So long……

Yeah yeah I know…it has been forever. I , Ray the hypocrite admit that I have been getting on Alyssa’s case for quite some time and saying that she really needs to write the blog as it has been wayyyyyyy too long and people love reading it. So she is back and writing  again, and what a writer she is. I live the adventures with her and can’t believe what an accurate picture she paints in every blog she writes it is the inspiration I take from her blogs to try and scrape together some words in a sentence in the hopes of contributing a little to this major task of writing she has taken ………and with that being said I am hoping to give you the occasional recipe again in the chance that you may try it or at least salivate a little at the thought of it!

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We have been working at Hoopoe here in Spain since the 3rd of July and I would be lying if I said it has been easy. There have been the usual challenges of settling into a new job and figuring out which way the owners like things, some owners are easier than others at the various jobs we have done. On top of that we have figured out how to navigate shopping trips into the local “”big city” with very narrow one way winding streets and apparently no road rules, unless a rule is to drive really slowly, stop on an entrance ramp instead of merge and pass you but on your side of the line and not theirs…..and how to budge our way to the local water fountain and be the “rude tourists” by filling up 120 litres at a time instead of letting them cool theirs necks by splashing themselves with water and I still haven’t mastered the way the older Spanish folk have no problem walking in front of me at the checkout in the local grocery store called Dia or as I call it, hell. I just don’t have the patience for it…all the standing around and chatting in groups in every aisle, every small, cramped “hello, I’ve got a bloody truck load of shopping here, move out of the way ” aisle.

With challenges in mind, I have to admit, the biggest one I have here is writing new menus everyday. We work 5 dinners a week of which 3 are a set 3 course dinner with 2 canapes and the other 2 being a 5 course tapas night. Coming up with new ideas for these menus keeps me up at night……… sometimes it is easier than others, it is however still quite taxing on my aging chef grey matter. I could of course repeat menus which would seriously make my life a lot easier but as a chef (and I am sure Phillis would agree), easy isn’t always best, in fact sometimes “easy” translates into “boring” or even giving up slightly……so I scour the internet, magazine clippings from the fabulous Lavonne (and even scanned clippings from her as well…sorry about the work there Jody) and of course I dig deep into the cobwebbed history of menus past ( I even did floating islands the other day????????what in the world?). My motivation and biggest supporter is of course Alyssa who is always there cheering me on and keeping me inspired. What I do is an aged in practice for me but what she is doing here is something you just can’t learn, she is amazing with the guests and always has a smile ( at least when she is out there with everyone), she takes it in her stride and I wish I could be as big of a cheerleader for her as she is for me. What a trooper!!!

Dinner starts soon, in about an hour and it is a tapas night so I am going to give you a recipe we did recently here. It is a classic, it is tasty as tasty gets….here is Chicken and lemon Tagine!! Enjoy

This is a video we made back in Aze, France (November 2011)— it will take you through step by step of the Tagine recipe:

Fantastic tasty Tagine!!!


Here is the step-by-step recipe recently documented with pictures at Hoopoe Yurt Hotel:

Moroccan Chicken tagine with Lemon and Olives




So the picture above here is a tagine, yep it’s the name of the vessel and the dish you make in it. So you can get these in a lot of cooks stores, if you can’t find one or do not want to spend the money, you can use a deep pan with a tight fitting lid or better still a stainless steel bowl that fits just inside the pan, it is a bit awkward getting the bowl out to check the liquid level but it is a good option.


Spice blend:

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon tumeric

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 large pinch Saffron (optional but also awesome if you use it!)


The rest of it!:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces (or 3-4 lbs of just chicken thighs and legs, the dark meat is more flavorful)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, roughly chopped

The peel from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, cut the peel into thin strips (if you can’t find preserved lemon, use thick skinned fresh lemon)

1 cup green olives, pitted

1 1/2 cup water or stock

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

salt if needed


1 Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for at least one hour in the spices or even better still, overnight.

2 In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown, skin side down for five minutes. (If you are using a clay tagine, you will skip the browning step, heat only to medium heat and use a heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking.) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.

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3 Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and water/stock. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and quite tender. Keep your eye on the liquid level during the cooking process and top of if it gets really low.P7170014











4 Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste.Serves 4 to 6. Serve with couscous, rice, or pilaf rice.


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