11/27/2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Brazilian-American Thanksgiving





This past month, Foodbuzz announced that they were looking for Thanksgiving dinner proposals for their monthly 24x24 event. I knew I had to send a proposal in for a chance to share with everyone my family's unique Thanksgiving dinner celebration. After submitting my proposal, I received an email from Foodbuzz stating that they'd not only accepted my proposal, but would provide me with some cash to cover my expenses!




My family came to the US nearly eighteen years ago. Throughout these years, we have truly made this country our homeland. Our lifestyle is completely blended and so are our holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday we celebrate in Brazil. After our first couple of years living in the US, we came to adopt this traditionally American celebration as our own. Thanksgiving took on a whole new light in my family.




We are a pretty blended bunch, which always makes Thanksgiving Day and other holidays extra special. Both of my parents were born and raised in Salvador, a city in northeastern Brazil. They were both over thirty when they migrated to the US. I was born in Salvador, but considered myself raised in Seattle. I came to the US at the age of six. Although I do remember my early years in Salvador, I think I did more of my growing up and developing here in Seattle. My little brother, Tony, was conceived in Salvador and born in Seattle. He is a natural born citizen of the US, but has pure Brazilian blood running through his veins. This Thanksgiving, as always, we were joined by Brazilian-born and American-born guests. Some bilingual, while others only speak their native language.




This year, we went for a tropical table setting, complete with a tropical fruit and vegetable sculpture centerpiece- thanks Dad! After a snowstorm that burst into town, this was perfect to take our minds off of the frigid cold we endured the past couple of days!





Our diverse menu featured some Thanksgiving classics with a Brazilian flair. Beginning with a bruschetta inspired by Brazilian flavors including, hearts of palm and cilantro, all the way down to the traditional after meal cafezinho (Brazilian coffee), this meal couldn't have been more perfect! 




When you have two nations of people who fall in love with each other, such as my family and friends, you don’t wish to take away from them their traditions. The purpose is to share in their joy. You begin to appreciate them and all the special and unique things they have to offer. As a family, you blend and, naturally, the focus comes off the holiday and right where it belongs – the family.





Dinner Menu


Bruschetta de Vinagrete
Toasted French bread, hearts of palm, tomato, cilantro, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar

Peru Asado Estufado com Farofa
Onion, garlic, and cumin roasted turkey with a farofa (manioc flour sautéed with onion, butter and bacon) stuffing

Arroz de Coco
Coconut scented jasmine rice

Feijão Preto
Slow cooked black beans with smoked pork, beef and sausage

Couve à Mineira
Thinly sliced collard greens sautéed with shallots, garlic, bacon and butter

Batata Doce com Calda de Maracujá
 Passion fruit glazed yams with a hint of cinnamon

Salsa Apimentada de Airela
Spicy Cranberry Salsa

Pudim de Abobora com Crosta de Nozes
Pumpkin Flan with Walnut Crust

Caipirinha de Romã
Pomegranate caipirinha

Cafezinnho
100% Brazlian Coffee


11/24/2010

An Exotic Twist on a Squash Soup...and an Annoucement!




If your anything like me, then this week is full of Thanksgiving madness and preparation! But, I wanted to take a quick break from it all to share with you a new recipe that I will be serving up at my family's Thanksgiving dinner this year: Coconut-Squash Soup.




 
This recipe is not only quick and simple - which is always useful when your planning a big dinner celebration - but, I love how it takes something pretty traditonal as a squash soup and gives it that little exotic twist with the coconut milk. Plus, there's nothing better to warm you up than a velvety smooth, rich soup, with a little hint of exotic nuttiness!





Coconut-Squash Soup

2 lbs squash, seeded
2 tbsp butter, melted
Salt
Pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp shallot, finely diced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup  coconut milk
2 cups water
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the squash onto a half sheet pan. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin. Pour butter over the squash, evenly. Place in the oven and roast for 40 to 45minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot over medium high heat, pour olive oil and shallots.  Cook until shallots becomes translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the cooked squash, milk, and coconut milk. Simmer over moderately low heat for about 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth.

Cook's Note: the cooked vegetable mixture can also be pureed by ladling, in batches, into a food processor or blender and blended until smooth.



Now, for my ANNOUNCEMENT...

I am proud to say that last Friday, I officially registered for classes at Seattle Culinary Academy!! I will begin classes in January! Sooner than later, I will be able to call myself Chef! I'm so excited to begin this new adventure - for the first time ever, I am counting down the days for school to start! And, of course, you guys will be coming along with me for this epic ride! BTW - I want to thank my loving and supportive family for encouraging and supporting me in this new journey. I couldn't have gotten here without you guys. :) Happy Thanksgiving guys - and gals!

And the Winner is......

Thank you to all who participated in my first ever giveaway. You guys rock and I wish I could send a gift to all of you! Unfortunately,  I did have to select a winner (who, by the way, was randomly selected using randomizer.org).

Congratulations to Lesley from One Cheap Chick! She will be receiving the ultimate brunch kit, provided by the wonderful folks from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

Brunch kit includes:
  • Time saving tips and sample recipes
  • $25 grocery gift card
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! VIP Coupon
  • Cuisinart Non-Stick skillet and spatula  
Stay tuned for the next giveaway and Happy Thanksgiving!


11/17/2010

Delicious & Healthier Brunch...and a Giveaway!




Butter. Who doesn't love butter? I know I do. I remember as a kid I would spoon butter over a bowl of rice and dive in face first. Yesterday, I caught my two year old daughter in the kitchen sticking her finger in a stick of butter, eating it as she hummed, "yuummmmm, uummm-ummmm". So I can pretty much say that our family loves butter! 







