Sautéed Zucchini and Yellow Squash in a Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce

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Ingredients:

2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, thinly sliced
½ cup basil pesto (see below for basil pesto ingredients)
Salt and pepper to taste

Basil Pesto: Yield 4 cups
½ cup pine nuts
2 large bunches fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven for 400 degrees. Roast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes. Place the basil in the work bowl of a food processor and begin processing. Add the garlic, then pine nuts, and continue processing. When the mixture has a grainy, paste like consistency, begin adding the oil a little at a time, continuing to process. Wait until the oil is absorbed before adding the next small amount. Add salt and pepper. When the oil is added and absorbed, add the cheese. As soon as the cheese is mixed in, stop processing; if you over process, the cheese will melt.

Wipe zucchini and squash with a damp towel. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise, then cut them into 1/4″ thick slices. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan and saute the onions over medium heat until translucent. Add the sliced zucchini and squash and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the pesto and salt and pepper to taste, toss, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and enjoy this wonderful vegetarian dish!

Tips: Place pesto in containers, seal, and label. You can use your pesto immediately after making it or store it up to 6 months in the freezer. Pesto stored in the refrigerator will last up to 1 month.

Angel’s Homemade Samoa Cookies

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Who doesn’t love Girl Scout Cookies? Angel decided to make his own style of the original Samoa Cookie and instruct one of our Culinary Vocational trainees through the process. We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Ingredients:
Cookie Base
8 ounces butter
4 ounces sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces all purpose flour

Topping:
3 cups shredded coconut
15 ounces caramel
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces chocolate

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar with a pinch of salt until very light, about five minutes on medium speed. Beat in yolk and vanilla until smooth. Remove from mixer. Fold in sifted flour. Divide dough in half and roll evenly flat (about ¼ inch thick) between two pieces of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out dough with desired cookie cutter. Bake cookies in the preheated oven until slightly golden and soft, eight to ten minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake shredded coconut for about five minutes, or until golden brown. Melt caramel bits on a double boiler until smooth, about two minutes. Stir coconut into caramel. Melt chocolate on a double boiler until smooth. Dip the top portion of each cookie into melted chocolate and place onto the wire rack. Press a spoonful of caramel coconut mixture on the top of each cookie, then drizzle chocolate over the top of each cookie. Enjoy!

Graduate Success Story: Leroy Green

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For Leroy, cooking isn’t just a job. It’s a way of life. “When I’m in the kitchen, all my worries go away.”

There was a time when Leroy had plenty to worry about. After 15 years in federal prison, he found himself spiraling towards his lowest point, accomplishing “a long list of nothing.”

He learned about The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program, where he could gain new skills, get back on his feet, and make a fresh start. Maybe this was the change Leroy needed to finally break free from the nightmare he’d been living.

Ready, Willing & Able offers a variety of occupational training tracks but, for Leroy, the choice was simple: Culinary Arts. “I grew up in a house of women, so there was always something being cooked. I’ve always had a love for kitchen work–baking, cooking, preparing. It was just the right choice for me.”

In The Doe Fund’s Harlem kitchen, Leroy learned much more than culinary techniques. He learned invaluable life lessons from his mentors, to finish what he starts, and to think things through before reacting.

Leroy is now the Head Line Cook at a Manhattan restaurant, and training to become Kitchen Manager there. He’s more motivated than ever to pursue his dreams of one day running his own kitchen and “getting that chef’s title–Chef Lee!”

Angel’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ½ cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or use baking cups to line two 12-cup muffin pans.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, food coloring and 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. In another large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and 1 tsp. vanilla together until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Once cupcakes are completely cool, top with cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

Happy Retirement, James!

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Fifteen years ago, James was in a dark place. He had lost everything because of drugs and alcohol: his family, his home, and his job. The path before him was unclear–all he knew was the he couldn’t live like this anymore.

Then, James walked through The Doe Fund’s doors and his future started to take shape. “Everything changed for me. I was able to regain the self-respect that I had lost and learned new skills I never knew I had in me.”

