Talking Baked French Toast and Swollen Ankles with Molly Yeh
It was a fun Friday morning in the test kitchen.
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Sprinkles are her favorite food group "always and forever," so you know Molly Yeh was psyched when she saw the neatly organized cupboard filled with different types of sprinkles in the Martha Stewart Living test kitchen. That was just the start of our adventures with Molly, host of Food Network's Girl Meets Farm, author of Molly on the Range, and altogether one of the most fun foodies we've hosted.
During her visit, we learned that Molly loves sprinkles but doesn't like gumdrops. Together we decided on the next big food trend: bowl cakes. (Greg, our deputy food editor, has been a big booster for years.) And we marveled at the wonder that is the Scandinavian Princess Cake, a bowl cake extraordinaire and a favorite of both Molly and senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell. And, of course, we all got to eat Molly's Blintz Baked French Toast.
About the blintz: Molly loves a blintz, but for homemade blintzes you have to make crepes, fold them, and fry them, and it's "so dang time-consuming....I just really wanted to have blintz flavor with less work." That's why she adapted the blintz filling to become the custard for a baked French toast; using ricotta for its "milky-sweetness" rather than the traditional cottage cheese filling. It's one of her go-to brunches, "especially if I plan on being out late the night before." Molly preps the baked French toast the day prior and covers the dish with foil so she can transfer it straight to the oven the following morning: "You bake it covered for a little bit, then you uncover it and bake it until it gets brown."
We covered a lot of territory while Molly's Blintz Baked French Toast cooked. Lauryn and Molly bonded over their baby bumps, swollen ankles, and the challenges of working with food when you feel nauseous in your first trimester. "Everything smells so strong," Lauryn said, and Molly agreed. Also, things that had never tasted good to them before they were pregnant had become appealing: boxed mac and cheese for Lauryn, instant lunch for Molly. Now they're both in their final trimester and think those first trimester cravings are "gross." These days they're suffering from heartburn and try to combat that by eating lots of small meals.
We learned that Molly uses one of the test kitchen team's favorite tricks: rather than sifting flour she fluffs it, and she learned this from Martha. Another thing she learned from Martha via her own mom is her favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. The Martha recipe was her mom's go-to when Molly was growing up; "It has a tiny bit of nutmeg in it and is so good." When she makes the mac and cheese these days, Molly uses whatever cheeses she has in her refrigerator and she's made this dish so often she can "could make with her eyes closed."
We finished the morning not with mac and cheese but with big squares of the Blintz Baked French Toast that Molly tops with a blueberry compote and plenty of powdered sugar. It was, of course, simply delicious.