Eat This While You Read That: Bokerah Brumley

 

Bokerah’s got a new book out, and what better way to explore her book about searching for a lost book than by sitting down, reading, and munching tabouli (tabbouleh? So many spellings!). Grab a copy of The Book of Power, and get ready for dragons, jinns, and a search for a book that may be more trouble than it’s worth… 

And while you are preparing this meal, you can start reading, because there are rest points. This is a slow food experience, but totally worth it. And some of it can be prepped ahead. When I asked Bokerah for a dish, she suggested that as one of the characters in The Book of Power is from the Med, I do a Mediterranean meal: Gyros and Tabouli. 

Sometimes, I think authors conspire with my hubs to make him happy. Although I wasn’t sure (and neither was he when I asked) he’d ever had Tabbouleh (Tabouli!) before. Didn’t matter. I love the stuff. However, on a low-carb diet, the bulgur wheat that makes up the body of this salad presents a challenge. So I contemplated recipes, and ideas, and came up with a great version that won’t break your carb budget (and you can always make this the traditional way). 

You’ll want to start with the Gyro meat, though, and the pita bread if you’re going to make that from scratch. I used Naan I’d made a while back, and frozen. With only three of us in the house any more, and one not eating bread, that’s proven useful in prepping ahead and not wasting food. 

For the Gyro meat, I don’t have a rotisserie, nor plan on getting one. I did a version of Alton Brown’s recipe, but with a couple of my own alterations… and it didn’t come out as well as the last time I made it. A small thing. Or rather, a weighty thing. 

First, since this is already too long, the recipe: 

Gyro Loaf

 1 lb ground beef (or stew meat)

1 lb lamb (ground or bits)

1 small onion

3 tbsp fresh marjoram (1 tbsp dry)

1 tbsp dried rosemary (3 tbsp fresh)

1 tsp salt

Ground black pepper to taste

First, grate or chop onion (I used my food processor all through this recipe). Transfer the onion to a sieve, salt it, and press with rubber spatula after a few minutes. Alton likes to do this by squeezing in a tea towel. From experience, unless you have a towel you are willing to designate the ‘onion towel,’ don’t do this.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Prepare a greased loaf pan, and a larger pan to be a Bain Marie.

While your onion is draining, pulse the herbs, then half the meat with them, in the food processor. I said you could use bits of meat, and this is why. You are going to do unspeakable things to this meat.

Pulse the meat until it is a paste. Remove, do the same with the other half of the meat, and your drained onions. Then mix them until the herbs are distributed evenly throughout.

 Pack your meat paste into the greased loaf pan, nice and smooth on top. Here is an important step I couldn’t do, but it matters: cook the loaf with a weight on top. I used to keep a foil-wrapped brick in the kitchen. The brick has gone awol. This loaf came out crumbly, since I didn’t weight it until after baking.
Put the larger pan in first, with a cup or two of water in, then put the loaf pan in the Bain Marie. Bake at 300F for 65-70 minutes. Remove from oven and drain liquid, then allow it sit under weight for at least ten minutes.
Slice thinly, and serve on pita bread (or any flatbread) with tzatziki sauce if desired.

I served ours with a simple relish made of pickled radishes, grated. It was really good!

And for the side dish, a low-carb version of Tabouli: this salad is usually made with soaked bulgur wheat. I’m not able to eat that now, and couldn’t find it locally so I could prep two versions. So I just went all the way my way.

Tabouli

Two bunches of parsley (substantial ones. Flat or curly will work)

One small head cauliflower

1 small tomato

1/2 a cucumber (or, you know, all of it)

3 green onions

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

2 lemons

Roughly 1/3 c olive oil

1 tbsp dried mint (not peppermint)

2 tsp salt

Roughly 4 oz crumbled feta cheese

First, finely chop the tomato and cucumber, sprinkle with half the salt and allow to stand in a sieve and drain for about a half hour.

In a food processor, chop parsley very finely. Remove most of the stems, but you don’t have to be picky about it, they add flavor and processing makes them unnoticeable.

Grate the cauliflower, raw. I used my food processor and cut most of the stems off prior to grating.

Toast the walnuts for 10-15 min at 350, or while the gyro loaf is baking for about 20 min. They should be chopped. Toss the remaining salt with them.

Chop green onions finely.

Mix together the juice of the lemons, the equivalent amount of olive oil, and the dried mint.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and fold together until homogeneous. Taste, and add another lemon plus equal olive oil if desired (the dressing is usually light, not at all wet).

Serve topped with crumbled feta.

It was a delicious meal. Well worth the time, and besides, with a time you can relax and read while you are waiting in between steps! The First Reader enjoyed the salad, and wants me to try in the classic way soon. We both agreed the toasted walnuts were a great addition. Will do that again.

The gyros were tasty, even if the texture wasn’t quite right. And that pickled radish relish! Well, it’s happening again.

If you’d like to explore more book-and-food pairings, check out the ETWYRT listing of seventy-odd recipes. And go get Bokerah’s books!


Comments

6 responses to “Eat This While You Read That: Bokerah Brumley”

  1. Without diving into the rabbit hole known as Google, I think the “tabbouleh” spelling is Persian or Farsi, and the Tabouli is some other language — possibly Arabic.
    Persian names and vocabulary strikes me as being heavy on the “eh” vowel combination.

    1. Seems reasonable. I know I’ve seen it spelled multiple ways. Likely there are as many variations on the recipe, at least!

      1. I’d say at least as many variations as there are cooks. I made a batch using two different kinds of parsley — Italian flat leaf and curly. I topped it with grape tomatoes cut in half.
        I’m wondering if chopped nuts might sub for the wheat, both for the low-carb and the gluten-free crowds. Pine nuts, perhaps?

        1. I used chopped toasted walnuts in this to add the nutty flavor. One recipe called for sunflower seeds, but I wanted something more nutty.

  2. I can’t eat commercial gyro meat–it contains wheat, to which I have developed an allergy. THIS is something I could eat. I am looking forward to trying it.

    1. Great! It was good, even if the texture was wrong. I need to find a baking weight (no bricks at the new house LOL) to do it properly.