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.

Frugal Spending, Big Rewards — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, September 22nd, 2013

It’s no surprise that to be successful on Cutthroat Kitchen competitors ought to come equipped with a strategy for how they’ll approach the contest, as Alton’s culinary mind game requires more of contestants than basic kitchen chops and the ability to work under pressure. For a chef to be victorious, he or she will need a strategy, and this week’s champion ultimately claimed the win thanks in part to a method of restrained bidding. After three rounds and only two wins at the auction, the top chef left with $11,800, a grand sum compared to the small wages some rivals have taken home. Alton and judge Jet Tila dished on such an approach to the contest during the latest installment of the host’s After-Show. “You want to walk out of here with your dough,” Alton explained. Jet added, “You’re not here just to spend, spend, spend to sabotage people.” On several past episodes, chefs have gotten caught up in back-and-forth bidding wars only to “spend their way to victory,” as Alton noted. This week’s victor, however, claimed just two wins at the auction, guaranteeing a take-home sum of $11,800, a large figure compared to the small wages some rivals earn after three rounds of seemingly careless spending. Read more

Award-Worthy Emmy Menu: Winning Dishes Inspired by Honorees

by in Recipes, September 21st, 2013

Red Carpet CocktailsThis Sunday night the most famous faces of the small screen will gather in Los Angeles for the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards to celebrate a year of outstanding performances on television. Your favorite celebrities, like Tina Fey, Jeff Daniels, Michael J. Fox and Sofia Vergara, will strut their stuff on the red carpet, and while you’ll likely be watching the drama unfold from your living room couch and not outside the Nokia Theatre, you can surely honor the nominees at home with a themed menu of eats and drinks.

Cheese FondueStart the party with flutes of Food Network Magazine’s Red Carpet Cocktails (pictured above), bubbly adults-only beverages featuring pomegranate juice, gin and champagne, and serve a simple appetizer alongside them. Tyler’s Cheese Fondue (pictured right), made with Swiss and Gruyere cheeses, is a richly decadent pick and similar to what the Drapers served during the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men, nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Tyler accompanies his creamy pot with an array of bite-size dippers, like bread, apples and vegetables.

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Best 5 Family-Friendly Tailgate Recipes

by in Recipes, September 19th, 2013

Chicken ChiliFootball season is in full swing, and with that comes weekends spent huddled around the television watching your favorite teams face off at the 50-yard line. No matter who you’re rooting for on the field, it’s important to have a spread of touchdown-worthy eats on the sidelines of your living room to celebrate game day. While most tailgates feature a buffet of beer, spicy wings and fried jalapeno peppers — three decidedly un-kid-friendly items — it’s indeed possible to pull off a family-oriented menu. When cooking for fans of all ages, stick to tried-and-true favorites plus finger food classics, and if you’re concerned about the heat levels in any dish, simply adjust the spice to taste. Check out Food Network’s top-five family-friendly tailgate recipes below to find a mix of sweet and savory picks that are sure to win cheers from your guests.

5. PB&J Chocolate Bars — Take the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly to the next indulgent level by making layered dessert squares, featuring a buttery peanut-cocoa base, a filling of grape jelly and sweetened peanut butter, and a chocolate glaze topping.

4. Meatballs a la Pizzaiola — Giada bakes a surprise inside each one-bite meatball: a cube of creamy mozzarella cheese that becomes soft and deliciously gooey when bitten into.

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Jokes First, Cooking a Close Second — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, September 17th, 2013

Chris Santos, Geoffrey Zakarian and Scott Conant may be revered judges on Chopped and three of the most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs in New York City, but when they come together in the Chopped kitchen for a friendly face-off, they don’t hesitate to let their sillier sides show. On tonight’s all-new Chopped After Hours, the guys, led by host Ted Allen, were greeted with leftover ingredients — lasagna, a hamburger, a fortune cookie and steamed broccoli — and only 20 minutes on the clock to give these precooked dishes a second chance on a plate. While Chris, Geoffrey and Scott surely let their culinary chops shine in making such inspired dishes as a breaded lasagna bite, an Italian-focused sandwich and a family-friendly frittata, respectively, they weren’t shy about having fun with each other.

Just minutes into cooking, Ted and Chris took advantage of the opportunity when Scott was away from his station to playfully mess with the chef, hiding from him his chopped burger patty. “Someone stole my hamburger!” he exclaimed later, before Ted advised him to check beneath his station to find his missing ingredient.

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Watch: A Family and Kids Fall-Themed Google+ Hangout

by in Community, Family, September 17th, 2013


Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabian, Catherine McCord of Weelicious.com and Dan Pashman of CookingChannelTV.com’s Web series, Good to Know, chatted about all things back-to-school, tailgating and autumn cooking. Click the play button on the video above to watch, and follow Food Network on Google+ to join the conversation.

Check out Food Network’s Back-to-School Central for easy lunchbox recipes and snack solutions, and browse the Family & Kids Headquarters for more family-friendly meal ideas.

Saag Paneer — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 16th, 2013

Saag PaneerLike so many dishes on the menus at your favorite takeout restaurants, saag paneer may be something you indulge in only occasionally, when the need for a quick delivery dinner is simply too great to ignore. But when you have time to spare, preparing this traditional Indian dinner, featuring spiced spinach (saag) and freshly made cheese (paneer), is indeed doable at home, especially when using Food Network Magazine’s easy-to-follow recipe.

