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.

Damaris Dishes on What’s at the Heart of Her Upcoming Series

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 15th, 2013

Damaris PhillipsFresh off of her summer win on Food Network Star, Season 9, Damaris Phillips is already in the kitchen preparing for her first-ever series, Southern at Heart (premiering Sunday, Oct. 27 at 10:30am/9:30c). This Kentucky-born culinary school instructor wooed Star fans with a Southern-inspired pilot focusing on classic and approachable date-night dishes, and on her upcoming show, she’ll deliver a similar concept and more down-home meals — all served alongside her trademark wit and humor.

FN Dish caught up with Damaris this month and chatted with the new star about her plans for her series, her favorite upcoming episodes and how Food Network Star prepared her for this upcoming venture. Read on below to get a sneak peek at Southern at Heart from Damaris, then browse behind-the-scenes photos of Damaris on the town in Louisville. Ky.

What are you especially excited about for your new series?
Damaris Phillips: I’m so excited about my guests. So, they’re real guys and they don’t know how to cook, and they have real stories about girls that they love, so that for me is the most exciting.

See more photos

Potato-Fennel Soup — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 14th, 2013

Potato-Fennel SoupButternut squash, broccoli-cheddar and simple barley soups may be all the rage once the cool weather settles in, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the tried-and-true classics all season long. This fall, cozy up to a piping-hot bowl featuring creative twists on the usual favorites, like Food Network Magazine’s Potato-Fennel Soup (pictured above).

This potato-based soup can be on the table in only 40 minutes, and it features leeks cooked three ways — boiled, broiled and sauteed — for the most flavor-forward results. After cooking potatoes with some of the leeks until tender, add broth and a splash of milk before pureeing the mixture in a blender. The secret to this soup lies in the from-scratch broth, made by quickly simmering leeks, fennel and water; using this instead of everyday water guarantees the most concentrated taste. If you’ve never before cooked with fennel, know that it has a subtle licorice-like flavor, but don’t worry: This decidedly savory soup doesn’t taste at all sweet.

Read more

Respecting the Challenge Dish — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, October 13th, 2013


Although the stipulations of almost every Cutthroat Kitchen sabotage force competitors to reimagine the classic versions of challenge dishes, chefs still should be able to serve plates that are at least reminiscent of the original concept. They may not be able to cook with every seemingly crucial ingredient or prepare plates in the most traditional style, but the final offerings ought to be valid interpretations of assigned dishes; for this week’s competitors, that meant burritos, pie and teriyaki bowls.

“It has to come down to what the challenge is,” judge Jet Tila told Alton Brown on the latest installment of Alton’s After-Show. The competitor ousted in the Round 1 burrito challenge presented a deconstructed Vietnamese-style burrito that was, in fact, hardly a burrito at all, according to Jet. “I’m sorry, but it was a ridiculous play on a burrito,” Jet explained of the summer roll-inspired dish. He added, “If she took a few pieces of lettuce and actually made a tight, concise roll, at least I know you’re thinking burrito,” noting how the contestant could have improved.

Read more

Better Together: Apples and Caramel

by in Recipes, October 12th, 2013

Caramel, Chocolate and Candy ApplesGiven the tartness of crisp apples and the rich smoothness of gooey caramel, these fall flavors shine when they’re put together, most often in the form of classic caramel-covered apples. While the tried-and-true recipe is a timeless favorite, Giada takes it to the next level of indulgence in her recipe for Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Apples (pictured above) by coating the apples first in caramel, then drizzling them with melted chocolate and finishing them with crunchy chopped nuts, sweet candies or sprinkles. Kids — and kids and heart — will appreciate being able to build their ultimate dessert with their preferred combination of toppings.

Caramel Apple CheesecakeBut beyond caramel apples — both classic and creative — there are indeed ways to celebrate these flavors in other decadent treats this autumn. Try Bobby’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake (pictured right), a five-star showstopper that delivers wow-worthy results every time. He starts with a buttery graham cracker-walnut crust, then fills it with a vanilla-cream cheese center. But the star of the cheesecake comes in the form of its topping: tender sweetened apples and a brandy-spiked caramel sauce.

Keep reading for more recipes

Bars on the Rocks to Receive Last-Chance Rescue

by in Shows, October 11th, 2013

On the RocksWhile the bar and nightclub scene is supposed to conjure images of good drinks and even better times, many of those businesses across the country are just barely managing to pay the bills, hoping for a last-chance opportunity to be rescued from certain closure. That’s where John Green comes in. As a lauded bartender and the owner of a bar consulting company, John knows the ins and outs of the bar business, and on his all-new upcoming series, On the Rocks, he’ll use his extensive experience to give failing bar managements the skills — both in terms of mixology and beyond — they need to pour profits.

When On the Rocks premieres Sunday, Nov. 17 at 10pm/9c, John will assess all aspects of America’s most distraught bars and nightclubs by listening to their owners, scouring their billing statements, sampling their menus and evaluating their employees — all to find out why the businesses have been set up for struggle. It’s then up to John and his team to rethink the bar’s image and give the staff effective tools to turn around their business. The task won’t be an easy one, however, as the group will have to implement substantial changes swiftly, and the owners must come to terms with working in a transformed business.

Read more

#TBT: Tyler Florence

by in Food Network Chef, October 10th, 2013

Tyler FlorenceIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV. 

