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.

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

Pierogi with Curried Cabbage — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 28th, 2013

Pierogi with Curried CabbageIt’s Monday night, and you’re tasked with making a deliciously satisfying family-friendly meal for your family in only 35 minutes. Where do you start, and what do you prepare? This may sound like the setup of the network’s next competition series, but it’s a battle many likely face each week as the hours to dinnertime tick away.

The key to executing a simple and successful supper — meatless or otherwise on any day of the week — is taking a few shortcuts when you can. In its recipe for Pierogi with Curried Cabbage (pictured above), for example, Food Network Magazine guarantees dinner can be on the table in only 35 minutes by opting for a few prepared ingredients that don’t sacrifice flavor. Instead of making and rolling pierogi dough from scratch, then stuffing with homemade filling, the recipe suggests you start with store-bought pierogi — this will save you some time in the kitchen. Just toss the onion-and-cheese-filled dumplings in butter, then bake them until golden, and serve them with tender curry-laced cabbage and a cool lime-yogurt sauce for a homemade meal in a flash.

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Back to Basics — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, October 27th, 2013


Given the unexpected sabotages, limited time on the clock and looming judgment with which they’re forced to adapt, it’s likely that when chefs compete on Cutthroat Kitchen, they’re cooking under a crushing amount of stress and pressure. For some, that anxiety may serve only to better their game, forcing them to work smartly and efficiently, but for others, such a burden may get the better of them.

In this week’s competition, a chef’s inability to cope with the competition’s demands ultimately led to his or her exit. Judge Antonia Lofaso told Alton on his After-Show that the contestant’s Round 1 lasagna offering featured such grievous errors that she had no choice but to eliminate him or her on account of these seemingly elementary errors. Although inexperienced with making fresh pasta, this chef was forced to make pasta dough from scratch, but the end result proved “dense,” according to Antonia, and was only one part of an overall unsuccessful plate. “It was just poorly executed, everything on the dish,” she said, “from the cuts of the bell peppers to them not being cooked to pasta that was just completely inadequate.”

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Damaris Phillips Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, October 26th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsYou’ve seen her on Food Network Star, outlasting 11 rival competitors to become the Season 9 winner, and starting this Sunday at 10:30am/9:30c, she’ll star on her first-ever series, Southern at Heart. But Damaris Phillips remains relatively new to the Food Network family and perhaps a bit unknown to her fans. This Kentucky-born culinary school instructor is passionate about her large family, matchmaking in the kitchen and, of course, all things southern. But there’s more to know about Damaris, like her most-detested ingredient, favorite kitchen memory, go-to culinary tool and last supper must-have. FN Dish recently caught up with her in her hometown of Louisville, Ky., and found out the answers to these questions and others. Read on below to hear from Damaris, then browse photos to see her out on the town in Louisville.

What’s your Achilles’-heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Damaris Phillips: Button mushrooms.

What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who — details, please!
DP: I don’t have a most memorable, like one memorable meal, but we had brunch every single Sunday growing up, so when I think about eating with my family, I think about having the same food every Sunday.

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Host a Kid-Friendly Halloween Party

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 26th, 2013

Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster SammiesOn Halloween, kids — and many grownups — are excited to eat just one simple thing: candy. But while a little indulgence may indeed be called for on the holiday, most moms and dads insist on offering something other than chocolate bars and peanut butter bites to their littlest ghosts and goblins. This year, whether you’re hosting a pre-trick-or-treating get-together with the neighbors or simply making dinner for your family before heading out for the night, serve up a themed menu of spooky eats and drinks to celebrate. These family-friendly recipes below for grilled cheese and tomato soup, chicken lollipops and strawberry-orange punch go a long way in making sure kids’ bellies are full before they start collecting candy.

As comforting as it is hearty, Food Network Kitchens’ Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster Sammies (pictured above) is a top-rated recipe that features a Halloween-worthy twist on a kid-approved pairing: tomato soup and grilled cheese. Here the Kitchens puree tomato-basil soup into a smooth consistency, then serve the warming mixture alongside gooey cheddar-muenster grilled cheeses built on pumpernickel bread. To achieve the ghoulish designs pictured above, opt for a ghost-shaped cookie cutter when shaping the sandwiches.

