ROASTED HERB CHICKEN: A Culinary-Idiot Friendly Recipe

It sounds gourmet-ish, doesn’t it? Roasted Herb Chicken… sounds pretty difficult to make too.  I wanted to impress Dear Hubby with my, well, “culinary skills”.  Yes, albeit limited, I have a few skills  in the kitchen.  Somehow I have managed to serve my boys edible meals without any of them getting choked or something.

It’s Father’s Day and this lunch has got to be special… AND easy to make! A very important factor there.

To all you wives and mothers with the same level of kitchen talents as I do, let me share with you this recipe that saved my day.  I got the basic idea from the internet but I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste.  I was quite a bit apprehensive as it requires to use an oven to do the roasting. Whoah, why don’t I just make fried chicken?!

It turned out to be so easy you only have to put everything in a dish and place it inside the oven. Roasting is close to the maximum level of complexity that I’m okay with, there are only THREE (3) easy steps to remember.

Let me assure you:  If I can do it, ANYBODY can do it too. That’s how easy it is 🙂   Checkirawt!

HERBED CHICKEN

Step 1:  Marinate the Chicken Breasts OVERNIGHT with the following:

Calamansi or Lemon Juice
Soy sauce
Garlic
Rosemary (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Thyme (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Salt & Pepper
*I have to emphasize that it has to be marinated overnight so the flavor seeps through.

Step 2: Get Ready To Rumble

Assemble the following on a baking dish:
Marinated Chicken
Baby Potatoes: properly washed, halved
Onions, halved
Garlic, halved
* Drizzle with olive oil
* Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried rosemary and thyme (if you don’t have fresh ones)

Step 3:  Roast Away

– Place the baking dish in a pre-heated oven
– Leave for 15-20 minutes or until chicken gets fully cooked
– Baste the chicken with melted butter from time to time
– Top with fresh chopped Basil leaves before serving

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INSALATA CAPRESE: THE BEST AND SIMPLEST MEAL

I always have this delusion that I must have been Italian in my past life, only because I love Italian food! I can live on pizza and pasta everyday and I can munch olives like they were peanuts.

Five years ago, I got a little lucky and found myself to be walking on the cobbled streets of my imaginary homeland, Italy.   Aahh, authentic Italian spaghetti.  I had to keep reminding myself not to look for hotdogs on them, undeniably very Pinoy hehehe 🙂  It was during this trip that I discovered a salad that would be my new favorite from then on, the INSALATA CAPRESE.

Made from the freshest ingredients, Insalata Caprese is a light and healthy salad that’s perfect for health-conscious individuals.  Perfect too for our Balik-Alindog project.  It’s very simple and easy to make plus the ingredients are readily available in your supermarkets, and the best part is… it’s NO COOK!  Here it goes…

WHATCHUNID:

MAIN INGREDIENTS:  Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

MAIN INGREDIENTS: Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

Dressing:

Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Chilli Flakes (optional)

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Insalata Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

HOW TO DO IT?

Just like any other salads, you basically just have to toss everything together, chill and it’s done.  This can already be your light dinner or, as I recently discovered,  you can pair it with Beef Salpicao or with your favorite steak.

Easy peasy, isn’t it? No-cook dinner in minutes!  Buon Appetito! (in my fake Italian accent)

If you're using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.

If you’re using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.You may use regular tomatoes too.

You may use regular tomatoes too.

WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU LEMONS, DETOX… And Decorate

For almost ten years now, lemons have been a staple item in our household. Apart from its usual use as ingredients for cooking, making tea and juice, we use it for our daily lemon water.  Dear Hubby and I started the habit of putting lemons to our pitcher of water when we learned that it actually helps clean toxins out of our body, not to mention it has Vitamin C content and can help in weight loss (well, well, well!).  Commercial alkaline water can be expensive and I think lemon water is the closest and least expensive alternative.

