Girl Meets Farm

Chinese Family Faves

Episode Summary

Molly celebrates a visit from her dad by making a variety of family favorites including Chicken Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce, Scallion Pancakes with Maple Carrot Slaw, Green Beans with Magic Sesame Sauce and Sprinkles Cake. Below are the recipes used in today’s episode: Chicken Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce: Green Beans with Magic Sauce: Scallion Pancakes with Maple Syrup Slaw: Sprinkles Cake: Listen to cookbook author, food blogger and Midwest transplant Molly Yeh prepare dishes inspired by her Jewish and Chinese heritage – with a taste of the Midwest – explaining her recipes and tips along the way. Want even more of Molly’s recipes? Stream full episodes of Girl Meets Farm on discovery+. Head to to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.

Episode Notes

Molly celebrates a visit from her dad by making a variety of family favorites including Chicken Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce, Scallion Pancakes with Maple Carrot Slaw, Green Beans with Magic Sesame Sauce and Sprinkles Cake.

Below are the recipes used in today’s episode:

Chicken Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce:

Green Beans with Magic Sauce:

Scallion Pancakes with Maple Syrup Slaw:

Sprinkles Cake:

Listen to cookbook author, food blogger and Midwest transplant Molly Yeh prepare dishes inspired by her Jewish and Chinese heritage – with a taste of the Midwest – explaining her recipes and tips along the way.

Want even more of Molly’s recipes? Stream full episodes of Girl Meets Farm on discovery+. Head to to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.


Find episode transcript here:

Episode Transcription

[MUSIC PLAYING] MOLLY YEH: Today, my dad's coming to the farm for an evening jam session. And we'll be cooking some Yeh family favorites.




MOLLY YEH: They're so good. Chicken potstickers, scallion pancakes with maple carrot slaw, and green beans with my magic sesame sauce, and for dessert, my sprinkles cake.




MOLLY YEH: Hey, this is me, Molly Yeh. I'm a cookbook author and food blogger. This is my husband, Nick. And this is our home, our farm on the North Dakota-Minnesota border, the place where I eat, sleep, and breathe food. My food is a delicious mix of my Chinese and Jewish heritage and the taste of the Midwest.


My dad is coming for a visit today. I am so excited. We share a love of food and music. He plays clarinet in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


And we also share a birthday. So I am making my homemade sprinkle cake, which is a dense, moist vanilla cake dotted with colorful sprinkles. It is a slice of childhood.




The first thing I'm going to do is grab my whole milk, and my extracts, and sprinkles, the most important part. I'm going to grab some all-purpose flour. I like to fluff up my flour before measuring it out, so I don't run the risk of adding too much flour because too much flour could create a dry cake. And a dry cake is one of my biggest fears in life.


I'll add some cornstarch now, which is going to lighten up the crumb. And salt, it's always important to salt your sweets, to even out that flavor. And some baking powder. I'll give this a whisk, just to combine these. And then I'm going to set it aside.


OK, now, in my mixer bowl, I'll add 1 cup of softened unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cup of sugar. And, even though I have the butter in here, I'm also going to add some flavorless oil, and this is because I'm only using egg whites in this cake. Different ingredients that are slightly brown or yellow could darken the color of the cake and make it less bright. So, because I'm taking the yolks out of my eggs, that's going to take away some of the richness, and so, by adding oil, we're putting some of that richness back into the cake. I'm going to turn my mixer on to medium and let it go for about three to four minutes, until it's light and fluffy.




While this is going, I'll separate out my eggs, using 4 egg whites here. OK, it's looking great. It's light and fluffy. With my mixer on, I'm going to add my egg whites, one at a time. And the reason that we add our egg whites one at a time is to make sure that they combine evenly with the butter, and sugar, and oil.


Next, I'm going to add my extracts. So I'm using clear imitation vanilla, and then I like adding just a tiny bit of almond extract because it enhances that vanilla flavor. I'll retrieve my dry ingredients and then measure out 3/4 of a cup of milk. And with the mixer running on low, I'm going to add the dry and the milk in three alternating batches, mixing just until they're combined. This is a beautiful, bright white, fluffy batter.


