The past weekend with my colleagues at the international school we celebrated Thanksgiving. I spent my whole Saturday preparing food, eating, eating, eating some more and having an overall fabulous time with my colleagues. Many come from North America and were eager to share this important festivity with the rest of the staff. For me, it was a really good way to get to enjoy foods I don’t get to taste very often, including a big fat turkey.
My main contribution to the party was dessert. I decided to bring cheesecake, blueberry pie and pumpkin pie. The first was an easy peasy job, as I could rely on my trusted cheesecake recipe. The second is a Swedish classic. The third was a challenge, something I had never made before that required a couple of attempts to nail. But I’m pretty happy with the result, so here’s the recipe.
- 450 g butternut squash
- 200 g sweet potato
- 100 ml syrup
- 50 g brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 30 g butter
- 100 ml milk
Making pumpkin and sweet potato purée is pretty similar to the first steps of making soup: you peel, deseed, dice and cook the vegetables in a large pot with enough water to cover them. When soft, that is to say after about 15 minutes of simmering, remove the water and let the softened vegetables cool for about 10 minutes. Then, blend them with a hand blender until smooth and transfer the purée into a strainer in order to let any excess water drain away. I actually prepared the purée the night before and let it sit in the strainer overnight. If the pie is not prepared over two days, the time it takes to prepare the shortcrust should be enough, so after taking care of the purée, one can make the tart shell.I already had a shortcrust base ready to use, so I rolled it out and placed it in a tart pan. It needs to be baked it in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C. Remember to prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent it from raising too much. The reason why I always have a supply of sweet shortcrust pastry at hand is found in the fact that when I make it I like to make a batch that can be used for two pies. I usually use a half straight away and freeze the other half for future use. Even making it from scratch doesn’t require that long and can be quickly done as the oven reaches the right temperature. My double-dose shortcrust recipe can be found here.
The next step is to prepare the filling. Transfer the drained purée into a bowl. Melt the butter and fold it in the squash mash. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs, then add the milk. Add salt, sugar, syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk it all in. Add mixture to squash and sweet potato purée and mix well. Pour onto half-baked tart shell and bake for 10 minutes at 220°C. After taking out the empty shortcrust shell, the oven temperature needs to go up to 220°C for the next step. After the first 15 minutes of baking, lower the heat to 180°C and let the pie bake until the filling is just set (about 40 minutes).This recipe was quite adapted from the one found on BBC Good Food. I went for a European version of the recipe, as I didn’t have access to canned pumpkin purée or evaporated milk, so most of the American recipes I was finding did not suit my supplies. I changed the original quite a lot, in the end, but it was a good base to begin with. Also, I chose to use butternut squash as it is easy to get year-round here where I live. The original recipe featured only squash, but I felt the need to adapt it and make it mine, so I spontaneously added sweet potato. A few years ago I had read about using sweet potato in pumpkin pies, but I had never tried, so this idea stayed in my brain until I finally decided to make this one. I think the sweet potato helps with the texture of the filling, without really standing out for its taste, thus making for the perfect partner in crime to the squash when used in replacement of proper pumpkin.
There were many more cakes, as well as other typical Thanksgiving delicacies. I helped out preparing the turkey, a job that requires quite a lot of commitment, and was very pleased with the outcome. Overall, I had a lot of great food and an even greater time with my colleagues and their families.
The only time I had celebrated Thanksgiving before was when I was in Canada where I was treated to a memorable feast by two wonderful people I met at work. My second Thanksgiving was celebrated surrounded by wonderful colleagues again. I realize how lucky I am always ending up working with fantastic people. This is what I am thankful for.