Catching up with Aida Mollenkamp

Aida Mollenkamp is back with a brand new season of Ask Aida, and she's made some exciting changes. We caught up with her to hear all about the new style and to find out what viewer question (almost) stumped this gastronomical guru.

FN Dish: The new season just premiered on Saturday. Loved the first episode! Can you give us a little taste of the rest of the season?

Aida: Thank you! I feel like I’ve hit the ground running this season with a lot of really exciting, fun recipes. I’m focusing on fewer questions in each episode so that we can really drill down to the details of each topic and ingredient. With a fun approach, you can actually learn how to cook and enjoy it at the same time. For example, we have one episode that is all about cheese. I show everyone how to make a blueberry-lemon blintz, an enchilada, and a pesto mac and goat cheese. It’s really fun to pick one thing and get a little crazy with the possibilities. And, at the end of each episode I throw in something I like to call a “No Recipe Recipe.”

FN Dish: What is that?

Aida: A big part of cooking is just breaking down the barriers to make you realize it’s not that hard, and this new approach doesn’t involve any measurements. You don’t need a thousand precise ingredients all the time to make something that tastes good and is worth cooking. For example, my "no recipe" grilled cheese demonstrates the basics of making the perfect grilled cheese. No measurements needed, but you can jazz it up by adding greens or fruit. The "No Recipe Recipes" are incredibly useful, especially since people seem to have less and less time to cook.

FN Dish: People reach out to you because you’re an expert, but have you ever been stumped by a topic or ingredient?

Aida: We came close last season when a woman asked us why her pickled garlic was purple. It literally took the Food Network Kitchens, our entire staff and me to figure it out. As it turns out, one of the enzymes in the garlic had caused it to change colors. It was just a temporary thing, but it almost stumped the whole crew!

FN Dish: That sounds like an episode of CSI: Food Network!

Aida: Yeah, it’s really fun! And I feel like this season we’ve hit that magic mix of making it accessible and offering useful information. You can go to a cocktail party armed with these tidbits and rattle them off as trivia and look really smart to your friends.

Be sure to tune in for Ask Aida. Saturdays at 9:30am/8:30c.

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