I love making this cake because it brings me back to my childhood birthday parties, when a sprinkle cake was the ultimate birthday cake to have. I don't want to overmix this because that could create a chewy, dense crumb. So I actually like stopping my mixer before everything is 100% mixed in. There are some little flour bits hanging out around the sides and around the mixer, but as I fold in my sprinkles, those will get incorporated.


OK. Let's talk about sprinkles. What I found was that the best sprinkles for a sprinkle cake are the classic kind that you would find in the ice cream sundae aisle, these bright little cylinders. They stay beautiful in the oven. I'll sprinkle these in evenly over the batter.




And then, in as few folds as possible, I'll get these sprinkles evenly dispersed throughout the batter. I don't want to overmix the cake because that could create a chewy crumb. I also don't want these sprinkles to bleed that much in the batter. So just a few folds and then we're going to go.


I'll distribute this batter evenly into the pans. It doesn't have to be totally exact. These layers are pretty thin, but that's how I like it because, then, the cake-to-frosting ratio leans more on the frosting. That's a good thing. It doesn't need to be perfectly smooth on top because it will even out in the oven.


And I will stick these into bake for about 25 minutes at 350, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I love to see the sprinkles that are still at the top of the layer, even after they're baked. Let me test. Perfect. I'll leave these to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely, and then I can get on to my favorite part, decorating.




I spread a thick layer of vanilla buttercream frosting over my cake. I made my own with a whole lot of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and some whole milk, but store-bought is OK, too. I like to make sure it goes just over the edges.


I place my second cake on top, and then I layer again with frosting. I add the third and final layer of cake on top, give it a good pat down. I love the way the buttercream squishes off the edges. Then make sure all of the outside is covered, too.


I like to pop the cake in the fridge, just for 10 minutes or so, for the first layer of frosting to firm up. It's much easier to apply the second layer, that way. I don't like any of the cake to show. It's the perfectionist in me. I'm getting there.


This is the scariest part, leveling off the top. And then I decorate with lots of colorful dots. I'm going to do random polka dots everywhere. The hardest part is knowing when to stop. And the final touch, my sprinkles.


When I was a little girl, my dad helped cultivate my love for music and Chinese culture. I'm so glad we're going to be able to celebrate both of those today. Tonight, we are having potstickers with extra doughy wrappers.


SPEAKER 1: My favorite.


MOLLY YEH: Should we get started?




MOLLY YEH: I have 4 cups of flour here, and I'm going to add salt to this and some boiling water. Boiling water in the dough, here, inhibits some of the gluten in the flour. It'll make a tender texture and a dough that's not overly chewy.


SPEAKER 1: I hear the chickens are cackling outside. [LAUGHS]


MOLLY YEH: Your grandchickens.


SPEAKER 1: My grandchickens? [LAUGHS]


MOLLY YEH: This is the same dough that I'm going to be using to make scallion pancakes, later on, too. So we're making a double batch here, and we're going to divide it in half.


SPEAKER 1: Can we put more water in?


MOLLY YEH: Well, now we add cold water, and this will bring everything together into a dough. Should we knead it?




MOLLY YEH: Let's do this with our hands.




MOLLY YEH: Scrape it all out. And now we'll knead this for about 7 or 10 minutes, until it's nice and smooth.


SPEAKER 1: It looks good.


MOLLY YEH: Yes, just like grandma?


SPEAKER 1: Just like grandma used to make. When you were really little, she came over and she made these. And she caused somewhat of a ruckus because she wouldn't allow anybody else in the kitchen.


It was like, you guys, stay away. I'm going to make it gyoza. And it was like, OK, OK.


MOLLY YEH: OK. But this is good.


SPEAKER 1: Good.


MOLLY YEH: Why don't you just dampen that towel?




MOLLY YEH: This is going to set aside, to rest. And I'm going to cover it with that damp towel, so it doesn't dry out. Letting it rest will make it easier to work with. While the dough rests, we're going to make the filling.




It's just some ground chicken, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and chicken broth mixed in a bowl. I know that Grandma makes pork filling, but we're going to make a chicken filling.


SPEAKER 1: That's fine. That's basically the same texture.


MOLLY YEH: Yes. But one thing I really love about our family's potsticker recipe is that it's heavy on the fresh ginger. I'm peeling this fresh ginger with the spoon.


