Putting in booths and chairs at Union Hill Kitchen

Since I am now waiting for the the city to approve my plans, I decided to fool around with seating arrangements to see how to best place the tables.

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My lecture at Purdue University

I was invited to be a guest speaker and judge for Purdue University’s Broiler Culinary Throwdown. A yearly event in which students in different academic concentrations compete in a make shift kitchen. Amazing food was made at this event. I was excited to meet all the students and especially the Agriculture and Food Science students.

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Union Hill kitchen plans

I have been working feverishly trying to get all the approvals I need from the county officials to the city hall. I need approvals from the fire marshal , water management, health department and the City of Chamblee. I am still not approved by the fire department but persistence is one characteristic of success.

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Union Hill Kitchen Drawings

I have been working on opening my new restaurant. It had been a very long road of approvals and re submitting of plans. My plans were rejected a third time but like my mother taught me growing up…. That anything that is worth doing takes lots of time and effort.

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Make ahead quick & easy bread pudding

 

I am having a couple of friends over dinner tonight.  My friend Debbie, David and Berna are going to enjoy one of my typical Sunday night dinners at my house.  It’s very casual and very easy. This recipe resulted from using excess sliced toasted french bread that I was using for dinner a week earlier.

I was making a sage brown butter and country ham bruscheta for friends earlier in the week.  It is actually a great prep ahead recipe.  You can find it here.

We do many food applications at Union Hill Kitchen and since I had cut and toasted too many french baguette rounds, I placed them in an air tight container and put them in the freezer for use at a later time.  Today I decided that it would be a good idea to experiment and document my findings in my kitchen journals as it relates to bread pudding.

I think the reason some people don’t like bread pudding is because it can have a homogeneous texture that is similar to that of a chunk of thick Jello. I have had the same experience at picnics and potlucks.

I have found in making bread pudding that stale bread is not the best when making it even though it is a good way to use left over bread. Stale bread, which is not just loss of moisture as most people believe,  is actually the moment of moisture from starch particles within the bread. When the starches amylose and amylopectine realign themselves and the moisture moves it causes recrystallization or staling.  This realignment in the starches result in breads chewy texture and we identify it as “stale”.

When I made the bread pudding with bread that I toasted three years ago, my notes stated words like, crispy, fresh bread-like quality, tastes best warmed, chocolate adds depth, anise and orange pair well together.

So now with my newly found knowledge I made this bread pudding that is liked by most haters of bread pudding.

I mixed the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the milk together. I then soaked about 40 oven dried pieces of french bread for 20 minutes.

 

Then I added the chocolates chips and cooked it in a 375F oven.  The result was amazing. If you are interested in the recipe click here.

 

 

Quick easy Union Hill Kitchen pudding scented with anise

 

As the Executive chef of Union Hill Restaurant Group in Atlanta, I enjoy experimenting with classic recipes and adding a bit of what I have learned from home cooks or from my travels and of course from my kitchen journals, where I meticulously keep all my cooking notes.

This is a do ahead recipe that can be executed a day ahead and can be gently heated in a 200F oven for about 15 minutes before serving.  To see the original blog post for this recipe click here.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of whole milk, plus 1/2 cup of whole milk

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon star anise extract

4 whole eggs

1-2  french baguette cut into 1/2 inch rounds

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter grated

Pre-heat  oven to 350F.  Place the 1/2 inch round french baguette pieces on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they are completely toasted.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Spray an 8 x 8 Pyrex glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Add the 2 1/2 cups milk, sugar, vanilla extract, anise extract, eggs and mix until completely combined.

Add the bread and push the bread down into the custard mixture.  Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.  Then stir the mixture so that the bottom pieces of bread are on the top and the top pieces are on the bottom.  Add the chocolate chips on top and gently stir them into the Pyrex dish.  Take the butter from the refrigerator and grate it over the entire Pyrex pan. Add the last 1/2 cup of milk over the top of the pudding.  Allow it to sit for 5 minutes then place the pan on a sheet tray and place in the middle oven rack for 35-45 minutes.

 

Cooking notes:

1- It’s best to leave the stick of butter in the refrigerator then pull it out and grate it over the pudding the moment you will use it.  If you grate it before the butter it will stick together and will not have the desired outcome in the recipe.

2- You can use stale french baguette but when you toast or dry out the french baguette slices in the oven before, the pudding has a more superior texture.  You toast the bread    5 days earlier and keep them in an air tight container.

3- You don’t have to use Anise extract but it provides a mysterious foil of flavor to the pudding.

4- I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because I think it adds a great flavor of chocolate without it being over sweet.  If you choose to add milk chocolate chips I suggest using a 1/2 cup.

5- Though real vanilla extract can be expensive the true characteristics of its flavor can not be replicated with imitation vanilla.

6-  Feel free to substitute orange extract with the chocolate or the anise and orange extract together with chocolate for an out of this world dessert.

7- White chocolate in the same proportions as the semi-sweet chocolate work great together.

8- 1/2 cup of chocolate and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate is a great combination in the bread pudding.