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.

“‘Cause It’s Science” — Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, April 19th, 2015

As is the nature of the Cutthroat Kitchen beast, the situation inside the battle arena is constantly changing: Ingredients get swapped, chefs move from one station to another, and tools come and go. Aside from Alton Brown‘s evilicious smile, there’s little competitors can count on, thanks to the diabolical sabotages the host doles out. But on tonight’s all-new episode — the first of five heats in the Evilicious tournament — there was one challenge in particular that made at least one element of the battle predictable.

In Round 3’s pound cake challenge, Alton revealed a chemistry set that, while ominous, offered a few opportunities, which food stylist Chelsey found out as she tried her hand at cake baking with the kit during the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages. The challenge would force a competitor to use only the tools within the set — beakers, stirrers, test tubes, a hot plate and a Bunsen burner, among other items — to make a pound cake, and although Chelsey found herself working hard to properly mix the cake batter, she took comfort in the hot plate. “The bottom is cooked,” she said as she flipped her petri-dish cake, “hopefully it will do the same thing on the other side … ’cause it’s science and it does that.” Sure enough, after only a few minutes, the opposite side of the cake was indeed browned; Chelsey said the treat she flipped out of the dish “cuts beautifully,” is “cooked all the way through” and “is delicious.

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Ina’s Birthday Sheet Cake — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, April 19th, 2015

Birthday Sheet CakeThough Ina Garten’s candy-topped cake is ideal for birthday bashes, you can indeed look to this sweet-tooth-satisfying treat even when there’s no celebration in sight. Ina pairs a moist, rich vanilla cake and a thick blanket of fluffy chocolate frosting on top to pack a one-two punch of flavor in this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. Perhaps best of all, she bakes and frosts the cake right in a single sheet pan, so there’s no need to transfer, frost and assemble multiple layers.

For more wow-worthy desserts, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Birthday Sheet Cake (pictured above)

Beyond the Muffin Tin: 2 News Ways to Transform Cornbread

by in Recipes, April 18th, 2015

2 New Ways to Transform Corn BreadA classic cornbread recipe is a must-have in any kitchen, but once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to dress up the usual fare and set your sights on next-level interpretations. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, Sunny Anderson and Jeff Mauro introduced two fresh spins on this tried-and-true favorite, both savory and satisfying dishes that go beyond the ordinary comfort food.

Part casserole and part bread, Sunny’s Tex-Mex Spoonbread boasts layer upon layer of flavor: first buttery browned chorizo, then a loose grits-style cornmeal mixture made light and fluffy thanks to a few whipped eggs. To make sure there’s plenty of texture in her spoonbread, Sunny adds a handful of corn kernels to the cornmeal batter, plus a duo of gooey cheeses for over-the-top richness. After baking in the oven, this big-batch dish turns out golden brown along the edges and fully set in the middle.

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Enter to Win a Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious Prize Pack

by in Contests, Shows, April 16th, 2015

Enter to Win a Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious Prize PackFor the first time ever, on Sunday night, 16 of the most-diabolical chefs to ever compete in a Cutthroat Kitchen battle will return to the arena for a second round of sabotages in the brand-new tournament, Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious. Over the course of five weeks, these unforgettable contestants will bid high and risk big, all in the name of hilariously trying challenges, but ultimately one will take home up to a whopping $75,000 and the fierce title of Evilicious Champion.

Just in time for Sunday’s premiere (at 10|9c), FN Dish is giving fans the chance to show their spirit for sabotage in the form of all-new #Evilicious gear. From T-shirts and mugs to journals and cutting boards, the Food Network Store is chock-full of #Evilicious-branded products ideal for superfans to strut their diabolical sides. You can shop the Food Network Store now and buy these products, but FN Dish is giving two lucky, randomly selected fans the chance to win a selection of several items. One winner will receive an #Evilicious prize pack containing one mug, one computer mousepad and one black T-shirt (size L), and the other winner will receive an #Evilicious prize pack containing one black baseball cap, one black notebook and one horizontal glass cutting board (knife not included), all with #Evilicious proudly displayed. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment below telling us which of these sabotages is your favorite (find them all here).

So, tell us: Which of these Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages is your favorite? (Find them all here.)

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Roasted, Fried and Mashed: 5 Best Ways to Put More Potatoes in Your Life

by in Recipes, April 14th, 2015

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pancetta and Broccoli RabeIf you’re used to saving potatoes for their spots in the side dish line on holidays like Easter (scalloped potatoes, anyone?) and Thanksgiving (mashed, but of course), the time is now to bring them into your weeknight dinner rotation. After all, potatoes are endlessly family friendly, and most can be ready to eat in a hurry, which makes them go-to timesavers when you need just one more item to round out a meal. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes for starchy spuds to learn tried-and-true takes on all of the classic potato preparations, like roasting, frying, mashing and more.

5. Double-Fried French Fries — Golden brown and crispy on the outside with a tender potato texture inside, Guy Fieri’s wow-worthy fries come together with the help of a two-part frying process: once to parcook the potatoes and a second time to turn them crispy.

