Like an Appalachian Mountain Kiss

Recipes from the “Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen

Tupelo Honey Café, located in downtown Asheville, N.C. since 2000 and in South Asheville since 2010, shares some of its creative recipes in the newly released cookbook “Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen.” Written by Elizabeth Sims and farm-to-fork movement pioneer Chef Brian Sonoskus, you’ll enjoy trying the book’s flavorsome recipes for dishes like Root Beer Molasses-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Jalapeño Sauce, a good example of Tupelo Honey Café’s flair for merging sweet with spicy and  crunchy with smooth. It’s noteworthy that in addition to being Tupelo Honey Café’s executive chef, cookbook author Sonoskus is also an organic farmer. His Sunshot Organics, located just north of Asheville, provides the restaurant with seasonal vegetables, berries, flowers and herbs.


“Tupelo Honey Café” cookbook also contains stunning full-color photography, by Brie Williams, and many, many images of  Asheville’s past and present, including archival black and white photographs. A portion of the proceeds from book sales go to the Manna FoodBank and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.

For further information about the Tupelo Honey Café, the cookbook, the Manna FoodBank and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, visit the Tupelo Honey Café website at,

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

About Tupelo Honey

Because Asheville, N.C.’s Tupelo Honey Café’s recipe for Root Beer Molasses-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Jalapeño Sauce and Apple Salsa calls for tupelo honey in three places, here’s a little information you might find interesting. First, it appears the reference to tupelo honey in the Tupelo Honey Café name is due to the eateries wish to use only pure tupelo honey in many of their recipes. The preference for prized tupelo honey reflects Tupelo Honey Café’s commitment to offer patrons from-scratch dishes made with the best, most wholesome ingredients possible. Prized for its purity and distinctive, almost buttery flavor, all-natural, unfiltered pure tupelo honey is the solitary honey that will never granulate. The only places in the world (yes, world) certified to produce pure tupelo honey commercially is along the swampy Chipola and Apalachicola river basins of northwest Florida, where the White Tupelo Gum tree grows profusely. A 16-ounce bottle of pure tupelo honey costs about $10.

Root Beer Molasses–Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Jalapeño Sauce and Apple Salsa

Recipes from “Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen,” byElizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus; photography by Brie Williams; Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC,

For the pork

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
12 ounces root beer
½ cup molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup Smoked Jalapeño Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups Apple Salsa (recipe follows)

Cut the tenderloin diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the root beer and molasses, mixing thoroughly. Pour over the pork loin. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour. Heat the canola oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until the oil is 350 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer. Drain and discard the liquid from the pork and place the pork slices in hot oil, searing for about 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked to medium. Serve immediately drizzled with the jalapeño sauce and topped with the salsa.

Smoked Jalapeño Sauce

“We use this smoky sauce frequently, and so we make it in large batches and keep plenty on hand. We believe this melding of ingredients is the perfect bland of heat and sweet, and we love using real tupelo honey. You can use Contessa smoked chipotle peppers in adobe, if you don’t smoke your own peppers. But try smoking your own — it’s fun.”  — From the “Tupelo Honey Café,” by Elizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus; photograph by Brie Williams.

1 large jalapeño smoked (directions follow)
¼ cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup tupelo honey
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup V8 juice
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons roasted garlic purée
¾ teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1½ teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

Combine the smoked jalapeño, marmalade, honey, orange juice, V8 juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic purée, coriander and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir thoroughly. Decrease the heat to medium and add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, decrease the heat to low, and cook for about 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Purée the cooked jalapeño in a food processor and add back to the sauce. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Makes 1½ cups.

Smoked Jalapeños

To make the jalapeños, put 2 cups hickory chips in the bottom of a 4-inch deep heavy roasting pan. Cover with water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain the water and cover the chips with aluminum foil. Place 4 whole jalapeño peppers on the foil, cover the pan tightly with additional foil, and put in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. (The foil will puff up like you’re making Jiffy Pop popcorn.) Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and cook for 20 to 20 minutes longer, until the peppers are slightly browned. Allow the peppers to cool before removing the seeds and membranes.* Store peppers in refrigerator. (The same method may be made for smoking tomatoes, by coring tomatoes and scoring the tops and bottoms with an “x” using a sharp paring knife.) Kitchen Ade Note: *Use gloves when handling the seeds and membranes of hot peppers, and be sure not to touch your eyes when handling them.

Apple Salsa

2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), diced
2 tablespoons tupelo honey
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Combine the apples, peppers and onion in  large bowl and add the honey, salt, pepper and parsley. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Makes 3 cups.


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