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.

6 Recipes That Prove You Should Be Eating More French Toast

by in Recipes, April 28th, 2015

Challah French ToastForget about the soggy, egg-logged pieces of French toast you may be used to, because with the help of these best-ever breakfast recipes, you can turn out a hearty morning meal that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. In terms of flavor in your French toast, that largely comes from the custard in which the bread soaks. While a sweetened vanilla mixture is perhaps the most classic, you can dress up the original to include fresh citrus, like Ina Garten does, or add melted chocolate for next-level richness, as is the case in Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe. Read on below for these how-tos, plus more creative French toast picks.

Challah French Toast — Consider this your ultimate French toast workhouse recipe. Ready to eat in a hurry, Ina’s big-batch breakfast (pictured above) is made with thick-cut challah bread and becomes rich and moist thanks to a soak in a citrus-laced vanilla custard. When it comes to toppings, stick with classic maple syrup, or opt for raspberry preserves and a dusting of sugar — or pile on all three fixings for a decadent finish.

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Scrambled Egg Subs — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 27th, 2015

Scrambled Egg SubsWhile breakfast for dinner may be part of the usual suppertime routine in many homes, you most likely look to a standard stack of pancakes or a platter of eggs and bacon to get the job done. But the options for morning meals at dinner indeed go beyond the traditional. Think Food Network Kitchen’s cinnamon-scented Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole, Food Network Magazine’s Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs laced with nutty Gruyère cheese, or the Scrambled Egg Subs (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine.

Instead of featuring scrambled eggs alongside toast, this quick-fix recipe has them stuffed inside buttered hot dog buns for a heartier dish. The secret to turning out soft, fluffy scrambled eggs — and not tough, dry ones — is to not overcook the eggs. Here the eggs come together over medium heat, so they’re not scorched right away, and only when they’ve begun to set is it time to add the fresh herbs and melty cheese, like Havarti or Muenster, for over-the-top gooeyness. A handful of fresh scallions in the eggs promises a subtle, welcome bite, while a cool side salad of radishes and celery rounds out the fuss-free meal in a hurry.

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“That Is a Huge Tip” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, April 26th, 2015

By now Cutthroat Kitchen superfans know that when it comes to evaluating the plates before them, judges assess just three elements of the offering: its taste, its presentation and whether or not it reminds them of the challenge dish at hand. While that indeed seems simple enough, Alton Brown and Jet Tila discussed a common mistake chefs make when facing off in battle: muddling their dishes with non-essential components.

During tonight’s installment of the After-Show, the two looked back on Heat 2 of the Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious tournament and a sabotage that introduced what Alton deemed to be “a distraction” to chefs’ dishes. The sabotage at hand afforded one chef sole control over the ingredients needed to make chicken-fried steak and another chef control over the required tools. It was up to them to share both sets of items, considering what they wanted to keep for themselves and what they’d be willing to part with. As for the cornmeal Jet found within the ingredient basket, Alton explained, “That’s a distraction, ’cause what it says is ‘Hey, make a side.'” Jet agreed, adding that the distinction between what’s required of the test at hand and what isn’t is a key to success in this contest. “That is a huge tip,” Jet noted. “Make the challenge and don’t go crazy.”

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Chicken Tostadas — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, April 26th, 2015

Chicken TostadasWhen it comes to Mexican night at home, tacos often steal the show, but with the help of this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, you can dig into your favorite flavors and ingredients in an all-new way. Just like a taco, the tostada features a corn tortilla base, but instead of being folded and filled, it’s kept flat and then fried so you can pile on the toppings. This recipe starts with a smear of refried beans, then layers lime-marinated chicken, cool lettuce and a mix of classic fixings, like creamy avocado and fresh-tomato salsa, for an over-the-top bite.

For more dinner ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Main Dishes board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Chicken Tostadas (pictured above)

Jeff’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese: Layer by Gooey Layer

by in Food Network Chef, April 25th, 2015

Jeff MauroAs Food Network’s official Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro is no stranger to between-bread creations, and on this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, he joined Geoffrey Zakarian for a Flavor Bombs segment focusing on one sandwich in particular: the grilled cheese. For GZ, the next-level taste came in the form of rich, hearty brioche bread, which promised to give heft to his over-the-top grilled cheese, while Jeff added a bold punch of spice to his jalapeno-spiked recipe.

FN Dish caught up with Jeff on the set of The Kitchen to get his take on what it takes to build not just an everyday grilled cheese but his ultimate, best-ever grilled cheese. From the necessary thickness of the slice of bread to sliced-versus-shredded cheese thoughts, read on below to hear from Jeff and find out what he considers to be “the four best bites” of the sandwich.

The Bread:
“White bread — country white, because it’s usually a little sweeter. It’s got a little more density to it,” Jeff says. “Thick slices, but you don’t want to get too thick. You want to get not, like, your standard bagged sandwich bread, but something a little heartier. But not Texas toast. It’s got to be thin enough to let that heat rise to the interior to goo out the cheese. But it can’t be too thin, where you’re going to take it off [the heat] and it’s going to be floppy. I hate floppy grilled cheese. [Also,] butter on my grilled cheese. Yes.”

