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’s Starch Demonstration — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, February 16th, 2014


“Let nobody ever say that I am not a risk taker,” Simon proclaimed on Alton’s After-Show following this week’s brand-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen. He and Alton were catching up after the latest rounds of sabotage had unfolded, and they reflected on Simon’s no-holds-barred maneuver of testing the viscosity of Chef Billy New England clam chowder in Round 2.

During what Alton deemed “one of the finest moments,” Simon picked up Chef Billy’s bowl of soup and held it upside down directly on top of his head. “Chef, there’s thick,” Simon told the rival of his soup during tasting, “and there’s you-can-hold-it-over-your-head-without-danger-of-it-splashing-on-my-bald-bonce thick.” According to Alton, Chef Billy “had some starch manipulation issues,” which ultimate turned his chowder into a nearly solid soup. “It was just kind of wobbling there rather threateningly for a while,” Simon explained.

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The Fundamentals of Freezing, Plus Freezer-Friendly Recipes

by in Recipes, February 15th, 2014

How to Prep Meats, Vegetables or Fruits for FreezingYou heard it straight from the co-hosts on this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen: Frozen foods can make mealtimes simpler, quicker and heartier. With the help of some ready-to-go ingredients in the freezer, Jeff prepared his Freezer Fry-Up with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs, a family-friendly meal made with frozen pork, sweet potatoes and corn. But being able to rely on a stocked freezer full of your family’s ready-to-go staples requires a bit of planning, and it’s important to know which foods freeze best and how to properly freeze them in order to ensure the best results. After all, no one wants to open the door to find freezer-burned ingredients. Check out a few of Food Network’s top tips for preparing meat, vegetables and fruits for freezing, then get freezer-friendly recipes for any meal of the day.

Storage Solutions: Picking the correct bag or bin for what it is you’re freezing will help protect the food inside. It’s important to try to limit the air around the food, so opt for re-sealable plastic bags, especially when freezing fruits and vegetables, or small containers if freezing liquids.

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After Buying This Restaurant: Aurum

by in Shows, February 12th, 2014

Keith Simpson on Buy This RestaurantBoth in need of a fresh financial start, friends Matt and Andrea were looking to launch a brand-new business together, their first-ever restaurant that would ideally feature an eclectic menu and offer live music. They looked to Buy This Restaurant for help in tracking down the ultimate location to open, and after scouring a few spots with Keith Simpson, they decided on the 1,100-square-foot restaurant in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain on account of its prime location.

FN Dish checked in with the owners a few months after filming to find out more about their eatery, now named Aurum. Read on below to hear from Matt and Andrea, and learn about their experience in purchasing the restaurant and how the business is doing today.

What is the name of your new restaurant, and when did you open?
Matt and Andrea: Aurum, January 13th

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Best 5 Casserole Recipes

by in Recipes, February 12th, 2014

Baked Penne with Roasted VegetablesWarm, comforting and hearty, casseroles may be the ultimate family-friendly meal. After all, when it comes to preparing nightly meals at home, many look to easy-to-make all-in-one dishes, and casseroles fit the bill every time. They’re a cinch to pull off in a hurry, and most recipes yield extra servings that guarantee you leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow. Check out Food Network’s top-five casseroles below to find the most-satisfying comfort foods from The Pioneer Woman, Rachael, Giada and more Food Network chefs.

5. Chicken Spaghetti — For added taste and texture, Ree uses both white and dark shredded chicken, plus cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese, which promise decadent results. Click the play button on the video after the jump to watch Ree make it.

4. Sunny’s Tuna Noodle Casserole — The secret to Sunny’s timeless recipe is the mushroom-herb sauce she makes to coat the tuna, peas and pasta. It’s laced with Worcestershire and horseradish for subtle bite, and the thick texture is deliciously creamy and rich.

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Bobby’s Big-Batch Eggplant Parmesan — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, February 10th, 2014

Eggplant ParmesanWhether you’re cooking for one, feeding a family of four or entertaining a crowd, preparing big-batch dishes is a good idea not only to ensure you don’t run out (especially if you’re entertaining guests), but also so that you’ll have enough left over to enjoy tomorrow. The secret to easy meals is having ready-to-go ingredients on hand, and that includes already-cooked dishes just looking to be reheated. So if you prepare a hearty stew or casserole one day, guarantee quick-fix lunches and easy dinners for the next few days by making a bit extra.

Bobby Flay‘s top-rated Eggplant Parmesan (pictured above) has leftovers built right into it, as this recipe feeds up to a whopping 12 people. Made with a simple red pepper-laced tomato sauce, crispy fried eggplant and layer after layer of creamy cheeses, this hearty Parmesan is the ultimate in Italian comfort food. After simmering the sauce for a bit, Bobby begins building the casserole, starting with a smear of sauce in the pan, then adding crispy fried eggplant, and a combination of mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and fontina cheeses before repeating the process and baking. It’s best to let the Parmesan sit for a few minutes after you’ve taken it out of the oven; this will help prevent the sauce and gooey cheeses from oozing out once you’ve sliced it.

