Words by Tracy Nicholson, Molly Yeh
Photography by Chantell & Brett Quernemoen
When in doubt, add sprinkles! In the East Grand Forks kitchen of Molly Yeh, this mantra is a recipe for success. A transplant from the Chicago suburbs, Yeh married into the farm life, learned to embrace the country, and eventually started a food blog to chronicle her kitchen endeavors. Her blog, my name is yeh, became the perfect avenue to fuse her Jewish and Chinese heritage with Midwest comfort food and family favorites. A few impressive awards, thousands of followers and a best-selling cookbook later, Yeh’s kitchen creativity had officially caught the eye of Food Network. Nearly one month ago, Yeh debuted her TV series, Girl Meets Farm, giving viewers a glimpse inside her sweet and sprinkled passion for food, family and the farm.
Meet Molly Yeh
Influencing her eclectic cooking style, Yeh grew up in the Chicago suburbs with a Chinese father and Jewish mother, followed by a post-high school life in New York City studying percussion at Juilliard. After getting married and starting her food blog, Yeh relocated with her husband to a sugar beet farm in East Grand Forks, N.D., where she currently resides.
Yeh is the author of the International Association of Culinary Professionals award-winning cookbook, “Molly on the Range.” She is the creator of the critically-acclaimed and highly popular food and lifestyle brand “my name is yeh”, which has been recognized by the likes of the New York Times, Food & Wine, New York Magazine, Saveur (“Blog of the Year”) and Yahoo (“Food Blog of the Year”). She was also in the ranks of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for 2017.
Girl Meets Farm
In the seven-episode series, Girl Meets Farm, Yeh gives Food Network viewers a glimpse inside her life and kitchen on their East Grand Forks farm. While her nostalgic, farmhouse kitchen creates a worldly fusion of cuisine and sweets, many would say it’s her charm that has stolen the show. Infusing elements of five-star, fine dining with Midwest comfort foods and artfully crafted desserts, Yeh is now one of the most sought-after food bloggers and cookbook authors today.
If you missed the premiere episode, Yeh made an eclectic buffet for her sister-in-law Anna’s baby shower. On the menu were Fish Tacos with Crunchy Cabbage Slaw and Cilantro Dressing, Pigs in a Blanket with Harissa Ketchup and Honey Mustard, as well as Molly’s signature Meatball Sliders with a Twist.
As with all of Yeh’s kitchen endeavors, the experience is not complete without a sweet ending. Baked Donuts with Rhubarb, Blood Orange and Blueberry Glaze took center stage on the shower’s dessert table. Upcoming episodes feature Yeh’s family visits, girl’s brunch, farm supper, a special anniversary celebration and recipes like her Garlic and Onion Challah, Dark Chocolate Scone Loaf with Marzipan and Scallion Pancakes with Maple Carrot Slaw.
“Molly is full of life and her unlikely journey from the big city to a food-centered life on a Midwest farm is fascinating,” said Courtney White, Executive Vice President, Programming, Food Network and HGTV. “Her passion for food, her family and farm life are front and center in all of her recipes, which are truly written from the heart.”
Midwest Nest Meets Molly Yeh!
Whether you reside in Grand Forks, Bismarck or Fargo, everyone seems to know everyone, right? It seems nearly impossible that Yeh has managed to quietly create her foodie empire, right in our own backyard. If you haven’t followed her wildly popular food blog, viewed her new show, or ventured to one of her local cookbook signings, now’s your chance to get to know this locally-based talent on a more personal level. Midwest Nest sat down with Yeh to get the lowdown on life on the farm and her new Food Network show, Girl Meets Farm.
Q&A with Molly Yeh!
From growing up near Chicago to settling down on a farm in East Grand Forks, how has this changed or inspired you?
Yeh: It has opened my eyes to hotdish and cookie salad! I thought that adjusting to East Grand Forks wouldn’t be very drastic since I grew up in the Midwest, but the upper Midwest is so different from the suburbs of Chicago and it has been so fun and delicious to learn about this whole new world.
What do you think has been the biggest factor in the creation of your lifestyle brand and becoming an award-winning cookbook author and blogger?
Yeh: Hard work. I am definitely inspired by how hard my farmer husband and other farmers in the area work. At first, I was shocked at the million-hour days and weekend work days that farmers put in during the season, but then I just thought, well, I guess I’ll just spend that time decorating cakes and blogging about it!
When did you find out that you were being considered for a Food Network show?
Yeh: When my book Molly on the Range came out. A few folks from the network set up a meeting when I was in New York for the launch and it was great! Their offices are right above my favorite hummus place.
Did you film at your farm and what/how long was the shoot process?
Yeh: Yes, we shot the pilot in December and that took a week, and the rest of the season was shot over two-and-a-half weeks in April.
