Friday, January 14, 2011

Restaurant review: Moghul Indian Cuisine

I was thrilled to see a new Indian place had opened in Winter Park, Moghul Indian Cuisine. Until now, we've had to drive a long way for Indian food, and much as I like Kohinoor (in Longwood) and Woodlands (south Orlando), spending a half hour to forty-five minutes in the car to get Indian, when you already live in a city, is depressing... Moghul Indian Cuisine is on Semoran Boulevard, just across the street from La Granja, the excellent Latin American rotisserie chicken place. The only reminder of its former glory as a Krystal burger joint is the tiny industrial bathroom. Otherwise, the place has been transformed. And it was packed with customers. I hope this is a good sign that a place like this can survive.

We started with savory potato samosas. Chicken tikka masala was excellent, tangy and creamy, with tender chicken chunks. Also terrific was the vegetarian malai kofta, hot garlic naan bread, and a very respectable gulab jamun for dessert. Gulab jamun is basically donuts in a hot syrup, but at a lot of restaurants, the donuts taste chewy and have obviously been heated up in a microwave. Here, they were perfect. But I get ahead of myself. Beghun bartha, an eggplant-tomato dish, with peas, was good, lamb vindaloo just so-so. Vindaloo is supposed to be spicy, right? And if you order medium hot at most Indian places, it should blow you through the roof. The medium here was not particularly hot. That was okay with Sofia. She ate a little of everything and managed to behave herself pretty well for 2 hours.

Prices are typical Indian restaurant prices. The service was okay - they're still finding their way a little bit and don't quite know their menu. But everyone was friendly and they're trying. And we did not have to wait long for our food. I plan to return and am also hoping they do take-out. I can see myself becoming a regular customer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pappardelle with Pistachio Pesto

I was inspired this week by Mark Bittman's recipe in the Minimalist column of the New York Times for pasta handkerchiefs, or fazzoletti. The description made pasta-making sound so easy - preparing it in the food processor, rolling it out, cutting it into squares. I've made pasta before using my parents' pasta maker, which was always labor intensive and never seemed to turn out particularly well for me. But this was a revelation. I made one batch as squares, just like Bittman shows you (watch his video, because you see how easy it is), and it was good but too thick. Then for another batch, I rolled the dough out even thinner and cut it into pappardelle, a little wider than fettucine.

The other revelation that has happened lately is that my 2 1/2 year old is suddenly very interested in helping me cook. She likes to get on her stool and help knead, stir, or whatever I'm doing. Keeping her away from hot things and knives, of course, is the challenge, but it's so exciting for me, since until now, whenever I cooked, she would only to my legs, whine and demand I do something else. (This is also accompanied by her new favorite iPhone distraction, watching cake decorating videos on YouTube. I don't quite know how we discovered them, but they are a hit).

I didn't use Bittman's accompanying pesto recipe. I had a pesto recipe I wanted to try, which I copied from a magazine in a doctor's office, though I can't remember its source. The pistachio pesto accompanying this super easy pasta is terrific - great for winter, when basil is harder to come by. And with the spinach, it's good for you too.

Pappardelle with Pistachio Pesto

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Put flour and salt in food processor, pulse a few seconds to combine. Add eggs, turn on the food processor, and wait until dough comes together in a rough ball. Put on a floured surface and mold into a ball, but you don't have to knead it too much. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for later.

After thirty minutes, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Add flour as needed to keep from sticking. Cut into ribbons. Into a wide, large pot of boiling water, throw pasta and cook 2 minutes. Reserve a little pasta water as needed to supplement pesto if too thick. Serve immediately, topped with pesto and a little grated parmesan.

1/4 cup pistachios
1 cup packed spinach
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic

Throw everything into food processor. Blend until it forms a slightly chunky sauce. Serve over pasta.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

My friend Charlene gave me a little bag of these amazing cookies with the recipe tucked inside. They were so good she must have known I'd want to make them. Which I did, repeatedly, which might explain why my clothes don't fit anymore. (There's also no picture because they didn't stay on the plate long enough to record for posterity). So I'll have to swear off desserts for awhile, though I'd like to find this recipe here, reminding me to make it, for once those clothes start to fit again.

These are like oatmeal lace cookies - slightly crunchy yet moist. My version is adapted from the original, from HEALTH magazine and originally a creation of one of the Real Housewives of New York. This is another excellent recipe if you get the urge to consume cookie dough, since there are no eggs involved. You can adapt it by swapping out chocolate chips and using raisins and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon instead. Also, despite the presence of banana, they don't taste particularly banana-like, so don't be deterred by that ingredient if not a fan. (Bananas help to bind in the absence of egg).

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup oat flour (grind up some old-fashioned oatmeal in the food processor for this - or just buy a bag at Whole Foods - Note:
don't use regular flour. Cookies will come out more cake-y and won't be as good.)
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tblsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
slightly more than 1/4 cup white sugar (you could probably experiment with something healthier)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk (can be soy milk if you want it to be vegan)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana, cut into tiny pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or other favorite nut
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
a handful of dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 6 ingredients (through sugar) in a bowl. Whisk together oil, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients; stir to combine. Fold in banana, walnuts, and chocolate chips and cranberries.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Parchment paper is THE BEST - I use it all the time now. Scoop small spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown, turning baking sheet halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack. Makes about eighteen cookies.