Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe for Basic Crepes

Crêpes may be one of the easiest recipes to make that is both impressive and a huge crowd-pleaser. Kids LOVE crêpes! I grew up on them and with four kids in the house, my mother couldn’t make them fast enough! Each time she placed one on the counter, it would disappear! They are great for breakfast or even dinner.

You can make a sweet crepe by filling it with fresh cut-up fruit (such as strawberries, peaches, bananas, blueberries), strawberry or raspberry preserves, Nutella, lemon and sugar, butter and sugar. I like to top it off with some whipped cream or powdered sugar. 

For savory crepes try: sautéed spinach, goat cheese and mushrooms; ham, tomatoes and cheddar cheese; prosciutto, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes; smoked turkey with shredded Swiss cheese; eggs, bacon, and tomatoes.

The recipe is very simple. You can make them on a regular pan but it’s worth buying a non-stick crepe pan (or two to use at the same time for efficiency!), which is flat and shallow, making it easy to create a beautiful smooth crepe. You can get one for as little as $20 at Sur La Table for the 9.5". If you’re making for a big crowd, serve them in a stack with a buffet of fillings set out so that each person can make their own.

3 large eggs
2¼ cups milk, cold
1¾ cups all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I don't use extra for the pan like other recipes may call for)

Makes about 16 crepes using a 10" pan.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a whisk until the batter is smooth. You can also use a blender or food processor but I find that it’s just as easy by hand.

You’re supposed to refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably two, and up to 24 hours. I am usually pressed for time, so I do it for about 15-30 minutes and they turn out great. After chilling, mix well again before cooking.

Heat the pan over medium-high heat until hot but do not let the pan get TOO hot.

With a ladle, pour about 3-5 tablespoons of batter (depending on the size of the pan) into the middle of the pan. Tilt and rotate the pan to lightly cover the entire surface. It takes about a minute to cook on one side. Then you'll notice the crêpe start to loosen a little, edges will curl a little and the bottom side will be golden brown. To flip, loosen the edges with a spatula and then either flip it with the spatula, or just flip using the pan (to look MOST impressive for your guests!). Cook on other side for about 30 seconds (or more if you like them darker, crispier), move the crêpe to a plate and cover. Don't worry if your first one doesn't come out, it usually doesn't.


TIP: Never wash a crêpe pan in the dishwasher. You can wash by hand but best is to simply wipe it clean with a dry paper towel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT

Road trips can be amazing experiences. I love pretty much everything about them. The interesting local sites, fights for control of the music (or succumbing to the local country station), and the unique conversations that develop when you're sitting in a small confined place for hours with friends, family, sometimes people you only just met.

One of my only gripes about road trips is the lack of good, tasty and healthy (or at least healthier!) food options easily available on the road. Or so I thought... Why settle for the drive-thru when there are tons of amazing little spots within minutes off the highway? It's sometimes as much about the journey as the destination itself...

On a recent trip to Nantucket, my friend (whose family lives nearby in Mystic, CT) directed us 7 minutes off Highway 95 to Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT -- a hidden gem located about midway between New York City and Hyannis Port, MA (where you take the ferry or plane to Nantucket). And the dining setting is absolutely beautiful -- a quintessential New England fishing village right on the bay!

The menu consists mostly of seafood -- whole lobster dinners, steamed clams, steamed mussels, lobster bisque, clam chowder, crab cakes, oysters, and more. But the best thing is their "Famous Hot Lobster Roll." It's a quarter pound of pure fresh lobster meat mounted on a toasted and buttered bun. No gobs of mayo to hide the taste of the delicious lobster. One of the best lobster rolls I've had in a while!

And the decor is simple -- you order outside, and you can either sit inside or at bare picnic tables outside right on the water. Open daily noon to 9 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day.

For non-seafood lovers, there are a few options: mac & cheese, grilled cheese, oven roasted half chicken. 

