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The First Starbucks Restaurant is Headed for Los Angeles

The First Starbucks Restaurant is Headed for Los Angeles

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Starbucks is testing the waters of the fast casual market with its first full-fledged restaurant

Do you think La Boulange will have its own secret menu?

On June 12th, Starbucks will open La Boulange, the first restaurant from the worldwide coffee company, in Los Angeles, Calif.

The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a menu based partially on the offerings from La Boulange Bakery, which Starbucks acquired in 2012.

The restaurant, which Businessweek described as a “continental diner,” will serve something called the “croissant burger,” along with cocktails, wine, and beer later in the day.

Earlier in 2014, Starbucks announced that it would begin selling wine in its Evenings outlets, and looks now to be going after the successful evening sales of competitors like Panera Bread and Le Pain Quotidien.

According to Businessweek, 22 percent of Panera’s sales are made during dinner.

La Boulange’s founder, Pascal Rigo, told the news outlet that he “expects breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch to be mainstays at the new restaurant.

Currently, La Boulange restaurant is hiring for a variety of positions that need to be filled in advance of the June 12th opening date.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

I Tried All The Best Mac & Cheese Dishes In Los Angeles&mdashThese Were The Must-Haves

Apologies but. things are about to get cheesy. Our beloved mac and cheese doesn't exactly need an introduction, but I am going to give it one anyway. Drumroll, please: Ladies and gents, may I present the one, the only, the classic, cheesy, all-American staple, macaroni and cheese!

Since we are in a pandemic I am constantly looking for ways to be a bit more comfortable in such an uncomfortable situation&mdashand comfort food is my remedy. More specifically mac & cheese, because without a doubt it always satisfies my cravings. I went on a quest to find the best mac that Los Angeles has to offer, and I narrowed it down to nine restaurants. I hope they bring you a little comfort and joy during this time. Enjoy!

Dulan's Soul Food

� Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90043, United States

I had to start off with Dulan's because there is nothing quite like soulful mac & cheese. At first bite you can taste the love and the community poured into it. This gorgeous dish is where soft macaroni meets a rich, golden, smooth, blend of melted cheeses to create the ultimate comfort food. It not only fills your belly but your soul.

Maple Block BBQ

� Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

Elbow noodles, and bread crumbles, and chives&mdashoh my! Maple Block may be known for their delicious brisket but just like every Batman needs his Robin, every brisket needs its creamy side. The noodle sauce here is made with white cheddar and American cheese topped with the restaurant's homemade cheese crumble and chives. Yum.

Bludso's BBQ

Texas in the house! Bludso's has been dubbed the best BBQ in SoCal with people like Guy Fieri co-signing the statement. This joint serves up Texas style BBQ that even Texans vouch for, and their macaroni and cheese is to die for&mdashgooey, cheesy, and homemade goodness.

Jon & Vinny's

� N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

This shell and cheese dish may be on the kids menu, but make no mistake&mdashthe portion is fit for an adult. Jon & Vinny's take on macaroni and cheese is simple yet delicious&mdashthere's more cheese in each bite than pasta. If you like parmesan cheese and shell noodles, this is the mac and cheese for you.

Slaters 50/50

� N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

Slaters 50/50 stands out from the rest on this list because they serve up bacon mac & cheese fried balls. It is truly the perfect combination&mdashcrispy panko breading on the outside, gooey cheese and bacon on the inside. They also give you Tapatío ranch dipping sauce on the side. Dip the mac and cheese ball in that and you'll instantly be teleported to heaven.

The Federal

📍 5303 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

If you have a whole day dedicated to macaroni and cheese at your restaurant&mdashcalled "Mac & Chz Monday," no less&mdashyou're seriously dedicated to cheesy goodness. The Federal has a handful of delicious macs to choose from, and you can even build your own. I tried their short rib served in a hot skillet with aged parmesan and mozzarella cheese. The short rib is cooked to perfection, it's flavorful, and it melts in your mouth. No matter which one you choose to order, you'll definitely be satisfied.

