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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 13

    Menu Description: "Marinated chicken breast topped with fiery Kung Pow sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple pico de gallo."

    This Friday's low-fat creation does not skimp on flavor. A marinade, a spicy sauce, and a fresh salsa all pitch in for some big-time taste bud satisfaction. Sprinkle mandarin orange sections over the top if you've got em, and you will completely re-create the look and taste of this healthy entree clone.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 10

    There are several delicious variations of Wolfgang Puck's butternut squash soup recipe floating around, but as far as I can tell no version comes close to duplicating the amazing stuff served at his flagship restaurant. At the Las Vegas Spago in Caesar's Palace I recently slurped up the slightly sweetened, pale amber masterpiece with the perfect combination of spices, and then finagled two bowls to go. Since the soup is completely smooth, running it through a strainer revealed no solid evidence of ingredients; only black specks of various spices were visible. This one was not going to be easy. After many attempts I finally recreated the subtle background flavors with chopped leek slowly sweated in butter, and one gala apple. I discovered that the apple contributes a perfect sweetness. The rest was easy: poach the leek, squash, and apple in broth until soft; blend everything until smooth; then reheat with the cream and just a little brown sugar. This Wolfgang Puck butternut squash soup recipe is my new favorite.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.00. Votes: 2

    Mai Tai creator and restaurateur Victor Bergeron well-documented his original secret formula: His recipe from 1944 is a delicious blend of 17-year-old rum, lime juice, orange curacao, simple syrup and orgeat for a subtle flavoring of almond. When Vic's Tahitian friends sipped his new creation, they said "Mai Tai Roa Ae"—Tahitian for "out of this world, the best." So Vic named his drink "Mai Tai," and the rest is cocktail history.

    The recipe has changed throughout the years using younger rums and various fruit and citrus juice measurements—you can find these other versions of the Mai Tai posted around the Internet. There is even a Trader Vic's Mai Tai mixer available in some stores. But nowhere will you find a formula for the "World Famous" $9.50 caramel-colored cocktail currently served at the 30 Trader Vic's restaurants that dot the globe. Why not? Because the secret ingredient in the current recipe is a concentrated syrup that is only available for commercial use at the restaurant chain. And that's the first formula we need to duplicate to get the exact flavors of the restaurant version into our home clone. I secured some of this "secret" concentrated mix, and figured out how to clone it using a super-sweet simple syrup solution plus orange and almond extracts. That's the first step. After that, add lime juice, lemon juice and dark rum, plus the syrup to a glass full of crushed ice; apply the proper garnishes; and you will have recreated two refreshing servings of one of the world's most famous cocktails.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    With the sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors that are traditional to Thai cuisine, tom ka gai soup is a party on your palate. It's a dish that I've been wanting to hack for years, but could not find a famous chain with a popular version. That is until recently, when Trader Vic's landed in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. This upscale, worldwide Polynesian-themed chain adds eggplant to this soup where you would traditionally find straw mushrooms, and thinly julienned peppers where Thai chili peppers would usually be. Other than that the soup has the same traditional flavors of some of the best tom ka gai soups I have eagerly slurped up. For this clone you'll need to track down a couple stalks of lemongrass—a whole stalk is about a foot long. Cut each in half and get medieval on it with a kitchen mallet so the flavors are released into the soup as it cooks. Before serving the soup you may want to fish out the lemongrass and the chunks of ginger, or you may be brushing up on your Heimlich maneuver.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.40. Votes: 10

