When I came up with the idea that one of the characters was going to open a hot dog café, I ran a contest for the best name. The winner, chosen by my insistent daughter, was Bun Appetit, suggested by an old friend and her husband. Some of the names were really creative: Chez Haute Dog, Dogs of Distinction, Frankly Wienerful, Decadent Dogs. The restaurant is based on a small blue-plate special place that used to be on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth--it had eight stools at the counter and that was it. Since, it's been remodeled into a beautiful but still small country Italian restaurant, Nonna Tata, that is one of my favorites.
I blogged several months ago about upscale hot dogs and the way people were creating them:
Mexican Dog: salsa, jalapeno's, cheese, crushed chips; wrap it in a tortilla
Coney Dog (this is traditional): chili, cheese, and onions
Franks 'n Beans: baked beans not pintos, onion, mustard
Chicago Dog (also traditional): chopped tomato, dill pickle slice, sweet pickle relish, onion, mustard
German or Reuben Dog: Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, sweet pickle relish, brown mustard
Hawaiian Dog: grilled pineapple wedges and red onion rounds, chopped and seasoned with sugar, salt and cayenne
Bahn mi Dog: Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in 2 Tbsp. white vinegar, add 2 shredded carrots and 1/2 tsp. coarse salt; top grilled hot dog with mayo, thinly sliced cucumber, carrot mixture, jalapenos, and cilantro (how do you get all that in your mouth?)
Croque Madame (French, obviously):Wrap the hot dog in ham and Swiss cheese and top with bechamel sauce (still questioning that in my mind)
But here's a recipe for a one-dish meal, using hot dogs. Not sure they'd serve it at Bun Appetit, but my son-in-law loves it.
3-4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled; reserve grease
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions
1 heaping Tbsp. flour
½ c. each water and vinegar
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
2 cans sliced white potatoes (The original recipe called for fresh cooked potatoes, of course, but this is one of the few places where I think canned does just fine and is actually better—they don’t crumble like fresh-cooked potatoes.)
1 pkg. hot dogs, brand of your choice (I like Hebrew National but often use Oscar Mayer Selects all-chicken franks these days--shhh, don't tell! They don't have a lot of other ingredients like preservatives--pure chicken breast)
Boil or grill the hot dogs (grill is better). Fry the bacon and drain on paper towels; if there’s too much grease in the skillet, drain some, but you want about one Tbsp. to cook this. Sauté celery and green onions in bacon grease. Add flour and stir. Add water and vinegar, a bit at a time, stirring—more of each as needed until sauce is a good consistency. Add mustard. Add potatoes. Crumble bacon and stir in. Cut hot dogs into chunks and mix in (traditional hot dogs make a more colorful dish than chicken, and as my mom always said, "Food is half eaten with the eyes.") Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.