The biggest skill he uncovered? Cooking. After completing The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts training, he was hired to teach other men in the program, himself.

Since then, James has taught more than 1,000 Culinary Arts trainees. But he’s done much more than that. “Many guys come to me, not sure of themselves or what they want to do. Some are on the verge of giving up. I talk to them like a father or a big brother and even pray for them. Then they train and go out and get hired by major companies. It not only helps them…it helps me be a better person.”

Now James is busy cooking up something different: plans for his retirement. “I’ll be focusing more on my health, working more as a deacon in my church, and spending more time with my family–especially the grandchildren.”

James knows his life would have been very different if he hadn’t found The Doe Fund all those years ago.

“The Doe Fund changed my life and helped to make me a better person.” And The Doe Fund is a better place because of him.

Thank you and good luck, James!

Home For The Holidays With The Doe Fund

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For some, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it can be a heavy hearted struggle. We must do our best to make sure everyone is in good spirits and thought of. Here is the story of Rasheem Hughes, and his reflections on the holidays as a Doe Fund trainee and now as a staff member.

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Rasheem Hughes, a graduate of The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able transitional work program and now Food Service Handler at our Bushwick facility, spent 17 years of his life incarcerated. He remembers feeling excited, motivated, and nervous about his first time home during the holidays while a trainee at The Doe Fund. For Rasheem, The Doe Fund provided an opportunity to be responsible, have a purpose in life, and to build and develop a work ethic for the very first time.

One of Rasheem’s most memorable moments as a trainee was the Holiday Party. He recalls that the staff made him feel welcome, supported, and as if he had a second chance in life to redeem himself. The food, atmosphere and bonds that were built reminded him of the same connection he had as a child during the holiday season with family and friends.

As a staff member, Rasheem is now contributing to the lives of trainees in the same way that The Doe Fund has contributed to his life. With support from fellow staff he is still growing to be the best he can. He offers guidance and support to trainees as they cope with struggles he can relate to so well. Rasheem feels as if he is now part of their solution to a better life.

When asked what advice Rasheem may have for trainees preparing for the holidays, whether they will be home for the first time since incarceration, facing family issues, or just haven’t found their own purpose as of yet, he stated, “focus on the opportunities that are offered, and take advantage of why you decided to join The Doe Fund. Trust and believe in the program because you will not regret it.”

Pecan Pie

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The Doe Fund team has again, stolen the show. This past weekend we attended a Food Festival in Ridgewood at a local bar called The Footlight. We served delicious hot food and even entered in to their pie contest in which we won Second Place for our scrumptious Pecan Pie. This recipe comes from our Director of Food Services, Chef Gino Dalesandro and is the perfect pie for all occasions. We hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

Crust:
3 cups pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ tablespoon salt
¼ cup cold water

Filling:
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups maple syrup
2 cups corn syrup
6 eggs
6 egg yolks
½ tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Directions:

Combine the flour and shortening, and rub together with your hands until you form walnut sized nuggets. Dissolve the salt in water and add to the flour mixture. Mix only until the ingredients are combined; do not over mix or the crust will be mealy. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for two (2) hours. Letting the dough rest like this helps make the crust more tender.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Fold in half, then lay over a 10-inch pie tin (folding the dough in half makes it easier to lift into the pit tin without breaking). With a knife, cut off excess dough around the edges. Place the pie tin in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, again letting the dough rest.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter with the sugar and salt. Over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the maple and corn syrup to the butter mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Into the eggs, whisk 1 cup of the liquid at a time, until the temperature of the eggs becomes the same as that of the liquid. Continually whip the mixture to make sure the eggs do not curdle. Let the filling cool.

Remove the pie tin from the refrigerator and sprinkle the pecans evenly on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake for one hour. Before removing the pie from the oven, shake to make sure it is firm. The filling should only move slightly when the pie is shaken. Cut serve and enjoy with family and friends!