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Steaks vs. Sports: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, October 25th, 2013

Restaurant DividedBrother and sister Larry and Laura Vecchio, and their mother, Antoinette, were being torn apart over the decision on how to rescue their failing Italian restaurant, Mia Famiglia. And they desperately needed a cohesive plan for the future — not a division in the business or their family. But that’s exactly what Rocco DiSpirito gave them when he arrived at their Long Island City, N.Y., restaurant.

Restaurant DividedOn the series premiere of Restaurant Divided, Rocco and his team transformed the space within Mia Famiglia into two separate restaurants: Larry’s Communal Steak, a chic yet comfortable steakhouse with communal seating, and Laura’s Mac House, a Yankees-clad sports bar specializing in macaroni and cheese. For one night, both eateries served customers side by side and tried to prove their long-term staying power. After hearing from food critics, listening to customers and tasting the food from both menus, however, Rocco decided that the steakhouse offered the Vecchios the best chance for success, and he ultimately reopened Mia Famiglia as Larry’s Communal Steak.

Cast your vote below

#TBT: Aarón Sánchez

by in Food Network Chef, October 24th, 2013

Aaron SanchezIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

While Aarón Sánchez now spends his Food Network days sending chefs’ dishes straight to the Chopping Block as a judge on Chopped, some of his earliest on the network were spent as the host of Chefs vs. City alongside Chris Cosentino. The guys traveled to a new city each week and challenged local culinary industry insiders to a race against the clock in their own city. Eating, drinking and discovering both famous and little-known dishes and hot spots in the area, Aarón and Chris attempted to prove they could outlast the locals and complete the required battles before their rivals.

Roger Mooking and Aaron SanchezAarón took his competitive spirit with him to Heat Seekers, which found him and Roger Mooking face-to-face with some of spiciest dishes in the country. The challenge on their series was simple: See if you can handle the heat. It was up to Aarón and Roger to track down restaurants known for tongue-scorching foods and sample them firsthand — sometimes ending in clean plates, other times in tears.

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Restaurant Revisited: Bring Mama Back at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant

by in Shows, October 23rd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“My job here is intense, to say the least,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant in St. Louis. This nine-year-old Italian eatery was once profitable, making nearly $1 million in revenue, but after employee theft resulted in more than $70,000 in losses, the business faded, and now husband-and-wife owners Lance and Andrea Ervin face nearly $600,000 worth of debt. But beyond their financial struggles, Andrea was overwhelmed by her situation, so Robert’s mission was twofold: Give Mama Campisi’s the tools it needs to succeed again, and help Andrea and her family regain their trust in their restaurant. After just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Campisi’s with an inspired menu, a transformed interior and the skills needed to ensure future profits. FN Dish checked in with Andrea and Lance to find how the business is doing today.

“Business seems to have picked up,” Andrea said. “We were able get a couple [people] paid in full, however, due to the repairs that had to be done, we have been at a standstill right now.”

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Connected: Wired Magazine Digs Up Tasty Food Data with FoodNetwork.com

by in News, October 23rd, 2013

Wired Pie ChartIt’s a big month at Food Network. As the network celebrates its 20th birthday and its fans gear up for the year’s biggest food holiday, Thanksgiving, its website took the spotlight in Wired’s November issue. Wired’s editors looked at the site’s nearly 50,000 recipes and its almost 1 million comments to answer, once and for all, questions about what foods Americans are cooking and how. With kid-friendly classics like hamburgers and pasta with meatballs to dressed-up dishes like risotto, creme brulee and souffles — and seemingly every imaginable meal in between — FoodNetwork.com’s database offered the ultimate one-stop resource for number-crunching of the recipe sort. What resulted was an impressive eight-page spread: one of the most exhaustive data collections to date and a better understanding of what we’re putting on the family table.

Just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Wired investigated one of the most celebrated slivers of FoodNetwork.com — Thanksgiving Central — to offer “The Only Thanksgiving Guide You Want.” This course-by-course breakdown encompasses not only deliciously simple seasonal recipes and how-tos to help you shop for these dishes, but also interactive charts that allow for easy decision-making when selecting between the many mashed potato, stuffing, gravy and pie offerings available. Just take your pick among recipes that require “Marathon Shopping” and “Slaving at the Stove,” or opt for the “Labors of Love” or something “Quick and Easy,” and serve up a holiday-worthy feast in a flash.

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