Kabocha Squash Soup with Hazelnut and Sage

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My favorite part of autumn is the culinary permission I get to cook with winter squashes. Pumpkin, Butternut, Acorn, and my favorite, the Kabocha, make there way into side dishes, desserts, salads, and lots of great soup.   Feel free to use your favorite winter squash here, and your favorite nut, for that matter. See the Variations below for some classic combos.


1 small kabocha squash

¼- ½ cup olive oil, divided

6-8 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Persian blue, any sel gris, Japanese shio, or a salt infused with garlic, sage, or hazelnuts

¼ cup hazelnuts

½ large yellow onion

1-2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water

6-8 large fried sage leaves

1 cup half and half


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash into quarters and scoop out seeds. Coat the interior with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Set on baking sheet cut side up and roast until tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, place the garlic in foil, drizzle with oil, then wrap tight and roast in the same oven until the tender, about 30 minutes.   Peel the onion and cut into 6-8 wedges, with the root intact. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and roast in the same until browned and tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place hazelnuts on a dry baking sheet and roast in the same oven until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes. When each element is cooked as directed, cool them all.
  4. Roughly chop the cooled nuts with a pinch of salt, then set aside for garnish. Scoop squash out of its skin, and into a blender with the roasted garlic. Slice the root end off of each roasted onion, and add to blender.   Puree until smooth, adding broth or water as necessary to facilitate blending, but not too much – it should be a thick soup consistency.
  5. Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer, and into a saucepan. Warm gently over medium heat. Add the half and half and season with more salt as necessary.   Keep warm.
  6. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a separate small sauté pan. When hot, add the sage leaves, and fry until the sizzling stops, and they are crisp and toasted, about 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Serve the soup warm, with a sprinkle of chopped hazelnut and a couple of fried sage leaves, and a pinch of your chosen salt.


Pumpkin – Try this recipe using pumpkin, and garnish with toasted pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds).

Italianate – Use butternut squash, and add a tablespoon or two of fresh chopped rosemary to the roasting pan. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, or crumbled amoretti cookies.

Chess Pie

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chess pie
The history of this pie is a bit mysterious and silly. Some say that the pie itself is so simple that when asked what kind of pie is baking, the bakers response was, “It’s just pie.” This, when sped up and slurred by lazy-tongued bakers, starts to sound like “jess pie” or “chess pie.” Whatever.

Another tale points out that the pie’s curdy texture is similar to cheese, and lazy-spelling bakers left out some “e’s”, forever labeling the pie as “chess.”

Neither explanation shines a very favorable light on the bakers in question.

I told you it was silly.

Silly but delicious. This pie is a perfect for beginners, because it is very hard to screw up, and easy to embellish. Add fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, or spices to add your personal touch. Or, just keep it as is … au naturelle.

So … once you have mastered pie dough, try this pie on for size.


1/2 recipe Pie Dough, or Pâte Sucreé
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 TB. cornmeal
1/2 cup cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 TB. vanilla extract
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, melted


  1. Pre-heat oven to 325˚F. Line pie pan with a circle of pie or sucreé dough, crimp edges and blind bake for 20-30 minutes, until edges just begin to set. Cool completely, and remove pie weights.
  2. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, cornmeal, cream, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Mix well, then stir in butter. Pour into pre-baked pie shell and bake at 325˚F for 30-45 minutes, until lightly golden and just set. Chill completely before serving.