LEBANESE TREAT: SHAWARMA

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Shawarma with tzatziki1C Shawarma with tzatziki3C

This is shawarma. It’s a Lebanese-style sandwich, an Arabic version of the Turkishdöner kebap. Although very similar to the Greek gyros in the way the meat is cooked, shawarma sauce, ingredients and garnishes are different from gyros.

Today, I’m guest posting for OuR KrAzY kitChEn. My first guest post ever will be short and sweet. I am not an expert in Lebanese cuisine but I ‘ve tasted a lot of shawarma after trying out so many cookbook and online recipes for it so I can say with confidence that the recipe I’m sharing is one of the best so far.

But before I do, let me introduce the recipe by describing my first encounter with authentic Lebanese shawarma. I was at the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel when I espied a crowd of people gathering around a booth. I went closer and from where I was standing, I could see what looked like a tower of meat being roasted. Luscious, tender, thinly sliced beef and lamb seasoned with lemon juice, cumin, allspice, mace and other spices was slowly being grilled in an upright rotating roaster. The meats were stacked neatly in the vertical spit with alternating layers of marinated beef and lamb. Perched like a crown of jewels, a huge tomato and an onion topped the gorgeous stack of golden brown, lightly-charred, juicy meats. The place was perfumed with an irresistible combination of spices, lemon juice and the essence of chargrilled beef. The juices of the onion and tomato dripped down and basted the meat tower The man in charge shaved the meat for each order and placed it on pita bread along with freshly shredded lettuce, beet-colored pickled turnip, parsley, onions and sliced tomatoes. A generous spoonful of creamy, garlic tahini sauce (made of finely ground sesame seeds) was added and the pita bread was folded into a sandwich wrap and handed to me. My first taste was unforgettable. …. this Beef-Lamb Shawarma was absolutely DELICIOUS, moist and very flavorful….and I was nowhere near Lebanon but in the midst of scientific conference in Montreal, Canada!

Since then I’ve been on a quest to recreate that perfect shawarma. None of the recipes I’ve tried before even came close. The recipe I recently found and adapted from The Lebanese Kitchen by Monique Zaarour is not yet perfect but it’s the best so far. Monique tailors it for the Western kitchen by pre-cutting the meat and using a regular oven as it’s almost impossible to have a counter top shawarma oven in North America.

Ingredients
2 lbs beef sirloin, cut into strips (or beef+lamb or chicken)
3 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp allspice (I added a more of this)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp mastic, crushed
1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • Tahini sauce
    5 Tbsp tahini
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup water
    2 garlic cloves crushed
    5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Garnishes
    thinly sliced onions
    sumac
    thinly sliced tomatoes
    finely chopped parsley
  • Mix the seasonings and rub into the steak strips. Marinade the beef for six hours, stirring every hour.
  • Place the seasoned meat in a rimmed baking dish then cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (475 F) for about 40 minutes.
  • Combine tahini sauce ingredients in a food processor and set aside. Pour tahini sauce over the meat and serve on a plate or as a sandwich with shredded letttuce, onions, tomato and parsley. Enjoy!
  • NOTE: My son prefers cheese with his shawarma so I add it even if it is not authentic Lebanese.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – MY YEAR ON THE GRILL with a Vegetable and Cheese GALETTE with Balsamic Vinegar
WHAT AN HONOR, to be invited to be a guest blogger on this wonderful site! I was only introduced to this site last week when Chris from NIBBLE ME THIS hosted the first “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” guest post, and I have really enjoyed everything about it. I love the idea of blogging to begin with, but to have such a group band together to create a whole better than the parts is amazing. Thanks to Tamy and the girls for letting me be a part of this. I called in a couple of favors to thank not only the active participants on the site, but also the readers and followers of the site for something special… A wonderful giveaway contest for one of Oprah’s favorite things… Read on, details about the contest to follow at the end.
My name is Dave, and I am a hairy knuckled neanderthal fire cooker. I love to grill, smoke and use my backyard for entertaining (although the Kansas winter is setting in, so my entertaining is starting to move indoors. My site is called MY YEAR ON THE GRILL, and I certainly invite any and all of you to come take a look by clicking HERE! But today, I am going to abandon my grill and honor all these wonderful bloggers by stepping out of my comfort zone and publish an original recipe I created as part of a dinner party I recently hosted for my wife’s boss. Lots of pressure on making that dinner work (I likened the pressure to hosting your first Thanksgiving for your Mother-in-Law). I did extensive research, found a few ideas, and adapted them to fit my likes and came up with…
Vegetable and Cheese GALETTE
with Balsamic Vinegar
Galette, or more properly Breton galette, a fancy name for flat, round or free form crusty cake. Kind of tart thingies (pretty fancy word for a hairy knuckled Neanderthal, but I was putting on airs for my wife’s boss… and you all).