Earlier this week, the folks from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! sent me an amazing "Better for You" Brunch Kit. I have to be honest with you, I had never tried ICBINB! And, prior to receivng my kit, I had never even entertained the thought of cheating on my good old butter. But, after reading all the facts and recipes in my kit, I definately thought it was worth giving ICBINB! a shot! (Check out the facts here.)





  
For brunch, I decided to prepare a mostly egg white and chorizo frittata, herb roasted potatoes, and some whole wheat toast. I used ICBINB! spray to prepare all of the menu items. The spray has 0 calories, 0 transfat, no cholesterol and still managed to give each dish that rich, buttery flavor my family can't live without! (Check out ICBINB! recipes here.) 






The lovely folks at I Can't Beleive I'ts Not Butter! have graciously given you a chance to win your own brunch kit, including:

  • Time saving tips and sample recipes
  • $25 grocery gift card
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! VIP Coupon
  • Cuisinart Non-Stick skillet and spatula

Now, I know you want to win this prize pack!  Here's how to enter:

  • Become a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar).
  • Leave me a comment telling me about your favorite brunch item, if you have any brunch plans coming up, or just saying hi!
  • Make sure your comment links back to an email address so I can contact you if you win.
Giveaway closes on Wednesday, November 24th at noon PST. The winner will be contacted via email.

 


Disclosure: I received a brunch kit containing product information, a non-stick skillet, spatula, a coupon for a free I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! product and $25 gift card for groceries from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! to host a brunch. No monetary compensation was received or offered.







11/09/2010

2010 Foodbuzz Blogger Festival




This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending the 2010 Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. Thanks to Foodbuzz and Lactaid, I won an all expense paid trip to this foodie wonderland. I got to meet many of the faces behind some of my favorite food blogs and enjoy exquisite food and wine! Although I tried to take as many picture as I could, most of the time I was enjoying the moment and taking in the whole experience. Here are some of the pictures I did get to take:


Mini cupcakes at the Herbst Pavilion.



Short ribs taco.....rich and tender!




My  favorite at the Herbst Pavilion, Korean Taco! Amazing!




Chef Mary Sue Milliken sharing her Alaska Seafood taco!




This poor guy sat on ice for hours! But the Alaska Seafood tacos at the Taste Pavilion were worth the long line!







This chantrelle mushroom soup was heavenly!



Red velvet cupcakes, with Foodbuzz edible logo! How cute....




My winning avocado vanilla bean smoothie at the Moovision table in the Taste  Pavilion



Me at the Moovision table.



The jalapeno jam was surprisingly delicious!






Josie, from Daydreamer Desserts.


There was wine.....LOTS of wine......



I got to sit and chat with Damaris during dinner!



I really dislike beets, but this beet tart somehow vanished from my dinner plate.




Rosemary and garlic infused rack of lamb. Served with mushrooms and a butternut squash purée.



A fabulous brunch, presented by Nature's Pride.



A few of the lovely ladies I got to meet!

11/02/2010

Help! My Cow is Stuck in the Mud!

Stove top braised short ribs, yuca au gratin, and spicy tomato relish


I don’t know about you, but I love me some tender and flavorful short ribs! They are easy to prepare, only require one pot, and come out tasting like you slaved all day in kitchen cooking, when in fact you spent at most 20 minutes.





Monday was totally a comfort food kind of day in Seattle. Nothing else screams comfort food louder to me, than a pot of hearty short ribs! So, I decided to make my version of a Brazilian favorite, Vaca Atolada - which literally translate to "cow stuck in the mud". Where do Brazilians come up with these names?




I asked my mom about this interesting name and she said that the bones of the short ribs some times get stuck in the yuca - "the cow (shot rib's bone) stuck in the mud (yuca). We're pretty imaginative down south of the equator, huh?!



Fork-tender....


The traditional version of Vaca Atolada is short ribs and yuca simmered in a rich, flavorful broth. The result is a hearty stew that is typically enjoyed in Minas Gerais - a state in southeastern part of Brazil.

I decided to cook the short ribs the traditional way, but served the yuca as a accompaniment instead.


One perfect bite!

Short Ribs
2lbs short ribs
salt
pepper
cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic, diced
1/4 cup italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups beef stock

Season short ribs with salt, pepper and cumin and set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.

Add garlic and parsley and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste and short ribs. Cook until browned.

Add beef stock, cover pot, and cook for about 3 hours



I made a yuca au gratin, with Gruyere cheese. To die for - forget about polenta or risotto, the yuca goes perfectly with the short ribs...

Yuca Au Gratin
8 cups water
2 medium-sized yuca roots
salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil.

Peel and cut yucca into strips about 2" long and 1/2" wide. Add yucca into boiling water, add salt and cook until yucca is translucent and tender, about 25 minutes.

In a baking dish, layer 1/2 of yuca, 1 tbsp of butter, 1/2 of the cream and 1/2 of the Repeat layer in same order one more time.
Place baking dish into preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese had melted and is golden.


The finishing touch was a spicy tomato relish. The spiciness and tanginess of the relish really balanced the richness of both the short ribs and the yuca...

Tomate Apimentado

2 tomatoes
1tbsp balsamic vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
1tbsp olive oil
1 malagueta pepper (or red thai chili pepper)
salt
pepper
cumin
Brunoise the tomato and pepper, add to a small bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and serve.
______________
I am off to the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival on Friday! Thanks to Foodbuzz andMoovision, who chose my Avocado Vanilla Bean Smoothie as winner of the Gourmoo contest and is sponsoring my trip to the festival!