Wednesday, May 07, 2008

tangerine toad's 'grandma rose’s chicken paprikas'

Perhaps the only one of the Web 2.0 gurus with a traditional advertising background, Alan Wolk, aka tangerine toad, has staked out a distinctive voice for himself with his Toad Stool blog. Billed as a 'frank but fair' look at the ever-evolving social media and advertising scenes, the blog is best known for the series 'Your Brand Is Not My Friend', which deals with the pitfalls established brands make in embracing social media. The wide-ranging appeal of Wolk’s common-sensical approach made waves throughout the blogosphere and helped establish him as one of the go-to guys for social media and Web 2.0.

Prior to 'seeing the light', Wolk was a highly successful creative director who spent years at ‘90s hot shop Anderson & Lembke and went on to start up Atmosphere, BBDO’s digital agency. A New York City native and Stuyvesant High School graduate, Wolk currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and 2 kids, where he doubles as a Little League and basketball coach.

Grandma Rose’s Chicken Paprikas

'My great-grandparents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants and my great-grandmother passed that culinary tradition on to my mother and grandmother, who called everything by an Americanized name. The result was that growing up, I never realized that the “beef stew” I was eating was actually goulash or that the “chicken in a pan” was actually chicken paprikas. (Which is pronounced pup-REE-kash, for those of you into authenticity.)

Pan or paprikas though, it was my favorite meal and one of the first things I ever learned how to cook. It’s actually fairly simple once you get the hang of it and can be done with white meat only or drumsticks only. Now Grandma Rose, who taught me how to make it, was an old-school cook, whose measurement scales veered towards “2 fingers of butter” or “enough water” so I’ve tried to translate that into workable numbers when possible.

The key to successful paprikas though is real Hungarian paprika. This may require a little legwork, but many upscale supermarket chains (e.g. Whole Foods) now sell brands like Pride of Szeged that actually have flavor. This is a big change from my childhood where we’d need to make trips to the (now-defunct) Paprikas Weiss specialty store in the formerly Hungarian Yorkville section of Manhattan’s Upper East Side to get “real” paprika.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Hungarian Sweet Paprika
Hungarian Hot Paprika (optional)
Large-ish yellow onion
Medium size chicken cut up into 8 pieces or 3 breasts cut up into 6 pieces.
Cooking oil (corn, safflower or canola)
Salt & pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:
Pour enough oil into a large fry pan to coat the bottom (start with 2 tablespoons and see where that gets you). Swirl it around so that it’s even and then start heating it up on a medium flame.

1. Peel the onion and slice it against the grain, so that you get thin circular slices. (Do this near an open window or something if your eyes are particularly sensitive to onions the way mine are.)

2. Cut the circles in half

3. Lower the flame under the oil and add about 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika to the oil, stir it around twice and then add the onions, stirring constantly. Add about 3 dashes of salt too.

4. You can cover the pan at this point, but make sure to stir the onions fairly regularly (every minute or two) so they don’t burn and stick to the pan. Cook them slowly. Your goal is to have them turn a translucent orange-ish color.

5. Once the onions are that translucent orange-ish color, it’s time to add the chicken. If the pan seems pretty dry at this point, you can add another tablespoon of oil, stirring it in with the onion mix and letting it heat up first. I like to sear the chicken on each side, which means pressing it into the pan with a wooden spoon, counting out 5-Mississippi and turning it. This lets the juices from the chicken out too.

6. Once the chicken is seared, slowly add water to the pan. Start with a cup of water and pour it in a little at a time, stirring and mixing it in as you go. The goal is to just cover the chicken pieces and so the amount of water you add will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces and the size of your pan. Make sure to mix the onions and paprika in thoroughly.

7. Bring the heat up a little to say 50% until the liquid starts to simmer and then bring it down to maybe 20%. You want the chicken to cook slowly. Cover the pot, but stir and turn the chicken every 5 minutes so that it cooks evenly.

8. After about 20 minutes, uncover the chicken and cook an additional 5 minutes so that the broth thickens.

9. Serve over rice, letting the broth flavor the rice.
Chicken paprikas keeps well in the refrigerator and is often better the next day.'

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

asha treacy's chicken with peppercorns and shredded ginger

Something Indian this week, coutesy of Asha Treacy, Human Resources Advisor for Bucks New University. She blogs about everything and anything at

‘I think this is a great idea, I love cooking so happy to contribute a recipe..

Chicken with Peppercorns and Shredded Ginger

I wasn't sure when I looked at this recipe, thought it may be too much garlic or ginger, but I cooked it for a couple of friends and it went down a treat. It also takes you away from the very traditional curries which is what I was looking for and it's very easy. The secret to a good curry is onions and garlic which really bring out the flavour. If you're not sure about the chillies you can normally tell how spicy they are by their smell, so the stronger the smell the hotter..and don't forget to tailor the ingredients to suit you..not everyone like it's so hot..

You will need...

Serves 6..

1kg chicken joints, skinned
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies
15g fresh ginger, sliced into thin shreds
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1-2 tbsp salt
200ml water
1 tbsp black peppercorn coarsely ground
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp lemon juice
2 handfuls of chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks


10 large cloves, finely chopped
10g fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsb garam masala
1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 1/4 pint of hot water

To marinade the chicken, make the paste with the garlic, ginger, garam masala and chicken stock cube. Pour into a large casserole dish, add the chicken, stir to coat well and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour or as long as possible. I leave mine to marinate all night. Return to room temperature before cooking.

Heat the oil in a non stick saucepan. Add the onions (I use about 3) and cook until they are soft and starting to brown. Add the green chillies (I add about 12-14 fairly spiced chillies). If you are not sure it's best to add less and then increase as you go on. Add the ginger, coriander powder and salt and cook for another minute or so.

Add the chicken with the marinade and sear on all sides for about 3-4 minutes. Add the water and black pepper and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is tender. Sir the pan occasionally, adding splashes of water if necessary.

Increase the heat and stir the chicken for at least 3-4 minutes to reduce the gravy to just a few tablespoons. I prefer to have a bit more gravy than this. Stir in the garam masala, lemon juice and fresh coriander just before serving. Goes lovely with some naan bread, or rice and a bit of salad on the side...and not forgetting the glass of red.. =)

All the best

Asha xx '