For several years I have followed the monthly R.S.V.P. feature in Bon Apetit magazine, in which readers ask the magazine's editors to publish the recipe for some tasty dish that appears on a restaurant menu somewhere. It's free advertising for the restaurant, because the reader wouldn't be asking for the recipe if the meal hadn't made an impression.
Surprisingly, many of the dishes that left customers hankering for the recipe are fairly basic and easy to prepare at home. I suspect, however, that this fact doesn't keep patrons from returning to the restaurant to have the chef do the cooking for them.
The September issue of Bon Apetit, designated as the magazine's annual restaurant issue, includes not only the R.S.V.P. column but also recipes from neighborhood restaurants all over the country. As I was leafing through the issue, it occurred to me that readers of this column also might have restaurant favorites for which they would like to have the recipe.
In my case, that would be easy. My favorite menu item for some time has been the Imperial Chicken at Royal Peking in Lawrence. My curiosity about this dish has specifically to do with the spicing of the sauce, which is sweet but has a hot pepper kick.
Here's my offer: I will attempt to track down recipes from the menu of any restaurant located 50 miles either side of a line from Topeka to Kansas City, Mo. Drop me a note or e-mail with the name and general location of the restaurant, the name or a description of the dish and when you ordered it off the menu. Also, tell me briefly what about the dish made it special. The information you'll need in order to write to me is located at the end of this column.
In the meantime, one of the interesting restaurant recipes from this month's Bon Apetit comes from Pachamama's in Lawrence.
Skillet-roasted rosemary potatoes with apple aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 4 by 3 by 1 inch slice French bread, crust trimmed, quartered
10 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons applesauce
2 pounds fingerling potatoes or baby white-skinned potatoes, cut lengthwise in half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Blend mayonnaise, bread, 2 garlic cloves and lemon juice to coarse puree in processor. With machine running, add 1/3 cup oil in thin, steady stream. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in applesauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Aioli can be made 1 day a head. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with remaining 1/4 cup oil, 8 garlic cloves and rosemary in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread potatoes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake potatoes until tender, golden brown and crispy, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes.
Place aioli in bowl in center of platter. Surround with potatoes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
(To request a restaurant recipe, send the pertinent information, as well as your name and phone number, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to Gwyn Mellinger, Baker University, P.O. Box 65, Baldwin City, KS 66006.)
-- When she's not writing about foods and gardening, Gwyn Mellinger is teaching journalism at Baker University. Her phone number is (785) 594-4554.