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Six Southern cookbooks

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Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen

By Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus
(222 pp., $29.99, Andrew McMeel Publishing, LLC)

Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Asheville, N.C., has a New South Spirit – it takes food traditions from Appalachia and gives them a modern twist. Grits become "Cheesy Grits Cakes with Sunshot Salsa and Smoked Jalapeño Sauce" and meat loaf becomes "Chicken Apple Meat Loaf with Tarragon Tomato Gravy." Asheville's tastes have always run wide with the Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate at one of town and the foothills of the Smoky Mountains at the other. Its famous author Thomas Wolfe may have penned "You Can't Go Home Again," but the folks at Tupelo Honey Cafe want to assure you that you'll always have a spot at their table.

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower
From "Tupelo Honey Cafe"
"We serve this side at the restaurant in place of mashed potatoes, and sworn cauliflower-haters are immediate converts. It's hilarious, in fact, to tell someone he's eating cauliflower and watch the look of surprise on his face. The texture of the dish is meant to be a little chunky, a little funky, and surprisingly tasty."

Makes 8-10 servings

2 large heads cauliflower, cored and broken into florets
4 ounces cream cheese
1-1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 teaspoons roasted garlic pureé*
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Steam the cauliflower for 10 to 12 minutes, until just tender. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. In another large bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic purée, and butter. Pour the hot mashed cauliflower on top of the cheese mixture and combine, using a large spoon, until the cheeses are thoroughly melted. Serve immediately.

*Roasted Garlic Purée

Another basic in our pantry, roasted garlic purée is the end product of simmering 12 to 14 garlic cloves over medium heat in 1 cup olive oil in a saucepan for about 20 minutes, or until the garlic turns golden brown. Strain the oil, reserving the garlic, and use the oil for sautées, salad dressings, and marinades. Purée the garlic cloves in a food processor until it forms a smooth paste. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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