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

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

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

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!

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

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)

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

Honey Butter Glaze:
1 c honey
1 c butter

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.


Impacting Food: Columbia’s Fifth Annual Sustainable Food Event

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On May 20th we had the pleasure of being a vendor at The Fifth Annual Sustainable Food Event presented by Columbia Business School’s Alumni Club of New York. This year’s theme was Tech to Table, exploring innovations in sustainable food chains which promote The Good Food Movement.

The Good Food Movement works to increase access to healthy, locally grown foods. The event opened with a panel that explored business opportunities and challenges in food technology and was followed by a reception with sustainable food from local vendors and restaurants. The event promoted a holistic and sustainable approach to nutrition while delving into the intersections of food justice and the various barriers that inhibit universal access.

Our Culinary Arts Program bridges the gap between social consciousness and sustainability, enabling access for all through our partnerships with Milk Not Jails and Corbin Hills. In honor of our commitment to social justice and food justice, we served up a sample of our menu that features fresh locally sourced produce from Corbin Hills Food Project, a nonprofit network of upstate farmers and downstate communities that aim to bring food to the places that need it most. The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts Program is dedicated to the advancement of health and well-being, exploring the medicinal and rehabilitative properties that food and cooking can provide. We were honored to share our food with a community of other like-minded people who are committed towards health and sustainability and look forward to more from The Good Food Movement!

RECIPE ALERT: Fresh Kale Salad and Balsamic Dressing

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The Doe Fund is committed to preparing healthy and nutritious meals for its many residents using ingredients that are freshest when in season.  Kale is one of our favorite cold weather crops and we wanted to share this simple recipe that was inspired by our very own urban farms! Located at both our Harlem and Porter Avenue facilities, we have been working hard to reduce our carbon footprint and put our empty spaces to good use!

In addition to kale, this year we have grown multiple varieties of herbs, leafy greens, root vegetables, berries, salad greens, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, okra, and sunflowers.

Kale Salad

1 lb kale
1/2 cup red onion
1/2 cup red peppers
1/2 cup green peppers
1/2 cup radish 
1/2 cup Balsamic dressing

Balsamic Dressing 

4 tb balsamic 
2 tb honey 
1 tb dijon mustard 
1 tsp basil and oregano 
1 tsp fresh garlic
1 cup olive oil 

Directions for the Kale Salad: Cut all ingredients into small strips. Add them to a large bowl and toss together.

Directions for the Dressing: Add the first 5 ingredients to a medium sized bowl and whisk in 1 cup of olive oil . Add salt and pepper to taste.  Dressing can be served on the side and/or tossed on the salad and served.