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.

Cooking Without Necessities — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 29th, 2013


While Cutthroat Kitchen judges are quick to taste the food before them in each round of evilicious competition on the show, they don’t know exactly how that dish came to be, what ingredients were used to prepare it and which methods were undertaken to produce it. For help in clarifying the unknown, host Alton Brown sits down with the judges in his Web-exclusive After-Show to break down the ins and outs of the challenges; this week, he and Antonia Lofaso chatted about the latest contest to unfold.

Traditional wonton wrappers may seem like a must-have ingredient for chefs tasked with preparing pot stickers, but in Round 1, three of the four competitors were forced to work with wontons in other forms, like honey-soaked wontons, frozen wontons and wonton soup. Thinking about the offerings she had just tasted, Antonia correctly guessed that Chef Velez was the one fortunate enough to work with the fresh product. Although she was initially hesitant about Chef Miranda’s dish, which was crafted out of frozen wontons and featured cabbage-wrapped bites, Antonia ultimately told the finalist, “I’m not mad at it.” Later she explained to Alton: “When someone says ‘pot sticker,’ you have this idea in your head of exactly what you want. So when I walk over and there’s cabbage, and I’m like, am I going to get that texture on the outside? Am I going to get that little bit of, like, char? And then I really enjoyed it.”

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A Southern New Year’s Celebration: Ringing in 2014 with Damaris Phillips

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 29th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsWhile some may be content to watch the Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve from the comfort of their pajamas while cuddled on the couch, Southern at Heart host Damaris Phillips is no such celebrator. In fact, this Louisville, Ky., native dons her most-elaborate outfit and her fanciest footwear for a night on the town as she prepares to ring in the new year. FN Dish caught up with Damaris toward the end of this year to find out more about her New Year’s traditions and best memory of the holiday. Read on below to learn her New Year’s resolution from last year and get her top tips for easy party fare.

How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve these days?
Damaris Phillips: I love going out. I love getting dressed up fancy. I love sparkly clothing. Like, there’s not a lot of occasions to wear sparkly heals, and I have maybe 15 pairs, so I love New Year’s because it’s the perfect time to put on sequins and rhinestones and glitter and get real dressed up. And I love to dance; I like to go to places where they have, like, an old-time ball kind of New Year’s, and my gentleman loves New Year’s. Like, it’s his favorite holiday, so I know how special it is for him, and it’s always fun to be celebrating together. I come up with New Year’s resolutions. For sure.

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Best 5 New Year’s Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 28th, 2013

Roasted Shrimp CocktailWhether your New Year’s plans include mingling with friends at a swanky late-night bash or watching the ball drop from the comfort of your living-room couch, it’s best to be surrounded by a spread of celebratory eats and drinks as you say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in the New Year. Champagne is a must-have sipper when the clock strikes midnight, but beyond straight bubbly, what munchies and cocktails should you serve? Look to Food Network’s top-five recipes for New Year’s to find sweet and savory picks plus a dressed-up cocktail from some of your favorite chefs, like the Neelys, Rachael, Giada and Ina.

5. The Neelys’ Pigs in a Blanket — Made with just a handful of everyday ingredients, the Neelys’ two-bite snack is ready to eat in a hurry thanks to store-bought crescent dough, which serves as the blanket for mini hot dogs.

4. Whoopee Pies — The beauty of these part-cake, part-cookie treats is that they’re eaten like a sandwich — with soft cocoa shells surrounding fluffy marshmallow filling — so guests can pick them up to enjoy while they’re mingling.

Get the top-three recipes

Watch the Top 5 Owner Arguments on Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, December 24th, 2013

Whether or not they’d admit it, most owners who welcome Robert Irvine to their eatery on Restaurant: Impossible realize the need for change in their business. But that doesn’t stop some from fighting with Robert every step of the transformation, yelling at him in frustration or embarrassment, accusing him of sabotage or resisting his help along the way. True to his mission of giving restaurants a second chance at success, Robert embraces the challenges these owners pose and continues to offer them his and his team’s support, even if that means getting screamed at along the way.

Click the play button on the video above to watch the top-five owner arguments ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible and see Robert go head-to-head with business owners, then catch up on more of the top-five video roundups from the show for a look at the dirtiest restaurants, most-emotional reveals and best sledgehammer moments.

Bobby’s Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 23rd, 2013

Cauliflower-Goat Cheese GratinVegetarian eating during the holidays can be tricky, as so many classic main dishes are meaty picks, like turkey, ham and beef. If you’re hosting the celebration this year, you can plan ahead and make a selection of meatless favorites (in addition to beefier items, if you’d like). But if you’ll be gathering at someone else’s house and can’t guarantee what the host will be serving, it’s a good idea to bring at least one vegetarian dish to pass; this way you’ll know you have at least one dish to eat come dinnertime.

