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.

Simon Majumdar Reveals the Mind of a Cutthroat Kitchen Judge

by in Shows, July 9th, 2014

Alton Brown and Simon MajumdarFrom The Next Iron Chef to Iron Chef America, Simon Majumdar is no stranger to a judges’ table, but the difference between the evaluations on those shows and those on Cutthroat Kitchen is that with the latter, he isn’t aware of all that led to the chefs’ finished dishes. Round after evilicious round, Simon and the other judges are introduced to seemingly innocent plates, and they’re unaware of the oddball products and the perhaps inferior utensils and tools used to create them; it’s then up to Simon and the other judges to review chefs’ offerings as simply as the food they are, not as the results of sabotage. FN Dish checked in with Simon recently to chat about his experience judging on Cutthroat Kitchen, plus his memorable dishes from the show and the process of being hidden from the competition.

What are you most looking forward to as Cutthroat Kitchen continues to evolve into more seasons?
Simon Majumdar: Alton’s getting into his stride with it, so I think he loves the fact that it’s getting more and more evil .… There’s a lot more [that’s] elaborate coming up. I mean there are fat suits, there are mini kitchens, there are – I mean it’s getting seriously crazy. I walk out of the studio sometimes to the trailer where they put us and I walk past the challenge producers — the ones who devise all this eviliciousness — and I have no idea what they’re doing. There are carpenters out there, bouncing table-tennis balls, I mean, and it’s basically becoming like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and I think that’s what people love. Because I think people were worried at first; they were like, “It’s not a cooking show, and how can you eat that food?” but the thing is that some of the food is really good.

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What It’s Like to Be Friends with Bobby Flay, According to Michael Symon

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 6th, 2014

Bobby Flay and Michael SymonAs one of Bobby Flay’s first-ever special guests on his all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, Michael Symon was tasked with finding a rival that could outcook the host; after all, no one knows Bobby and his cooking style quite like his longtime colleagues. While Bobby and Michael work together, they’re also close friends and have been known to spend time together offscreen. FN Dish recently caught up with Michael on the set of Beat Bobby Flay to learn more about their friendship and to get an insider’s look at what the famed Iron Chef Flay is like off the clock.

Fans know that you and Bobby are great friends. How did your relationship start?
Michael Symon: Originally we met on my first Food Network show — in 1998 — with Wayne Harley Brachman. Wayne was Bobby’s pastry chef for, like, 15 years, so Bobby and I met then, and we’ve been friends ever since.

What are some things about Bobby that viewers might not know or see on TV.
MS: He’s a pretty quiet guy. [There’s] the personality they see on TV of Bobby — he’s very outgoing on television, obviously — but in real life he’s a pretty quiet guy. Pretty to himself, quiet guy. Very thoughtful guy — a great friend.

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Beyond Butter and Salt: Corn 5 Creative Ways

by in Recipes, July 5th, 2014

Sunny's Quick Corn and Pico SaladAlong with juicy tomatoes, tender zucchini and sweet blueberries, corn is among summer’s most-beloved produce, as it’s both easy to prepare and guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters at the dinner table. While the classic preparation of boiling corn and rolling it in a stick of butter is a tried-and-true favorite, this seasonal vegetable can be dressed up to take on next-level tastes with the help of a few can-do recipes. Read on below to get five fresh-corn-based how-tos — the top picks for putting this summer staple to work from each co-host of The Kitchen.

Sunny’s Quick Corn and Pico Salad (pictured above) is a no-cook side dish that takes mere minutes to put together. After starting with store-bought pico de gallo, Sunny adds fresh corn, fragrant cumin and refreshing lime juice to balance the flavors.

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Search of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes

by in Recipes, July 2nd, 2014

Fried Green TomatoesWhen it comes to warm-weather produce, much is made of the importance of finding just-ripe fruits and vegetables for their natural sweetness and juicy insides. But that all changes when the spotlight is shined on one particular summer classic: fried green tomatoes. This Southern staple is best when made with firm, not-yet-ripe tomatoes — which are most often green — because they’re not packed with liquid yet. Traditional tomato sauce relies on ripe red tomatoes because they burst open with juices when cooked, but it’s those same juices that would render red tomatoes limp and the crumb coating soggy if they were fried.

