Apple Pie Bakery Café

by Anne Maxfield on March 12, 2018

Apple Pie Bakery CaféThe Apple Pie Bakery Café was always one my favorites at the Culinary Institute of America, or CIA as it’s affectionately known in these parts. I wasn’t the only one and recently they decided to close for a few months to renovate the space. Luckily, during that time croissants, bread and pastries were still available to take out, so life could go on.

The café reopened recently, and we were anxious to see how it turned out.

Now, there’s a whole separate area for take-out, with grab-and-go sandwiches, perfect pastries, breads and more. It’s probably too soon to know how well this will work, but I did manage to snag the last couple of croissants before we went to the main room to have lunch.

The main room has been opened up and is now all sit-down dining. It’s pleasant—light and bright and bustling, even for an early lunch. The tables are small and for some reason, the day we were there, no one wanted to sit where they were originally sent.

They’ve cleaned up the menu, too, with an emphasis (they say) on Americana cuisine, represented by a poke bowl and a fried chicken sandwich.

Apple Pie Bakery Café Soup We split an order of that day’s soup– a loaded potato soup. It came at the same time as the rest of our meal, along with an additional bowl so we could split it. That made the table, which had already looked a little wee, completely overwhelmed with plates, bowls, serving plates, bread plates, cutlery, a water carafe, glasses and full-sized salt and pepper grinders.

The soup was fine, garnished with pieces of bacon, scallions, cheese and sour cream, all to mimic a baked potato.

I went for the quiche of the day, or according to our server, the quiche of the week, which was Boursin cheese and mushrooms. If you’re expecting that classic wedge, you’ve forgotten you’re at the CIA. This was a perfect 4” circle of good crust with a bright yellow filling. Chopped mushrooms and the Boursin were topped with a perfect custard.

Apple Pie Bakery Café QuicheAfter some serious contemplation, Janet ordered the chickpea pita with Marcona almond, red onion, avocado, lemon and cucumber in a whole wheat pita. It came with an “adorable” little brown paper bag full of house-made potato chips.

It’s funny, because for all the times I’ve eaten at the Apple Pie Bakery Café, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered dessert there. Which is probably really stupid, because all the desserts I’ve ever seen in the cases or on other people’s tables are just amazing looking!

Our neighbors had the Signature Apple Dessert, a large green “apple” made from salted caramel mousse, apple cake, apple butter and sprayed Granny Smith Apple green. It looked spectacular and for a brief minute, we wished we’d had one too.

Know that the Apple Pie Bakery Café is only open on weekdays (don’t get me started) when school is in session. One of the improvements they’ve made is that the schedule is on their website, so just check before you head out.


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Croissant Breakfast Casserole

by Anne Maxfield on March 3, 2016

Accidental Locavore Croissant Casserole PlatedJust before Christmas the NY Times ran a recipe for what was basically a savory bread pudding or strata. Now, the Accidental Locavore isn’t sure exactly what the difference is, other than more people seem to be able to relate to the idea of bread pudding. I thought this would make a good breakfast for a crowd. If you can start it the night before, you’ll benefit from it sitting around overnight so the bread can absorb the liquid. Serves 8.

  • 1 pound croissants (about 5 to 7), split in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for baking dish
  • 1 bunch scallions (6 to 7), white and light green parts thinly sliced, greens reserved
  • ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces Gruyère, grated (2 cups)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Accidental Locavore Croissants for CasseroleHeat oven to 500°. Spread croissants on a large baking sheet and toast, cut side up, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (watch very carefully to see that they do not burn). Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.

Accidental Locavore Sausage for Croissant CasseroleIn a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add sliced scallions and sausage meat; cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in sage, and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, toss together croissants and sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.

Accidental Locavore Croissant Casserole PreBakingLightly oil a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn croissant mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing croissants down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced scallion tops, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Croissant Casserole BakedMy verdict: Great! I substituted some good Southern breakfast sausage for the Italian and it was delicious. While the croissants I used were just okay, if you could find some good ones (Maison Kayser), it would make it a better dish. You could add or substitute all kinds of goodies, smoked salmon, mushrooms are a few that come to mind. It was also good to just be able to pop it in the oven on a busy morning.




Maison Kayser Revisited, or a Great Lunch!

by Anne Maxfield on September 2, 2014

Accidental Locavore at Maison KayserSometimes it’s just great being the Accidental Locavore! As you know I’ve written a couple of times about Maison Kayser (it’s my favorite croissant in Manhattan). Their PR person, Janet Mick, invited me to lunch at their newest location on Third Avenue and 87th Street and I eagerly accepted!

