Enthusiastic social media reviews greeted “The Big Bottom Biscuit” cookbook, which came out last month filled with recipes and photos from the Guerneville bistro that Michael Volpatt and restaurateur Crista Luedtke opened in 2011.
Volpatt’s book focuses on Big Bottom’s signature dish, a “wet” biscuit made of baked buttermilk dough served with a dab of honey.
“One day it hit us,” said Volpatt explaining how the simple but versatile biscuit put Big Bottom Market on the map. “What could be made sweet or savory and loved by just about anyone?” Volpatt asks in the book’s introduction.
When it opened nine years ago, Big Bottom Market filled a void on Guerneville’s Main Street, which still had a lot of vacancies left over from the 2008 economic meltdown.
The idea for the cookbook started rolling two years ago when TV talk show idol Oprah Winfrey put the Big Bottom Market’s biscuit mix (“just add water”) on her annual list of favorite things.
"Biscuits and I go way back,” said Winfrey. “These bake up moist yet crumbly, taste homemade though they’re from a mix, and are heavenly served with this honey."
Oprah’s plug zoomed the Guerneville deli into national limelight with sales of Big Bottom’s biscuit mix going through the roof.
“We quickly went from selling 50 bags of mix and jars of honey a month to more than 6,000 of each in only six weeks,” Volpatt said in the book’s introduction.
Volpatt’s take on biscuits includes recipes for Big Bottom’s “specialty biscuits and spreads,” such as the Sea Biscuit, with smoked salmon, pickled onions and capers; the Fairy Biscuit, adorned with cream and dessert sprinkles; the Saucy Italian biscuit, with marinara sauce topped with gremolata; Apple Pie Biscuit, a handheld version of the classic apple pie; and Egg in a Biscuit, a favorite at the market and a play on the Scotch Egg. The photo on the book’s cover features the Big Bottom bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich served on a biscuit made with Big Bottom’s original mix.
A chocolate bacon biscuit recipe may seem a little over-the-top even for the simple but versatile biscuit, but Volpatt said at Big Bottom it’s “one of our most popular specialties.”
Even at Big Bottom, however, biscuit basics prevail. “A warm biscuit is best with butter and jam,” notes Volpatt, in his discussion of “butters, jams and spreads.”
The cookbook includes more than 50 recipes for biscuits as well as butters, jams, spreads and other savory embellishments that are sold at the market.
The book is available now at Big Bottom Market, $18.