As you peruse your gardens this summer or shop at farm stands and the supermarket, reach for green tomatoes and put them to work in the Neelys’ can-do recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes (pictured above). Ready to eat in only 30 minutes, this simple-to-make dish features slices of green tomato dunked in garlic powder-laced flour, a batter of milk and eggs, and finally panko with a pinch of cayenne for subtle heat. Fry them until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside and serve a creamy, tangy buttermilk sauce alongside for deliciously easy dipping.

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Back for More Battles: Bobby Dishes on New Season of Beat Bobby Flay

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 1st, 2014

Bobby FlayJust two losses after nearly 10 battles — that winning record could be earned only by Bobby Flay, a famed Iron Chef and the master of the throwdown, who first challenged hopeful chefs to head-to-head competitions on Beat Bobby Flay last year. This summer, Bobby’s bringing his A-game yet again for an all-new season of Beat Bobby Flay (premiering July 31 at 10|9c), and with his reputation on the line, the stakes will be higher than ever. FN Dish caught up with Bobby recently and chatted about what he’s looking forward to in this upcoming batch of face-offs. Read on below for an exclusive interview, and find out Bobby’s most-memorable battles, plus his strategy for securing victory after victory.

What are you most looking forward to in Season 2?
Bobby Flay: Being pushed to the edge. I want it to be really challenging ’cause that’s what keeps my edge going.

What are some of your most-memorable moments from the first season?
BF: When I lost the taco [battle] — that was memorable. One of my favorite dishes I made was the meatloaf with the Korean-style kimchi in it, ’cause I’ve only made meatloaf a couple times in my life, really, and I’m not that big of a meatloaf fan. So when they said meatloaf, I was like, Oh, brother. But it actually turned out to be really tasty.

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Poll: How Do You Take Your Burger?

by in Recipes, June 28th, 2014

Katie Lee and Marcela ValladolidWith summer in full force and grilling season officially underway, The Kitchen co-hosts dedicated an entire hour on this morning’s all-new episode to perhaps the ultimate grill-friendly meal: burgers. Family-friendly and endlessly versatile, hamburgers can feed a crowd and shine both in their simplest form and when dressed up with nontraditional toppings. Katie and Marcela offered a few of their takes on classic between-the-bun creations with Shrimp Burgers with Old Bay Mayo and Grilled Chicken Burgers with Pasilla Aioli, respectively, while Geoffrey, Katie and Sunny made next-level ketchups: Guachup, Spiced Peach Ketchup and Sunny’s Homemade Ketchup.

FN Dish wants to know: When it comes to firing up the grill and searing your ultimate burger, what do you reach for? Is your favorite patty one made of chicken or fish instead of beef, or do you prepare no-meat burgers? Are you a cheese purist and prefer cheddar or American, or do you reach for tangy goat or blue cheeses? Toppings: salty like bacon, or sweet like caramelized onions?

Vote in the poll below to tell FN Dish how you take your best burger (select all that apply).

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What to Do with Rotisserie Chicken

by in Recipes, June 21st, 2014

Pulled BBQ Chicken SandwichesThe Kitchen co-hosts, plus a few of their special guests, showed off a next-level contraption that roasts chicken fireside, a la rotisserie chicken, on this morning’s all-new episode. The setup included a central fire pit and multiple hanging birds around the heat, which roasted slowly and became moist and juicy. If you don’t happen to have the tools and space to recreate the scene in your backyard, there’s no shame in picking up a warm rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and putting it to work in quick-fix meals at home. Easy to find and economical, store-bought rotisserie chicken is a weeknight timesaver and perhaps the ultimate shortcut ingredient, as it can be used in countless lunch and dinner recipes. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite ideas below, then see all of the recipes featured on The Kitchen today.

Once you make a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, these surprisingly healthy Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (pictured above) become as simple to make as shredding the meat and assembling. Be sure to not go overboard when adding the liquid smoke; a few drops will go a long way in adding the beloved smoky flavor.

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