by | Nov 22, 2017 | The Writer's Life | 4 comments

by Sonja Stone


Francine’s post (Comfort Food for Any Crisis) resonated deeply with me. Like Francine, I often express my love by feeding people. I learned it from my mother–she’s Lebanese, and in our culture, sharing food is vitally important.

Wedding cake designed by Sonja Stone
Wedding cake, designed by Sonja Stone

I have a confession to make: I’m a culinary snob. I like single origin chocolate from Madagascar, Vietnamese cinnamon, and always sweet, unsalted butter. My flour is from King Arthur’s, my dutch-process cocoa from Penzey’s, my coffee beans from Java Distribution.

Mini fruit tarts with vanilla bean pastry cream

I attended Le Cordon Bleu, but my snobbery began well before any professional pastry training. My mother always asks herself before eating dessert, “Is it worth the calories?” If it is, fantastic! We enjoy. But if it’s not, nothing doing.

pumpkin pie with fallen leaves garnish
pumpkin pie with fallen leaves garnish

A few years ago, my mother’s house burned to the ground. She lost everything. The remains had to be totaled, and a new house built in its place. A few weeks after the fire, as I was sifting through the rubble, I found a box of treasures: my mother’s most cherished recipes, written on looseleaf paper, tucked inside manilla folders, stuck in a cardboard box on a kitchen shelf, directly over where the fire originated.

It was a tiny miracle. 

Of all the amazing recipes and sweet creations I’ve made over the years, my all-time-hands-down-without-a-doubt-wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world favorite is my mother’s apple pie.

Perfect Apple Pie
Mom’s apple pie–post house fire

Naturally, as a pastry chef, I’ve slightly modified the recipe. But not much. The SECRET to making this the Perfect Apple Pie is to slice the apples paper thin.

My mom. Eating is always an event for our family!

Rebecca Wilson’s Perfect Apple Pie (with Sonja’s modifications) 🙂


10 Granny Smith apples
sprinkling of lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
Dash of salt
2 Tbsp butter

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar-in-the-raw


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Peel, core, and slice the apples paper thin (sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent oxidizing)
2. Combine sugar, flour, spices, and salt
3. Mix dry ingredients with apples
4. Put in a 9″ pastry-lined pie pan, and dot with butter (it will seem like a lot of filling, but it’ll deflate)
5. Moisten the edges with water or the egg, and add top crust
6. Optional: Brush top crust with egg and sprinkle with raw sugar
7. Cut slits in the top crust to vent, cover edges with foil (to prevent burning), and bake for 50 minutes

Naturally, a pie is only as good as its crust. I use Sally Schneider’s Foolproof Flaky Butter Pastry recipe from A NEW WAY TO COOK.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We Rogues are so grateful for all of you!

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  1. Karna Bodman

    A grad of Le Cordon Bleu in our midst – I am SO impressed. And how great to share your terrific family recipes with us – just in time for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. That apple pie recipe looks delicious – thanks so much for a great post – and a very warm and wonderful thanksgiving to you, Sonja, and all of our Rogue readers.

  2. Gayle Lynds

    My mouth watered throughout your entire post, Sonja. Love the recommendations for ingredients. Love the apple pie recipe. Who said food is love? You demonstrated it! Happy Thanksgiving, with gratitude! Gayle

  3. S. Lee Manning

    Delicious. Someday you'll have to trade recipes with my husband who loves to cook. He spent one day at the Cordon Bleu learning sauces and would enjoy your experience. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. I know the food will be great!

  4. Stephanie Barron

    This is wonderful, Sonja. I’m blown away by your talent – that wedding cake is glorious. I’m planning to make your apple pie this weekend.