Book Club Tuesday: Home is Where The Eggs Are

After writing a couple of hundred posts about cookbooks, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Of all the personal insights, the most crucial one: joy. I want to read it, make it, bake it, feel it, and serve it to people so that we can all experience it. Sometimes joy is in the heart of the beholder — not every author or every cookbook lends itself to these joyful musings. But, as I’ve found with the work of Molly Yeh, she exudes joy out of every pore. It’s in every recipe because as I cooked through her latest book, Home is Where the Eggs Are: Farmhouse Food for the People You Love, I can see that she’s making and serving joyful meals to us all.

Now, to be clear, I’ve known about Yeh’s joyful offerings for years — it was from her Short Stack on Yogurt that was published in the early spring of 2018 that we fell in love with her recipe for Soft Yogurt Cookies with Raspberry Glaze. Katie was a wee toddler and these cookies were the stuff her sugar plum fairy dreams were made of. Also, Yeh was not wrong in her recipe head notes when she proclaimed that these cookies “are some of the softest and prettiest cookies in all the land.” So, it is with her newest book that she follows both Molly on the Range and Short Stack: Yogurt in leading home cooks to a place that is warm, nurturing, and, most importantly fun. It’s how I felt as I’ve cooked her recipes and shared them with friends and family! She says it herself in the introduction: “When you read this book, I want you to feel the joy and warmth of creating food for the people you love. I don’t want you to be stressed out or like your cooking skills, tastes, or access to ingredients is inadequate. You can make these! You got this!”(xiv)

Soft Yogurt Cookies with Raspberry Glaze, from Short Stack: Yogurt

The recipes are organized into 11 chapters: 1) Breakfast, 2) Eggs, 3) Salads, 4) Soups, 5) Pizza Fridays, 6) Pasta + Grains, 7) Hotdishes + Family Style, 8) Handhelds, 9) Snacks + Breads, 10) Sweets, and 11) Drinks.  As soon as I received a copy from the publisher, I immediately started cooking! But, if you’re new to home cooking or you’re interested in Yeh’s methods or equipment,  it is through the beginning sections — Ingredients that I love and use often and Tools that make my life easier, and I want them to make your life easier too — where she preps home cooks on how to get ready to make and enjoy recipes from the book. Living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, it is not always easy to source or access ingredients, and reading through Yeh’s cookbook, I can see that living on a farm near the North Dakota-Minnesota border presents similar sourcing challenges. All this is alright because Yeh assures us that most of what she buys comes from her local grocery store and Super Target — anything else can be ordered online. In some cases, she gives advice/direction on substitutions — for example, when I was making the recipe for The Official Family Sugar Cookie, I didn’t have any LorAnn Princess Emulsion on hand but just using the vanilla in combination with the almond extract and lemon zest gives such an uncanny likeness.

Thinking about those cookies, they were the first thing I made from Yeh’s book. I was organizing and planning for my 2022 holiday cookie boxes and, I included both The Official Family Sugar Cookie recipe and the recipe for Cardamom Coffee Chocolate Shortbread (adding the “optional and strongly encouraged” tahini cream filling for sandwich cookies) in my baking plans. After baking these cookies, I knew they would be such a great addition to the cookie boxes. TOFSC is a workhorse of a recipe because it offers cookies suitable for any occasion. These sugar cookies are soft and thick, and I adore the combination of lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract because it, as Yeh says, “makes them taste like the bakery cookies of my youth.”(271) The breakout cookie star for 2022 were the Cardamom Coffee Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich cookies! Feedback on the holiday boxes saw these cookies as the universal favourite — cardamom, coffee, chocolate, with the tahini cream is such a perfect, unerring combination. I appreciated that these shortbreads are slice-and-bake, so that no shaping is involved and, by rolling the dough logs through some black sesame seeds, it adds a bit of texture while echoing the rich tahini cream filling.

I’ve done a lot of baking out of Home is Where the Eggs Are and, while recipes for loaf cakes or scones aren’t new, Yeh has created unique recipes within these genres. Take her recipe for Preserved Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake — taking inspiration from her friend (and mine), Hetty McKinnon, she decided to add preserved lemon paste to the lemon poppyseed cake of her childhood. For those wondering, preserved lemons are lemons that have been packed in a brine. The result of this is pickled lemons — the skins soften, and the lemon takes on a saltiness. To get the paste, preserved lemons are pulverized and pureed in a blender (or you can buy it from online retailers like New York Shuk). By using preserved lemons, you’ll increase the depth of flavour because the whole lemon is being used but, unlike a raw lemon, the preserved lemon — still sour — loses its bitterness, becoming soft and salty. A pleasant effect, one that really adds to whatever you’re using it in — in this case, Yeh’s loaf cake (side convo — is one of the best lemon loaf cakes I’ve ever had)!

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Preserved Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake, p. 297

Reading through Yeh’s book, it’s obvious that necessity is a big component of her recipe development. Living on a busy farm, time waits for nothing — not even a scone, which, as Yeh points out, has a very small window of enjoyment. So, instead of forsaking scone recipes altogether, necessity has introduced the loaf and the scone to each other. The Dark Chocolate Marzipan Scone Loaf was developed for her first cookbook — Molly on the Range — and it is in her latest book, that she offers another delightful flavour to the scone/loaf cannon. Here, the Pumpkin Scone Loaf has the same moist, dense crumb, with the delicious, cozy pairing of pumpkin and warming spices. The added chocolate chips certainly don’t hurt it (my husband would describe the addition as “crucial”) and, it’s just the thing to enjoy as part of a weekend brunch or with an afternoon cup of coffee.

Pumpkin Scone Loaf, p. 22/23

I like that Yeh recognizes that life can be busy for families, so her recipes reflect this. Recipes that can be put into one big baking dish and left to do their thing in the oven are my kind of recipes because then I can pivot to other tasks. This is where her recipe for Chickpea Tot Hotdish comes in — chickpeas enveloped in a smoky, harissa tomato sauce, topped with Tater Tots (and, not just any tot, but the ones that look like smiley faces!). I served it as she suggests in the recipe: with a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped herbs, crumbled feta, and dollops of Greek yogurt. The ultimate in comfort food, my family enjoyed this hearty and warming meal!

Chickpea Tor Hotdish, p.171-173

After making close to a dozen recipes from Home is Where the Eggs Are, it has been easy to find joy. Is it because her last name sounds like a cheer (YAY!) or is it her smiling face on the front cover that tells home cooks making her recipes will be a treat? In any case, Molly Yeh has developed joyful recipes to encourage and inspire, but also to feed the ones we love.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Harper Collins Canada and William Morrow Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

I am dedicating this review to my dear “aunt” who recently passed away from cancer. She was a loyal supporter of my writing — she read all my reviews and always sent notes afterwards about what she enjoyed the best. We all miss her terribly – she was one of a kind.

Cookie Dough Oat Bars, p. 8/9

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