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.

Katie Lee’s Strategies for Summer Entertaining, Plus Her Cookout Staples

by in Entertaining, Food Network Chef, May 31st, 2014

Katie LeeThis week marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and with that comes three months of hazy days, late-night swims and surely plenty of grilling. While burgers, hot dogs and barbecue are no-fail menu items, the classic preparations for these favorites can get tired year after year, and so this morning’s episode of The Kitchen was dedicated to go-to grilled recipes, seasonal how-tos and party ideas that deliver ideal results every time. Recently FN Dish caught up with Katie Lee, who dished on what it takes to pull off — and enjoy — a summertime soiree at home. Read her exclusive interview below to learn her take on the season’s must-haves, and get her ideas for make-ahead dishes plus tips on hosting a crowd.

What are some of your must-haves for summer cookouts?
Katie Lee: I like to make side dishes that I can do ahead of time that can be kept in the refrigerator and pulled out when it’s time for dinner. I always do some kind of grain salad, like a quinoa salad or a farro salad. Corn on the cob is a must. My summer cocktail of choice is an Aperol Spritz. A big bucket that you can fill with ice and all your drinks so that people can serve themselves. Reusable plastic wine glasses so that you’re not creating a lot of trash, but you also don’t have to worry about somebody breaking glass near the pool or outside.

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Exclusive: Alton Previews the First-Ever Cutthroat Kitchen Judges’ Battle

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 29th, 2014

Alton BrownFor the first time on Sunday night (at 10|9c), the contestants taking their turns on Cutthroat Kitchen won’t be everyday chef-competitors; instead the judges, Antonia Lofaso, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jet Tila and Simon Majumdar, will enter the throes of sabotage and battle against each other for Cutthroat glory. Although the group is most familiar with simply tasting the aftermath of a challenge, they’re keenly aware of the kinds of evilicious obstacles Alton‘s been known to auction off. Just ahead of this weekend’s special episode, FN Dish checked in with Alton to find out what he has planned. Read on below to hear from Alton in an exclusive interview and learn his thoughts on the competition plus his advice for the judges.

Regardless of who’s competing — contestants or judges — what is one key piece of advice you think everyone should know before beginning a Cutthroat battle?
Alton Brown: Shop for the unexpected. It’s easy to grab ingredients for a specific dish, but remember … in Cutthroat Kitchen you never know what sabotages might be coming your way. Don’t just load for bear; load for monsters.

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Restaurant Revisited: The Writing on the Wall at Bama Q

by in Shows, May 28th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleBefore Robert Irvine got to work on the failing Big Jim’s Bama Q in Hammondville, Ala., he talked with Big Jim himself, who, while no longer the owner of the restaurant, was able to tell Robert stories of a once-successful venture at the barbecue-focused eatery, ultimately proving that the business could be profitable. The new owner of Big Jim’s, Daniel Millican, had failed to make the business his own, leaving nearly all of the original leader’s menu, decor and practices in place. With time, Daniel had become disconnected from the restaurant after spending much of his time away at his other business, a sawmill, and Robert questioned whether Daniel wanted to be involved going forward. It took Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to inspire Daniel, overhaul the mismatched design, establish new processes for tuning out authentic barbecue and, in perhaps the most-dramatic update, change the name of the business to simply Bama Q. Read on below to hear from Daniel and his sister-in-law, Carolyn, the former assistant manager of the restaurant, in an exclusive interview and find out how his business is faring today.

Bama Q is earning almost $1,000 more per week than before its Impossible transformation, and Carolyn notes: “Everyone loves the inside of the restaurant. A lot of people are responding to the floors, the tables, the chicken wire. … It feels much more open and welcoming.”

