Tomorrow’s Father’s Day and a good many of you will be grilling or picnicking, getting together with family and friends and celebrating Dad. This is in honor of my Dad. He passed away when I was a teenager, but many of my memories of him center around food. “Summer” food. He was the Coleslaw and Potato Salad King in our house. I always watched him closely when he made them – it was our version of father-daughter quality time – and to this day, I judge all others by the genetic memory of Dad’s.
You’re going to laugh. I’ve been trying to write this particular post for oh, about a year, now. Really. A whole year. Why has it taken me so long? Well, mostly because I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Is it a cookbook review? A restaurant review? Sharing a recipe? I couldn’t decide. In the end, I decided to share with you the one recipe (out of about 6 or 7) I made out of the Tupelo Honey Café Cookbook that I really like. And will make again. It’s the coleslaw. While this isn’t Dad’s recipe, it’s a really good one, and I think he’d like it.
Tupelo Honey Café Coleslaw
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1 medium head)
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrot (about 2 large carrots)
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 4 ½ tsp. ketchup
- 5 Tbs. sugar
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs. stone ground mustard
- 1/8 – ¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce
- 4 ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup canola oil
In a very large bowl, combine the vegetables and set aside.
Add all of the dressing ingredients, except the canola oil, to the bowl of a food processor, and run until well-combined. With the machine running, drizzle the canola oil through the top, and blend until completely emulsified.
Add the dressing to the shredded vegetables a little at a time, combining well, until you reach your desired ratio of dressing to vegetables.
Any unused dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about a week, and makes a terrific dressing for regular green salads or hot vegetables on its own.
For this quantity of vegetables, I used about a cup of the dressing. I like to let this rest, covered, in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight, to let the flavors meld. This also allows time for some of the moisture to get pulled out of the vegetables to soften some, and then you can drain off any excess liquid before serving.
Just to get this off my chest, I do not recommend the Tupelo Honey Café Cookbook. While the background stories about Asheville, North Carolina are somewhat interesting and amusing, the recipes themselves are generally badly flawed. I can’t believe that the recipes were tested for the home cook at all – many of the recipes yield two quiches, two pies, and so on – obviously because someone couldn’t take the time to break them down into normal quantities. This is also another situation where you need to plan way in advance, because you’ll have to spend an entire day just making the pantry items required for most of the recipes (smoking tomatoes and peppers, making sauces, etc.).
In my opinion, the end results do not justify all the effort. Much of it is just bland and greasy. Except for the homemade pimento cheese. That tasted like nothing but mustard. My husband rescued it the next day by reheating it with a bottle of beer, and we ate it like Welsh rarebit.
Interestingly, we had occasion to visit Asheville twice, shortly after I cooked out of this book, and ate at the original Tupelo Honey Café location. I deliberately ordered menu items that I made out of the cookbook. You know, because I thought maybe it was me. Maybe I did something wrong. I wanted to eat the same food cooked by the people who made it famous. Guess what! It wasn’t me! The “cheesy cauliflower” that supposedly converts cauliflower-haters? Meh. The texture is rough, the flavor, practically non-existent. And I love cauliflower! The mac & cheese? Ordinary. And I noticed that at the restaurant, there’s no Ritz cracker crust like in the recipe. Which at home, just made it ordinary mac & cheese, but greasy. By the way, smoking tomatoes and peppers using the method in the cookbook was a disaster, resulting in watery, broken-down vegetables that had no smoke flavor or aroma.
The verdict: There are many wonderful restaurants in Asheville that concentrate on local and seasonal ingredients and dishes. The Market Place, Early Girl Café, Curate, and all of the eateries at the landmark Biltmore Hotel, spring to mind immediately. The Tupelo Honey Café may have been an early adopter and advocate, but at this point, both it and its namesake cookbook are coasting on reputation alone, and not worth the money, the time or the energy.
But, do make the coleslaw – everyone will love it!