Monday, October 15, 2018

In Season: Check Out Chicories!


In the most recent Beaverton Farmers Market newsletter, market manager Ginger Rapport shared a comprehensive compendium of one of my favorite winter salad greens—though some tend to the reddish end of the spectrum. Their slightly bitter edge can be mitigated by soaking the chopped leaves in cold water for a couple of hours ahead of time, a trick I learned from Nostrana's Cathy Whims. Scroll down for a fantastic and slightly sweet dressing to serve on a salad of these lovelies.

Chicories are closely related to lettuces, but are heartier and have a bitter edge. They are cool weather crops that come into season in late fall and some are starting to appear in our grower’s stalls. They include Belgian endive, curly endive, escarole and radicchio.

Belgian endive.

Belgian Endive is grown indoors, in the dark, to maintain the extremely pale yellow, almost white, tightly packed head of leaves. Red Belgian Endive is technically a small, forced radicchio. They can be used interchangeably with traditional Belgian Endive.

Curly Endive (a.k.a. Frisée) has tightly closed, frizzy heads most commonly used in salads but it is also tasty when quickly sautéed with a bit of vinegar, such as sherry vinegar or balsamic.

Escarole.

Escarole is crunchy, green and bitter. It stands up to bold dressings in salads but is also good grilled or broiled for a powerful accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats, and is fabulous creamed or in soups.

Radicchio, possibly the most well-known chicory, grows in small heads that are brilliant magenta. It is often used in salads but also shines when cooked a bit. It pairs particularly well with assertive ingredients such as olives, blue cheese, apples, figs and walnuts.

Speckled Radicchio is a cross between radicchio and escarole. It has a mild flavor with delicate leaves that can be used in salads but is sturdy enough to stand up to a little cooking.

Arch Cape chicory from Ayers Creek Farm.

Treviso Radicchio is similar in flavor to regular radicchio but is a little sweeter and grows in longer, looser-leafed heads. One unusual type, developed from an Italian variety and available locally in early March, is the Arch Cape chicory developed by Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm. Use treviso leaves in salads. Whole heads can be quartered and lightly grilled, or even stuffed and sautéed.

Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped shallots
6 small brown turkey figs
4 tsp. honey, or to taste
1/8-1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until emulsified.

Top photo of chicories from Flying Coyote Farm at the Hollywood Farmers Market. List of chicories was distilled and edited from The Spruce Eats.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Taste of Europe with Dr. Lorenzo Terzi


Get a taste of food policy as well as Oregon and European food and wine next Thursday, October 18, when I moderate a panel discussion featuring Dr. Lorenzo Terzi, European Union Minister Counselor for Health and Food Safety; along with Alexis Taylor, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture; Katy Millard, owner and chef of Coquine and a 2018 James Beard Award finalist; and Oren Kariri, Food Safety Manager of New Seasons Market. Scroll to the bottom of the post for details!

Trade in food, plants and seeds has been going on since humans appeared on the scene, when potatoes and corn made their way from the Americas over to Europe, and the Spice Route, also known as the Silk Road, spread food and other goods along thousands of miles of terrain between Asia and Europe.

Dr. Lorenzo Terzi.

Now things are a little more complicated, with strict regulations governing imports and exports between trading partners, and with standards on both sides of the Atlantic affecting what's on our plates today and how our global health might be affected tomorrow. One of the people who gets to worry about those regulations is Dr. Lorenzo Terzi (pron. TEHRT-see), a minister for health and food safety with the European Union (EU).

He's coming to Portland to help raise awareness about the European Union's standards for health and safety, touted to be, along with those of the U.S., among the highest standards in the world. The EU Delegation decided to come to Oregon because of its standing as an important trading partner in agricultural products, or what Terzi calls "agri-food."

In fact, it's the second trip for Terzi to Oregon in the last month, the first being an audit of U.S. standards and controls for plants and seeds intended for export to the EU to avoid the spread of pathogens. On this trip, in addition to the tasting and panel discussion, he'll be visiting a mint farm and a hazelnut orchard, both export crops for the state.

With school children (and the school's goat) in Austin, TX.

His current position involved moving to Washington, D.C., a little over a year ago and working on the complexities of negotiations of trade agreements and regulations as they intersect with animal health, public health and food safety, animal welfare, and plant health. It also involves the difficult task of maneuvering around what he terms "red lines," or, as he describes it, "where it is objectively difficult to make progress or almost impossible." Those involve issues like hormones in meat or the use of certain chemicals in slaughterhouses, or the ability for the EU to export pasteurized dairy products like yogurt to the U.S.

Since coming to the United States, Terzi has noticed a definite shift toward products that are sold as sustainable, grass-fed, pasture-raised or non-GMO, though he said there is almost no visibility of those products in Europe. As for organic products, the U.S. and EU have been able to work out equivalent labeling and, he said, "wide areas [of grocery stores] are dedicated to these products both here and in the EU."

Terzi said that his passion for his work springs from his upbringing in a family of farmers in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy near Bologna. He still owns a small farm in the area and tries to make it back at least twice a year where, as he says, he has to fight with the weeds that seem determined to take it over. Should he win that battle, he said, he'd like to cultivate his current interest in the medicinal plants of the Mediterranean bush, and maybe some olive trees to support the olive production of his province.

"Farmers are farmers, both in the US and the EU," Terzi said. "They have hard work and to me they are heroes."

The free Taste of Europe in Portland event is on Thursday, Oct. 18, 6-9 p.m., at the U of O White Stag Building, 70 NW Couch St. Register for tickets here.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Warm-Up for Fall: Pot Roast Bourguignon


One neighbor remarked while passing by that the ash trees surrounding our house were "over-achievers" since their golden leaves are the first to fall in our neighborhood. Which means we're finished with the raking and piling when the leaves are still relatively dry and easy to gather up rather than sodden and heavy later on.

Before roasting…

Raking even our relatively small corner lot is still a lot of hard work, especially if your normal workout involves lifting a coffee cup to your lips or casually strolling around the neighborhood with your dogs. The heavenly pot roast recipe below is super simple and can be assembled and put in the oven to braise for a few hours while you're outside doing yardwork. Plus it provides an excuse to schedule breaks every hour or so to check and make sure the liquid hasn't all cooked away (add water if it seems low).

…and after. Mmmmmm!

The smell when you come in the house for those "breaks" will give you motivation to get the outside work done quicker, too, the better to come inside and enjoy a cocktail while you make a salad and boil some potatoes to serve alongside. And sitting down to a hearty and flavor-filled dinner that basically cooks itself? I can't think of a better reward for all that hard work!

Pot Roast Bourguignon

This is extremely easy to make, but you'll need to get it in the oven four hours before dinner or make it the day before. Cutting back on the time in the oven makes for a less than stellar texture.

4 slices bacon, cut in 1/4" pieces
1 3-5 lb. chuck roast
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped in 1/2" dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
2 ribs celery, chopped in 1/4" slices
4 carrots, sliced in 1/4" rounds
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 quart (32 oz.) roasted tomatoes
3-4 c. red wine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put bacon in a large braising pot that can go in the oven and fry till fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add onions and garlic and sauté 2-3 min., then add carrots and celery and sauté 2-3 min. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté till soft. Stir in tomatoes and herbs, then add wine. Sprinkle roast generously with salt and pepper add to pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and place pot in oven, baking for 2 hrs. Remove meat from pot and slice in 1/4" slices, then return the sliced meat to the pot, covering with sauce and vegetables. Cover and bake for another 1 1/2 hrs.