Shawarma. What is Shawarma? That was the question I was asking after watching The Avengers last battle scene where Iron Man and the Avengers save the world and go out to eat shawarma.

Tony: Alright. Hey. Alright. Good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it.”


Of course, I immediately grabed my phone and found the nearest place where I could get some shawarma.  Not only out of curosity, but I also happened to be starving after watching a nearly 2 1/2 hour movie without any popcorn. I found out that Shawarma is a kabob style grilled meat with salad inside a flat bread, created by a man from Turkey.  Similar to Greek gyros.  It can be made with chicken or lamb, and piled with assorted vegetables or just pickles and it is so tasty.

With the warmer weather and to celebrate the new movie  “Avengers: Age of Ultron”  we will be setting up our movie screen outdoors to watch the first Avengers movie. Several of our family and friends who are huge Avengers fans will be joining us for a great night of Turkish food and Superheros.

Have fun watching the trailer, and check out recipes for some flavorful dishes including Shawarma.

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction.  by Derek Anderson –

The movie will be in theaters May 1st. Here is a sneak peek. See you at the movies.



Shawarma with Chicken, Tomato Cucumber Relish and Tahini Sauce

Shawarma with-Chicken-Tomato-Cucumber-Relish-and-Tahini-Sauce


Chicken Shawarma:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, grated
6 pieces skinned and deboned chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch strips (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Tomato Cucumber Relish:
2 tablespoons quality olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 small red onion, minced
Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tahini Sauce:
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Four 6-inch store-bought white pita pockets
Olive oil


For the shawarma: Mix the cumin, paprika, allspice, chili powder and garlic together. Place the chicken inside a resealable plastic bag with the olive oil. Add the spice mixture and rub in until fully incorporated. Seal that bag and place it into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

After marinating, use the skewers to pierce the pieces of chicken through the center. Slide the pieces down leaving enough room for you to hold the skewer, about 3 pieces of chicken per skewer. Continue this process until chicken is all skewered. Sprinkle with salt and place on a hot oiled grill top for 4 minutes per side, or 8 minutes total.

For the relish: Mix the oil, vinegar, oregano, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, onion, parsley and some salt and pepper.

For the tahini sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt.

To serve, fill the pitas with the grilled chicken and serve with the cucumber relish and tahini sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro

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Zucchini Salad with Yogurt and Walnuts



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 zucchini, grated
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

I love this salad dip with pita chips.


1.           Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Cook and stir the grated zucchini for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

2.           Mix the zucchini with the yogurt and walnuts, and season with salt and pepper.


Turkish Rissoles

Turkish Rissoles   Photography by Louise Lister

These meatballs are so flavorful with the combination of meats and the addition of cumin and paprika. Yum!


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 small eggs


1.           Place the lamb, beef, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and tomato paste in a large bowl. Do not mix together; simply set aside.

2.           Place onions and garlic into a blender. Blend, and slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture has a paste-like texture. Add the chopped parsley to the onion paste and blend for 5 seconds.

3.           Pour the onion paste into the bowl with the meat mixture. Knead the mixture lightly with clean hands. Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture. Crack the eggs into a small bowl; add them to the meat mixture and knead lightly to combine. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow flavor to develop, then knead lightly once more to be sure that all ingredients are well combined.

4.           Take a small handful of the meat and place it in the palm of your hand. Close fingers around meat to shape gently into small balls, then press the meatball lightly between palms to form a patty. Place on a large plate. Repeat this process until all of the mixture has been formed into patties, using plastic wrap to separate layers of patties. Cover the plate with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

5.           Preheat the oven’s broiler and set the oven rack at about 3 inches from the heat source. Line a pan with aluminum foil and arrange rissoles 1/2 inch apart in the pan. Broil rissoles 3 inches from the heat source until deep golden brown on both sides, turning only once.

Serve the meatballs with toasted flat bread, lemon wedges and veggie bulgar salad. Recipe follows.