SPEAKER 1: I could never peel ginger--


MOLLY YEH: It's easy. How do you peel it?


SPEAKER 1: With a knife.


MOLLY YEH: Oh, yes, see, it comes right off.


SPEAKER 1: I usually waste about half of it, which is--


MOLLY YEH: Yes, see, you don't waste it when you peel it with a spoon.


SPEAKER 1: Oh, that's a good idea.


MOLLY YEH: I'm just getting the peel off, and then I'm going to grate it. I'm going to take away half of these. The green bits are good to go in the sauce. It just makes it really pretty. And then the other half, you can toss in there.


I'm going to add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt in here, some fresh black pepper. And I like some sweetness, so I like adding a couple of teaspoons of sugar. I have my dad to thank for my love of music and eating.




MOLLY YEH: My dad mostly plays orchestra music. He's in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


SPEAKER 1: I knew Molly loved percussion when she started to bang on the pots and pans in the kitchen,


MOLLY YEH: We both went to Juilliard. And, funny enough, that's where I also met my husband, Nick--




--whose mom also plays music. I've divided my dough in half. And I'm keeping aside half of the dough for my scallion pancakes. And with this half of the dough, I'll divide it into 24 pieces and roll them into balls.


I'm rolling out these balls of dough until they're about three to four inches in diameter. That'll give them a proper thickness. I take a spoonful of the chicken mixture and plop it into the dough.


SPEAKER 1: All right. This is the important part.




SPEAKER 1: Crimp them.


MOLLY YEH: Crimp it into a half moon shape.




I'll stick these in the refrigerator until it's almost time to head to Nick's parents' house. Then I'll cook them the way Grandma Yeh used to do it. Do you want to take the cake across to Roger and Roxanne's?


SPEAKER 1: Oh, sure.


MOLLY YEH: OK. And then I'll meet you over with the dumplings.


SPEAKER 1: Awesome.


MOLLY YEH: Be careful.




MOLLY YEH: Don't eat it on the way.




MOLLY YEH: While my dad's bringing the cake across the street, I'm making my magic sesame sauce to go on some green beans. It's sweet. It's salty. It's nutty.


I put it on vegetables, on noodles, on salads. And it's really, really easy to make. Let me just grab a bowl.


And the measurements for this recipe are really easy to remember. It goes 1, 2, 2, 3, 3. 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, now I'll add 2 cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of tahini. And this will help thicken the sauce and make it creamy and delicious.


And I'll whisk, to combine. It'll thicken slightly, as I whisk it. And that's basically the tahini absorbing the moisture from the soy sauce.




OK. I'll set this aside, while I cook up my green beans, which has been boiled for a few minutes, to cook them in the middle. And now I'll finish them off by sauteing them in some oil.




Ow, that's just a loud sound. I'm just cooking these for a few minutes, until they're tender and gets a nice color on them. Some of them might get some brown bits on the bottom, and that's a good thing.


These are looking great. They're bright. They're crisp. I'll turn the heat off and transfer them to another burner, to stop them from cooking. And then I'm going to toss the sauce directly into the pan.


This sauce is liquid gold, so I want to make sure to scrape it all out of my bowl. I'll give these a toss, just to get my green beans evenly coated. And I'll get these onto my serving plate. Oops, flying beans.


OK. And I like these with an extra bit of spiciness, so I'm going to drizzle these with sriracha. It also adds a beautiful color on top. And some more sesame seeds, and these are ready to go. Easy.






Mm. It's pancake time. So I am starting on my scallion pancakes, to go with my maple carrot slaw. This is truly one of my favorite bites in the universe. The salty, crispy, chewy pancake and the sweet, crunchy slaw is what dreams are made of.


This is a dish that I used to make for my house concerts, when I lived in Brooklyn. I would have all my musician friends over, and they would play some of their new music. And I'd feed them scallion pancakes.


Those nights were a little wild. We're not going to get that wild tonight, but we're going to have a little bit of the same energy. It'll be great.


I've got my scallions finely chopped here. And I'll grab my dough. This is the same dough that I used for my potsticker wrappers. I'll divide this up into four slightly larger pancakes, but if you want to make smaller ones, you can just divide it up into more pieces. Roll these into balls.