The Village

Truffle Jalapeño Mac & Cheese. need. I. say. more? This macaroni and cheese is truly unique the secret weapon, jalapeños! The jalapeños takes an already decadent dish to the next level. Do yourself a favor and spice up your life with this popular menu item at The Village.

SunCafe Organic

📍 10820 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

Calling all vegans! You didn't think we forgot about you, did you?! SunCafe's vegan mac aims to please all different types of palates. It's baked in a cast iron skillet with gluten-free quinoa pasta, tomato, and cashew "cheese" sauce. Their macaroni and cheese is the most convincing vegan version you'll try in LA since the texture is on point and perfectly creamy. It's a daunting task to recreate one of the world's most favorite dishes, but SunCafe kills it.

Ruth's Chris Steak House

📍 6100 CA-27, Woodland Hills, CA 91367

We had to save the best for last. Ruth's Chris may be known for its steaks but the Lobster Mac & Cheese is the chain's best seller on the menu thanks to its sweet and savory flavor. Just typing about it makes my mouth water. Chock full of a three-cheese blend, mild green chiles, and chunks of fresh tender lobster, it's not a cheap order ($34!) but it is totally worth every dollar spent.

Taco Bell's Boozy Cantina Restaurant Is Headed to Columbus, Ohio

Taco Bell is looking to take its upscale Cantina brand to more markets, and another new city is on the list. Last week, the chain announced expansion plans for Ohio, and now it's been revealed Columbus will be the first city in the Buckeye State to get one of the restaurants. Columbus Underground reports the Cantina outpost will open sometime in 2017.

When it begins service, the Columbus location initially won't serve alcohol, a departure from the model at the first two restaurants in Chicago and San Francisco. But, Taco Bell vice president of development and design Deborah Brand tells CU boozy beverages may make their way to the menu, eventually. Taco Bell Cantina's alcoholic exploits focus on "Twisted Freezes," spiked frozen drinks that include vodka, tequila, or rum. A selection of beer, wine, and sangria may be available as well.

The Columbus Cantina replaces a previously existing Taco Bell location in the city, and it will take up prime residence near Ohio State University's campus.

"The Taco Bell Cantinas are part of our planned expansion into new markets that will reflect the millennial trend of seeking more urban environments to live, work, and play," Brand told CU. "The Columbus location, being on the ground level of a student housing and a retail project near the university, will do just that."

The expansion of Taco Bell's Cantina brand, plus the introduction of four new restaurant designs, is part of the company's efforts to shed the perception that it's simply a cheap option for fast food Tex-Mex. Cantina outposts are currently in the works for large and small "urban locations" such as Atlanta Austin Berkeley, Calif. Boston Fayetteville, Ark. and New York.

Update: A spokesperson for Yum! Brands, Taco Bell's parent company, tells Eater Taco Bell Cantina is looking into the possibility of selling alcohol at its Columbus location. That decision has not been finalized.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.

Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.

Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.

A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.

While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.

Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.

Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.

This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.

This recipe was our #4 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”

This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.

Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.

Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.

Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”

It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.

I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.

As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.

For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.

This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

And browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.

“Don’t call them fries,” says KFC about its popular side made with sliced, skin-on russet potatoes. What sets these potatoes apart from all the others is the secret breading made with a similar seasoning blend to the one used for Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. To achieve the proper crispiness, the potatoes are par-fried, frozen, then fried again until golden brown.

One important ingredient that completes the flavor is MSG. Monosodium glutamate is a food additive derived from glutamic acid, which is an important amino acid found in abundance in nature, food, and in you right now. Over the last 60 years of study and use, MSG has not only been found harmless in normal amounts, but tests have shown glutamate to be a chemical messenger that benefits gut health, immunity, and brain functions such as memory and learning. In addition to all of that, it imparts a unique savoriness that enhances flavors in other ingredients and makes your food taste amazing. Using MSG in your food is, literally, smart cooking.

Another important ingredient is ground Tellicherry black pepper, a select black pepper from India. Winston Shelton, a friend of Harland Sanders who invented the first high-volume pressure fryers for KFC, confirmed this. Shelton recalled seeing the ingredient when Sanders showed him the secret formula for the fried chicken seasoning he had scribbled on a piece of paper.

