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.

Restaurant Revisited: Lost in the Woods at Pinehurst Country Lodge

by in Shows, June 9th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleRoger Murray, the owner of Pinehurst Country Lodge in Greeley, Pa., had no experience in either working at or owning a restaurant before he purchased the business just six months ago. Although he was once prosperous in the corporate world, Roger’s venture into the culinary industry proved less successful, and he was facing a $350,000 debt when Robert Irvine arrived to rescue him from despair. Strung with unattractive holiday lights and offering a menu of unpalatable food, Pinehurst Country Lodge was in desperate need of the design and menu revamps that Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible team was ready to provide. After just two days and with only $10,000, Pinehurst reopened to a bustling crowd and offered guests a menu of freshly prepared meals. FN Dish checked in with Roger a few months after Robert left to find out how his eatery is doing today.

“Business has picked up since the filming,” Roger tells us. “Overall I’d give it a 10 percent bump revenue-wise but consider my bottom line to be expanding more than that.” Pinehurst is indeed making more money than it was before its transformation, and Roger adds that he’s now seeing income from the bar.

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Stretching the Value of Steak — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, June 8th, 2013

Skirt SteakThis 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 juicy grilled steak that won’t break the bank.

No matter if you’re buying filet mignon or flank steak, the price of beef can leave a sizable dent in your wallet, especially if you’re shopping to feed a crowd. But even though it’s a splurge item for many, steak is indeed a can-do meat for your next weekend cookout; the trick is knowing what to buy and how to stretch it so that you get the most for your money.

Choosing the Best Cut
About that filet mignon — skip it. Stick to the flank or other budget-friendly cuts like hanger or skirt steak. These pieces of beef are every bit as flavorful as their expensive counterparts, but they’re thinner, so they’re more prone to overcooking. To remedy that and dodge chewy meat, simply keep the cooking time to a minimum. In his recipe for Skirt Steak (pictured above), Alton cooks the beef on hot charcoals for just 60 seconds on each side, then keeps it wrapped in foil for 15 minutes; the direct-heat method ensures that the meat develops a charred crust, while the aluminum tent helps it become tender. Click the play button on the video below to watch Alton make it.

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Mall Food Made Better on Tyler Florence’s Upcoming Food Court Wars

by in Shows, June 6th, 2013

Tyler FlorenceTyler Florence is on a mission this summer to shine a light on one area of the restaurant industry that’s rarely the focus of inspired eats: shopping mall food courts. In his brand-new series, Food Court Wars, Tyler judges teams of budding entrepreneurs with focused food points of view as they face off in malls across the country for the chance to open their dream eatery.

With Tyler — a longtime professional chef and restaurant owner — at the helm, it won’t be enough for the teams to turn out quick-service meals. These groups of spouses and friends must demonstrate their management skills and business-minded expertise, plus their abilities to offer the highest-quality food, if they want to earn their own business and run it rent-free for an entire year. Each week, they’ll battle in challenges that test their original marketing ideas, purchasing know-how and basic food preparation skills before the most-profitable team can claim the win.

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Best 5 BBQ Ribs

by in Recipes, June 6th, 2013

Backyard Baby Back RibsAlong with hot dogs, burgers and potato salad, tender, juicy barbecued ribs are a cookout classic and ideal for relaxed, casual entertaining. Whether you like pork ribs or beef, a thick coating of saucy glaze or a simple dry rub, there’s a rib recipe to please every palate, and Food Network’s top-five picks below are five-star favorites that won’t disappoint. Check out these top-rated barbecued ribs from Sandra, the Neelys, Alton and more Food Network chefs to find out how to make their no-fail recipes at home.

5. Seattle BBQ Beef Ribs — Before grilling the ribs with a tangy topping of store-bought barbecue sauce and molasses, Sandra precooks them by boiling the rack in a mixture of vegetable broth and apple juice, ensuring that the meat turns out moist and is ready to eat in a flash.

4. Sweet Cola Ribs — The Neelys say, “The smoke and indirect heat leave you with deliciously tender ribs while the cola packs a punch of unexpected sweetness.” The key to making their recipe is not adding the cola glaze until the end of cooking, so as not to burn the sugars.

Get the top three recipes

Barbecued Tofu — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, June 3rd, 2013

Barbecued TofuHot dogs, sticky ribs and juicy cheeseburgers take center stage during grilling season, and if you don’t eat meat, it can feel like your only options at a cookout are the side salads and veggie toppings for the dogs and burgers. Instead of tucking into another plate of macaroni salad and shredded lettuce, try hearty, seasonal main dishes that go beyond grilled vegetables. Summertime favorites like veggie burgers, cheesy pizza and gazpacho are classic picks that are deliciously meat-free but still seasonal and ideal for outdoor entertaining.

In this recipe for Barbecued Tofu, medium-firm tofu is the meaty protein of the dish, a big-batch pick that can feed a crowd. Tofu often gets a bad rap because of its tendency for blandness, but that’s often only the case when it’s prepared and served on its own, with no additional flavors or ingredients. Here, the diced tofu is cooked in a pan on the grill alongside fresh garlic, peppers and onions, so there’s no opportunity for lack of taste; the smoky, charred flavor of the grill, the bold garlic and the sweet vegetables work together to turn the tofu into a full-flavored bite. Plus, because the tofu is further sauteed with barbecue sauce before serving, it absorbs the sweet, tangy taste of the condiment and becomes transformed inside and out. Save time in the kitchen by relying on store-bought barbecue sauce to make this meal in a flash — just be sure to pick up a bottle you know your family enjoys, as it will be predominant on the plate.

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The Best Before-and-After Transformations From Restaurant: Impossible

by in Shows, June 1st, 2013

Robert IrvineAfter more than six seasons of budgeted, on-the-clock renovations on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine has seen seemingly everything — the good, the bad and the ugly — in eateries across the country. From unpalatable food and unsafe cooking conditions to creepy-crawlies covering the furniture and floor, the scenes at some of these restaurants are simply shocking, to Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible team and at-home viewers alike. No matter how dirty or downright disheartening a situation may be, however, Robert has never walked away from a challenge, successfully transforming nearly 70 eateries to date.

Over the years, Robert has proved his trademark to be his ability to breathe new life into once-failing establishments and give them the second chance they deserve. In the form of revamped menus and updated designs, plus tried-and-true techniques for food buying, handling front-of-house management and overseeing day-to-day operations, he outfits businesses with everything they need to not just survive but thrive. And ultimately his commitment has led to awe-inspiring transformations, especially given that his updates must be started and completed in just two days and can cost no more than $10,000.

See before-and-after photos

Barbecue Without a Grill — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, June 1st, 2013

The Ultimate Barbecued RibsThis 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 authentic barbecue made without a traditional barbecue grill.

Memorial Day has come and gone, and for the next three months, the focus will be on enjoying all things grilled — those quintessential warm-weather favorites that all but define summertime. But what if you simply don’t own a grill, or if you live in the city and don’t have access to outdoor space? Are you resigned to a summer of boiled dogs and sauteed chicken? No way. Even if you’re confined to cooking with a basic stovetop-oven setup, you can indeed indulge in classic seasonal recipes for saucy ribs, moist burgers, juicy chicken and succulent steak. It just takes one key piece of kitchenware: the grill pan. Heavy and sturdy, grill pans are placed atop stovetop burners like a standard pan, but they boast raised ridges similar to the grates on an outdoor grill, guaranteeing those sought-after grill marks.

Keep reading for recipes