Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday, and I was a little sad that I was going to miss out on it this year. Imagine my incredible delight, then, when I realized that not only would I have guests over Thanksgiving weekend, but some of my favourite people in the world – my sister, two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law! What luck. And we have many many things to be thankful for. One healthy baby and another one on the way, family who loves us so much they travel across the world to see us and more family who we couldn’t be with but were in our thoughts and hearts.

My family got to go and explore the Bains de Paquis – basically a mecca of nakedness in downtown Geneva. I was assured that no one I knew went nude while taking a dip in Lake Geneva, but everyone enjoyed the Turkish baths. I can’t wait until I can try the saunas, one of these days.

I spent my day preparing a feast. Turkey isn’t really a thing here in Switzerland, so I just went ahead and roasted two chickens, which worked out just find, and lots of leftovers for me. Then there was the full contingent of Thanksgiving usuals: the gravy, the stuffing, the potatoes and the pickles. I tried out two new recipes, both of which went over really well.

Butternut Squash Risotto

I didn’t take any pictures of this. Not that it wasn’t pretty, it actually was, full of lovely autumnal colours, there just … wasn’t time. And then the masses descended, and it was eaten. Because it was soooo good. A definite repeat dish. The original is found at BBC Good Foods.

1 butternut squash

4 tbsp light olive oil

600ml vegetable stock

50g unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, picked

140g risotto rice

100ml white wine

50g parmesan

Heat oven to 200C. Peel the squash and separate the bulbous seed-bearing section from the slender end. Chop the slender end into two cm cubes, toss in half the oil, season lightly and roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on the outside and soft in the centre, about thirty minutes.

Cut the bulb in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon – you can keep these to toast in the oven and sprinkle over salads. Chop the flesh into two cm pieces. Warm the vegetable stock in a small pan, set over a low heat. Drop in squash and leave to gently poach.

While the squash is roasting, warm a medium-size frying pan over a gentle heat. Add the remaining olive oil and half the butter, followed by the onion. Cover and cook for three minutes until the onion turns translucent. Stir in the celery, garlic, herbs and a few turns of pepper.

Cover again and cook for a further two minutes. Increase the heat slightly and stir in the rice. Stir, uncovered, for about five minutes – this will help to develop the toasty aroma of the rice without burning the vegetable.

Turn up the heat, stir in the wine and let it bubble away to almost nothing. Reduce the heat and start adding the stock. Add one ladle at a time, stirring gently but constantly during each addition. When the stock has been absorbed, it’s time to add the next ladleful and so on. It will take about fifteen minutes to reach the final ladle of stock. By this time the squash in the stock should have softened. Mash it up with the remaining stock and stir into the risotto.

Turn off the heat, dot the top of the risotto with remaining butter and most of the Parmesan, cover, leave to rest for two minutes, then stir through and check the seasoning. Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle the roasted squash and leftover Parmesan on top.

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And then we get to the really good stuff. My newest favourite fancy dessert is this, a fun twist on pecan pie with a layer of chocolate at the bottom. The scotch and nutmeg add great flavour, and it has a wonderful caramel richness to it. Yum.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Preheat oven to 180C.

The recipe calls for a graham crust, but graham crackers don’t seem to exist here, so I went with a regular, store-bought pie crust. You can find the recipe I found at Feast for All Seasons.

Add to the bottom of the crust:

1 C chocolate chunks

2 C whole pecans

For the pie filling, mix together:

1/2 C butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons Scotch or dark rum

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Pour the egg and sugar mix over the nuts and chocolate in the prepared pan.

Place the pie dish on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes until it is puffed and golden, still slightly jiggly and smelling richly of caramel.

Allow to cool and set fully before slicing and serving.

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