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: Taste Tester

by , July 19th, 2013

Alton BrownFrom private chefs and culinary instructors to restaurant owners, underground chefs and James Beard Award semifinalists, this year’s cast of Star finalists boasts a long and impressive kitchen resume. They’re keenly aware of what it takes to turn out balanced and full-flavored dishes, but thanks to the pressure of cooking on camera and against the clock — for a panel of esteemed food stars, no less — some of the rivals’ offerings have proven disappointing, some even inedible. While the Selection Committee has demanded culinary excellence from day one of the competition, now nearly two months into the contest, the judges are finally starting to see consistently stellar plates.

In the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode, it looks as if Alton’s come across a dish he especially likes. No need for utensils or a tasting table here: He’s gone hands first into a pot of one finalist’s offering, picking at it while looking over his shoulder with a serious side-eye. What kind of food do you think is waiting for Alton in that pan, and who do you think made this sample-worthy meal?

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Best 5 Summer Appetizers

by in Recipes, July 18th, 2013

GuacamoleWhen you find yourself faced with last-minute entertaining duties or you simply want to dress up your usual dinner spread with a few premeal munchies, it’s a good idea to have several seasonal appetizers at the ready in your recipe arsenal. These go-to starters ought to be just enough to tide over friends and family without weighing down their appetites, and should ultimately complement the rest of the meal. If you’ll be setting up a burger bar for dinner, for example, you may want to steer clear of sliders for a starter and opt instead for something simple like salsa and chips. Similarly, if you’re serving a seafood feast as an entree, use the appetizer course to introduce a shellfish, like New England steamers. Check out Food Network’s top-five summer appetizers below to find fresh, party-ready picks from Giada, Anne, Ellie, Rachael and Alton, then visit Food Network’s Grilling Central to see the rest of our favorite first-course dishes.

5. Beef Pops with Pineapple and Parsley Sauce — Make a simple no-cook sauce of fresh parsley, garlic and vinegar, and let it do double duty in Giada’s mini kebabs as both a marinade for the beef and a final topping on the dish.

4. Grilled Corn, Bacon and Chile Crostini — Anne dresses up garlic-rubbed bread with a flavorful salsalike mixture of sauteed bacon, grilled corn and Fresno chiles to create flavorful two-bite toasts that are smoky and just slightly spicy.

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No-Bake Sweets for Sunday’s Star

by , July 17th, 2013

Chocolate Cream PieNo matter who you’re with or where you’re watching Food Network Star from, you surely have on hand 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 recipes 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.

This week is proving to be a doozy on the heat index, which means that after days of sticky humidity and all-around sweatiness, the last thing you’ll want to do come Sunday night is turn on your oven to make dessert. But just because you won’t be baking doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy deliciously sweet treats. For this weekend’s all-new Star, cool off with a few no-bake desserts, like the indulgent-yet-refreshing recipes below.

Ready to eat in only 10 quick minutes, Food Network Magazine‘s Chocolate Cream Pie (pictured above) is an easy-to-make beauty featuring a store-bought chocolate-cookie crust and a filling of cream cheese and cocoa powder. Top the pie with fluffy whipped cream and chocolate shavings for an extra-special presentation of a stress-free dessert.

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Crustless Caprese Quiche — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 15th, 2013

Crustless Caprese QuicheIt’s no secret that quiche is a brunch staple; after all, most recipes are simple to cook in a hurry, will impress kids and grownups alike, and require little planning or preparation. For these same reasons, however, this typically morning meal is a go-to weeknight supper — especially when you want to enjoy a meatless dinner, as quiche is inherently full of protein-rich eggs. Whether you’ve never before made quiche or you’re just looking to experiment with new recipes, Food Network Magazine’s Crustless Caprese Quiche (pictured above) is an ideal place to start, thanks to its seasonal ingredients and mix of classic elements and creative twists.

Many traditional quiche recipes call for a pastry-crust base featuring either from-scratch or store-bought dough, but Food Network Magazine forgoes this completely, opting instead for a foundation of eggs, dusted only slightly with breadcrumbs. After blending whole eggs and egg whites with creamy ricotta cheese and a splash of milk, add fragrant basil and sweet sauteed onions and tomatoes to create the centerpiece of the quiche, and pour it into a breadcrumb-lined pie dish. A final sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and a topping of ripe tomatoes will add flavor and texture to the dish, inspired by the familiar Italian appetizer of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. After you bake the quiche, it’s important to let it rest for about 10 minutes, as it’s continuing to cook even out of the oven.

