The food pages of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine over the past twenty-five years have reflected the abundance of food on an island dotted with farms and wild places and surrounded by water. In such pieces as “Going Crabbin’” and “Eating Bluefish,” the magazine has mirrored that continuing thread of self-sufficiency that characterizes a Vineyard lifestyle of fishing, scalloping, lobstering, clamming, crabbing, hunting, or heading to dunes for beach plums or to freshwater streams for watercress.

The first food-related feature for the new magazine in the summer of 1985 looked at Solviva farm in West Tisbury, Anna Edey’s early project of growing greens and food in more sustainable and economic ways. And through the years, long before “eating local” became a movement, the magazine continued to explore the food in its backyard: a story about Island-raised beef appeared in 1997, turkey in ’99, and pork in 2000. In the last few years, we’ve been discovering our neighbors’ many food interests – whether raising bees for honey, growing heirloom tomatoes, or cooking with at-home pizza ovens. We’ve covered the Island’s burgeoning farm culture; kids raising chickens at the FARM Institute in Katama; the formation of Whippoorwill Farm’s community-
supported agriculture; a potluck sponsored by the Vineyard chapter of Slow Food, an international movement away from “fast food”; and the work of Allen Healy and Caitlin Jones at Chilmark’s Mermaid Farm, the Island’s only dairy farm these days.

An important element of our food columns over the past twenty-five years is the professionals who make a living turning all that food into feasts. The Vineyard boasts many talented restaurant chefs, private chefs, and caterers – always willing to share their special recipes with our readers. In August 2003, we gave nine Island chefs a list of the same three ingredients (corn, tomatoes, and shrimp) and asked them each to create a dish for us. Despite using the same three ingredients, each created a very different recipe. In August of 2004, we hosted a party featuring a dozen caterers and then printed their signature hors d’oeuvres.

Another standout element from our past food pages is the sheer number of cookbook authors living and writing here. Each of their cookbooks reveals another glimpse into Island kitchens, starting with the venerable Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook by Louise Tate King and Jean Wexler, recently updated and reprinted (Globe Pequot Press, 2008). We’ve included profiles of and recipes from numerous cookbook authors, including Susan Branch, who rose to fame with her self-published 1986 cookbook Heart of the Home: Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen and many others to follow. Some cookbooks have been from year-rounders, such as Philip and Shirley Craig’s Delish! (Vineyard Stories, 2006), a collections of recipes from Phil’s Vineyard mystery series; others are from seasonal residents, such as The Martha’s Vineyard Table (Chronicle Books, 2007) by Jessica Harris, an Oak Bluffs summer resident and producer of nine cookbooks.

From our archive of food columns, we’ve picked out some favorite recipes. They come from home and commercial kitchens and represent some of what’s harvested here. Since it was tough to choose, we’re putting more of our favorites on our website. We promise to continue tracking great foods and food trends – wherever on the Island that takes us.    

Catherine Walthers has been writing food columns for the magazine since 2003, and is the author of Raising the Salad Bar (National Book Network, 2007) and the follow-up Soups + Sides to be released in August by Lake Isle Press.

Selected recipes through the years

Jean Andrews’s kale soup

An Edgartown resident and descendant of early Portuguese settlers, Jean shared her version of a traditional Island soup in Fall–Holiday 1994.

• 1 large bunch kale
• 5 large potatoes
• 2 onions
• 1 cross-cut beef shank or small package of stew meat
• 2 pounds linguica or chorizo, sliced into 2-inch rounds
• 2 tablespoons cooking oil
• A little flour
• 2 cans red kidney beans
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Water or beef stock
• Black pepper, to taste
• Garnish with fresh chopped mint, optional

1. Wash and chop the kale. Peel and roughly dice the potatoes and onions.

2. In a large pot, brown the beef and sausage in oil, sprinkled with a little flour. Add kale, onions, potatoes, kidney beans, and salt, and cover with water or beef stock.

3. Cook over low heat at least 2 hours, adding water as needed. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed. Fresh chopped mint may be added before serving. (In Portugal, fresh mint is used in kale soup only during a feast.)

Asparagus and fingerlings with salsa verde

Perfect for spring, Tina Miller’s side dish of asparagus and potatoes was one of the recipes in her cookbook Vineyard Harvest: A Year of Good Food on Martha’s Vineyard (Broadway Books, 2005), featured in May–June 2005.

Serves 6

• 1 shallot, peeled
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil
• 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.

Martha’s Vineyard paella

This rice and seafood dish appeared in August–September 1998 in a column written by then–food editor Eniko Delisle.

