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Saturday, March 26, 2011

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.


Would you like to comment?

  1. Looks like a great little cookbook Heather. Thanks for the review. And if we ever can afford to buy our dream RV and tour the country, I'll wave when we pass each other on the highway. :-) By the way, that chicken does look fabulous.

  2. This book sounds wonderful! I can only imagine how beautiful the pictures are of the Asheville area. That part of the country is some of the most beautiful countryside around.

    All of the recipes you bookmarked sound great and the nutty fried chicken looks killer.

    P.S. I'm with you on the RV. We've always wanted one too. Maybe by the time we can get one the price of gas will go down so that we can actually drive it!

  3. I love the nuts in that breading! I'm kind of surprised tehy donlt burn, but yours looks beautiful - I'll have to try it out. And the rest of the book sounds fantastic!

  4. Another book to add to my wish list! I love cookbooks that offer so much more than just recipes. Have you checked out either of the Lee Bros. cookbooks? They also have great Southern food!

  5. No, I haven't, but I've been hearing alot about them lately, so I think I'm going to have to hunt one down!

  6. I wanna tour the country in a motorhome too!! This recipe looks wonderful. I've been eating fried chicken and gravy my whole life and I'm loving the looks of this revamped version! Forget the margarita or wine...this one calls for a cold beer.

  7. I will borrow it from library. and try sometime out of it.

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  9. Sounds like a must have! I'm always looking for a new trick up my sleeve when cooking for my southern boyfriend! :)

  10. This cookbook sounds fantastic! I love the sound of all of those recipes. The chicken itself - gorgeous. The nutty crust is a nice touch!

  11. All thes recipes sound fantastic, and the chicken and gravy is to die for! I love using panko crumbs as they stay so crisp after cooking. I now want this cookbook!

  12. So many cookbooks, so little time...sigh. This one does look good. So does that chicken- the nut coating and milk gravy look delicious!

  13. That chicken looks incredible. I love nut breadings. Even the gravy sounds wonderful and I'm not a gravy eater. That must be some cookbook.

  14. Sounds like an awesome cookbook! The recipe really sounds delicious. Love your noodle bake in the previous post too. Have a great weekend GC :-)

  15. Your chicken looks delicious! And what a great review, have to go see about this book, thanks! I love to read cookbooks!

  16. Tell you really need to come visit, Tupelo Honey is an institution here in the Asheville area. The experience really make the cookbook all that much better.

  17. This book is sitting on my review stack right now--can't wait to open it up and get started cooking. That chicken and gravy is making me drool. Great review!

  18. Sounds like a fantastic book...great review :)

  19. Great idea with the food processor, keeps it clean and efficient.