Veggie Bulgur Salad (Kisir)                                                                                   

Veggie Bulgur Salad (Kisir)                                        tumblr_nmq1xe4geJ1r9pt1so1_500 (1) copy

This salad is incredible, and the pomegranate molasses is addictive.


  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 7 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (recipe follows)


1.           Place the bulgur in a bowl; stir in the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

2.           Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the chopped onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

3.           Drain the bulgur and return it to the bowl. Add the cooked onion, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green and red bell peppers, green onions, parsley, mint, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, and the pomegranate molasses. Toss gently until the salad is thoroughly combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.


Pomegranate Molasses


  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice


1.           Bring the pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the juice has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour. Stir the molasses frequently as it thickens to keep it from burning. When the molasses is done, allow it to cool to room temperature, then pour into a glass storage container, and keep in the refrigerator.


Aromatic Zahtar with Feta cheese and Tomatoes on Puff pastry

Aromatic Zahtar with Feta cheese and Tomatoes on Puff pastry

I love this puff pastry recipe. It’s a rich, creamy, packed with flavor,  pizza like dish that’s easy to make.

Serves 4 -6

Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes                                               Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 320 gr / 11 oz. puff pastry (350mmx 230mm)
  • 15ml/ 1 tbsp. natural thick yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. zahtar blend
  • ½ tsp. Turkish red pepper flakes (I used regular red pepper flakes)
  • 200gr / 7 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, coarsely sliced

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F

If using frozen puff pastry, let the pastry thaw completely, either overnight in the refrigerator or for 45 minutes at room temperature, before using it. If you are using fresh puff pastry, take out from the fridge 10 minutes before using and remove from its carton. To prevent sticking, unroll the pastry on a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin.

Combine the crumbled (you can mash the cheese with a fork) feta cheese, greek yogurt, olive oil, zahtar and red pepper flakes in a bowl and mix well.

Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the puff pastry sheet. Spread the zahtar & feta mixture evenly over the top and decorate with the sliced tomatoes. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry starts to turn golden and cooked thoroughly.

Serve the pastry warm immediately.

 Zahtar Blend:

The exotic Zahtar blend is deliciously tangy, nutty and herby. This aromatic blend adds a lot of flavor when marinating meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Zahtar blend is also wonderful in savory pastries and bread, as well as in dips:

  • 1 tbsp. wild oregano or marjoram (or regular oregano, if the wild version not available)
  • 1 tbsp. ground, cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground sumac
  • ½ tbsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground pistachio (I shelled some pistachios and ground them up in my spice grinder)
  • 1 tsp. salt (please adjust to your taste)
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Store zahtar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, zahtar can be used for a good couple of months.

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              Soldier Buttons and Turkish coffee                                                                                                                                 95887317b cookies

Can’t have an Avengers Shawarma party without dessert.  I found this easy recipe similar to thumbprint cookies, but are softer and are perfect with a rich cup of Turkish coffee.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves


1.           Mix together flour, confectioners’ sugar, butter or margarine, egg, and vanilla.

2.           Shape dough with your hands to 1 1/2 inch rounds, and place on greased cookie sheets. Press your finger in the middle, and fill each hole with jam.

3.           Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned.


 Turkish coffee


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of extra finely ground coffee (powder consistency)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1 cardamom pod
  • sugar (optional) (I like a little sweetness so I add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar).


Bring water and sugar to a boil in ibrik. If you do not have an ibrik, a small saucepan will work.

Remove from heat and add coffee and cardamom.

Return saucepan to heat and allow to come to a boil. Remove from heat when coffee foams.

Again, return to heat, allowing to foam and remove from heat.

Pour into cup, and allow to sit for a few minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cup.[nt][nt]Cardamom pod may be served in cup for added flavor.

Turkish Coffee Tips

Turkish coffee must always be served with foam on top.

If you can’t find finely ground Arabic coffee, you can purchase a bag of coffee at any coffeehouse and ask them to grind it for Turkish coffee. You need to have a powder-like consistency.

Do not stir after pouring into cups; the foam will collapse.

Always use cold water.

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