Recipe by Mary Kay Waters, owner, Waters Fine Foods & Catering
I definitely grew up thinking about food. My father planted apple and pear trees, and all winter we had apples and vegetables in our cold cellar. When my mom told me that a friend or relative was coming for dinner, I could recite the last dish she made for them. I remembered people by what they ate.
I studied nutrition in college, but at the time, the only thing I could do with that degree was to work in an institutional setting, and I knew I didn’t want to do that. After college, I went to the CIA in New York and then worked for a chef for ten years in Washington DC and northern Virginia.
I moved to San Diego with my husband and started my catering business in 1990. We were on Morena Boulevard and there was no place to eat lunch back then. About 11 years ago, we tried a “gourmet-to-go” approach for people who wanted lunch or dinner to go. It was so successful that we opened another store in North County. We have quite a few vegan and gluten-free options now. I make gluten-free eclairs that taste even better than the real ones because the brown-rice flour I use makes them crispier.
Often I bring home what I make in the shop for dinner. My boys will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll say, “Well, there’s chicken pot pie or steak or gluten-free veggie lasagna.”
I’ll go through the whole list, and half the time, they’ll say, “Can’t you just cook something?” Luckily, they are into food just like I am, and they like to cook, too. We go to the farmers’ markets together. We’ll grab a local chicken and roast it or get some fresh fish and make sushi.
What’s funny is now I’ve come full circle. I’ve gone from not wanting to be in an institutional setting to wanting to change the kind of food that is served in the institutional setting. Now, a goal of mine is to improve the quality of food served in office buildings. We recently partnered with Alexandria Real Estate Equities and now serve local, organic food at Fibonacci’s Bistro in the Campus Pointe complex in UTC.
It’s a green building, we serve healthy food, and we started an organic garden on the grounds, as well. With a little training and proper buying, good, fresh food doesn’t have to be more expensive.
(Makes 2 tarts)
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ¾ cup tapioca flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp. potato flour
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 T. sugar
- 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and then chilled
- 1 T. white wine vinegar
- 4 T. ice water
- 6 Fuji or local apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- pinch salt
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- ½ tsp. lemon zest (optional)
- 2 T. cornstarch
- 1-2 tsp. light cream
- 2 tsp. sugar crystals
HOW TO DO IT
Add all the dry ingredients to a food processor. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the dry ingredients are mixed. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has a consistency like sand. Drizzle the vinegar and water over the mixture and pulse 3 or 4 times. Remove the dough from the processor carefully, gather into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice and zest, and cornstarch. Let sit for 10–15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and portion into 2 balls. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball of dough into a 1/8" circle. Layer apples on top of each circle of dough, starting in the center and spiraling out. Leave a ½"–2" border of crust. Fold the borders in towards the center of the tarts. Brush the tops of the apples and crust with light cream and sprinkle with crystal sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 5–10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until apples have softened (test with a skewer or knife).
Serve with ice cream, crème fraîche, or Calvados whipped cream. Drizzle with warm caramel sauce if desired.
NOTE: Xanthan gum adds volume to the pastry without adding gluten. It can be purchased at Whole Foods or through Bob’s Red Mill at bobsredmill.com.