Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Flattened Chicken with Shallot and White Wine Sauce

This recipe appeared me to me in google reader via seriouseats and it seemed like something I could pretty much throw together when I got home as I had almost all of the ingredients. This was my first experience with any kind of cutlet or tenderizing of meat, and I have to say, it was a techique i will be revisiting. It was fairly simple way to prepare the chicken, and very very tasty.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium shallot, minced
6 tablespoons chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Recipe modifications: I wanted to only use ingredients I had on hand so I had to make a few substitutions. The oil I used was Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I didn't have any shallots, so I used a small piece of a white onion instead, I didn't have any true chicken broth so I used a bouillon cube dissolved in water for the stock, and I used dry thyme (crushed lightly in mortar and pestle) instead of fresh thyme.

  • 1. Remove the tenderloin if it is still connected to the chicken breast. Cut the breast in half horizontally. Repeat with the other breast. You'll have four cutlets.

I highly recommend you use high quality chicken breast for this recipe. The low quality (Roundy's) chicken I was using fell apart very easily, and had a lot of ugly yellow fat that I had to cut away. I won't be using that brand again. It will make the cutting easier, as well as improve the taste.

  • 2. Tear off two large pieces of plastic wrap. Smear a teaspoon of oil in between the pieces. Lay a breast in between, then pound with a mallet or a large pot until the meat is about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the other four cutlets

I also incorporated the salt, pepper and some thyme before tenderizing the meat. Since I don't actually own any kind of tenderizer I used the bottom of my marble mortar and pestle. It worked just fine. I ended up with nice thin cutlets.

  • 3. Season the 4 cuts with salt and pepper. Pour 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, place two of the cutlets in skillet and cook for two minutes. Flip and cook for 15-30 seconds, or until firm to the touch. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Cook the other two fillets in the same way.

I was pretty dubious about the whole "cook for 2 minutes" thing, as normally chicken takes a lot longer.. but these should be thin enough where 2 minutes really does cook them through. I added more salt, pepper, and thyme at this stage.

  • 4. Remove the skillet from the heat, and add 1 teaspoon of oil and the shallot. Cook the shallot with the residual heat of the skillet for about 30 seconds. Return to the medium-high heat and pour in the white wine and chicken broth. Scrap the skillet with a pair tongs to dislodge the brown bits on the bottom. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.
  • 5. Add the butter, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, to the skillet. Stir until incorporated and add more butter. Sprinkle in the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  • 6. Plate the chicken pieces and pour the sauce on top.
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I served this along side brown rice, green beans, and Albarino Burgans white Spanish wine - and the sci-fi channel's version of Frank Herbert's "Dune".

Taste: 9/10 - this was absolutely delicious, the chicken was extremely tender, and the crushed thyme really gave it a wonderful flavor. Even without the wine sauce I'm sold on this method of chicken preparation, and will explore more tenderized recipes. The white wine sauce was excellent, and would be even better with the recommended shallots and real chicken broth.

Ease of preparation: 6/10 I would say this took me an hour to fully prepare, but I was also preparing the side dishes so your mileage may vary. It was the first time I had ever worked with cutlets also, and it could no doubt be done more efficiently. Overall all though, very few ingredients are required, and most of the ones that are will be staples of most people anyway. Feel free to substitute Dune for the sci-fi original series of your choice.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Homemade Pizza

I threw this together this morning because I was curious as to how well the basic master bread recipe I use would hold up as pizza dough. I'm not even going to include a detailed recipe because everyone knows how to make pizza, right? Basically I took the standard 1 lb. french boule dough, rolled it out into something resembling a circle, topped it with tomato sauce, crushed dry basil and oregano, pepperoni, and colby jack cheese (this was leftover pizza). I was trying for a thin to moderate crust pizza, but it kind of exploded into a deep dish.

