Saturday, October 09, 2010

North of the Border Tapas

My friend Jenny Novakovic, who is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and now lives in St. Joseph serves tapas at home when she is entertaining.  And she also teaches classes in makes tapas at Perennial Accents in St. Joseph.  Tapas can be many things – tiny bowls of soup, thin slices of ham drizzle with high quality olive oil, a bowl of olives, a plate of Spanish cheeses, salads or just about anything that can easily be eaten.  Novakovic says that she often just begins cooking with the ingredients she has on hand and then later writes down the recipe of what she has prepared, loves to entertain and finds that tapas are perfect for just that. 

The following are tapas recipes that she created.

Butterflied Prawns in Chocolate Sauce

8 large raw prawns

1 tbsp. rum

About ¼ cup of orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)

½ oz. unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped

1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 small red pepper

Olive oil (about 2 tbsp)

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Seasoned flour (salt and freshly ground pepper)

If the prawns are still with the shells, clean them up and peel making sure that you leave the tails intact. Make a shallow cut down of each prawn and carefully discard the intestinal track (if it’s still there).

Turn over the prawns so the undersides are uppermost, and then carefully split them open from the tail to top using a small sharp knife. Make sure you don’t cut them all the way through
Press the prawns down firmly to flatten them out and coat them with the seasoned flour. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the sherry and orange juice at low heat. When warm, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When hot add the garlic, ginger and pepper over moderate heat for about 2-3 minutes to release flavors then remove from pan and set aside.

Add the prawns (cut-side down) to the pan gently pressing them down so they take the open shape as they cook; cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and pink on the edges. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes

Return the garlic, ginger and pepper you’ve reserved to the frying pan. Pour over the chocolate sauce. Cook for 1 minute turning prawns to cat them into the glossy sauce. Season to taste and serve hot.  


You can remove the prawns from the pan and cook the sauce then serve it on the side as dipping sauce (variation to the dish and helps to keep hands clean!)

Spicy Chicken Wings

 8-10 chicken wings

2 large garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cayenne paprika

1 tsp (or tbsp depending on the desired heat) of cayenne pepper

1 tsp dried Mexican oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

3 limes


Preheat the oven at 350F.

Using a small sharp knife, make small cuts into the chicken wings so they absorb the flavors.  Insert garlic into the meat.  In a plastic bag, stir together the paprika, olive oil, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.

Add the chicken wings and toss together until all wings are coated.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours (if you leave them overnight they really soak the flavors and taste better but if don’t have the time, 1-2 hours should be sufficient).

Place them on a cookie sheet making sure there are no overlaps and bake them for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked, making sure that you turn them around when the top gets crispy.

When ready to serve, squeeze lime on top of the wings.


This dish can be served any time of the year (baked in the oven) but during the summer as a great addition to your barbecue repertoire

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