Red Peppers & Blue Lobsters: Fresh Flavors from an Island Kitchen. By Jane Farrow. Illustrated by Alison Leslie. Junonia Publishing. 211 pages. $28.50.
Longtime Island resident Jane Farrow (now displaced to Venice, Fla.), has written an Island cookbook. It is filled with recipes for the sophisticated dishes that Jane and her late husband, Ted, used to serve at their Chilmark dinner parties.
These are not recipes for diners fretting about their weight. Avocados and macadamia nuts, cream cheese and whipping cream may be among the ingredients, but after all, gourmet dinner parties are special occasions. Although most of the recipes are Jane’s, there are a few from the kitchens of other Islanders. Priscilla Hancock’s chocolate nut fudge is one.
“When I was young, there was a sign directing one to her candy kitchen on an old farm road on the way to the beach,” Jane Farrow writes.“My mother would take me for tea at the Blue Barque across from the Quenames Road and we would wend our way down to Priscilla’s house to buy what was a very expensive box of fudge to take home to my father.”
The book also features the late Lucy Ann Wallace’s cheese tidbit appetizers, Bea Franz’s Portuguese almond custard, the late Mildred Spalding’s clam chowder recipe, Robin Cullen’s South Road chocolate sauce and Ella Cullen’s deviled eggs, and the late Jose Giles’s Mexican Christmas Eve pozole, a dish of pork loin, hominy and onions. From Jane’s son David Damroth of Chilmark come two recipes in the book, one for lobster bisque, another for Armenian lamb balls. There is an Abel’s Hill hot fudge sauce that was closely guarded during his lifetime by Ted Farrow, who died in 2011. Ted promised Jane she could use the recipe if she ever wrote a cookbook (something he often urged her to do). There are recipes, too, for Chilmark Pond herring roe and oyster stew made from oysters gathered by Everett Poole.
In 1995 Jane and Ted Farrow sadly closed Tashtego, the Edgartown gift shop that had been a Christmas must for hundreds of Island shoppers for 25 years. For years they lived in their Abel’s Hill home, but later moved year-round to Boca Grande, Fla., so there are recipes with a Southern touch, too. There’s one for Creole seafood gumbo, one for shrimp and cheese grits, and another for red snapper in rum sauce. There’s a key lime pie recipe, a veal with key lime and Madeira dish and a Meyer lemon sauce.
Jane grew up in Baltimore, so Baltimore deviled crab and southern Maryland crab cakes are from that period of her life.
Between recipes, reader/cooks will find stories Jane has written about the dishes, and sometimes about their creators. Virtually every recipe has that same understated elegance that gifts at Tashego always had.
The book is charmingly illustrated by Alison Leslie of Edgartown. A seagull sampling a colander of fettucine with peas, a crab gulping down Worcestershire sauce and West Tisbury’s Nancy Luce’s chickens relishing a tasty meal of grass with their chicks all grace the pages of this volume — a keeper for the kitchen shelf of every Island cook.