Serves 6

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 6 cups fish fumet or clam juice
• 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
• Bouquet garni: 3 sprigs each thyme and parsley
• 1 bay leaf
• Salt and pepper
• 1 pound squid, cleaned, hoods cut into rings, tentacles left intact
• 1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
• 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
• 12 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
• 2 chicken lobsters
• 1 pound halibut, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 1 link of chorizo sausage, cut into 1-inch rounds
• 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 3 cups short-grain Spanish or Italian Arborio rice

1. Divide the olive oil between a four-quart pan and a shallow twelve-cup skillet or paella pan. Place the four-quart pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic. Add the fish broth or clam juice, saffron with its soaking liquid, bouquet garni, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Place the squid into the broth and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon onto a platter. Place the littlenecks into the hot broth, simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the clams open, then remove with a slotted spoon onto the platter. Place the mussels into the broth, simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until the mussels open, then remove with a slotted spoon onto the platter. Continue in this way – cook the shrimp only until it becomes opaque, the lobster until it turns bright red (approximately 10 minutes), and the halibut until it becomes slightly flaky. After all the seafood is cooked and set onto the platter, remove the broth from heat, discard the bouquet garni and bay leaf, and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place the paella pan over medium heat and add the chorizo. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the tomato and then the rice. Stir until the rice turns opaque, then add the broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook without stirring for approximately 5 minutes.

4. Add the seafood, burying it into the rice. Cover the paella pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Baked stuffed lobster

The winner of the magazine’s Best of the Vineyard caterer in July 2006 was Fella Caters in West Tisbury. Owner Fella Cecilio shared his recipe for baked lobster stuffed with crab meat, a classic New England dish.

Serves 2

• 2 live lobsters, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each
• 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
• 2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
• 2 cups corn-bread stuffing mix (unseasoned)
• 2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed
• 1 pound lump crab meat
• Juice from 1 lemon
• 1 to 2 drops hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
• Salt
• Lemon and parsley for garnish

1. With a cleaver or chef’s knife, split both lobsters down the middle from head to tail. Do not cut all the way through. Remove the stomach sac and intestinal vein, tomalley (liver), and coral roe, if any. Remove both claws and the legs by twisting off.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add garlic, chives, and red bell pepper, and sauté a few minutes.

3. Add stuffing mix and crushed crackers to the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Add crab meat, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt to taste. Mix well.

4. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush over lobster-tail meat. Season with salt.

5. Fill the body with the stuffing. Dot with additional butter, if desired, and place legs crosswise on top of stuffing.

6. Place lobsters on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for about 30 minutes or until stuffing is golden brown. Finish under the broiler, if necessary.

7. While lobsters are baking, cook the claws in boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Serve lobsters and claws with garnishes of lemon and parsley, and melted lemon butter.

Bluefish on a board with maple-mustard glaze

This recipe comes from Steven Raichlen, a Chappaquiddick seasonal resident and author of seven best-selling grilling and barbecue cookbooks. He prepared a July Fourth feast on the grill for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine to run in July 2007.

Serves 4

• 2 teaspoons coarse salt
• 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
• 2 teaspoons brown sugar
• 1 1/2 pounds bluefish (1 to 2 fillets), skin on
• 1/3 cup Dijon mustard, mixed with 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 to 2 cedar planks, about 6 by 12 inches, submerged in water for 2 hours

1. Make the rub in a small bowl by combining the salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar.

2. Arrange the fillets on the pre-soaked plank. Sprinkle the rub over the fish. Carefully spread the mustard glaze over the top and sides of the bluefish. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the bluefish.

3. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. When ready to cook, place the bluefish (on its plank) in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the bluefish until it is cooked through (135 degrees on a thermometer) and the mustard glaze is a deep golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve the bluefish right off the plank.

Old-fashioned strawberry rhubarb pie

The magazine offered this delicious spring favorite in a May–June 1992 food column by Florence Fabricant, better known for her contributions to The New York Times.

Makes one 9-inch pie

• 2 cups rhubarb in one-inch pieces (about     1 pound)
• 4 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons instant tapioca
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup chilled lard or vegetable shortening
• 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. If the rhubarb is thick, peel it. Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl. Mix the sugar and tapioca together and gently fold into the rhubarb and strawberries. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes.

2. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the lard or shortening in small pieces and lightly blend with a pastry blender, a fork, or your finger tips until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add the water until the mixture can be gathered into a ball. (The dough can also be made in a food processor by blending the flour and salt together, adding the lard or shortening, and briefly pulsing the mixture, then adding the water through the feed tube while the machine is running.)

3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and line a 9-inch pie pan. Spoon the rhubarb and strawberry mixture into the pastry shell and dot with butter.

4. Roll out the remaining pastry, cut into strips three-quarters of an inch wide and crisscross the strips over the pie. Crimp the edge to secure the lattice. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes longer, until the pastry has browned and the filling begins to bubble.