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.

Beyond the Turkey: All About Wine on Thanksgiving, According to Alex Guarnaschelli

by in Drinks, Food Network Chef, Holidays, November 7th, 2016

Alex GuarnaschelliWith so much focus on executing the all-important turkey, mashed potatoes and casseroles, it’s often easy to overlook what comes next on Thanksgiving, after the prep work is done: the actual eating of the turkey, potatoes and casseroles, of course. With eating comes drinking, especially around the holidays, and just as you invested time in planning an epic feast, so too can you find an extra-special wine to round out the meal. Recently we caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli at an event in New York City in which she partnered with Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines to showcase her secrets for transforming turkey-day leftovers with Woodbridge wines. The Iron Chef and Chopped judge was quick to point out that there are no hard-and-fast rules for both drinking and cooking with wine.

“You write a rule book and then we just break it,” she said of pairing wine with Thanksgiving dinner. “Turkey’s one of those things. In a way, I would almost say you could do a platter of the white meat and a little bit of stuffing and some green bean casserole, and have a nice, crisp Chardonnay. Then you could go in the other direction: Take some of the dark meat, some cranberry sauce, some stuffing and have a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon,” she explained, adding that there are possibilities for personal preference. “Depending on how you lay out your plate, you could really drink either.”

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Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, November 6th, 2016

Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa VerdeThis just in: Tacos can be healthy — while still tasting good. Yes, really. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to save a few calories, and this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is proof of that. These top-rated shrimp tacos get their craveable bold flavor from a blanket of chipotle powder atop the seafood, which turns tender after just a few minutes on the grill. Skip the usually heavy toppings like cheese and sour cream, and opt for fresh picks instead. This avocado-tomatillo salsa, laced with fresh jalapeno, is just the burst of bright, cool taste and creamy texture to balance the tortilla-wrapped shrimp.

For more lightened-up recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Get Healthy board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde

Stuffed Apples Two Ways: Savory and Sweet

by in Recipes, Shows, November 5th, 2016

Stuffed Apples Two Ways: Savory and SweetAfter a trip or two to the orchard — or even just your grocery store’s produce aisle — you likely have on hand an abundance of apples. You’ve baked them into pies, roasted them with meat, used them in cocktails and have eaten them straight up at lunchtime. Now what? Now it’s time to stuff them. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, Jeff Mauro and Sunny Anderson introduced two new takes on stuffed apples, one savory and one sweet. For both of these recipes, and most stuffed apple recipes, the key is a well-cooked apple, one that’s tender, which will go a long way in making the finished dish more easily eatable with the filling. Check out Jeff’s and Sunny’s ideas below, each of them an easy-to-do technique that delivers warming seasonal flavors.

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A Dizzying Cocktail — Alton’s Tournament of Terror After-Show

by in Shows, October 30th, 2016

Most cocktail recipes are pretty straightforward: Mix, stir or shake, then pour (and sip). But of course on Cutthroat Kitchen, few things are as easy as they seem, especially on a night like tonight, which saw the finale of Alton Brown‘s first-ever Tournament of Terror.

Guest judge Anne Burrell was in for the ultimate dizzying drink when she visited the After-Show. She checked out a few sabotages, then landed atop an especially evilicious sabotage: the rotating bed from Round 3, atop which she had to prep a Bloody Mary. But in true Cutthroat fashion, it wasn’t all about the bed; it was what the bed did that made this challenge interesting. “There’s one thing that I left out, Anne. One thing,” Alton told her after she was settled with her ingredients. Within moments the mischievous mattress began moving, but Anne didn’t let that scare her, taking the motion in stride. “This is so fun,” Anne said, realizing the full extent of the sabotage. “Does this thing go any faster?”

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Baked Mini Churro Bites — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, October 30th, 2016

Baked Mini Churro BitesLove deep-fried foods but dislike the process of deep-frying? You’re in luck — at least where churros are concerned. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week introduces a baking technique that turns out the light, fluffy treats you crave, all with the ease of an oven. The key is piping the cinnamon-laced dough into two-bite logs; this lets you mimic the shape of traditional churros while ensuring the batter will stay set on a baking sheet. Before serving, dunk the churros in butter and dust them with a fragrant cinnamon-sugar mixture, then serve with an easy Caramel-Mango Sauce for bright, fruity contrast.

For more sweet treat ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Baked Mini Churro Bites

A Pizza That Looks and Tastes Like a Pumpkin

by in Recipes, Shows, October 29th, 2016

Pumpkin Crust Halloween PizzaYou’ve seen the Halloween treats that look like pumpkins, like this cheese ball and this soup. And you’ve surely seen the recipes that taste like pumpkin, like this pasta and these spice buns. But it’s rare that a recipe will be both: served in a cute pumpkin package, with all of the warm spice you know and love in a typical pumpkin treat. That’s where this next-level recipe from Jeff Mauro comes in. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, he introduced a too-cute pizza that tasted just as impressive as it looked, in all its pumpkin glory. Read on below to learn how he did it and get the family-friendly recipe.

