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.

Testing the Cutthroat Sabotages: From Cooking Station to Shopping Cart

by in Shows, April 13th, 2014


With one swift auction and a bit of bad luck, Cutthroat Kitchen competitors could have all of their seemingly necessary tools and food products taken away from them and replaced with inferior items. From salt and knives to the stove and pans, nothing is safe in Cutthroat Kitchen, including the chefs’ workstations. On tonight’s all-new episode, contestants bid on a game-changing sabotage in Round 2′s enchilada challenge that forces one person to abandon his or her standard setup and fashion another one using a stocked toolbox. The catch? The workspace, heat source and cooktop must be built in and confined to a shopping cart. Was this challenge taking the competition too far and asking too much of one person during a 30-minute challenge? It turns out that the answer is no, as Food Network’s culinary team vetted and approved this sabotage prior to air.

Click the play button on the video above to watch the test unfold and see how one grocery store staple became a fully equipped cook space.
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Restaurant Revisited: Face the Music at Urban Roots

by in Shows, April 9th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossiblePart eatery and part entertainment space, Urban Roots in Oklahoma City, Okla., offered little in the way of quality food when Robert Irvine arrived. He found jumbled dishes and a weak staff, plus owner Chaya Fletcher, who was struggling to maintain her interest in her job. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the interior of Urban Roots and updated the menu, ultimately reopening the business to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Chaya and find out how Urban Roots is doing today.

“Since the taping, revenue is up 15 percent,” Chaya says. “Customers are really happy with the design and love the new menu changes.” She adds that both food and entertainment are now proving to attract customers.

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20 Most-Memorable Restaurant: Impossible Missions

by in Shows, April 9th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWith more than seven seasons’ worth of Restaurant: Impossible renovations behind him, Robert Irvine has seen all manner of filth in eatery kitchens, encountered interior decor ranging from the plain and simple to the cluttered and confused, and met owners who have welcomed him wholeheartedly and those who have fought to accept his expertise. He sticks to his goal of transforming businesses and improving lives no matter how difficult the mission, but surely some updates have proved more shocking, some owners more demanding and some reveals more emotional.

Browse insider photos to look back on some of the most-unforgettable challenges Robert has faced on Restaurant: Impossible, then hear from the owners of those eateries to find out how their businesses are faring today.

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Best 5 Scalloped Potato Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 8th, 2014

Scalloped Potato GratinEaster is just a few weeks away, and while you may already know that a crowd-pleasing ham or juicy lamb chops will be the star of your spread, it’s time to focus on the all-important side dishes to round out the meal. Both simple to prepare with everyday ingredients and endlessly family friendly, scalloped potatoes are a holiday staple, and whether you stick with a classic rendition featuring cheese and cream, or dress them up with fresh vegetables or meat, they’re sure to wow guests this spring. Check out Food Network’s top-five scalloped potato recipes below from The Pioneer Woman, Bobby, Tyler and more Food Network chefs to find out how they serve this tried-and-true indulgence.

5. Scalloped Potatoes and Ham — Follow Ree’s lead and beef up big-batch scalloped potatoes by layering diced ham among thinly sliced russets and creamy Monterey Jack cheese.

4. Scalloped Potatoes with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers — After quickly broiling the fresh vegetables to bring out their natural sweetness, tomatoes, peppers and onions are baked in a rich potato casserole with a breadcrumb-Gruyere topping for an added crunchy texture and a nutty flavor.

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Crispy Tofu with Vegetables — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 7th, 2014

Crispy Tofu with VegetablesFor many meat eaters, dinners often highlight a piece of meat, but if you’re maintaining a vegetarian diet, it can seem as though every meal focuses on vegetables and vegetables alone. Food Network Magazine is changing that, however, with a go-to dish that puts not meat or vegetables but rather hearty, satisfying tofu in the center of the plate.

In its recipe for Crispy Tofu with Vegetables, seasonal, family-friendly produce, including mushrooms, carrots and peas, indeed makes an appearance, but it’s no longer in the spotlight; instead, satisfying tofu is the star of the supper, and rice and veggies are merely supporting players that round out the meal. If you’ve never before cooked with tofu, know that it’s able take on rich, full flavors easily and can stand up to high-temperature cooking methods like grilling and deep-frying. Food Network Magazine pan-fries lightly coated blocks of tofu until they boast a golden-brown crust on the outside, and then pairs them with ginger-laced vegetables and scallions. Since this complete meal can be on the table in only 40 minutes, it’s a timesaver that you can deliver on even the most-hectic weeknights.