From what readers and followers know of you now, is there anything that you will be doing differently on the show?
Yeh: I’ll be showing them more of the farm and of Grand Forks than I do on the blog. They’ll see my trusty old Buick boat cruising around town.
How will you fuse your background, culture and family into the show?
Yeh: Pretty much all of the recipes draw inspiration from my Chinese and Jewish heritage, my upbringing and my new surroundings. There will be a whole episode about Chinese food with my dad, an episode with my mom’s brisket and a show centered around hotdish.
What do you want Food Network viewers to take away from Girl Meets Farm?
Yeh: How fun, colorful and meaningful food can be. Cooking for others has always been my favorite way to show people that I love them and it’s also been my window into learning about my heritage and other cultures, so if I can show others how to do the same, then I’ll be satisfied.
Who in your life do you consider to be your greatest inspiration or mentor?
Yeh: My mom is my biggest inspiration in the kitchen. She’s an amazing cook and baker, and I keep a binder of recipes that she made for me. I love having them near, it’s like we’re hanging out in the kitchen together.
For your youngest fans who want to bake and blog, what kind of advice can you offer for pursuing their passion?
Yeh: Share your unique perspective and story and always push yourself to learn and improve. And when in doubt, add sprinkles!
What has life been like since the show debuted on June 24th?
Yeh: Really fun because each episode brings another opportunity to connect with my Instagram friends and see what recipes they’ve been making from the show.
What does your family, community and husband think of your TV debut and success?
Yeh: I think they’re happy as long as they get to be my first call taste testers!
When you first moved to East Grand Forks, what did you feel was the funniest or most surprising characteristic of the region?
Yeh: That people leave their cars running in the parking lot of the grocery store in the winter.
Where/how did you first meet your husband and will he be an active part of the show?
Yeh: In college through mutual friends and yes, he has the best lines of the show! I was at Juilliard then, focusing on contemporary music.
What are your favorite things to bake/cook?
Yeh: Cakes. I love baking cakes for anyone, for any occasion. I also love making hummus and hotdish for people. I really like using tahini and wish good tahini was more widely available in the states – same with marzipan, machlab, naturally colored sprinkles and rosewater.
What is the most challenging recipe you have ever tried and why?
Yeh: Halva, a Middle Eastern candy that’s like the inside of a Butterfinger but made with ground sesame seeds. I failed my first few times and it was maddening because the ingredients are not cheap. In retrospect, I think it was because my candy thermometer was broken.
What are some of your favorite restaurants or stores in the F-M or Grand Forks areas?
Yeh: Toasted Frog, Rhombus Guys, Darcy’s, Unglued, Bernbaum’s, India Palace, Kittsona, Zandbroz, Blue Moose and the Prairie Roots Food Co-op.
Chocolate Sheet Cake with Pistachio Butter Frosting
Molly Yeh from my name Is yeh
Makes one 9″ x 13″ sheet cake
1 3/4 c. (350g) sugar
1 3/4 c. (223g) all-purpose flour
1 C. (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 c. (240g) buttermilk
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1/2 c. (100g) flavorless oil
3/4 c. (178g) boiling water
1 c. (128g) roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted)
1 c. (225g) unsalted butter, softened
3 c. (360g) powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt (omit if pistachios are salted)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbs. heavy cream
Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and line the bottom of a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Whisk in the boiling water.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan.
Make the Frosting:
First, make the pistachio butter. In a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and pistachio butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest and then heavy cream.
Spread all over the cake, decorate as desired and enjoy!
Everything Bagel Galettelettes with Tomatoes & Scallion Cream Cheese
Molly Yeh from my name Is yeh
Makes 8 mini galettes
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
14-15 oz. pie dough (homemade or store-bought)
1 beaten egg for egg wash
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
3 chopped scallions
1 egg yolk
1 tbs. flour
Everything Bagel Topping:
1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
Preheat the oven to 400º.
– Slice the tomatoes then lay them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt so that some moisture drains out of them.
– Divide the pie dough into 8 balls. Roll out each ball into a circle that’s 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
– Mix together cream cheese, scallions, egg yolk, flour and pepper until smooth and well-combined.
– Mix together the everything bagel topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Brush the edge of the rolled-out dough with egg wash, spread with filling and top with tomatoes. Fold over the edges and pleat. Brush the outside edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with the everything bagel topping.
Bake galettes for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Enjoy!
Follow Molly Yeh!
- Catch episodes from her TV series, Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
- Watch video exclusives with Molly Yeh and get how-to’s on cake decorating and making your favorite childhood snacks at FoodNetwork.com/GirlMeetsFarm.
- Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GirlMeetsFarm.
- Follow Yeh on Facebook and Instagram @mynameisyeh.