Monday, September 14, 2009

Great American Taste Test: Macaroni Grill Focaccia Bread and a GIVEAWAY!

This GIVEAWAY is now closed.

A while back, I signed up to participate in the Great American Taste Test - it is a publicity event for Ron Douglas's new book America's Most Wanted Recipes. Ron reveals copycat versions of restaurant favorites so that families can now enjoy the meals they love most at prices they can afford. The book includes favorites from Olive Garden, KFC, Cheesecake Factory, Red Lobster and PF Changs, among others.I was tasked with making one of the recipes and comparing to the original dish from the restaurant. There were lots of dishes I wanted to try - but we have limited restaurant options around here, and then our restaurants didn't carry some of the dishes any longer. So after much indecision, I settled on making Macaroni Grill Focaccia Bread. This is Josh's and my FAVORITE restaurant bread. I have been trying to avoid the excess carbs lately, but after a long run this morning, I deserved a treat :)Macaroni Grill Focaccia Bread
from America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas; serves 8

1/2 c. olive oil, divided
3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. semolina flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp quick-rising dry yeast
1 1/2 c. hot milk (120-130 deg F)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves

1. Pour 1 1/2 tsp. of olive oil into a 9" square cake pan (I used a glass pan), spread to cover the bottom and sides. Lightly dust with a little flour.
2. Place the ap flour, semolina flour, 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of salt, and all of the yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (or you can mix by hand).
3. Mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are blended. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the hot milk. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for 5 minutes, then knead for about 10 minutes by hand.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and spread evenly in the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
6. Remove the towel and brush the dough with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. Top with remaining salt and fresh rosemary leaves. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little olive oil (we prefer some on a plate for dipping). Enjoy!

This bread was very good. We had spinach pesto pasta with grilled chicken for dinner, and enjoyed some of the bread on the side with a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or dipping. While this recipe was similar to the original, it wasn't exact. The flavors were there, but this recipe was much more dense. The Macaroni Grill bread is definitely more airy - J and I usually have no problem polishing off a loaf at the restaurant, but we could barely manage sharing a similar size portion of this recipe. I do want to try some of the other recipes in the book though, even if I don't have the original dishes to compare them too. We don't go out to eat very much and I do enjoy cooking when I have the time, so this book is a great resource to try dishes we wouldn't otherwise have.

Now for the fun part: I'm giving away a copy of America's Most Wanted Recipes to one lucky reader!

I accidentally received two copies from the publisher, and they gave me the go-ahead to give the other one away (Thanks Atria Books!).

So here's the drill:
Leave me a comment telling me one restaurant dish you would love to be able to duplicate at home by 11:59pm on Friday Sept. 18, 2009 (based on comment time stamp).
***To earn an extra entry, become a Follower of my blog, and leave a second comment telling me you are a Follower. (If you are already a Follower, just leave a second comment saying so.)

Be sure to include your email if its not public on your profile. The winner will be randomly selected via on Saturday.

Good luck!


  1. i would love to recreate the pumpkin cheesecake from cheesecake factory..really any of their cheescakes..
    what a great giveaway!

  2. great giveaway! i would love to make carrabba's chicken bryan. YUM!!

  3. I would love to recreate the lettuce wraps from PF Changs. Yum!!! I am now following your blog. :)

  4. i am now a follower of your blog!! YAY

  5. I'm so jealous that you have a Macaroni Grill near you. Ours closed about 3 years ago and I miss it! I'd love to be able to recreate their Pasta was definitely my favorite dish there!

  6. I would love to recreate the queso dip at my favorite mexican restaurant. It is unlike any that I've had anywhere else. Also, I am now a follower of your blog!!

  7. I would love to duplicate the dulce de leche cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory. I just found your blog and will add it to my reader!

  8. I would love to duplicate anything and everything from PF Changs specially the lettuce wraps.


  9. I would love to make Panera Bread's Orange Scones - they are so yummy!!

  10. I'd love to be able to recreate Maggie Moo's cake batter ice cream. No matter what I try I can't get it quite right!

  11. I would love to create PF Changs lettuce wraps! They are sooo yummy!!

  12. I am officially following your blog. (Although I have had your blog on my google reader for awhile now.)

  13. I would love to make Applebees Oriental Chicken Salad!! I use to have a receipe for it but lost it :(

  14. I would love to recreate Crusty Chicken Romano from Cheesecake Factory!

  15. I'd love to make Abuelo's guacamole. It's by far the best I've ever tasted!

  16. Too many to count, but any of PF Chang dishes, especially the lettuce wraps are delicious!~ Yudith

  17. This bread!!! I LOVE this bread from Macaroni Grill and the ONLY Macaroni Grill that was in my city went out of business. : ( Thanks for the recipe, can't wait to try it!

  18. I'd love some Chick Fil A BBQ sauce. I found a copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur, but it wasn't quite up to par for me.

  19. I would love to duplicate the blondie brownie sauce from Applebees. I haven't been able to yet!

    cecilyandryan at

  20. Oh my gosh, great giveaway! There are so so many restaurant dishes I would like to recreate, but I think that main one would be Olive Garden's "Zuppa Toscana" (I have no idea if I spelled that right). For everyone I know pretty much goes there just for this soup. Simply amazing!

  21. Champps Americana spinach artinchoke chicken sandwich. YUMMMO!


  22. Ron Douglas claims he created these recipes through trial-and-error, however most of this book is plagiarized from other sources including the Top Secret Recipes books by Todd Wilbur, The Panera Bread Cookbook, Welcome to Junior's (cheesecake recipe), California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook, Bennigan's Escape from Everyday Cookbook, and many other sources from the Internet. Most of the recipes in this book were created long before he ever started selling his first e-book in 2003. He never gives the original authors the credit they deserve, he falsely claims in television interviews (ABC News Now, Fox) that specific recipes created by these other authors took him anywhere from 2 to 6 months to create. We should not support such dishonesty. It's not fair to the hard-working authors who spend time and money creating this material from scratch.