All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate editor at Food Network, now living in New York City after being born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She likes her eggs runny, her pasta cheesy and has been known to throw back dozens of oysters at a time.

Restaurant Revisited: Dirty Laundry at Hillbillies Restaurant

by in Shows, January 29th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived in Murphys, Calif., to rescue Hillbillies Restaurant, he was forced to contend with not only a dingy dining space overrun with tchotchkes, but with struggling owner Jami Saul as well. Unconfident and unable to assert herself to her staff, she would often be talked down to by her employees, so it was up to Robert to teach her how to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. He and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, but in true Irvine fashion, he delivered, reopening Hillbillies to a crowded house of eager customers. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Jami to find out how her business is doing today.

“I do love the simplicity and clean feeling the new design brings to the restaurant,” Jami says of the transformed Hillbillies. “My favorite is the front entrance and the back wall of pallets. I think Lynn nailed the design for me.”

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From Food to Football: Guy Fieri to Compete in Celebrity Beach Bowl

by in Events, Food Network Chef, January 29th, 2014

Guy FieriYou know him as the blond, blinged-out host of Triple D and one of two culinary mentors on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, but this weekend Guy Fieri is putting his kitchen chops aside to show off his skills on a sandy football field. Along with such famous faces as actors Tracy Morgan and Chace Crawford, personalities Kevin Frazier and Artie Lange, and model Hannah Davis, Guy will compete in DIRECTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl in New York City ahead of Sunday’s big game. Every year the biggest names in entertainment join forces with top-notch athletes in a friendly flag football game, and this Saturday the game will prove greater than ever as NFL Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Deion Sanders and Warren Moon join the superstar roster.

The celebration kicks off Saturday at 10a|9c in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park at Pier 40 when DIRECTV hosts a tailgate for fans, then a pregame show starts at 1|12c, followed by the all-stars taking the field at 2|1c for the start of the game. Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern will be on hand to work the crowd during the halftime show at 2:30, and after the game at about 3:20|2:30c, Paramore take the stage to belt out their latest hits.

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Chefs Attempt to Beat Bobby Flay on Brand-New Series

by in Shows, January 27th, 2014

Bobby FlayJust this past summer you watched two fearless chefs put their reputations on the line as they attempted to take down Bobby Flay in the kitchen. Beginning this March, all-new hopeful competitors will head to New York City to do the same on the first-ever season of Beat Bobby Flay. These established industry professionals are confident in their cooking chops, but when it comes to facing off against an Iron Chef, everyday skills may not be enough to succeed.

Before the chefs can go head-to-head against the famed culinary master, they’ll have to prove their worth in a showdown against each other. Bobby’s closest friends and longtime chef-colleagues will be on hand to judge this preliminary cook-off before deciding which one can advance to battle with Bobby. While Bobby may have years of experience in culinary competitions behind him, his competitor will have one key advantage: choosing the challenge dish. With only seconds of on-the-spot thinking to prepare, Bobby will have to make the ultimate version of his rival’s dish in the hopes that a new crop of judges will select his as supreme in a blind tasting.

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Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 27th, 2014

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and MushroomsRich, hearty and deliciously creamy, macaroni and cheese may be the ultimate comfort food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up the everyday casserole with some healthful additions. Whether you round out the meal with juicy tomatoes, mild-tasting cauliflower or bright-green broccoli, there are indeed ways to incorporate fresh flavors without losing the decadence of the traditional recipe.

Food Network Kitchens put its spin on the indulgent classic with Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms (pictured above), a big-batch supper that’s simple enough to make on a weeknight. After making a triple-cheese sauce with cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese, mix in the pasta and add garlic-laced kale, plus meaty sauteed shiitakes. “Don’t be alarmed by how much kale you start with for this recipe,” the Kitchens chefs write. “It will cook down quite a bit and pairs deliciously with the creamy pasta and shiitake mushrooms.” Finish the casserole with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake it for just a few minutes until the topping is crispy, and the cheese is gooey and bubbly. Just like with any baked mac and cheese, it’s important to not overcook the noodles in the water, since they’ll finish cooking in the oven. It’s best to remove them when they’re al dente, so they don’t turn mushy when they’re baked.

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Sunny Anderson’s Big-Game Bash

by in Food Network Chef, January 27th, 2014

Sunny AndersonWhen it comes to the big game, no one tackles football food quite like Sunny Anderson. She’s a passionate football fan with a knack for turning out touchdown-worthy classics like wings, chili, dips and nachos at home, and her kickoff plan for easy entertaining is a cinch to follow and guarantees stress-free hosting. Just in time for next weekend’s big game, FN Dish chatted with Sunny to find out her ultimate team matchup and go-to chili toppings, plus learn what she’ll be cooking for the celebration and a few good-to-know party tips. Read on below to hear from Sunny, then watch her video to find out more about her kickoff solutions.

What is your dream team matchup for the big game?
Sunny Anderson: I think my dream matchup … would be Jets versus Giants. Let’s just settle it. The Giants are better. Let’s just grudge-match settle it.

What will you be cooking for the big game this year?
SA: I’m cooking everything. Usually I do a smorgasbord of wings. So I like to just do, like, two or three wings. So it’s usually going to be the basics, which is like a good spicy wing — a Buffalo wing — and then I go crazy from there, so definitely my PB&J Wings, and then I’m in love with Sticky Onion Crunch Wings, another recipe that I just put together. And then just lots of, like, dips; I have a crab-avocado, guacamole-type thing. And then you’ve gotta have dessert, because to me, dessert is like what you serve when you’re ready for people to go home. It’s your cue to leave when the coffee and dessert comes out.

