Thursday, February 11, 2010

Secret Recipes From Popular Restaurants

Have you ever eaten a meal out and liked a dish so much you coveted the recipe so you could enjoy it more often at home? My friend, Cara S., loves the caramel pie served at the family-style restaurant, O'Charley's. She was so happy when her detective work turned up its list of secret ingredients and instructions for how to make it. And who benefited? Friends like me!! Recently I discovered just how easy it is to prepare miso soup at home. The home version takes less than 15 minutes to fix, tastes exactly the same, and is inexpensive compared to what you pay at a Japanese restaurant. And from Chef Mike Colameco, who has worked at the legendary Tavern On The Green and reports on New York restaurants, I picked up a (can't be beat!) healthy kale and black-eyed peas dish -- that is appetizing as a hot side, plus makes a delicious refrigerated snack.

Here are the recipes:

Miso Soup
Sauté vegetables of your choice, such as onion, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower in 1 teaspoon olive oil until tender.
1. Stir in 2 cups water
2. Add any, or all of the following – seaweed, mushrooms, soba noodles and cubes of tofu, or cooked chicken.
3. Add 2 tablespoons miso paste (or to your tastes).
[When I don't have fresh vegetables on hand, I simply thrown in a cup of mixed frozen vegetables and dried seaweed.]
4. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes and serve. Makes 2 bowls.

Mike's Vegetarian Kale & Black-Eyed Peas

1. Blanch 1 bunch Kale in salt water and drain.
2. In a large skillet, sauté 1 medium red onion, 1 large red bell pepper, fresh garlic, and 2-3 carrots until translucent and tender.
3. Cut up the blanched kale and add it to the skillet.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add a 16 oz can of black-eyed peas [or cook ahead one-half bag of dried black-eyed peas.]
6. Simmer the mixture until all vegetables are tender and ready to eat, adding more olive oil as needed.
7. Serve warm as a filling side dish.
8. And, refrigerate the leftovers to eat as snacks. When eating it cold, you can add cider vinegar to jazz it up.

O'Charley's Caramel Pie
1. Pour 2 (14 oz.) cans of sweetened condensed milk into a 9 inch graham cracker crust.

2. Cover with aluminum foil.
3. Place in the oven on a baking rack above a bottom rack with a filled large pan of hot water. This keeps the pie filling from drying out.
4. Bake at 425 degrees F for 1 ½ hours until thick and the sweetened condensed milk turns to caramel. Watch carefully to not over bake.
5. Top with whipped cream and crushed peanuts.

There are a number of websites where you can find free copycat recipes. Click here. With a little ingenuity, serve your restaurant favorites at home, minus the check.

You may also enjoy:
Real Italian Cooking
Jamie Oliver: The Food Revolution
German Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
Let's Make Hummingbird Cake


  1. These recipes sound - and look - luscious! I love the idea of using miso - very high in protein, but I believe it is also high in sodium, which has caused me to avoid it. The Kale and Blackeyed-pea dish reminds me of my Southern roots. My dad, who was from KY, always had to have black-eyed peas (not from a can, though!) on New Year's Day. For good luck in the coming year. I have tried to carry on this tradition (or superstition) in my own home, too.

  2. From what I've read, sea salt has less sodium and is not as much of a concern as table salt.