Asheville Bee Charmer launches a honey-themed cookbook

LIFE IS SWEET: "The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook" incorporates the individual flavors of specific honey varietals to create appetizers, main dishes, sides, sauces and desserts. Pictured is the honey-tasting bar at Asheville Bee Charmer, which features several dozen varietals available for sampling. Photo by Angela Garbot Photography, courtesy of Agate Publishing

Honey is a lot like wine, observes chef and author Carrie Schloss in the introduction to her new book, The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook: Sweet and Savory Recipes Inspired by 28 Honey Varietals and Blends. “Each varietal has a unique color, aroma, taste and mouthfeel,” she writes. “Additionally, like wine, each varietal is influenced by terroir, the set of environmental factors, such as soil conditions, weather and temperature, which affect a plant during its growth cycle and contribute to differences in flavor and aroma.”

On Saturday, Aug. 19, Schloss will launch the cookbook —  the first one she’s penned — at Malaprop’s Bookstore and will be joined by Jillian Kelly and Kim Allen, owners of the popular downtown Asheville Bee Charmer honey shop. Although Schloss is based in Chicago, she has been friends with “Queen Bees” Kelly and Allen for decades.

The foreword to the book explains how the trio were inspired to tackle the cookbook project after Schloss visited the shop’s honey bar last year and sampled its 40-50 varietals. “You could already see the wheels turning as to how she would use the different honeys in various dishes,” Kelly and Allen write.

“Since we opened our store,” they continue, “we have often been asked when we would write a honey cookbook. We didn’t think we could write one ourselves, but after seeing Carrie in action at the honey bar, we thought she could bring the project to fruition.”

Contrary to what one might assume about a cookbook that’s obsessed with honey, the recipes are about much more than dessert. Of the eight chapters, only one focuses on sweets, with a good range of recipes including cookies, bars, pies and cakes as well as lighter fare such as chocolate avocado mousse (which is vegan, gluten-free and only requires five ingredients) and roasted pineapple chai sorbet.

The rest of the book focuses on savory dishes, with chapters devoted to breakfast foods (“Bee Awake”), small plates and snacks (“Bee Appetizing”), soups and salads (“Bee Warm and Bee Green”), sandwiches and mains (“Bee Full”) and sides (“Bee Complementary”). Chapters on sauces and cocktails (“Bee Saucy” and “Bee Buzzed,” respectively) wrap it all up.

Image courtesy of Agate Publishing
Image courtesy of Agate Publishing

Each recipe incorporates a specific varietal or blend of honey, all of which are listed and described early in the book by color, aroma, taste and possible food pairings. Seven of the featured honeys are proprietary infusions created by Asheville Bee Charmer — with flavors such as chai, ghost pepper, cocoa and rosemary — and are available only at the downtown shop or via its online store. The other honeys can be found both at Asheville Bee Charmer and elsewhere.

A recipe for hearty greens slaw, for example, harnesses the woody, spicy, floral flavor of Tasmanian leatherwood honey in a dressing to complement a varied mixture of fresh greens, carrot and onions. In eggplant Parmesan stacks, the vanilla and chamomile notes of dandelion honey are blended with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to season eggplant before baking and combining with slices of ripe tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Honey isn’t the only bee product that shows up in the book. For example, a recipe for nut brittle, which the author notes is one of her favorites, gets a unique flavor boost from a topping of bee pollen.

One handy appendix lists recipes by varietal, so if you pick up a jar of orange blossom honey, you know exactly which recipes you can use it in. A second one clearly notes whether each recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan, and those designations are also indicated with the individual recipes.

The handsome, embossed hardback book is priced at $21.95. Copies will be for sale at the book-signing event at Malaprop’s on Saturday, Aug. 19.

The book launch happens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe, 55 Haywood St. There is no charge to attend. 



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.