Cookie salad is one of the Midwest's greatest innovations, and the star of "Girl Meets Farm" has a great recipe for making it.
Molly Yeh has lived in East Grand Forks, North Dakota for five years, and that has been more than enough time to expand her definition of "salad" to include chopped-up baked goods.
"Here you have to specify 'vegetable salad,' if that's what you mean," she tells Food & Wine.
While most of us already know that salads don't always include vegetables, only some of us know that salads can include ... cookies. Yeh, whose forthcoming Food Network series "Girl Meets Farm" debuts Sunday, June 24, will feature recipes inspired by her Chinese-Jewish roots and upper Midwestern life on a farm, including cookie salad, and she gets excited just talking about it.
"There are so many dishes that I learned about for the first time when I moved here, like hot dish and cookie salad," says Yeh, who lived in New York before moving west. "The classic version of cookie salad is Keebler fudge-striped cookies, Cool Whip, vanilla instant pudding, buttermilk, and either canned mandarin oranges or sliced bananas. It's kind of ridiculous. When I first learned about it I was horrified. But it was actually really good."
The award-winning cookbook author likes to make a from-scratch version, which she'll feature on the show.
Here's one of Yeh's cookie salad recipes, which you should absolutely try, featuring broken up black-and-white cookies, an ode to her NYC years.
In another episode of "Girl Meets Farm," Yeh makes coconut cream pie with her father, yet another humble dessert classic with pudding foundations. The story behind it is very sweet.
"A few years ago, he started making coconut cream pie for every occasion, and out of nowhere, started calling it his 'famous coconut cream pie,'" Yeh says. "His 'famous recipe' was a print-out of Martha Stewart's pie recipe, with some annotations. My favorite was, instead of using 24 chocolate wafer cookies, he used '48 cats,' referring to the Trader Joe cat cookies. And instead of using a large pot, he used a medium pot. I don’t think he strains the pudding mixture, either. The straining thing comes from the fact that he never wants to waste anything."
When asked whether she misses her life in New York, Yeh says she misses certain things, despite being settled in her rural life.
"I miss Xi'an noodles and pizza, and I have some very good friends who live in New York," she says. "But if I never have to ride the subway with an armful of groceries ever again, I'll be good."
Girl Meets Farm debuts Sunday, June 24th at 11 a.m. ET/PT.