CSA Smackdown 2013 Recap

Grand Street CSA’s Smackdown
at LES Flea  
        On September 15, 2013, Grand Street CSA and LES Flea presented a local food cooking competition to determine which CSA members would represent Grand Street CSA at Just Food’s Great CSA Smackdown. Fresh produce was provided by our farmers Norwich Meadows Farm. Special thanks to support from Qiana from Just Food; our Farmers, Zaid & Haifa; and our judges: Anat & Kaya of Cafe Petisco, Sanyu from LES Flea, Rose from the Abrons Art Center!
Flea Market shoppers, CSA members, and special guests joined our panel of esteemed judges to watch, as our two teams each stepped up to create a delicious dish with fresh produce from that week’s CSA distribution, a handful of staples and just 30 minutes to cook.
Shafar WUJS: Jenna & Lisa
The Emo Eggplants: Dan & Caroline
Our judges support our mission of bringing local food to the neighborhood for everyone to enjoy. 
Grand Street CSA’s MC Deb introduces the competitors.

Local Produce and Staples
Ginger – a surprise ingredient from Norwich Meadows Farm

Shafar WUJS 
the runners up 
Melon Cup Fruit Salad
1 Plum
1 Nectarine 
1 Melon
1 Apple
Cup of Husk Cherries
1 Tomato
Tablespoon Butter
1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup of Honey

1. Cut fruit in slices.

2. Cut melon in half and scoop out insides. 
3. Combine balsamic and honey in a small pot.  Bring to a running boil on high heat. Continue on a low simmer for about 10 minutes or until mixture has a thick consistency. Take off heat and cool.
4. In a pan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add cut apples and stir until golden, about 3 minutes. 
5. Combine all fruit except melon in a bowl with balsamic reduction.

6. Neatly place fruit in melon and top with mint.

The Emo Eggplants
winners and reigning champions 
 Three Mini-courses
  Course one was a salad of melon & tomato with edamame & husk cherries tossed in balsamic/honey dressing & served on a lettuce leaf.

Course two was squash pasta (zuchini cut on our mandolin to mimic fettuccine & sautéed in butter to soften) with a spicy sour tomatillo sauce.
Course three was turnips, apples, nectarines, plums & ginger carmelized in butter & honey & served on an apple chip.

Thanks to all our participants for a great event!

Emo Eggplants Winning Smackdown Dishes

Grand Street CSA’s own Emo Eggplants, Dan & Caroline, cooked their way to Smackdown glory in Just Food’s first ever CSA Smackdown Final on January 5, 2013!! It was a great afternoon of local food. Thanks to Dan & Caroline for providing details on their winning dishes – innovative but simple takes on local, cold-weather vegetables. Check out Just Food’s Smackdown Page for a full recap. Scroll down to find out about Grand Street CSA’s 2013 season.

Grand Street CSA’s Top Chefs
Dan & Caroline’s winning dish at the September 30th qualifying event
    Delicata Squash Donuts with Kale and Red Cabbage Fall Slaw
  • Delicata squash was sliced into rings, dipped in egg, coated in cornmeal and fried crispy golden brown.  A small ring of onion and a small slice of poblano pepper were prepared in the same way to accompany the squash.
  • For the slaw, kale and red cabbage were sliced into thin strips and marinated and tossed in a dressing made from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, diced jalapeno pepper with the seeds removed, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cauliflower florets were added for color, texture, and flavor.
 The 2013 Great CSA Smackdown Winner
Reconstructionist Latkes with Apples and Honey and Kale Salad

The two different latkes are a reconstructed take on traditional Jewish potato pancakes. 

  • Shredded potato, kohlrabi and carrot seasoned with salt and pepper and mixed with egg were fried in olive oil and topped with diced apples (with the skin on) that had been sauteed in butter and honey.
  • Shredded potato, bok choy, broccoli rabe, and garlic were mixed with egg and a liberal amount of pecorino romano cheese and fried in olive oil to form the second latke.  
  • The latkes were served with a raw kale salad dressed in olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, siracha, salt, pepper, and pecorino romano cheese to taste.

