In an infamous feature story in the Vineyard Gazette ten years ago, a summer resident from New York City bemoaned the lack of “good food” on the Island – no worthy bread, or olive oil, or arugula, she complained. The article elicited a collective howl from Islanders, who, for weeks, in letter after letter, described the rich and bountiful Island offerings they had been enjoying all their lives: succulent lobsters and shellfish at our doorstep; striped bass and bluefish caught in the morning and grilled later for dinner; and Island farms providing the finest produce, lamb, pigs, and free-range chicken.

Nowhere is the food of the Island better described than in a new cookbook written by Tina Miller, a forty-year-old Island chef from West Tisbury, who  owned two successful restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard: Cafe Moxie in Vineyard Haven and the Roadhouse in West Tisbury.
In writing Vineyard Harvest: 
A Year of Good Food on Martha’s Vineyard with Christie Matheson, Miller set out, as much as possible, to use Island ingredients and ended up with a collection of more than 100 recipes using everything from fresh spring asparagus, crisp arugula, and ripe heirloom tomatoes to 
harpooned swordfish, bay scallops, steamers, Atlantic halibut, and more.
“I wanted to do it that way without being a purist, to say look what’s around you and what’s 
available,” she says.  
The book is divided by season – spring, summer, fall, and winter – and each season comes with its own set of appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts, from Lobster Pot Pie with Early Peas and Herbs to Heritage-breed Roast Turkey with Linguica Stuffing. There are 
vignettes of Island producers, farmers, and fishermen; Miller pays homage by naming a number of recipes after them: Scott Terry’s Venison with Gorgonzola and Dried Cranberries; Clarissa Allen’s Lamb Shanks with Carrots and Onion Wedges; Cider-Glazed Roast Pork from Blackwater Farm in West 
In partnering with award-
winning photographer Alison Shaw of Oak Bluffs, Miller found the perfect artist to showcase the Vineyard produce and her own food. “I use great ingredients with beautiful, vibrant color, and I don’t handle them too much,” she says. “When food is prepared, I want to be able to see the deep emerald green of 
haricots verts; the bright reds and 
yellows of cherry tomatoes in a salad; the seared yellowfin tuna 
with dark crisp edges, bright and pink on the inside, set against sautéed asparagus and fresh greens. It’s all so beautiful naturally.”    
Tina’s father, Allan Miller, built the original Black Dog Tavern for Robert S. Douglas, builder and captain of the topsail schooner Shenandoah, and then ran it as general manager for the first five years, beginning in January 1971. From the start, her father helped make the Black Dog a social center in Vineyard Haven and on the Island. He often ran playful newspaper notices, such as: “Sorry, but our chowder cups didn’t arrive, so we can’t open until Monday, Jan. 11.” Tina’s grandmother sewed all the waitresses’ aprons and made Tina, who was six at the time, a mini version.
Tina says it took time to become someone other than “Allan Miller’s daughter,” but she made a name for 
herself at age twenty-four when she opened the Roadhouse in West Tisbury. (The building later housed the Red Cat, Ice House, and now Bittersweet restaurants.) The Roadhouse served grilled fish, steaks, barbecued chicken, ribs, soups, and salads, all simply prepared. A beautiful mahogany bar, built by Tina’s brother Andrew, served as a centerpiece. “I hired all my friends; it was like a clubhouse. It was such an amazing place and an amazing time.” It was also an immediate success. People gathered outside each evening, waiting for a table. “We had no reservations,” she says, adding, “I always had my secret list, of course.” Along with customers Donald Trump and Harry Connick Jr., she fondly recalls regular stops by her 
grandfather, who would sit at the bar smoking his Camel straights and enjoying her mushroom soup.  
A few Roadhouse favorites, such as the barbecued ribs and red beans that “people remember to this day,” as well as a gingerbread cake with a rum glaze, are included in Vineyard Harvest. “It was good food, but it wasn’t threatening. 
My style has always been casual and straightforward,” she says.
“Tina just understands food,” 
says Perry Ambulos, owner of Truly Scrumptious catering, who has worked with her over the past twenty years, 
beginning at the Ocean Club at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven and later at his restaurant in Edgartown and at Cafe Moxie. “Her food is imaginative, but 
uncomplicated – there’s not ten different flavors working. We’re very excited about her book with Alison.”
When Hurricane Bob struck in 
August 1991, Miller closed the Roadhouse early in the season and took the opportunity to attend La Varenne, a cooking school in the Burgundy region of France. The secret to great food in France, she learned, is rooted in small farms and local producers. “It totally changed my world. That’s how they eat in France – regionally, with what’s 
available in the season.”
The Roadhouse lease expired the 
following year, and Miller left the Island to cook in several restaurants, including Campanile in Los Angeles, owned by Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton, and Sonoma, a regional Italian place in Philadelphia. “Everywhere I went, I noticed how important the use of local ingredients was, and it always made 
me think of the farmers and fishermen on Martha’s Vineyard.”
Two years later, she returned to 
the Island, started a family, and opened Cafe Moxie in Vineyard Haven. Moxie got underway in January 1998, where the 
Dry Town Café once was. The place 
was packed nightly and claimed Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols, Rose and William Styron, David and Rosalee McCullough, and Judy Blume as regulars.
Tina’s second son, Theo, was born while she was running Moxie. When an employee wanted to buy the restaurant in 2001, she opted out. In summer, she became a private chef for many of the clients she had met over the years. Off-season, she was free to spend time with her family, and to write and publish the Vineyard cookbook she had been picturing in her mind for some time. The book is here and offers the same delicious, uncomplicated food Tina Miller has become known for.

