Tuesday, October 6, 2009


We were lucky enough to visit our dear friends Parker & Rachel in Washington, D.C. at the end of July. Parker is one of Mark's childhood friends and has always been close with his family, so much so that we joke that he or we are "Adjunct Family." Fran, his mom, is originally from Paris, TN, so we immediately bonded over the West TN connection. Fran Cohen is one of the most amazing cooks I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. The smell of her kitchen should be bottled and sold. I've always made special exception to eat anything I was offered by Fran Cohen, even lamb, which the idea of usually doesn't sit well with me. Heck, I'd go as far as to say that I'd eat a mayo-laden salad if she served it to me. I don't question Fran's food.

Fran would probably never offer me a mayo-laden dish as Parker has many, potentially life-threatening allergies: eggs, dairy, mushrooms, seafood, and nuts...I don't think I'm leaving any of them out. This, obviously, isn't great for Parker as he has to go to great lengths to explain his allergies to waiters/waitresses in restaurants. As I eschew eggs, dairy, and seafood (I have really tried to like it!), I am extremely empathetic to Parker's situation. I know first hand how blatantly uninformed and unapologetic some waiters/waitresses can be. Of course, Parker's situation is more serious, but geez, not everyone wants their food covered in white dairy. It's a treacherous, Ranch-obsessed world we're living it, don't blame me for asking about your "special sauce"!

Okay, that might be a bit of a mini-rant, but I've just had horrible experiences trying to avoid over-the-top dairy in my lifetime.

Anyway, we had a lovely time with Parker and Rachel in D.C. They put us up, drove us around, and made sure we hit up the best restaurants in D.C. That should be a post of its own and I might get around to that. I had one of the best meals of my life at Oyamel...appropriately enjoyed just before we visited the Holocaust museum (I figured I'd never want to eat again after that experience).

I don't think we experienced a bad meal in D.C. Rachel, like Fran, is an extremely knowledgeable and accomplished foodie. We spent our final night in town talking and preparing food. She's the only gal I know, other than me of course, who gets excited thinking about the possibility of making her own tomato paste. Hopefully we'll one day live in the same city and we'll spend many hours in the kitchen being food nerds together.

We talked about Rachel doing some guest posts here, Parker-friendly, sometimes vegan versions of the recipes I post.

Anyway, thanks to the Cohen's, we were introduced to Momos. They served as a bookend meal for the trip. On our first night in town, we went to a Nepalese restaurant where we tried several different types of momos that they picked out for us. My favorite of which was a beef filled momo served in a spicy tomato sauce. Rachel recreated the meal for us on Saturday night.

This recipe is her own creation and it is divine:
Momo dipping sauce
Recipe by Rachel Cohen

¼ c. olive oil (or less, depending on taste)
½ a large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp. tumeric
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 15oz. can tomatoes, undrained
½ c. cilantro, chopped

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the olive oil and onion. Cook the onion until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for two minutes. Ad the tumeric, cumin, and cardamom and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes along with their juices. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is mostly reduced. Add the cilantro and cook for two minutes. Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool. Pour cooled sauce into a food processor and process until mostly smooth.

For the filling, she used this recipe:
Meat Momo Filling
from Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak

2 ½ lbs ground beef, lamb, or whatever you prefer
1 c. cilantro, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 c.)
4-5 scallions (both white and green parts), finely chopped
3 fresh chilies, chopped (seeds removed if you don’t do spicy)
2 T. vegetable oil (use only if the meat is very lean)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground tumeric

Note: please, in order to avoid injury, use gloves when chopping the chilies. Just buy a box of disposable gloves and don’t sass. I’ve found that washing my hands afterward is never enough. Their are always some lingering burning juices! Though it makes for funny stories when someone touches a sensitive area with pepper hands, the pain is very intense. Don’t inflict it on loved one…or even enemies for that matter, I guess.

Tip: chop the chilies last, keeping the gloves on for mixing the meat. This way you don’t have to take your rings off, etc.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and ½ c. of water. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes, at room temperature, allowing the flavors to blend.

Rachel will now explain how to put it all together…

Assembling the momos: We use dumpling wrappers made from flour and water that we find at an Asian grocery near our apartment. You might be able to find egg roll wrappers at your grocery store, which I think might work—we don’t use them because Parker is allergic to eggs. (wf note: I use "gyoza wrappers" found in the frozen section of my Asian market. I buy a couple of packages and keep them in the freezer. The same is true for the chilies, put them in a zip lock in the freezer and take them out as you need them. My Asian market sells a massive amount of chilies for really cheap in the fresh produce section. Also, it'd be good to keep your garam masala in the freezer as well, as you probably don't use it very often).

