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.

Chiles Rellenos — Meatless Monday

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 5th, 2014

Chile RellenosWhile Mexican-inspired meals, like tacos, quesadillas and tortilla soup, may be in frequent dinner rotation in your home, there’s perhaps no better day of the year to cook them up than today, Cinco de Mayo. Celebrate the event with an impromptu fiesta complete with an inspired spread featuring rich refried beans, Rachael’s fresh guacamole and Alton’s tres leches cake for dessert. As a main course, skip such meaty dishes as fajitas and burritos and instead focus on chiles rellenos; showcasing peppers and cheese, these over-the-top indulgences are often naturally vegetarian.

Food Network Kitchen’s top-rated Chiles Rellenos (pictured above) is a fan-favorite recipe packed with the bold flavors of poblano peppers and tomato sauce spiced with a serrano chile. After charring the poblanos, stuff them with Mexican string cheese and dunk them in flour and a cumin beer batter to create the light coating ideal for deep-frying. The key to making these chiles lies in the stuffing process; after filling them with cheese, it’s important to seal the openings shut with a toothpick so the cheese doesn’t seep out into the oil. Serve these crispy, golden-brown beauties atop the smooth tomato sauce for an impressive plate worthy of Cinco de Mayo.

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Star-a-Day: Aryen Moore-Alston

by , May 5th, 2014

Aryen Moore-AlstonAryen Moore-Alston, 31, is a self-taught cook who was raised abroad in Italy. She has dabbled in many careers, but food has always been her passion, and some of her fondest childhood memories involve making family meals in the kitchen with her father, who passed away when she was young. After living in Atlanta, Japan and Los Angeles, Aryen settled in Memphis to raise her daughter. Read on below to hear from Aryen, and learn about her style of cooking and her thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Aryen: The experience. I feel like if you don’t enjoy the journey, it will all go so fast. … I’m really excited. I’m blessed and humbled to be here. And I know that all of this is going into making me shine. I enjoy the process.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view in one sentence.
Aryen: My culinary point of view is international cuisine in the comfort of your own home.

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Meet the Wheel of Heat — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, May 4th, 2014


From ingredient swaps and time-sucks to inferior utensils and makeshift workstations, Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages are notoriously evilicious and designed to keep the competitors guessing at all times. On tonight’s all-new episode, the chefs were wowed when host Alton Brown introduced a never-before-seen challenge, what he deemed the Wheel of Heat.

Labeled with multiple heat sources like oven, microwave, stove and broiler, this sabotage would forced the rival who was gifted this challenge to spin the wheel while cooking and switch his or her cooking method to whichever heat source was landed upon. It turns out that the wheel offered no beginner’s luck, as Chef Renae found out when she was forced to work with it during the Round 2 blackened-fish test. “Every time she spun it, it came up ‘microwave,'” Alton explained to judge Simon Majumdar during the After-Show. “This, I think, was the end for Chef Renae because she had to do her entire blackened dish with a microwave,” he added. Simon admitted, “The fish was dry. It lacked that crust, which you expect from blackened fish.” But he noted that had other elements of her dish been executed better, he may have been more likely to excuse her microwave seafood. “There were too many things wrong,” Simon said, “whereas I could have forgiven her if she’d served that fish that wasn’t perfect with a really good accompaniment.”

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Robert Irvine Reflects on 100 Episodes of Restaurant: Impossible

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2014

Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible TeamThe nature of Restaurant: Impossible is such that Robert Irvine doesn’t know what he’s going to walk into when he begins his missions at eateries across the country. This week marks the show’s 100th episode, and while he’s found filthy kitchens and ruthless employees at some business, he’s stumbled upon disjointed menus and disjointed decor at others. But no matter the condition of the business when he arrives, he and his team have always used their two days and $10,000 budget to give restaurants the best second chance at success possible.

Just in time for Wednesday’s special episode, airing May 7 at 10|9c, to celebrate the 100th show, Robert looked back on the nearly eight seasons of renovations and reflected on some of his most-memorable missions to date. Read on below to hear from Robert in an exclusive interview and find out what he’s learned along the way, as well as his top tips for business owners.

What’s been the single most-rewarding moment from 7+ seasons of Restaurant: Impossible?

It’s impossible to just choose one moment. The restaurants that we visit on the show are not just “missions,” they are like children to me. Each has its own challenges, personalities and outcomes. Each family will always be special and hold an important place in my heart — even the really difficult ones.

What’s one thing you have learned from or experienced on this show that you didn’t expect to when you first began it?

I began the show focused on fixing businesses but quickly realized that, more important than food cost and menu changes, the families and relationships involved need to be fixed first if anything we do is going to remain a success. That’s why you may have noticed the change in dynamic from the first season to now, where I evolved too, from business consultant to being more of a counselor.

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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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