Bobby’s Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin (pictured above) is a go-to pick, as it’s every bit as rich and satisfying as a traditional main dish, but it’s wholly meat-free. The beauty of this casserole is that it’s relatively hands-off to prepare. After arranging cauliflower florets alongside a trio of creamy, nutty cheeses and decadent heavy cream, he simply bakes the dish until the vegetables are soft. Your vegetarian guests will enjoy having a comforting, filling dish available, while meat eaters will appreciate the creamy cheese sauce coating each floret.

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Best 5 Quick Christmas Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 23rd, 2013

Lemon Pasta with Roasted ShrimpWhether you find yourself hosting unexpected holiday guests or are suddenly tasked with bringing a dish to pass at a party, it’s a good idea to have in your recipe arsenal those crowd-pleasing dishes that look deliciously elaborate and taste just as impressive but are, in fact, a cinch to prepare. When last-minute get-togethers arise, reach for Food Network’s top-five quick recipes for Christmas, a collection of celebration-worthy classics from some of your favorite chefs, like Rachael, Robert and Ina. Perhaps best of all, these go-to picks can be on the table in less than 35 minutes.

5. Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Reduction — Pork and apples are two ingredients simply better together, and here they’re combined when a sweet and tangy maple syrup-apple cider vinegar sauce is spooned over juicy tenderloins.

4. Creamed Spinach — With a rich and creamy sauce subtly spiced with nutmeg, this traditional steakhouse side dish can be made easily at home with fresh spinach and will round out any entree.

Get the top-three recipes

Hand Masher Gone Wrong and Indoor Campfires — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 22nd, 2013


For the first time this season, Antonia Lofaso took her turn judging four competitors in the latest round of evilicious contest on Cutthroat Kitchen, and because no judge is privy to the bidding for sabotages and cooking, she joined Alton Brown on his After-Show to learn what had gone down.

The chefs had to create gnocchi during Round 1 of the competition; though a hand masher may have been an appropriate tool for the job, it became an obstacle for Chef Gentile when he was forced to have it duct taped to his arm for the duration of the round. “He was looking for garnish that was going to build a dish,” Antonia told Alton, realizing that this impediment is what prevented Chef Gentile from breaking down ingredients and cooking with more precision.

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Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 22nd, 2013

Maple-Mustard Roasted SalmonThe holidays are all about indulgence, but in the midst of enjoying sweet Christmas cookies, savory glazed hams and a celebration-worthy cocktail or two, it can be nice to sit down to a better-for-you meal. Just ahead of the Christmas holiday, check out this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week to find a healthful salmon supper that is made with just a handful of ingredients and is ready to eat in only 20 minutes.

Start with good-for-you salmon fillets, and for a bright punch of flavor, brush them with a tangy mixture of Dijon, light mayonnaise and maple syrup, then bake them until they’re cooked and tender on the inside. For added freshness, sprinkle chopped cilantro on each piece of fish before serving.

For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Get Healthy board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Food Network Kitchens’ Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

Shop for a Cause: Last-Minute Gift Ideas to Benefit Share Our Strength

by in Community, December 22nd, 2013

Share Our StrengthWhile Christmas is only three days away, the Food Network Store is still stocked with last-minute gifts and seasonal stocking stuffers that will wow the unchecked names on your shopping list. Best of all, if you shop among these gifts in the store, 100 percent of all proceeds will go directly to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, a national movement committed to ending childhood hunger in America.

Pick up a few pairs of aviator- or Malibu-style sunglasses, or, if you’re shopping for little ones, opt for youth T-shirts in a bright-orange color. Check out all of the No Kid Hungry Holiday gifts here.

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Restaurant Revisited: Goombazz Gone Wild at Goombazz Big City Eatzz

by in Shows, December 18th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleFacing nearly $300,000 of debt, Sally Fatzz and Brenda Brewer turned to Robert Irvine for a restaurant rescue at their eclectic one-year-old restaurant, Goombazz Big City Eatzz, specializing in regional cuisines from around the country. While Sally had enjoyed prior ventures in the restaurant industry, Brenda was new to the restaurant scene, but both recognized their need for a Restaurant: Impossible

transformation if their business was to have any chance at future success. It didn’t take Robert long to realize that this Rock Island, Ill., restaurant was failing largely on account of Sally’s out-of-control temper, which ultimately led to unhappy customers and a dissatisfied staff. With a budget of just $10,000 and only two days to work, Robert and his team overhauled the interior of Goombazz, updated the eatery’s menu, and began mending Sally and Brenda’s relationship. Read on below to hear from both owners and find out how their restaurant is doing today.

Since the transformation, “business is up,” Sally says. “We went from $800 to about $1,200 on weekdays, and [on] Friday and Saturday, $3,000.” He adds that “everyone loves the new decor.” Brenda explains: “The floor is amazing, the bridge mural is beautiful, we love the back bar, but [we] had to add our own lighting, and the kitchen pass-through window being closed up is my favorite change! I also love the fresh flowers on the tables.”

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