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Gourmet Style: Classic American Comfort Food

8 Easy Recipes from Hale Aina Award-winning Chefs


(page 3 of 5)


Roasted chicken—a true classic—from the kitchen of chef Dennis Franks.

Photo: Monte Costa

Recipe from Chef Dennis Franks

Herb Roasted Half Chicken with Gravy

1     whole chicken (fryer size)
¼  cup olive oil
1     tsp. chopped parsley
1     tsp. chopped rosemary
1     tsp. chopped sage
1     tsp. chopped thyme
½  tsp. salt
¼  tsp. ground black pepper

For gravy, flour and chicken broth


1. Method for Chicken:

Cut chicken in half by cutting along one side of the backbone, and then repeat along the other side to remove. Lay chicken flat, breast side up and cut through down the center. Combine olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper, then rub this mixture all over the chicken pieces. Place chicken and backbone on roasting pan and cook at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.

2. Method for Gravy:

Remove chicken from pan and place pan on burner on medium heat. While scraping up all bits, add flour to drippings to form a paste. Add chicken broth until desired consistency.

Photo: Monte Costa

This year, HONOLULU readers awarded a bronze Hale Aina Award for “Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant” to Big City Diner. Big City Diner has five locations, including Kailua, Kaimuki, Pearlridge Center, Waipio and Ward Entertainment Center. For details, see www.bigcitydinerhawaii.com

Chef Dennis Franks has been with Big City Diner for six years. He says the most popular dishes at Big City Diner are fried rice, ribs, meatloaf and hamburger steak.


"Each person can choose the amount of apple filling they like.  It's a little diffrent."—Chef Dennis Franks

Photo: Monte Costa

Recipe from Chef Dennis Franks

Big City Diner’s Rustic Apple Pie

Note: Mindful of our busy lives, chef Dennis Franks modified this recipe from the original, making it super simple for home cooks. 

1     can apple filling (chef Franks recommends Comstock)
½  ounce raisins
¼  tsp. ground cinnamon
¼  tsp. vanilla extract
4    pieces frozen puff pastry, such as Pillsbury


1. Method: 

Combine apple filling, raisins, cinnamon and vanilla. In a deep dish, bake mixture, uncovered, at 350 degrees, for 30 minutes. Stir halfway through. Meanwhile, cut pastry into 3-inch squares and bake according to package directions. Once baked, tear prepared pastry crust in half, creating an upper and lower section. Place lower section on plate, top with filling and cap off with upper section of pastry. (Or let family members choose how much filling they want, constructing their own). Optional: drizzle with caramel sauce and chopped nuts, or top with ice cream.

“He’s always very eager to learn new things to cook, and loves to cook for his mom, Judy,” says Franks.

Photo: Monte Costa

Recipe from Chef Dennis Franks

Chocolate-Chip Mac-Nut Cookies

Chef Dennis Franks and his 9-year-old son, Caleb, enjoy making this recipe together.

2     cups    flour
½   tsp. baking powder
½   tsp. baking soda
½   tsp. salt
½   cup ground pecans
1     cup unsalted butter
¾  cup granulated sugar
¾  cup brown sugar
1    tsp. vanilla extract
2    large eggs
2    cups chocolate chips
1    cup roasted macadamia nuts



1.    Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground pecans.
2.    Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs.
3.    Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and combine well.
4.    Fold in chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
5.    Drop spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Yields 50 to 60 cookies.


Use a small, spring-loaded cookie or ice cream scooper.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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