5 Surprising Tips We Learned from Cooking with Grandparents

Spoiler alert: We pulled these from the new Food Network Kitchen series Better with Age.

May 15, 2020
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FNK_Better-With-Age_101_Courtney-Rada-Laura-Ciffone-Kitchen-2

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

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Recipes that have been passed down through generations are most likely good recipes. Why? They were worth passing down. Now, imagine if you had access to other people's treasured family recipes with all sorts of footnotes about what to do so they turn out just right. That’s the premise behind Better with Age, the new show on the Food Network Kitchen app. Comedian Courtney Rada joins experienced home cooks who mentor her in teaching their timeless family recipes. Here, a few things we learned along the way.

FNK_Better-With-Age_103- The-Eggplant-1

FNK_Better-With-Age_103- The-Eggplant-1

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

Pomegranate seeds make tomatoes taste riper.

During the episode Eggplant Is Comfort Food, Courtney cooks a Greek eggplant dish with a sommelier who’s been making the recipe since she was 19 years old. Now, it’s her family’s most requested recipe. Eggplant is roasted until it’s caramelized and then it’s topped off with a variety of different ingredients, including freshly chopped tomatoes and pomegranate seeds. Courtney’s mentor explains that the pomegranate seeds bolster the acidity in the dish, compensating for tomatoes that aren’t perfectly ripe. Brilliant. Next time we make a caprese sallad, we’ll be adding pomegranate seeds.

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FNK_Better-With-Age_105_Latkes-3

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

How to keep potatoes from turning black.

It’s happened to the best of us: We take too long to peel our potatoes, and the cut sides turn an ugly bruised color. Luckily, Lisa The Latke Mom from Long Island knows a thing or two about peeling potatoes and preventing them from turning black. She tells Courtney that she uses golden waxy potatoes, which take longer than other varieties to bruise. Another tip? Keep your peeled potatoes in a bowl of cool water.

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FNK_Better-With-Age_106_Chicken-Satay-3

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

How to taste sauce without getting 7 spoons dirty.

You know when you’re making tomato sauce or salad dressing, and you have to “taste and adjust the seasoning?” Sometimes, that seasoning needs a lot of tasting and adjusting, and you end up going through a handful of spoons (or, worse, double dipping the same spoon). Well, when Courtney learns how to make Traditional Chicken Satay, her mentor, Jenny, teaches her a simple but smart trick. Use the mixing spoon to dot a little bit of sauce on the side of your (clean!) hand, and taste from there. Wash your hands before continuing to perfect the rest of your dish.

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FNK_Better-With-Age_106_Courtney-Rada-Jenny-Wouters-Skewering-Chicken

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

The number one rule of cooking with skewers.

Some more wisdom from Jenny’s Traditional Chicken Satay class: When you’re cooking with wooden skewers, always soak them in water for a 30 minutes to an hour even if the recipe you’re following doesn’t say to do so. Otherwise, they’ll burn — and if you’re cooking something saucy like satay, it’ll burn too. Jenny learned this the hard way the first time she made satay.

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FNK_Better-With-Age_102_Brisket-3

Photo by: Deborah Jimenez

Deborah Jimenez

The secret ingredient for extra-flavorful soups and braises.

In the Best Brisket Ever class, Jewish home cook Elise talks herbs. While many people throw out their parsley stems, Elise says they’re a precious ingredient because they have more flavor than parsley leaves and hold up well during long cook times. Add them — along with their leaves — to braising liquid (or soup broth) to punch up your creation.

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