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.

Wild Sabotages Revealed — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, October 6th, 2013


Some weeks on Alton’s After-Show the focus of Alton’s chat with the judge revolves primarily around the finalists’ abilities — or inabilities — to cook within the confines of Cutthroat Kitchen, particularly the sabotages. But other times it’s the sabotages themselves that dominate the conversation, almost too shocking or simply laughable for the judges to believe. That was the case this week as Alton revealed to returning judge Jet Tila the roster of culinary interferences to befall the chefs.

Perhaps most appalling to Jet was the ingredient swap-out in Round 2, when the competitors were tasked with preparing a dish of sausage and peppers. Instead of being able to cook with everyday salt, pepper, spices and herbs, the contestant to receive this sabotage would be forced to use jelly beans flavored with tastes like habanero, wasabi, buttered popcorn and bacon. “That’s genius,” Jet admitted after a hearty laugh, before wincing at the thought of incorporating such oddball flavors into a dish. “I would have bid the farm and torpedoed somebody.” He soon realized how the unlucky chef to receive this sabotage ultimately offered a too-sweet plate of sausage and peppers. “The sweet … sticky sweet — it worked,” Jet said, reflecting on the contest. “I almost felt bad offering it. Almost,” Alton told him later.

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Chasing Comfort — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, October 6th, 2013


While many Chopped baskets may include a few common ingredients and just one oddball product, this week’s Halloween-themed episode featured baskets filled with extra-spooky offerings and downright ghoulish goods. Judges Alex, Chris and Marc took their places in the kitchen for an After Hours competition,

and they faced the challenge of cooking with an appetizer basket made up of eels, congealed pig’s blood, candy bats and potato crisps.

Instead of letting the strangeness of these ingredients get the better of them, the judges went back to what they know and the cooking styles with which they’re most familiar in order to turn out classic plates — as classic as they could be with pig’s blood and eel, after all. Potatoes are well within Marc’s comfort zone, so he was quick to feature them prominently in his offering. “So we’re going to have some potatoes — that is a shock, coming from Marc Murphy,” Ted joked with the judge, who featured a casserole-like offering studded with pig’s blood.

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Weekday Treats: Desserts Done in Minutes — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, October 5th, 2013

Instant Chocolate CakeWhether it’s because of an A+ spelling test, a hat trick on the soccer field or a pristinely cleaned bedroom, every child — and grownup — deserves to be treated to something special once in a while, and for many kids, that surprise may come in the form of dessert. Instead of resorting to store-bought goodies to save time in the kitchen, stick with from-scratch treats, like these homemade desserts, ready to eat in mere minutes.

A single-serving indulgence that demands no baking at all, Food Network Magazine’s Instant Chocolate Cake (pictured above) is a family-friendly pick that takes just 10 minutes to make. This rich, moist cake is prepped with traditional pastry ingredients, like cocoa, flour and vanilla extract, but it’s cooked quickly in the microwave instead of the oven. Perhaps the best part about this go-to recipe is that all of the ingredients are simply stirred — without the help of a mixer — in the same oversize mug in which it’s served.

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#TBT: Rachael Ray

by in Food Network Chef, October 3rd, 2013

Rachael RayIt’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.

You may know Rachael Rayas one half of the dueling powerhouses on the Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity and Kids Cook-Off series, or as the friendly face in the kitchen showing you how to make meals for a Week in a Day. But before she tackled these projects or launched her own lifestyle magazine and syndicated daytime talk show, Rachael was a 30-minute maven, the queen of quick meals who could dish up a full, hearty supper in just half an hour.

Rachael RayBorn in Glen Falls, N.Y., Rachael grew up in a food-focused family, then moved to New York City to run Macy’s candy counter and ultimately the store’s fresh-foods department. While in the city, she managed a specialty foods shop as well, but eventually returned upstate; it was this relocation that finally led her to the concept of 30-minute meals. She began teaching cooking classes called “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals” at the Albany market for which she was working, and given their enormous local popularity, it was only a matter of time before a regional television station welcomed her on board, launching her career in the television industry.

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Best 5 Applesauce Recipes

by in Recipes, October 2nd, 2013

Homemade ApplesauceWhile some jarred products (think ketchup and mustard) may indeed be best enjoyed straight from their store-bought bottles, applesauce isn’t among them, as it’s both simple and quick to make from scratch. All it takes to prepare a batch is a few crisp apples and a pinch of sugar, plus butter for richness and a bit of citrus; from there, you can dress up your recipe with warm spices, like cinnamon, or a glug of liqueur. Check out Food Network’s top-five applesauce recipes from Ina, the Neelys, Alton and more Food Network chefs to find classic and creative ways to turn autumn’s bounty of apples into a comforting seasonal dish.

