Molly celebrates the arrival of spring with her family by making a delicious seasonal meal on the farm. Below are the recipes used in today’s episode: Spring Apple and Fennel Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/spring-apple-and-fennel-salad-with-dijon-vinaigrette-5660354 Meatballs with Garlic Yogurt and Chimichurri: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/meatballs-with-garlic-yogurt-and-chimichurri-5660355 Molly’s Carrort Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mollys-carrot-cake-with-spiced-cream-cheese-frosting-5660357 Homemade Herbed Pasta with Feta, Lemon and Pine Nuts: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/homemade-herbed-pasta-with-feta-lemon-and-pine-nuts-5660359 Want even more of Molly’s recipes? Stream full episodes of Girl Meets Farm on discovery+. Head to discoveryplus.com/girlmeetsfarm to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.
Molly celebrates the arrival of spring with her family by making a delicious seasonal meal on the farm.
Below are the recipes used in today’s episode:
Spring Apple and Fennel Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/spring-apple-and-fennel-salad-with-dijon-vinaigrette-5660354
Meatballs with Garlic Yogurt and Chimichurri: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/meatballs-with-garlic-yogurt-and-chimichurri-5660355
Molly’s Carrort Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mollys-carrot-cake-with-spiced-cream-cheese-frosting-5660357
Homemade Herbed Pasta with Feta, Lemon and Pine Nuts: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/homemade-herbed-pasta-with-feta-lemon-and-pine-nuts-5660359
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. With direct audio from the hit Food Network series Girl Meets Farm, you’ll hear Molly create fresh and tasty meals from her country kitchen on the Minnesota-North Dakota border.
Want even more of Molly’s recipes? Stream full episodes of Girl Meets Farm on discovery+. Head to discoveryplus.com/girlmeetsfarm to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.
Find episode transcript here: https://girl-meets-farm.simplecast.com/episodes/spring-feast
[MUSIC PLAYING] MOLLY YEH: The temperature is starting to rise, so I've got a house full of family coming over for a lovely Spring feast. I'm making a beautiful homemade herb pasta tossed with feta and lemon, savory turkey meatballs with a bright chimichurri and garlic yogurt, a crisp apple and fennel salad, and carrot cake covered in a spiced cream cheese frosting. Yum.
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 a taste of the Midwest.
Meatballs are one of my favorite things to throw together because they are hearty and delicious. Today I'm making my turkey meatballs and some fresh garlic, yogurt, and bright chimichurri sauces that will complement them perfectly. So to start I have half of an onion that's chopped that's softening in my pan, and I'm going to add a little bit of garlic to it.
I'm also going to add some fennel seeds and get them toasting. It's a really lovely light flavor. I like adding spinach to my meatballs because spinach is good for you, and it also looks pretty because it makes the meatballs kind of speckled with green. Next a pinch of kosher salt. I'm using a lot of bright flavors and colors. It's going to be a really pretty table.
Spring is always pretty wet here because we get so much snow, and then Spring planting comes to get the seeds into the ground to allow the crops to have time to grow. While my spinach cooks down, I will grab my ground turkey. I'll also add an egg, which will help these stay together.
So I'm just going to dump my turkey in, I'll add my egg, and I'm going to add half a cup of panko breadcrumbs, which will also help these hold together. They're going to add a nice texture as well. About a teaspoon of salt, some fresh black pepper, and then I have a bunch of spices here that are going to make this flavor amazing.
I'm adding a half teaspoon of onion powder, cayenne, sweet paprika for some nice smokiness, dried thyme-- hm, smells so herby-- and a half teaspoon of dried oregano. And then I'm also going to chop up about a quarter cup of fresh parsley. Let me check on my spinach. This is looking good. I'll just put pour this into my bowl. This spinach is going to make my meatballs really, really pretty.
So I'm not drying my hands because having wet hands will make it easier to form the balls. Oh, that spinach is warming up my hands. Nick's parents are coming over. They're making the big trek across the street for dinner. They are super into their vegetables. So I'll grab a little bit of this, and I'm going to roll golf ball-sized meatballs.
