All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an online editor at FoodNetwork.com, covering top-tier show and talent packages and managing the FN Dish and Star Talk blogs. She grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Michigan, where food was the focus of most conversations and it wasn't unusual to talk about the next day’s lunch and dinner menus while eating breakfast. Maria graduated from Barnard College in 2012 and currently lives in New York City. She likes her pasta cheesy, her eggs runny and her oysters briny.

GAC and Dolly Parton Team Up to Host Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon in Support of the Tennessee Wildfire Relief Efforts

by in News, December 9th, 2016

GAC and Dolly Parton Team Up to Host Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon in Support of the Tennessee Wildfire Relief EffortsFollowing several weeks of raging wildfires that cost 14 lives and ravaged the area of Sevier County, Tennessee, and the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains, the town of Gatlinburg reopened its businesses this morning. But the devastating effects of the tragedy will be felt throughout the state for weeks and months to come.

Tennessee holds a special place in the hearts of us here at Food Network. Our parent company, Scripps Networks Interactive, calls Knoxville home, as does the team at Great American Country, which is also owned by Scripps Networks Interactive. Dolly Parton, too, is a Tennessee native with strong ties to the Great Smoky Mountains, and on Tuesday, Dec. 13, GAC will team up with her to host the Smoky Mountains Rise Telethon, which will air on GAC at 8 p.m. EST, to benefit the ongoing wildfire relief efforts.

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Watch Natalie and Dave Sideserf Make an Epic Santa Cake for Christmas

by in Holidays, Shows, December 9th, 2016

Christmastime is nearly here, and while Santa Claus is making his nice list, Natalie and Dave Sideserf, of Austin’s famed Sideserf Cake Studio, are decking the halls with an epic Santa Claus cake. You’ve seen holiday-themed cakes before, right? Well, this one isn’t like those. Natalie and Dave’s jolly creation brings Santa to life (in a snowy chimney, of course) with the utmost realism, and it’s all thanks to their unmatched creativity, attention to detail and steady hands. Click the play button on the video above to watch their process unfold.

On Texas Cake House, which will premiere back-to-back episodes starting at 9|8c on Monday, Jan. 9, this powerhouse couple will give fans an insider’s look at the world of extravagant-cake design. Not only will viewers see the ins and outs of Natalie’s creative process, from the drawing and design stages to the stacking, carving and decorating, but they can also expect all-access accounts of the real-life goings-on of the business, as this husband-wife duo run Sideserf Cakes.

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Double Chocolate Pudding Pie — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 4th, 2016

Double Chocolate Pudding PieThe holiday season is officially underway, and with it comes all manner of merry treats, most of them decidedly indulgent and full of all the sweet decadence you crave this time of year. But it turns out that it is possible to keep things light while enjoying the best of the dessert course. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, a time-tested pudding pie, delivers all the rich flavor and texture you know and love — with ingredients that are mostly healthful. The secret is using just a bit of butter in the crust and opting for low-fat milk to make the chocolate pudding filling.

For more holiday-worthy dessert ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

How to Make the Ultimate Cheese-and-Cracker Platter (Into an Edible House)

by in Entertaining, Recipes, Shows, December 3rd, 2016

Cheese and Cracker HouseAt holiday parties big and small, cheese-and-cracker platters are practically required. You can keep them simple with just some slices of your favorite cheddar and kid-friendly crackers, or you can dress them up, offering an array of fresh and funky cheeses and various trimmings. You can even ditch the platter notion altogether and instead opt for home construction when building your cheese-and-cracker setup, like the co-hosts of The Kitchen did on this morning’s all-new episode. With four walls, a stable roof and even pepperoni shingles, their Cheese-and-Cracker House is the ultimate in party-ready edible entertainment, sure to keep your guests chatting as they pick away at its exterior and interior.

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Enter to Win a Copy of Alice Waters’ New Book, Fanny in France

by in Contests, November 29th, 2016

It was just yesterday that we introduced you to Alice Waters’ latest publication — Fanny in France: Travel Adventures of a Chef’s Daughter, with Recipes — a part storybook, part cookbook that’s largely geared toward children. Waters, who has long been credited with establishing the farm-to-table effort at her beloved California eatery Chez Panisse, chatted with us and dished about all things French cuisine and cooking for children, including her memories of cooking with and for her own daughter, Fanny, the titular character in her book. From cover to cover, Fanny in France not only details Fanny’s explorations of a new world as she took in the best sights and tastes in France, but also provides more than 40 authentic French recipes.

“I wanted things that were very, very simple to make,” Waters said of the recipes included in the book. “I wanted to have the feeling that French cooking, at least what I experienced in the South of France, is very, very straightforward and simply dependent on the goodness of the ingredients, the ripeness and the aliveness of the foodstuffs.” You can find the recipe for her Croque-Monsieur (Grilled Cheese Sandwich), a French take on the ham-and-cheese mash-up we know and love, in our interview with Waters here, but to get all of the recipes from Fanny in France — for dishes such as Pommes Frites (Crispy Pan-Fried Potatoes) and Chocolate Soufflé — you’ll have to order a copy for yourself.

Or you can enter to win our giveaway. That’s right — we’re giving five lucky, randomly selected fans the chance to each receive one copy of Fanny in France. To be entered to win, all you have to do is tell us what was your favorite food to eat as a child.

