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.

Strategy Reigns Supreme — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 18th, 2013


To succeed in the Cutthroat Kitchen, it’s not enough for a chef to come equipped with his lucky knife kit and years of experience at the stove. After all, a fellow competitor may prevent his use of that cutlery and make him question the extent of his skills, all with the help of $25,000 in spending money and the will to disrupt. Chefs must take assigned curve balls in stride and turn out quality dishes for a judge, who, without knowledge of the earlier mind games, will decide based on taste alone whose plate is the weakest. On Alton’s After-Show, host Alton Brown will reveal to the judge what’s gone down, and together they’ll dish on how the events unfolded and the food ultimately came to light.

In the series premiere, judge Simon Majumdar joined Alton in the Cutthroat Kitchen, and even after learning of some chefs’ use of inferior pork products in Round 1, revealed, “They all produced dishes that were kind of passable with one or two errors, rather than bad dishes with one or two good things about them.” Even though Chef Gianchetti had the most sought-after meat — thick-cut bone-in chops — in that round, his pork was severely overcooked, so much so that Simon admitted that “is actually worse than getting a poor ingredient and making it tasty.”

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How to Make a Perfect Burger — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, August 17th, 2013

How to Make a Perfect BurgerWhile burgers are one of summer’s quintessential dishes and an ever-popular pick at backyard barbecues everywhere, cooking the ultimate between-the-bun creation takes patience and a bit of know-how. It’s not enough to simply slap some meat into a patty, flop it on the grill and melt cheese on top, as doing so has likely led to sorry results at least once or twice — or more. The kind of meat you buy, plus how you form the patties and the way in which they’re cooked all contribute to the overall taste and texture of the burger. Check out a few of Food Network’s top tips below for crafting a perfect burger at home, then browse step-by-step snapshots to learn more about how it’s done.

Fat Equals Flavor:
You may want to save the calorie-trimming for another meal, because making burgers isn’t the time to skimp on fat in your ground beef. Opt for ground chuck blended with about 20 percent fat (this will likely be advertised in stores as an 80/20 mixture), and season it simply with just salt and pepper to allow the taste of the meat and char to shine through between the bun.

Flat-Top Rules:
How many times have you formed a seemingly flat beef patty only to have it dome up while cooking? Prevent those humps and turn out level burgers every time by pressing your finger into the center of one side of the raw patty before it’s placed on the grill. That indent will account for the growth in height while cooking and ensure the final product is even.

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Best 5 Corn Recipes

by in Recipes, August 15th, 2013

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter, Fresh Lime and Cotija CheeseYou’ve seen it overflowing the farmers market tables and piling high in the grocery store produce section: Corn is officially in season, with its sweet, bright-yellow cobs at their peak of freshness from now through the end of the summer. While shucking and boiling corn, then dousing it with butter and salt is a deliciously traditional way to prepare this family-friendly vegetable, there are indeed dressed-up versions of the classic that are every bit as simple and quick to prepare. Grilling fresh cobs will deliver a smoky note, while experimenting with ingredient butters or baking the kernels into a sweet casserole will offer next-level tastes and textures that highlight corn’s natural flavor. Check out Food Network’s top-five corn dishes below from the Neelys, Guy, Bobby and more Food Network chefs for easy recipe inspiration.

5. Smoky Corn on the Cob — Thanks to a low and slow grilling technique, these slightly charred cobs have time to become tender without burning.

4. Sweet Corn Pudding — A creamy, cheesy casserole that will round out your backyard barbecue, the Neelys’ fresh-corn bake is spiked with a pinch of cayenne pepper for subtle heat.

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Tyler Florence on the New Season of The Great Food Truck Race

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, August 13th, 2013

Tyler Florence on the New Season of The Great Food Truck RaceTyler Florence is back to host the fourth season of The Great Food Truck Race. Like last season, the food truck teams are made up of newbies who dream of one day operating their own mobile restaurant business. There’s a lot at stake: the winning team gets $50,000 and gets to keep their truck. Tyler guides the teams on their coast-to-coast journey, and along the way doles out challenges, with each new one more difficult than the last. And this year the route is the longest yet, so these teams are in for the ride of their lives. FN Dish recently caught up with Tyler to chat about the new season, his take on the food truck scene and his advice for the teams.

Watch the season premiere of The Great Food Truck Race on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 9pm/8c.

What are you looking forward to most on the new season of The Great Food Truck Race?
It’s the first year we have a team from Hawaii, which is really exciting, and we also have several all-female teams. The teams were so good this year, even as rookies. I think the teams are actually watching past seasons and taking notes. Although they’ve never done it before, they’ve seen the other people start from scratch and they’re taking those notes to heart.

