John and Kira Shepherd of Shepherd's Provisions Alison L. Mead

Whether you’re eating in, grilling out or picnicking, a stop at Shepherd’s Provisions in Tisbury will significantly expand your dining options. The shop, open just since last fall, has already earned a loyal following for its carry-out crab cakes, beef shepherd’s pie and roasted chicken salads.

Former Island restaurateurs Kira and John Shepherd, who owned Ipanema in Vineyard Haven and have worked at other Island eateries over the years, opened Shepherd’s Provisions last September after a three-week summer try-out “to sort of figure everything out,” Kira told the Vine.

Retail catering makes for a better work-life balance than restaurant work, she added. “John was always in restaurants when our children were little, and they wouldn’t see him Thursday through Sunday.” Now that the couple’s two boys are teens, “I need Dad around for backup sometimes,” she laughed.

So different is Shepherd’s from a restaurant that there is not even a menu. The “grab and go” cooler always has a variety of roast chicken salad, Kira said, and customers can usually count on finding the couple’s popular beef and mushroom shepherd’s pie, turkey chili and lump crab cakes.

The crab cakes are one of John’s specialties, with a high proportion of crab meat that requires careful handling. In the shop, they come in packages of four two-ounce cakes, but the Shepherds will take special orders for bite-size appetizer cakes or burger-size dinner cakes. Or you can follow John’s recipe (on page 9), which he generously shared with the Vine, and make your own. The crabcakes would be great as either a starter with a light green salad, or as a main with crushed potatoes and sautéed spinach.

This Memorial Day weekend, if you’re thinking of spreading out on a picnic blanket instead of eating in, pick up some of Shepherd’s housemade pickles and preserves or something from their variety of sweet and savory treats such as biscotti, coconut haystacks, chocolate-covered marshmallows, macaroons, cheese straws, Sriracha maple almonds, and lighter-than-air crackers. Pimiento cheese is another Shepherd’s specialty. John comes from Georgia, where the tangy cheese blend is a well-known regional dish.

To round out your summer cooking kit, you can also get a box of flaky Maldon sea salt, a bottle of aromatic truffle seasoning, a variety of oils and vinegars, and Italian 00 flour for pasta and pizza.

And stand by for more prepared items from John this summer—vegetarian dishes, salads, kimchi and more.

“We just keep adding things,” Kira said. “The busier we get, the more variety we can make.”

Shepherd’s Provisions, 395 State Road, Vineyard Haven, 508-693-1548.

Louisa Hufstader is an Edgartown-based writer and social media manager.

Susie Middleton

 

John Shepherd’s Crab Cakes

For this recipe, look for 1-pound cans of pasteurized jumbo lump crab meat (pictured below) in Island fish markets (not cheap, but worth it). Lump crab cakes can be tricky to hold together; chilling the mixture helps if you’ve got time. When shaping, use your hands to cup and press into a ball, then flatten gently.  

Makes 8 medium crabcakes (or 16 mini crabcakes)

 

INGREDIENTS

Olive or canola oil
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper (about ½ medium-large pepper)
½ cup finely diced green bell pepper (about ½ medium-large pepper)
½ cup finely diced red onion (about ½ small onion)
1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup whole grain mustard
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 large egg
2 cups panko, more if needed
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat  

 

DIRECTIONS

In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the red bell pepper, the green bell pepper, and the red onion, and cook, stirring until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the Old Bay Seasoning and sauté for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool for a few minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, the whole grain mustard, the Dijon, and egg. Whisk well. Add the sautéed veggies and crab meat. Stir gently to combine, taking care not to overmix so that the crabmeat keeps its integrity. Stir in between 1/2 and ¾ cup panko, depending on how wet the mixture is.

If possible, refrigerate the mixture to chill for a couple hours; it will be easier to shape.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Be sure the can says "lump" crabmeat on the top Susie Middleton

Spread the remaining panko on a plate. Using your hands, form a portion (about 1/3 cup, or 3 ounces if you have a scale) of crab cake mixture into a ball shape, pressing it slightly. Transfer to the plate of panko. Repeat with 3 or 4 more balls and add to panko. Gently press down on each ball to form a hockey puck and coat thoroughly with panko. 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the crab cakes and sauté until deep golden and crisp on one side, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula (don’t worry if they break apart) and cook until the second side is golden, another 4 to 5 minutes. Arrange the crab cakes on the sheet pan.

Repeat with remaining crab mixture until all of the crab cakes are on the sheet pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through.

Serve right away.