When we moved to Jakarta almost three years ago,  we discovered other variations of detox water and incorporated it with our usual lemon water fix.  We added Cucumber and Mint Leaves and we liked the fun twist on it!  I recommend that you try it and make it a habit.  Enjoy!

LEMON WATER

Health Benefits:
*source: energiseforlife.com,

  • Lemon: Lemon water makes for a powerful detox drink; lemon juice helps to cleanse and alkalize the body.  It has excellent digestive properties and can ease heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems.

Lemons are  loaded with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which aids the body in weight loss. Antioxidants are known to remove toxins (such as fat cells) from the body, which is why lemon water is such a good aid in weight loss.

Additionally, Vitamin C found in lemons is known to boost the immune system.

  • Mint: Mint adds a touch of sweetness without the sugar, and it also helps settle your stomach and aids in digestion. Mint is also loaded with strong antioxidants found within the leaves and stems, as well as vitamin A, calcium, folate, potassium, and phosphorus…making it a helpful aid at preventing disease and illness.
  • Cucumber: Adding a few slices of cucumber to your water makes for excellent rehydration, and cucumber contains anti-inflammatory properties.

And while you’re at it, here’s a couple of suggestions on how to creatively store your lemons and mint leaves.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in.  It makes a great center piece too.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in. It makes a great center piece too.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase.  It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase. It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

PORKGASM IN JAKARTA

Living in a Muslim country has somehow made us shy away from pork for a while, something our arteries have to thank us for.  Out of respect to our help’s religious beliefs, we never serve pork in our household or if ever we do, it’s got to be on a weekend when she’s on a day off.  There would be times when  we would go to any Chinese resto and break this self-imposed pork fasting just to satisfy our sinful cravings.

So when our Pinay friend Phoebe invited us to a Lechon Lunch for only 250,000 IDR which includes lechon, drinks and desserts, my reply was “You had us at LECHON”.  Who can say no to a chance to see our Filipino friends and of course the authentic Pinoy lechon  which was prepared by a Pinoy chef!  So off we trooped to Alex’s in Kuningan to taste the three little pigs.

I GOT YOU BABE!
The superstars of the lunch were three little suckling pigs slow-roasted in the oven at 75°C for 16 hours(!) then re-roasted in wood-fire oven just minutes before serving.  The latter is the essential step in making that crispy skin layer good enough to give you multiple porkgasm. The crackling skin and the tender succulent meat seasoned with just the right herbs and spices just melt in your mouth. It was so good I think I died and went to swine heaven.  Okay, a little exaggeration there but any lechon lover will get what I mean.

And the FUN begins...

And the FUN begins…

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

THE CAST OF THE FOOD PORN
saladside dishpizza

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

 

THE COMPANYfriendsnew friends1new friends2

THE BIG BAD-ASS WOLF
I’ve always known Raj Abat as a New York-trained Filipino chef who is now based in Jakarta.  He’s a cool guy who warmly accommodates us when we dine in his previous resto posting.  He would join us and the other Pinoys for some beer and potluck and would watch the Manny Pacquiao fights with us.  He and his lovely wife are expecting their first baby soon.  This was all I knew about Raj until I Googled him for some info in this blog entry.  Whoah, I didn’t know there was a rock star in our midst all along! Check out an excerpt of what I found.

“At a glance, Raj Abat’s lean, austere and tattooed appearance might trick us into thinking that he’s chief of some gangs. Well, a bunch of gangsters indeed, but these are experts with knives, laddles and forks, and their territories are not the streets, but the kitchens. If you didn’t know Raj Abat, you would probably never guessed that he is a Filipino-born New Yorker and is a Corporate Chef who has a long list of experience working in some of the most desired celebrity chefs’ kitchens like Jean-Georges in New York City and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. ”
Culinary Bonanza

If you’re a Pinoy in Jakarta or a pork-starved food lover, or all of the above, it’s a shame not to sample Raj’s specialty.  He’s currently a Corporate Chef at the Alila Hotel (of the Alila Chain of Properties) but you can visit his Facebook page, RAJ ABAT COOKS to check out what’s cooking and when his next Swine Feast will be.