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Testing the Cutthroat Sabotages: When a Standard Whisk Won’t Do

by in Shows, April 6th, 2014


Just last week FN Dish introduced fans to the first in a series of Testing the Sabotage videos that highlight exactly how Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages come to be. So many have questioned whether or not the challenges are indeed possible for competitors to conquer within their time constraints, and with these all-new videos, it’s now clear that the answer is yes; every sabotage Alton auctions off has been vetted by Food Network’s culinary team, and now you have the chance to watch those tests unfold.

Click the play button on the video above to check out how the giant-whisk sabotage featured on tonight’s brand-new episode was approved for air, and learn what kind of experimenting had to be done in order to arrive at that conclusion.

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“Anchovies Are Like the Bacon of the Sea”

by in Shows, April 5th, 2014

Bobby FlayCoining that phrase on last night’s episode of Beat Bobby Flay, Bobby likened these tiny fish to one product that nearly everyone enjoys: bacon. As both ingredients are deliciously salty, they’re capable of imparting rich flavor and transforming a dish to next-level deliciousness with minimal effort. The host reached for anchovies as he worked on a crispy, spicy topping for Cauliflower and Mushroom Mac and Cheese, and while his competitor wondered if they would complement dairy, Bobby’s dish indeed wowed the judges, who deemed his offering the best of the day.

While bacon is crunchy, anchovies are tender and can be broken down, so if you incorporate them into a dressing or dissolve them in a sauce — or opt for anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies — you’ll be able to enjoy their deep taste without biting into a whole anchovy or seeing them laid atop a salad or bowl of pasta. “You could get a lot of good flavor out of anchovies,” Bobby said, which is why he softened them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Calabrian chilies and olive oil in his crispy topping.

Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite recipes with anchovies and anchovy paste below to experience their robust flavor firsthand.

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Bobby’s Most-Memorable Throwdowns, Revealed

by in Shows, April 4th, 2014

Bobby FlayHe may be a revered Iron Chef, an unapologetic mentor on Food Network Star and a restaurant owner many times over, but when it comes to facing off against some of the best chefs in the country, Bobby Flay isn’t indestructible. Just a few weeks ago on Beat Bobby Flay, the host fell to Chef Brian Tsao in one challenge — Battle Taco — that would have seemingly been Bobby’s for the taking; after all, the Iron Chef is known for his affinity for and mastery of Southwestern cuisine. He offered guest judges his version of a puffy taco, and while they indeed offered praise for the dish, it was no match for Chef Brian’s Korean-inspired plate.

It turns out, however, that Bobby has a long history with puffy tacos. FN Dish recently caught up with him and he revealed that his 2007 puffy-taco challenge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay is among his most-memorable cook-offs to date — but not necessarily because of the result of the battle.

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Restaurant Revisited: Ungratifying at gratifi kitchen + bar

by in Shows, April 2nd, 2014

Kevin Strickland and Robert IrvineIn Houston, the dangerously dirty kitchen at gratifi kitchen + bar was just one of the major issues with which Robert Irvine was to contend during his latest Restaurant: Impossible mission. The eatery’s owner, Kevin Strickland, was notably arrogant and struggled to work well with his employees — and Robert. It took the Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to overhaul gratifi kitchen + bar and transform Kevin’s brashness before they would ultimate relaunch the business. FN Dish has the first exclusive interview with Kevin since filming wrapped; read on below to hear from him and find out how gratifi is doing today.

“Most customers, whether new or old, think it is fantastic,” Kevin says of the interior overhaul on gratifi. He and his employees are pleased with the update as well, he says, adding of staff, “They see that it is a much nicer restaurant and they dress appropriately for it.” He adds, “The bar is 10 times better. It’s not only beautiful but now functions like a real bar.

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Best 5 Blueberry Muffin Recipes

by in Recipes, April 1st, 2014

Blueberry MuffinsWhen cold cereal and buttered toast just aren’t cutting it for breakfast anymore, reach for a comforting morning treat: freshly baked blueberry muffins. The beauty of muffins is that just one baking session yields several days’ worth of breakfasts — or any-time snacks — and they’re endlessly pleasing to both kids and grownups alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five easy-to-make blueberry muffin recipes below to find a mix of classic and dressed-up takes on this timeless pick from Ina, Giada, Alton and more Food Network chefs.

5. Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins — Ready to eat in less than 40 minutes, Ina’s light, fluffy muffins are made with tangy sour cream, which she says “makes [them] really moist.”

4. Blueberry Lemon Muffins — Fresh lemon zest adds a refreshing flavor and bright scent to these fuss-free beauties, best topped with sugar before baking.

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