Umami Cupcakes. Then Serious Burgers. That’s The Order They Come In, Right?

Chocolate, red wine, rosemary . . . cupcakes with umami

On this blog’s intro page, I admitted there would be occasional recipes. My daughter’s currently on a cupcake kick, so one evening I stole the molds from her and did cupcakes with a little bam! – gourmet-ish morsels, though “fairy cakes” (as the Brits charmingly call them) are inherently proletarian. Nevertheless, and adapted from a recipe at www., here’s what I made:

Umami Cupcakes         Makes 12

Umami is that flavor of richness possessed by some foods. It’s the fifth taste sensation (beyond sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). Here, chocolate, red wine and fresh rosemary all contain elements that contribute to umami. Yum!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa power, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, red wine, vegetable oil, milk, vanilla and chopped fresh rosemary. Pour into dry ingredients and stir well.

Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack. You could make your own frosting. I used chocolate frosting from a can. Very prole.

Now, burgers. You have your own burger recipes (and there are hundreds online), and I’m not here to argue grill v. broiler, charcoal v. apple twigs. What I’m offering is a paean to In-N-Out, and their secret menu options.

I’m a native Angeleno, unfortunately long-departed, but every time I land at LAX or Long Beach (jetBlue now flies in to Burbank , as well) I resolve that at least one meal will be at In-N-Out, the nirvana of SoCal, fast-food burgerdom. Keep your MacDo and BK. Forget Five Guys (which on the East Coast is making impressive inroads). In-N-Out is a mecca of fabulosity. They do burgers right. And fries, shakes and sodas. There are stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and now – shock – even Texas.

Quality is excellent. There’s one speed, fast. Employee enthusiasm and professionalism are tiptop. But at In-N-Out there are no salads, no desserts, no trial offers. The menu’s straightforward and brief.

Yet the menu as written is just a start. There are options. Many options. You just have to know how to order.

Neapolitan shakes, for example, contain all three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry) whipped together. You can order your fries extra crispy, and they’ll spend longer in the oil. Want extra tomatoes? Can do. On a no-bread diet? No problem, In-N-Out will wrap your burger in lettuce leaves.

All this adaptation is at no extra charge. In-N-Out (the chain is still family-owned) is like the Nordstrom of the burger world – they want to make you happy!

I finally sourced a near-complete secret In-N-Out menu online, within an article by a man who one day waltzed in and colluded with the cashier to get one of every single option. Link to this, and you’ll be ordering a Double-Double animal-style, with grilled slice of onion and extra-crispy fries, in no time. Assuming you live near an In-N-Out. There’s even an app for locating the nearest store, at the official site.

Bon appétit – twice!

Link to article on secret menu:


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