While we were shooting the first episode of my TV Show, Top Secret Recipe, Winston pulled me aside and whispered to me that Tellicherry pepper is crucial to creating the unique KFC aftertaste. It was a great tip, and fortunately, we caught that moment on camera and you can see it in the show. Later, I conducted a side-by-side taste test with common black pepper and Tellicherry black pepper and discovered Winston was right. If you want the best taste for your clone you'll need Tellicherry pepper, which you can find online and in some food stores. Be sure to grind it fine before using it.

For this recipe, just two russet potatoes are all it takes to make the equivalent of a large serving of fried potato wedges, which will be enough for at least four people.

My previously published recipe hack of America's most popular rice pudding was not clear about which kind of rice to use. That's a problem because not all rice is created equal. The recipe calls for medium-grain rice but is not any more specific than that, which could lead to varying results in the consistency of the pudding since every rice has a different thickening ability.

I recently reworked this recipe using many different types of rice, including instant rice, converted rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, calrose rice, arborio rice, and even sushi rice. Most didn't contain the starch needed to properly thicken the pudding, especially the par-cooked rice such as instant rice and converted rice. On the other end of the spectrum, sushi rice contained too much starch and was much too small.

The best of the bunch was jasmine rice, a long-grain rice, which thickened the pudding nicely after 45 minutes or so of simmering and appeared to be comparable in size to what is in the real thing. Jasmine rice plus five more ingredients are all it takes to make this new, improved clone.

And now there's no need for a cooking thermometer as required in my previous recipe, since you can just add the rice when you see the milk beginning to steam and keep the pudding at a low simmer until it's done. After about an hour, you'll have a Kozy Shack rice pudding copycat recipe that's ready to pop into the fridge until it’s cool, creamy, and ready to eat.

Also, check out my copycat recipe for Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding.

Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.

If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.

The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.

After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.

You might also like my #1 recipe of 2019, Texas Roadhouse Rolls.

Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."

This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.

The batter here makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The original pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or you could just make smaller pancakes.

After the success of Panera Bread’s Cinnamon Crunch Bagels, the popular sandwich chain went back into the development kitchen and came out with these incredible scones, filled with the same crunchy cinnamon drops found in the bagels and drizzled with cinnamon icing.

When first released, these scones were cut as triangles and frosted, but in 2018 the shape was changed to more “rustic”-shaped round blobs with drizzled or piped icing on top. I like to hack the latest recipe, so the newer version of this pastry is the version I’ve re-created here.

These are cream scones, so cream is the main wet ingredient that holds the dough together—but keep the dough crumbly as you mix it, and try not to compress it much, or you risk making the final product too dense. The best way to form the scones is to use both hands and shape the dough like you’re making a loose snowball. Then use one hand to place the dough onto the baking sheet and form it into a rough dome shape. The scones will flatten and spread out a little bit as they bake.

Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated from England to New York City and opened his first bakery there in 1880. That is where Thomas created skillet bread that would one day become the famous muffins known for their craggy texture when split in half. This hack for Thomas’ English Muffins uses a special kneading process to give the muffins the "nooks and crannies" they are famous for, making craters in the finished bread to better hold on to melted butter and jam.

I have seen several recipes that claim to re-create these muffins, but none produce the large air pockets that a proper clone requires, in addition to great flavor and a perfectly cooked interior. To ensure proper nooks and crannies and muffins that are cooked all the way through, I've included some important steps.

The dough you'll make here is like a ciabatta dough in that it is very wet. So rather than kneading the dough, you stretch and fold it over several times on a well-oiled surface. Then, when the portioned-out dough has proofed on baking sheets for another 1½ to 2 hours, you par-bake the muffins.

After baking, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan until dark brown on both sides, then they must cool. This is the hardest part. The muffins will be too soft to open for at least four hours, and now you have to fight off the temptation to eat one. It’s hard, I know. The muffins smell great and you’ve waited all this time, but resist for now and your patience will be rewarded.

When the muffins have had their rest, split them with a fork and toast them as you would any English muffin.