Here’s what I did…

As always, assemble the ingredients first. Nothing worse than getting ankle deep in the cooking process and finding out you are short something crucial. I needed…

For the Cornmeal Dough, BTW, this recipe makes 4 Galettes.

1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons top quality olive oil
1/4 cup ice water

Combine the ingredients and mix well. The dough needs to be chilled well in order to work for the look you want. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Which gives me time for a commercial about the giveaway contest…
OK, here’s the advertisement for the
giveaway contest to come…
I was recently contacted by O. No, not “that” O, but O OLIVE OIL . O Olive Oil is the original maker of organic CITRUS-CRUSHED Olive Oils and premium Barrel aged Wine Vinegars. I was given a sampling of their extensive product line, and was asked to “PLAY – ENJOY – WRITE/BLOG AWAY”. Well, while waiting for my shipment to arrive, I took a look at their website for details about their company… Oh My is all I can say. These are artists in the art of oil press and aging vinegar. For details, click this link for the process an Abruzzese olive mill that crushed lemons along with the olives creates. From the humble beginnings, they have been recognized by OPRAH (yeah, that O), Bon Appetit, Gourmet, magazines, as well as Good Morning America, The Tyra Banks Show and the New York Times as perfect products! While you can make this recipe with generic products, the top quality artisan products that O OLIVE OIL company provide really made this recipe sing… And keep reading, as you will get a chance to win some of these as well!

I used about a tablespoon of the extra virgin oil to saute sweet onion rings. When using EVO, be careful not to get the oil too hot, or the oil will burn.

I then added some green pepper rings and let these simmer for about 15 minutes to caramelize.

And now, get the dough out of the fridge, and separate into four equal parts. The dough separates easily, and you want a well floured surface to work on. work the dough into small thin circles, about 6 inches across.
Put them on a parchment paper sheet, or a well greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little EVO on the circles, flip over and sprinkle a little more on the other side.

Add the stuffings… For these, I used …

Onion rings Green bell pepper rings sliced cherry tomatoes diced mushrooms(but I saved a presentation mushroom slice to put on the top of each)

Before closing up, I added some grated fresh provolone cheese. I like using provolone to cook with, it not only tastes great but it melts better than most cheeses.

I was making this a vegetarian dish. But you can make the same thing with any number of ingredients, including bacon (everything tastes better with bacon), sausage, peperoni… squash, or any number of vegetable combinations. And as to cheese, imagine brie or goat cheese or fresh mozzarella or how about a good Stilton, blue cheese… This is a very versatile and adaptable for whatever you might have in mind, or what is left over in your pantry.

And now, sprinkle on some wonderful Balsamic Vinegar! I love balsamic, but not all is created equal. I like to have a bottle of really good stuff to use for specialty items or occasions like this.
Next, close up about one inch of the dough all around for that Galette look (instead of a pizza). BTW, I am not a fan of the texture of mushrooms, so I left them off mine (It’s good to be the cook).
Everyone else got that presentation mushroom slice put on the top. I then brushed on a little butter to make sure the edges would stay shut while cooking.
Just as I was putting in the oven, I topped with a little more grated provolone so that it would brown up nicely while cooking…

In a preheated oven at 375 degrees, for 45 minutes…

And Viola! I served this in place of a salad, as an appetizer. You could also make these larger, and if there happens to be a vegetarian in your midst and don’t want to hog tie them and force bacon down their throats, this would make an excellent vegetarian option. Also, as I was serving, I drizzled a little more fresh Balsamic Vinegar on the top, with a little splashing to one side of the tart (maybe a tablespoons worth total per Galette). Nice little extra taste, and for presentation. The holidays are coming up, those inconvenient vegetarians are out there, and need to be treated with the same respect you show your fowl (eating) guests. This is a nice little item to have ready, prep time takes about 2 hours (because of the dough temperature issue), but well worth it.

Bon Apetite!

OK… Contest time…
3 ways to win!
3 prizes to win!!!

I LOVE these products. Quality will show, and I was inspired to create something special with them. O Olive Oil has been very generous in offering not just one gift, but three combinations of their oils/vinegars. So, I will be offering three ways to win…

First, I will be running a similar contest at MY YEAR ON THE GRILL, (which you can reach by clicking HERE)! Follow the link, follow the rules about posting a comment on that site and you double your chances.