In his latest two series, The Great Food Truck Race and Food Court Wars, Tyler’s shining the spotlight on two relatively young culinary trends: mobile eateries and food court dining. But before he was traveling coast-to-coast with food truck rookies or helping aspiring entrepreneurs launch their own shopping mall restaurant, he was teaching kitchen basics on How to Boil Water and rescuing home cooks on Food 911, two of Food Network’s earliest programs.

Premiering in the early 1990s, How to Boil Water was originally hosted by Emeril Lagasse, but eventually Tyler took over, and soon he was the “teacher” advising his co-host, Jack Hourigan, on how to make classic favorites like Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Scalloped Potato Gratin. He introduced seemingly difficult cooking techniques with ease and made the kitchen approachable for novice chefs, something he continued to do when he took his passion for teaching into viewers’ homes on Food 911.

Read more

Calling All Home Cooks: Are You America’s Best Amateur Chef?

by in Community, Shows, October 9th, 2013

Now Casting for a New Food Network ShowThere’s one in seemingly every family: That guy or gal who’s known unofficially as the “chef” and is constantly called upon to bake relatives’ birthday cakes, cater impromptu gatherings, host holiday suppers and bring the featured recipe to a potluck. They’re passionate about spending time in the kitchen, look forward to experimenting with new recipes, flavors and ingredients, and they’re unapologetic Food Network fanatics. If this sounds like you, then Food Network wants to hear from you.

The network is currently casting for a brand-new upcoming series that will show off the cooking chops of amateur chefs from around the country. But to be successful on the new show, it won’t be enough to simply follow a recipe. Home cooks must work alongside favorite Food Network stars, and together these regional teams will face off against one another in a series of fierce culinary competitions. At the end of the contest, a single amateur chef will ultimately be named America’s best home cook, earning coast-to-coast bragging rights and a generous cash prize.

Get the details on how to apply

Best 5 Pumpkin Recipes

by in Recipes, October 9th, 2013

Hazelnut Pumpkin PieFrom the pumpkin lattes being brewed at your local coffee shop and the crunchy pumpkin seeds being scraped out of jack-o’-lanterns to those ubiquitous cans of pumpkin puree on grocery store shelves, the classic fall flavor is seemingly everywhere right now, with so many ways to put this seasonal ingredient to good use. While pumpkin pie is a deliciously traditional way to celebrate this autumnal favorite, there are indeed other ways — both sweet and savory — to enjoy pumpkin, and for nearly all of them you can rely on that store-bought puree to save time in the kitchen. Check out Food Network’s top-five pumpkin recipes below to find inspired lunch, dinner and dessert ideas from Rachael, Anne, Robert, Sunny and more Food Network chefs.

5. Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish — Smooth and creamy, Rachael’s rich bowls are finished with a sweetened mixture of chopped apples and onions, plus chewy cranberries and a pinch of chili powder for subtle spice. Click the play button on the video after the jump below to watch Rachael make it.

4. Pork-and-Pumpkin Chili — Chipotle peppers in adobo add a smoky flavor to this big-batch chili, made with tender pork shoulder, pumpkin puree and fresh greens, then topped with cool pumpkin-laced sour cream for a refreshing bite.

Get the top-three recipes

Ratatouille Pasta — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 7th, 2013

Ratatouille PastaWhen vegetables are overflowing in your refrigerator, what do you prepare to put the produce to work? Simply roasting potatoes, parsnips and peppers with olive oil and seasonings is an option, as is enjoying squash in a soup or carrots and celery raw in green salads. But to beef up your vegetables, no matter what kinds you happen to have on hand, and turn them into a satisfying main dish, try mixing them with pasta and your favorite sauce. Instantly you’ll have transformed two humble ingredients — noodles and vegetables — into an all-in-one meal the whole family will want to eat.

Food Network Magazine does just that in its recipe for Ratatouille Pasta (pictured above) by re-creating the classic vegetable plate into an easy-to-make dinner. After grilling garlic-stuffed tomatoes, plus bell peppers, zucchini and Japanese eggplant — four quintessential ingredients in a traditional French ratatouille — until tender, chop them and gently saute them with fragrant basil before adding the cooked noodles. It’s best to reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the noodles, as you may need to thin out the sauce before serving. For an extra-special finish to the dish, top each plate with a few crumbles of goat cheese; the tangy taste will marry the flavors of the vegetables, while the smooth, creamy texture will add welcome richness.

Read more

Wild Sabotages Revealed — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, October 6th, 2013


Some weeks on Alton’s After-Show the focus of Alton’s chat with the judge revolves primarily around the finalists’ abilities — or inabilities — to cook within the confines of Cutthroat Kitchen, particularly the sabotages. But other times it’s the sabotages themselves that dominate the conversation, almost too shocking or simply laughable for the judges to believe. That was the case this week as Alton revealed to returning judge Jet Tila the roster of culinary interferences to befall the chefs.

Perhaps most appalling to Jet was the ingredient swap-out in Round 2, when the competitors were tasked with preparing a dish of sausage and peppers. Instead of being able to cook with everyday salt, pepper, spices and herbs, the contestant to receive this sabotage would be forced to use jelly beans flavored with tastes like habanero, wasabi, buttered popcorn and bacon. “That’s genius,” Jet admitted after a hearty laugh, before wincing at the thought of incorporating such oddball flavors into a dish. “I would have bid the farm and torpedoed somebody.” He soon realized how the unlucky chef to receive this sabotage ultimately offered a too-sweet plate of sausage and peppers. “The sweet … sticky sweet — it worked,” Jet said, reflecting on the contest. “I almost felt bad offering it. Almost,” Alton told him later.

Read more