Holding a wrapper in one hand, place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center and use the other hand to gather the edges and seal the stuffing inside by squeezing the edges tightly (wf note: I fill a small bowl of water and keep it beside my “assembly” area. I dip my finger in and cover the outside border of the wrappers—I’ve found this helps to seal them). Take care not to stuff it too full, or it will leak. Keep the filled momos and the unfilled wrappers covered with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Spray a steamer tray with cooking spray. Fill the base of the steamer with 3 to 4 inches of water and bring it to a full boil over medium-high heat. Place the momos in the steamer basket (don’t let them touch or they’ll stick together and fall apart when you try to separate them), set over water, cover and steam for 10 minutes. I have found that using a rubber or silicone spatula to gently lift the momos from the basket seems to work well to keep them from tearing apart when you transfer them to a plate.

These momos are excellent. We got home from D.C. late Sunday; Monday night we had momos for dinner. We've made this dish 3 times since and that's saying a lot given that we hardly do repeats in our house. The recipe above makes a ton of momos. The other night we scaled it down and only used 1 lb. of ground beef (our preference) and had enough for dinner and lunch the next day.

Momos are great dinner party food. A month or so ago we hosted a really successful get-together that couldn't have been easier. I simply made the fillings: a meat and a veggie, and everyone wrapped the momos together. I wish I had pictures, but that was during the interim of no camera. Kids got creative with their wrapping skills. We had team veg on one table and team meat on the other. It was real sweet.

The veg filling went like this:
Tarkaari Ko Momo
Mixed Vegetable Filling
Also from Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak

2 tab. Vegetable oil
1 c. onion (1 medium)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tab. Ginger, minced
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground tumeric
1/8 tsp. black pepper
½ head cabbage, shredded (2 c.)
2 c. fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (I used swiss chard)
1 med. Carrot, shredded (1 c.)
1 c. cauliflower florets, cut into ½ in. pieces (I used more chard and cabbage just because they needed to be used)
1 medium potato, peeled, boiled, and finely chopped (1 c.) (I think sweet potato would be great)
1 tsp. salt

1. Heat oil over med-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic, cook 3-4 minutes.
2. Add ginger, coriander, cumin, cayenne, tumeric, and black pepper. Stir for 30 seconds.
3. Add cabbage, carrot, spinach, cauliflower, potato, and salt. Continue cooking and stir until the liquid evaporates and the mixture is nearly dry. This step is important so that the filling will not soak through the wrapper.
4. Cool until room temperature.

The veg filling was oh so spicy, not too much for me, but you might scale back the spice if you aren't into that kind of thing. You can really use any assortment of veggies...whatever you have around.

I haven't made the following recipe, but wanted to present it as an option:
Tofu Momo
Also from Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak

2 tab. Vegetable oil
1 med. Onion, finely chopped (1 c.)
4 c. chopped fresh mushrooms (about 1 ½ lb.)
2 c. firm tofu, chopped into small chunks
2 med. Red potatoes, peeled, boiled, and finely chopped (2 c.)
1 small red or green bell pepper (1 c.)
2 hot green chilies, finely chopped (wear gloves!)
2 med. Garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp. ginger, minced
¼ c. cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cumin, ground
¼ tsp. coriander, ground

1. Heat oil over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until it softens, 3-4 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms, tofu, potatoes, bell pepper, green chilies, garlic and ginger. Cook stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated.
3. Add cilantro, salt, cumin, and coriander.
4. Let cool to room temperature.

So that's momos. They're great. We're planning to make them for sibs weekend in two weeks!


Sarah said...

Yay! Multiple Wendy-posts! I'm really enjoying these. Maybe I'm even getting a bit inspired?

Keep 'em coming, Mrs. Barrett-French (French-Barrett?)!

Rachel said...

We had the best time when you came to visit! We will plan a trip to Nashville sometime soon just to visit you and cook up a storm. Start thinking about something to cook over New Year's- you guys are coming to Cincy, right?

Parker's cousin was in town, so we actually ate dinner at Oyamel tonight. It was amazing, as always. We were thinking of you guys and wishing that you were there.

A note about the momo sauce recipe: when I write my own recipes I often forget to write in the salt, because I always add salt to taste. So, I usually do add some salt with the spices, and then check for salt again once it has cooled.

I was also excited to see multiple posts on your blog over the past few days. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

My friend taught me how to make tibetan momo's. for the mixture she used finely cut (a lot!!!) CHIVES, shallots, oil, ground beef, garam masala, salt, cilantro....how it was divine before I even steamed it!!! You will like it!!! My husband and I eat many momo variations from friends, but this one...is almost a secret!