Harlem BBQ: Recognition & Recipe

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Today we’re pleased to share this perfect-for-summer dish, one of the many prepared for The Doe Fund’s annual summer BBQ by the Harlem Culinary Arts team.

For 20 years, the Harlem Center for Opportunity has provided training, education, and support to help formerly incarcerated and homeless men reach their potential. A few months ago, 38 Culinary Arts trainees became program graduates—that’s 38 more men who have transformed their lives and their futures through the power of opportunity and hard work.

One of the highlights from the BBQ was the special recognition Kronna Williams and Danny Djoro received for 10 years of service to The Doe Fund. Like many of our chefs, Kronna and Danny were once trainees themselves. Now they teach and mentor other men on their journey through the kitchen and onto a brighter future.

Congratulations to Kronna and Danny, and we hope you enjoy the recipe below!

Asparagus & Wild Mushroom Salad

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Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. asparagus spears, cut into thirds
1 ½ lbs. sliced mushrooms
½ cup diced red onions
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup diced green pepper
½ cup diced yellow pepper
½ cup olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°

Place all vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.

Spread vegetables on a sheet pan. Roast vegetables for 15 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

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: 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!

Apple Bread with Honey Glaze

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What better way to welcome the start of Rosh Hashanah than with a traditional apple bread with honey glaze? During the Jewish New Year, an apple slice dipped in honey is a way to express your hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. This recipe comes from our Director of Food Services, Chef Gino Dalesandro. Enjoy!

Apple Bread with Honey Glaze

Ingredients:
5 apples (peeled and chopped)
1¼ c butter
2½ c sugar
1¼ c buttermilk
3½ tsp vanilla
3½ tsp baking soda
3 c flour
6 eggs
(add walnuts if desired)

Topping:
1¼ c butter
1¼ c flour
1¼ c sugar
3½ tsp cinnamon

Honey Butter Glaze:
1 c honey
1 c butter

Directions:
1. Cream together butter and sugar until it becomes a paste
2. Slowly add eggs until it becomes absorbed
3. Mix all ingredients together until smooth while alternating from wet to dry
4. Add in chopped apples (and walnuts if desired)
5. Pour into 2 loaf pans
6. Combine all ingredients for topping until it clumps into small chunky pieces
7. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar topping evenly onto loaves
8. Bake at 325 degree for one hour
9. Place ingredients for honey butter glaze into pot. Reduce to thick syrup. Brush on cool loaves and serve.

 

RECIPE ALERT: Asian Beef with Pear Skewers

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This year’s sweet: New York was an unparalleled night of sweet treats and savory eats. The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts team was instrumental in the evening, serving up our famous homemade sliders and barbeque sauce as well as a variety of delectable hors d’oeuvres. The food was a hit on all accounts and there wasn’t a crumb left behind! The event sold out and accordingly many of our readers did not get to indulge in the culinary delight of sweet: New York. Have no fear though, because fresh from The Doe Fund’s kitchen vault we’re sharing one of our favorite recipes from the night. Our Asian Beef with Pear Bite appetizers are the perfect balance of savory and sweet…a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and a surefire way to impress your guests at your next party! Because the recipe incorporates pear it has a subtle sweetness. While it is certainly optional, this recipe can be further elevated by the addition of grilled pear.

Ingredients:

1 lb. of beef tenderloin or hanger steak, cut into bite sized strips
1 pear cut into 1 inch cube
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnish

 
Marinade:
1 cup of pear juice
1 ¼ cup pureed onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 chopped scallion stalk
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
Pinch of ground white pepper
1 tbsp. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly mix all marinade ingredients together in a blender
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the beef and pear with the marinade
  3. Let the beef and pear marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator or overnight for a tougher cut of beef
  4. Grill the beef and pear together. The beef is best cooked over a high flame for approximately 1 minute on each side, until the beef is medium rare
  5. Arrange the steak bites on skewers with the grilled pear
  6. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions to your liking