So I love using a two-step process to cook my meatballs. The first step is to brown them in a pan to get them nice and crispy on the outside and add more flavor, and the second step is to finish them in the oven. I either use canola oil or a really good olive oil that has a high smoke point, because this is going to get hot. And you don't want to overcrowd them, because you don't want them to steam. You want them to get crisp on all sides.
While these brown, I'm going to get started on my sauces. I'm going to make my yogurt sauce, which is so simple. I'll just add one cup of yogurt, two cloves of garlic. I'll season with salt and pepper, and that's it. I'm just going to let this do its magic. OK, the meatballs are getting really noisy. I'm going to check on them.
Oh, that's a nice brown crust. That's what I want. I'm going to turn these to let all of the sides get like that. Yum. I'm going to make chimichurri sauce now. I have a bunch of parsley and cilantro mixed together here. I'll add garlic, I'll season it with salt and pepper, just got a touch of heat with some crushed red pepper, the juice of a lemon. Now I'm going to add enough olive oil to bring this all together. OK, and I'll blend until smooth. OK, this is going to be so pretty on these meatballs.
OK, some of these are ready to come out of my pan so I'm going to transfer them to a baking sheet. Meatballs are so great for a weeknight meal because they come together so quickly, and they can also be adjusted depending on whatever vegetables or seasonings I feel like or have on hand. I am so excited to eat these. I'm going to put them in at 425 for about six to 10 minutes. My meatballs smell so good, very excited about these.
I have to sneak a taste. Let me try it with my sauces. Yes. There is so much flavor in that meatball, and the combinations of the yogurt sauce and the chimichurri brighten it up. These are going to be perfect for my party. So I'm not going to be serving these for a little bit, so I'm just going to keep them warm in the oven.
Next up, an homage to Spring. My carrot cake with spiced cream cheese frosting and easy to make homemade herbed pasta tossed with lemon and feta cheese. Sometimes I feel like carrot cake is the unofficial mascot of the Spring. Mine is super dense and moist, and it's loaded with flavor. I'll mix up my dry ingredients first. Two and a half cups of all purpose flour. One and a half teaspoons each of salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Two teaspoons of cinnamon.
And now, I'm going to add Hawaij, which is one of my favorite warm spice mixers to use. It's heavy on the cardamom and ginger, and it's also got cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Anything you'd use pumpkin spice for, Hawaij can fill in.
OK, now in my big bowl, I'm going to combine three quarters of a cup of granulated sugar and a cup of brown sugar to get that really nice molassesy flavor. Add one and a half cups of flavorless oil. Now I'm going to add my eggs.
OK, now I'm going to add my vanilla extract. I'm adding a tablespoon of it. It's going to go really great with all of the spices in this cake. And now I'm going to add my flour mixture. I'm going to stir this in most of the way so that there aren't any lumps when I put my carrots in, but I don't want to over mix it. Over mixing could yield a gummy cake.
I'm getting two cups of shredded carrots. I just feel like toasted sesame seeds go so well with carrots. And they're going to add a tiny bit of crunch. Delish. I have two eight-inch baking pans that have been greased and lined on the bottom with parchment to prevent them from sticking, and I'll pour my batter right in. These are going to bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
My cakes have done baking, and I've set them aside to cool. So now it's time for my favorite thing in the world, cake decorating. To start I'm going to make my cream cheese frosting. I've got half a cup of unsalted softened butter, eight ounces of cream cheese that's been coming to room temperature, and I'll mix this to combine. I'll add some powdered sugar.
Next, I'm going to add half a teaspoon of my Hawaij to that I added to the cake, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a pinch of kosher salt, and heavy cream will help fluff this frosting right up. And that's it.
I'm just using my big serrated knife to trim off this topped dome part, so that they're nice and even on top. It smells incredible. And this is going to make an excellent snack for Nick and also for me. OK, I'm going to grab my cake wheel, which is going to help me decorate.
