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.

One-on-One With the Worst Cooks in America Runner-Up

by in Shows, March 31st, 2013

Rasheeda Brown and Alina BolshakovaAfter besting 12 rival recruits in a six-week Boot Camp, the top two Worst Cooks in America contestants took to the professional kitchen at New York City’s The Dutch restaurant for a finale cook-off to be judged by three no-nonsense culinary experts, Chefs Anita Lo, Frank Cardoz and Andrew Carmellini. The Red Team‘s Rasheeda Brown and the Blue Team‘s Alina Bolshakova relied on the teachings of their mentors to successfully compete against the clock and create not just everyday dishes but a restaurant-quality feast, complete with appetizer, entree and dessert courses.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

Make-Ahead Easter Brunch Menu

by in Family, Holidays, March 30th, 2013

Overnight Cinnamon RollsIt’s Easter morning, your kids have just finished opening their baskets and guests should be arriving for brunch in a few hours. What comes next is the mad holiday dash that inevitably involves tidying the house, setting the table and quickly prepping, cooking and serving a meal, all while attempting to enjoy the morning with your family. Sounds like Easter Sunday at your home, right?

This year, instead of settling for a hectic holiday, look to already made dishes to pull off a stress-free celebration. The secret to easy entertaining is doing as much of the prep work as possible before the day of the event so you can enjoy the party like a guest and not as a frenzied host. That means tonight is when to begin preparations for tomorrow’s brunch. Before you go to sleep, put together a few ready-to-go classics, then look forward to waking up to only the very last steps of cooking to complete. Check out Food Network’s favorite brunch standbys below to find crowd-pleasing recipes from Alton, Paula and Giada that can be made well in advance of tomorrow’s meal.

A deliciously gooey treat that kids and kids at heart will enjoy, Alton’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (pictured above) are a top-rated treat bursting with indulgent sweetness. After making a soft, moist dough from scratch, he wraps it around a center of buttery cinnamon sugar, then slices it into a dozen plump rolls. Let them chill in the refrigerator overnight, then bake them in the morning before finishing them with a thick spread of rich cream cheese icing. Watch this video to see Alton make them.

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Watch a Preview of the Worst Cooks in America Finale

by in Shows, March 29th, 2013

After six weeks of Worst Cooks Boot Camp, 12 competitors have fallen in the face of demanding Skill Drills and Main Dish Challenges, and now only two top recruits remain. On Sunday night, the Blue Team’s Alina Bolshakova and the Red Team’s Rasheeda Brown will go head-to-head in the ultimate culinary showdown, where just three dishes and a panel of restaurant-chef judges stand between them and $25,000.

Although Chefs Bobby and Anne are rooting for their respective teams to take the win because of what a victory would mean to their recruits, they’re also hoping their lead contestant bests her competitor on account of the bragging rights they want to have over each other. No stranger to Worst Cooks glory, Chef Anne currently has an undefeated Boot Camp record and is hoping to keep it that way come Sunday night, while Chef Bobby is looking to upset her winning streak with a first-ever Blue Team triumph.

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Vote: Who Do You Want to Win Worst Cooks in America?

by in Shows, March 27th, 2013

Rasheeda Brown and Alina BolshakovaNo longer two of the Worst Cooks in America, Rasheeda Brown and Alina Bolshakova have survived six weeks of Worst Cooks Boot Camp and are now armed with the knife skills, kitchen techniques and culinary confidence needed to cook a restaurant-quality meal for three professional-chef icons. Both recruits have endured their shares of struggles in the competition, falling short in several challenges, but they’ve proved themselves worthy of the chance to represent their mentors in front of the judges’ panel. Come Sunday night, one of them will earn $25,000, as well as exclusive bragging rights for her chef, but not before competing in the ultimate finale cook-off, complete with the demands of a multi-course meal and rigid time constraints.

When Rasheeda and Alina are cooking for Boot Camp glory on Sunday, who will you be rooting for? Are you hoping that Chef Anne‘s Rasheeda takes the crown and earns her mentor a fourth-straight victory, or do you think it’s time for Chef Bobby to enjoy a win and Alina to best her competitor? Should the Red Team’s Rock Star Rasheeda take home the prize, or should the mad scientist on the Blue Team collect the triumph? Cast your fan vote below to tell us who you want to win Worst Cooks in America.

Vote for who you want to win

How to Host a Large Party: Tips and Ideas From Restaurant Chefs

by in Events, How-to, March 26th, 2013

Sunday Supper at Chelsea MarketWhile you may have mastered the art of preparing dinner for your immediate family, have you learned the secrets to entertaining a crowd of partygoers at home? Shopping and cooking for, as well as serving, a meal at a big-bash party invites questions and challenges that you may not face when planning everyday eats and drinks: What are some go-to dishes that will please a diverse group of guests? How much food is needed to feed everyone? What’s the best way to serve multiple courses?

