Success Story: Dennis Wilson

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When Dennis remembers his childhood holidays, delicious home cooking always comes to mind. “All the women in my family were great cooks. Most of my family came from the South, so we always had fried chicken, collards, and cornbread when we got together.”

Dennis loved to help out in the kitchen and even dreamt of one day cooking professionally. Decades later, he’s finally realizing that dream.

A friend told Dennis about The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program, where he could gain new skills and train for a career in the culinary arts. It sounded too good to be true. “I thought my friend was exaggerating. But then I got here and it was even better than I had hoped!”

After a few months on pots and pans duty, Dennis began working his way up in the kitchen. His talent and passion for baking soon became clear, and he began preparing muffins, cookies, breads, and danishes for The Doe Fund’s weekly farmers markets.

Dennis’s hard work and dedication have paid off. In a few day’s time he’ll join the culinary staff at The Doe Fund’s Harlem Center for Opportunity as its newest Food Handler.

Eventually, Dennis hopes to own his own bakery. But for now he takes each day as it comes. “It’s about becoming motivated and inspired by what you do. I know this is going to lead to something great.”

Barbecued Chicken Pizza

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Barbecued Chicken Pizza

Basic Pizza Dough
Yield: Four 6-inch pizzas

2 tablespoons yeast
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
bread flour for dusting during mixing
cornmeal for dusting work area

Preheat the oven to 400°

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and add water and let ferment for 10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. Add the olive oil, sugar, and salt and let ferment another 10 minutes.

Sift together the bread and wheat flours. Add the flours to the liquid and mix 10 minutes with a dough hook. Add extra bread flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl.

Place the dough in a greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a work area dusted with cornmeal. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Knead into balls; then roll with a rolling pin into rounds 6 inches across and ¼ inch thick. You are ready for toppings!

NOTE: Place a baking stone or quarry tile on a sheet pan in the oven to preheat. Be sure the tile is very hot before placing the pizzas on it.

Barbecue Chicken with Cheddar Cheese

pizza crusts
½ pound boneless chicken breast, about 1 whole breast
1 cup barbecue sauce
4 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons roasted garlic oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Remove the fat and skin from the chicken and separate the breast. Rub ½ cup of barbecue sauce onto the chicken and grill, or pan sear, 3 minutes on each side. Slide the chicken breast on an angle and set aside until ready to assemble the pizzas.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the tomatoes with the cilantro and garlic oil.

Dust a pizza peel (or a large cake circle) with cornmeal and place a rolled out crust on top. Spread a layer of barbecue sauce over the crust and top with one quarter of the sliced chicken. Use a slotted spoon to add one quarter of the tomato mixture, and top with one quarter of the cheddar cheese. Slide the pizza from the peel directly onto the hot quarry tiles in the oven. Repeat this procedure for the remaining 3 crusts.

Bake about 20 minutes.

Graduate Success Story: Derrick Bouknight

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Derrick never thought cooking would change his life. Then again, he never expected to achieve most of what he has over the past three years.

Derrick was at a low point in his life when he joined The Doe Fund. “I had lost my job, custody of my children, my apartment, and my car. Then I went to jail. I didn’t mentally or emotionally recover from those loses.” Ready, Willing & Able, The Doe Fund’s transitional work program for formerly incarcerated and homeless men, offered Derrick the chance to start again.

As much as he loves it now, Derrick wasn’t excited about joining The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts team at first. But then, “I started having fun and learning things.” That’s when he decided to dedicate himself to the kitchen.

After graduating from Ready, Willing & Able, Derrick became a full-time employee in the Culinary Arts department, where he is Food Service Coordinator, Customer Service Class Instructor, and Farmers’ Market Manager.

He is eager to improve and give his all in the kitchen. “Being able to grow, learn and progress is such an amazing feeling.” Yet some of the most important changes in Derrick’s life have taken place outside of the kitchen. “I’m able to raise and take care of my grandchildren and children like I truly want to, and I’m able to be a positive role model in their life.”

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.

Graduate Success Story: Wesley Morrall

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At sixty-two years young, Wesley M. isn’t slowing down. He gives his all to every task in the kitchen and prides himself on always working at his highest level.

Since becoming Food Service Coordinator ,for the past three years, Wesley has played a key role in preparing three nutritious, carefully-prepared meals each day for men at The Doe Fund’s Bed-Stuy facility. “I love to create food that tastes good.”

Although he has received a broad culinary education at The Doe Fund, Wesley is especially proud of the baking skills he’s gained here—and his delicious cinnamon raisin danishes speak for themselves!

Yet the culinary arts program has offered Wesley much more than cooking skills; it has offered him the chance to reconnect with family. “Since I came to The Doe Fund I have been able to have a positive relationship with my kids and grandkids.”

Click link for the recipe below to make Wesley’s famous danishes at home!

https://dishesbydoe.com/2014/09/15/recipe-alert-cinnamon-danishes/

 

 

 

Spring Fruit Salad in a Sweet & Spicy Yogurt Sauce

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(4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 orange, peeled
1 pint strawberries
½ cup dark raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 apple, washed, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

With a paring knife, remove the white skin from the peeled orange and remove sections of orange from the surrounding membrane, making perfect bright-orange wedges.

Rinse the strawberries by dipping them in cold water. Remove the stems and cut berries in half.

Rehydrate the raisins by placing them in just enough hot water to cover, for 5 minutes. Then squeeze the rehydrated raisins to remove any excess water.

Place the walnuts on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes, .

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the fruit and nuts. In a large mixing bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice, hot sauce, pineapple juice, and yogurt. Whisk until well blended. Add the fruit/nut mixture, salt, and pepper, and gently mix. Place in a decorative or glass bowl and serve cold.

 

Graduate Success Story: Christopher Hall

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When you first meet Chris Hall, “leader” may not be the first word that comes to mind. But watch him in action in The Doe Fund’s Porter Avenue kitchen, and you’ll soon think otherwise.

Chris is a graduate of the Ready, Willing & Able program and has held multiple positions in The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts Department.

From his earliest days as a trainee in the Porter kitchen, he has brought an unparalleled passion and hustle to his work. He tackles some of the kitchen’s most arduous tasks–those that are critical to the success of any kitchen but often go unnoticed or underappreciated.

While he has evolved on many levels in his transition from trainee to staff and then onto supervisory roles in the kitchen, his industriousness and resilience have been a constant. As his supervisor, Chef Kronna Williams, puts it, Chris can “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!”

Chris’s commitment to his team, the trainees he serves, and The Doe Fund extends well beyond his own hard work. He has grown to become an educator and a mentor to trainees as well, providing a first-hand example of integrity, accountability, and initiative.

Leaders come in many forms. Chris is living proof that they can be born out of hard work and determination.