You Asked and Aida Answered!

Thanks to everyone who wrote in their burning questions for Aida! As mentioned on a post last week, we just shot a behind-the-scenes piece with Aida on her second season of Ask Aida (for an upcoming FN Dish video) . Because we love our dedicated FN Dish readers so much, we thought it would be fun to give immediate gratification to you guys... that is, use our access to have Aida answer your questions directly!

Now, sadly I only had time to spit out 4 of the 6 questions to Aida during her lunch break (hey, a girl's gotta eat)...but Eddie and Lyndsay, I promise I'll waltz, or at least walk, upstairs to our culinary department and get an answer to your knife sharpening and chocolate questions, as well. OR, if Aida is still on your brain, you can go the longer route, and email the show directly. Maybe they'll pick your question to be answered next season! Email: AskAida@foodnetwork.com.

Without further babbling, here are your questions re-posted with answers straight from the horse's mouth (not that Aida is a horse):

QUESTION FROM JEFF: I recently got a grill pan that covers two burners. I want to grill steak or chicken but I tried it once and it set off my fire alarm — small apartment. How can I reduce smoke from an indoor grilling pan?

AIDA'S ANSWER: So, you’ve got the grilling indoors going on too? I do this all the time! I use a grill pan, a nice heavy, cast iron, grill pan..and so my roommate doesn’t get mad at the smell and so my fire alarm doesn’t go off, I make sure EVERY window is open, turn my ventilator on, and keep ANY extra fans going on as well…. Its all about getting any smoke out of there ASAP and having cross ventilation.

QUESTION FROM WD: How do you know what herb or spice to use with which meat or dish? Is there a book or anything that has suggestions? So I have an idea where to start and what not to use other trying a tasting, possibly ruin a good piece of meat.

AIDA'S ANSWER: So lets see, you want to know specific herbs and spices for specifics meats… a really good book to turn to is, Field Guide. It’s called, Field Guide to Herbs and Spices and Aliza Green wrote it…before you know it, after you read this thing, you’ll be a total pro when you walk through your grocery store.

QUESTION FROM NICKIE: Can I make homemade bread and bake it the next day?

AIDA'S ANSWER: So if you’ve already made your bread dough, I’d recommend just throwing it in the fridge and then what happens is the yeast that’s in there actually ages and you kind of get a more complex bread flavor. For most dough, it’ll last 12 - 24 hours in the fridge before you bake it off, just make sure you let it come to room temperature first. As far as freezing, you can totally freeze bread dough, just shape it into the shape you want before freezing, but probably not best to do that if you’re going to make it the next day. If you want to make it to bake the next week, just cover your dough with some plastic wrap, and you’re good to go before you decide to bake it off!

QUESTION FROM LINDA: For those of us who’ve seen the light and given up table salt for kosher salt when cooking (or sea salt, or fleur de sel, or whatever) what uses *are* there for table salt?

AIDA'S ANSWER: I get this question all the time! And there are still a lot of good uses for table salt because table salt, for one, is a lot cheaper than other salts, and since it’s so small, it dissolves beautifully. So especially when you’re baking, and doing any kind of sweets, turn to table salt.

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Rachael Knudsen

Associate Producer, The FN Dish

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Aida Mollenkamp Bio

With a diverse culinary background and a passion for sharing her knowledge with food enthusiasts, cooking expert Aida Mollenkamp prepares delicious dishes while providing answers to questions submitted by Food Network viewers in her interactive cooking show, Ask Aida. From recipe and ingredient issues to advice on kitchen machinery and tools, Aida even offers guidance for impromptu parties, feeding a crowd, make-ahead dishes, and time-saving tips. Growing up with an Italian-American mother and a French stepmother, Aida was always surrounded by good food. Eventually, she made her way into the kitchen and discovered her true passion for cooking. In the years since, Aida has worked everywhere from a gourmet deli and California Pizza Kitchen to the Hotel Bel Air and, most recently, at CHOW.com. Having studied Hospitality Management at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Aida worked at Ernst & Young in Hotel and Restaurant Consulting before traveling to Europe to attend culinary school at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She lived between Florence, Italy and Paris, France for two years, and graduated with a Grand Diplôme in 2004. In January 2005, Aida joined the editorial staff at San Francisco-based CHOW.com, a Web site created for food and drink enthusiasts. As the Food Editor, Aida fulfills many roles. She regularly appears in instructional videos for the site, serves as an expert spokesperson, runs the test kitchen, works as a lead food stylist, develops recipes, and writes informative articles. When not working, Aida continues to live the life of a food fiend, whether hunting out the hottest restaurants, searching for the newest artisanal products, or hosting her friends and family at laidback dinner parties and lively cocktail hours. She currently resides in San Francisco.

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