J and I happened to be in Vancouver on a rainy Monday in May during our honeymoon. We had biked around Stanley Park the previous day, and were looking to explore the city before leaving for Whistler the next day, but many of the attractions we were hoping to check out were closed for the day. So we crossed the seemingly endless Burrard St. bridge to Kitsilano and stopped by a wonderful Vancouver bookstore, which turned out to be a highlight of our trip.
Chicago just doesn’t have anything like this store, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. Devoted to all things culinary, they stock thousands of cookbooks, non-fiction food books, and foodie magazines like Lucky Peach and Gastronomica. The small store also has a working kitchen for chefs’ demonstrations, readings, and other local events. It was inspiring to see this type of store thriving, even on a Monday afternoon, and it got the wheels turning about how this type of store could work in Chicago.
After browsing Modernist Cuisine for probably an hour, we selected The Newlywed Kitchen, even though it cost way more in Canadian dollars than we would spend on the same title in the US. I spent our bus ride from Vancouver to Whistler next day reading the recipes and its interstitial stories of culinary couples (including Mario Batali’s parents, awww).
Since then, J and I have cooked a few of the book’s recipes, and we love that they’re perfectly proportioned for cooking for two. This morning was the first time we made the cheddar, ham & dill biscuits that first caught my eye on our bus ride, and they turned out better than either one of us had expected. Even better, the recipe yielded more than the 8 biscuits it called for, so we have leftovers for breakfast this week, which is always good news.
Cheddar, Ham & Dill Biscuits from The Newlywed Kitchen cookbook, ed. Lorna Yee and Ali Basye
Makes 8 2 1/2 in. biscuits
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and pepper. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheddar, ham and dill, and stir in the buttermilk until just combined. Do not overmix the dough.
3. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and milk and whisk to combine.
4. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut 8 biscuits with a floured 2 1/2-in. biscuit cutter (or a glass of about the same diameter, turned upside down) and place on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Lightly brush the top of each biscuit with a bit of the beaten egg yolk mixture.
5. Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Enjoy them when they’re hot out of the oven.