Nextdoorganics is the most original, accessible and innovative CSA that you have never heard of and you should.
I first heard about them through a post on my local neighborhood blog. Nextdoorganics was getting ready to launch their Winter CSA and one of their pick-up locations happened to be at my local bar/florist (no I am not kidding about this).
What makes Nextdoorganics different from other Winter CSA’s though is that they are not offering a farm share. Instead, you are receiving a weekly selection of fresh baked bread, farm cheese, organic eggs, and items from a locally sourced pantry.
This appealed to me. It was something different for a winter share. Normally with a winter CSA you are walking into root or storage vegetables, squashes and perhaps some canned or frozen veggies from the summer. That just didn’t interest me, it was going to get boring. I’d rather pick up items from the farmer’s market or see what was available seasonally from Fresh Direct (who also supplies local fruits and vegetables).
Thus far, every item received has been outstanding. The bread is made fresh at Roberta’s in Bushwick, we had a delicious pork hand pie that was devoured faster than it took me to take the photos. I’ve also brought home hand churned butter, fresh goat cheese, two types of cheddar cheese (one of which I’ve featured in a recipe below), granola, and jams.
The best part, if I can’t make a week, with advance notice, I can skip it and not be charged, but why would I? The product is too good not to. This CSA is risk free and less commitment than your regular CSA. They will also deliver to the areas that they don’t have pick-ups at or to Manhattan for a small fee.
Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Bacon Bread Crumbs
For this recipe, I utilized the smoked cheddar and some of the bread to make fresh bread crumbs for a delicious mac & cheese. I’ve added extra sharp cheddar to mix to cut some of the smokiness of first cheese.
1/4 to 1/3 of a loaf of french bread
3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1 medium onion sliced
2 bay leaves
10 whole black pepper corns
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
8 ounces cavatappi pasta
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 cup smoked cheddar, grated
For the breadcrumbs: In a frying pan, cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy. Remove from pan, leaving drippings behind. While the bacon is cooking, tear the bread into chunks and pulse in a food processor until bread crumbs form. If large pieces remain that is fine. We are looking for about 2 cups of breadcrumbs. Add the bacon to the food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times. Add the breadcrumbs to the bacon fat and cook until toasted about 5 minutes, placing the bacon back into the pan at the end to mix evenly. Remove and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium pot add the milk, sliced onions, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Strain the milk mixture into a bowl and discard the solids. Wipe the pot clean and melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook one minute to make the roux. While whisking, carefully pour the milk back into the pot. While whisking, bring the milk up to barely a boil. At this point it should be nice and thick and coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt, cayenne and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
While you are making the béchamel sauce, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to the packages directions. Drain and set aside.
Whisk the cheeses into the béchamel, until completely melted and smooth. Take off the heat and add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce.
Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish and cover with the bacon breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes until set. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes until serving.