Check out all my top secret recipes for famous bread here.

First impressions are important, and after my first bite of Denny's new buttermilk pancakes, I couldn't stop thinking about waffle cones. Back in the lab I mashed together a standard waffle cone recipe with one of mine for buttermilk pancakes and was able to create the perfect hack for Denny’s new, improved flapjacks. And because of their unique waffle cone flavor, these pancakes taste just as great doused with maple syrup as they do topped with a big scoop of ice cream.

The recipe makes eight big 6-inch pancakes, which you will form by measuring 1/2 cup of batter onto your preheated griddle or skillet. If you have a large griddle pan you may be able to make a couple of these at a time. With smaller pans, though, you’ll have to make one at time, which will take a little longer. And that’s why they invented mimosas.

The Cheesecake Factory’s autumnal dessert offering is a clever mashup of pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake in a traditional flakey pie crust. At first glance, I thought this would be an easy one to unlock, but I found the recipe to be a surprisingly tricky hack since all the components in the cheesecake follow different baking rules.

The first step was to design a crust that could withstand being cooked three times. After a few tests, I came up with a recipe that produces a hardy dough that can be par-baked, then baked again two more times while maintaining flakiness.

The next step was to thicken the pecan filling before adding it to the cheesecake pan. My first version skipped this step and pecan filling soaked through the crust and through the springform pan onto the bottom of the oven, where a charred, dark stain remains to this day.

Cooking the pecan filling before it goes into the cheesecake will thicken it so it won't soak through the crust and wind up dirtying your oven. After the filling cools for 45 minutes, you can build a cheesecake on top of it.

Add the cheesecake filling right up to the top of the crust. If you do a good job making the top edge of the crust even all the way around, the cheesecake filling will fit perfectly.

I'm sharing two ways to make the delicious finishing caramel sauce that goes over the top. The easy way is to simply combine walnuts with your favorite caramel sauce and pour it over a slice. But the best way is to make the sauce from scratch using the recipe I've included here. It's only a few ingredients, it's not too hard, and you'll love the results.

Pour the sauce over the top, add a dollop of whipped cream, and you'll have produced a finished slice of cheesecake that looks—and tastes—like it was made by a pro.

Other recipes I’ve seen that claim to duplicate the fabulous flavor of this popular soup do not make good clones, yet the long grain and wild rice mix that many of these recipes call for is a great way to get the exact amount of rice you need in a perfect blend. Just be sure not to use the flavor packet that comes with those rice kits, or you won’t get a good clone of the Panera original. Toss out that blend (or you can use it elsewhere see Tidbits) and use the recipe below to make a better flavoring for the soup.

Thanks to Panera Bread's policy of completely transparent ingredients, I discovered a surprising ingredient or two (wow, cabbage!), and was able to craft the best clone you’ll find for this top secret signature soup.

Click here for more of my Panera Bread copycat recipes.

Since Panera Bread makes all its ingredients known, it's not hard to find out that there’s no chicken broth in the original recipe, yet every copycat recipe I located online calls for chicken broth, as well as other ingredients clearly not found in Panera's version. Unlike those other recipes, this hack uses the same or similar ingredients to those listed on the company’s website.

One of the ingredients in the soup, according to the posted list, is yeast extract. This tasty ingredient adds an MSG-like savoriness to Panera’s soup, and we can duplicate it by using nutritional yeast—often called "nooch"—now found in many stores, including Whole Foods. A little bit of nooch will provide the umami deliciousness that replaces chicken broth or bouillon.

Panera keeps its soup gluten-free by thickening it with a combination of rice flour and cornstarch, rather than wheat flour. I’ve included those ingredients as well so that your clone is similarly gluten-free. Use the steps below and in about an hour you’ll have 8 servings of a soup that is a culinary doppelganger to Panera Bread's all-time favorite soup, and at a mere fraction of the cost.

To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.

As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.

On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.

I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.

This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

In the Bush’s Beans commercials, Duke, the family golden retriever, wants to sell the secret family recipe, but the Bush family always stops him. The dog is based on the Bush family’s real-life golden retriever, and the campaign, which began in 1995, made Bush’s the big dog of the canned baked beans market practically overnight. Their confidential baked beans formula is considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.

