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.

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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No-Mercy Culinary Antics to Take Over Alton Brown’s Cutthroat Kitchen

by in Shows, July 9th, 2013

They are the cooking show competitor’s top-two wishes: to be able to mess with rivals enough to sabotage their game and to gain an advantage to improve their own chances of winning. On Alton Brown’s brand-new upcoming series, contestants will have the opportunity to enjoy both experiences.

Premiering Sunday, August 11 at 10pm/9c, Cutthroat Kitchen pits four culinary superstars against each other, and to be victorious in this three-round contest, they’ll need to put savvy mind games to work as much as they do cooking chops. Each will have access to $25,000 in cash, and it’s up to them to decide how to spend their money in an auction: Do they pay out to earn the exclusive use of a crucial ingredient, like salt, or do they sentence their opponents to a brutal round of cooking, one in which they’re prohibited from tasting their dishes? In the ultimate balance of risk and reward, the competitors must determine on which benefits it’s worth spending their funds and which curveballs may eventually prove damaging enough to others to ultimately pay off, as the winner’s prize is whatever money he or she has left over afterward.

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“A Non-Burger Burger” — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 8th, 2013

Morgan's Veggie PattiesDry, crumbly and chewy — three ways you might describe store-bought frozen veggie patties. But Guy’s recipe for Morgan’s Veggie Patties (pictured above), first created by his sister, Morgan, turns out what Guy deems “a non-burger burger.” Moist, tender and full of bold tastes, this hearty between-the-bun creation combines fresh vegetables and an array of spices, plus beans and breadcrumbs, to offer a hearty, juicy patty.

To start making this top-rated recipe, Guy sautes bell peppers, onions, jalapenos and artichokes so that they become soft and subtly sweet, then combines them with white and black beans, chickpeas and rolled oats. Smoky, spicy and fragrant spices and herbs like cumin, cayenne, oregano and paprika offer a punch of flavor, while a single egg helps marry the mixture and allows the ingredients to stick together. Since you’re working with a raw egg, it’s important to let the sauteed vegetables completely cool before adding it; this will prevent any lingering heat from scrambling the egg. Guy likes to form the mixture into patties and then briefly chill them in the refrigerator so that they keep their shape. After a quick sear in olive oil, these picnic-ready patties will have formed a slight crust on the outside and become meatlike on the inside. Finish each with your favorite burger toppings and serve alongside cookout sides and salads for the ultimate summertime meal.

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Seafood on the Grill — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, July 6th, 2013

Asian Grilled SalmonThis 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 fresh seafood.

With hardly any cleanup involved and far less chance of a lingering fish scent in your kitchen, grilling seafood outdoors is a fast, simple way to add a new level of flavor to your favorite dishes. The key to successfully grilling seafood is working with fish and shellfish that hold up well to high heat, like meaty salmon and swordfish, as they’re hefty enough to withstand the flames without falling apart. If you’re new to grilling fish, start with Ina’s Asian Grilled Salmon (pictured above), a top-rated classic that is ready to eat in fewer than 35 minutes. She first marinates the fish in a bold mixture of mustard, soy sauce and garlic, then quickly grills it over charcoal to turn out flaky results. Perhaps the best part of Ina’s go-to dinner is its flexibility; the salmon can be enjoyed when it’s still warm from the grill or later, either at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.

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Tyler Florence Chats About the New Series, Food Court Wars

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, July 5th, 2013

Tyler Florence Chats About the New Series, Food Court WarsOn Food Network’s new series, Food Court Wars, two teams of aspiring food entrepreneurs face-off for a chance to win their own food court restaurant entirely rent-free for one year. On each episode, the teams have an opportunity to open a brand-new eatery in their local mall, test their concept, market their brand and run the outlet for a full day for hungry shoppers. The team whose restaurant makes the most profit wins the space. Host Tyler Florence helps the teams through their challenges, offering up his advice on how to make their concept a success. FN Dish recently caught up with Tyler to chat about the new show.

Catch the season premiere of Food Court Wars on Sunday, July 7 at 10pm/9c to see who wins their dream prize.

What do you think makes mall food courts so appealing or unappealing? Do you think they’re due for an update?

TF: I don’t want anybody to think I have some grandiose opinion about food courts and what they serve. I see it just like everybody sees it — it needs to be fixed — and that’s why I love the show. What we did with The Great Food Truck Race is we actually spawned an entire new genre of restaurants. I’m not saying we invented food trucks, but we created two epic fires in the country. We’ve shown it’s doable. We’ve shown there’s a new restaurant business model that can be profitable. Young, independent entrepreneurs are adding such a new level of colorful diversity in restaurants — coast to coast, from Miami to Alaska — with wonderful mobile restaurant operations, and they’re doing it at a very, very high level. It’s so impressive to watch.

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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.

Get the top three recipes

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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