No one can answer these questions better than restaurant chefs, those who’ve made a career out of cooking for large groups of people and who know the ins and outs of preparing to host a crowd. Elizabeth Karmel, owner and executive chef of Hill Country, Elizabeth Falkner, owner and executive chef at Krescendo and a two-time competitor on The Next Iron Chef, and Hedy Goldsmith, executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Fla., showed off their exemplary party-throwing skills in New York City last weekend at the fifth annual Sunday Supper at Chelsea Market, supporting the James Beard Foundation‘s Scholarship for Fulton Youth of the Future and Wellness in the Schools. Together with more than a dozen of their chef colleagues, these ladies cooked a six-course feast for nearly 300 people that included such deliciously inspired bites as caponata with creamy burrata, pasta with sweet onions, tender jumbo prawns and pear crostata.

FN Dish was on hand not only to see the orchestra that’s needed to successfully pull off an event of that magnitude but also to find out from Chefs Karmel, Falkner and Goldsmith how home cooks can utilize similar tricks and techniques when entertaining on a smaller scale.

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Mexican Frittata — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 25th, 2013

Mexican FrittataYou may be familiar with frittatas as a weekend brunch pick, but have you ever considered introducing them to your weeknight dinner repertoire? Every bit as hearty and satisfying as a main-dish pasta, salad or soup, frittatas are similar to omelets in that they’re egg-based, but while omelets are almost always made on the stovetop alone, frittatas are sauteed, then transferred to the oven to bake, which is why it’s especially important that you start the cooking process in an oven-proof skillet. Think of frittatas as you would most egg dishes: a blank canvas through which you can showcase any number of flavors or put to work leftover ingredients you happen to have on hand. Check out two of Food Network’s favorite frittata recipes below — one creative with bold Mexican-inspired flavors and the other a traditional Italian standby — both ready to enjoy in less than 30 minutes.

A top-rated recipe made with just a handful of flavors, Marcela’s Mexican Frittata (pictured above) is a 25-minute timesaver that features bright cilantro, fresh scallions and, for added indulgence, a topping of Mexican crema — a smooth dairy similar to sour cream — and Oaxaca cheese. After cooking the beaten eggs on the stove for a few minutes, she transfers the pan to the oven, where the eggs will bake, puff up slightly and become deliciously golden brown. Marcela notes that it’s fine to serve this recipe at room temperature, so no need to worry if you can’t sit down to dinner as soon as the frittata is baked.

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Restaurant Revisited: Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAt Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering in Pineville, N.C., problems started almost as soon as they opened for business. After just six months in operation, owners Dana and David Cohen were facing losses of nearly $8,000-$10,000 per month at their Southern-style restaurant, and if drastic changes weren’t made, they’d be forced to shut down in a matter of weeks. Lucky for them, those much-needed updates were made, thanks to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team.

Even before arriving at Sweet Tea’s, Robert knew one crucial reason the restaurant was struggling: its extreme out-of-the-way location and absence of street-side advertising. It was his mission to brand the eatery as a comfortable, welcoming restaurant with Southern food to match, and to accomplish that, Robert would have to remake the menu of what he deemed to be D-rated food. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, he reopened the doors of Sweet Tea’s and gave the restaurant — and the Cohen family — a second chance at success. We checked in with Dana a few months after the renovation to find out how the business is doing.

Since Robert left, Dana and David have noticed an increase in revenue at Sweet Tea’s, and they are now “trying so hard to catch up” on bills, Dana tells us. “We need to catch up on rent, and that is the only thing holding us back.”

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One-on-One With the Latest Blue Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Chet Pourciau and Alina BolshakovaFor the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.

Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

One-on-One With the Latest Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Rasheeda Brown and Sue MangognaFor the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.

Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

Easter Baking Projects to Do With Little Chefs

by in Family, Holidays, March 23rd, 2013

Easter Bunny CakeEaster’s coming a bit earlier than usual this year, and given the stress of meal planning and shopping for basket trinkets, it’s no wonder that you may not have had time — or even simply remembered — to carve out moments and enjoy the holiday with your kids. This weekend, spend some time with your little ones coloring eggs, decorating the house with all things chicks and bunnies or baking sweet treats to celebrate the holiday. We’ve rounded up a few of Food Network’s favorite Easter desserts, like cakes in the shape of almost-too-cute-to-eat bunnies and larger-than-life Peeps, plus springtime cupcakes and cookies, to help you make the most of your time in the kitchen. Read on below for some of our top recipes, then tell us in the comments what you’re baking for Easter.

Food Network Kitchens’ top-rated Easter Bunny Cake (pictured above) may look like an all-day adventure to prepare, but it actually takes just one hour to complete. The key to this recipe is starting with pre-baked cakes (pick up a few store-bought boxed mixes to make the process a cinch) and being patient when it comes to shaping them. Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how to best slice and arrange the cakes into an eventual bunny, then let your kids decorate it with fluffy frosting, shredded coconut for the look of fur and candy to add a nose, eyes and whiskers. Even if your cake looks more like a misshapen snowball than Peter Cottontail, it will surely be deliciously sweet in the end.

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