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A Not-So-Happy Birthday — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, February 9th, 2014


While some Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages, like mandatory utensils and the exclusive use of salt, are frequently used on the show, some are used far less often. On tonight’s all-new episode, Alton unveiled a never-before-seen sabotage that was enough to turn the kitchen into a party of sorts.

In Round 3′s birthday cake challenge, Chef Jessica was gifted what every birthday girl surely wants on her special day: a tower of beautifully wrapped presents. Some boxes were filled with silly toys and games, but Chef Jessica was after the select few containing critical ingredients needed to execute her cake, including flour, eggs and sugar. “Make them unwrap presents until they found [what they needed],” Alton explained to judge Jet Tila of the objective of this particular sabotage. “It was one of my proudest moments,” he joked with a smile during his After-Show. “If you picked incorrectly, this would take 20, 30 minutes,” Jet mused.

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#TBT: Marcela Valladolid

by in Food Network Chef, February 6th, 2014

Marcela ValladolidIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

While Marcela Valladolid may be one of five fresh faces on the all-new series The Kitchen, she got her start on Food Network as the premiere resource on Mexican cuisine. Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, this culinary school-trained chef spent time as a caterer before moving stateside to pursue her first-ever Food Network series, Mexican Made Easy.

Marcela recently told FN Dish that her culinary point of view is “quick, easy, approachable and Mexican at the core,” which is likely why her go-to recipes from Mexican Made Easy have become some of fans’ favorite Mexican dishes. With her relatable explanations and helpful tips, she’s broken down traditional cooking techniques to make them simple for home cooks and has shared recipes for reinvented classics, like Mexico City-Style Tacos, Easiest-Ever Chicken Mole Enchiladas and Shrimp Ceviche.

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After Buying This Restaurant: Skinny Limits

by in Shows, February 5th, 2014

Keith Simpson on Buy This RestaurantWhen Joanie and Cary began their Buy This Restaurant journey with Keith Simpson, they weren’t business newbies, having run their Skinny Limits juicing operation out of a food truck for a while.

They would be, however, first-time restaurant owners, so they looked to Keith for help in finding a prime location that would offer them the expanded real estate for customer service they so desperately craved, plus room to bottle and distribute their products — fresh juices and raw foods among them. After scouring several Austin properties, some with asking prices well within their $350,000 budget as well as some that were over budget, the husband-and-wife clients opted to pursue a space that was once home to a music store. Although this location had not previously been set up as a restaurant, it promised a whopping 3,300 square feet of space and came with what Keith called a “monument sign” out front, which would go a long way in helping Joanie and Cary promote their restaurant.

FN Dish caught up with Joanie a few months after filming the show to find out how their business is progressing, and to learn more about her and Cary’s plans for Skinny Limits. Read on below for an exclusive first interview with Joanie and to get the latest details on the restaurant.

How is the renovation process? Has it taken the full six months to open?
Joanie: It is going great. Of course it’s slower than we want, but as the building is taking shape, we are getting more and more excited. It’s going to take the full six months to get it open. With design review, permits, construction bids, etc., it’s a long process. Having our temporary kitchen has been a great way for us to keep up with the growth of our shipping business without getting too stressed out.

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Restaurant Revisited: Mumbo Jumbo at Estrada’s Restaurant

by in Shows, February 5th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Estrada’s Restaurant in Daly City, Calif., it wasn’t enough for his Restaurant: Impossible team that the owners, Bernadette Aggen and Julio Mercedes, were facing more than $400,000 of debt; they seemed downright disinterested in their 96-year-old restaurant, which they purchased nearly six years ago. After surveying the interior of Estrada’s, however, and tasting its food, Robert learned that the Mexican eatery’s problems went beyond its management. With just two days and $10,000 to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team successfully overhauled the menu and updated the design at Estrada’s, all while reinvigorating Bernadette and Julio. Read on below to hear from the owners in their first exclusive interview since the transformation, and find out how their restaurant is doing today.

Sales at Estrada’s have increased nearly 30 percent, according to Bernadette and Julio, who add that their business is now profitable and that they’ve begun to decrease their debt.

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Best 5 Biscuit Recipes

by in Recipes, February 5th, 2014

Southern BiscuitsWhether you’re a true Southern sweetheart who enjoys biscuits every Sunday morning or you only encounter biscuits atop the occasional pot pie, there’s no denying that these buttery, flaky beauties are a comfort food classic that can shine in meals anytime of the day. The secret to baking up light, moist biscuits is not overworking the dough. When you’re incorporating ingredients, take care to mix them only until they’re combined; any more than that and they run the risk of being too tough. Check out Food Network’s top-five biscuit recipes below to find crave-worthy bites from some of your favorite Food Network chefs, like Giada, Trisha, The Pioneer Woman and Alton.

5. Nonna’s Lemon-Ricotta Biscuits — Featuring a few drops of almond extract, plus creamy ricotta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Giada’s quick-fix biscuits are topped with sliced almonds for subtle crunch and can be served either warm or at room temperature.

4. Daddy’s Biscuits — Trisha’s 30-minute biscuits are made with only a handful of ingredients and can turn out as soft or crisp as you like depending on how close together or far apart you bake them.

Get the top-three recipes

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