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.

Marcela Valladolid’s Cinco de Mayo Must-Haves

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, May 3rd, 2014

Tres Leches CakeThis morning’s episode of The Kitchen was largely dedicated to Cinco de Mayo — plus mayonnaise at times — so the co-hosts came together to host a celebratory fiesta complete with warm, sweet churros, more than 50 types of tacos and a colorful pinata. While on the set of the show recently, FN Dish caught up with Marcela Valladolid to get her take on Cinco ahead of Monday’s holiday. Read on below to learn her tips for pulling off a Mexican-themed bash at home, and find out how she puts her signature spin on traditional eats and drinks, then check out her top-rated recipe for Tres Leches Cake (pictured above).

How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your home?
Marcela Valladolid: I don’t. … Nobody in all of Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo. … Many folks on this side of the border confuse it with Mexican independence day, which is actually Sept. 16. … I didn’t really start getting into the holiday until I moved to the U.S. about five years ago, to San Diego. ‘Cause in downtown San Diego, it’s huge. It’s margaritas all over the place. Growing up in Mexico, I was like, it’s so crazy that they’re even celebrating, but now I like to embrace the fact that they’re just celebrating Mexican culture, and there’s such wonderful beauty about that.

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Restaurant Revisited: Bummed Out at Bumbinos Italian Ristorante

by in Shows, April 30th, 2014

Terry Garner and Robert IrvineThis week, at Bumbinos Italian Ristorante, the problems with which  Robert Irvine had to contend went beyond the usual bland decor and kitchen filth this week. The negative interpersonal relationships at this Orange City, Fla., eatery were causing so much screaming among employees and owner Terry Gardner that it was driving away customers. With just two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team addressed the staff’s issues and overhauled the interior and menu at Bumbinos to ultimately give the business a second chance at success. Read on below to get an exclusive update from Terry.

“The first two weeks after the show, we increased approximately 35 percent,” Terry said. She added that both she and the diners have been wowed by the updates in design. “They are loving the lights and the tile. Favorite elements would be the closing of the pizza area, the chandelier and the tile wall.”

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Best 5 Quiche Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 29th, 2014

Chorizo and Goat Cheese QuicheMother’s Day is just a few weeks away, and if you haven’t yet decided on a gift for Mom, there’s still time to commit to making her an extra-special meal at home. While holiday dinners carry with them a certain level of pressure, daytime get-togethers can be casual and relaxing, which makes Sunday brunch an ideal time to celebrate Mom. For a go-to brunch option that can feed a crowd, try making hearty quiche; it’s an egg-based main that’s often baked, so there’s no need to cook guests’ scrambles or over-easy eggs to order. Plus, quiche is endlessly versatile, as you can add nearly any cheese, vegetable or meat you happen to have on hand. Check out Food Network’s top-five quiche picks below to find deliciously satisfying recipes from Alton, Trisha, Bobby and more of your favorite chefs.

5. Mini Chorizo Quiches — Start with buttery crusts and fill them with a bold mixture of chorizo, Manchego, potatoes and eggs to create individual servings of Marcela’s Mexican-inspired quiche.

4. Crepe Quiche Lorraine — Instead of baking his bacon-and-cheddar-laced quiches inside a tart crust, Alton builds them inside herb-studded crepes, which support the egg-based center when assembled in a muffin tin.

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Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond Tomato Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 28th, 2014

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond Tomato SauceHearty, quick to make and guaranteed to please the whole family, pasta’s a go-to dinner on even the busiest weeknights, and it’s a Meatless Monday mainstay on account of how simple it is to swap out the meat in most recipes. But when everyday marinara night has become a tired ritual at your table, look to dressed-up sauces to spruce up supper. Pesto, primavera and rich cream sauces are all tried-and-true picks, as are tomato-based sauces that become extra special when mixed with bold, fresh ingredients.

A top-rated fan favorite that is as easy to prepare as it is strikingly presentable, Food Network Magazine’s Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond Tomato Sauce (pictured above) is made with just a handful of ingredients. The secret to this sauce lies in the food processor, which will help in making the two-part sauce: After blending roasted almonds with garlic, add olive oil and basil to create a smooth pesto-like mixture, and later whirl tomatoes in the same food processor until they, too, are pureed. Tender broccoli adds a welcome hefty bite to the sauce, which is best served with long noodles.

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Initial Suspicions Confirmed — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, April 27th, 2014

Since Cutthroat Kitchen judges are sequestered from the kitchen while the chefs are cooking, they’re not privy to the evilicious sabotages that unfold during each round. This means that when they first lay eyes on the dish before them, they have no information other than how it’s presented; then once they’ve tasted it, of course, they can take its flavor and texture into consideration.