And I'm going to start with a dollop of frosting on the bottom, which will help my bottom layer stay in place, add a thin layer of frosting right on top of my cake layer. Spread it around evenly, ensuring that the frosting goes all the way to the edges. Top it with my second layer. And I always flip it over because it'll yield less crumbs that way and it's also flatter.
I'm going to line this up as best as I can, and I'll frost it all over. So I'm just going around to make sure that it's all covered up, and then I'm going to add some nice big luxurious scoops. And this frosting has that Hawaij in it, so you're going to taste it in both the cake and the frosting.
To decorate, I'm going to grab some rainbow carrots and now I'm going to create some nice long ribbons. I love the colors of rainbow carrots. And then I'm going to roll this up into a swirl, so that it looks like a little rose. I think this is the easiest prettiest way to decorate a carrot cake.
For the finishing touch, I'm going to grab some rosemary sprigs, and I'm going to use them as leaves for the flowers. Is that a Spring cake or is that a Spring cake? Still to come a crisp quick spring salad, plus I'm making pasta from scratch that's full of herbs and topped with a sauce that screams Spring with lemon and feta cheese.
Homemade pasta is the best thing in the world, and it's actually not that hard to make. I like adding fresh herbs to my pasta dough, because it makes it green and sparkly and really pretty. So I'm adding some parsley here. So I'm going to chop up about a cup of this, and I want this parsley to be very fine. It's going to be like confetti sprinkled throughout my dough. OK, now I'm going to sift two cups of all-purpose flour directly onto my board. And I'm sifting this to get any clumps out of the flour so that I can have an extra smooth dough. This is a necessary step.
OK, next I'm going to grab 2 cups of semolina flour. Semolina flour is a course flour that's really important when you're making pasta. It helps the noodles hold their shape. I'm going to make a well in my mountain of flour, and this is where all of my other ingredients are going to go.
Four whole eggs are going to go into my well. Eggs give it a nice rich yellow color. And I'm also going to add two egg yolks for added richness. Four tablespoons of olive oil, and this is going to add a nice suppleness to the dough and also this great olive oil flavor. A teaspoon of kosher salt, and a bunch of black pepper.
I'm going to scramble these eggs a little bit, being careful not to overflow the well. Now I'm ready to add my parsley. This is going to be a gorgeous pasta. So now as I'm mixing this up, I'm going to gradually incorporate my flour so it doesn't get too clumpy. It's getting thick enough now to mix by hand, and I'm just going to get messy. This is the fun part.
You don't need fancy equipment, you just have to work this dough with a lot of love. Not all Kitchens are created equal, so humidity and egg size will both have an effect on this dough. If you don't end up incorporating all the flour, that's OK as long as your dough comes together like this. It's time for it to rest now. I'm going to divide it in half, and then I'm going to wrap it in plastic wrap. I'm going to let this sit for 30 minutes, and then I'm going to turn it into pasta.
Since it's Spring, why not make a beautiful salad? I just made a bed of butter lettuce and topped it with thinly sliced fennel, Granny Smith apple, English cucumber, watermelon radish, which adds gorgeous color and a sweet peppery kick, fresh dill, and salt and pepper. For my dressing, I use half of a shallot finely chopped, a third of a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar, two teaspoons of honey, and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and then I'll season it with salt and pepper.
And I'm going to drizzle a little bit of the dressing on now. That's going to help the vegetables stay fresh until I serve it, and then I'll serve the remaining dressing alongside. And lastly, I want to add some cheese. And I'll just shave this all over the top. This is going to go great with my dinner.
My dough has sat for about half an hour, and it's gotten really soft. It's going to be easy to roll out now. OK, I'm going to dust my board with a little bit of all-purpose flour so it doesn't stick. And for this step you really don't need a machine, you can roll it out by hand. It'll take some time and it'll take some arm muscle, but it's all worth it. This is party pasta. I'm looking to get this whole sheet of dough as even of a thickness as possible, so I'm aiming for about a 16th of an inch or thinner.