    Sales erupted at Taco Bell when the chain introduced the new Volcano Taco in September 2008. A red corn tortilla shell filled with standard taco ingredients including spiced ground beef, lettuce, and cheese, is topped with a super-spicy cheese-based secret ingredient called Lava Sauce that makes this product one of the chain's most successful new menu items. When the Volcano Taco was removed from stores three months after its launch, internet groups quickly formed demanding the product's hasty return. Those campaigns worked. The Volcano taco returned to stores as a permanent menu item, along with a new burrito that also features the Lava Sauce. But there's no need to go all the way to Taco Bell and beg for extra sauce if you want to spread the same spicy joy on your homemade Mexican-style creations. Get a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and use the powdered cheese inside to whip up your own Lava Sauce clone. Cayenne pepper cranks the sauce up to 800 Scoville units of heat compared to Taco Bell's Fire Sauce at 500 Scoville units, which makes this the hottest stuff you can get at the chain. Now, with this secret formula, you can adjust the heat up or down to your preference just by playing with the amount of cayenne you add. You can also make the sauce lower in fat by using reduced-fat mayo.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    This limited-time-only new product from the country’s biggest Mexican fast food chain is easy to make with bagged fries found in the freezer section, and you can make as many or as few as you want at one time since there is more than enough seasoning and cheese sauce for one 2-pound bag. Get Ore-Ida Golden Fries if you can find them, and if you want a good clone you really should fry them, although baking works too. The secret spicy ingredient in this Taco Bell Nacho Fries recipe is brine from the bottled jalapeno nacho slices, plus a little cayenne for extra boom. And if you’re feeling creative, you can make a fry holder like the one Taco Bell serves the fries in by cutting the top off a paper cup. You can also cut the bottom off another paper cup and use it to hold the sauce.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The problem with adding sauce to fried food is that the wet sauce makes the crunchy fried food not so crunchy. Panda Express manages to keep the crispy beef in Beijing Beef crispy even though it may be sitting for over 20 minutes in the sauce until it’s served to a hungry you. My early attempts at hacking my favorite dish at the massive Chinese food chain all resulted in gummy, soggy beef that was more like a flat dumpling than the delicious crunchy strips of joy they were meant to be. Then, finally, on one batch, I decided to fry the coated beef for much longer than I intuitively felt it should be cooked, resulting in dark browning on the cornstarch, and an even darker piece of meat beneath it. I predicted a beef jerky experience, but when I took a bite, I found it to be perfect! The meat was not tough and chewy as I expected. And when this seemingly overcooked beef was stirred into the sauce, it stayed crispy until served, just like the real thing.

    Now, with the mystery of the crispy beef solved, we’ve finally got a great hack for this famous sweet and spicy dish.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The PSL is doing A-OK at Starbucks. In 2018, Starbucks moved the release of its seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte from September to August in anticipation of record sales for the 15-year-old product. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, consumers in 2017 “visited PSL establishments twice as many times as typical patrons,” most likely because they know the drinks are around for only a short time.

    The trick when hacking this Starbucks superstar is making a perfect clone of the syrup used in the drink. I found a friendly barista who was willing to squirt a little of the secret syrup into a cup for me to take back to headquarters for examination. Back in the kitchen I discovered the mysterious light orange-colored syrup had no spice particles in it whatsoever, meaning the flavors are added as extracts or oils. Most home cooks like you and me cannot get such ingredients, so I had to come up with a formula using easily accessible ground spices and pumpkin puree.   

    Pumpkin pie spice makes this recipe easy and much cheaper than buying all the spices separately. It’s a convenient blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, plus either allspice or clove, and it’s found in practically all food stores. For our hack, the blend is combined with a sugar solution and cooked until syrupy, then sweetened condensed milk is stirred in. Condensed milk is also used in the original syrup at Starbucks—according to the ingredients list—which is why the syrup is opaque and creamy. When the syrup is done, a couple tablespoons are added to your latte, then it’s topped off with whipped cream and a sprinkling of more spice.

    Lattes are made with espresso, and in this case you’ll need a double shot, which is about ¼ cup. If you can’t make espresso, then make some strong coffee and use ½ cup of it. If you don’t have a way to steam milk, you can heat it up in the microwave for 2 minutes or until hot, then make it foamy with a milk foamer, inversion blender, or whisk.

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