Unassuming cool guy.  No toques and uniforms, just a bandana.  No bad temper, just badass tattoos.

No toques and uniforms, just a bandana. No bad celebrity chef temper, just bad-ass tattoos.

ONE NIGHT IN JAKARTA

What would you do if you have twenty-four hours to spend in Jakarta?  I had to answer this recently for a visiting friend.

I’ve known Mike for almost two decades now, we met at a small advertising agency where we both had our first jobs. We eventually  left the company and have not seen each other since, he moved to Dubai while I took on two more jobs before I got based here in Jakarta.  Last week, Mike took an Indonesian holiday and went to the famous Bali and Borobudur.  And even if Jakarta is not exactly a popular tourist destination, he extended his stay to the city just to see me.  Well, he sort of didn’t have a choice after my constant  F.O. (Friendship Over) threats. Never mind if it was only an overnight stay, just having someone around thrilled me big time.

I met up with him after I dropped the Little Boy to school and Dear Hubby to his office on Thursday morning.  It was nonstop chatter and laughter since then. Here’s what we did for the next twenty-four hours:

LUNCH AT KOI KEMANG
Koi is a chic restaurant in the Kemang area, South of Jakarta.  Aside from its great food and ambiance, Koi is conveniently located near the Little Boy’s school. This made us maximize our brunch time and saved us travel time when we did our school pick-up later on.

SCHOOL PICK-UP
Yes, Mike obliged to accompany me to my mommy duties and sat through Little Boy’s soccer trial that afternoon.  We laughed at how we never imagined we’d be babysitting a child together eighteen years ago.

Goofing around after school

A brief timeout from all the chatter

DINNER AT FOOD LOUVER, GRAND INDONESIA
My first restaurant of choice for dinner was at Social House but there was an ongoing event that night and they couldn’t accept table reservations.  We went to Grand Indonesia’s food court, The Food Louver,  instead which had elegant interiors that’s unlikely of a regular food court in a Philippine mall. Since Mike is into design, he appreciated the design details and found it interesting.

The entrance to the food court

The hallway that leads to the food stalls

Hand wash area

And the food selection begins

Wall art

The eating area that’s been witness to our juicy stories that night

DRINKS AT SOCIAL HOUSE

Dear Hubby met up with us later on that evening.  We went back to Social House (the event was done by that time) so he could have dinner while Mike and I have some drinks.  There were more catching up stories between Mike and the Hubby.  I went to bed that night exhausted from all the talking but couldn’t wait ’til morning for our next chika session.

The vast selection of wines at Social House

MORNING SKYPE

Pardon the poor photo quality but this was the highlight of the day

The next morning, Dear Hubby was kind enough to bring the Little Boy to school so I could spend time with Mike who’s leaving after lunch. We just stayed at home and Skyped with another good friend, Jurizz.  She worked with us in the same company and is now based in New York. It was a R-I-O-T, just like the old times!  I swear I can’t remember when I last laughed that hard, the kind that makes you tear a little and hurts your rib cage.  It was an entire morning of laughter, banter and reminiscing.  Too bad we had to say our goodbyes as Mike had to catch his flight and Jurizz had to put her kids to sleep.

Aahh, I miss my friends! I miss being crazy with them.  I love how we haven’t seen each other in a long time and things haven’t changed.  Thank you, Jurizz (and husband Oliver), for staying up late to chat with us.  Thank you, Mike, for including Jakarta in your itinerary, even for just one night.