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The Quest for the Ultimate Culinary Title Returns with Brand-New Epic Series Iron Chef Gauntlet

by in Shows, November 28th, 2016

Alton BrownKitchen Stadium die-hards, we have breaking news for you. Just this afternoon, Alton Brown sent this tweet, and with only one word and a single hashtag — “Finally. #IronChefGauntlet” — he announced an upcoming series. Here’s what we know: Beginning in the spring of the new year, an all-new reboot of the beloved Iron Chef America is set to roll out. The name of this reimagined competition is Iron Chef Gauntlet, and as Alton hinted with an accompanying photo, he’s set to reprise his role as the host and master of ceremonies.

Like both Iron Chef America and its big brother based in Japan, this newfangled series will celebrate the highest echelon of cooking. Look for some of your favorite elements of battle from Iron Chef America, plus new twists that will leave you craving more.

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Chatting with Alice Waters: French Food Culture, Cooking for Kids and a Dressed-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich

by in Books, November 28th, 2016

Alice WatersLong credited with launching the now-ubiquitous farm-to-table effort, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971, and it’s been a landmark fixture of American cuisine ever since. But despite owning a restaurant with deep roots in Berkeley, Calif., Waters has spent a significant amount of time in France, and it’s her time abroad that influenced her style of cooking with local, market-driven ingredients. “I went to France when I was 19, and I came from a basically fast-food culture in America, and I arrived in the early ’60s in France when it was still a slow-food culture,” she told us when we chatted recently. “The kids came home and had lunch with their parents for two hours every day from school. You know, they went to the market twice a day just so that everything could be fresh and ripe, and people always ate with their family. I think these values are terribly, terribly relevant, because they are values that are universal and have been around since the beginning of civilization, really.”

Waters’ time in France was indeed formative for her, but it turns out that it made a lasting impact on her daughter, Fanny, too — so much so that she became the subject of Waters’ latest book, Fanny in France: Travel Adventures of a Chef’s Daughter, with Recipes. “I wanted to tell a story that children were amused by,” Waters told us. Told from Fanny’s point of view, Waters’ part storybook, part cookbook recounts Fanny’s bike ride with friends on Ile de Bendor, her time snacking on strawberries at the market in Nice and moments with her mom as they traveled throughout France. There are also more than 40 of “Fanny’s French Recipes” included, from kid-friendly picks like Pizza with Quick Tomato Sauce to more dressed-up dishes like Roasted Herbed Rack of Lamb and Chocolate Soufflé.

In chatting with Waters, we talked more about cooking with and for kids, both her own daughter and children who may be picky eaters. She offered advice to parents and stories of serving vegetables to Fanny, as well as her thoughts on a typically kid-approved dish, Croque-Monsieur (Grilled Cheese Sandwich), the recipe for which you can get below. Read on to hear from Waters, then learn how to make that craveable sandwich.

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Giada’s Easy Limoncello — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, November 27th, 2016

LimoncelloWith Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season is officially underway. And that means it’s time to start looking ahead to shopping for everyone on your “nice” list. But when it comes to finding a gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative, skip the usual gift cards and look to this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. Giada De Laurentiis’ bright lemon-vodka liqueur comes together with just four ingredients, and she says, “It makes wonderful gifts.”

For more party-ready recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Entertain board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Limoncello

3 Ways to Infuse Cocktail Flavors Into Party-Time Snack Mixes

by in Recipes, Shows, November 26th, 2016

Bloody Mary Cocktail Snack MixChips and dip, carrots and ranch, maybe a fruit platter — these are all fine party starters. They’re great ones, actually. But when it comes to holiday parties, sometimes we like to up the appetizer ante a bit, all while keeping it casual and easy, of course. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts introduced a trio of snack mixes that are the kind of next-level recipes that will transform your seasonal spreads. Combining two party-time favorites — booze and bites — the co-hosts made three cocktail-inspired snack recipes that range from savory and salty to sweet and oh so crunchy. Read on below to find out how they turned a Bloody Mary, a White Russian and a tequila-based cocktail into eat-with-your-hands nibbles. (Spoiler: It all comes down to spiking, pouring and mixing.)

Bloody Mary Cocktail Snack Mix

The flavors you know and love in a classic Bloody Mary are well-represented in this big-batch mash-up of rice cereal, bagel chips and pretzels. Just as tomato juice and vodka form the base of the drink, this snack mix is made with tomato paste and vodka, plus a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, which deliver the salty, deeply umami flavor you love in a Bloody Mary. Once the mixture is warmed, it’s poured over the munchies, which get microwaved for just a few minutes so the flavors can marry.

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One-on-One with Aarti Sequeira, a Judge on Clash of the Grandmas

by in Shows, November 22nd, 2016

We’re just a few weeks into the premiere season of Clash of the Grandmas, and if the first battles were any indication, it’s clear that top-quality cooking knows no limits, age or otherwise. Aarti Sequeira is a judge on Sunday’s all-new episode (airing at 10|9c), and she noted the downright fierceness of the ladies facing off in the competition. They are “vivacious, spunky grandmas who love nothing more than to feed people, whether those people are their grandchildren, or someone else’s,” she explained, noting that their dishes often boast that extra something-something. In addition to the “love” that goes into their offerings, she said, there’s also “a little bit of I-don’t-give-a-damn,” which we can only assume is what makes their food so treasured. Read on below to hear more from Aarti and get her take on what it’s like to judge grannies’ cooking.

Aside from the age of the competitors, what makes Clash of the Grandmas different than other culinary battles?
Aarti Sequeira: There’s something special about the way that grandmothers cook. They can make the simplest of dishes, but there’s something in the way they turn their wrist, sprinkle in that brown sugar, layer in the cheese; it’s all so infused with a sense of comfort that every round, after eating their food, I felt like everything was going to be OK. I don’t get that when I taste even the best chef’s cooking!

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