Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I rarely follow recipes when I cook. Even when I’m inspired by a recipe, I improvise massively, and just put in the pan whatever I reach for and think might taste good. We used to say as kids ‘what would happen if …’, so I ask myself if my meal would taste OK, or even better, if I put a little bit of x into y. So, I put all sorts of this and that into what I’m cooking, it turns out pretty delicious (Husband’s words not mine!) and he’s left guessing what’s on his plate.

Rijetko kuham po receptima, a cak I kad kuham inspirirana nekim receptima, masovno improviziram i strpam u recept stogod mi padne na pamet. I znate ono kad se djeca (nekadasnja) zamisle i kazu ‘ŠBBKBB (što bi bilo kad bi bilo…)’ ako dodam X u Y? Tako i ja kad kuham – i  onda ubacim svasta nesto, pa kako ispadne i onda Muz pogadja sto jede!

However, as I mainly cook northern Mediterranean style – which is what I grew up with – I followed this North African recipe pretty much to the letter, especially as The Husband is lurking nearby and he wants it ‘just so’ (although he usually eats whatever he’s served, because he’s absolutely starving from the wait!)

Medjutim, kad znam da nisam bas vicna u receptima nekih drugih zemalja, slijedit cu recept uglavnom kako pise; pogotovo ako je Muz u blizini i ja kuham ovako nesto ukusno, onda je i njemu stalo da se drzim recepta (inace on pojede sto mu se god servira, jer je jadan toliko gladan od cekanja!)

What do you do when you have some lovely fresh organic or preserved lemons, brown or black olives, full spice rack, lots of fresh ginger and coriander in the fridge and the cupboards? This is one of my favourite recipes from my frequently used Mediterranean cookbook I decided to share with you. Thank you to Zubin blog for inspiring me after I emptied some of the dusty corners of my cupboards.

Sto napraviti kad imate friske ili prezervirane limune, crne masline, policu punu zacina, friskog djumbira i korijandar u spajzi? Ovo je jedan od mojih omiljenih recepata iz moje omiljene kuharice koji sam odlucila podijeliti s Vama, inspirirana Zubinim blogom, te praznjenjem spajze i/ili kuhinjskih ormarica.

Chicken with Lemons and Olives
From: Mediterranean Cooking by Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow, Hermes house, 2003
“Preserved lemons and limes are often used in Mediterranean cookery, particularly in North Africa where their gentle flavour enhances all kinds of meat and fish dishes.”
I used the quantities as in the recipe which are enough for 4 people. There were only Husband and I for the evening, but there was plenty of leftovers for some more (light) meals later in the week. We stored the sauce in a glass container separately from the chicken.
So here is the recipe:
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground cinnamon /cimet
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground turmeric /kurkuma prasak
1.5 kg /3-3½ lb (pounds) chicken / kokica
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil /maslinovo ulje za kuhanje
1 large onion, thinly sliced / veci/veliki luk
5 cm /2 in piece fresh root ginger, grated/ naribanog cimeta
600 ml/ 1 pint/ 2½ cups chicken stock
2 preserved lemons or limes, or fresh ones, cut into wedges /ukiseljena ili svjeza limuna ili limeta izrezanog na kriske
75g pitted brown olives – I used pitted black olives in brine in/from a jar / crne/smedje masline bez kostica
15 ml/ 1 tbsp clear honey
60 ml/ 4 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and ground black pepper
Coriander sprigs to garnish
Tbsp = tablespoon
Tsp = teaspoon

LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices-2

Preheat oven to 190°C/ 375F/ Gas mark 5. Mix the ground cinnamon and turmeric in a bowl with a little salt and pepper and rub all over the chicken skin to give an even coating. (Imagine you’re in a beauty salon and you’re giving your chicken a facial with gorgeous smelling creams etc. You’re enjoying yourself immensely with relaxing music and so is your chicken!)

