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.

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

15-Minute Burrito — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 20th, 2014

Brown Rice and Bean Burrito
“It’s like eating a hidden salad,” Food Network Kitchens chefs say of their healthy, fuss-free Brown Rice and Bean Burrito (pictured above). “Burritos are a great way to introduce vegetables and salads to your kids.” The quick-fix recipe, ready to eat in only 15 minutes, is rolled full of better-for-you brown rice and protein-packed black beans, plus cheddar, creamy avocado and fresh carrots, so it’s every bit as hearty as meat-filled burritos, but lighter and fresher than the classic variety. If you’ve struggled with rolling burritos or sandwich wraps before, know that the process goes smoothly here, thanks to the avocado, which is gently mashed with zesty lime juice and will act like glue.

This recipe makes enough for just one burrito, so it’s a go-to option when prepping an after-school snack for your child or packing a lunchbox for yourself, but you can also increase the amount of each ingredient and feed a family. Let your kids have a hand in mealtime by rolling their ultimate burrito. Just set up a fillings bar complete with the prepared ingredients, and allow them to add what they’d like to the tortilla and roll it up.

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Payback, Cutthroat-Style — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, January 19th, 2014


While competitors may not know the dishes they’ll be tasked with cooking on Cutthroat Kitchen, or the specifics of the challenges that will befall them in battle, a few things are certain about the contest: Chefs will sabotage each other and be sabotaged in return. It’s how contestants cope that will ultimately determine the success of their food, and while much of their adaptation involves recipe tweaks and ingredient swap-outs, it also requires strategy in bidding and the assigning of a particular sabotage once it’s been earned.

On this week’s episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, Chef Leah wasted no time in gifting a doozy of a challenge to all three of her rivals during Round 1′s quesadilla test. She paid a whopping $6,900 to force the other competitors to use a high-powered work lamp, a kitchen torch and a hair-straightening flat iron as their sole heat sources. “So, at this point, Chef Leah is hated by almost everyone universally. When the mid-challenge item came up, it was almost a fait accompli that somebody would make sure she got it,” Alton revealed to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s After-Show. Sure enough, as a form of evilicious retribution, she was tasked with making two pitchers of margaritas using a human-powered blender attached to a bicycle, so she ultimately learned the sting of sabotage as she peddled to make the motor run. “But in the end, I don’t know how bad it hurt her,” Alton explained to Simon. Not only did Chef Leah survive the round, but she went on to win the entire competition after outcooking her rivals in rounds of chicken noodle soup and fish fries.

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Sweet vs. Spicy Wings: Which Team Are You On?

by in Recipes, Shows, January 18th, 2014

Classic Hot WingsJust this morning on a brand-new episode of The Kitchen, co-hosts Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian showed off a duo of recipes for the humble chicken wing. This game-day favorite is a blank canvas for almost all ingredients, but often one of two tastes ends up reigning supreme: spicy or sweet. While both Geoffrey and Sunny deep-fried their wings until the skin was deliciously crispy and the meat juicy, Geoffrey opted for a slightly spicy rendition with piquillo peppers and cumin in his BBQ Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Butter, and Sunny celebrated the sweeter flavor of pomegranate juice and hoisin sauce in her Sticky Onion Crunch Wings. Both finished wings proved deliciously sticky, but Geoffrey’s featured smoky notes while Sunny’s were subtly sweet without losing their savory bite.

Before you pick which team you’re rooting for in this year’s big game, FN Dish is challenging you to select which side you’re on in the great debate of sweet versus spicy chicken wings. Cast your vote below to tell us which flavor profile you prefer, then find party-ready recipes for both kinds of wings after the jump.

Get recipes for spicy and sweet chicken wings

#TBT: The Neelys

by in Food Network Chef, January 16th, 2014

The NeelysIt’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.

The king and queen of down-home barbecue, husband and wife Patrick and Gina Neely are best when they’re together, one of only a few groups on Food Network to co-host a show. Their first-ever series on the network, Down Home with the Neelys, featured Pat and Gina cooking alongside each other, swapping stories about their family’s recipes, tips on executing their dishes at home and surely plenty of laughs.

Pat and Gina specialize in making traditional barbecue, and while that has different meanings across the United States, the Neelys most often focus on classic Tennessee ’cue, turning out Memphis-Style Hickory-Smoked Beef and Pork Ribs, Barbecue Baked Beans and Honey Cornbread Muffins. Although some barbecue recipes have a tendency to be complicated and require tricky cooking techniques, Pat and Gina’s are simple to follow and deliver tried-and-true results, thanks to their fan-friendly style of breaking down each component of a recipe and showing how it  can be replicated easily at home.

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Restaurant Revisited: Monkey Business at Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill

by in Shows, January 15th, 2014

Restaurant: ImpossibleFrom a filthy interior to seemingly indifferent management, the problems at Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill in Auburn, Wash., were many, and it was up to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to decipher and ultimately fix them one by one if the business was to have any chance at future success. Over the course of two days and with a budget of only $10,000, Robert overhauled the interior of the eatery, redesigned the menu and worked with owner Donel Brinkman to implement positive changes that ultimately allowed her to reopen Spunky Monkey to a packed crowd. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Donel and find out how her business is faring a few months later.

“Customers are thrilled with the design (as are we),” Donel says of the diners’ reactions to Spunky Monkey’s transformation, “and we are receiving great commentary on the transition.”

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