4. Roasted New Potatoes with Garlic — Smaller and skinnier than Idaho potatoes, new potatoes boast thin, waxy skins, so they don’t need to be peeled before they’re roasted in this satisfying herb-laced side dish. Follow Food Network Kitchen’s lead and wait until the second part of cooking to add the garlic; this will ensure it doesn’t burn in the oven.

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Giada’s 5-Ingredient Pesto Pasta — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 13th, 2015

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato PestoLike a traditional pesto sauce, Giada De Laurentiis’ easy-to-make recipe (pictured above) boasts a basil base and comes together with only a handful of ingredients in a matter of minutes, but there’s one key difference: It’s not tinted green, which is a usually a hallmark of classic pesto preparations. This one features a crimson-colored hue on account of the secret ingredient, sun-dried tomatoes, which Giada incorporates to guarantee over-the-top taste and texture.

To make sure her sauce is packed with flavor, Giada opts for the sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in olive oil, which ensures that they’ve picked up some of the oil’s naturally fruity flavor. She simply whirls the tomatoes with the fragrant fresh herbs and garlic to create a speedy sauce. Perhaps best of all, though, is that like a tried-and-true pesto, this sauce doesn’t need to be cooked; the heat of the just-cooked pasta will be enough to warm the pesto before serving. Follow Giada’s lead and save a bit of the pasta water after cooking the noodles, as you may need it to loosen the sauce.

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“Yeah, It’s Quite Uncomfortable. That’s Why We Do These Things” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, April 12th, 2015

It’s one thing to watch Cutthroat Kitchen competitors endure the hilariously evilicious sabotages that have been dealt them, but it’s another to attempt those challenges for yourself, experiencing the struggles they did firsthand and learning to bear them as best you can. As the judges learn on Alton’s After-Show what diabolical situations have led to chefs’ finished dishes, even they are wowed by the lengths to which sabotages have forced contestants to go just to cook a seemingly simple meal. For Jet Tila tonight, that surprise came when he tried his hand — or, rather, his foot — at wearing a 30-pound rum barrel.

“It’s really heavy,” Jet admitted, strapped into the contraption and feebly making his way around the kitchen. Alton Brown agreed that this was indeed a doozy of a sabotage; as he told Jet, “Of all the things I wouldn’t want, wearing that barrel … that’s physically grueling.” But when Jet told him just how “quite uncomfortable” this challenge was,” Alton was quick to remind him that such is the nature of the Cutthroat beast. “Yeah, it’s quite uncomfortable,” said Alton. “That’s why we do these things.”

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How to Make Blondies — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, April 12th, 2015

How to Make BlondiesYou know you love brownies, but have you ever indulged in a blondie, the sandy-colored cousin of the brownie and this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week? Like brownies, blondies are bar-shaped and turn out rich and chewy, but they lack a signature brownie ingredient: cocoa powder. When making Food Network Kitchen’s Blondies recipe, it’s up to you if you want to add a touch of chocolate decadence by mixing in a handful of chocolate chips; butterscotch chips would work well too.

For more dessert inspiration, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: How to Make Blondies 

POLL: What’s Your Favorite Herb to Cook With?

by in Polls, Shows, April 11th, 2015

HerbsMuch like spices, herbs are easy ways to add bold punches of flavor to dishes without much effort. While dried herbs can handle the long cooking times of slow-simmering sauces, like marinara or cacciatore, fresh herbs are delicate, so it’s often best to hold those until just before serving; otherwise they may darken in color. On this morning’s brand-new episode of The Kitchen, the cast took advantage of the warmer springtime weather to shed a light on what it takes to grow fresh herbs at home in a simple-to-maintain kitchen garden. When it comes to fragrant picks like parsley and cilantro, Jeff Mauro puts those beauties to work in a chimichurri, which he uses to dress up a classic hanger steak.

FN Dish wants to know — whether you prefer fresh herbs grown at home or just pick up jars of the dried stuff from the supermarket — which variety of herb is your all-time favorite. Do you prefer the citrus-based scent of thyme or the woodsy smell of rosemary? Are you a fan of the floral flavors of fresh lavender, or is basil your best bet? Cast your vote in the poll below.

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Restaurant Revisited: Zest Bistro

by in Shows, April 8th, 2015

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleJust when fans — and Robert Irvine himself — thought they’d seen it all on Restaurant: Impossible, an unprecedented mission presented itself in Illinois: Not only was Robert tasked with overhauling a restaurant, but he also had to focus on the expansive grocery store that houses the eatery. Just outside of Chicago, Zest Bistro is a four-and-a-half-year-old business located within Lemon Tree Grocer, which was founded by best friends Shaun Black and Tim Canning. While the guys thought they’d have the chops to make their double-duty business work on account of their respective pasts as a produce broker and a chef, they soon began spending far more money than they earned and were forced to look to Jessica, Tim’s wife, to help Lemon Tree. Ultimately, however, when they realized that her support wasn’t enough, it was Robert who could give them one final opportunity. In true Irvine fashion, this monstrous challenge only served to inspire Robert more, and sure enough, he relaunched both Zest Bistro and Lemon Tree with wild success. Read on below to hear from Shaun, Tim and Jessica to find out how the businesses are doing today.

According to Shaun, “Sales in Zest are up approximately 30 percent from last year during the same time period,” and Tim adds that there are “45-minute waits at times.”

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