Pregrijte pecnicu na 190°C. Pomijesajte cimet i kurkuma/indijski safran u posudi s malo soli i papra i utrljajte dobro u kozicu po cijeloj kokosi. (Zamislite da kokica lezi kod Vas u beauty salonu dok joj Vi njegujete kozu najdivnijim I najmirisnijim preparatima uz relaksirajucu muziku I u tome uzivate I Vi I Vasa kokica!)

Note: wash your hands REALLY well after chicken facial (handling your chicken) like you would after handling any raw meat or fish. Use forks or other handy utensils for your next step (putting your chicken into the pan) or WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN if you’re doing it with your fingers!
Chicken_facial-2Chicken_facial-1Heat the oil in a large sauté or a frying pan and fry the chicken on all sides until golden. Transfer the chicken to the ovenproof dish.
Add the sliced onion to the pan and fry for 3 min. Stir in the grated ginger and the chicken stock and bring just to the boil. Pour over the chicken, cover with lid and bake in the oven ‘sunbed’ for 30 min.

Zagrijte ulje u tavi i isprzite kokicu na svakoj strani dok ne pozlatni. Prebacite tako zapecenu kokicu u tepsiju. Dodajte narezani luk u tavu i przite/kuhajte 3 min. Dodajte naribanog (ili sitno nasjeckanog) djumbira i kokosju juhu (kocka rastopljena u vodi) i promijesajte. Kuhajte dok ne prokljuca. Maknite s ‘plamena’, prelijte preko kokice, poklopite posudu / tepsiju (moze i s aluminijskom folijom, ako Vam je tepsija otvorena) i strpajte sve u pecnicu (citaj solarij!) na 30 min.
Tanned_chickenAdded_ginger Chicken_bath_prepChicken_se_toca
Remove the chicken from the oven and add the lemons or limes, brown olives and honey. Bake uncovered for 45 more minutes, until the chicken is tender.

Izvadite kokicu iz pecnice, dodajte limun ili limet (zeleni limun) izrezan ‘na barcice’, crne masline i med. Pecite nepokriveno jos 45 min dok kokica ne omeksa.

Lemon_honey_olives_cry-faceOven_stage1

IMPORTANT:
To check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, use a skewer or a knife and pierce deeply through the thickest part of the meat (needs most/ longest cooking). If the meat is thoroughly cooked, the juices will run clear, NOT PINK. You can also use a thermometer. When the temperature reaches 75°C, it is thoroughly cooked.

VAZNO: Provjerite da je meso dovoljno peceno cistim nozem ili vilicom, ubodite u najdeblji dio mesa/kokice. Ako je ‘sok’ bistar, a NE roskast ili svijetlo crvenkast, meso je dovoljno kuhano. Ako imate ‘termometar za kuhanje’, opet ubodite kokicu u najdeblji dio, gdje bi temperatura trebala doseci 75°C ili vise.

Oven_stage1_results

Stir in coriander and season to taste. Garnish with coriander sprigs and serve at once. I usually have couscous, bulgur wheat, rice or boiled potatoes, and green beans or peas with it, but obviously you can eat it however you like. Buon appetite!
Coriander_spices-3Oven_stage-2_resultsUmijesajte nasjeckani korijandar. Zacinite i dodajte malo korijandara na vrhu po zelji. Servirajte odmah. Ovakvu kokicu najcesce jedem uz kuskus, rizu, bulgur ili kuhani krumpir. Sto se tice povrca, grasak ili mahune ili sto god mislite da bi islo uz to. Ako Vam se ne jede povrce uz ovaj recept ne morate, kako god Vam pase. Dobar tek! 🙂

Serving_suggestion

If the whole chicken is too much for one mealtime, separate the remaining meat from the bones and put the meat and sauce in separate airtight containers in the fridge. I prefer a glass bowls or jars with good lids, but plastic boxes will also work – or whatever else you have. Store the meat and sauce in the fridge as soon as they have cooled. I eat my chicken leftovers within 3 days.

