The City Cook

With the arrival of winter comes the departure of easily accessible fresh produce.  The temptation to order take-out can be great, at times. However, The City Cook can help you create delicious, simple meals with recipes and a guide to finding the best ingredients in the city – including a section on urban CSAs!

The City Cook
is an elegantly simple and eminently practical guide to fitting great cooking into a busy life and a small kitchen, including more than 90 recipes from Kate McDonough, editor and founder of TheCityCook.com.  You’ll learn how to find the best ingredients at specialty shops and farmers’ markets, how to curate an urban kitchen, and how to entertain in the city.  Deceptively simple showstoppers like Green Beans with Tomatoes and Prosciutto, Salmon Cakes with Spicy Sriracha Mayonnaise, Broiled Black Cod with Miso, and Seared Duck Breasts with Port-Shallot Pan Sauce give you exciting weeknight options. Recipes for Bloody Mary Sorbet with Crab Salad Brioche, Simple Oven-Roasted Whole Duck, and Grand Marnier Soufflé give you an excuse to host a sumptuous supper for your friends.

Tomorrow’s CSA is still happening and in celebration of our last distribution, we will have a potluck and apple recipe swap.

Due to the insane weather conditions, tomorrow’s CSA distribution will be postponed to a later date – either later this week or next Tuesday.  Many of the side streets in Carroll Gardens are still not paved and there are some stranded cars blocking some roads.  We will keep you all updated on when the last distribution will be rescheduled for.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  We hope everyone is staying warm and safe!

The Tribeca CSA is still scheduled for this Wednesday, December 29th.  We will let you know if this changes.

Dear CSA Members,

As I walk through the orchards this time of year, I am reminded of the past but also the future of Red Jacket Orchards.  2010 has truly been the year of innovation for Red Jacket; we have implemented a new environmental-friendly juicing facility, launched our Fresh Bodegas program, and welcomed on board Farmer Mike who has just this year begun to transition Red Jacket Orchards into being organically certified.  The CSA program, which consists of over 150 households throughout New York City, has grown to three distribution sites and we now provide workplace CSAs – the first orchard to do so in New York City.  Our ability to grow as a farm is all due to your support.  More specifically, the CSA program in its first year has provided us with the support to expand our pear production, which we are very excited about.

For us, the most important aspect of CSA is the community; we feel honored to become a staple in your home and welcome you into our own lives.  Thank you for making Red Jacket Orchards a part of your community.  We hope you can all visit us on the farm next CSA season.

From our family to yours, happy holidays!

Brian Nicholson
President of Red Jacket Orchards

The Red Delicious originated at an orchard in 1880.  In the 1980s, the variety represented three-quarters of the harvest in Washington State.  The Red Delicious apple looks great for a long duration and thus are the favored choice for holiday centerpieces and wreaths.


Known as Mutsu in its native Japan, Crispin looks like a large Golden Delicious and indeed one of its parents is Golden Delicious so it has the lovely sweet honeyed flavor.  Crispins are also known as ‘oven busters’ – take a big one home and bake it and you have a feast for two and you don’t need many for a deep apple pie!

Apple Trivia

We’re very excited for our head farmer Mike Biltonen’s lecture this week at Third Ward on heirloom apples.  He will be discussing the four seasons of growing apples, and the history of apples in literature, art, and cuisine.  Q and A will follow.

I’ve created a fun trivia on apples – two winners will be chosen; the prize being two tickets to the lecture (monetary value of $40).  Below are the trivia questions – please send a response back to me (redjacketorchardscsa@gmail.com) by Wednesday evening.  If you’re interested in attending the lecture but missed the registration deadline, you can purchase a ticket through me via e-mail.  As a reminder, the lecture is this Thursday from 7 – 9:30pm.

1.  Which of these is not the name of an heirloom apple?
a. Margil
b.  Gala
c.  Keepsake

2.  Which of these apples originates from Geneva, NY?
a. Honey Crisp
b.  Jonagold
c.  Fuji

3. The Golden Delicious and Cox Orange Pippen are parents of which apple?
a.  SunCrisp
b.  Golden Supreme
c.  Orange Banana

Last week, I threw a bit of a curveball and gave chestnuts in the share.  For those of you who are still unsure on what to do with them, below is an easy recipe to roasting chestnuts and also a video.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in the middle.