Bush Brothers & Company had been canning a variety of fruits and vegetables for over 60 years when, in 1969, the company created canned baked beans using a cherished recipe from a family matriarch. Sales jumped from 10 thousand cases in the first year to over 100 thousand cases in 1970. And just one year later sales hit a million cases. Today Bush’s makes over 80 percent of the canned baked beans sold in the U.S., and the secret family recipe remains a top food secret, despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drat!)—is on display at the company's visitor center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.

I chose to hack the “Country Style” version of Bush’s Beans because I don’t think the Original flavor has enough, uh, flavor. Country Style is similar to Original, but richer, with more brown sugar. The recipe starts by soaking dry small white beans in a brine overnight. The salt in the water helps to soften the skins, but don’t soak them for more than 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.

My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the real Bush’s beans, which include caramel coloring—an ingredient that can be hard to find on its own. I eventually discovered that the “browning” sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, will add the dark caramel color needed to our home version of the beans so that they’ll look just like the real thing.

This recipe was our #5 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4).

Three components must be mastered to properly hack this top menu pick at the country’s largest fast Chinese chain: candied nuts, honey sauce, and perfectly battered shrimp. For the candied walnuts, I came up with a technique using the oven, which means there’s no candy thermometer required and it’s a no-brainer. For the sauce, you just whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

To make your shrimp look like the shrimp at Panda Express, you don’t want them tightly curled up when they fry. You can keep them from curling by pinching the tail end of each shrimp after it has been floured and dipping it into the batter headfirst. When you pull it out, the weight of the batter will help unfurl the shrimp a bit, and if you then lower it slowly into the oil it will mostly stay that way.

When all the shrimp have been fried, bake them in the oven so that they are crispy and warm, then toss the shrimp and the nuts in the sweet honey sauce and serve.

Here's how to build a cheeseburger in crispy spring roll dough and make the secret 4-ingredient dipping sauce for a perfect hack of one of Cheesecake Factory’s newest appetizers. I found the best solution for a good clone was to first cook two 4-ounce Angus patties—with no less than 15 percent fat so the beef stays juicy—in a sauté pan until browned. I then sauteed some onion in the same pan and mixed it into the crumbled patties, with ketchup and diced American cheese.

I tried several different wrappers and found the thinnest wrappers to work the best. Try to find wrappers that say “super thin” on them. Thicker dough wrappers will blister when fried, which is not how the restaurant version looks, although the thicker wrappers still make tasty spring rolls.

Rice paper wrappers will give you a chewier, less crispy bite, and are a good option if you're interested in a gluten-free version. If you go with rice paper, you won’t need the cornstarch solution to seal them. Dipping the whole wrapper in a little water makes the rice paper pliable and naturally sticky.

The list of recipes I've copied from Cheesecake Factory is almost as long as their menu. Check them out here.

There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.

In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.

It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.

For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.

And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.

Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.

There’s a Spam food truck serving Spam croissants. Here’s where to find it.

There is a Spam food truck, and it’s coming to Los Angeles. Let that nugget of golden information sink in, then feel free to do a happy dance.

Hormel, the company behind the Spam brand, is launching its first SPAMAMERICAN tour with a food truck. It will be making 12 stops across the country and is starting its Spam-tastic adventure in L.A.

The truck will be serving up dishes featuring Spam recipes by Food Network personality Sunny Anderson, including coconut Spam spears, along with recipes from local chefs at each stop. When the truck rolls into L.A., it will be serving kimchi Spam musubi croissants from Sharon Wang of Sugarbloom Bakery.

You can find the truck at the Costco in Alhambra from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.

The truck will also be making a stop at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix on Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Other stops on the tour include San Francisco, featuring Robert Lam’s Spammy tots, and a stop in Chicago, with Kevin Hickey’s Spam and Jack pretzel sandwich.

Costco, 2207 W. Commonwealth, Alhambra | Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach.

SPAM and Hello Kitty make me really happy. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_

Wine at Starbucks: A Starbucks Evenings visit

Starbucks is a coffee shop, so it was a surprise to me to learn that some of their locations are now serving wine in a program called Starbucks Evenings. As part of the program, these stores serve a variety of wines and small plates dishes after 4pm. The idea is that many customers already come to Starbucks to relax and unwind with coffee, but that some people might like to have the option of getting a glass of wine and a snack (the full coffee menu is still available) instead of heading to a bar or a full restaurant in the evening. At the moment, there are only a handful of stores located in Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and in Dulles Airport in Washington DC. There are also two stores in the LA area and one of them happens to be just a short drive away from me, so I decided to head over and check out the concept to see what it was like.

At first, it looked like a normal Starbucks – until I noticed all the wine rack up where whole bean coffee bags are usually stored. The ordering process is just the same as with coffee drinks, where you order from the barista at the register and wait for someone to call your name to pick up your drink. The food takes a little more prep than the standard pastry case choices, so someone will bring any food you order over to your table when it is ready.

The wine selection is quite good, as you might imagine, since Starbucks could choose from just about any wines that they might have wanted for the menu. There is a little something for everyone on the menu, including reds, whites, one sparkling rose and one Prosecco. They were served in Designed-by-Starbucks Riedel wine glasses that were a huge jump up in quality from their usual white paper cups, too. The majority of the wines were from California and the prices ranged from $6 a glass for the least expensive wines to $15 a glass for the most expensive. Most leaned towards the lower end of the spectrum. They also offer several types of beer, served in nifty pint glasses, for $4-5 each.

I took the recommendation of the barista and opted for the Rosa Regale Brachetto, a Sparkling Rose that was sweet and refreshing (I would definitely have it again). I felt that the pour on it was a touch smaller than I might expect to get at a wine bar, but not by much.

The menu was larger than I expected it to be, with snacks, appetizers and larger “small plate” options. I wanted to sample a few items, so I tried the Truffle Mac & Cheese, an Artichoke and Goat Cheese Flatbread and the Chocolate Fondue dessert. The Mac & Cheese exceeded my expectations and was my favorite of the night. It hit the spot with a wonderfully creamy sauce and a crispy topping of breadcrumbs. You could definitely taste the truffle it in, too. The flatbread was basically a small pizza, heated up in the convection oven until it was hot and the cheese was melted. This one had good flavor, but isn’t going to top something you could get at a place that specializes in pizza.

The chocolate fondue was served in a chocolate tart crust. The tart was heated up before being served, so that the ganache/fondue was warm and just right for dipping. I actually thought that this format was a brilliant way to serve fondue, since you don’t lose any chocolate and can eat the container that it is served in! The fondue came with strawberries, marshmallows and madelines. I particularly liked the marshmallows (since they reminded me of my homemade marshmallows)

I should note that you don’t need to buy wine to get any of the foods served as part of the Evenings menu. You can have those with your coffee, if you prefer, but you still won’t see them at stores that aren’t offering this program.

Overall, I thought that this was a lot of fun and it was very novel to get something besides coffee (or tea) at Starbucks. This particular store – you can get a full list of stores with the program here – was huge and newly remodeled, so part of the atmosphere was how well designed this particular location was. It was also quieter than most restaurants and less crowded than most bars tend to be. I noticed quite a few other people in the store enjoying a glass of wine, so it just might be something that catches on, and I think that I would be very likely to go back to meet up for friends with a glass of wine the next time I’m looking to have a relaxing night out.

Osaka-born “Cup Noodles” were the first instant ramen in cup form and arrived in the U.S. two years later as “Cup O’Noodles,” soon dominating the dry soup–mix market. Campbell’s and Lipton tried to launch their own dry soup mixes a decade later, but they were late to the party. Instant ramen was a million dollar industry by the late ’80s with Nissin, which makes Cup Noodles, at the top. Cup Noodles inventor Momofuku Ando’s name lives on at David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, which serve the opposite of instant ramen (the broth takes 8–10 hours to make).