SAFETY:

Surfaces: clean well before and after, use separate surfaces for meat and other types of food.
Tools: knives, cutting boards etc. – use separate ones for meat and veg.
Amounts / aliquots of sauce to reheat: aliquot it before reheating. Make sure it’s reheated thoroughly (reheat the daylights out of it!). Same for the chicken, reheat only once. So, only reheat what you will eat.

What are your favourite lemon recipes (I don’t mean baking with lemon)? Have you tried this or similar recipes? Share your experience of cooking with lemons!

Koji su Vasi omiljeni recepti s limunom? Kuhate li s limunom (ne mislim na pecenje kolaca) ili samo koristite limunov sok? Podijelite Vasa iskustva i/ili eksperimente!

Food for Thought

Like many people, I have a few extra kilos. Between 2010 and 2012, I ‘collected’ some more and reached about 70kg. And I’m a fairly small person (163 cm). So I could really feel gravity at work, pulling my stomach, bottom and lower back towards the ground. Of course the extra kilos don’t ever go where I would want them to – on my boobs. I had a bit of a backache (lower back) and my shoulders were slouching. I looked pregnant and definitely wasn’t.

In fact, in 2011, while on holiday, I met a lovely and friendly hotel maid – a Serbian lady working far from home to provide for her family. We chatted nicely on a few occasions. She once congratulated me and asked when I was due. As in: when do I expect my baby to be born… So I smiled widely from ear to ear, waved my hand and just said: “Oh, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat!” She was embarrassed, but I really wasn’t offended and thought it was really hilarious. We had a good laugh together at my expense. You mustn’t take yourself too seriously. Trust us Balkans to think something and come right out and say it! *laughs loudly and snorts by accident* They do it in a more subtle way in the UK, but that was one priceless moment I will treasure forever. I was giggling for the rest of the day. (This really DID happen.)

But, all jokes aside / šalu na stranu. My wardrobe was half full of clothes I couldn’t fit into (not past my thighs, anyway), and the other half was filled with clothes I was nearly bursting out of (my intestines and stomach felt awkwardly displaced). So, you can imagine the hubby’s reply to I need some more clothes: “But you have sooooooo much to wear!!!” And I was looking only at my face in the mirror.

I still kept thinking about my Dad (died in 2010). And my uncle, his non-identical twin died (2005). And pancreatic cancers that killed them before time. And how excessive weight around my vital organs isn’t helping my prospects….

1961 Michelin Guide to France

1961 Michelin Guide to France

Walking up the stairs, felt like climbing the north face of the Eiger. I had to stop halfway up and have a rest. I was out of breath. I was tired and sluggish for various reasons, but my extra Michelin tyres didn’t help. I kept saying that I really want to lose some weight and get fit and healthy. And no fad dieting. I had to do it right. I knew I had to be in it for the long haul. Not like very familiar words of somebody I know well: “Od sutra sam na dijeti (I’m on a diet from tomorrow)!” I used to hear that often in my childhood.

All of you know that diet is serious stuff. And I don’t mean the fad (a few weeks/months) diets that don’t really solve anything and can even make things worse. Food we put into our mouths affects so many things, starting from our digestion, immunity, mood changes (friendly, with unpredictable doses of ‘THE BITCH has arrived!!!!’), hair, skin and nails, concentration, body odour… I could go on forever…. It’s about my life and my lifestyle, not a fashion trend of size zero and heroin chic.

And it all starts in the head. With your brain and thought processes. Because, if you want a change to be permanent and transform your life, you have to come up with a really god strategy that works for you. You have to know yourself, your faults and your strengths, your habits, emotions, reasoning and above all you have to be honest with yourself. You have to love yourself and forgive yourself, because you’re only human.Why we eat

Over the years I’ve watched a lot of health programmes on telly, something that probably help me gain my tyres in the first place! But it’s not as simple as that, as I was reminded of a few years ago in a lecture from the ‘obesity clinic people’ in Cambridge <a href="http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www find out this here.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’, ‘http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’);”>http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html

I talked to somebody from where I used to work who went on a diet and lost a lot of weight and looked fantastic. I also talked to another lady who had a surgery done (a gastric bypass, I think). And then I talked to my stepmother-in-law. About all this. And more.

