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.

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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Spaghetti Squash Tostadas — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 31st, 2014

Spaghetti Squash TostadasThe key to cooking without meat is replacing the bold flavors and meaty textures that traditionally accompany beef, chicken and pork with ingredients that are equally satisfying. Eggs, tofu and beans are a few go-to picks, as they pack a hearty punch and can easily be worked into nearly any dish.

An updated version of a Mexican classic, Food Network Magazine’s Spaghetti Squash Tostadas recipe showcases a few hearty picks, including protein-rich black beans, plus tender spaghetti squash and roasted cherry tomatoes instead of meat, but it maintains a traditional taste thanks to smoky chipotle power. The beauty of tostadas is that they can be customized to everyone’s tastes; after frying the tortillas, mashing the beans and cooking the vegetables, try setting up a DIY toppings bar and let everyone build the preferred dish. For a cool topping, finish each tostada with tangy sour cream, and add a bit of fresh cilantro and lime juice for bright flavor.

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Testing the Cutthroat Sabotages: Can You Muffin It?

by in Shows, March 30th, 2014


From makeshift potato-masher arms and aluminum foil utensils to flavored jelly beans acting as seasonings, Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages are notoriously trying, so much so that many fans have asked if they’re indeed possible to pull off successfully. After more than two seasons of competition, the word is finally out, and the answer is yes: All Cutthroat challenges have been tested by Food Network’s culinary team and deemed doable within the rounds’ 30 minutes of cooking. Beginning with tonight’s all-new episode, you’ll be able to see how some of those assessments are made in a series of Testing the Sabotage videos, which showcase the decision-making process.

Click the play button on the video above to watch the first video and find out what it took for the Round 2 muffin tin challenge to make it on air.

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After Buying This Restaurant: 44 Restaurant & Bar

by in Shows, March 30th, 2014

Keith Simpson on Buy This RestaurantFriends and Berkeley, Calif., locals Ramonn and Mark were disappointed in their neighborhood’s lounge offerings, so they teamed up to open the ultimate swanky concept. Although Mark has vast experience in the restaurant industry, he and Ramonn would be novice owners, so they needed the help of Buy This Restaurant‘s Keith Simpson to track down the ideal location to launch their eatery. After visiting possible spaces in both Berkeley and San Francisco, they selected a prime corner location close to home and soon opened 44 Restaurant & Bar. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Ramonn and Mark to find out how their business is doing today.

Congratulations on opening 44 Restaurant & Bar! How was the renovation process, and when did you open to customers?
Ramonn and Mark: We officially opened for business March 14, 2014. The renovations were a challenge, but exciting all along the way. We are very pleased with our finished product.

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Win a Signed Copy of Martha Stewart’s Cakes: Our First-Ever Book of Bundts, Loaves, Layers, Coffee Cakes, and More

by in Contests, Shows, March 29th, 2014

Jeff Mauro and Martha StewartWhether you’re celebrating a milestone birthday, you’re recovering from a stressful week or you simply have a sweet tooth that won’t quit, cake-baking is nearly always a good idea, as the finished product delivers tried-and-true comfort every time. Double-layer frosted confections may be a party favorite, but the beauty of cakes is that they can take countless shapes and sizes. On today’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, Martha Stewart dropped by to introduce one of her latest publications, Martha Stewart’s Cakes: Our First-Ever Book of Bundts, Loaves, Layers, Coffee Cakes, and More, which is dedicated to both classic and creative desserts.

The co-hosts inducted Martha into Cookbook Club, and together she and Jeff Mauro created an updated version of the traditional icebox cake. Her Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake is an easy yet impressive dessert, boasting layer after layer of decadent chocolate cookies and sweet, fluffy cream. After chilling overnight in the refrigerator, the cookies will have absorbed moisture from the cream and become deliciously tender, so the cake will hold its shape when cut into slices.

Want to check out more of Martha Stewart’s Cakes? You can buy the book here, or you can enter to win a free signed copy from FN Dish. We’re giving away one cookbook each to four lucky, randomly selected fans. To enter, tell us in the comments which recipe from The Kitchen has been your favorite this season (you can find a complete list of recipes from The Kitchen here). You must include the recipe URL to be entered to win.

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All-New on Sunday: Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, March 28th, 2014

Alton BrownFans have noticed from watching more than two seasons of Cutthroat Kitchen competition that some sabotages appear simply too evilicious to ever be allowed, and Food Network has heard your curiosities. It turns out, however, that even the most-demanding challenges have been vetted and approved by the show’s culinary team; that’s what makes them acceptable for the contest. Before Alton auctions off any sabotage to competitors, the Cutthroat crew tests it to see if it is, in fact, possible to work with during the allotted 30 minutes. And beginning this weekend, you’ll be able to watch some of those tests unfold in a series of brand-new Web-exclusive videos.

Visit Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen headquarters after Sunday’s episode to watch the first Testing the Sabotage video, then mark your calendars for the below dates to catch even more clips in the future.

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Geoffrey Zakarian’s Brunch Essentials

by in Shows, March 27th, 2014

Geoffrey ZakarianWhen you imagine brunch at an Iron Chef’s house, you might picture a lavish affair complete with an overflowing spread of all manner of croissants, made-to-order omelets, thick-cut French toast and the bubbliest Bellinis. But according to Geoffrey Zakarian, “less is more” when it comes to this midmorning meal, and it can be surprisingly easy to execute. As he explained, “Everything at brunch is done the day before.” FN Dish recently caught up with Geoffrey in Miami as he hosted his own brunch event, and we chatted with him about what it takes to pull off the ultimate crowd-pleasing meal. Read on below to learn his top tips for entertaining and thoughts on classic brunch picks like eggs, waffles and mimosas.

What’s a go-to rule of thumb to remember when preparing brunch?
Geoffrey Zakarian: I always say less is more. What people do with brunch is they overwhelm you with too much stuff that’s, like, throwaway. They pile breads and pastries and all this stuff, and no one eats it anyways. You end up throwing it away. So I say just be very focused and really edit what you’re going to do. Do seven, eight things maximum. Make people just eat those things, and make them really delicious and different, and it’ll be a very successful brunch.

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Inside the Beat Bobby Flay Kitchen

by in Shows, March 27th, 2014

Beat Bobby FlayMuch like you probably prepare to cook an important meal by stocking up on any ingredients and specialty tools you may need, so, too, do the culinary teams on Food Network shows before filming begins. Shopping for goods to stock the pantry and refrigerator is up to them. For the all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, the team was tasked with readying the kitchen with enough food and equipment for not one round of cooking, but two, and the selection had to be great enough to ensure that the guest chefs and Bobby would be able to make whatever dish they wanted.

FN Dish was on the set of Beat Bobby Flay recently and caught up with the show’s culinary producer, Danielle LaRosa, to find out more about what it takes to make the series happen. Read on below to see insider photos of the kitchen and learn some of the most-popular ingredients on set from Danielle.

“We have at least 200 items in our pantry daily for both contestants and Bobby to have access to,” Danielle said. “Some of these 200 items include 30 kinds of spices (plus more as the season has gone on), 80 items in the dry pantry (including breads, vinegars, dried fruit, etc.), [and] 45 different kinds of fruits and vegetables.”

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