Savory Comfort Food With A Splash Of Citrus

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 21, 2010
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A new addition to the Macaroni Grill team at Hookipa Terrace in Ala Moana Center is assistant general manager Jennifer Di Pietro. Prior to joining Macaroni Grill, she was the general manager at Palomino Honolulu. She most recently assisted husband Vince Di Pietro in operating The Living Room @ Fisherman’s Wharf.

She also has had her shot at “fame.” She appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning play M. Butterfly. She had a part in the movie First Wives Club and has appeared on the Tracey Ullman Show. Born in Honolulu, Di Pietro moved to New York at the age of 5 with her mother, Diane Matsuura Lam, a Martha Graham dancer. Di Pietro is a graduate of both New York’s High School of Performing Arts and Carnegie-Mellon University. Her best role yet is that of “Mommy” to her two young daughters Veronica and Sofia.

This column is dedicated to De Pietro.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill proudly introduces its new “Pick Up Your Own Party” program, with a catering menu that offers easy and affordable solutions for all your party-planning needs, whether for a small group of friends or a major event.


There are a variety of its favorite menu items to choose from, including one salad and a choice of two entrees served with its fresh, house-baked bread starting at just $14.99.

General manager Darren Yasui says that this is in response to the many requests the restaurant receives from customers, and they are pleased to be able to offer this program.

Orders can be placed by fax, phone or e-mail and Chef Mike Longworth and team will prepare your special order. For more information, call 356-8300.

Lemons are a good flavor enhancer and a good substitute for salt. Lemon juice may be used to replace vinegar in salad dressings and is used to tenderize meat, poultry, fish and game. The juice also prevents cut fruits such as apples and bananas from discoloring. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over cooked vegetables, seafood and salads for a healthful and flavorful seasoning. Add grated lemon peel to baked goods, fruit compotes, desserts and sauces.

The zest of lemons can be grated or sliced and is available candied or dried.

Lemons, like all citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, and they also provide potassium and folic acid.

This comfort food meal is a favorite at our house. I like to serve this with a lettuce and tomato salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with toasted walnuts to complete the meal.

HERBED CHICKEN WITH POTATOES

* 6 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into eighths
* 8 skinless, whole chicken breasts (bone in)
* 1/3 cup white wine
* juice of 3 medium lemons
* 5 cloves crushed garlic
* 2 teaspoons dried oregano
* 1 tablespoon dried parsley
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 cup fresh minced Maui onion
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* salt, to taste
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put cut potatoes into a microwave-safe pan and microwave on high for five to seven minutes, or until a fork can be inserted fairly easily.


Arrange the chicken breasts and potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Combine the wine, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, paprika, onion, pepper, salt and oil, and pour evenly over potatoes and chicken. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for one hour, spooning sauce over the chicken and potatoes a few times. Uncover and bake for about another 15-20 minutes until the chicken and potatoes start to brown and juices run clear from chicken when pierced with fork.

Makes eight servings. NOTE: If you like the potatoes more brown, turn oven to broil and broil for a few minutes, but watch carefully so they don’t burn.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 260
Fat: 6 grams
Cholesterol: 60 milligrams
Sodium: 75 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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