For a lifelong love of food, start with one terrible apple pie

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was make apple pie. I never especially liked eating apple pie — rather, I lived for the slicing, mixing, rolling and baking involved.
I never employed a recipe in my pie-making, so it was convenient that I declined to taste my creations, because they were probably awful. In fact, my parents recently told me that after taking the requisite bite in front of me, they would wait until I fell asleep at night and then shove the remainder down the garbage disposal. I always believed that they were simply overcome by how tasty it was that they ate the whole thing.

I am thankful that they waited until now to tell me, because the confidence that making those pies instilled in me as a young chef has contributed significantly to my love of food and cooking today — and now I’m actually pretty good at it.

Growing up in Sonoma County and living as an adult in San Francisco have contributed significantly to my love of all things culinary. The importance that this area places on local, fresh food that is prepared mindfully and creatively is one of the most spectacular parts of living in Northern California. Given the emphasis in Jewish culture on well-prepared food, it seems the two are a match made in heaven.

Over the years, my infatuation with cooking combined with a deep desire to connect with my community via food — and with my continued practice in the kitchen, I eventually honed my skills. The following tart receipe is the result of this practice — and it stems from my original garbage disposal apple pies.

Rustic Whole Wheat Crust

3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄4 cup whole-wheat flour
1⁄8 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
31⁄2 Tbs. ice water

Lightly spoon both flours into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water. Stir to combine, just until moist. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place each dough portion between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll each dough portion, still covered, into an 8-inch circle. Chill 20 to 30 minutes (until the plastic wrap peels easily away from the dough).


Pear Tart
Serves 2 to 4

1⁄2 recipe Rustic Whole Wheat Crust (8-inch circle)
2 Bosc or Bartlett pears, cored and sliced thin (leave skin intact)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, toss the pear slices with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and lemon juice until thoroughly coated. Set aside. Uncover dough and place dough circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the pears in a layered pinwheel pattern on the dough, starting in the middle and forming concentric circles, leaving a 2-inch border. Drizzle any of the sugar-lemon juice mixture remaining in the pear bowl over the slices.

Fold up the edges of the dough circle over the filling, crimping to seal. Lightly brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle the folded crust with raw sugar. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, Her columns replace those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin.

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at