Tonight’s judge, Simon Majumdar, explained what that feeling is like as he approaches the kitchen and sees contestants’ plates for the first time. “Sometimes as you come down the stairs,” he told Alton Brown on the host’s After-Show, “and you look at the dishes as they’re laid, and you go, ‘Uh, I think I know the way this is going to go.’ And often I’m wrong because they taste great.” It turns out, however, that Simon’s worst suspicions were confirmed when it came to tonight’s Round-2 Reuben sandwich challenge.

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Spotlight On Snacks: What’s Your Favorite?

by in Shows, April 26th, 2014

Geoffrey Zakarian, Marcela Valladolid, Jeff Mauro, Katie LeeOn today’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts shifted the spotlight from meals to munchies as they revealed a few trendy bar snacks making appearances at local hot spots. While pretzels and peanuts may be the norm in most bars, picks like seafood cracklings and Scotch eggs have begun surfacing recently, and they’re surely a welcome addition alongside cocktails.

In addition to nibbling while out sipping drinks, most of us are familiar with indulging in a few bites at home to satisfy snack cravings. From good-for-you carrot sticks and cucumber slices to decadent treats like soft cookies, crunchy chips and salty popcorn, quick-fix munchies can take nearly any form. FN Dish wants to know, when you have a hankering for a snack, what do you grab? Do you have a sweet tooth that’s tempted by chocolate candies, or are you more likely to opt for crispy, cheesy, savory selections? Cast your vote below to tell us your favorite snack.

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Restaurant Revisited: Treading Water at Bryant’s Seafood World

by in Shows, April 23rd, 2014

Robert Irvine and Gail Cox“On a scale of one to 10 of disgusting, this is a 12,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Bryant’s Seafood World in Hueytown, Ala. The decades-old fish house is known for its deliciously authentic hushpuppies, but what Robert found was underseasoned food, a grimy interior and a kitchen with off-the-chart levels of bacteria — not to mention Gail Cox, the owner who had little will to continue in the business. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible staff overhauled the menu and design at Bryant’s, and taught both Gail and her employees the importance of dedication to the eatery. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Gail to find out how her restaurant is doing today.

“Comparing January 2014 versus February 2014, business increased 32.3 percent,” Gail said, adding that she and diners have been wowed by the updated interior at Bryant’s. “The top-three things working well for us include cutting down the cashier counter to give additional access to that area (which really helps the flow of the servers), adding a hostess stand (which gives us order to the customers waiting to be seated on those weekend busy dinner hours) and removing the carpet.”

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Best 5 Potato Salad Recipes

by in Recipes, April 22nd, 2014

Cold-Fashioned Potato SaladWhile potato salad may be a staple come summertime cookouts, it’s also a go-to way to round out any main dish — no matter what time of year you’re cooking. Think of potato salad as you do grilled chicken or a pizza: It’s a blank canvas that can be customized to your family’s tastes or whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. Plus, because every potato salad starts with — of course — the humble spud, most recipes are economical and can be stretched when you’re cooking for a large group. Check out Food Network’s top-five potato salads below to find classic and creative renditions from some of your favorite chefs: Melissa, Ree, Ina, Bobby and Alton.

5. Grilled Potato Salad — It’s not too early to roll out your barbecue and start grilling, especially when Melissa’s quick-fix potato salad is on the menu. After grilling both red and sweet potatoes, she tosses the spuds in a bold, indulgent dressing made with bacon renderings.

4. Perfect Potato Salad — Sweet pickles and pickle juice add a tart bite to Ree’s mashed potato salad, studded with hard-boiled eggs and laced with fresh dill.

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Inside the Impossible: All-New Restaurant: Impossible Special to Air for 100th Episode

by in Shows, April 22nd, 2014

Robert IrvineWeek after week, fans watch as Robert Irvine and his no-fail team of designers, construction managers and volunteers take over a struggling eatery on Restaurant: Impossible in the hopes of giving the business the second chance at success it deserves. But beyond demolition, recipe testing, painting and, of course, the reveal, what else goes on behind the scenes, and who’s there facilitating the transformation? It turns out that an entire crew is on hand to make Restaurant: Impossible what it is, and for the first time ever, the team will come together next month to celebrate the 100th episode of the show.

In the upcoming special Meet the Impossible, airing Wednesday, May 7 at 10|9c, Robert, Tom Bury and three designers will look back at some of the most-wow-worthy moments of the series and reflect on the most-unforgettable overhauls, as well as on some stubborn owners and dirty kitchens that have left their marks on the group. Hear from the team as they share their thoughts on the nearly eight seasons of the show, and see an insider interview with Marc Summers, the executive producer of Restaurant: Impossible.

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