmade red flags that would give courage to the farm workers with their own powerful symbol. César made reference to the flag by stating, “A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride . . . When people see it they know it means dignity.”

For a long time in 1962, there were very few union dues paying members. By 1970 the UFW got grape growers to accept union contracts and had effectively organized most of that industry, at one point in time claiming 50,000 dues paying members. The reason was César Chávez’s tireless leadership and nonviolent tactics that included the Delano grape strike, his fasts that focused national attention on farm workers problems, and the 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966. The farm workers and supporters carried banners with the black eagle with HUELGA (strike) and VIVA LA CAUSA (Long live our cause). The marchers wanted the state government to pass laws which would permit farm workers to organize into a union and allow collective bargaining agreements. César made people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. He succeeded through nonviolent tactics (boycotts, pickets, and strikes). César Chávez and the union sought recognition of the importance and dignity of all farm workers. 

It was the beginning of La Causa, a cause that was supported by organized labor, religious groups, minorities, and students. César Chávez had the foresight to train his union workers and then to send many of them into the cities where they were to use the boycott and picket as their weapon.

César was willing to sacrifice his own life so that the union would continue and that violence was not used. César fasted many times. In 1968 César went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days. What motivated him to do this? He said, Farm workers everywhere are angry and worried that we cannot win without violence. We have proved it before through persistence, hard work, faith and willingness to sacrifice. We can win and keep our own self-respect and build a great union that will secure the spirit of all people if we do it through a re-dedication and re-commitment to the struggle for justice through nonviolence.”  –UFW

On Wednesday, March 31 (on what would have been the farm labor and civil rights leader’s 83rd birthday), President Obama will meet with members of the Chávez family, UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta to sign a proclamation designating March 31, 2010 as César Chávez Day.

No workers, no farms.  No farms, no food.

Local Flavors at Art City Austin

“Dive into Austin’s fresh and flavorful culinary arts at Art City Austin 2010. With partner Edible Austin, Art City Austin 2010 is showcasing the best of Austin’s local flavors..”

The Art City Austin Café by Edible Austin. Photo by Jake Holt.

“Art Week Austin culminates with Art City Austin, a city-wide art celebration where the creative community and those who support it converge to celebrate Austin’s dynamic art scene. Previously known as Laguna Gloria Art Fiesta, Art City Austin takes place in Austin’s flourishing downtown retail and cultural district. This will be the 60th year of the city-wide art celebration and over 20,000 attendees are expected…”

“The Art City Austin Café by Edible Austin will feature local food partners including Aster’s Ethiopian, Best Wurst, Boomerang’s Pies, Co-Op Coffee, County Fair Catering, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Reel Popcorn, Snowie Shaved Ice, Mmmpanadas, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, Tiff’s Treats Cookie Delivery, Ch’Lantro BBQ, Torchy’s Tacos and Zhi Tea…”

Art City Austin runs April 24-25, 2010.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.artallianceaustin.org/ or contact

Jordan Jeffus
Giant Media
512 462-4666

Seared Duck Liver with Crispy-Fried Shallots, Porcini and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Fresh duck liver is seasoned simply with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then seared over high heat with a bit of clarified butter.  The pan is deglazed with Armagnac then reduced with duck stock, verjus and demi-glace. Served over wilted spinach with crispy-fried shallots, porcini mushrooms and a garlic croûton.

Although high in cholesterol, duck liver is low-fat, low-calorie and extraordinarily high in Vitamins A and B12.  It is also a very good source of protein and iron..

Seared Duck Liver with Wilted Spinach, Crispy-Fried Porcini, Shallots and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Verjuice (from Middle French vertjus “green juice”) is a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations.

Picking green grapes for making verjuice. Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Paris Bibliothèque nationale

Grilled Rabbit Sausage with Ginger & Green Peppercorn Demi-Glace, Black Truffle Escaoutoun

Ariane Daguin’s rabbit sausage is grilled over a wood fire then briefly braised in a roasted game stock demi-glace with green peppercorns, scallions and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur.  Served with black truffle escaoutoun..

Grilled Rabbit Sausage with Ginger & Green Peppercorn Demi-Glace, Black Truffle Escaoutoun

Wood-Grilled Pork Fillet with Fresh Herbs, Wild Fennel Pollen and Red Onion Marmalade

Local, pastured pork tenderloin is marinated in olive oil, fresh thyme & rosemary and wild fennel pollen then grilled over a wood fire and served with a marmalade of red onions and fresh oranges with roasted jalapeño, red bell pepper and green garlic..

Wood-Grilled Pork Fillet with Fresh Herbs, Wild Fennel Pollen and Red Onion Marmalade

For the Marinade

2/3 cup good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon wild fennel pollen
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and allow to stand 30 minutes.

For the Marmalade

1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 fresh orange, peeled, sectioned, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon marinade from recipe above
2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 medium jalapeño, grilled and chopped
1 2-3 inch section green garlic, grilled and sliced
1/4 medium red bell pepper, grilled and diced

Heat butter and oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Add oranges and orange juice and cook until disintegrated, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in grilled jalapeño, green garlic and bell pepper. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

To prepare, grill thick, marinated pork fillets (or an entire tenderloin) on the hottest side of the grill for about 5 minutes or until well marked, then turn and move to the cooler side of the grill, baste with additional marinade and cover until done, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from grill and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving over warm red onion marmalade.

Wild Fennel Pollen comes from fennel flowers picked at full bloom. The plants are then dried and the pollen sifted out, yielding an exquisite spice that has the aroma of fennel, but is sweeter and far more intense in flavor than the other parts of the plant.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Stinging Nettles and Parmesan Cream

Sweet and russet potatoes are boiled and mashed with sprouted wheat flour, pastured egg, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and served in a sauce of fried sage, shallots and garlic with fresh cream, steamed nettles and grated Parmesan.  Topped with toasted pine nuts and shaved Asiago..

Sweet
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Stinging Nettles and Parmesan Cream

For the Gnocchi

3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup sprouted wheat flour
1 large, pastured egg
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
bowl of ice water
olive oil

Boil potatoes until soft then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a cutting board (reserve cooking water). Mash the still-hot potatoes with ricer or a large fork until mostly smooth, then allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

Gather the potatoes into a mound and create a well in the center. Sprinkle the flour over the top, then crack an egg into the center.  Add salt and pepper and stir into the flour and potatoes as you would regular pasta. Knead gently until nearly dry, about 4 minutes.

Roll dough into 3/4″ diameter cylinders, then cut into 1″ lengths. Squish each gnocchi against the back of a fork then drop into boiling water and cook until they float, about 1 minute. Transfer to ice bath and allow to cool.  Drain, lightly coat with olive oil and hold until ready to use.

For the Cream Sauce

1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 clove garlic, slivered
8 fresh sage leaves, torn
1 tablespoon butter
1 oz white wine
1 cup fresh cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups fresh nettles, steamed, drained and chopped as you would for fresh spinach
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add shallot, garlic and sage and fry until slightly crisp. Add wine and reduce until nearly dry. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly whisk in cream. Cook until reduced in volume by about 1/3, then stir in Parmesan and nettles.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the gnocchi to the pan and heat through.

To serve, spoon gnocchi and cream sauce onto a plate or shallow bowl and garnish with toasted pine nuts and shaved asiago.

This post is part of Meatless Monday!