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Appetizers

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    Score: 4.60. Votes: 5

    Get the mints ready. The secret to re-creating Buca di Beppo's garlic bread starts with using the right kind of bread and lots of fresh garlic. Bakers at each restaurant start baking bread early each day, so you'll want to find a freshly baked loaf of focaccia in your market's bakery, and cut it in half through the middle using a large serrated knife. The better the foccacia, the better your garlic bread will turn out. The garlic cloves are sliced very thin using a sharp knife and a steady hand. Arrange these slices over the top of the generously buttered bread. Add shredded mozzarella first if it's that version of the garlic bread you're making. Then, just make sure you each consume at least one slice when the lightly brown garlic bread comes out of the oven so that everyone's breath is equally stinky. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Before diving into a juicy steak, many diners start their meal with this dish, the number one appetizer at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. This small Cajun-style scampi appetizer requires four large shrimp, just as in the original dish, but you can bump that up to 6 shrimp for a slightly bigger serving.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 4.53. Votes: 17

    Menu Description: "Made fresh to order, with ripe avocados and choice of tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, red onions and fresh lime juice. Enough to share."

    This 160-unit casual Mexican chain makes a nice tableside guacamole that you can easily duplicate for your amigos. This is the basic formula, but you can freely adjust it to suit the tastes of your crew. It's also easy to double it (or more) for a bigger fiesta, if that's the plan. You may want to put the avocados into the fridge for an hour or two before you open them up. This guac is much better when slightly chilled.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Crispy golden wontons wrap a tantalizing blend of avocados, cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, pine nuts, chipotle peppers and spices. Served with a sweet tamarind sauce."

    Avocado egg rolls or spring rolls seem to be increasing in popularity as an appetizer at casual chains, but they are a bit more of a high maintenance menu item than, say, southwestern egg rolls, or other spring roll variations. Since avocados are quick to oxidize and turn brown, these rolls must be made and served within a 2 to 12 hour timeframe. Also, cooks must be careful not to over fry the egg rolls or the avocado inside will become too hot, turn brown, and taste pretty gross. So, if you're planning to serve these later in the day, make them in the morning and let them chill out in your fridge until it's time to fry them up. You can also make the tamarind sauce early in the day and park it in the fridge. You'll need a little tamarind paste for this sauce, which can be found at Whole Foods or specialty stores. If you don't want to clone the sauce as served in the restaurant, you can always use your favorite sweet and/or spicy bottled dipping sauces. Creamy southwestern-style dipping sauces are also awesome on these.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    In 2008 Chef Kerry Simon packed up his knives at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel and moved across the Las Vegas Strip into the Palms Place tower at the Palms. The new restaurant features some of the same comfort food favorites as the old joint, such as truffled & cheese and cotton candy for dessert, but Kerry has now added a sushi bar and a broader menu which includes breakfast, lunch and a must-try Sunday brunch where you may be eating alongside the likes of Avril Lavigne or Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends. When you're noodling over which appetizers to try you must check out this delicious addicting edamame starter: A pile of soybeans are cooked over high heat in a wok until their pods are blackened in spots, then they're tossed in fresh lime juice and a Japanese 7-spice seasoning called shichimi togarashi. Togarashi is a spicy blend of orange peel, sesame seeds, seaweed and chili that you can purchase in most Asian markets or online. The blend usually doesn't include salt, so you'll have to add some of that as well before you dig in. Or, you can use Szechwan seasoning such as one made by Sun-Bird that's found in most grocery stores where the Asian foods are parked. These blends will usually have salt in them, so you probably don't need to add additional salt if you use the Szechwan seasoning. You'll want to cook these in a wok that's been preheated over a flame on a gas stove, or you can use a cast-iron skillet that's been preheated for at least 10 minutes - you should see a lot of smoke when you drop those beans in the pan! Turn on the vent over your stove before you start cooking unless you need to test your smoke detectors.

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Joe's has crossed the border with our take on nachos. Tortilla strips piled high and topped with loads of crab dip, pico de gallo, cheese and black bean corn relish."

    If you're a nacho freak like me, you gotta love the unique crab nachos at Joe's Crab Shack. The restaurant chain creates this number one appetizer pick by slathering tortilla chips with their awesome crab dip and Jack cheese, and popping everything under the broiler. Once the cheese is melted and gooey, the nachos are topped with sliced lettuce, drizzled with the great avocado-lime dressing, and topped with pico de gallo and black bean corn relish. I've got clones here for the crab dip and the dressing, plus I'm including re-creations of the black bean corn relish and pico de gallo to finish off your homemade pile of nacho greatness. If you don't feel like making the pico from scratch, you can usually find a good premade version in your local market. This clone creates a bigger serving than the one from the restaurant chain, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked spiced chicken served with cool lettuce cups."

    While working on the formula for P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps, I discovered that there were several ways I could improve the clone recipe for the Chicken Wraps that I published in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. I've now perfected the flavor of the stir-fry with the addition of mirin (a sweetened sake syrup) and oyster sauce, both of which you can find in your market where the Asian foods are stocked. The "special sauce" that you spoon over your wraps has also been tweaked and perfected. And fnally, after reducing the amount of chicken from two breasts fillets to just one, I think this new and improved version of P.F. Chang's most popular dish is the absolute best clone it can be. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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