What can I do with Swiss Chard?

Find yourself stumped by this leafy green?

We posed the question to Chef Anat at neighborhood favorite, Cafe Petisco, whose Green Shakshuka (a weekend brunch item featuring melting, creamy greens, including Swiss chard) is a favorite among the Core. Here are some of the flavorful ideas she shared with us:

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts & Raisins
Saute Swiss chard in olive oil with garlic, salt & pepper.
Move cooked chard to a bowl and mix with raisins & pine nuts.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve!

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Onion, Tomato & Garbanzo Beans
Saute 1 sliced onion, add garlic, fresh ripe diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, tumeric, dried oregano. Add swiss chard and cook for about 10-15 min adding vegetable stock or water when needed. Add garbanzo beans, mix well, and cook for a few more minutes until beans are heated through.

“Mac & Swiss

Add sauteed Swiss shard finely chopped to your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Just add when assembling the chard in the baking dish, top with bread crumbs & bake

Swiss Chard Tzatziki with Pita Chips
Blanch Swiss chard (Cook in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Removed chard to cold/ice water bath to cool.) Drain chard and squeeze to remove all water, finely chop chard and mix with Greek yogurt, chopped garlic, Cayenne, S&P, lemon juice & extra virgin olive oil to taste. Mix well & serve with pita chips.

Thanks for the inspiration, Anat!

More Garlic Scape Inspiration …

From our friends at the Hester Street Fair CSA………

Scapes are fleeting. They’re the holiday that comes around once a year. And when they’re gone – they’re truly gone. Scapes are the green tops of the garlic bulbs that farmers cut around this time of year to allow the bulbs to grow larger and stronger. Farmers have known forever that scapes have a delicate garlic flavor and can be used in cooking. Now that farm to table has become a widely agreed upon philosophy, garlic scapes have finally made it into our urban homes.

Slice and add scapes to any stir fry recipe
Add scapes to soup stock for a little fresh garlic flavor
Chop scapes and add them to softened cream cheese for a tasty spread
Chop scapes and add to sour cream to make dip
Scapes are a great additions to salads
Use scapes in any recipe just as you would use green onions or garlic
Add chopped scapes to bruschetta, guacamole, or salsa
Chop scapes and sprinkle them over pasta
Sauté sliced scapes about 5 minutes in olive oil and add to mashed potatoes
Chop scapes and sprinkle over baked potatoes
Toss them in olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper and lightly grill

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

From our farmers comes this recipe, in case you still have last week’s scapes sitting around:

Garlic Scape Pesto
This packs a flavor punch! Yummy!


  • 6-7 garlic scapes
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, parsley, arugula or spinach (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup parmesean cheese
  • salt to taste
  • juice from half a lemon
  • olive oil, about 3/4 to 1 cup

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend. With processor running, pour olive oil over the mixture. Blend until pesto is spreadable. Serve over pasta. Pesto can also be frozen.

All That Purslane – What to do?

Here is some info from a CSA in Illinois on the succulent green veg we’ve seen a lot of the past few weeks:

Think of it as a weed, and you’ll be missing out on one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach, as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium. Historically it has been used as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation by European cultures. Chinese herbalists found similar benefits, using it in respiratory and circulatory function. Recently, it’s been found that purslane has alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Researchers see evidence that these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as make the blood less likely to form clots. And, purslane has only 15 calories per 100 g portion.

Storage: Best if used fresh. But, if you must store it, wrap purslane in a moist paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.

Preparation: Wash. Remove larger stems. Some recipes use leaves only. Purslane can be substituted for spinach or wild greens in lasagnas, filled pastas, and Greek-style tarts.

For links to recipes, including several potato salads and a purslane, lamb and lentil stew, see the complete post here: Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture.

The New York Times Dining section featured purslane in 2006 with two more delicious sounding salads.

[Also, remember that we have veggie tip sheets from Just Food available online. Including one for purslane.]

