By Sue Johnson
The subject of this month’s column is cookbooks. At this time of year, between cookouts, family reunions, and other various celebrations, I often find myself in search of that perfect new side dish or instructions on how to fix an old favorite. Besides the cookbook reviews on our cookbook shelf, you may want to check the following websites:
Not only are there many great cookbooks out there to buy but there are also a great many websites with recipes.
Also here is a site to search for
really hard to find out of print cookbooks.
Photographs by: Terry Pommett and Alison Shaw
In 1971 the Black Dog Tavern opened in Vineyard Haven on the Island of Martha's Vineyard. The owner, Captain Robert Douglas felt that Martha's Vineyard needed a year round restaurant. Most business closed at the end of the tourist season. Captain Douglas was an avid maritime antiquities collector. In the late 1960 's he had acquired a canon from the civil war era. In order to have the cannon transported he had to buy the contents of a truck that was already loaded. The truck was the only vehicle large enough to transport the 9000-pound cannon. The trucks contents were salvaged yellow pine lumber .He purchased the load for 6 cents a foot. Little did he know that the wood was older and possibly more valuable than the cannon. It was knot-free yellow pine that had been used in the building of mills around the area. The trees it was cut from were over 100 years old. Making the woodcut from trees that were saplings in the early 1600's. This wood eventually became "The Black Dog Tavern" The Tavern was named after the "Black Dog" that was Captain Douglas's faithful companion He named it a Tavern in spite of the fact that Vineyard Haven is and has always been a "dry" town. To Captain Douglas the word tavern created a vision of camaraderie and good conversation. The cookbook opens with a list of ingredients essential to the kitchen pantry in the Black Dog Tavern. The philosophy of the Chefs cooking there is fresh food, served delicious, uncomplicated and pleasing to the eye. Butter and Olive Oil are mainstays used to enhance flavor. Ginger is used often.
Next comes a wonderful selection of items from the breakfast menu. Are omelets a challenge? This cookbook includes an illustrated page on how to prepare and flip the perfect omelet. You can use these newfound skills to make a "Huey, Louie Andouille". Perhaps a "Double Bypass" is more your style. Maybe you have noticed that the chefs at The Black Dog know how to turn a phrase as well as an omelet? If you have a sweet tooth would you care to try "Rasputin's Revenge"? These are Banana- Blueberry pancakes with strawberries and chocolate chips stirred in. Top that with real butter and pure maple syrup and your sugar level should be right up there.
The lunch section of this cookbook includes recipes for soups, salads and pasta. The soup section gives you the basics for making fish, chicken and vegetable stock. With these skills the cook can move onto delicious chowders, a basic necessity on the island. With this book you get recipes for clam chowder along with smoked bluefish and corn chowder. Also included are recipes for onion soup, split pea soups and hot and sour soup along with many more.
In the salad section all the salads are topped with homemade salad dressings. The dressings are simply made with what is fresh and available. When the salad recipe calls for fresh squid the technique for cleaning squid is once more nicely illustrated with a pen and ink drawing, these illustrations are attributed to Charlie Esposito. He is a chef on Chinese night as well as helping manage the floor and runs a recording studio on his off hours. Fresh Seafood dishes abound. Some on salads more in pasta dishes and some alone.
There is a grilling section, which begins by telling you what to have on hand and gives you a basic marinade that can used on anything from beef, to fish, to vegetables along with several other marinade recipes. Poultry dishes are also plentiful and elegant. Does "Crunchy Pecan Chicken with Lemon Ginger Sauce appeal to you? Also included are recipes for pork, beef and lamb. There is something for every taste. The vegetable dishes are simple and elegant from stir fried sugar snap peas to potato and scallion pancakes.
The last section of the book is devoted to desserts. Black Dog has its own bakery and has become a necessary last stop for anyone boarding the ferry, tourist and native alike. Everything is made form scratch except for what is perhaps the most famous recipe. Fudge Bottom Pie. The pastry chefs have all tried long and hard to improve the recipe but keep coming back to the basic recipe that calls for Jell-O vanilla instant pudding.
Thumbing through the pages of this book was like taking a vacation to the island of Martha's Vineyard. Reading all the antidotes was like sitting in the dining room of "The Black Dog" on a cold, stormy night looking out over the wind tosses waves and listening to the pots clanging in the open kitchen.
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