Cut an X in rounded side of each chestnut with a small sharp knife. Roast chestnuts, cut side up, in a shallow baking pan until shells curl away from nutmeats, 20 to 30 minutes.

Wrap hot chestnuts in a kitchen towel and squeeze gently to further loosen shells. Let stand, wrapped, 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Here’s what farmer Mike has got to say about this week’s apple:

By today’s standards, the Newtown Pippin isn’t an elite apple like, say, Honeycrisp or Jazz. These two elite apples were carefully selected for their commercial appeal. Newtown Pippins were likely planted for more obscure reasons. What Honeycrisp and Jazz do not have is a connection with our culture, our history, our collective culinary psyche. And it is for this reason that the Newtown Pippin holds such an iconic place in New York City’s apple history. It is without a doubt the Big Apple’s apple.

The Pippin is a somewhat roundish (tending to oblong), yellowish-green apple that resembles (somewhat) a Granny Smith. The flesh is particularly dense without tremendous crunch or juiciness. But the flavor and aroma are heavenly.  Fresh off the tree, the first bite brings a sweet and sour taste with a hint of lemon. The second bite builds on the first and you understand why (perhaps) that first tree was planted on the Gershom Moore estate in the village of Elmhurst, then known as Newtown. The Moore property stood in the vicinity of what is now Broadway and 45th Avenue in Queens County on Long Island. This sweet and tart green apple became so prized by the most cultured citizens of our new republic that Thomas Jefferson declared from France, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown pippin.”

A few years ago Red Jacket Orchards planted an orchard to Newtown Pippin. This was done in part to diversify its apple plantings, but also to pay homage to the role apples, especially the Pippin, play to New York apples. In addition to our Pippins, we have some Cox Orange Pippin (another great apple that plays a major role in the history of apples), Baldwin (another big NY apple), Margil, and Lady apple (perhaps one of the oldest apples in production—dating back to the 1500s in France). Because of its commitment to heritage apples and sustainable farming, Red Jacket Orchards is well poised to be NYC’s orchard of choice when it comes to all things fruit.

Heirloom apples offer more than just history for appeal. Because they have not been selected for cosmetic values—many are russetted, small, generally unappealing from a commercial standpoint—they have retained what is great about them: their uniqueness. Each heirloom variety has its own look, flavor, aroma, and texture. And because of this, each variety deserves a looksee. But start with the Newtown Pippin, because there is little about this apple that isn’t New York—except that it doesn’t have pinstripes.

Tomatoes might be sitting on top of the proverbial heirloom throne, but how much do you know about heirloom apples? You can purchase a Red Delicious or one of a couple other varieties at the store, but it’s become very difficult to experience the beautiful variety that apples can provide. The history of apples goes back thousands of years and thousands of varieties. It is only with relatively recent modern agriculture methods that we’ve been limited to our current choices. Heirloom varieties are slowly making a comeback through the work of small farms and customers that our beginning to demand more authentic flavors.

Join Red Jacket Orchards’ head farmer Mike Biltonen as he discusses the history of apples in literature, art, and cuisine, and how these heirlooms are being preserved.  Participants will also learn about the four seasons of growing apples.  The class will also include a tasting of different hard-to-find varieties, heirloom apple ciders, and, the best use of heirloom apples, hard cider. Q & A session to follow.

Mike Biltonen is the Farm Manager of Red Jacket Orchards. He is a lifelong farmer with a passion for great tasting, sustainably grown food. With over 25 years experience farming here, there, and everywhere, he also loves to teach about what he’s learned over the years. But mostly he just likes to farm. And eat heirloom apples with friends and foodies alike.

When: December 16, 2010 from 7:00 – 9:30pm
: Third Ward, Brooklyn
Cost: $15 for Third Ward Members, $20 for non members

To purchase tickets, please e-mail me at redjacketorchardscsa@gmail.com

The Stayman Apple was developed by Joseph Stayman in 1866 and is a descendent of the Winesap apple.  Although developed in Leavenworth, Kansas, this heirloom apple is commonly associated with Virginia, where it is widely grown in pick-your-own orchards.