I could eat scallion pancakes any time of day. They're a perfect late night food because they're a little bit fried and salty. But you could throw an egg onto this whole situation and call it brunch.


And I'll roll this out into a thin, flat circle. And now I'll brush this with a thin layer of sesame oil. And the flavor of sesame oil is going to get layered throughout this dough and make this thing so good. And I'll sprinkle on some scallions. I'm going to add some fresh black pepper--




--and some crushed red pepper. The peppers are just to taste. At the bare minimum, you need that sesame oil and the scallions. And if you want to add other seasonings, go wild.


I'll roll this up. And I'm rolling it pretty tightly, to lock in those scallions. And now I'm going to make a swirl, like a snail, and I'm going to set this aside, while I roll out the rest of my dough.


Before I roll these out, I'm going to get my oil into my pan, so that it's hot and ready by the time these are ready to fry. I'm rolling this out gently. Inevitably, one of the scallions does poke through. Its fine, rustic. It's going to taste the same.


OK, ready to go directly into my pan. And I'll check this in a few minutes. But I'm really just cooking these on both sides until they're golden brown and crispy.




When these pancakes are done cooking, I'm going to transfer them to a wire rack that's set over a rimmed baking sheet to catch any excess oil. You can also transfer them into a plate with a paper towel. But I like using a wire rack because it keeps them crispy.


I'm practicing for tonight, make sure I get some good sounds. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. OK, and now I'll transfer them to my cutting board. And I like cutting these into quarters.


And I'll grab my carrot slaw, which is just shredded carrots, and ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and maple syrup. Mm, mm, mm. Every flavor is in the right place. Unbelievable.




I'm almost ready for tonight. I'm just cooking up the rest of my potstickers. I like to use a two-step process to cook these. The first step is to boil them and get them cooked through on the inside, and the second step is to crisp up the bottom in a pan.


I'm going to add 6 of my pot stickers to my boiling water, four minutes. I'm coating the bottom of my pan with a good layer of oil. I've boiled these dumplings already. And I've transfer them to a kitchen towel to soak up any excess moisture, so that they don't spit when they hit the hot oil. I'm cooking these until they're golden and crispy on the bottom.


OK. I think these are finished boiling now. I can smell that ginger. I'm going to transfer them to my towel here.


check on the pan. I'm looking for a golden brown bottom. By now, the other pot stickers will be dry and ready to fry.




Some of these really are sticking to the pot. That is so hard, to smell these when I'm hungry. OK. All done.


And I like serving these with a simple dipping sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper. These will have cooled just enough by the time I've gotten them across the road. I'm just going to sneak a bite.


Mm. My dad is going to love these. Cheers.


SPEAKER 1: Oh, wow, look at the food.


SPEAKER 2: Hello. Wow.


ROXANNE HAGEN: Oh, my goodness.


SPEAKER 1: Woo-hoo!


SPEAKER 2: Woo-hoo!




MOLLY YEH: Potstickers--


ROXANNE HAGEN: Potstickers.


MOLLY YEH: --scallion pancakes--


SPEAKER 1: Oh, wow.


MOLLY YEH: --and green beans with sesame sauce.


ROXANNE HAGEN: Oh, this looks delicious.


SPEAKER 2: Yes, it looks so good.


SPEAKER 1: Oh, it smells so good, too. Mm.


MOLLY YEH: We made the potstickers together.


SPEAKER 1: We made the potstickers.


ROXANNE HAGEN: How fun for you.


SPEAKER 1: It brought back memories.


ROXANNE HAGEN: This is amazing.


MOLLY YEH: Thank you.


SPEAKER 1: So good.


ROXANNE HAGEN: This is the fanciest pancake that I've ever eaten.


MOLLY YEH: How about a little music before the cake?






SPEAKER 2: Wonderful.


ROXANNE HAGEN: That was awesome.


SPEAKER 2: You guys should go on the road.


MOLLY YEH: OK. Bring on the cake.




SPEAKER 2: Oh, my gosh. Outstanding.


SPEAKER 1: Excellent. [LAUGHS]


MOLLY YEH: We can eat this whole cake and then play at twice the speed.


SPEAKER 1: That's right.