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.

Aarón Sánchez’s Dream Tailgating Chopped Basket

by in Food Network Chef, November 5th, 2013

Aaron SanchezYou’ve seen Chopped judges dish out unapologetically honest criticism to chefs and even take their places in the kitchen while cooking on After Hours, but they’ve never before had a say in what mandatory ingredients land in the mystery baskets. While there’s no plans just yet to let the panel exercise this would-be-new power, you can be sure that some judges’ picks would be more ordinary than others, while some would likely be too demanding to ever assign to competitors.

FN Dish caught up with longtime Chopped judge Aarón Sánchez at an event hosted by Ortega, where he was celebrating the start of tailgating season and his partnership with the Mexican food company, and he told FN Dish the four ingredients he’d include in the baskets if there were to be a tailgating-themed episode of Chopped. “I would definitely put some sort of jam, like a marmalade or some sort of preserves, so you could make a barbecue sauce,” he said before adding, “I would do chicken necks for sure,” in a creative twist on the classic chicken wing. “I would do some sort of spicy [ingredient], maybe chipotles in adobo ‘cause … they’d be awesome with the marmalade,” he added. “Then I would do a blue cheese, then I would make a sauce.”

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Quiz: Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?

by in Food Network Chef, November 4th, 2013

Robert IrvineYou’ve seen every episode of Restaurant: Impossible and have even ventured to try for yourself some of the overhauled eateries featured on the show. You’re eagerly tuning in to the latest premieres of Robert’s all-new show, Restaurant Express, and you’ve already cast your Fan Vote for the contestant you think should win the final prize. But when it comes to the host of these game-changing series, how much do you know about Robert Irvine? This British-born chef and restaurateur has been cooking since he was a boy, and he is perhaps as famous for his signature muscled physique as he is his no-nonsense attitude and fearless approach to any mission on television. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of all things Chef Robert, and find out if you’re the ultimate fan.

Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?

Are you worthy of the title Robert Irvine Superfan? Answer these questions to find out.
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Tune in to Restaurant: Impossible on Wednesdays at 10pm/9c and Restaurant Express on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, November 4th, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash LasagnaWhile some vegetarian lasagnas consist of little more than pasta with everyday tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, there are indeed ways to dress up the family-friendly casserole to take advantage of bold flavors and seasonal ingredients. Instead of traditional marinara sauce, for example, experiment with no-cook pesto or a creamy cheese sauce, and incorporate fresh produce like good-for-you cauliflower, earthy mushrooms or bell peppers for added taste and texture. Food Network Magazine follows suit in its top-rated recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna (pictured above), a hearty pasta bake made with in-season squash and comforting bechamel sauce.

The trick to making this lasagna lies in its assembly. After roasting butternut squash with onions until it’s sweet and tender, begin building the layers of ingredients: first, a sage-laced cream sauce, then noodles, more sauce, a trio of Italian cheeses and finally the prepared veggies. This pattern will continue until the casserole dish is nearly overflowing with fall-fresh flavors and rich cheesiness, at which point you can bake the lasagna until it’s warm, bubbly and browned on top. Once the lasagna is cooked, it’s best to let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving; this will help the sauce thicken and ensures that the pasta keeps its shape instead of oozing out when sliced.

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Introducing FoodNetwork.com’s Newest Feature: Recipe Box

by in Community, News, November 4th, 2013

My Recipe BoxWhen you’re perusing FoodNetwork.com‘s vast collection of recipes, you may very well come across towering cakes and comforting casseroles, simple soups and showstopping steaks, and centerpiece roast chickens and satisfying cookies — all in one visit. But with so many tasty how-tos for the taking, how are you to remember which recipes in particular you know you want to make, and how do you keep them organized? Enter FoodNetwork.com’s newest tool: Recipe Box.

It’s no longer necessary to print out page after page of recipes, then staple them together and stash them away in a drawer. With Recipe Box, not only can you sort your favorite recipes by dish, cuisine, meal type, menu, chef and more categories, but you also can create shopping lists based on any or all of your preferred recipes and access them from both Food Network’s website and your mobile phone.

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Two Times the Trouble — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, November 3rd, 2013


Cutthroat Kitchen fans knows that when competitors are gifted a sabotage, no matter how treacherous or simple it may seem, it could ultimately mean disaster for them if they don’t know how or do not have the time to remedy it. But what happens when a challenge must incorporate not just one sabotage, but multiple? Will they use the double dose of damage to further fuel their creative energy, or will they succumb to the pressure of the contest and crumble?

On this week’s installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host revealed to judge Jet Tila two competitors’ attempts to adapt to multiple challenges after finding themselves victim to an onslaught of sabotages. The first set occurred in the initial round’s sandwich-and-side battle, when a chef was forced to harvest bread from prepared convenience-store sandwiches before learning that he or she would also have to make the dish on a TV-dinner-size tray instead of an oversized workspace. “And I think from there [the contestant] went insane,” Alton joked of the competitor. This chef was ultimately overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, as he or she didn’t make it past the first round of competition.

