Hey y’all, it’s Brook. Many of us aspire to get healthier + save money in the new year, and it’s a known fact that cooking at home is a great way to accomplish both of these goals. And while we know Asheville has a fab food scene, we’re also super fortunate that some of our best chefs + foodies have written their own cookbooks.
Whether you prefer to eat fresh seasonal produce or treat yo’self with a plate piled high with biscuits and smoked meats, there’s a local cookbook to instruct + inspire you to get in your kitchen, whip up something delicious, and take charge of your health and your pocketbook. You can find all of these books online or at your favorite local bookstores.
Here are nine options that make our mouths water just thinking about them.
🥘 Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen, Katie Button
No passport? No problem. Bring the taste of Spain into your home with James Beard Award-nominated Chef (and founder of Cúrate + Button & Co. Bagels) Katie Button’s first cookbook. Featuring 125 classic recipes like paella (a savory blend of rice, veggies, and seafood), arroz a la Cubana (garlic rice with banana and fried egg), patatas bravas (fried potatoes), and berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey + rosemary), it’s a richly flavored, accessible ode to Spanish fare. Bonus? The majority of Button’s recipes use ingredients easily found in local stores.
🥘 The Folk School Cookbook: A Collection of Seasonal Favorites from John C. Campbell Folk School, Nanette Davidson
John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown (about two hours away) is renowned for its campus, class offerings, and hands-on teaching. Its Dining Hall also cranks out fab eats, many of which are included here. It highlights seasonal ingredients that reflect the diversity of both the region and the school’s student body. From pulled-pork BBQ + gazpacho to lemon bars + marmalade pork chops, the 250+ recipes are the opposite of the sad bricks of ramen you subsisted on during your college days.
🥘 Southern From Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes, Ashley English
The basis for being able to cook effectively at home is a well-stocked pantry, and this cookbook from local entertaining expert Ashley English offers 50 recipes to help you build one, including all kinds of relishes, sauces + condiments with in-depth tutorials on basics like stocks, pimento cheese, and pickles. From there, you’ll find 100 additional recipes using ingredients from said pantry, like watermelon rind sloppy joes, brown butter and bourbon-braised cabbage, and curried pork chop sandwiches with peach chutney. You’re gonna wanna go ahead and put on your eatin’ dress.
🥘 Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, Ronni Lundy
Penned by Southern Foodways Alliance founding member Ronni Lundy, Victuals took home two James Beard awards in 2017: the James Beard Foundation Book of the Year Award + Best Book, American Cooking — and for good reason: this homage to Appalachia examines issues of class and race as they relate to Appalachian foods + foodways so we can move toward an egalitarian future. Plus, it offers 80 recipes, including kale potato pancakes, banana pudding, apple stack cake, and the only cornbread I’ve ever had that can hold a candle to my mama’s. Trust me when I say this book is truly soul food.
🥘 The Southern Harvest Cookbook: Recipes Celebrating Four Seasons, Cathy Cleary
The Southern garden is a beautiful thing, and one need look no further than this cookbook from Cathy Cleary (who opened West End Bakery in 2001 + sold it in 2015) for inspiration on how to best utilize both the common + unusual fruits and veggies that grow here in each season. You’ll find classic regional fare, like squash casserole and collard greens, as well more innovative offerings like pickled cherries, paw paw salsa, deviled egg asparagus salad, and ramp + ricotta biscuits. Bonus? There are also great tips for reducing food waste.
🥘 Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More, Elliott Moss
Asheville’s king of whole hog barbecue, Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Elliott Moss, has put his genius to paper so that the rest of us can replicate all that deliciousness at home. Want to build and master your own pit at home? This book explains how, and if you don’t have the time or space, you can still easily infuse wood-smoke into the chicken, beef + pork cuts of your choice. Its 200+ recipes include chicken bog (a customizable dish of rice, chicken + sausage), sauces galore, and both the fried chicken sandwich and the pimento cheese that makes it so, so good.
🥘 Biscuit Head: New Southern Biscuits, Breakfasts, and Brunch, Jason & Carolyn Roy
Anyone who’s ever been to the original Biscuit Head in West Asheville knows there’s no escaping the line that snakes around the building — that is, unless you have this cookbook. Inside, you’ll find their famous cathead biscuits as well as other dishes, including mimosa fried chicken with sweet potato chai butter and sriracha slaw, fried green tomatoes with chevre, quinoa scramble, and a slew of gravies + jams, including hearty sausage and their heavenly amaretto marmalade. Try not to drink it straight, but we won’t judge you if you do.
🥘 Appalachian Appetite: Recipes from the Heart of America, Susi Gott Séguret
This cookbook is what happens when you take a WNC native, author + chef (who also happens to be the director of the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts) and add in fancy French training and credentials from the Cordon Bleu and the Université de Reims. Featuring stories and tidbits from food + drink pros throughout Appalachia, the 100+ recipes in this book highlight the upscale twist given to humble ingredients through offerings including ramp and nettle quiche, venison country-style steak, Southern sweet potato praline spoonbread, mountain trout, and even — and this thrills my country soul — possum pâté.
🥘 Breakfast & Beyond: Comfort Food From Dawn to Dark, April Moon
Since opening its doors in 2003, Sunny Point Café has become an Asheville institution, attracting both locals + visitors with its garden-to-table Southern fare, many of which feature its flaky biscuits. You’ll find many of those dishes here, as well as some from Moon’s first cookbook based on her 13 years at Atlanta’s popular Flying Biscuit Café, including smoked salmon scramble, stuffed French toast, black bean cakes, roasted poblano pesto pasta, caramelized onion raspberry barbecue chicken, double chocolate cookies, and those enormous biscuits. Bonus? It’s all written in Moon’s charming, friendly style.
Any cool local cookbooks we missed? Let us know your other local picks in the comments. ⬇️