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Cookbook Review: Tupelo Honey Cafe by Elizabeth Sims w/ Chef Brian Sonoskus

Do you ever pick up a book and find yourself lost in another world...and not snap-to until you hear "mom, Mom, MOM!" somewhere in the distance?  Well, that may or may not have happened (okay, it did) the second I opened the front cover of Tupelo Honey Cafe by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus.  The pages of this book are jam-packed with bright, colorful, tempting photos of not only the food, but also the city and the people and the "experience" that is Asheville, North Carolina.  If my bags were packed (and if we only had that motorhome we always dream about touring the country in), I would have the family walking the streets of Asheville by the time you were reading this.

This book shares "spirited recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen"...but it shares so much more.  The light, welcoming, artistic which the cafe of the same name is located...and the rich history of the town are enough to make any food or travel lover get lost over and over in the 217 pages of this book.

While I have many things on my list of things to make from this book, such as...

Shrimp and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Buttermilk Pork Chops with Creamy Red-Eye Gravy
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Peach Butter and Spiced Pecans
Tupelo Honey Ginormous Biscuits
Macaroni and Gouda Cheese Casserole
Blackened Chicken Pot Pie
Candied Ginger Creme Brulee
Peach Cobbler with Candied Almonds

...okay, this list could literally go on forever.  The first revamped Southern classic that I tried was a version of fried chicken and gravy.   And it was absolutely delicious.  I wanted to pour the gravy in a cup and drink it all by its lonesome.  And the nuttiness of the breading was such a pleasant surprise with each and every bite.
Nutty Fried Chicken with Milk Gravy
makes 6 svgs.

6 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. panko bread crumbs
2 c. roasted and salted mixed nuts
2 c. canola oil I used coconut oil
Milk Gravy (recipe follows)

Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Combine bread crumbs and nuts in a food processor and grind until fine. In a cast-iron skillet, heat oil to 325° F, or until oil is bubbling.  Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in the nut mixture until well coated.  Fry chicken in hot oil for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer chicken to paper towels to drain excess oil.  Serve generously topped with milk gravy.
Milk Gravy
makes 2 c.
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. whole milk
¾ tsp. sea salt, or as needed
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper I added a bit more

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add flour and whisk to combine.  Increase heat to medium and stir mixture constantly for 2 minutes, taking care that mixture doesn't brown.  Slowly whisk in the milk and add salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for !5 minutes, or until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Add black pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Remove from heat and serve, or cool and refrigerate in a airtight container for up to 1 week.

I definitely recommend going out and finding this book.  Rent it, borrow it, covet your neighbors...or better yet, get your own copy.

*I received a copy of this cookbook at no charge from the publisher to review, if I chose.  I received no compensation for this review and the opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.