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl Street
Noank, CT 06340
Phone: 860-536-7719

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recipe for Farmer's Cheese Spread

I love all things dairy -- so it's no surprise that I think farmer's cheese is one of the most delicious things ever! And it seems not that many people know about it. It's similar to cottage cheese but has a thicker/smoother consistency. And compared to cream cheese, it has less fat, less calories, less carbs (actually 0) and more protein per serving.

Here's my recipe for farmer's cheese with radishes and green onions. It's a great recipe for breakfast -- and not only tasty but really healthy! You can eat it on its own (the way I like it), or on bread, crackerbread, a bagel, or with crackers. And you can add more or less radishes and green onions based on your taste.

I've included a picture of the Friendship farmer's cheese I buy. It's in the dairy section near the cottage cheese and sour cream but often times a little hard to find. Better to get the version without salt.

Agnes' Farmer's Cheese
Serves 6 
Prep time: 5 minutes
2 packages of farmer's cheese (15 ounces)
6 large radishes, grated (or 8 smaller radishes)
4 heaping Tablespoons green onions (or chives), chopped
2 Tablespoons of sour cream (or 3 for a creamier spread)

In a medium bowl, mix the farmer's cheese with the sour cream and add salt to taste (I add about 1/4 teaspoon).

Add the grated radishes, chopped green onions (or chives) and mix until it's a creamy spread. 

Serve in a bowl garnished with some chopped green onion.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Visit to Bedford Post Inn

Upstate New York is a beautiful land of working farms, horse ranches, small towns and narrow, winding roads.

Nestled in the side of a hill in Bedford, about an hour’s drive north from Manhattan, lies the quaint Bedford Post Inn, owned by Richard Gere and his wife Carey Lowell. The eight-room eco-friendly inn includes a casual dining restaurant called the Barn, a bakery, a more formal space known as the Farmhouse, and a gorgeous yoga studio.

As you pull up to the property on the gravel driveway, you first come up to the Barn, which is partially hidden behind tall shrubs. There is a patio with outdoor seating and overhead, a pergola with vines climbing up and slowly taking over.
The delicious contemporary American menu is full of seasonal, fresh farm fare – eggs, produce, beef, chicken – and the bread, desserts and pastries are made on location in the bakery. Guest favorites are the Banana Pancake and the Eggs Benedict. On the day I visited, there was also a special of Shrimp and Grits (pictured below).
Next door to the Barn is the yoga studio, which has classes daily in the mornings. The studio is a yogi dream: beautiful, dark hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings and lots of natural light.
And finally, there is the inn. On the first floor, there is the simple, unpretentious yet elegant dining room decorated in subdued neutrals and a tiny bar with a cozy sitting room. The guest rooms are on the second floor and the wine cellar in the basement.
The Bedford Post Inn is definitely worth a visit – inviting dining areas with delicious farm-to-table cuisine and well-maintained grounds. Perfect for a romantic getaway, a small brunch/dinner party or a special occasion. 

Visit for more information. Reservations for brunch and dinner are strongly recommended; reservations for yoga classes are accepted but not necessary. 
Bedford Post Inn
954 Old Post Road
Bedford, NY

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Great brunch spots in NYC

In my opinion, brunch may be the perfect meal. It’s the only meal where you can have pretty much anything off the menu. Sweet or savory. Omelet or hamburger. French toast or salad. Granola or pasta. Plus, brunch makes it socially acceptable to have a cocktail before noon! Really, who doesn’t love brunch?

Now that summer is almost here and it’s warmer outside, the sidewalk cafés in New York City are set up and full of brunchers chatting, tossing back mimosas, and people watching.

Brunch is an event in NYC. In fact it's a verb: brunching. And sometimes it takes all day. There are lots of great places in the city but here are just a few of my favorites.

Public in Nolita (210 Elizabeth between Prince and Spring): a GREAT brunch scene and a beautiful restaurant where all of the décor has been taken from places like libraries, warehouses, schools. Entrees include Coconut Pancakes and Grilled Venison Burger.

(Photos of food courtesy of
Market Table in the West Village (54 Carmine Street at Bedford Street): Opened by executive chefs Mikey Price and Joey Campanaro (both from Little Owl), this beautiful and simple restaurant features equally beautiful and simple entrees made of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Occasional elbow-rubbing with celebrities (literally as the tables are placed close to one another).

