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.

Caption It: High-Five

by , July 5th, 2013

Food Network Star, Season 9 FinalistsA finalist’s journey on Food Network Star is a rollercoaster-like experience of high and low moments, often fluctuating between flashes of intense pride and painful disappointments — sometimes within the same week. It’s up to them to revel in their personal progress and slices of victory, and recognize their flops, while, of course, avoiding becoming discouraged by the missteps. While some know how to take the difficult days in stride and learn from them, others find themselves hung up on thoughts of weakness or particularly critical feedback.

In the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode, it appears as though this group of contestants has no trouble embracing a happier moment of the day. Here, they’ve come together for a quick second of celebration, high-fiving and laughing with each other on set. What do you think has these rivals in such a good mood? Does it look like they’re once again working in teams, or are they simply supporting each other in the competition?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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Best 5 Pesto Recipes

by in Recipes, July 4th, 2013

Basil PestoWhile some Italian sauces, like Bolognese, marinara and puttanesca, are best enjoyed after hours of slow and low cooking on the stove, pesto can be made in mere minutes, and, in fact, requires no cooking at all. Most traditional recipes call for just a handful of fresh basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil, but the variations on classic pesto are endless and can made by swapping in other herbs and nuts. After blending together your favorite mix of ingredients in a food processor, spoon the vibrant mixture over pasta, spread it onto pizza or drizzle it atop grilled meats to turn everyday dishes into dressed-up meals. For a deliciously easy dip, try serving pesto instead of ranch dressing alongside a platter of vegetables, or smear it onto sandwiches in place of mayonnaise or mustard. Check out Food Network’s top-five pesto recipes below from Bobby, Ina, Giada and more chefs to find five-star takes on this summertime staple.

5. Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza — Bobby opts for a duo of fragrant cilantro and parsley to form the base of his pesto, spread onto homemade pizza dough and topped with creamy mozzarella and tender shrimp before the entire pie is grilled.

4. Pesto Pork with PolentaFood Network Magazine lets pesto do triple duty in its all-in-one meal: as the rub for the lean pork tenderloin, the boost of flavor in the side of spinach and the finishing sauce alongside the roasted meat.

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Sunday’s Star Menu: A Finalist-Inspired Barbecue Feast

by , July 3rd, 2013

Memphis-Style Hickory-Smoked Beef and Pork RibsAs Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you’re with or where you’re watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you’re munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.

Just as you may host weekly viewing parties to take in the latest happenings in the Star Kitchen, so, too, do this season’s contestants, throwing food-focused bashes with their families and friends to catch themselves on television. Last weekend, rivals and friends Rodney and Chad came together to watch the 4th of July Live challenge (see the photo below), and they told Star Talk that true to the styles of the Pie Man and Barbecue Guy, their menu was a hearty one. At each of his three Dangerously Delicious Pies shops, Rodney offers a selection of classic dessert-style pies, plus savory options with chicken, pulled pork and potatoes. He brought a few kinds of both varieties to the party, while Chad stayed true to his point of view, providing the ultimate barbecue feast: Memphis-inspired ribs, traditional barbecue sauce and spicy coleslaw.

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Lessons from the Teens — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, July 2nd, 2013

The beauty of After Hours competitions is that by the time the judges try their hands at four mystery ingredients, they are, in fact, not mysteries at all, having been revealed to the panel during the show when the competitors opened their baskets. The judges saw what the chefs did to transform the disparate ingredients into one cohesive dish and often recognize where they made missteps in their executions and where there is potential for improvement. After watching the entree round in tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped, judges Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Marcus Samuelsson took what the young competitors did with goat leg, rhubarb, frisee and hummus and used their successes, not failures, to motivate their own cooking.

Aarón Sánchez was on hand to guest judge this round, and he encouraged the panel to elevate the teens’ already stellar dishes into something even more worthy of the Chopped Kitchen. “The flavors that they were able to get onto these dishes were absolutely amazing,” Marcus said of the teens’ offerings while cooking his own plate. “It actually inspired me to a do a really good job right now.” He set off to prepare grilled goat leg with a potato salad and bacon-studded red wine-rhubarb sauce, while Amanda and Marc prepared meatballs with rhubarb-tomato sauce and roasted goat with potato salad and grilled lettuce, respectively. After a quick 30 minutes of cooking, the panel came together to taste each other’s dishes, and Aarón admitted to his peers, “You guys did almost as good as the teenagers.” They agreed that their offerings were inspired examples of how to integrate dissimilar ingredients. “I love the way they cooked, and I hope we made them proud and gave them some new ideas,” Amanda ssaid at the end of the competition about the teenagers.

