Recipe: Swiss Pumpkin Pie – Tarte à la Courge

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Are you looking for a dairy-free dessert for Thanksgiving? If so, please check out my recipe below for an elegant Swiss tart that can be made with either squash or pumpkin.


Our Third Swiss Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week has arrived, and 2014 marks our third time celebrating this very American holiday in Switzerland. This Thursday, my son will go to school and to his piano lesson. My husband will go to work. In the evening, we’ll all meet back at home for a small-scale version of Thanksgiving—although this year our turkey may be in the form of Fondue Chinoise (the boys love it, and it’s easy for a weeknight!).

I feel thankful this year for many things, but in terms of food allergies, I’m overjoyed that my son is “only” allergic to milk, and there’s a good chance he’ll outgrow it. We had three food challenges this year, two of which were negative and allowed us to introduce new foods into his diet—almonds and raw/undercooked eggs. Then, in January 2015, he’ll begin a new round of milk-based food challenges, starting with baked milk. With cautious optimism, I’m beginning to imagine what life could be like for my son, if he outgrows all of his food allergies. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we’re still living dairy-free in Switzerland for him. Our Thanksgiving will be free of milk products again this year, but I love being able to use eggs without any concerns—especially when making a Swiss-style pumpkin pie: Tarte à la Courge.

Courge actually means squash in French, but you can use pureed citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) instead. When I made it this week, I used one large potimarron squash, like those shown in the photo below. This tart has a delicate squash flavor that’s complemented by a cinnamon and sugar topping and a thin, sweet layer of crushed speculoos cookies underneath.

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Please note: If you’re looking for a dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free pumpkin pie, we used a recipe last year from the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation’s online community.


Tarte à la Courge (Squash Tart)

Recipe adapted from Recettes du terroir neuchâtelois by Francis Grandjean (2002).

Makes one large tart in a 28-cm (11-inch) diameter pan.

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Crust:
350 grams dairy-free pâte brisée (i.e., an American-style pie crust. My husband makes this for me, as I have absolutely no patience to do so. His favorite recipe calls for vodka and comes from Cook’s Illustrated.)

Filling:
50 grams dairy-free speculoos biscuits, crushed (I used Biscoff cookies)
2 eggs
50 grams sugar
7 grams vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
200 ml almond milk
50 ml soy cream (or another non-dairy cream)
50 grams all-purpose flour
700 grams squash or pumpkin puree (I roasted and pureed a potimarron squash)

Topping:
A few dashes of cinnamon
100 grams sugar

1. Grease the pan with dairy-free margarine and line it with parchment paper. Roll out the dough for the crust and gently lay it in the pan. Using your fingers, press the dough into place in the pan, making sure it’s evenly spread out.

2. Prick the crust in several places with a fork, and then sprinkle and spread the crushed cookies on top of the dough—only on the bottom, don’t worry about the sides.

3. Whisk together the eggs, almond milk, sugar, vanilla sugar, soy cream and flour until well-blended. Then, stir in the squash or pumpkin puree. Pour the mixture gently into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.

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4. Sprinkle some cinnamon over the top of the filling, and then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the cinnamon.

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5. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 35-40 minutes until filling has set, and the crust has browned slightly. Allow to fully cool and then serve with a generous dollop of dairy-free whipped cream.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you have any allergy-friendly recipes to share, please leave a comment below. I’m still planning our menu for Thursday…

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Thanksgiving 2013

Yesterday marked our second Thanksgiving in Switzerland. I know some expats wait until the weekend to celebrate when they’re not working or in school, but for some reason I have this steadfast rule about celebrating holidays (and birthdays) on the actual day they occur. Last night, after we finished up our Thanksgiving-themed playdate with eight rambunctious children, I quickly pulled together a turkey dinner for our immediate family.

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Rather than preparing the whole bird, I just cooked up some turkey breasts with fresh sage. We also had stuffing, potatoes with red onions from the Zibelemärit, arugula salad, chestnut rolls and pumpkin pie. My pie-baking husband made the pumpkin pie, which we also served during the playdate to some non-American friends who had never tried it before. He used an excellent pumpkin pie recipe I found from Kids with Food Allergies (dairy/egg/soy-free).

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Even though we weren’t with our family in the United States yesterday (although Skype certainly helped), cooking and eating these Thanksgiving foods somehow made me feel more connected to them. These traditional foods and our memories of past Thanksgivings also help teach our boys about this very American holiday, even though we’re celebrating in Switzerland. We have so much to be thankful for, and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I also wanted to say a big thank you to Hansine Johnston at World Radio Switzerland for letting me talk briefly on-air about Dairy-Free Switzerland yesterday. While I rambled on a bit during my first radio interview, I really appreciated this opportunity. Bon week-end!

Thanksgiving Playdate

For our first Thanksgiving in Switzerland, I decided on a whim to host a playdate with some of my oldest son’s classmates. It was wonderful having our apartment filled with friends for the holiday. I served some homemade, allergy-friendly snacks and even had Thanksgiving-themed bricolage for the kids.

For my food-allergic son, it always seems easier hosting guests at our place. I can control the menu to make sure his food is safe by avoiding individual ingredients and any potential for cross-contamination. This just seems too much to ask of someone else who’s not used to it.

Not only does hosting help to lessen my worries, it also lets me to try out some new dairy, egg and nut-free recipes on folks other than my family. As usual, I made way too much food, including a Quince Tarte Tatin that I didn’t serve because one of the guests brought an apple tart that looked so much better. Instead, we ate my dessert later that night after our turkey dinner. Real butter would have probably helped the caramel and the crust, but it still tasted good.

Of course, I also made a bundt cake. This time, I used an adapted version of Martha Stewart’s Spicy Pumpkin Bundt Cake. Instead of eggs and buttermilk, I used 4 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 12 tablespoons water and I cup of rice milk mixed with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.

Overall, I hope people had fun at our little Thanksgiving playdate. I’m so grateful for the new friends we’ve made here. I particularly appreciate them putting up with my limited French and my constant questions about life in Switzerland.

As a reminder, please “like” the new Facebook page for Dairy-Free Switzerland to receive and share information about living with food allergies in Switzerland and beyond. Thanks so much!