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Martha's Magic (September 17, 2002)


Some places are absolutely magical.

Martha's Vineyard is such a place. It's old, historic, and achingly beautiful. If you've ever had the joy of visiting there, then you know.

Our wonderful friends Doris and Doug have lived in picture-perfect Edgartown for some years, and some of our most delightful moments have been spent on the Vineyard. It's a place for friends and family, a place where lazy days stretch into long soft evenings, a place just right for sharing large, wonderful meals with people you love.

Doris, knowing how much we enjoy such things, couldn't wait to send us Potluck at Midnight Farm, a glorious new cookbook celebrating the good life on Martha's Vineyard. In this book, author and consummate host Tamara Weiss captured a year of potluck meals on the Vineyard, from brunches in a backyard garden to grill feasts at twilight beside the sea. The book sums up Martha's Vineyard perfectly: a blend and mix of people who share several passions, one being for the Vineyard, and another, of course, for food and good company!

No one does it better on the Vineyard than Tamara Weiss; now a year round resident, she and friend Carly Simon opened an instantly popular home furnishings store in Vineyard Haven named Midnight Farm. Weiss says, "It's become more than a store, it's a place for people to gather."

As a child she spent summers on the Vineyard with her large, extended, and very active New York family, and found from an early age that she loved organizing the trappings of a meal. Tamara said, "My job for dinner was to set the table, a task I loved as long as I could choose which napkins went with which place mats all by myself. I put the salads together, and liked to peel and slice the cucumbers, but only after I had carved a few faces in the waxy skin. Best of all, I loved to light the candles!"

Tamara Weiss told us that she may not have inherited her mother's culinary skills but did learn how to organize an event around food. We echo that sentiment, and Potluck at Midnight Farm proves it!

Thank you, Doris and Doug, and oh... we'll be back soon! Love, Helen and Ron.

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (104 KB)


Hors d'Oeuvres Table

Forget brilliance in the kitchen – this is an opener that anyone can pull together and it will be gorgeous! Start with flowers and interesting bowls, delightful old items from the back of your cupboard, think colour, texture and interest, then add the best cheeses and sides available, and they'll be asking you to cater the next one. Tamara Weiss suggests the following items, but use what looks good in your market! You get the idea…

The Cheeses (large hunks of each)

  • Brin d'Amour
  • Taleggio
  • Huntsman
  • Saint André
  • Tuscan sheep's milk
  • Reblochon
  • Morbier
  • 2 pints fresh mozzarella balls

The Olives (¼ pound of each)

  • Picholine (small black)
  • Greek
  • Gaeta
  • Cracked green Niçoise


  • 3 pounds seedless green and red grapes
  • 1 pound champagne grapes
  • 6 kiwi fruits
  • 2 pints strawberries
  • 1 pint yellow pear tomatoes
  • 1¼ pounds Jensal Valley green and red sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 (2-ounce) jar Fontodi Toscana marinated artichoke hearts
  • Parmesan breadsticks
  • Assorted crackers like Lavash or Carr's Black Pepper crackers

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
With such a diversity of flavours I would offer your guests both a white and a red: medium-bodied dry white – Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Gavi from Piedmont or Muscadet (Loire); medium-bodied chillable red – Beaujolais-Villages or a named village growth such as Morgon or Fleurie.


Cucumber and Salmon Rolls

Jiliana Abrams, who contributed this recipe to the potluck, said, "This is an hors d'oeuvre that I frequently serve with great success," and goes on to say variations, such as sprinkling with sesame seeds instead of caviar, or using other types of smoked fish, will work well, too. We say this is quick and easy and a perfect "bring" to any gathering!

Makes 20 rolls

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled
  • 10 slices smoked salmon
  • 2 Tbsp wasabi powder
  • 1 small jar pickled ginger
  • About 1 ounce black or red caviar, for garnish
  • Scallions, for garnish.

Slice the cucumber with a cheese or vegetable slicer lengthwise, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the cucumber and salmon slices into 4- to 5-inch lengths. Mix the wasabi with 2 Tbsp water to make a paste in a small bowl. Spread a very thin layer of wasabi on each cucumber slice. Top this with the salmon.

Place a few slices of pickled ginger at one end of the cucumber. Roll and press firmly. Use toothpicks to secure your roll.

Serve on a platter with spirals facing upward. Sprinkle with the caviar and garnish with scallions, chopped or left whole.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
An off-dry white with good acidity – Riesling Kabinett or Spätlese Trocken from the Rheingau or Vouvray from the Loire.


Stuffed Baby Quahogs

It's potluck, remember? And everyone will be grazing happily, so give them sweet, rich and bite-sized stuffed baby quahog clams. Once you've assembled the ingredients, the rest is easy – and trust us, they'll disappear in seconds!

Serves 15 to 20

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • ¼ yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 8 thin slices of peasant bread, toasted and cut into tiny cubes for stuffing
  • 30 littleneck clams, shucked over a bowl to reserve liquid, saving the shells
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp hot paprika, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. As it melts, add the olive oil, then sauté the scallions, peppers and garlic for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the thyme, sage and breadcrumbs. Toss this mixture well, coating the bread cubes.

Chop the littleneck clams. Add these to the bread crumb mixture. Add the parsley, lemon juice and ¼ cup of the reserved clam liquid. Again, mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash the clamshells and separate the tops and bottoms. Fill the shells with the prepared mixture, then dust the tops with the hot paprika. Place the stuffed shells on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

You can place these little treasures on a platter and garnish with kale, which is rather like seafood, or put fresh seaweed on the platter and serve them that way.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Crisply dry, medium-bodied white – Chablis, Muscadet, Savoie and Jura whites.


Chocolate Hazelnut Fortune Cookies

Are these the cutest little desserts you've ever seen? Joseph and Rebecca Norris, who gave this recipe, stated that they are as much fun to make as delicious to eat. For the fortunes, cut ¼-inch strips of paper. Using a silver or gold pen, write your own "fortunes" for your friends!

Years ago, Ron's daughter Anne got a fortune cookie that told her, "Your future awaits outside the door," and it took forever to persuade her that it really was safe to leave the restaurant! We know you can write better than that!

Makes 18 cookies

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp hazelnut oil (available in specialty markets)

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Whip the egg whites in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer or medium speed. Add the sugar, increase speed and mix until smooth. Place the flour, cocoa and salt into a sifter. Sift into the egg-sugar batter. Continue to mix until well combined. Next add the butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract and hazelnut oil. Mix again until combined.

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Spoon 1 Tbsp of the batter in 3 places on the cookie sheet (the two lower corners and the upper center). Spread gently with the back of the spoon into 5-inch circles. Bake until slightly crisp at the edges but still pliable in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Immediately take cookie disks off the tray one at a time (so they stay pliable as you fold the first one). Quickly fold the disk in half, pinching about 2 inches of the top edges together to seal. Immediately take the open loops at each end with your thumb and forefinger of each hand, and push inward to for the fortune cookie. Repeat with the next two disks. Then start another batch.

When all the cookies are cooled, slip in the fortunes. Many will have an easy opening, but for those that don't fold the fortune tightly and stuff it in a corner of the cookie.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Chocolate is always a tricky match, but if you want wine, try a chilled Cream Sherry or a lightly chilled LBV Port.

We wish to thank Clarkson N. Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. ©2002, for permission to publish information, recipes and photographs from Potluck at Midnight Farm, by Tamara Weiss. Photography by Nina Bramhall.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (104 KB)




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