Next, on this site, just follow the link I am posting to the O OLIVE OIL HOME PAGE(that you can reach by clicking HERE). Surf around and see what they are all about. take a look at their about us page, and especially enjoy their “crush” page where you can really see the quality and difference they put into their product. Finally, head to their products page and follow the links on the side to see all the different items they have for sale. then come back here and just make a comment about which is your favorite product. Everyone who leaves a comment on this page listing a product that O OLIVE OIL sells will receive an entree into the contest/ I will assign each entry a data base number, and use WWW.RANDOM.ORG to pull a virtual number out of a hat and let you know who won! This contest is open to US and Canada only (sorry to the international readers, but the shipping is prohibitive). You can get a second entree if you become a “follower” to this site (those little pictures of faces at the middle of the lefthand sidebar). If you are already a follower, just drop me that message in the comment section. And finally, if you post a note on your blog advertising OUR KRAZY KITCHEN and the contest, you will receive 5 additional entrees. Be sure to leave a comment so I know to follow and see what your blog is all about!

One more time, here is what the winner wins… a bottle of each of the EVO and Balsamic I used to make this recipe…

O extra virgin olive oil This fine Extra Virgin Olive Oil is our house blend of our favorite oils from around the world. Small family farms from around the Mediterranean and California. Hand blended. Spain for fragrance. Greece for richness. Tunisia for mystery. Italy for love. And California for taste. A house favorite for everyday use. $9

AND a bottle of…

O california balsamic vinegar. The beloved balsamic vinegar, California style. Aged in the traditional way in oak wood. Hand-crafted in small batches right here in Sonoma. Rich, sweet, round & smooth flavor. Our obsession with quality and healthy ingredients led us back to California. Excellent brushed over grilled chicken with rosemary and black pepper. Drizzle over fresh strawberries or pears. Great in vinaigrettes and sauces. $12

Good luck to all!

Oh wait… that’s just two ways to win (comment here, comment on MY YEAR ON THE GRILL, I promised a third…

How about a …

RECIPE CONTEST!

The good folks at O OLIVE OIL COMPANY want to see what you might do with their oils or vinegars. Now, you do not have to list an original recipe, simply comment here a link to something you have posted in the past. It can be a magazine recipe, original or great grandma’s recipe. It can even be just an idea for something you might like to try. I will forward all these ideas to the vice president of O OLIVE OIL and he will decide which recipe he would most like to see made with any of their products. Please leave these comments separate from the comments you made above so I can keep track. The comments must be attached to this post, and are only open to residents of the US or Canada. Again, no need to post the recipe on my comments page, just send me a link to what you have posted previously. If you have not posted, you have a week to post and get the link to me. Or, you can comment with just your idea of what you would like to do with their oils.vinegars. One hint I should pass on from O -remember these are mostly finishing oils and do not do well when heated—the citrus portion tends to dissipate under certain temps. Though our blood orange does well on roasted fowl and grilled seafood so often it depends on the recipe/use. Jalapeno lime does great on grilling veggies so…depends. That’s what makes it fun to experiment. The vinegars, of course, are another thing. They are great for reductions, for punching up soups/stews, adding flavor texture to most any thing. Experiment. Play. Enjoy.Feel free to submit a recipe post on this site AND submit a recipe on my home, MY YEAR ON THE GRILL site. There will be only one recipe contest winner from both sites, but this way you can enter twice to double your chances. If you have any questions, drop me a note. The contest closes at midnight, next Friday, November 13th, and a winner will be announced over the weekend. It will take just a few days longer to announce the winner of the recipe contest…

Oh yeah, the winner of the recipe contest will receive a gift box of your choice of one of the seasonal box collections…

  • fall collection O Zinfandel Vinegar, O Blood Orange Olive Oil, O Porto Vinegar. Imagine roasted beet salads with chunks of insalata ricotta cheese. $38 value
or
  • spring collection O Ginger Rice Vinegar, O Jalapeño Lime Olive Oil, O Citrus Champagne Vinegar. Early spring fish tacos with crunchy slaw will sing with these exotic flavors. Crumble feta cheese in there for the Wow! $38 value
or
  • summer collection O Champagne Vinegar, O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, O Pomegranate Vinegar. Perfect for late summer heirloom tomato & garden lettuces. $38 value
or
  • winter collection O Sherry Vinegar, O Ruby Grapefruit Olive Oil, O Porto Vinegar. The Ruby and Porto in this gift set will dazzle home chefs gathered around warm fires with crusty bread & brie. $38 value

And now… Good luck to everyone! And thanks for letting me come and play on your site… it was fun!