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Editors’ Picks from the Summer Fancy Food Show

by in Events, July 2nd, 2013

Summer Fancy Food Show 2013In the ultimate celebration of who’s who and what’s hot in the food world, some 2,000+ vendors from more than 80 countries around the world converge upon New York City every year to showcase nearly 200,000 products at the Summer Fancy Food Show. From duck pate and gluten-free chocolate cake to flavored honey and seemingly everything in between, there was no shortage of products on display at the 2013 event this past weekend, and FN Dish was on hand to sample the edible goods and chat with the creators and manufacturers behind them. After several hours of mingling — and munching — we had indulged in our share of fancy foods, several of which had us craving more, even days later. Check out a few of the FN Dish editors’ favorite picks from the show, and get recipes from Food Network chefs to enjoy similar bites at home.

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Cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 1st, 2013

Cold Sesame-Peanut NoodlesWhen it’s scorching-hot outside and the temperature in your kitchen is at an equally unbearable temperature, what dishes do you reach for? Fresh greens salads are an easy option, but they can become tired and predictable. For something dressed up yet still simple enough to pull off in a hurry, try chilled pasta salads. Beyond boiling water for the noodles, most recipes require no cooking and can be made with whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Food Network Magazine‘s Cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles is an Asian-inspired take on traditional pasta salad that delivers what is for many the trifecta of sought-after components in a dish: flavor, texture and ease. Featuring kitchen staples like peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar, the sauce on these noodles is both savory and slightly sweet, and the addition of toasted sesame seeds and peanuts offers a hearty crunch. Don’t let the time on this recipe intimidate you; the dish takes just 25 minutes to prepare but needs to chill for an hour, which means that that time is wholly hands-off.

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Beyond Beef Burgers — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, June 29th, 2013

BBQ Chicken Burgers with SlawThis summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each Friday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread features nontraditional burgers made with chicken and seafood.

Traditional beef burgers are, of course, a summer classic, but when the old standby proves predictable and perhaps even boring, it’s time to look to other between-the-bun creations to dress your grilling menu. Swapping in ground chicken, turkey or pork instead of everyday beef delivers the same meaty bite you’re used to, but it also offers new tastes and textures. Seafood, too, works well in patty form, especially when you pair it with complementary toppings.

Food Network Magazine lets family-friendly fish shine in its Perfect Salmon Burgers, a top-rated dish made moist and flavorful, thanks to a binding mixture of mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and breadcrumbs. Serve these dressed-up fish sandwiches as you would a seafood dinner: with a topping of creamy tartar sauce for the most tried-and-true taste.

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Caption It: Bunny Ears

by , June 28th, 2013

Damaris Phillips, Russell Jackson and Nikki DinkiEach episode of Food Network Star runs for about 42 minutes total — not including commercial time, of course — but to produce that short amount of television, finalists, mentors, camerapeople and behind-the-scenes crew devote three whole days to filming a single show. Shooting often starts early in the morning and doesn’t wrap until late in the evening, and while the process is indeed efficient and organized, the cast is surely left with downtime, both on the set and behind the scenes. It’s up to them to fill that time on their own: Should they try to anticipate future challenges, hash out go-to recipe ideas, reflect on the competition in their journals or chat with contestants?

Given the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode, it looks as if Russell and Nikki have taken the moments before filming begins to simply goof around with each other, donning silly faces, lighthearted expressions and bunny ears. Do you think they’ve become slaphappy by their long days on set, or are they using the play time to de-stress from the competition? Will they be able to regain focus and professionalism before the next challenge begins?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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Best 5 Chicken Salad Recipes

by in Recipes, June 27th, 2013

Chicken SaladWhen you think of chicken salad, do you imagine a cool, creamy combination of shredded chicken with mayonnaise, or is a mixture of fresh greens with perhaps grilled, sliced boneless breasts more your style? Both variations are easy to make and endlessly versatile, as they can be prepared with almost any ingredients you happen to have on hand and can be customized to your tastes. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken salads below to find a roundup of recipes from Sunny, Bobby, Ina and more Food Network chefs that features five-star inspiration for these two styles of simple salads.

5. Picnic Potato and Chicken Salad — Served on eat-with-your-hands lettuce cups, Sunny’s bacon-studded chicken salad features tender roasted potatoes, poached chicken and a creamy herb topping.

4. Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing — In only 20 quick minutes, Bobby tosses a salad of crisp cabbage, lettuce and colorful vegetables with a honey-laced mixture of peanut butter and soy sauce before topping the dish with shredded chicken and chopped peanuts.

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