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.

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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All Aboard Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Express

by in Shows, September 26th, 2013

Robert Irvine's Restaurant ExpressRobert Irvine may be known for rescuing America’s most dire eateries from the brink of failure on Restaurant: Impossible, but this fall he’s on a new mission: to find the most promising budding entrepreneur among a crop of restaurant hopefuls.

On his all-new series, Restaurant Express, Robert will challenge nine finalists to survive a culinary road trip across the West by proving not only their fearless culinary chops, but their business-savvy mindset, as well, if they want to keep their seat on the Restaurant Express bus. Week after week, it’s up to the contestants to demonstrate their staying power and impress Robert — a notoriously no-nonsense chef and experienced entrepreneur — by excelling in the host’s demanding challenges, both in the kitchen and out.

At the end of the journey, only one contestant will still be on the bus, and that person will have earned the title of executive chef and a leadership position on the team at the flagship restaurant The M Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.

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Best 5 Butternut Squash Soup Recipes

by in Recipes, September 25th, 2013

Squash Soup in Pumpkin BowlsNow that fall is officially here, the days are getting shorter and the nights chillier, which means it’s once again time to welcome warm, comforting soups to the table. Instead of sticking with everyday chicken noodle or the usual blend of broccoli and cheddar, take advantage of fall produce by opting for butternut squash soup. This autumn superstar vegetable is packed with good-for-you vitamins, and when it’s roasted and pureed into a silky soup, the results are creamy and satisfying — ideal for simple lunches and make-ahead dinners alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes below for butternut squash soup to find classic and creative bowls from some of your favorite chefs, like Ina, Giada and Alton.

5. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments — The star of Ina’s curry-scented squash-apple soup is a toppings bar featuring fresh scallions, sweetened coconut and crunchy cashews.

4. Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini — Finished with a slice of cheesy toast, Giada’s smooth puree is made extra flavorful thanks to sauteed garlic, carrots and onions, plus chopped fresh sage leaves.

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Chefs Unite for SHARE’s Second Helping of Life

by in Events, Food Network Chef, September 25th, 2013

SHAREIn the midst of the scary and often isolating world that is cancer diagnoses and treatments, SHARE, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, aims to shed light and foster a compassionate community with the help of volunteers who staff phone lines and offer individualized support for women battling breast and ovarian cancers. The friendly, reassuring voices answering calls from patients, families and friends are often those of survivors themselves, which makes them keenly experienced in navigating the uncertainty that lies ahead. Each year, female chefs from around the city gather to raise money to further SHARE’s mission of care at A Second Helping of Life, a walk-around tasting event showcasing their deliciously inspired eats and drinks.

Corn FlanThis year marks the tenth anniversary of A Second Helping of Life, and to celebrate this milestone, Chopped judge and Next Iron Chef: Redemption runner-up Amanda Freitag spearheaded the event as the executive chef. “I’m just supporting this amazing organization like I do every year … I just find it to be one of the best organizations for women who are going through this,” Amanda told FN Dish on Monday night at Manhattan’s Pier Sixty. When she wasn’t chatting with guests or graciously posing with fans for photos, Amanda worked alongside her culinary team to plate individual corn flans, creamy yet light bites served alongside a watercress salad with crumbled ricotta salata. “I wanted to capture the little bits of summer that we had left in the corn,” she explained of the inspiration behind her dish.

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Delivering on a Frequent Request — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, September 24th, 2013

After Hours battles task Chopped judges with the same rules and restraints as the competitors — identical basket ingredients, limited time on the clock and the stipulation that they must use every mandatory product in some way — which means that when they take to the kitchen, they’re bringing with them the experience of judging hundreds of rounds of competition. They often remark on the show that a contestant’s dish lacks seasoning, is overcooked or is too simple, but when it’s their turn to cook, will they be able to succeed where others have failed, and will they deliver on the frequent requests they make of the competitors?

On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped After Hours, Amanda proved that she can indeed walk the walk, if you will, in the kitchen, when she decided to bake a cake for her dessert. “I’ve always wanted everyone to bake,” she told Ted, “so I find it only fair for me to bake.” Her dish, like Aarón’s and Marcus’ dishes, had to feature chicken-themed ingredients, including chicken suckers, farm-fresh eggs, fruitcake and chicken feet, but she didn’t let the oddity of these products stop her from the mission. After a quick 30 minutes, she ultimately proved that it’s possible to bake — and bake well — in the Chopped , as her fruitcake with a sweet marshmallow mousse “melts in your mouth, ” according to Aarón. “I want to put my money where my mouth is. I am always begging the chefs to bake … so I baked,” she told her peers when presenting the dessert.

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Grown-Up Grilled Cheese — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 23rd, 2013

Roasted Poblano and Mushroom Grilled CheeseButtery, gooey and warm, grilled cheese is a timeless comfort food, but this signature sandwich goes beyond white bread and slices of American cheese. While the tomato soup-paired classic is indeed a favorite among kids — and, of course, adults at times — it’s easy to dress up this between-bread creation and turn it into a grown-up meal by making a few simple ingredient swaps. Think of flavor combinations you know work well and use those to inspire your filling picks. Re-create the taste of French onion soup by layering sweet, soft caramelized onions with nutty Gruyere cheese. Craving a bite that’s both sweet and savory? Try combining indulgent Camembert with crisp apple slices and caramel sauce.

Food Network Kitchens embraces smoky flavors in its recipe for Roasted Poblano and Mushroom Grilled Cheese (pictured above), an easy-to-make dish that can serve as a simple dinner or a go-to lunch. After sauteing earthy, meaty portobellos, layer them atop thick-cut Cuban sandwich bread with creamy Monterey Jack cheese and sliced peppers, then finish the sandwich with a second slice of bread, this time brushed with tangy chipotle in adobo puree (it’s the crimson-colored puree inside a can of chipotle peppers in adobo). The secret to this recipe is roasting the poblanos — all it takes is a few minutes under the broiler or over an open flame to char the skin on these mild peppers and replace their usual bite with a tender consistency. Be sure to brush the outer sides of both slices of bread with butter to guarantee a deliciously golden-brown, crunchy exterior.

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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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