The First Thing Valerie Learned to Cook

Why Google isn’t always the best place to find recipes.

Valerie Bertinelli with her mother Mrs. Bertinelli as seen on Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking, Season 1,Valerie Bertinelli with her mother Mrs. Bertinelli as seen on Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking, Season 1

Photo by: Justin Lubin ©2015, Television Food Network. G.P. All Rights Reserved

Justin Lubin, 2015, Television Food Network. G.P. All Rights Reserved

On the season premiere of Valerie’s Home Cooking, Valerie is honoring the women in her life. “I learned so much about cooking from all of the women in my life,” says Valerie. On the show, Valerie often takes inspiration from the classic recipes that her mother and grandmother, Nonnie, made and adds her own modern twist.

In fact, first thing Valerie learned how to cook was her Mother’s Lasagna. “My mama taught me a long, long time ago. I used to watch her make it all the time. And it probably is one of my favorite go-to "wow" dishes,” said Valerie. Over the years, though, she has tweaked the recipe to satisfy her changing palate.

“This is the difference between my lasagna and my mother's lasagna,” says Valerie.” I love ricotta, but for some reason, I never liked it in my lasagna. But when Tom and I went to Italy and we had this lasagna at this little place, this winery outside of Settignano, we both went, "Oh, my god. That's lasagna." There wasn't a whole lot of cheese. It was the bechamel sauce that made the difference.”

“Basically, a bechamel sauce is a white sauce that starts with a roux,” explains Valerie. “A roux is an oil or a butter and flour, equal parts. I want to add 1/2 cup of flour. Once the flour goes in, start whisking. Don't stop. The key to these sauces is to not let them get lumpy.” She even uses no-cook noodles to keep things simple. “I think I could probably make this with my eyes closed,” said Valerie.

This weekend, as you’re celebrating Mother’s Day, follow Valerie’s advice and ask about your mother’s favorite recipes. “If you’re lucky enough to have your grandmother, or your great grandmother, even your mother still with you,” says Valerie, “I encourage you to ask them about their oldest recipes and what got them into cooking. Inevitably you’re going to hear some beautiful stories about their life.”

An all-new season of Valerie's Home Cooking premieres Sunday at 11a|10c.

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