Side Dish: Cookbook celebrates ‘mountain South’

“Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors From the Blue Ridge Mountains”

by Elizabeth Sims with chef Brian Sonoskus.

Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99.

226-page hardcover.


Elizabeth Sims and chef Brian Sonoskus celebrate the food culture of the Blue Ridge Mountain area in their second coauthored book centered on the recipes of Tupelo Honey Cafe.

In “Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors From the Blue Ridge Mountains” they offer 125 “mountain South” recipes from the popular Asheville, N.C., restaurant, along with beautiful full-color photographs and stories of the area’s history and food culture.

Chef Sean Brock, of Charleston, S.C., writes in the foreword that the book’s coauthors offer “a glimpse of where mountain cuisine is today” and how to keep traditions and culture alive and moving forward. He notes that the cuisine of the mountain South “stays in the mountains and in the kitchens of the people who live it and breathe it. It’s a way of life and not a trend.”

The authors invite their readers to gather around the table and share such creative drink concoctions like Ode to Muddy Pond, which is made with sorghum molasses and bourbon, and the restaurant’s signature lemonade, Rosemary Peach Lemonade. Then, they suggest recipes for picnicking while on a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, such as Technicolor-Rama Asian Slaw and a roast beef po-boy the restaurant serves on French bread from New Orleans’ Gambino’s.

There are also chapters with recipes for casseroles and stews; recipes using corn, beans and squash as a tribute to Native-American culinary traditions; recipes for biscuits, cornbread and pancakes; and plenty of pork recipes. Yard and game birds get their own chapter, with such recipes as Chicken Chorizo Burgoo and Guineas Hen With Blueberry Zinfandel Sauce. Among the book’s other recipes are Not Your Mama’s Meat Loaf With Tomato Rosemary Gravy, Bronzed Catfish With Creole Mustard Sauce and Carolina Shrimp Melt.

No book on Southern cooking would be complete without recipes for decadent desserts and “Tupelo Honey Cafe” is no exception. Among its offerings are Upsy Daisy Peach Upside-Down Cake and Taste of Summer Peach Blueberry Cobbler.

With a refrigerator filled with Louisiana strawberries needing to be used, I definitely have to try the book’s recipe for Heavenly Buttery Almond Strawberry Tart.

Check that recipe

Speaking of recipes, the one for Goat Cheese and Asparagus Custards which ran with my April 17 column didn’t say when to add the goat cheese. The book omitted the info but I had sprinkled it over the custard just before the ramekins went into the oven. The recipe doesn’t call for pepper, but after re-testing, I’ve decided it could use a bit of white pepper for more oomph.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is Heavenly Buttery Almond Strawberry Tart

4Makes 1 (9-inch) tart. Recipe is from “Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains” by Elizabeth Sims with chef Brian Sonoskus (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, April 2014).


2 cups sliced almonds

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbls. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed


1/4 cup sugar

2 tbls. cornstarch

3 tbls. cold water

3 tbls. apple juice

11/2 lbs. strawberries, washed, stemmed and halved3


31. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

2. To make the crust, place the almonds, sugar, flour and vanilla in a food processor, processing until the almonds are coarsely ground. Add the butter cubes and process for 6 seconds, or until the mixture clumps together.

3. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and, if necessary, use the back of a spoon to press the mixture against the sides of the plate to re-form the crust. Le3tt cool until firm.

4. For the filling place the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Stir in the water and apple juice until the mixture is smooth. Add the strawberries and stir to coat with the sugar mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is thickened and coa ts the berries.

5. While the filling is still warm, pour the strawberry filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 375˚F for 25 minutes, or until the pie is set on top. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour and then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Advocate-tested recipe

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Custards

Serves 6. Recipe is from “The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook” by Terry Golson, who says, “Texture is important in custards, so the asparagus is cooked until pliable but not mushy. If the spears are fat, then peel the tough skins from their ends before steaming. If the spears are as thin as pencils, peeling isn’t necessary.”

3Nonstick cooking spray

8 ozs. asparagus spears

1 tsp. butter

1/4 cup minced shallot (1 medium)

4 large eggs

13/4 cups half-and-half

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 ozs. soft goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Coat six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. The custards are baked in a water bath, so set the ramekins into a baking dish large enough so that they don’t touch. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

3. Set up a steamer and steam the asparagus until you can bend it but its not yet soft. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Measure out 1 cup and reserve any remaining asparagus for another use. (It can be tossed into a green salad.)

4. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over low heat and cook the shallots until they begin to brown. Divide the asparagus and shallots equally between the ramekins.

5. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, and salt in a bowl. Pour into the ramekins, filling not quite to the rims. Sprinkle with goat cheese.

6. Put the baking dish into the oven and carefully pour in the hot water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the centers of the custards are firmly set.3

T esting note: I cut back on the kosher salt and added a little white pepper.