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Restaurant Revisited: Kalico Kraziness at Kalico Kitchen

by in Shows, July 14th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleNot long after arriving at Kalico Kitchen in Douglas, Mich., Robert Irvine realized that the negative tension and long-standing animosity between owner Catherine Wilt and her employees was as much of a problem at the restaurant as its dusty dining room and greasy kitchen. This over-30-year-old eatery was once making nearly $1 million in sales, but it recently acquired a $400,000 debt, something that Catherine learned when she returned after a four-year leave of absence. Over the course of two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team attempted to mend the strained relationships at Kalico Kitchen; plus, they gave the space a much-needed deep cleaning, design overhaul and updated menu with fresh, quality ingredients. FN Dish checked in with Kalico Kitchen, and a server, Laura — on Catherine’s behalf — shared how the restaurant is doing today.

“Business went from $200-$300 per day to $2,000-$3,000 per day,” Laura explained. Not long after reopening, Catherine “had made enough money to pay the mortgages to keep her from foreclosure.”

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Easy Frozen Cocktails — Weekend Cookout

by in Drinks, July 13th, 2013

Strawberry Orange DaiquiriThis 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 is rounded out by cool frozen cocktails.

No matter which main or side dishes you serve at your backyard barbecue, there’s just one required element on your menu this weekend: a cocktail. Straight-up and on-the-rocks sippers are surely simple classics, but when it’s particularly steamy outside, quench your thirst with a frosty frozen cocktail.

Made with just a handful of ingredients, Sandra’s Strawberry Orange Daiquiri (pictured above) is a five-star pick packed with fresh fruit. The secret to preparing Sandra’s cocktail is using orange-scented simple syrup to sweeten it, instead of simply adding sugar to the blender. She gently simmers sugar in an equal part of orange-scented water until the sugar is dissolved, then lets it cool before incorporating it into an icy whirl of strawberries, orange juice and rum.

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Caption It: Here’s Looking at You

by , July 12th, 2013

Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby FlayCome evaluation, the Food Star Kitchen turns into a scary place week after week. As finalists stand wide-eyed awaiting judgment, three successful chefs and stars stare back them, ready to dole out several notebooks’ worth of critiques about their food and performances. Sometimes the scene ends with tears and an emotional goodbye, but other times the atmosphere is far less tense — perhaps even happy — be it on account of one contestant’s superstar presentation or particularly camera-worthy meal.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode: Giada and Alton look out to the remaining finalists during evaluation and smile, while Giada points two fingers at them, doing so in a seemingly positive way. Do you think the mentors look particularly pleased because the group as a whole was successful this week, or did one competitor deliver an especially knockout performance? What kind of feedback do you imagine the judges are giving here?

 Write your best captionsBefore 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 Pasta Salad Recipes

by in Recipes, July 11th, 2013

7-Layer Pasta SaladHot dogs, burgers and barbecue may take center stage at your backyard cookout, but no matter the entree, you surely need a few side dishes to round out your spread. Easy to make in a hurry and guaranteed to impress party guests of all ages, pasta salads are go-to summertime picks, especially since they often can be customized to your family’s tastes, or the ingredients you have on hand. Check out Food Network’s best-five pasta salad recipes below to find top-rated classic and dressed-up creations from some of your favorite chefs, like Giada and Ina.

5. Tuscan Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables — Mix crunchy radicchio, fennel and fresh vegetables with pasta and cannellini beans to create a big-batch salad that’s best served at room temperature.

4. Pasta Salad with Steak, Bell Pepper, Green Beans and Bacon — Ready to eat in only 20 minutes, Food Network Magazine‘s hearty pasta salad is dressed with a creamy, cheesy topping featuring mayonnaise, fresh garlic and Parmesan.

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Sunday’s Star Menu: Your Signature Dish

by , July 10th, 2013

LasagnaAs Sunday afternoons turn into 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.

Signature dishes: They’re the go-to meals you’re known for preparing flawlessly every time and the dishes you immediately look to when asked to cook for a special occasion or to bring food to a party. On Sunday’s all-new episode of Star, the remaining contestants must put their culinary points of view on a plate in the form of their own signature dishes and sell them at an auction in the Food Star Kitchen. You, too, can show off deliciously infamous plates at home with the help of these top-rated recipes for classic preparations of timeless meals below.

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