And now I'm ready to cut my noodles. So to do that, I'm going to dust the top with some Semolina flour so that the noodles don't stick together, and I'm going to fold it in half again to make it easier to cut. I'm going to use a ruler to measure out three quarters of an inch noodles. So I'm forming these into little nests, just to make sure that they don't stick together. And these nests will make it easier for me to cook this in batches. OK, I've got my third little nest, and I'm going to get rolling on my second half of the dough.
I have some heavily-salted water that's boiling in my pot, and I'll drop this in. I'm just going for about three minutes until the pasta is tender, but has a little bit of a bite still. OK, I've got to try a noodle. There is nothing better than fresh pasta. All right, I'm going to strain this, and I'll get going on my sauce.
My in-laws are coming today and so is my sister-in-law and her husband, Jason, and her new little baby, Cliff. I've got a beautiful Spring meal coming together, the last thing I need to do is make the sauce for my pasta. I'm not making a heavy sauce, I'm just adding some beautiful bright flavors to this. I've got a bunch of olive oil heating in a pot with some garlic. So in other words, it smells amazing in here. And next I'm going to add some pine nuts.
While these fry, I'm going to chop up some preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are one of my favorite ingredients. They're lemons that have been preserved with salt, so it is important to rinse them. They have a really nice briny pickley flavor, and I love them for their depth of flavor. They're an essential part of Moroccan cooking. But if you don't have time to make them or you can't find them at the store, just add some lemon zest to your sauce.
The pine nuts are starting to get some color, and I'm smelling their butteriness. And that matched with the lemon is amazing. I'm also going to chop up some fresh mint, and I'm going to add half of it to the pot and I'm going to reserve the other half for later. OK, my pine nuts have got some beautiful golden color, and I'm ready to add my pasta.
I'll just dump it right into the pot. Now I've reserved some of the pasta cooking water, which has valuable starch in there and that's going to help the sauce come together and get silky. OK, I'm also going to add a little bit of crushed red pepper, just a little bit of heat, not too overpowering, and lots of black pepper. And now this needs feta. Feta is going to maintain the brightness that we've set up with the preserved lemon and the mint. I love feta. I wish you could smell this right now.
OK, and to serve, I'm going to sprinkle it with the last of my fresh mint. This is so beautiful. Now literally the hardest part is going to be not eating all this pasta on my way over to the party. Happy Spring everybody. Dig in, help yourselves, and enjoy.
SPEAKER 2: Looks delicious Molly.
SPEAKER 3: Thank you.
SPEAKER 4: Oh, Molly.
SPEAKER 2: What are these sauces for the meatballs?
SPEAKER 5: Here you go.
MOLLY YEH: Garlic, yogurt, and then there's like an herby chimichurri, so have both.
SPEAKER 2: This plate just looks like Springtime. He went for the radish.
SPEAKER 4: This is just amazing. I love how you add herbs and spices in the pasta dough.
MOLLY YEH: There's mint on it, and there's parsley in the pasta.
SPEAKER 3: Boy, these meatballs, Molly, are exquisite.
MOLLY YEH: Yes. Are you guys ready for cake?
SPEAKER 3: Oh, boy.
SPEAKER 5: Take me the cake land.
SPEAKER 4: Molly, you shouldn't have.
SPEAKER 2: Yeah, we're glad you did.
SPEAKER 4: Oh, I love that.
MOLLY YEH: OK. So this is a carrot cake denoted by the carrots on top, and it has a spiced frosting.
SPEAKER 4: Oh.
SPEAKER 2: It is so good.
SPEAKER 4: I love it.
SPEAKER 3: I love how vegetable forward your menus are.
MOLLY YEH: Thank you guys so much for coming and happy Spring.
SPEAKER 5: Happy Spring. Thank you, Molly.
MOLLY YEH: For a good Spring planting season.
SPEAKER 4: Yes.
MOLLY YEH: Yes.
SPEAKER 4: To planting and eating the planted goods. Cheers.