Vineyard Harvest: A Year of Good Food on Martha’s Vineyard, by Tina Miller with Christie Matheson, and photographs by Alison Shaw (Broadway Books, a division of Random House, $35 hardcover, 272 pages. On sale May 10).

Four recipies from Vineyard Harvest: A Year of Good Food on Martha’s Vineyard

Watercress and potato soup with curried crème fraîche

When I was a kid, I spent most of my time outdoors, exploring on horseback. One of the places I loved to go was the large swamp behind my best friend’s house, where the bushes were too low and thick to ride through, so we poked around on foot. At one end of the swamp was a beautiful brook loaded with watercress in spring. Back then watercress wasn’t often available commercially, but today it’s almost as common as lettuce in the produce aisle. I love its small, dark peppery leaves in salads and soups. It’s also great as a bed under grilled meats and fish.

Serves 4 to 6

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 shallots
• 2 leeks, white parts only, split, cleaned, and sliced
• 2 russet potatoes (approximately1 pound), peeled and diced
• Salt and pepper
• 1 quart chicken broth
• 1 bunch of watercress, big stems removed
• 1/2 cup light cream
• 3/4 teaspoon Madras curry powder
• 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and leeks and sauté for about 4 minutes. Be sure not to let them get brown. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and chicken broth. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Gently boil the potatoes
until tender and easy to pierce and break apart, about 12 minutes.

2. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Combine half the potato mixture with half of remaining ingredients in a blender and purée. Repeat with the second half of the soup components and return to the pot to warm before serving if needed. Depending on the size of the potatoes, you may need to add more chicken broth or water to thin the soup, especially if you reheat it.

Asparagus and fingerlings with salsa verde
Asparagus used to be a seasonal luxury, but these days it’s available everywhere year-round. Much of the asparagus available in the winter comes from South America and doesn’t compare to fresh, local, organic asparagus. In late spring wild asparagus can be found in many Island gardens, and a bounty comes in early spring from western Massachusetts. Early asparagus has a shading of purple on its tips. Asparagus can be grilled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed. The stems are dry and woody and should be removed by bending the stalk until it snaps or cutting about an inch and a half off the stem. Spring is also the time for new potatoes, such as fingerlings. New potatoes are sweet and tender and need not be peeled, because their skins are so thin and delicate. This salad should be served warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

• 1 shallot, peeled
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon aged red wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
• 2 pounds fingerling potatoes
• 1 pound asparagus, stalks trimmed, cut into thirds
• Salt and pepper

1. Mince the shallot, oregano, parsley, and basil together in a small food processor or with a knife. Add the mustard and vinegar, pulse (or whisk together in a bowl), and slowly add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until emulsified. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

2. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and gently boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until you can pierce the potatoes through. Remove from the heat and drain. While the potatoes are still warm, slice them in half on the bias with a sharp knife. Wipe the blade between slices to remove potato buildup.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus, stir, and sauté for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the herb mixture. Add the warm potatoes to the herb mixture and asparagus, toss gently, and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted atlantic halibut with mustard and dill crust

Halibut is part of the flatfish family and is found in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Atlantic halibut is versatile and delicious. Its firm white flesh is sweet and mild. I have never tasted a halibut I did not like. This is an extremely simple recipe that really brings out the wonderful texture and taste of this fish. Halibut can vary quite a bit in size. You may get 1-inch thick or 3-inch thick fillets, so cooking times will vary. You can also use halibut steaks. The cooking time in this recipe assumes 1 1/2-inch fillets. I like to serve this with steamed new potatoes and wilted spring spinach.
Serves 4

• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 3 tablespoons Pommery (grainy French) mustard
• 1/4 cup bread crumbs
• 2 pounds halibut fillets, cut into 4 portions
• Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; lightly oil or butter a sheet pan.

2. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, dill, lemon juice, and zest. Add the mustard and combine well. Fold in the bread crumbs.

3. Season the fish with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, spread the butter mixture evenly over the halibut fillets. Place the fillets on the baking pan and bake on the middle rack for about 12 to 15 minutes, without turning over the fish. Turn the oven to broil, move the pan up to the second rack from the top of the oven, and broil the fish for about 4 minutes, until golden.

Mini lemon cakes with a honey-mint glaze

Lemon cake is such a classic favorite. I like making these as individual cakes, which gives them an inviting look. I have a NordicWare cast-aluminum pan. It’s similar to a muffin pan, but with Bundt-style cups. This recipe could also work in a large Bundt or tube pan.

Serves 6
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs, separated
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
• Honey-Mint Glaze (recipe follows)
• Berries and fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer and a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and combine. Add the flour and baking soda; just combine. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

3. If you’re using a stand mixer, transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl. Clean and thoroughly dry the bowl of your stand mixer. Pour in the egg whites and beat until stiff. If you’re using a hand mixer, clean and wash the beaters and use a clean bowl to beat the egg whites.
4. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and transfer it to the cake molds. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then invert to remove them from the pans. You may need to run a thin knife around the edges to loosen them. Pour the
glaze over the warm cakes and garnish with a sprig of mint and fresh berries if available.

Honey-mint glaze

• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
• 2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves

Combine the lime juice and honey in a small saucepan. Heat quickly over medium heat, add the lime zest and mint, and remove from the heat.