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.

Giada De Laurentiis to Open First Restaurant in Las Vegas

by in Food Network Chef, News, August 22nd, 2013

Giada De LaurentiisYou’ve seen her host her own Food Network series, including Giada at Home, and mentor budding talent on Food Network Star. She’s an Emmy award winner, a six-time cookbook author and a mom. Now the Italian-born Giada De Laurentiis can add one more accomplishment to her long list of accolades: restaurant owner. After years of speculation regarding if and when this Food Network superstar would launch her very own eatery, Giada announced yesterday that she’s set to open her premiere restaurant in Las Vegas. “Ever since I was a little girl hanging out at my grandfather’s restaurant, I’ve dreamed of having a restaurant of my own,” Giada said. “Now, I couldn’t be more excited about working with Gansevoort Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment to turn this dream into a delicious reality.”

Perched high above the glamour of the shining Sin City, Giada’s restaurant will take over the second floor of the not-yet-opened Gansevoort Las Vegas and offer outdoor dining, plus striking views of the Las Vegas Strip. The menu, of course, will keep with the style of classic yet innovative Italian fare fans have become familiar with on Giada’s shows and in her cookbooks; freshly baked breads, antipasto, signature pastas, flatbreads and custom desserts are just a few of the specialties she’s promised to unveil at her sure-to-be-hot spot when it opens early next year.

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Best 5 Back-to-School Sandwiches

by in Family, Recipes, August 22nd, 2013

Ultimate Ham SandwichYou’ve exhausted the peanut butter and jelly routine and have rolled your final turkey and cheese wrap. Now what? When it comes to packing your kids’ lunchboxes, variety is key; after all, no child — or adult — looks forward to eating the same lunch day after day, so it’s important to keep their midday meal both interesting and easy to eat. Check out Food Network’s top-five sandwich selections below, and switch up your usual school lunch rotation by introducing these fresh, flavor-packed recipes that are as simple to prepare as traditional favorites and every bit as kid-friendly.

5. Chicken Salad Sandwiches — Put the leftovers from last night’s chicken dinner to work in this quick-fix salad sandwich, laced with a creamy mayonnaise-mustard dressing.

4. Mediterranean Tuna Salad — All it takes is two slices of bread to turn this chickpea- and tomato-studded tuna salad into a ready-to-go salad sandwich.

Get the top-three recipes

Quick Tomato-Peach Salad with Basil — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, August 19th, 2013

Tomato Peach Salad with BasilWhether you enjoy them straight off the pit, baked into cakes and cobblers, or turned into cool ice cream, there’s no denying that peaches are one of summer’s best — and juiciest — treats. Given their natural sweetness, peaches pair well in desserts, either on their own or with other stone fruits and berries, but it’s their sweet flavor that also makes them go-to ingredients in savory recipes. The secret to integrating them into salads, for example, is featuring them alongside complementary flavors that will balance their sweetness. Tomatoes are one such classic accompaniment to peaches, as they’re full of sugars but undoubtedly acidic as well.

Food Network Kitchens creates a Tomato Peach Salad with Basil (pictured above) that’s as simple to make in 10 quick minutes as it is full of light, fresh flavors. Since the salad is made with only six ingredients, it’s important to use the best versions of them you can find, especially when it comes to the heirloom tomatoes and ripe peaches. This recipe is largely no-cook, save for a basil puree that’s made by blanching fragrant basil leaves and processing them with fruity olive oil and seasonings; use this bright-green mixture as the base of the dish, and serve the tomatoes and peaches on top of it before finishing the plate with refreshing lime juice and whole basil leaves.

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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.

Get the top-three recipes

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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