Jeff’s Pumpkin-Crust Halloween Pizza (pictured above) gets its fall flavor from — you guessed it — the crust. When mixing up his yeast dough, Jeff adds a hefty dollop of pumpkin puree, which lends a subtle orange tint to the crust and also a mild flavor. As for the toppings, cheese lovers, this one is for you. His decadent combo of ricotta and mozzarella delivers ooey-gooey results, while the butternut squash pieces and basil garnish are used to create a full pumpkin effect (and boost the taste) right on top of the savory pie.

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One-on-One with Monti Carlo, a Judge on Clash of the Grandmas

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 28th, 2016

Monti CarloWe’re just a few weeks away from the premiere of Clash of the Grandmas (Sunday, Nov. 13 at 10|9c), when four grandmothers, each with undeniable culinary chops and a style all her own, will take to the kitchen for the chance to win $10,000. Earlier this week we caught up with Eddie Jackson and Nancy Fuller, both of whom will sit on the judges’ panel for Sunday’s premiere episode. And today it’s all about the third and final judge, Monti Carlo. Not only is Monti a chef with a history of esteemed judging on Food Network, but she’s also a granddaughter, who first learned fundamental recipes while cooking alongside her own grandmother. Read on below to hear from Monti about cooking with her Abuela Dora, and find out what’s to come on the premiere of Clash of the Grandmas.

What can viewers look forward to seeing in Clash of the Grandmas?
Monti Carlo: Out of all the shows I have judged on Food Network, this one has been my absolute favorite! It is just so much fun to watch these grandmas compete! They are cute, they are funny and they are fierce! Also, when Eddie [Jackson] and I sit next to each other on the panel, it looks like the before and after from one of those Charles Atlas comic book ads. You know the ones where a weakling transforms into a bodybuilder? Dude has #AllTheMuscles

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One-on-One with Nancy Fuller, a Judge on Clash of the Grandmas

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 27th, 2016

Nancy FullerYesterday we chatted with Eddie Jackson, one of the hosts of Clash of the Grandmas (premiering Sunday, Nov. 13 at 10|9c), and today it’s all about Nancy Fuller, the grandmother in residence on this all-new upcoming competition. With 13 grandkids, Nancy is no stranger to making many of the comforting, tried-and-true dishes that the ladies in these battles will be forced to contend with. Read on below to get her take on grandmas’ styles of cooking, and find out what to expect in the competition.

What can viewers look forward to seeing in the upcoming clashes?
Nancy Fuller: Viewers can expect to see confident, well-seasoned women who know their way around the kitchen.

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By the Numbers: What It Takes to Stock the Kitchen for the Grannies on Clash of the Grandmas

by in Behind the Scenes, Shows, October 27th, 2016

Clash of the GrandmasThe ladies competing on Clash of the Grandmas are downright masters of their culinary crafts, with decades of experience commanding their kitchens at home. There’s no doubt they know what it takes to prepare meals fit for a family, but to succeed in the competition, they must put together dishes to impress a panel of all-star food authorities. To do that, they’ll need the very best in ingredients and equipment. So, to ensure they have what they need, the show’s culinary production team went to great lengths to ready the kitchen for the upcoming series of granny battles.

We caught up with Morgan Hass, a culinary producer on the show, who told us all about what it takes to stock the kitchen and pantry for the contest. Read on below to get her by-the-numbers details of what’s on hand, on the shelves and in the refrigerator.

2: Number of days it takes to build and stock the kitchen

8: Number of people on the culinary team overseeing Clash of the Grandmas

100: Total number of available gadgets, including 25 different varieties of equipment, like waffle makers, blenders and smoking guns

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One-on-One with Eddie Jackson, a Judge on Clash of the Grandmas

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 26th, 2016

Eddie JacksonWith decades of experience — both in the kitchen and beyond — behind them, grandmas are the ultimate at-home cooks, eager, passionate and unafraid to show off their chops. On the all-new series Clash of the Grandmas (premiering Sunday, Nov. 13 at 10|9c), each week four grannies with old-school kitchen techniques and a contemporary edge will face off in a series of battles, ultimately hoping to impress a panel of judges. Today we’re catching up with one of those judges, Eddie Jackson, who, while not a grandmother himself, of course, knows what it means to cook with and learn from a grandma. Read on below to get his take on what’s ahead on Clash of the Grandmas.

What can viewers look forward to seeing in the upcoming clashes?
Eddie Jackson: Viewers can expect to see some ladies that remind them of their grandmothers. The ladies are talented and full of energy.

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