“The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook: Sweet and Savory Recipes Inspired by 28 Varietals and Blends” is a slim, single-subject volume that is just as compelling as any deep-dive cookbook. You will get to know those 28 varietals, some of which might seem precious, as they are not found on grocery store shelves. Pure, good honey comes at a price, and it is an unfortunate fact of life that golden syrups labeled as honey have diluted the market and made us gasp at the product’s proper cost.
You will become aware of the “Bee Charmer” varietals’ affinities with certain foods and cuisines. You will wonder whether obtaining a jar of Tasmanian leatherwood honey, which pairs with lentils, beer and smoked cheeses, could be worth the bother. Having sampled it and several others featured in the book, I say: You bet it is.
And you will learn the story behind the book, named for the North Carolina shop whose owners are committed to selling local, seasonal honeys. Jillian Kelly and Kim Allen run a nice-looking business and keep bees themselves.
They were also lucky enough to get Carrie Schloss on board; she and Allen have been friends since their college days. The Chicago-area chef and culinary consultant kept ease of use in mind here, evident in the recipe indexes by varietal and by dietary restriction. A surprising number of the creations are savory and a fair number skew healthful.
Finally, if you have exorcised refined sugar from your life or are wishing to loosen its grip, cook from this book and you will be among the happiest readers of all.
Chipotle honey-marinated steak
5 to 6 servings
Make ahead: The meat needs only an hour to marinate; it can be refrigerated in the marinade for up to 24 hours.
2 TBS fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1⁄2 lg yellow onion, cut into 1⁄4-inch dice
1 TBS plus 1 1⁄2 tsp minced garlic
3 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
2 TBS chipotle-infused honey
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
1⁄4 C extra-virgin olive oil
2 1⁄2 lbs sirloin steak, cut into lg pieces (may substitute skirt steak, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
Combine the lime juice, onion, garlic, chipotle chiles, honey, cumin, salt, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika and oil in a gallon-size zip-close bag. Add the steak and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Prepare the grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (375 to 400 degrees) with the lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush the grill grate.
Alternatively, position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.
Remove the steak from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade from the meat; discard the marinade. Grill or broil the steak for 6 to 7 minutes on each side (for medium-rare).
Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes, then cut it on the diagonal, against the grain, into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices. Serve right away.
— Adapted from “The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook,” by Carrie Schloss (Agate Surrey, 2017).