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Vegetarian Chef’s Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, August 12th, 2013

Vegetarian Chef's SaladThe key to enjoying a salad as an entree is making sure you beef up the dish with more than just leafy greens, croutons and dressing. Hearty protein, plus cheese, vegetables, olives and eggs, turn a simple salad into a complete lunch or dinner. But when you remove the meat from the plate, finding substitute ingredients can be challenging and often leads to an unsatisfying meal. Food Network Magazine, however, reinvented the chef’s salad — one such main course salad traditionally packed with deli meats — into a meatless plate that won’t leave you disappointed.

Instead of turkey, ham or chicken, the star protein in Food Network Magazine’s Vegetarian Chef’s Salad (pictured above) is tofu, either your favorite smoked or baked variety. Tender roasted mushrooms add an earthy flavor, while crisp-tender wax beans — conveniently cooked in the same pot of hot water used to hard-boil the eggs — and prepared beets add texture. Puree a few of the remaining roasted mushrooms with tangy plain yogurt, olive oil and vinegar to prepare a smooth topping, then mix the topping with the greens, and assemble the vegetables, eggs, cheddar cheese and crunchy sunflower seeds on top for a classic chef’s salad presentation.

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Man vs. Sabotage — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 11th, 2013

When judge Antonia Lofaso entered the Cutthroat Kitchen and tasted the chefs’ turkey dinner, French toast and lobster roll dishes, she wasn’t privy to the events that had unfolded and ultimately led to those particular plates of food. Simply critiquing and praising the offerings based solely on taste, she knew not of the thousands of dollars that had been spent to force a competitor to cook with a precooked, processed turkey instead of a fresh bird, to prepare a meal sans utensils, to feature red wine and blue cheese in French toast, and to make bread from scratch in only 30 minutes. On his first-ever Alton’s After-Show, Alton revealed these secrets and others to judge Antonia, who finally realized the making of the meals she had just tasted.

“It’s all coming together now,” she told Alton. In perhaps the most telling reveal, she learned that all of these sabotages, seemingly insurmountable given the time constraints and demands of the challenge, had been inflicted on one competitor: Chef Frankie. It was up to him to adapt to these struggles — sometimes multiple ones in a single round — and attempt to turn out passable plates.

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Beyond Chips and Dip: Appetizers for a Crowd — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, August 10th, 2013

Chicken Flautas with Avocado CreamWhen it comes to hosting a backyard cookout, a spread of burgers, barbecue, sides and salads is essential, of course, but so are a few pre-dinner munchies. Having a few easy-to-eat appetizers on hand will ensure your guests are held over until the main dishes are ready and not weighed down in the meantime. While chips and dip may be a go-to classic, you can indeed take your appetizer offering to the next delicious level while sticking with simple, stress-free favorites.

Sunny Anderson’s Chicken Flautas with Avocado Cream (pictured above) are top-rated bites that can be prepared in 40 quick minutes. To save time, Sunny starts with a precooked rotisserie chicken to make the filling, featuring the bold flavors of sauteed jalapenos, salsa and garlic, plus cheddar cheese and lime juice. She wraps the mixture in flour tortillas, then deep-fries the flautas until golden brown and crispy, before serving them with a creamy, cool combination of mashed avocados and tangy sour cream.

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Best 5 Beer Can Chicken Recipes

by in Recipes, August 8th, 2013

Pat's Beer Can Grilled ChickenRecently FN Dish shared Food Network’s top-five grilled chicken recipes for enjoyable summer cookouts, but this week we’re focusing on a specialty chicken that deserves the spotlight on its own: beer can chicken. Cooked whole and most often vertically over an open can of beer, these chicken recipes promise meat that’s particularly succulent and tender, given that the beer steams the bird while it cooks and infuses it with flavor. While the presentation of beer can chicken is indeed impressive and guarantees wows from party guests, the dish is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight for a go-to dinner. Check out Food Network’s best beer can chickens below from Bobby, Guy, the Neelys and more chefs for top-rated recipe inspiration.

5. Beer Can Chicken — When cooking chicken over beer, it’s important to start with a half-full can of beer, so that when the brew bubbles on the grill, it doesn’t overflow and burn.

4. Beer Can Chicken with Cola Barbecue Sauce — Tangy, sweet and salty all at once, the cola-ketchup barbecue sauce is spiked with Worcestershire sauce and served alongside crispy-skinned chicken.

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