Sitting at the farm kitchen table on a spring day at White Gate Farm I met with owner Pauline Lord and Farm Chef Anna Feldman.
Pauline said about the farm, “Everything is certified organic on our farm and has been since we started farming here in Connecticut in 2000.
“We are excited to have the growing season underway and are looking to expand our offerings this season, along with the twice weekly farm stand. We are planning to host more dining events at the farm which will include Farm to Table Dinners with the option of an overnight stay.”
Anna, who completed an academic food studies degree in Italy, told me about what attracted her to come and use her culinary skills as chef at an organic farm.
She said, “I have always had a passion for growing. Having a French mother I was introduced to really good tasting food, always fabulously fresh from local markets.
““I like the seasonality of the farm – having to create new recipes with whatever the farm is producing – learning how to use up those extra tomatoes or spaghetti squash from the harvest.
“I take inspiration from whatever is available – maybe some wonderful fresh basil mid summer combined with almonds or walnuts, olive oil and garlic made into a delicious tasting fresh pesto sauce. In July we harvest 6,000 heads of garlic to store! Garlic goes well with great summers salads and is delicious roasted with our farm fresh chicken raised on premium fresh forage.
I like to try out unusual grains; farro, a traditional grain from the Mediterranean, or barley and combine them with roasted vegetables, legumes and freshly picked herbs for a tasty salad.
“Our farm fresh pizzas are always a bit hit with families as are our homemade quiches, rich and tasty with butter pastry, cream, Gruyere cheese and fresh organic spinach.
“I like to be creative, using alternative flours and grains pairing them with freshly grown fruits, rhubarb, berries and natural sweeteners, honey and maple syrup for a more natural taste to baked goods.”
Here are some recipes that Anna was cooking in the farm kitchen on the day I visited. I hope you enjoy them!
Morning Glory Muffins
Makes about 6-8 large muffins
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/3 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup general-purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 cup flax seed
1 1/2 cups of grated carrot
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/3 cup raisins
1. Sift the flour and dry ingredients into a bowl.
2. Whisk the eggs, canola oil sugar and vanilla together.
3. Grate the carrots.
4. Mix the walnuts, coconut and raisins and coat in a little of the dry mixture.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Fold in the nut mixture. Lastly add the grated carrots.
6. Put the mixture into a non-stick spray coated baking tin or alternatively use muffin cases.
7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Cooking Tip – Try using a cup of whole wheat flour in this recipe – it tastes really good! Use a smaller tin if you prefer and shorten the cooking time slightly.
Farro and Roasted Carrot Salad w. Chili-Lemon Dressing, Herbs, Feta & Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup uncooked farro
4 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound (about 4 medium) carrots
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Harissa Tunisian chili pepper paste or Thai red chili paste
1 tsp. honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 minced clove of garlic
Pinch of ground cumin
Salt to taste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs – cilantro, mint, parsley, by themselves or in any combination.
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, or walnuts or almonds
3/4 cup crumbled feta, 1/2 cup scallions to garnish – optional
1. Cook farro: Bring farro, water or vegetable broth to the boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the farro until tender, about 15-20 minutes. If any extra water or broth remains, drain it away. Set the farro aside until the vegetables are ready.
2. Pre heat your oven to 380-400 degrees. Coat two shallow baking sheets or tins with one tablespoon of olive oil each. Peel carrots, and cut them into 2-inch lengths.
3. Then cut into matchsticks about 1/4-1/2 inches thick. Spread the carrots on prepared baking sheets and sprinkle them with salt, cumin and smoked paprika.
4. Roast for 20 minutes, and then toss them in the pan before cooking on for a further 10 minutes.
5. Assemble Salad: Whisk the dressing ingredients together, seasoning to taste with a little salt. In a large bowl combine the farro and roasted carrots. Stir in most of the fresh herbs, pumpkin seeds and feta, leaving a spoonful of each for garnish. Serve garnished with the reserved herbs, feta and pumpkin seeds.
Cooking Tip – Make ahead of time. This salad keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
1 medium onion peeled quartered
2 cups of fresh cilantro lightly packed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toasted cashews or almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice plus 1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Grated fresh Parmesan (optional)
Place the garlic and cilantro in a food processor and pulse slowly adding the oil, lemon juice salt and pepper, until smooth.
Cooking Tip – This works equally well with fresh parley or basil, (blanch before use). Serve with grilled fish, chicken, or toss with cooked white beans or pasta.
Creamy Tomato Soup
This is a great way to use up those late summer tomatoes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion diced
3 stalks, celery outer part peeled, medium diced.
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt to taste
2 medium garlic cloves
1-2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
6 cups of chopped tomatoes, peeled, seeded with juices
1 1/2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/3-cup heavy cream (low fat sour cream for a lighter choice)
Freshly ground pepper
1. Place a medium saucepan over low heat and add the oil and butter.
2. Add the chopped celery and onion and cook for about 10 minutes until soft, not brown.
3. Add the garlic, tomato paste, optional pepper flakes and cook for further 5 minutes.
4. Increase the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan as well as the sugar soften with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer until they fall apart, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and puree in a blender until smooth.
6. Return to the heat and stir in the cream on low heat. Add black pepper to taste and serve in warmed bowls with swirl of pesto basil or chopped basil leaves.
If you would like purchase direct from the farm, ready-made soups, salads, pizza, hummus, seasonal fresh fruits and other baked goods are on sale from the farm stand year round Wednesday and Saturday– Saturday during the winter months. More info @ www.whitegatefarm.net and 83 Upper Pattagansett Road, East Lyme, CT.