Linda Serbu and Alfred Vrang, a young, hip, beautiful, soon-to-be married couple from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, could be the poster children of the locavore movement. They care so much about their food that, this past July, they decided to spend Serbu’s birthday working, eating, cooking and sleeping at a farm.
They ended up at Garden of Eve in Aquebogue, where they stayed three days and “got so inspired that we cooked a meal for the whole farm staff,” said Vrang, a Swedish-born chef who cooked at several three-star restaurants in Europe. (Serbu is a food writer and event planner.)
Garden of Eve’s owners liked the results so much they invited Serbu and Vrang to come back in October for the farm’s first Local Faire dinner, named after their organic gourmet catering company that puts on intimate dinner parties from Brooklyn to Bridgehampton to Beacon.
With a share of the meal price going to benefit the East End chapter of Slow Food, guests bathed in the balmy Indian summer and dined on dishes dictated by the ripening fields. There was rainbow chard stuffed with “risotto” of root vegetables (recipe below), grilled duck breast over purple cabbage salad, braised duck legs with chestnuts over arugula, grilled sea scallops brushed with garlic parsley persillade, mini pumpkins stuffed with fennel, orange, and pea shoots, poached kohlrabi stuffed with duck giblets and broccoli flowers, and sourdough loaves baked in an ancient cast-iron range in the barn. Guests shared New York wine they had brought. Scraps went to the goats and chickens. Everyone was involved; nothing was wasted.
ROOT “RISOTTO” STUFFED CHARD
by Alfred Vrang, Brooklyn
10 leaves of chard, separated from stem
1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 celery root, peeled and diced
2 turnips, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
3 T. butter
11/2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
Freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1. Blanch leaves 30 seconds to one minute, then shock them in ice water and dry on a towel.
2. Sauté onion in butter with a little salt until soft. Add celery, turnip and potato, cook for 5 more minutes and keep stirring. Add the milk, bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer until the milk has been completely absorbed by the vegetables. Bring up flame and add cream, watch and stir until it has the consistency of a creamy risotto. Add salt and season with freshly ground white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to your taste.
3. Flatten out the chard leaves and put 2 heaping tablespoons of the root risotto in the middle of each leaf. Roll the leaves half way up, fold in the sides, and continue rolling until wrapped. Place chard parcels snugly in a baking dish.
4. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a teaspoon of water with a pinch of salt. Brush stuffed chard parcels with butter mixture and heat in oven at 350° for 10 minutes. Yields 10.