The secret to making authentic Saag Paneer (pictured above) is starting with quality cheese, and while you may not be able to pick up paneer at your local grocery store, you can surely craft a batch from scratch using just a handful of everyday ingredients. After warming up whole milk, mix in plain yogurt and a splash of lemon juice to create cheese curds. These need to be drained of excess moisture, then chilled in the refrigerator until they form a firm block, at which point the cheese will be sturdy enough to be deep-fried. Tossed with creamy garlic-coriander spinach, these warm cubes of golden-brown cheese are deliciously crispy yet tender. Served with a simple preparation of rice, this bold, flavorful dish becomes a hearty dinner.

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Freezer-Friendly Standbys — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, September 14th, 2013

English Muffin PizzasNow that the school year is well under way, chances are your morning and evening schedules are becoming ever more hectic. Between early carpools, afternoon dentist appointments and late soccer practices, it can seem almost impossible to make time for cooking breakfast and dinner — let alone packing school lunches. And on those days, it’s important to have quick-fix meals waiting for you in the freezer. The key to getting the most out of your freezer is making sure it’s always stocked with a range of ingredients and ready-to-go dishes; try to dedicate some time on the weekend to preparing and freezing foods so they’ll be there when you need them. Check out a few of Food Network’s go-to easy-to-freeze recipes for breakfast, snack time and dinner below to find favorites that kids and grownups alike will enjoy.

Breakfast:
Sometimes just getting out the door in the morning can seem like a feat, and on days like that, it’s best to not have to worry about your kids’ breakfasts. Food Network Kitchens takes the guesswork out of morning meals with its Freezer to Oven Berry Muffins, studded with juicy blueberries and finished with a cinnamon crumb topping before freezing. While this recipe yields 12 muffins, you only need to bake as many as you need at a time while leaving the others in the freezer.

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Cutthroat Kitchen Look-Back: Memorable Sabotages in Review

by in Shows, September 12th, 2013

Once the competitors on Cutthroat Kitchen complete their brief 60 seconds of pantry shopping, they can’t say for certain what will come next, blissfully unaware of the ingredient swaps, time freezes and utensil prohibitions with which they will be forced to comply when cooking. Host Alton Brown‘s deliciously mischievous competition is just four weeks into its premiere season, yet chefs have already experienced interferences like prepared pie crust in place of pizza dough, the inability to use salt in their taco dishes and the challenge of fashioning their only utensils out of aluminum foil.

Two of the seemingly most insurmountable sabotages, however, occurred in the first two weeks of the series, when Alton revealed French wine and blue cheese, which had to be featured in one chef’s French toast preparation, and bright-green sour apple gummy candies, which were to be used in place of fresh apples when making a dish of pork chops and apple sauce. What happened next in both instances was a no-nonsense bidding war, with several contestants willing to go to great lengths — and exorbitant sums — to avoid cooking with these products themselves.

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Best 5 Slow-Cooker Recipes

by in Recipes, September 12th, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef PaprikashOn days when you know there’s not going to be any time to devote to cooking, there’s just one tool that makes it easy to get dinner on the table quickly: the slow cooker. This user-friendly gadget is perhaps the most go-to kitchen appliance in many families’ homes, as it will do most of the mealtime preparation for you. Once you slice and dice a few vegetables, season the meat, and add spices and liquids, all you have left to do is flip on the machine; you can leave the machine unattended for hours, then come home to a ready-to-eat meal. While soups and stews are classic slow-cooker favorites, the machine’s versatility is far-reaching, as it’s able to turn out pastas, pork and even candy with ease. Check out Food Network’s top-five slow-cooker recipes below to find both sweet and savory dishes that are easy enough to make on hectic weekdays.

5. Slow-Cooker Chocolate Candy — Trisha uses just four ingredients to make her salty-sweet treat, studded with peanuts for a welcome crunch. She lets the candy cook in the slow cooker before spooning it into cupcake liners and letting it cool.

4. Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos — Guarantee moist and tender shredded pork by cooking the meat in a richly flavorful sauce of pureed chipotles, honey and vinegar, and let your family members build their own tacos by serving the pork with a spread of classic toppings.

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Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 9th, 2013

Fried Green Tomato SandwichesBefore another tomato season comes to a close and you say goodbye to summer’s fresh caprese salads, bruschetta, gazpacho and pasta sauce, you should surely indulge in one of the season’s simplest pleasures: a fried green tomato sandwich. Nothing more than an unripe tomato, a green tomato is firm and drier than its red and yellow counterparts, which means it can sustain a coating of batter and won’t fall apart in hot oil.

A dressed-up version of the original, Food Network Magazine’s recipe for easy-to-make Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches (pictured above) features just a few key components: green tomatoes, of course, plus a creamy, spicy sauce, sliced bread (something slightly soft works best so it absorbs the sauce) and a topping of yellow and red tomatoes. The juiciness of ripe tomatoes works well for the topping, as their moisture adds welcome sweetness. To add extra flavor to the green beauties, Food Network Magazine pickles them with dill before frying, then triple coats them in layers of egg wash and cornmeal with chili powder. Once the green tomatoes golden brown and crispy on the outside, build the sandwich with both the fried and raw tomatoes and a smear of mayonnaise-scallion sauce. This spread features a few dashes of hot and Worcestershire sauces, which together create a tangy taste that cuts through the richness of the dish.

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