A Trip to NYC, a Giveaway & a Recipe!

About to present my dish to the judges!

Happy Sunday!

A couple of weeks ago, I was chosen as one of five finalists to participate in a “toast-off” for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! The lovely people from ICBINB! flew me out to NYC to recreate my chosen recipe, Garlic-Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini at the Unilever test kitchen. Besides being terrified of the 6 hours flight, I was ecstatic about this exciting opportunity! 


Having a blast, watching Chef Norma Jean's demo! Photo Courtesy of Cheeky Kitchen

Before flying to NYC, I, like any other serious competitor, decided to size up my competition: Bren from Flanboyant Eats, Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen and Fiona from A Boston Food Diary. After glancing at each ladies’ toast-off recipe, I knew I was up for a big challenge!

Preparing my quick-fire challenge dish, avocado-marscapone spread on chocolate toast!

After arriving in NYC, getting some sightseeing and shopping out of the way, we headed to the Unilever test Kitchen. There, we were greeted by Chef Norma Jean, who demoed some of her fabulous recipes for ICBINB!, which can be found here. The demo was followed by a delectable lunch prepare by Chef Norma Jean and her staff.

When lunch was over, we were all ready for a nap. But, our laziness didn't last for too long... We were surprised with a  "quick-fire" challenge and told that the winner would win extra points towards their "toast-off" score!

Getting ready to present my quick-fire challenge dish to the judges!

I quickly spotted some avocados sitting on top of the counter and decided to pair it up with the chocolate bread I had gotten earlier during our morning brunch. I made a creamy avocado and mascarpone cheese spread. Even though, I got plenty of compliments and the avocado spread was gone quicker than I could say "butter", I didn't take the win.

Brooke, me, Bren, and Fiona. Courtesy of Cheeky Kitchen

Then, came time to prepare and present our toast-off recipes. I was the last to present to the judges. After huddling in a room for about ten minutes, they came back and announced the winner, Brooke and the Girlfriend Toast! Her simple and delicious spread had won her the title of "Toast Ambassador" and a hefty cash prize. But, as you can see from a the pictures, there were no sore losers. We all were truly happy for Brooke, for the experience we had on our NYC trip, and for getting the chance to meet each other!

My 'Toast-Off' dish, Garlic Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini

Now, for some exciting news...

First and foremost, my Garlic Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini recipe can now be found on Food Network's website! How cool is that? Just knowing that my recipe is up there mingling with the Stars' recipes puts a smile on my face! Pinch me!

Second, I've got a chance for y'all to win some cool prizes. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is offering you a chance to win a special kit that will help you recreate my recipe at home!

Here's what you'll get:

· Spreader and set of four herb jars
· Simply Calphalon Non-Stick 12" Covered Fry Pan
· Nonslip Bamboo Small Cutting Board
· Avignon Serving Platter

Now, I know you're dying to make these crostinis at home so here's how to enter:

- Must be a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar).
- Leave me a comment telling me about your go-to appetizer and/or dish when for entertaining and how you could incorporate I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in it! (Make sure your comment links back to an email address or provide me with your email so I can contact you if you win.)

+1 point:
Like Food Samba on Facebook

+1 point:
Follow Food Samba on Twitter and RT the following:
"I just entered a chance to win a #ICBINB cooking kit on @FoodSamba."

Giveaway closes on Monday, August 1st at noon PST. The winner will be contacted via email.

With the winner, Brooke, and her bread bouquet!

Avocado-Mascarpone Spread

1 small avocado
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp sugar

Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.
Using a fork, mash the avocado.
Add mascarpone cheese and sugar and mix until everything is well incorporated.


Cumin Spiced New York Steak with Brazilian Black Beer Glaze and Mashed Yucca

Have you ever tried Brazilian black beer? If you haven't, you need to put it down on your to-do list now!

I've been eyeing the Xingu beer we serve at the restaurant for a couple of weeks now. Not only is it enjoyable to drink (which is not something I usually say about beer), I knew it would be great to cook with. Xingu  is classified as a larger.and is surprisingly light and sweet with a cola-like taste. 

For my first time cooking with Xingu, I decided to transform it into a glaze. I sweat some shallots in a sauce pan, added some garlic, thyme, brown sugar ( just a touch, since the Xingu is pretty sweet already) and the Xingu beer. I let it simmer over medium heat until it reduced by half.

I bought a nice piece of bone-in New York steak and rubbed it down with salt and my secret stash of pimenta cuminho - equal parts of toasted and ground black pepper and cumin - which, of course, is an essential Brazilian spice.  After searing both sides of the steak,  to lock in the flavor and give it a wonderful caramel-colored crust, I popped it in the oven until it was cooked to my liking.

I decided to serve the steak and black beer glaze with a simple mashed yucca. I really wanted the flavors of the steak and glaze to be the star of the show!  

The glaze turned out absolutely fabulous! It added depth and complex flavors to this dish. The tidbits of garlic and shallots that had sucked up all the bold and sweet Xingu flavor were my favorite part!


Brazilian Black Beer Glaze

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp brown sugar
1 bottle of Brazilian black beer

In a sauce pan over medium heat add oil and sweat shallots 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent. Add thyme leaves, sugar and beer and  let simmer. When sauce has
reduced by half, remove from heat and it's ready to serve.


Cachorro Quente: Brazilian-Style Hot Dog

For some reason, we Brasileiros love to make everything our own. One of my favorite Brazilian-style foods has got to be our savory and saucy hot dog. I remember always wanting my mom to make it for me as a kid.

When I came to the US, I was highly disappointed with the dull version of a hot dog. It took me a while to get accustomed to a slab of grilled, unseasoned sausage on top of a cold roll, slathered with ketchup and mustard. But now, I’ve got to admit, you might see me in line for a Costco hot dog every now and then...

 In a Brazilian-style hot dog, we cook the dogs in a flavorful tomato sauce, filled with onion, peppers, and spices. But, we don’t stop the lovin’ there. We toast the rolls with butter until lightly golden, and then spread some mayonnaise on it. After assembling the dogs and sauce on the rolls, we top it off with some grated parmesan cheese and...ta-da!.....best hot dog of your life!

 Now, you may find that some Brasileiros, go even further and add other stuff onto their hot dog like, corn, peas, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and potato straws. I prefer the simpler version, but you're welcome to experiment adding the extra ingredients! What do you think? Do these have what it takes to take over and make you forget about your grill?

Cachorro Quente

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1cup water
1 packet beef franks (8)
8 hot dog buns
Grated parmesan cheese
In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and sweat for about 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, water and franks and cook until sauce thickens.

Butter hot dog buns and toast until lightly golden.

To Serve: Spread mayonnaise on a bun, add frank and a bit of the tomato sauce, and top off with parmesan cheese.