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Restaurants

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: “Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Bananas.”

    I’ve learned a lot about cheesecakes over the last couple decades in the process of duplicating a variety of popular versions for the Top Secret Recipes cookbooks, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But the biggest secret I’ve discovered for baking picture-perfect cheesecakes is using a water bath. By baking the cheesecake in a pan filled with just a little water you add moisture to the oven, thereby allowing the top of the cheesecake to expand as it cooks without developing what will look like an aerial view of the San Andreas Fault. If you don’t over mix your filling and use a water bath, you’ll bake a restaurant-quality cheesecake every time. You also need to have a good recipe of course, and this one here is great if you like banana cream pie. It’s quickly become a top choice at the restaurant chain because of the banana flavor hidden in each layer. And everyone knows that Nilla Wafers go great with bananas, so these ground-up cookies make the perfect crust.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Two cheeses, bacon, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos grilled between tortillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa."

    When Bill and T.J. Palmer opened their first restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980, they realized their dream of building a full-service, reasonably-priced restaurant in a neighborhood setting. They called their first place T.J. Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs, and soon began franchising the concept. In 1988 some franchisees bought the rights to the name and changed it to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar. By that time, there were over 650 outlets, making Applebee's one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world.

    According to waiters at the restaurant, the easy-to-make and slightly spicy quesadillas are one of the most popular appetizers on the Applebee's menu. The recipe calls for 10-inch or "burrito-size" flour tortillas, which can be found in most supermarkets, but any size can be used in a pinch. Look for the jalapeno "nacho slices" in the ethnic or Mexican food section of the supermarket. You'll find these in jars or cans. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.97. Votes: 33

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

    Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case well use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.40. Votes: 50

    First served at Wendy's in 1969, the Frosty continues as a favorite in fast food shakes. This clone recipe is an improved version of the recipe that appeared in my first book, Top Secret Recipes. I've designed this new version for a one-person serving and have given it less of an intense chocolate flavor that's more like the real thing. I find the smaller yield also helps to make the shake blend better.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.30. Votes: 10

    You might not think that a tough World War II flying ace would open a restaurant called "Mimi's," but that's exactly what happened in the 70s. Arthur J. Simms flew spy missions over France during the war and helped liberate a small French town near Versailles. After the war Arthur ran the commissary at MGM studios in Hollywood, stuffing the bellies of big-time celebs like Judy Garland, Clark Gable and Mickey Rooney. He later joined his son Tom in several restaurant ventures including one called "French Quarter" in West Hollywood. This was the prototype for the French-themed Mimi's Cafe. In 1978, the first Mimi's opened in Anaheim, California. Today there's over 90 Mimi's in the chain with a new one opening every other week; all of them serving this great French onion soup that's topped with not one, not two...three different cheeses. Oui!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.85. Votes: 54

    Outback Steakhouse makes a tasty version of creamy ranch dressing for its house and Queensland salads. To get the same flavor and creaminess of the original at home, you'll need to add one teaspoon of Hidden Valley Ranch instant salad dressing mix. Since there's three teaspoons of dressing mix per packet, you can make three batches of dressing with one envelope of dressing mix.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Chi-Chi's cofounder Marno McDermott named his restaurant chain after his wife Chi Chi. He claims the name is quite memorable as it translates in Spanish into something like "hooters" in English. The Minneapolis Star quoted McDermott in 1977 shortly after the first Chi-Chi's opened in Richfield, Minneapolis, "English-speaking patrons remember it because its catchy. And the Spanish-speaking customers are amused. Either way it doesn't hurt business."

    One of the side dishes included with several of the entrees at Chi-Chi's is the Sweet Corn Cake. It's sort of like cornbread, but much softer, almost like corn pudding. You'll find it goes well with just about any Mexican dish. The recipe requires a bain marie, or water bath—a baking technique used commonly to keep custards from cracking or curdling. This is done by baking the corn cake in another larger pan filled with a little hot water.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 5

    Menu Description: "It's our signature recipe."

    Bring the tropical spirit of this drink to your house with a clone of this potent cocktail from the growing Chinese bistro chain. Mai tai is Tahitian for "out of this world," and P.F. Chang's recipe is one of the best and most authentic. The secret to a true mai tai is found in the original recipe developed by Trader Vic in 1944: almond-flavored syrup, called "orgeat." You can find the sweet stuff in stores that sell coffee flavorings (Torani is one very popular brand), or from bar supply outlets. If you can't find orgeat, there's a clone recipe included in the Tidbits below.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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