poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


Magnificent, Easy-Peasy Green Beans

I still have a couple of Mendocino posts to write, but I had to post this recipe for sautéed green beans ASAP because it’s that good.

Now, I’ve only ever cooked green beans once before, and that was when I decided to make “dry-fried green beans,” aka the delicious green bean dish they serve at Chinese restaurants, usually with some finely diced shallots and sometimes with a bit of ground pork. Well, the ugly truth (and perhaps you might want to stop reading here) is that those green beans are so good because they’re fried not once, but twice. First, they are deep-fried, then they are stir fried in a ton of oil. After that slightly traumatic experience, I haven’t revisited green beans… that is, not until yesterday.

Originally, I was going to cook brussel sprouts as one of the veggie side dishes to a roast chicken (more on that later). However, the brussel sprouts looked downright heinous at the market, so I opted for the green beans. I kinda made up the recipe as I went along, and they turned out wonderfully. I happened to have drippings from the roast chicken on hand, which probably made them that much better, but really you could substitute with chicken or veggie stock instead of water and they’d be pretty good too (and healthier to boot!). Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Magnificent (and super easy) green beans


  • olive oil or animal fat (pancetta, bacon, roast chicken drippings), 2 Tbsp
  • green beans, 1 lb, top and tailed (i.e., remove the tips)
  • water or stock (~1/2 to 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • lemon juice (optional)


  1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan.
  2. Add green beans, stir for about a minute.
  3. Add salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic.  Stir and let garlic cook for a bit (until fragrant but before it burns).
  4. Add water or stock, bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and steam for ~6 min or until most of the water has evaporated, or until green beans are to desired texture. Add more water if necessary.
  6. Turn off heat. Finish with a sprinkle of lemon juice.

As mentioned above, I roasted a chicken, which I haven’t done in a while. I think the first time I roasted a chicken, it was so complicated (and I burned it), that it intimidated me a little bit. But since then, I’ve regained my confidence and a most excellent, simple recipe for roast chicken from EF. Seriously all it is is this: Wash and dry the bird. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on the skin and then bake at 450F until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. I put a LOT of kosher salt on the skin and it was darn tasty. Oh yeah, EF also mentioned a tip from an old friend about roasting chicken: if your kitchen gets smokey, then you’re doing it right. My kitchen got so smokey that the fire alarm went off twice, after which we took out the battery. (Don’t worry, we replaced it after lunch!) So, I guess it was a successfully roasted chicken!

The other side dishes were also exceedingly simple yet tasty (notice a trend here?). I made the Near East brand of tomato and lentil couscous, which was fantastic. I love their couscous, and I wish they made them in bigger packages/servings. The other dish I made was roasted sweet potato “fries,” which I put in quotes because they aren’t crispy like fries but I did cut them into strips. I would’ve liked to make them more crispy, but I ended up burning the first batch, due to the high oven temp (450). Usually, I roast veggies at 400 and not on the lower rack, but this time I had no choice. They still came out great; we just ate the unburnt bits.

One of the best meals I've ever made (yes, I'm quite proud of myself!)



Sunday Night Dinners: My First Roast Chicken

When I came across this roast chicken recipe on Chez Pim, I was overwhelmed by the desire to make it. No, I’ve never roasted a chicken, and yes, I was slightly intimidated. But really, how hard could it be? Armed with a meat thermometer and a free range chicken in tow, I set out to make my very first roast chicken.

Stuffed with garlic and lemon, rubbed with butter, and ready to go into the oven!

Since roasting a whole animal seemed like a very domestic thing to do, I decided to dress the part too. I donned a 1950’s style shirt dress that I got from my sister. (If only I had a petticoat to wear under the skirt!) My guests, A, the talented and fashionable blogger at fitforafemme, her wife M, and JA all obliged my request to dress 1950’s style. It was really fun!

To start, JA concocted a delicious cocktail: champagne (Prosecco, actually), gin, and cran-apple juice, garnished with a wedge of lime. Then we moved on to the persimmon, curly endive, and radicchio salad from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. Even though the salad was beautiful and the first few bites were quite good, it quickly gained a strange texture on my teeth and tongue. It was like something weird was growing on my teeth and I wanted to lick it off. So weird! I couldn’t tell if it was due to the different variety of persimmon I used — the recipe calls for fuyu persimmons, but Berkeley Bowl was only selling hachiya persimmons at the time. My other guess was the radicchio. In any case, I’m not tempted to try this experiment again.

So pretty yet so sad.

The roast chicken turned out quite good, though the winter veggies roasting underneath didn’t fare as well. Due to the low cooking temperature, the chicken was in the oven for a long time, resulting in singed vegetables. Luckily for us, a few veggies escaped scalding — the pieces right underneath the bird ended up caramelized and tasty. As for the recipe, I followed it mostly, except that I cut back on the amount of butter (about 1/4-1/2 stick). It resulted in super flavorful meat — great for sandwiches! But crispy skin? As noted on the recipe, not so much.

Chicken basting, action shot!

Out of the oven, almost done. Looking good!

The carved chicken, with a side of burnt veggies.

To end things on a sweet note, A&M brought over a box of sumptuous cookies from Anthony’s in SF. We had tea and coffee and laughed as A tried to tempt my scaredy cat Sasha from his hiding place under the couch. What a great evening!

What's in that box? Only the best cookies ever.


Roasted beet and corn salad

Beets: you either love them or hate them. Or, like me, you were scared of them for a really, really long time and finally got over your irrational fear of their vibrant color and tried one or two… and decided that they are AWESOME.  Beets are starchy (but not mushy), sweet, and have a very distinctive, earthy taste. They are also very nutritious, full of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

Despite my new-found appreciation for beets, I had never cooked them… until recently!  Last month, for a coworker’s baby shower, I decided to roast beets for a beet, blood orange, and mache salad with homemade vinaigrette.  (It was really good, but I don’t have any photos unfortunately.) I found that even though roasting beets is super easy, it does takes a little bit of time.  All you have to do is trim the greens off the top (about 1/2 inch), scrub the beets clean, put them on a pan with a splash of water, seal tightly with aluminum foil, and roast at 400F for one hour.  Then let them cool (very important!) for about 20-30 minutes before you peel and cut them up. And VOILA! Tasty beets, right at your fingertips.

Since my first roasted beet experience was overwhelmingly positive, I decided to venture forth and make a roasted beet and corn salad. I got the idea for this combination from a Berkeley eatery that closed about 2 years ago (RIP, Bake Shop).  They had great salads, and even though they served the beets and the roasted corn salad separately, I think I had both at one sitting and thought it was great.  I did some research, and altered an online recipe to fit my tastes/preferences. Without further ado, here it is:

Roasted beet and corn salad -- a great summer side dish!

Roasted beet and corn salad -- a great summer side dish!

3-4 beets (about 1-1.5 lbs)
2 cups frozen corn (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Sweet Corn)
Olive oil
2 Tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Roast beets, as described above. After cooling, peel and dice beets.
2. While beets are roasting or while they are cooling, roast the corn. Coat the frozen corn with olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet or roasting pan, and roast at 400F for 15-20 minutes.
3. When beets and corn have cooled to room temperature, combine them in a medium/large bowl with the parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, and shallot.  Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve room temperature or chilled.

As delicious as it is, roasted beet and corn salad does not a meal make. I had some sprigs of rosemary leftover from earlier in the week, so I co-opted the rosemary to make roasted potatoes. I like red creamer potatoes because they are tiny and cook quickly. Plus they are so cute!

Getting a little roast-happy: roasted beets, corn, AND potatoes!

Getting a little roast-happy: roasted beets, corn, AND potatoes!