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Voicings: Molly Yeh Talks Mac & Cheese Toppings and More

In 2013, Molly Yeh traded the bustle of Brooklyn—where she had moved to study percussion at Juilliard—for a farm in North Dakota with her fifth-generation farmer husband. She picked up baking and a blog: the popular my name is yeh.

Today, my name is yeh has become a lifestyle brand in its own right. Beyond Yeh’s cakes, pastries, and riffs on Chinese and Jewish food—many cheese-covered, from picture-perfect desserts to her various takes on Midwestern hotdish—readers are privy to her travels and life on the farm.

The blog, once a hobby, has spun off in other directions, too. Yeh released the award-winning cookbook Molly on the Range (Rodale, 2016; $33) in 2016. And in the summer of 2018, Yeh took readers one step further on the farm as the host of the Food Network’s Girl Meets Farm. Between television tapings and Instagrammable desserts, we caught up with Yeh to chat cheese.

Growing up in the Midwest, how did cheese factor in your diet?

Cheese was one of the three things I ate growing up, the other things were bread and noodles. Grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese were my two favorite foods. And every special occasion was punctuated by my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese. She used Gruyère, cheddar, and sometimes fontina, and it was the best.

These days, what’s your favorite cheese and what do you love about it?

Fresh mozzarella, because there are few things more perfect than thick slices of it with a good tomato, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper on a fresh crusty bread situation next to a pool on a hot summer day.

When do you reach for cheese in your cooking?

I reach for it every Friday night for Pizza Friday. I also love it during the rest of the week and try to pair it each time with vegetables to be healthy—kale grilled cheeses are a regular lunchtime staple, and fried goat cheese salads are my new favorite dinner. I also love feta all over the top of my shakshuka.

What’s your ideal mac and cheese?

I had it for lunch today and in it was cream cheese, white cheddar, Swiss, chives, and hot dogs, and it was covered with panko and everything bagel topping and baked. And I like it with ketchup.

What are your favorite unconventional ways to use cheese?

I love adding savory salty additions to traditionally sweet dishes, and I’m always trying to find ways of doing that either subtly (which was the case with my Havarti and thyme cheesecake bars) or not so subtly (cheddar donuts!). 

You’re known for your riffs on the hot dish. What’s a recent favorite?

My braised chickpea hotdish is amazing with feta crumbled all over it.

What excites you about working on television after doing mostly online work?

The recipes [on the show] are inspired by my Chinese and Jewish heritage, my upper Midwest farm surroundings, and my time spent in New York. There are a lot of rainbow sprinkles and lots of cheese! One thing that’s been particularly awesome about this process is working with a television crew, I loved having them at the farm! I’m also excited about having a larger reach and hopefully inspiring more people to have fun in the kitchen.

What inspires you about digital food media right now?

I love that I can find inspiration through such far-flung things such as a bakery in Japan or a cake maker in Australia simply by scrolling through Instagram.  

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Photo courtesy of The Food Network

Bettina Makalintal

Bettina Makalintal is culture's former editorial assistant. With a background in the food industry and as a bike mechanic, she can often be found biking in search of new donut shops.

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