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Oh, the Irony — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, January 26th, 2014


Alton Brown recently told FN Dish his top pieces of advice for Cutthroat Kitchen competitors, and among them was to “always leave the pantry with something that has salt in it.” This strategy for success would have proved especially useful during tonight’s brand-new episode, as three out of the four chefs were prohibited from using any salt in Round 1 after Chef Emily won the exclusive right to it. But while those rivals may have suffered bland food on account of sabotage, Emily, too, offered an improperly seasoned dish to judge Antonia Lofaso, and it ultimately cost her the competition.

It turns out that what ultimately did in Chef Emily wasn’t a high prevalence of salt but, ironically enough, the drastic underuse of her high-priced ingredient. “There’s something about when you got it, you’re afraid to use it, I guess,” Alton told Antonia as the two dished on the challenges during the host’s After-Show. According to Antonia, Chef Emily’s sweet potato fries were far too sweet, served with maple syrup and bacon. “There was just no balance of anything ’cause it was like a sweet fry, then a sweet sauce,” Antonia explained. “I think maybe, like, rendering the bacon fat and using that — the fat — and the maple and the crushed bacon would have just given it more balance.”

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Inside The Kitchen’s Snackadium, Plus Game-Day Snack Recipes

by in Recipes, Shows, January 25th, 2014

The Kitchen Co-HostsJust in time for next week’s big game, the co-hosts on The Kitchen — along with Rob Del Balzo, a caterer — created a super snack platter worthy of not just any tailgate but the ultimate football showdown. This “snackadium,” modeled after a traditional football stadium, was almost overflowing with classic and creative munchies alike, including fresh vegetables, crackers and pretzels, plus pigs in blankets and Jeff’s meaty mortadella sandwiches.

More photos and snack recipes

Sunny Anderson + The Kitchen + Twitter = A Bright Saturday Morning

by in Community, Shows, January 23rd, 2014

Sunny AndersonAs you begin your weekend with a brand-new episode of The Kitchen (Saturday at 11a|10c), log in to Twitter during the show and follow along with @FoodNetwork‘s tweets, because co-host Sunny Anderson will be taking over the account to give fans an insider’s perspective of the show.

Saturday’s show is all about kicking off game-day preparations, and as the ultimate football fanatic, Sunny will be sharing her signature tailgating tips and ideas, plus dishing on behind-the-scenes moments on set. On the episode, she, Geoffrey, Jeff, Katie and Marcela are going to indulge in classic football fare like hearty sandwiches and dips, as well as refreshing cocktails, while they build the ultimate snack platter — an over-the-top snackadium featuring party-ready munchies. Tune in to watch the snackadium come to life, and tweet @FoodNetwork to chat with Sunny about The Kitchen or to ask her questions about your big-game bash — she just may give you an answer.

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#TBT: Geoffrey Zakarian

by in Food Network Chef, January 23rd, 2014

Geoffrey ZakarianIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

Although he’s a relatively new addition to Kitchen Stadium and recently launched a brand-new series, The Kitchen, with four other co-hosts, Geoffrey Zakarian is a longtime Chopped judge, having been part of the panel since the show’s premiere season in 2009. Now recognized equally for his dapper ensembles and his harsh critiques at the Chopping Block, Geoffrey is a no-nonsense judge, able to note the intricacies of a competitor’s dish and offer constructive reviews on how to better it in the future.

A pillar of the restaurant industry, Geoffrey has two eateries in Manhattan, serves as the culinary director for The Plaza Hotel in New York City, and has ventures in Miami and at The Water Club at Borgata in Atlantic City. Despite these commitments, however, and his dedication to serving only the finest cuisine at his restaurants, Geoffrey connects to viewers with ease and shares quick-fix, crave-worthy recipes that home cooks can surely replicate. His Caesar Salad with Red Romaine is a hearty, simple salad that can be on the table in a quick 20 minutes, and just this month on The Kitchen, Geoffrey offered a recipe for Italian Chicken Pasta Salad that takes advantage of store-bought rotisserie chicken.
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Best 5 Baked Chicken Recipes

by in Recipes, January 22nd, 2014

Baked Sweet-and-Sour ChickenWhether you’re entertaining a crowd, feeding your family or simply cooking for one, chicken is a go-to dinner option, thanks to its budget-friendly nature, ease of preparation and endless versatility. While grilled chicken may be a summertime favorite and fried chicken a comfort food classic, baked chicken is a family-friendly option year-round, no matter the occasion. It’s a blank canvas you can dress up with your favorite flavors or whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand, and since it’s cooked in the oven, much of the prep time is largely hands-off. Check out Food Network’s top-five baked chicken dishes below to find simple supper ideas from Rachael, Giada and more of your favorite chefs.

5. Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina — An all-in-one supper that comes together in less than an hour, Giada’s simple casserole is reminiscent of classic chicken Parmesan, as it features garlic-laced chicken tossed with noodles, plus tomatoes and creamy mozzarella cheese. Click the play button on the video after the jump to watch her make it.

4. Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Crust — After dunking lean chicken breasts in a mustard-thyme mixture, Ted covers them with nutty Parmesan cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs, so they turn out moist on the inside with a crispy coating on the outside after baking.

Get the top-three recipes