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Go Behind the Scenes of Southern at Heart with Damaris

by in Shows, November 3rd, 2013

Although Damaris Phillips survived 11 weeks of camera and culinary competitions on Food Network Star to become the newest face of food television, nothing could prepare her for the excitement and nervous energy that would come with filming her very own show. Just last week she premiered her series — Southern at Heart, airing Sundays at 10:30am/9:30c; cameras were rolling in Louisville, Ky., as she prepared to take her place in the kitchen and tape that episode.

Click the play button on the video above to watch as Damaris introduces her set and explains the props in the kitchen, and hear as she chats about her hopes for Southern at Heart.

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Gyros vs. Tacos: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, October 31st, 2013

Restaurant DividedCaught between her bickering fiancé, Neil Vaswani, and her mother, Terry Kipriadis, Vicky Giannakos explained: “My mother. She’s stubborn like a bull. Neil is also stubborn like a bull.” Terry opened Gyros & Goodies in Washington Township, N.J., three years ago, and Neil supported the venture as a substantial partner. But now that the Greek-focused restaurant is facing a mountain of financial struggles, Neil’s convinced the eatery should relaunch with a Mexican concept, while Terry is committed to Mediterranean fare. “The restaurant can’t continue like this, and as a family, we can’t continue like this,” Vicky admitted, just in time for Rocco DiSpirito and a Restaurant Divided transformation to decide the fate of her family’s business once and for all.

After sampling made-over menu items and overhauling the interior of the restaurant, Rocco welcomed everyday diners and esteemed restaurateurs alike for dinner at two concepts — the blue-and-white-clad Gyros & Goodies, run by Terry, and The Township Cantina, a bright spot staffed by Neil — in the same space. The future of Terry’s business, however, was ultimately in Rocco’s hands, as he number crunched profitability estimates and spoke with customers before eventually deeming Terry’s Gyros & Goodies more likely to succeed than Neil’s Mexican endeavor.

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Restaurant Revisited: Feathers Fly at Ducky’s Family Restaurant

by in Shows, October 30th, 2013

Robert IrvineFacing nearly $230,000 of debt, 33-year-old Ducky’s Family Restaurant in Kokomo, Ind., desperately needed Robert Irvine‘s help if the business was to have any chance at future success. Not long after Robert arrived, he realized that poor-quality canned food was among the largest issues plaguing Ducky’s, as was its drab interior decor akin, which Robert’s designer, Taniya Nayak, deemed “a cafeteria nightmare.” Together with Taniya and the rest of his Restaurant: Impossible team, Robert re-launched Ducky’s after two days of work on a $10,000 budget, and he helped owner Bill Duncan and Bill’s family learn essential skills for managing their family-run eatery. FN Dish caught up with Bill to find out how his business is doing a few months since the show filmed.

“Since the shooting of our episode, we have doubled our weekly sales,” Bill said. “Everyone loves the remodel.”

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Pop Stars, Princesses, Cats and Candy: Damaris Phillips’ Halloween Favorites

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, October 30th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsGiven her penchant for quirkiness and her fun-loving demeanor, it’s no surprise that Food Network’s newest star, Damaris Phillips, is quick to embrace the lighthearted spirit of tomorrow’s spooky-sweet holiday. The host of Southern at Heart admits to dressing up for not only Halloween, but several other occasions each year, and she isn’t content with ordinary costumes for witches, pumpkins or ghosts. Her Halloween getups require a bit of imagination, as well as inspired clothing and coordination among friends. FN Dish caught up with Damaris to chat about these costumes, plus all things tricks and treats; read on below to learn her plans for this year’s fright-night bash, her all-time favorite Halloween costumes and her must-have candy.

How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?
Damaris Phillips: Me and all my girlfriends are dressing up as Britney Spears from different music videos. And she had some good outfits, like, phenomenal outfits. I really want to do the Pan Am girl from “Toxic.” Or I wanted to do “Oops!… I Did It Again” — the red pleather — but we have a guy friend that wants to do that, so …. The shoes are unfortunate, so I was OK giving it up.

So you don’t shy away from the costumes.
DP: Any reason to dress up, I am in. So I don’t only dress up at Halloween. I dress up for my birthday; we have a costume party every year for my birthday. I dress up probably seven times a year at least.

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Best 5 Brussels Sprouts Recipes

by in Recipes, October 30th, 2013

Roasted Brussels SproutsBrussels sprouts may be an annual must-have on your Thanksgiving dinner table, but these easy-to-cook vegetables can shine as the side dish to everyday suppers as well. Packed with good-for-you nutrients, these golf ball-size beauties are best when they’re not overcooked, which means that they’re often quick to prepare. Plus, Brussels sprouts pair well with salty flavors, like those of decadent bacon and briny capers, so if you’re cooking for veggie-averse kids — or adults — cook them with complementary ingredients you know your family will enjoy. Check out Food Network’s top-five Brussels sprouts recipes from your favorite stars, like Bobby, Michael Symon, Alton, Guy and Ina, to find simple sides that can be on the table in well under an hour.

5. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta — After sauteing sweet shallots with crispy pancetta, Bobby roasts sprouts and Yukon gold potatoes until they’re tender, then finishes them with a pat of butter and refreshing lemon juice.

4. Fried Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Capers — Michael deep-fries his Brussels sprouts until they’re deliciously crispy, then tosses them with crunchy walnuts and a sweet-and-spicy serrano chile-honey dressing.

Get the top-three recipes