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Ina Garten Wins James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Host

by in Food Network Chef, News, April 25th, 2015

Ina GartenIf next month’s James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards Gala is the Oscars of the culinary industry, then last night’s James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards was the Golden Globes of the food world — at least according to the president of the James Beard Foundation, Susan Ungaro. At Manhattan’s Pier Sixty, nestled along the Hudson River with sprawling views of a shining city sunset, Ungaro joined more than 100 esteemed award nominees, plus revered chefs and tastemakers, and host Carla Hall, to celebrate the very best works in food media.

From the Photography and Podcast categories to that of the Personal Essay, the winners took the stage one by one to accept their James Beard medals and reflect on the journeys that brought them to that podium. Perhaps, however, no other award was more sought-after than the medal for Outstanding Personality/Host, as it was saved until nearly the end of the evening. For the second year in a row, Food Network’s Ina Garten earned the win in this venerable category for her hit show Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. Before and after her name was announced, the crowd looked back on familiar scenes from her show, as well as some of Ina’s most-mouthwatering recipes, which in true Ina form, she delivered with the relaxed and welcoming air that only she could provide.

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Restaurant Revisited: Lyon’s Pharmacy of Elkton

by in Shows, April 22nd, 2015

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Marybeth Sniadowski-Cole’s father passed away last year, Marybeth wasn’t sure in which direction to take Lyon’s Pharmacy of Elkton, which he’d purchased more than five decades ago. Part old-school luncheonette and part functioning pharmacy, this double-duty business needed direction if it was to have any hope of lasting success, and for that Marybeth looked to Robert Irvine. Together with his Restaurant: Impossible team and the community in which the pharmacy has been a longtime fixture, Robert gave Lyon’s the second chance it deserved. Read on below to hear from Marybeth to find out how her business is doing today.

Since Robert reopened Lyon’s Pharmacy, the luncheonette has seen a 15 percent increase in gross sales, according to Marybeth, who adds that “the cash register from downstairs, and the brick walls are by far the favorites” in terms of the updated decor.

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5 New Ways to Stuff a Pepper

by in Recipes, April 22nd, 2015

Sweet and Sour Couscous-Stuffed PeppersWhen it comes to naturally clever culinary designs, not much can beat the bell pepper; when cooked, its thin yet sturdy skin becomes sweet and tender without breaking down, and its hollow center provides built-in stuffing possibilities. While most traditional fillings tend to focus on rice, any hearty grain-and-vegetable combo works well as a stuffing, and since peppers are known to walk the flavor line among several different cuisines — think Asian, Italian and Creole — there’s no limit to ingredient pairings. Check out these best-ever stuffed pepper ideas below to get Guy Fieri’s take on a classic, plus Rachael Ray’s and Giada De Laurentiis’ top-rated versions, as well as two more must-try plates.

5. Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers — Guy opts for a two-tiered approach to texture in his easy-to-make peppers: First he adds a handful of toasted pepitas to the kale-laced filling, then he tops the filling with a layer of crispy, cheesy breadcrumbs before baking.

4. Cajun Stuffed Peppers — Precooking the peppers in the microwave ensures that these quick-fix peppers from Food Network Magazine are simple to prepare in a hurry, while the andouille sausage-studded filling promises bold Cajun flavor.

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Food Network Chefs Raise Hunger Awareness with Food Bank For New York City at Annual Can Do Awards

by in Events, April 22nd, 2015

Food Network's Jeff Mauro, Rachael Ray, Scott Conant and Anne BurrellWhile your favorite Food Network chefs may be famous for their tried-and-true, trustworthy recipes, as well as their jaw-dropping competition shows and inspiring kitchen series, they’re also known to give back to the people and causes that are especially important to them. Just last night, many familiar faces, including Rachael Ray, Jeff Mauro, Anne Burrell, Ted Allen, Sandra Lee and Scott Conant, came together at Food Bank For New York City‘s annual Can Do Awards Dinner in an effort to support those hungry in the city. Like in years past, this soiree, which took place in downtown Manhattan, helps the Food Bank team serve the 1.5 million New Yorkers who depend on the resources available there. “It’s just as simple as people sometimes struggle to have the ends meet; it’s nothing deeper than that,” Food Bank CEO Margarette Purvis told FN Dish. “Every now and again, we all could use some help, and that’s what Food Bank does every single day.”

FN Dish was on hand as the stars arrived at Cipriani Wall Street and walked the orange carpet, the color of which represents hunger awareness, and we caught up with them about why many who call New York home are so proud to give back to their city. “Being a New Yorker, it’s every New Yorker’s responsibility to give back,” Worst Cooks in America mentor Anne explained. “We have a lot of people living in a small space, so everyone needs to pay it forward.” For Chopped judge Scott, it’s as simple as working to ensure that “home” is OK. “There’s nothing better than taking care of where you live and the people who are in it,” according to Scott.

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The Pioneer Woman’s Easy Greek Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 20th, 2015

Easy Greek SaladThe key to a satisfying salad is balance, of flavor and of texture, and with her go-to recipe for Easy Greek Salad (pictured above), The Pioneer Woman hits that mark — and in only 20 speedy minutes.

When it comes to toppings, Ree looks to chopped cucumbers and juicy tomatoes to provide bright, cool tastes alongside fresh romaine, while crumbly feta promises welcome richness and subtle tang, and for a salty bite, she folds in briny Kalamata olives ahead of adding the vinaigrette. Follow her lead and whisk a pinch of sugar into the dressing; this will help mellow the otherwise bold flavors of the red wine vinegar and garlic. Just before serving, reach for a bit more feta, and add a final squeeze of lemon juice to wake up the salad with refreshing brightness.

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