***

Directory:

KOI KEMANG
Jl. Kemang Raya No 72 – Jakarta Selatan
Phone +62 21 719 5668,
kemang@koiindonesia.com
next to Pertamina Petrol Station

FOOD LOUVER
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town,
Sky Bridge, 3rd Floor (Jalan Mohammad Husni Thamrin No. 1),
Jakarta Pusat, DKI Jakarta 10310, Indonesia

SOCIAL HOUSE
Grand Indonesia East Mall
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1
Jakarta, Indonesia 10320
Phone +6221 235 81818; +6281 3877 02008
info@ismayagroup.com

EASY & HEALTHY RECIPE: PAN-SEARED TUNA

It’s no secret that aside from long legs, great kitchen skills are the gifts that I am not really blessed with.  Case in point: I can’t make a decent pancake and once burned Ginisang Munggo (sauteed mung beans).  That’s why I used to leave the cooking to the able hands of a helper or Dear Hubby (when he’s free).  But we haven’t had a help for a while now so I gotta “face my fear” and channel my inner Giada De Laurentiis and Nigella Lawson.  Yes, I sort of invoke their spirits to come upon my kitchen each time I had to cook :).

My objective is to make very simple and easy-to-do recipes to avoid any more kitchen disasters.  Recipes should also be healthy to complement my Balik-Alindog project, a self-imposed program to a healthier lifestyle (click here for more information).  This is my version of Pan-Seared Tuna.

WHAT YOU NEED:

MAIN INGREDIENTS:  FRESH Tuna Sashimi cut, ground pepper, salt,

FOR THE TUNA DIP: Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Sugar and Wasabi Paste. **Measurements would be according to your liking.

Greens of your choice

Your preferred salad dressings

You may top your salad with Feta Cheese too (optional)

WHAT TO DO:

Step 1:  Generously season the tuna with ground pepper and sprinkle with a little salt.  Let stand for about 15 minutes.

STEP 2:  Sear the tuna on a very hot pan with about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil (canola or olive oil are a healthy choice).  With this particular cut, searing should take 1 minute ONLY for each side (top and bottom).

STEP 3:  Cut the tuna in bite pieces and serve with veggie salad (with a dressing of your choice).

TUNA DIP:  Combine Kikkoman soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and wasabi paste together in a bowl.

Believe me, this recipe is sooo easy it only takes about 30 minutes to make.  If I can do it, you can definitely do it too! 🙂  Enjoy!

DOMESTIC DIVA’S DAY OFF

I know, I know…  A mother never takes a day off  but because last Sunday was so special it merited a “birthday leave” from my domestic duties.

I declared that I was going to make banana pancakes for breakfast even if I’ve never tried making some 🙂  Heck, there’s the instruction on the box, what could possibly go wrong?  Besides, it’s just pancake. Easy peasy!  But you know, things happen…  There had been some difficulties… It’s Murphy’s Law, really…  Okay,  I’m not really gifted with kitchen skills haha!  I started making some but they didn’t taste exactly like I wanted them to. Thank God Dear Hubby took over the stove and salvaged our special Sunday breakfast!  He managed to make it like a crepe to wrap the banana AND strawberry slices with.  While on the pan, he put peanut butter on top of the fruit slices then wrapped the whole thing before the peanut butter completely melted.  They were sooo good they got totally wiped out before I could even take a photo.

Then I said I was going to make spaghetti for lunch but Dear Hubby insisted he’d do it.  He made Spaghetti meatballs and served it with red wine!  How many men would spend their Sunday getting their hands smeared with ground beef?  Did I mention he also washed the dishes that day?  And while my Sunday chores were being covered, I replied to all incoming birthday messages and Skyped with my family back home in Manila.  See?  Day off! 🙂

I didn’t have a fancy party or a cake to slice and candles to blow, but I got everything any girl could ask for.  I have a family who loves me unconditionally (Translation: they love me whatever outcome my cooking brings 🙂 )   and thoughtful friends whose warm messages never fail to soothe my homesickness bug.  There’s so much to thank God for and that much needed day off was one of them.  Can’t ask for anything more really… except for that ceramic hair iron I’m gonna be saving up for hahaha 🙂  Celebrate life everyday, my friends!

Front and back page of Little Boy's birthday message

Dinner was at Otel Lobby in Rasuna Said, Jakarta

With Pinoy friends who happen to be dining in the same resto that night

My best birthday gifts ever!

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