5. The Neelys’ Homemade Applesauce — For added apple flavor in their 25-minute recipe, the Neelys stir apple cider into their simple mixture of fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks.

4. Plum Applesauce — Juicy red plums add both color and sweetness to this big-batch applesauce, easily prepared in a rice cooker in just one hour.

Get the top-three recipes

Sunny’s “Scrambled Eggs with Personality” — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 30th, 2013

San Antonio MigasForget about the dry, tough scrambled eggs of breakfasts past. Sunny Anderson is introducing a new recipe that promises light, fluffy results full of flavor every time. Packed with crunchy tortilla strips, tender vegetables and pepper Jack cheese, her San Antonio Migas (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine are next-level eggs with Southwestern flair. “Migas are scrambled eggs with personality and texture,” Sunny recently told the magazine, which means they’re similar to the classic morning meal your family craves but dressed up with creative ingredients and textures.

The secret to making migas is layering flavors and incorporating them into whisked eggs before they’re scrambled. To start her 20-minute recipe, Sunny sautes tortilla strips until they’re buttery and crisp, then adds colorful bell peppers, green chiles and sweet onions. Together, the chips and vegetables will offer both crunchy and tender textures in the finished dish, while the eggs will be soft after just a few minutes of stirring. Be sure to lower the heat on the stove once you add the eggs to the pan, as too high a flame can dry them out quickly. Before serving, mix in chopped tomatoes, then top with creamy cheese for a fresh, bold finish.

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Mastering the Garnish — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, September 29th, 2013


No matter the competition, judges aren’t shy about their desire to receive thoughtfully plated dishes. After all, the saying goes that we eat with our eyes before our mouths, and it’s important for food to look as appetizing as it tastes. But oftentimes contestants take the notion of inspired plates too far, opting to include edible — or not — garnishes atop their offerings. In a supposed effort to showcase their commitment to elegance and simple visual appeal, they end up self-sabotaging what would have been a fine meal with unnecessary toppings.

A frequent judge on Cutthroat Kitchen and Iron Chef America, Simon Majumdar knows what he likes to see on a plate, and superfluous finishes is not on his list of must-haves. In this week’s battle, several chefs learned the hard way that too much of a garnish — or the inclusion of something inedible — could be disastrous, as he explained on Alton’s After-Show. “Putting … what was for all intents and purposes a Christmas tree atop your steak is not a good idea,” Simon said of the oversize sprig of rosemary on one contestant’s steak. “Chefs really need to learn how to garnish when they’re doing a competition like this.”

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All-in-One Meals for Quick Dinners — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 28th, 2013

Cheesy Gnocchi CasseroleWhile intricately prepared dishes with multiple components may be exciting to cook for special occasions or weekend projects, busy school nights are no time to commit to making a complicated meal. On these hectic evenings when you feel especially pressed for time, stick with all-in-one dishes to guarantee a stress-free dinnertime. These one-dish offerings have multiple meal parts — like proteins, starches and vegetables — which means that you can serve your family a complete dinner by prepping only one recipe.

Kids and kids-at-heart appreciate the creamy comfort of melted cheese and potatoes, which makes Food Network Kitchens’ Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole with Ham and Peas (pictured above) a family-friendly staple. This go-to supper is a cinch to prepare in a hurry, as there’s no need to roll gnocchi from scratch. Just pick up a package of the store-bought variety, combine with deli ham and frozen peas, then top with Swiss cheese to create a simple dinner full of tried-and-true flavors.

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Food and Love: Better Together on Damaris Phillips’ Southern at Heart

by in Shows, September 27th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsBefore earning the most viewer votes to become the winner of Food Network Star, Season 9, Damaris Phillips told network executives that “Southern food is the food of love,” and this fall she’ll be able to prove that with the launch of her brand-new series, Southern at Heart, premiering Sunday, Oct. 27 at 10:30am/9:30c.

Similar to her date night-focused pilot on Star, Damaris’ Southern at Heart will showcase this Kentucky-born chef’s made-over Southern fare, featuring fresh twists and contemporary takes, plus offer can-do tips for cooks of every caliber. No matter if you’re a single gal or guy trying to impress that special someone, one half of a new couple or a spouse in a longtime marriage, Damaris’ contemporary recipes will have a place on your table, and her inspired ideas will be applicable to you.

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