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Monday, October 26, 2009

Salem, Here We Come!

What a dream it was to be in Salem this past weekend! I hadn't been since I was in the 5th or 6th grade, but there it was still waiting, as it had been when I first visited as a child with my cousin and aunt, vividly obsessed as I was with the stories of Tituba, the fitful girls and the riveting, haunting spectre of the witch trials. Although the little town is more like an overwrought mall now, we still treasured the guided tour of The House of the Seven Gables (in particular, the narrow climb up the hidden staircase off of the dining room!), that grand, historic edifice staring out onto the harbor; relished the leisurely, rainy walk on Chestnut Street along the gorgeous houses and foliage underneath the shelter of our umbrellas; the wine, mead, and craft beer festival on Essex Street; our little moments at the Lobster Shanty and the Black Lobster (twin 1 1/4 lb lobsters for a bargain $14.99) was also such fun to stay at the Hawthorne Hotel where scenes of the classic four-part Bewitched episodes were shot back in 1970, and where Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick Sargent stayed during the filming.

Visiting Salem was a perfect entry to fall, as we've so suddenly turned the corner, discovering with hardly a moment's notice that what we supposed to be summer this year was indeed over.
I propose one of the best recipes I know to celebrate the crisp new season: Chicken Pot Pie in a Pumpkin, adapted from the recipe courtesy of Ms. Martha Stewart.

Chicken Pot Pie in a Pumpkin
Serves 6
6 sugar pumpkins - (about 2 lbs are the best)
5 tb butter
2 tb melted butter
2 ts salt
1 ts Freshly ground pepper
1 ts Freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb pearl onions
5 tb all-purpose flour
9 oz peeled cubed potatoes
2 medium peeled sliced carrots
12 oz button mushrooms; quartered
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 c milk
4 1/2 c poached or roasted chicken
2 tb fresh thyme leaves
3 tb chopped parsley
2 tb chopped fresh sage
1 lg egg beaten with
1 tb heavy cream
This recipe calls for pate brisee with thyme but spare yourself the trouble and work with a tube of Pillsbury dough instead and pound some thyme into it.

Slice the tops off the pumpkins. (Placing a pumpkin on a towel will help keep it from rolling around.) Scoop out the seeds, and discard them. Using a pastry brush, brush insides of pumpkins with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Season insides of pumpkins with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet; cover tightly with foil. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add pearl onions, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold running water. Peel onions, and set aside. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a large, high-sided skillet set over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to turn golden.

Add mushrooms and carrots, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Add flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add reduced chicken stock and milk, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in chicken, parsley, thyme, sage, remaining nutmeg, remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.

Remove from heat, and divide mixture among reserved pumpkin shells. Roll each piece of pate brisee to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

Pull center of dough upward to form a pumpkin-like stem. Place over the hollow of each filled pumpkin. Using the back of a small paring knife, mark the dough to simulate the lines of the pumpkin.

Brush top of dough with egg wash.

Bake until crust is golden, about 45 minutes.

Happy Hallowe'en, everybody!


  1. Thanks for posting this and I love the photo of the H7G and your chicken/pumpkin recipe. I came across your blog while searching under the "Salem Saga Episodes of Bewitched!" I'm a Bewitched fan and a resident of Salem - I've authored a booklet about the Bewitched cast's visit and filming in Salem in 1970, so I'm very glad to see you mention this fact in your blog. Although, they only filmed a partial scene at the hotel, namely getting in and out of the hotel's elevators.

    Speaking of the Hawthorne Hotel, I'm not sure if you're aware of the menu served to the Bewitched cast at the Hawthorne Hotel. It's right in the lobby, along with a small exhibit about the Bewitched cast. I believe pumpkin was on the menu in some form - either soup or a sidedish.

  2. Hi Peter,

    Thank you so much for your kind comment. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the post! How would I go about getting a copy of your book? And yes, I believe I did see that menu!

    Thanks again.