So I took a lot of thoughts from these programmes, and people I knew and started going way back with my food issues. Memories. Feelings. Habits. Adopted and inherited, consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to get to the bottom of my problem and work out a strategy for myself, to change things effectively and change my lifestyle permanently. To be healthier and happier, and hopefully live longer.

 

How and where we eatI asked myself:

  • When and why do I eat? When I’m hungry, thirsty, sad and depressed or bored? Sometimes I feel like I’m hungry, but I’m actually thirsty, so when I have a drink, the hunger feeling goes away.
  • What do I eat on these occasions? Good and healthy stuff or any shit I can get my hands on, like: crisps, chocolates, biscuits and such ‘delicacies’?
  • How do I feel before and while I’m eating? Am I stressed, angry or doing something I shouldn’t be focusing on (like eating at my desk while working on the computer)? How did I feel after I ate? Satisfied for a second and then wanting to binge of my favourite junk? Or do I feel happily full and my appetite sated? What was the benefit of that meal? Comfort, ‘inside hug’ or acquiring nutrients? How long does the ‘happy feeling’ inside me last?
  • How do I eat? Chew slowly and enjoy every mouthful or gobble it up because I’m in a hurry or I do I just eat fast for no reason? Are all my senses employed and enjoying the eating experience?
  • Do I snack and when? Am I keeping it a secret?
  • How varied or boring is my menu? Eating the same stuff during each season?
  • Where do I shop? Supermarkets, markets, health food shops or a bit of everything? (Of course this depends on budget and the availability of shops and foods.)
  • Am I hungry or not when I’m food shopping? I tend to choose a lot of meaty and fishy things if I’m shopping hungry!
  • What are my eating patterns? Do I eat regularly or do I not eat (because I don’t feel like it, for whatever psychological reason) and then binge on something (usually some sugar/salt/ butter loaded junk mentioned above)?
  • What is my food history?
    • And my role models – good and bad? For cooking and eating.
    • What are my memories and earliest experiences? Of certain foods and meals and the atmosphere while eating? Is an unpleasant feeling or memory causing me to avoid some foods or eat only certain types of food and nothing else?
    • What are my traumatic food experiences? Yes, I have those, too.
  • And let’s not forget the all important bowel movement! How often, how much, shape, colour and consistency. I’m not joking. *shrugs shoulders / slegne ramenima and smiles apologetically*
  • And since I mentioned the bowel movement, I shouldn’t leave out the kidneys, either. Am I hydrating myself = drinking enough? Or is my urine concentrated, because the water needs to reabsorb back into the body? (Kidneys are your filters, so make it easy on them and drink enough!)
  • What do I drink and how much? Water, juices (home-made or bought), coca-cola, tea (with or without sugar/honey), fizzy drinks?
  • And how much alcohol you drink and how? Binging some days? (I rarely drink alcohol, so I nearly forgot about that one).
  • What do I buy to eat? Ready meals, tinned food or raw and fresh or frozen ingredients? Or a combination of those?
  • How do I prepare my food? Steam, fry, deep-fry or overcook it until it’s all dead? How much time do I have to prepare it, if any?
  • When and where do I eat breakfast – the most important meal of the day?

What and when we snackWhat we buy and how we prepare it

Answers to the above questions provided me with a wealth of information. I knew what I was dealing with, how I needed to tackle it and approach my lifestyle change and what I needed to change.

If you remember at the start of the post, I said 2012. It’s now 2014 and I’m still at it. I was in a really bad place and shape when I started my lifestyle change. But I didn’t expect miracles. It’s been a long road to recovery. I had my moments of frustration and impatience, but I persisted. I hope your journey and your changes go well. And remember to take small steps. Know your goals. Don’t start your journey with a run and stop halfway through. Be patient. Take your time, making GRADUAL changes, allowing you body to adjust. You will get there eventually. Love your body, the temple of your soul and it will reward you.

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