Applebee's International, Inc. is the leader in the casual dining segment of the United States restaurant marketplace. The company franchises and operates more than 1,100 restaurants under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar name, about a quarter of which it owns. The eateries offer moderately priced, high-quality food and drink for all ages in a friendly, informal atmosphere. Applebee's is continuing to expand, with 1,800 outlets the company's stated goal. A smaller restaurant format has been designed for areas with populations under 25,000, to facilitate penetration of previously untapped markets.

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BLUE CHEESE VINAIGRETTE


7 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer garlic mixture to blender. Add blue cheese, white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and remaining olive oil; blend well. Transfer vinaigrette to bowl. Mix in chopped basil. Vinaigrette can be prepared two days ahead.Cover and refrigerate.

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