Like Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen said, “If you don’t look at the recipes and stories in this book and feel instantly happier, well, I don’t believe you”. Well, if you don’t feel instantly happier, you’re probably just a monster. So without further ado, let’s dig into our fourth #hercookbookclub selection – Molly On the Range by Molly Yeh!
If Molly is not a food blogger (and a Food Network new star!) or a professional percussionist, I think she could be a hilarious comedy writer. Light, inviting, funny. It definitely is not one of those serious informational cookbooks; rather, you’re like reading someone’s diary. These diary/memoir style cookbooks are not unusual in today’s cookbook world, but I found most of them are not that interesting to read. It’s like I don’t even know you and I really have no interest in your life, so your writing better is so good that I want to keep reading.
The book is organized by meal type but feels like it’s ordered by Molly’s life. I love her stories throughout the book and how these stories tie with the food she loves. Because of her down to earth writing style, you somehow feel you’re connected to her food stories and you want to try the food she likes. Really excellent story telling and food writing.
When I scanned the book, I was afraid that I can’t find many recipes to make. Some of the food looks foreign. I have never cooked Jewish nor mid-west food, but you would be surprised by how many recipes I’ve actually bookmarked. Almost all the ingredients are pantry staple (or at least highly accessible). Molly did a fantastic job on describing each food – the story behind them, what do they taste like, etc. It makes the unknown food less scary and more approachable. Plus all the directions are clear and easy to follow.
It’s not the most beautiful cookbook you’ve ever seen (like Love & Lemons Cookbook), but it’s very Molly. What you’ll see are some real life photos in a farm kitchen, along with many happy faces. I love the occasional cute illustrations. You’ll not see any perfectly styled food photographs in this book, but it actually makes me want to make the food more. Organization-wise, the book is well designed. I have no difficulty to locate a recipe.
So far I have tested 13 recipes from the cookbook.
Recipes I adore are:
Shakshuka couscous -Shakshuka becomes more and more popular in trendy brunch spots. I first had one in Jack’s Wife Freda, NYC. It’s just okay so I didn’t get this trend at that time. BUT Molly’s version is soooooo good and flavorful! I don’t have couscous on hand, so I sub with some left over grilled corn, which adds sweetness and smokiness to the dish. Now I totally fall in love with shakshukaIt’s also a wonderful dish if you have friends coming over for brunch.
My everymorning breakfast in the summer – It quickly became my everymorning breakfast this summer too. Israeli salad, hummus, 1 homemade pita and a fried egg. You have everything you want for a balanced and satisfying breakfast.
Token green salad – Mr.186 has asked to eat this salad again!!! You cannot understand my excitement here because he. Is. a. meat. eating. monster. and. hates. salads. Molly also hates salad, so she hides her greens under a big think layer of bacon and croutons and then gives them a bath in honey and mustard. No one can say no to this kind of salad, right? (And the jammy eggs help too!)
Zucchini, walnuts and mozzarella pizza – I love this topping combination, especially with in season summer yellow squashes. It’s different than your normal take-out pizzas and you’ll love it.
Scallion pancake challah – I’ve never made a challah before, but this recipe caught my eye. Molly says it’s basically she in a bread form. Well, then Molly you taste amazing. Fragrant sesame oil with scallions makes this soft bread irresistible, and the crushed red pepper gives some kicks too!
Hummus with meat all over it – Molly’s intro for this recipe is hilarious and I totally agree the only way to get a muscular guy eating hummus for a meal is putting meat all over it. It tastes amazing too, according to Mr.186.
Pistachio loaf cake – I was worried the cake might turn out dry. Not at all. I may be biased because I love pistachios, but really it’s unbelievable moist and fragrant. One piece is definitely satisfying enough. Don’t miss this recipe if you also like nutty cakes.
Recipes I like, but may not necessarily go back for:
Hot dog cheese – well maybe you don’t need a recipe for this, but sometimes you’ll forget about the simple joy you had when you’re little.
Pita – soft and easy to make. Pairs well with many other recipes in the book.
Fresh mint iced coffee – Molly’s version is tasty but I added a little twist to form my own version here
Butter & salami pizza – personally I still think salami pizza taste better with a bed of tomato sauce. Butter & salami pizza is a different experience and we liked it.
Chocolate tahini cake – tahini and chocolate together is a total dream! Just a bit too rich for my taste.
You can tell by the condition of my copy that how many uses I got from this book.
I did not expect it at all. Like I said, when I bought this book, I was not Molly’s fan. I was just genuinely curious about farm life. I found myself went back to this book again and again, despite the fact I buy new cookbooks all the time. I still have a long list of the recipes I want to try (like scallion pancakes with maple slaw, spaghetti with meatless balls, tomato & squash soup, etc. etc.) and certainly already revisit some of the recipes I’ve tried (token salad for life!). In short, Molly On the Range is surprisingly one of my most used cookbooks now.
- Light, funny and enjoyable reading
- Interesting range of food (from Jewish, American, Israeli to Chinese)
- Highly cookable recipes, easily accessible ingredients
- Practical and easy to follow directions
- Down to earth everyday food photos and cute illustrations
It is a tricky question. On one hand, I want everyone to feel the instant happiness I felt when reading this book. The recipes are highly cookable, unique and entertaining. The writing is light and funny with great stories behind each food. On the other hand, is it an informational and educational cookbook that everyone has to read? No. But, if I have to pick one cookbook as a gift to my close friends, I will choose this one. My friends do not have any intention to become a professional chef, so even if there’re great informational cookbooks out there, I will give them this book to enjoy.
It’s your decision if you need Molly On the Range on your shelf or not. However, if you genuinely like reading cookbooks, I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed every minute reading and cooking recipes from this book. I’m sure you will too.
Leave a comment below or tag #hercookbookclub on Instagram if you want to join the discussion about Molly On the Range! Share this post to someone you know will benefit from. I really love this month selection and am inspired to create a list of my own favorite food with memories. Hope one day I can write a book as happy as Molly On the Range!