You may remember from my Kau Kau Bake recipe that I grew up in Papua New Guinea. For six of those years I lived in a little town called Ukarumpa. It was basically a little American oasis in the middle of the Mountains of PNG! There were people from all over the world who congregated there and made it their home, but US Citizens were definitely the majority. My best friend was American. I learnt much of the American way of life from her and her family. I ate Pringles chips and Hershey's chocolate and Skittles lollies before it they had ever been heard of in Australia. I learnt how to roll my R's and elongate my vowel sounds (to this day I struggle to not break into my suedo-American accent when I run into an American). And we celebrated Thanksgiving.
Now, to be honest, I don't know much about the history of Thanksgiving- I know it has something to do with the early Pilgrims and Native American Indians helping them survive.
And the celebration of the first plentiful harvest.
And pumpkin and corn.
(I apologise to my American readers for my simplification of the history!).
What I DO know is that giving thanks is life-changing. Focusing on being thankful for what I have instead of what I don't have is part of the key to a joy-filled life.
My thankful list will always include that I got to grow up in such a rich cultural environment with such amazing people and experiences that money can't buy. And that I've had the privilege of visiting my best friend and her family in America a number of times now. Some of those trips have been timed to be there for Thanksgiving- to share in this special celebration with my 'second family'.
Feast your eyes on the bounty of an American thanksgiving meal, the last time we were there.....
For the pastry, you can use my Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry recipe. I use organic butter when I make this pastry, but if you're strictly dairy free, you can use Nuttelex or another dairy free spread (even though I don't really advocate using the stuff!). When I need to make a completely gluten AND dairy free pie crust, that does not need a 'lid', I use Jude Blereau's Almond Pastry recipe from her book 'Wholefoods'. This is the pasty in my pictures, and I will write it out here for you. The only change I've made to her recipe is that I use coconut oil where she calls for almond oil.
Scroll down to the 'variation' right at the end of this post for the grain-free option.
- 100g (1 cup) almond meal
- 260g (1 1/2) cups brown rice flour
- 125mls (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup
- 60mls (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or almond oil)
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ice cold water
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390F).
- Mix together in a bowl the almond meal and rice flour.
- In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, vanilla and water.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork. If it is dry and sandy rather than moist, add a little more ice cold water.
- Cover and rest the pastry in the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Press the dough into desired tin or pie dish with your fingers, smoothing it out as much as possible. Don't leave an overhang of crust over the edge of the dish as it will burn badly due to the length of time the pumpkin filling requires to bake.
- I usually blind bake my shell for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, as the end product it turns out less 'soggy' if I do. Cover the pie dish with foil while blind baking to stop the crust from starting to brown.
And now for the pumpkin filling. I had an old recipe given to me in handwritten form by a lady in PNG, that I've modified to make it dairy and refined sugar free....
- 1 & 3/4 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin /450g/1 American Can of pumpkin. Start with about 1500g uncooked pumpkin with skin on- you probably won't need all of it but better to have more than less! Any variety of pumpkin will do.
- 1 & 3/4 cups milk (dairy or almond or rice milk- I use almond milk)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar or rapadura sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- To cook the pumpkin, you can steam it or roast it. Don't boil it as it will add too much moisture to the end product. I prefer the flavour of roast pumpkin- gives the pie a little bit of extra richness. To roast it, cut the peeled pumpkin to large cubes and place on a greased or lined baking tray in an oven preheated to 160 degrees celcius (320F) until just soft and not overly browned. You can cook the pumpkin a day or two ahead and use it in the filling cold if need be.
- Set the oven temperature to 200 degrees celcius (390F).
- Once pumpkin is cooked and cooled a little, mix it with all the other ingredients until smooth and runny in a food processor or blender, or with an immersion 'stick' blender.
- Pour the filling into the blind-baked pie crust.
- Bake for 40-50 mins, checking to make sure the filling is just set in the middle, but the crust is not over cooking.
- Remove from oven and cool completely before serving. It is best served at room temperature or from the fridge. Serve with whipped cream or yoghurt of choice, sprinkled with a little cinnamon or nutmeg.
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