Saturday, April 17, 2010

Afternoon Quickie

Yes, yes, I said "quickie". Go on, go ahead and giggle like the 12 year olds you all really are at heart.

Ok, now get your mind out of the gutter and focus! My title refers to the quick and easy P-Dub recipe that I'll be talking about later in this post.

But first, I wanted to tell you all about this Food Writers' Panel I attended at Yale the other day. It was hosted by the Master of Berkeley College, and featured three fellow food bloggers who have done really well for themselves, out there in the world of food journalism.
Left to right: Monica Bhide, Andrea Nguyen, Kim Sunee

Two things are of paramount importance to Yalies - writing and food. Hence, the packed house!

I was really impressed with all three lovely ladies. They were so well-spoken and funny - I enjoyed everything they had to say, from how they got into food writing, to their feelings on being pigeon-holed as one type of writer. Their accomplishments could take up more than one post from me, so let me just say that all three have published books, appeared on various TV channels, including Food Network and Travel Channel. Plus, you may have seen their articles in a variety of popular food magazines. They go around the country giving talks like this one, and are all wonderful cooks in their own right. Check out the dishes they created for the Master's Tea.

Left to right: Saffron-almond cake by Andrea; Banana cake by Kim; Savory cheesecake with red pepper and tomatillo chutney by Monica (my FAV one of the three!)

You can look through Monica's recipes, and catch her at one of her appearances, by going to her blog A Life Of Spice. Kim will take you on an amazing culinary journey in her own blog. And if you love Asian food (and let's face it, most of us do!), check out Andrea's blog Viet World Kitchen.

So, dear readers, do I wish I had what they have? Hell. YES.

One of them said something that I know will stick with me forever. It's very simple, but really important for people striving to be good writers (emphasis on "good"). They said, "don't be fake, because readers will see through it soon enough, and that will ruin your credibility so fast that nothing will bring it back".

I actually think that's a good mantra for all our lives in general. Just don't be fake. Be true to yourselves. We all have something interesting to say and share with the world, so let's not pretend to be something we're not. It's the key to happiness I think - being content and confident with who we are.

Too bad I can't segue that satisfactorily into my recipe for today! The deadline to submit a P-Dub recipe for the next FFPW round-up is today, and I was desperately looking for a recipe I could throw together without running out to the store - not easy when you have a 3 month old to consider. Seriously, why do I feel like we have to pack a suitcase every time we take out this tiny wee thing? And I absolutely hate lugging around that infant car seat of his - weighs a ton! So luckily, Ree always has simple recipes that I can count on. This one, however, was one that she tried from her Tasty Kitchen contributers. More on what I thought about it a bit later.

Coffee-Toffee Bars (original recipe by nhsweetcherry and blogged by Ree, found here)

Makes 9 squares

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup Heath Bar Toffee bits
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8" x 8" baking pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together for 2 mins till light and smooth.

3. Mix in the vanilla, coffee, baking powder, salt and flour till you have a soft dough. Pat it into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the chocolate and toffee over the top. Bake for 20 mins. Cool on a rack, then cut into squares and serve as is, with coffee ... or better yet, coffee ice-cream!

Verdict: These definitely had a lot of potential. I'll admit that they were pretty good on the first day, but didn't fare too well after a night in the fridge. Still, ice-cream covers a multitude of sins, and after nuking the bars for 15 secs in the microwave, they were almost back to normal. I was experimenting with the toppings, and made the mistake of adding in the pecans - take note: don't do that. These bars aren't that sweet to begin with, and the pecans simply take away more of the sweetness. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll be making these again, but they're perfect when it comes to putting together something in a hurry - just in time for the Foodie Fans of the Pioneer Woman deadline!


Foodiewife said...

First, I so wish I could attend a food writer's conference. I so need help with that. I seem to be stuck on "wow", "delicious", "love it" and that's about the depth of my literary talent. Ah well, I still love blogging. Now, for this dessert of Ree's... awesome, Muneeba. I'm amazed that you pulled this off, in grand style!

Finla said...

I have the book from Monica Bhide; still have to make something from it though.

Unknown said...

I've never been to one of those panel food discussions. Occasionally there are food blogger meet ups in London, but I haven/t been to those either. Sounds like a great experience though.
Your toffee bars look fab!
*kisses* HH

nandini said...

Thanx for introducing these interesting people!!!... Will surely be checking out their blogs later.

I have my last bit of choco chips in the fridge... Now i have a recipe to use it!.

Future Grown-Up said...

Okay, I confess, I giggled like the 12 year old I am a heart. That said, the toffee bars look awesome!

Ann said...

toffee bars looks soo good. I totally agree with you in... being just what we are rather pretending!

Anonymous said...

Those squares definitely sound good with coffee ice cream!

Joanne said...

I think you FEEL like you have to take a suitcase because you do. It's called a diaper bag :P

I'm sorry these toffee bars weren't super fantastic. I really don't like nuts in baked goods (only on them!) so I probably would have left them out anyway. And possibly covered them with cream cheese frosting. Because that also absolves all sins.

That food writer talk sounds like so much fun!

Brook said...

Just a quick correction - Andrea Nguyen's in the middle. Sorry to have missed the event. It sounds like fun.


Unknown said...

Hi Muneeba, this is my first visit to your blog. You got a wonderful blog here :)

I have a question for you related to "the pioneer woman" blog that you have. There is this monthly event. Now it says create recipes of "Ree's" or from her blog. I do not have her book, but which one is her blog? "The Tasty Kitchen" or "" itself. Please clarify it for me as I want to participate in that event as well. Thanks in advance :)

I am a new blogger and here is my blog.

Kim said...

The conference sounds like wonderful fun (and also some pretty tasty treats)!

Your bars look great and I agree - ice cream does makes everything better:D

Sushma Mallya said...

Toffee bars looks yum, loved the clicks...

Deeba PAB said...

Oh Muneeba... u lucky thing to have such an interesting quickie... I shall not snigger here since I have already on FB! What an opportunity. I've reviewed Monica's book MS, and am thrilled that the Indian version is almost out. Waiting to receive my copy of that for review. I love the modern twist she gives to her recipes, and I love that savoury cheesecake! It's calling my name, as as these bars! Lady, you rock!! To be a new mama and still manage so much!
Re the vodka... skip it dahlin'. No substitute I think, but could be wrong. It's very optional because the original recipe doesn't have it. Claire Clark just says to bring the ice cream down to the fridge 15-20 minutes before serving to soften it up a bit. That works & how!

Unknown said...

Muneeba, thanks for visiting my blog and clarifying my doubts. I will surely try to be part of all the fun !!!

Jenny said...

Good tip, no pecans. And add ice cream. Got it! :-)

Kerstin said...

What a cool seminar - it must have been inspiring! And I wish I had one of your cookies right now, mmmm :)