Total preparation time ~ 10 minutes. I cooked it on super parchment, on my baking stone for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

The high moisture dough of the french boule is fairly hard to work with, and you need to flour your pizza peel, and the top of the dough heavily or its going to stickto the rolling pin and everything else. It also rises fairly high even if you keep it thin, and roll out the existing air pockets. It's certainly not ideal pizza dough, but it was delicious...delcious, much better than I expected from a throw together pizza using spare near-expired ingredients. I'm sure with a few modifications you could make truly amazing pizza with the basic boule dough.

7/10 - Absolutely will make again.

Coriander-Orange-Scented Red Lentil Soup

I made this over the weekend knowing that I could probably get through the work week on the leftovers. Also i had a day old loaf of bread on the counter and really wanted something to soak up with it. This recipe is out of "How to Eat Supper".

Fresh Coriander
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 Medium onions - chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and fine chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
Zest and juice of 1 orange
One 14 oz. can of vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups red lentils
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
2/3 to 1 cup additional orange juice

Recipe modifications: The store didn't have any fresh coriander, so I had to do without. They also didn't have any red lentils, so i had to settle for green - small change overall I think, though it kind of invalidates the name. Oh I also used more garlic, but then garlic is awesome and I always use more garlic.

  • 1. Wash and dry the bunch of Coriander. Cut off bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stems and chop them fine, set aside.

  • 2. Generously film the bottom of a 4 quart saucepan with olive oil and heat it over high heat. Stir in two thirds of the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions begin to brown. Blend in the coriander stems, garlic, ginger, ground coriander seed, and the orange zest. Saute for about 20 seconds over high heat or until fragrant. Scrape in bowl and set aside.

Make sure you really grind down those coriander seeds, or they'll show up in the final product. Also be sure to slice the orange zest smaller than I have in that picture.. or you'll have chunks of it visible in the finished soup. I'm sure using a zester or grater would also work, but I've always found it faster to zest with a peeler and then chop it down with a regular knife.

  • 3.Pour the broth, water, lentils, and the remaining onions into the same saucepan. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are nearly tender. Add the sauteed seasonings and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot tightly and simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
I had to simmer this for a lot longer than the 15 minutes on the recipe, I believe it was closer to 25 minutes - and even then the lentils were not fully tender. This may be because of the green lentil substitution.

  • 4. Just before serving, stir in the juice from half a lemon, the juice of the zested orange, and the additional orange juice to taste.
  • 5. Scatter the coriander tops over the soup, serve.

Rating: As I made it (not entirely correctly) I would rate this recipe something like a 5/10. It wasn't a bad recipe, I'm just not entirely sure that lentil soup is my thing (minus an unbelievable pureed lentil soup I had in Baku, Azerbaijan.. I still dream of it). The orange and coriander provides an interesting contrast to the saltiness of the vegetable broth, and the addition of the aromatic spices, garlic and ginger really help this out. I probably wouldn't make this again for myself, but would definiately consider it for vegan guests, or with a few modifications.


Welcome to the Godless Cook! In this blog I hope to explore the often ignored intersection between cuisine, and atheism. We'll delve into the subterranean world of atheist recipes such as atheist food-cake, and the proper preparation and cooking of babies. Okay, just kidding. Actually 90% of my posts will have nothing to do with atheism or politics, and simply be reviews and photos of recipes. However, I'm also an enthusiastic news and political junkie, as well as an atheist who enjoys friendly debate and discussion so I'm occasionally going to have some non-food posts. Consider this fair warning.

While I've done a lot of improvisational cooking in the past, I'm cooking my way through a couple of different cookbooks right now, and most of the recipes that I try will be out of those.
First and foremost it is fellow Minnesotan Lynne Rossetto Kasper's book "How to Eat Supper" which is a wonderful book that I highly recommend amateur cooks purchase, all the recipes I've made from it so far have been fairly easy, delicious and healthy.

Secondly I've been baking bread and making desserts out of the excellent "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by two other fellow Minnesotans Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. With it I've been making wonderful bread, and hardly a day goes by where I'm not either throwing a fresh loaf in the oven, or mixing up another batch to store in the fridge.

With that I'll move on to the recipes.