Go Global with Thanksgiving with a French Infusion

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The idea of a Thanksgiving holiday dates back to an autumn feast celebrated by pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. More than 200 years later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of every November a national day of Thanksgiving. And today the holiday is synonymous with a dinnertime spread of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls, and pumpkin pie.

We have our own Thanksgiving tradition around our house that’s a little uncommon – to be untraditional.

For the past few years we’ve chosen a different country to inspire our holiday meal. In the past we’ve done a Mexican Thanksgiving, last year we opted for Caribbean – this year we’ve settled on a French infusion. Our roast turkey will be a turkey roulade and mashed potatoes will be replaced with au gratin potatoes – and the pumpkin pie will be transformed into pumpkin crepes (yes, we’ll be going through plenty of cream around our house).

I drew inspiration for our French meal from food writer and Swedish native, Maria Zihammou. Her recent cookbook, French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and Drinks, features dishes that favor fresh ingredients and simple preparation.

Zihammou gave several suggestions about how to switch up your holiday meal to add a French feel, including one intriguing way to update your dessert selection with a Lemon Tart. With few ingredients and a refreshingly citrus zip, the Lemon Tart is easy to make and can be prepared a couple days in advance. She also recommended having a selection of quality cheeses on hand for after dinner. “Maybe go for three like Gruyere, a tangy Roquefort and Brie cheeses,” said Zihammou. “Ending your dinner with cheese is definitely very French.”

French Lemon Tart recipe

In her own country, Sweden, Zihammou pointed out that they do have holiday food traditions that start very near Thanksgiving. “We don’t have Thanksgiving but we start to celebrate Christmas already in last weekend of November with something called Advent,” described Zihammou. “Sunday the 30th is 1st of Advent and we do a drink called glögg. It’s wine that is mulled with spices such as cinnamon and really very sweet. With this drink that we serve hot we have gingerbread cakes, cheese, salmon or whatever you would like that is a mix of salt and sweet flavors.”

Zihammou’s Lemon Tart is the perfect way to finish off your meal, whether it’s Thanksgiving – or any other special day of the year.


French Lemon Tart Recipe



Recipe: French Lemon Tart (Tarte Au Citron)*



7 tbsp. butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups wheat flour

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tbsp. cold water



5 eggs

4 lemons

1 tbsp. lemon zest

½ cup cream

½ cup granulated sugar



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mix together the crust ingredients until they form a dough ball (I added 1 extra tablespoon of water to get the right consistency).

Lightly coat a tart springform pan with cooking spray. Press the crust dough into the tart pan.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Let it cool while you make the filling.

Whisk together the eggs and then add in the juice from the lemons and the zest. Next, whisk in the cream and sugar.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 20-30 minutes until set.

Top with powdered sugar and thin, lemon slices.

I topped mine with a berry sauce http://mykidseatsquid.com/2011/12/berry-sauce/.


*From the French Bistro by Maria Zihammou.


French Lemon Tart recipe




Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and
recipes--at MyKidsEatSquid.com.


All photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough