Food for Thought: Copycat Is Where It's At!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

cacio e pepe

Whether it's a seasonal favorite that you just can't get your hands on this time of year, or you want to enjoy endless breadsticks in your pajamas, copycat recipes are just what you need to fulfill the cravings from the comfort of your own home.

Meal take-outs or deliveries are possible, of course, but if you’re located somewhere that’s not in close proximity to the restaurants that you love, don’t fret. Instead, find a copycat recipe. What are copycat recipes? These are secret recipes from restaurants (or developed by home cooks to taste similar) and homemade versions of packaged-brand products you find in the grocery store. With these recipes you can prepare your favorite restaurant dishes and name-brand foods in your own kitchen! Everything from cheesy pastas to fan-favorite coffee drinks, there are remakes that are just as delicious—if not better—than the originals.

I used to love to flip through cookbooks. The beautiful photos of the dishes always appealed to me, and trying new recipes has always been a favorite pastime. Nowadays, you’ll probably find me looking for new recipes on the internet. I just google the dish I want to make, and before I know it, hundreds of recipes for whatever I’m searching show up. I’ll find the one that looks the best or many times I’ll combine recipes to make something my very own. In fact, since taking the helm at Bellisari’s, I’ve actually incorporated a favorite hobby into my everyday work! Finding or creating new recipes in which to use our gourmet sauces and spreads is definitely one of the best parts of my job.

The most challenging part of recreating restaurant recipes is trying to imitate the dishes using ingredients available to home cooks. Restaurants have access to ingredients the home cook doesn’t have, like stabilizers and thickeners. If they use xanthan gum (a thickener), sometimes it’s hard to get the exact mouth feel if you use a different ingredient.

I find that people tend to like dishes that have cheese and bacon, so recreating dishes heavy on those ingredients are usually crowd pleasers. Cacio e Pepe, which literally means cheese and pepper, is something I’ll always order if it’s on a menu, and lucky for me, it is an easy dish to copy. I find dozens of recipes for this dish online. 

Most recently I’ve been trying to copycat a seasonal coffee drink that’s available at a popular coffee shop chain. It’s a pistachio-flavored drink that tastes great both hot and cold. I haven’t quite perfected it, but I’ve gotten really close! This is the season for this drink to be back in stores, so at least I can compare what I created at home to see how close I’ve gotten. Good luck finding and recreating all of your faves. Happy “copycatting” from all of us at Bellisari’s!

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