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Chef’s Corner

Taste PhotoThePumpkin's Dicey Past
By Allyson Marrs

This fall, pick up a few extra gourds to cook and carve. The spookily famous fruit has more to offer than a perfect canvas for happy, broken smiles and a witch’s night sky; instead, it’s great for savory dinners, sweet desserts and salty snacks. But the pumpkins we traditionally put on our doorsteps each Halloween have a bizarre history.

The jack-o’-lantern of Halloween’s origin is Irish. It was there that scary faces were carved into turnips and potatoes to ward off roaming evil spirits. Irish lore has it that a man named “Stingy Jack,” a villain so wicked that neither God nor the Devil wanted him, was left to wander the earth aimlessly. The Devil was so upset by Jack’s trickery, he sent him away from hell with only a burning piece of coal to light his course. Legend says that Jack’s been roaming the world with the piece of coal in a rotten turnip ever since.

Pumpkin Facts
• Pumpkin flowers are edible.
• The largest pumpkin pie weighed more than 3,699 pounds.
• The largest pumpkin ever grown was 1,810.5 pounds.
• In colonial times, pumpkins were used for the crust of pies, not the filling.

For a more delicious approach to the pumpkin, Executive Chef Paul Marks shares his favorite recipe for a fantastic fall family meal. Another is on our blog at

with fried sage leaves
Makes 8 to 10 servings

5 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (4.5-pound) pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 9 cups
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 cup oil
5 cups chicken stock
3 cups heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper for taste
10 sage leaves

Cook carrots, onion and garlic with olive oil in a 6- to 8- quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened for 5 to 6 minutes. Add pumpkin, nutmeg and cloves and cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 35 to 40 minutes until the pumpkin is very tender.

Blend soup in batches in blender until smooth, transferring to a clean pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Fried Sage Leaves
Heat 1/4 cup oil in sauté pan to about 350 degrees, drop leaves in and fry until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes, drain on paper towel. Take caution when dropping the leaves in; they tend to mildly splatter.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with fried sage leaves and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.


Executive Chef: Paul Marks |
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