Grill-a-Chef Recipes

Josh Stokes had a hand-out at distribution on Tuesday with a few very nice recipes, including the kale kimchi and zucchini relish that he had samples of. If you didn’t grab a piece of paper, here’s the PDF:

Plum Crumble

CSA member Amy Carlson suggests this recipe from the New York Times for this week’s Italian plums:


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 12 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 well beaten egg
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Vanilla ice cream, optional.


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.
  2. Thoroughly mix brown sugar, 1½ tablespoons flour, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground ginger and candied ginger. Add to plums and mix well. Arrange, skin side up, in ungreased, deep 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Combine remaining sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in egg. Then, using hands, mix thoroughly to produce little particles. Sprinkle over plums.
  4. Drizzle butter evenly over crumb mixture and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Crumble is done when top is browned and plums yield easily when pricked with cake tester. Remove from oven and cool.
  5. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to two days or freeze well covered. If reheating, bring to room temperature then warm at 300 degrees. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Total time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Fresh Fruit Compote

CSA Member Donna Gallers shares this recipe:

This refreshing dessert is a great way to use up all that extra fruit from the farm share or farmer’s market before it gets over-ripe (or even when it does — just cut away any parts that are bad). It is thickened with kuzu root starch, which is available as a chunky powder in natural food stores, often in the macrobiotic foods section. The kuzu adds no discernible flavor to the dish.

Prep & cooking time: Approximately 45 minutes (plus cooling time if serving chilled)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 3-4 cups fresh peaches and plums (I used 6-8 small peaches and 6 small prune plums)
  • Handful of blueberries if you have them
  • 3 tbsp kuzu root starch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1-2 lemon wedges
  • 1-2 tbsp natural sweetener of your choice (optional—you can try agave, honey, maple syrup, etc. I have also used lucuma powder.)

Wash, pit and cut fruit into small pieces (approx. bite size). Place in a saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Add the juice of the lemon wedges, and sweetener if desired (I like the naturally tart fruit flavor and often leave mine unsweetened).

Simmer at low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, until fruit softens and breaks apart. (You can help it along by mushing up some of the fruit with a wooden spoon, but leave some small chunks for texture.)

Dissolve kuzu root starch in 6 tbsp cold or room temperature water.** Add to the fruit and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thick. Pour into dessert dishes. Serve warm or chilled. If served immediately, dessert will be a very thick liquid; for a more gelled texture, chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour (this is how I prefer it!).

Serve plain or be creative with toppings: try chopped nuts, granola, or (for chilled version) a dollop of fresh whipped cream or plain yogurt.

You can also experiment with cooking other fruits, such as nectarines, berries, or cherries. If you like a tart dessert, try adding some cranberries.

**The general rule for thick desserts is: 1 tbsp kuzu dissolved in 2 tbsp water for each cup of liquid, i.e. cooked fruit. So if you cook a larger amount of fruit, increase kuzu and water accordingly.

Donna Gallers is a licensed massage therapist and holistic health coach based on the Lower East Side.
www.donnagallers.com or www.dgallers.vpweb.com

Just Food’s Veggie Tip Sheets

Some of you have seen at distribution a big notebook with a page for just about every vegetable we might get during the season (and many we won’t) — from Aji dulce peppers to Yukina savoy.

The notebook has over 100 tip sheets, with advice about how to store, prep, and cook various items. They’re prepared by Just Food, the great organization that helps set up CSAs in NYC (and helped get us started in 2008).

Now Just Food’s Veggie Tip Sheets are available in their entirety in your web browser.

For example, from this week’s shares, cucumbers:

  • Cucumbers need to be stored in the refrigerator in order to retain their moisture.
  • They will keep well for up to 10 days in the refrigerator drawer if they are kept whole.
  • Once they have been cut, cucumbers will deteriorate quickly.

Also, did you know that only one gene separates a nectarine from a peach? It’s the gene that makes peaches fuzzy.

Thanks to core member Jeff Schiller for getting these digital files by correctly answering a trivia question at Just Food’s recent CSA picnic. The question: from how many states do NYC’s CSAs get their food? Answer: four. (But he’s not sure which four!)