All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an 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.

Unusually Sized Rodents, Unhappy Campers and the Ultimate S’mores: Alton Brown Previews Camp Cutthroat

by in Shows, July 14th, 2015

Alton BrownSummertime in the woods at camp … a time for late-night dives in a cool lake, fireside chants with friends and as much mess-hall grub as you can eat, right? Wrong, at least when Alton Brown’s in charge of camp. On his all-new series Camp Cutthroat, he’ll take the most-diabolical aspects of the classic rounds of eviliciousness and send them to the great outdoors for a five-part tournament of wilderness — and sabotage — survival.

Just in time for next month’s premiere (Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 9|8c), FN Dish caught up with Alton to chat about his plans for the sure-to-be-unhappy campers he’ll be welcoming to the woods. “I just throw out the most-horrible things I can think of!” he said of what’s in store, adding that when it comes to chefs’ preparedness, they ought to come equipped with “Rodent-of-Unusual-Size repellent and anything-that-stings repellent” when they show up. Read on to hear more from Alton and learn his secret for making the ultimate s’mores.

What 10 essential pieces of equipment should these chefs pack in their duffle bags for the tournament?
Alton Brown: Bear repellent, snake repellent, wolf repellent, mosquito repellent, Rodent-of-Unusual-Size repellent, anything-that-stings repellent, wolverine repellent, skunk repellent, mountain lion repellent and snacks.

Are you a camper or a glamper? Tell us about your most-memorable outdoor trip.
AB: I am most certainly not a “glamper,” as I almost never line the floor of my yurt with the “good” rugs. And my espresso machine is solar-powered. As for my most-memorable camping excursion, well … I can’t talk about it. …

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Emilia Roasts Her Rivals: Too Far or Too Funny? Vote Now

by , July 14th, 2015
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Food Network StarIt was Emilia's plan all along on Sunday night to take a grand risk in front of the judges, as she explained of her plans for her comedy club performance in front of mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, plus Food Network executives Bob Tuschma...

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Camp Cutthroat Canteen: Unrivaled S’mores — INFOGRAPHIC

by in Shows, July 13th, 2015

Camp Cutthroat Canteen: Unrivaled S'mores — INFOGRAPHICTune in to the premiere on Camp Cutthroat on Wednesday, Aug., 12 at 9|8c.

“You Mock Me!” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, July 12th, 2015

Cutthroat Kitchen judge since the earliest days of the series, Antonia Lofaso surely knows the ins and outs of the competition. But on tonight’s all-new episode, she proved just how much of an expert she is in the world of master sabotage. “Round 3: blondies. And our very first one was this interesting brownie pan,” Alton Brown said to her during the host’s After-Show while introducing her to the pan. He was about to explain the intricacies of the sabotage but didn’t manage to finish his thought — “Whoever got stuck with this had to do all of their mixing” — as Antonia simply cut him off, knowing exactly what he was about to say. “Mixing and prepping inside of the container!” she said, much to Alton’s chagrin. “You mock me!” he joked with her.

She was somewhat certain that “we always do this for cakes,” and indeed similar vessels have made appearances for past baking rounds. But Alton noted: “We don’t need new ideas when the ideas we have work. Maybe we just need judges that aren’t so pointing out of that.” They laughed about their exchange, and sure enough, Antonia was able to discern which of the two remaining chefs received this challenge for his blondies.

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One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

by , July 12th, 2015
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Food Network StarIt's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk...

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Your Weekend Cooldown: Frozen Peanut Butter Bites

by in Recipes, July 10th, 2015

Frozen Peanut Butter BitesWelcome to the sticky, sweltering dog days of summer. If the season’s heat has you bogged down, take refuge in a chilled treat this weekend: these easy-to-make, eat-with-your-hands Frozen Peanut Butter Bites (pictured above). Made with only four pantry ingredients, the Neelys’ sweet-tooth-satisfying dessert celebrates the perhaps most-beloved of all flavor combos: peanut butter and chocolate. And maybe the best part of this recipe is that there’s no need to turn on the oven.

Get the Recipe: Frozen Peanut Butter Bites

Caption It: Dishing with Duff

by , July 10th, 2015
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Food Network StarFrom towering elegant designs ideal for picturesque weddings to colorful creations in the shape of famed figures and objects, Duff Goldman's cakes are known for delivering wow factor, both in terms of presentation and flavor. That next-level excellen...

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Don’t Make These Burger Mistakes (But If You Do, Here’s How to Fix Them)

by in In Season, Recipes, July 9th, 2015

Don't Make These Burger Mistakes (But If You Do, Here's How to Fix Them)The sun is shining, the grill is hot and you’re looking forward to a meal of juicy meat. Fast-forward 30 minutes and you’re face to face with a dry, overcooked hunk of steak or a tough chicken tender. What went wrong? Getting the grilling game right can be tricky. When it comes to grilling burgers, meat master and Texas restaurateur Chef Tim Love recently told FN Dish, “There are actually two common mistakes I see often, which are a shame, so listen up!” He shared his take on those two problems, plus offered ways for avoiding them next time.

1. Flip Burgers Once and Only Once: Constant turning will toughen and dry out meat, and if you flip too soon, burgers will stick. Cook 2 minutes per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium and 5 for well-done.

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One-on-One with Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 8th, 2015

Ron Ben-IsraelAt his New York City studio, Ron Ben-Israel imagines, creates and designs towering, expertly adorned cakes for all occasions. But on the all-new series Cake Wars, this master pastry chef won’t be in the kitchen, baking against the clock; rather, he’ll be overseeing the contest as a lead judge. Each week it’s up to him, fellow pastry chef Waylynn Lucas and special guests to dole out themed baking challenges that test the competitors’ time management and on-the-spot ingenuity, as well as their baking prowess.

Recently FN Dish caught up with Ron at a special screening of Cake Wars at Manhattan’s International Culinary Center, where he’s an instructor, to chat with the judge about all things to do with sweet competition. From his favorite cake-frosting flavor combination to what he looks for in a well-designed creation, read on below to hear from Ron in an exclusive interview.

What can fans expect from the season? What are you most looking forward to?
Ron Ben-Israel: It’s a new show, actually. Even though it’s similar to Cupcake Wars, it’s bigger and better. You know, cupcakes look nice and cute, but they are small. Even when we talk about cake — four, five, six, seven tiers. In the main challenge, they get four hours to build a cake, and … the themes are so crazy, from The Simpsons to Hello Kitty to Girl Scouts. So we don’t want to see miniature; we want to see over-the-top.

Your cakes take hours — days, even — to make. Could you imagine having to turn out something spectacular in such a short amount of time?
RBI: The hardship is not so much the four hours; it’s not being able to divide the task to a few days, because normally you bake the cake, then you chill [it] and you make the fillings … Here, everything comes together. But the reality is, if you have [the right] state of mind and organize, you can achieve what you want, and that was the hardest thing for me — not being able to go to the kitchens, because everybody has their own set kitchen, and say “Clean up, guys. It’s a mess.”

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For the Love of Food: Star Salvation Rivals Drop from 4 to 3

by , July 8th, 2015
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This past Sunday's episode of Food Network Star was all about love — from finalists' most-beloved ingredients to a paired challenge that tasked twosomes with creating harmonious fusion on the plate — and when it came time for Star Salvation aft...

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