 (Inside Market Table)
Bar Boulud on the Upper West Side (1900 Broadway at 64th Street): Daniel Boulud’s more casual (and affordable) restaurant that features a lovely, tasty French menu like Croque Monsieur, Eggs Florentine and “Cuisse de Canard” – duck confit, potato and onion hash, soft boiled egg and watercress. Great wine menu as well.

Extra Virgin in the West Village (259 W. 4th Street between Perry and Charles): great people watching and the Banana French Toast with caramelized bananas and whipped mascarpone is to-die-for! Go early and worth the wait for an outdoor table.
 (Outdoor tables at Extra Virgin)
Freeman’s on the Lower East Side (Freeman Alley off Rivington between Bowery and Chrystie Streets): tucked away at the end of an alley, a bustling rustic restaurant with taxidermy as décor (very cool and interesting!). Plus great Bloody Marys and delicious food, like Smoked Trout or Asparagus, Cauliflower, Leek Hash, that focuses on wild game, sustainable seafood and local produce. 
 (photos of food, drink, inside courtesy of
Prune in the East Village (54 E. 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues): good, innovative food like Sausages & Oysters, Egg “En Concotte” (coddled egg with savory chicken) and Dutch Style Pancake. 

Felix in SoHo (340 340 W. Broadway at Grand Street): an (all-day) experience in itself. Food is OK but the scene is unique! A mix of French transplants, Euros, and local New Yorkers. All socializing loudly and drinking heavily until the early evening when they clear the tables and start the dancing! A great place to watch soccer too!

Bar Marche in Nolita (14 Spring at Elizabeth Street): fun, cute little spot that is reasonably priced – all entrees are under $15.

Tell me: What's your favorite brunch spot??


I have been meaning to start a blog for a while – me and everyone else! For me, life kept getting in the way. But here I am writing the first post wondering how to introduce myself and this blog.

Simply put: my blog is about my recommendations for traveling, dining, entertaining, cooking and home decorating. And yet I’m not a trained chef. I’m not an interior designer. I don’t work for National Geographic. And I’m certainly no Martha Stewart (believe me – I know her personally, admire her greatly, and I can only be so lucky as to one day possess a fraction of her expertise on all of these matters!).

In this day and age, people want to make the most of their life and get the most for their money. When you start planning a vacation, start looking for a new piece of furniture, or even trying to figure out where to make dinner reservations, the research can be overwhelming. There are books, there is the internet, there are catalogs and a million different other sources. It’s at this exact moment, that many times, the easiest thing would be to simply get a recommendation from a good, trusted friend. This is where I hope to come in.

Some people say I have a good eye for detail, others say that I have good taste. I like to travel a lot, eat well, some times stray a bit off the beaten path and like everyone else, I like a good deal. And for many years, I have been creating lists upon lists (some written down, some stored in excel sheets, some in my head) of all the wonderful places I’ve eaten at, stayed at, and shopped at during my travels and in my everyday life.

I can appreciate a good hole-in-the-wall restaurant that only uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and has taken care into every detail from the beautiful plates to just the right ambience. Or an antique shop whose owner has hand-picked items from around the world that will provide its new owner with something completely unique for their home. Or a farmer that each week lays out his earthly gifts at a local market that will add more flavor to a home-cooked meal than anything you get at a conventional grocery store. Or a hotel that heeds every last detail to make your visit as comfortable and memorable as possible. I feel so fortunate to have been on so many adventures, big and small, that I’ve kept notes along the way in order to pass along the information to others. Any time my friends or family members need such a recommendation, I pull out my notes (or rack my mental file cabinet) and offer my most personal recommendation best suited for the request at hand. And over the years, they have come to trust me as their go-to source.

So I’m embarking on this blogging journey with the dream that maybe one day when you need a recommendation, you’ll say “I’d like to try this, Agnes said it was good.”

I hope you enjoy my list of hidden treasures, tips, thoughts, ideas and inspirations and most importantly, that you find them useful and insightful.