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Best 5 Chicken Breast Recipes

by in Recipes, May 28th, 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken BreastsIt’s no secret that chicken breasts are perhaps the ultimate ingredient workhorses: They do double duty between lunch and dinner, afford themselves to easily reheated leftovers, stand up to nearly every cooking style and pair well with the flavors of countless cuisines. Because this culinary superstar is so versatile, it’s a blank canvas that can be customized to your family’s favorite tastes and whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. But chicken breasts are also easy to deem bland, which is why it’s important to dress them up so they take on the bold flavors of marinades, spice rubs, sauces and toppings. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken breast dishes below to find classic and creative picks from Guy, Ina, Bobby, Melissa and Rachael.

5. Chicken Breasts with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives — Guy makes a pocket within each of his chicken breasts and stuffs them with Mediterranean-inspired flavors before finishing them with a lemon-sun-dried tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese.

4. Lemon Chicken Breasts — With a five-star rating and more than 500 user reviews, Ina’s fail-proof chicken is baked in a succulent mixture of lemon juice, white wine and herbs. Perhaps best of all, it’s a good-for-you meal that can be ready to eat in only one hour.

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Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and Olives — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 26th, 2014

Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and OlivesWhile burgers, hot dogs and barbecue may be classic picks on Memorial Day, there’s no reason to forgo a Meatless Monday today, as it’s indeed possible to enjoy the tradition of grilling without indulging in meat. The secret is to swap in a different hearty ingredient in place of the usual beef, chicken or pork. Enter cauliflower. Every bit as hefty as a hunk of meat, cauliflower stands up well to high-temperature cooking, so it can be cooked on the grill, and it’s a natural pairing for bold flavors, which makes it easy to dress up with spice rubs and seasonings. Plus, if you slice a head of cauliflower into thick-cut steaks instead of tiny florets, the results are satisfying enough to be served as a main dish for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and Olives (pictured above) is an all-in-one dish that’s both simple to make in a hurry and packed with plenty of tastes and textures. The key to this recipe is the harissa-olive oil mixture that’s rubbed onto the cauliflower before cooking; the warm spice infuses the vegetable as it cooks, and what results is tender, smoky cauliflower every time. Because the cauliflower cooks in throwaway foil wrapping, cleaning up the grill is a cinch. Serve the vegetable with a simple side of lemon-ginger couscous studded with raisins and tangy feta cheese, and finish each plate with green olives and a squeeze of bright lemon juice.

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Playing with Fire — Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, May 25th, 2014


No matter what recipe you’re cooking, when it comes to being prepared in the kitchen, few things are more important than a quality heat source. From live flames from a gas stove to the warmth of an oven or the power from a microwave, heat is needed to make critical things happen, and without it, or with an inferior heat supply, cooking anything well can be nearly impossible. On tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown auctioned off a sabotage that would seem to spell doom for one competitor: Instead of being able to prepare a clambake on a conventional stove, one chef would have to use tiny flame cubes set within a miniature prop. Was this too much to ask of a contestant in a 30-minute round? No, the sabotage was indeed fair, as the culinary team had tested the obstacle beforehand.

Click the play button on the video above to watch how this test unfolded, and learn which elements of the sabotage were approved and why some parts weren’t successful.

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Vote for the Ultimate Picnic Dish

by in Recipes, May 24th, 2014

PicnicWith the unofficial start of summer just days away, it’s officially time to head outside and take advantage of warmer temperatures, and for many, that means moving the cooking and eating to the outdoors. On this morning’s brand-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts shared go-to tips for packing easy picnics, explaining that that these meals don’t have to be elaborate to be enjoyable. All it takes is a little planning and, of course, fuss-free foods to pull off a memorable celebration.

As you start planning your first outdoor meal of the season, FN Dish wants to know: What do you consider the one must-have plate at your picnic? Do you prefer simple finger foods like meat-and-cheese platters, just as the co-hosts do, or do you opt for heartier fare like juicy fried chicken? Is it all about the sides, like potato and pasta salads, or do you reach for the sweet treats alone? Cast your vote in the poll below, then read on to find some of Food Network’s favorite picnic essentials.

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