It’s a nice, airy space, with a big seating area and a smaller take-out counter. If you’re seated in the right spot, you can watch the croissants going in and coming out of a stack of big ovens, and if you weren’t hungry before….

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes and BurattaIn the interest of trying as much of the menu as two people could, we started out with beautiful small heirloom tomatoes topped with burrata and pesto – a perfect August appetizer! Then, we added the fois gras torchons which came with their great bread toasted, and a cherry chutney. If you’re wondering how good they were, the fact that they were both pretty much demolished before I thought to take photos should be proof enough, right?

Accidental Locavore Fig TartineAfter that, I had a wonderful tartine with goat cheese, fresh figs and caramelized onions. It was a perfect blend of flavors (and looked great to boot). Janet had the salad d’Été—a big bowl full of fresh summer produce topped off with shrimp and a light lemon dressing.

Along with all this great food, Marine, the manager of this location, made sure we had the full selection of the breads Maison Kayser is famous for. Because I’ve had nut allergies, we had to skip the wonderful looking turmeric bread with nuts, but she made up for it with their amazing light rye with lemon zest (can’t wait to take some of that home and toast it!), a fig bread that would be perfect with a nice chèvre, whole grain, seeded (poppy and sesame) and white breads, any of which would be great to have around the house.

Accidental Locavore Dessert TrioWe couldn’t leave without at least a little taste of one of their incredible pastries, so Marine went off to surprise us. She came back with a trio of desserts, ranging from a dense dark chocolate tart, the Adagio with a passion fruit center and a chocolate glaze, a trio of bite-sized raspberry tarts (proving, as my husband always says, “the French really understand raspberries!’) and my favorite, the Saint-Honoré, three small cream puffs resting on a pastry base with caramel whipped cream. The crunch of the caramel glaze along with the cream and the pastry was just spectacular!

Accidental Locavore Maison Kayser GoodiesPart of what makes everything so good is that each location bakes everything from scratch, every day. The croissants are made hourly, to ensure that they’re always fresh. I mentioned to Marine that I was going to grab a couple to take to my cousin’s (where I was spending the night). She said she’d put together a few things for me to take home and I left lugging a huge shopping bag. There were croissants, plain and a giant chocolate one, fabulous chocolate chip cookies, a flakey palmier and a sweet bun, so we feasted through the night and had a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

If you’ve had your fill of that other French place, definitely check out Maison Kayser. This time I was their guest, but when I’ve been there on my own, the food has been consistently delicious, more interesting and the service better. There are now five of them in Manhattan, with a sixth opening in time for pre-marathon carbo-loading on the Upper West Side.




Mushroom Soup, or How Food Makes You Feel Better

by Anne Maxfield on February 17, 2014

Accidental Locavore Mushroom SoupSome days you just know food will make you feel better. Such was the case when the Accidental Locavore decided to hit up the Apple Pie Bakery Café at the Culinary Institute the other day, intent on getting enough croissants to make it through the weekend. Now, as we all know, hunger and a crappy mood are the perfect combination to send you out of a place like that lighter of wallet and heavier of bags.

One of the bags contained the soup of the day – a cream of mushroom with a cremini mushroom and tarragon goat cheese garnish. Sounded like the perfect lunch for a winter afternoon and it was! A perfect puree, with a texture like the smoothest satin, it floated down my throat, leaving a wonderful woodiness in its wake. The goat cheese garnish melted into it, adding more creaminess and a nice slightly salty tang to cut the richness of the puree.

Accidental Locavore Bread and CheeseAs most soups do, this came with bread, in the form of a nice crusty roll. Since I was still working on indulging myself through food, I warmed it up in the oven and “buttered” it with the last bit of a petit Délice de Bourgogne. Perfection! The roll was warm, tasty and had a perfect crust (usually lacking in the typical bread that comes with soup) and I enjoyed every bite with my favorite cheese. Did my mood improve? Yes, temporarily.

Now I’m on a mission to try to make a cream of mushroom soup as dreamy as the CIA’s. Who has a favorite recipe I should try? Otherwise I’ll just rabidly follow the Apple Pie Bakery Café’s Facebook page where they post the daily specials and run over there when I see mushroom soup on the menu again. Besides, they make much better rolls!