The year 1971 was huge for McDonald’s, which changed its slogan to “You Deserve a Break Today,” and introduced the Quarter Pounder as well as the characters of McDonaldland—the Hamburglar, Grimace, you know ’em—all part of an evil-brilliant ad campaign based on a study that revealed how influential children were in deciding where a family ate. (Oh! And 1971 saw the first PlayPlaces too.) The campaign also kicked off “The Big Meal.” A precursor to supersizing, the order was “a Big Mac, a very large order of fries, and a great big drink” and arguably one small unbuttoning on America’s pants.

Cotton Candy Frappuccino - "imagine"

Just like the first song of this album, the cotton candy frap is loaded with notes of sweetness that'll lift up your mood and leave you with a satisfying taste after every sip. Plus "imagine a world" where the cotton candy frap is back on the regular menu. Until then, turn up the volume and keep this bop on repeat because "imagine" is sure to be your new favorite jam.

#SpoonTip: If you don't know the secret words to give the barista on your next Starbucks run, try making this DIY homemade recipe.

‘Feel the Force’: Gut Instinct, Not Data, Is the Thing

Softbank founder Masayoshi Son’s approach to business has been described as more Yoda and less Warren Buffett.

John D. Stoll

Three years ago, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP asked senior executives to peer into their crystal balls and predict how reliant they would be on computer-generated analytics in 2020.

Data has flooded the C-Suite. Managers of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, for instance, have 14 different data dashboards at their fingertips to help speed and streamline decision making.

Many executives say it’s time for statistics to replace guesswork. Starbucks Corp. CEO Kevin Johnson said data-driven decision making is the secret blend he has used to keep the coffee empire percolating since the departure of Howard Schultz, the entrepreneur who turned the green siren logo into a global icon.

Does Starbucks Have a New Holiday Hit on Its Hands?

A lot of foods blow up on Instagram, but just how good are they in reality? Chowhound’s social media producer Connor Bower is determined to find out which ones are worth your time and which are simply not worth the ‘gram.

An ordinary day in December goes like this: Starbucks releases a seasonal drink, social media and the news cycle reacts, the sun sets in the west. I wish I could say that I’m above adding my own voice to the clatter, but here we are.

In case you’re out of the loop, a quick recap. When Starbucks dropped the lineup for this year’s seasonal drinks back in November, a ruckus emerged when fans of the chain noticed that the Gingerbread Latte, considered by many as a holiday menu staple, had been discontinued . Fast forward to present day and we’ve been rewarded with its successor: the Irish cream cold brew . Per the online description, it’s “Starbucks cold brew with Irish cream syrup, topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a strike of cocoa powder.” TLDR? Baileys -flavored cold brew.

Storm’s a (Cold) Brewin’

Fun fact about me: I really don’t like Irish cream! I find it heavy and cloyingly sweet, so when I picked up a batch of the Irish cream cold brew to taste test, I was predisposed to be heavily against this drink.

But after receiving my order I was actually a big fan of the presentation. The sweet cream cold foam rests atop the coffee, slowly drizzling down and just barely incorporating itself into the drink. It reminds me a lot of Tiger Sugar’s brown sugar milk tea , famous for its streaks of caramelized sugar that cascade through milk. In an era of fast food menu pictures vs. reality listicles , it’s a small treat to have something that matches up to your expectations.

And then, the first sip. It’s sweet, yet incredibly mild. Because of the layering of ingredients, the flavors fluctuate and transition as each component swims across your tongue—the cream, the cold brew, the cream again, and a burst of cocoa right at the end. When tasting in the office, the consensus was unanimously positive, and many of my coworkers (like myself) were surprised to enjoy it so much. I will caveat that my office neighbor thought the teensiest amount of sugar in the cold brew would really amplify the flavors, so if you’re in the mood for a more sugary experience this is the way to go.

The Verdict

This is good. Really good. It’s weird to say for a Starbucks concoction, but the drink is complex. It hits all the right notes, but doesn’t clobber you over the head with its flavors. Yeah, it’s Starbucks, and yeah, at $4.75 a pop for a medium grande it’s not cheap (I literally just wrote about a toast I found too expensive two weeks ago. Oops.), but after tasting it, I have nothing bad to say.