From the outside looking in, it might seem as though every Southerner is simply born with a certain set of kitchen skills, trained since childhood in the ways of pimento cheese and fluffy, buttery biscuits. Suzanne Vizethann, the chef behind Atlanta’s Buttermilk Kitchen, is here to tell you that’s not necessarily true. “I was born and raised in the South,” she says, and her Italian-American heritage was an early influence in the kitchen. “But I didn’t have the traditional story: the grandmother that taught me biscuits.”
So in her new cookbook, Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen, Vizethann set out to make Southern staples feel approachable for new home cooks—and succeeds spectacularly. Recipes for her restaurant’s specialties, such as red pepper jelly and blueberry-basil jam, boast short, simple ingredient lists and straightforward prep instructions. For her drop biscuits, for instance, she skips the rolling and folding you’ll find in other biscuit recipes. The cookbook’s entries also come with down-to-earth advice on the best ingredients (aim for locally sourced, full-fat buttermilks when possible), how to store them before you cook (for biscuits, always freeze the butter), and ways to repurpose your scraps (Cornbread croutons! Biscuit crackers! Spiced bacon fat!). In short, Vizethann sets the foundation (and the table) for a flawless at-home brunch—one you can easily attempt yourself with these five tips.
Start with the best ingredients you can find.
“I always say that a chef is only as good as their ingredients,” Vizethann says. For her signature breakfast dishes, like biscuits or pancakes, that means European butter—a variety with a fat content of 83 percent or more—and local, full-fat buttermilk. “The butter really yields a nice flavor and a richness in your biscuits, and quality buttermilk, full-fat, lends a lot of good moisture,” she says. “People always think we’re doing something extra special [at Buttermilk Kitchen], but using high-quality ingredients is the main secret.”