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.

Chopped Judge Marcus Samuelsson Wins James Beard Award for Newest Book

by in Events, May 4th, 2013

Marcus SamuelssonRestaurant owner. Professional chef. Author. Chopped judge. Chopped All-Stars Champion. Philanthropist.

Marcus Samuelsson’s list of accolades is a long one, and after yesterday’s James Beard Foundation Books, Broadcast & Journalism Awards, it became even more impressive. At New York City’s Gotham Hall surrounded by renown chef superstars, the leaders in food writing and the who’s-who in the culinary industry, including his Chopped peer and event host Ted Allen, Marcus accepted the Writing and Literature award for his latest book, Yes, Chef: A Memoir. He’s now a four-time James Beard Award-winning chef, having been lauded as Rising Star Chef and Best Chef: New York City and for Best International Cookbook in 1999, 2003 and 2007, respectively.

Telling the story of how Marcus moved from his birthplace in Ethiopia to Sweden and later to New York City, Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus’ lowest and highest moments both personally and professionally. The book was published in 2012, just two years after he opened his dream restaurant, Red Rooster, in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, allowing for the crisscrossing of cultures and cuisines in the area. After thanking his wife and family for believing in Yes, Chef, Marcus gave “a special shout out to Harlem” before returning to his table to celebrate.

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Tacos, Nachos and Churros: Go-To Recipes for a Kid-Friendly Cinco de Mayo

by in Family, Holidays, May 4th, 2013

Tacos Carne AsadaWhile some elements of Cinco de Mayo — the spicy salsas, spiked margaritas and too-green guacamole among them — may be no match for little ones and their picky palates, others like soft-shelled tacos, cheesy nachos and sweet churros are go-to bites that are practically made with kids’ appetites in mind. These dishes, although guaranteed kid-pleasers, are also some of the most-classic picks for traditional Mexican fare, so by serving them at your Cinco de Mayo celebration, you can be sure that grown-up guests will be happy to enjoy them, too. Whether you’re hosting a big-bash fiesta tomorrow or simply spending a quiet day at home, mark the fifth of May with a family-friendly spread of Mexican eats. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite tacos, nachos and churro recipes below, then browse Food Network’s Cinco de Mayo Central for more go-to recipes and entertaining tips.

Tyler’s top-rated Tacos Carne Asada is a must-try meal if you’re cooking for kids, because you can control the ingredients of the steak marinade and pico de gallo, making them as spicy or as mild as you want. Tyler opts for a jalapeno and a few garlic cloves in the mojo-style marinade and a serrano chile in the salsa, but little ones may appreciate less heat. After letting the meat marinate, grill it until juicy and tender, then serve it in warm tortillas. Let your kids assemble their own dream tacos by setting up a spread of traditional toppings like shredded lettuce, Jack cheese, white onion and fresh pico de gallo and inviting them to help themselves. Watch this video to see Tyler make this can-do recipe.

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Conversations With Iron Chefs: Bobby Flay Moderates Panel of Peers Before Tournament of Champions

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2013

Food Network's Iron ChefsDespite the rivalries and fierce content of the Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions (Sundays at 9pm/8c) that awaits the Chairman’s Iron Chefs, almost all of Kitchen Stadium’s elite came together at this winter’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival for an informal conversation about what it takes to be an Iron Chef, what privileges and expectations come with the job, as well as their own experiences in rising to their newfound roles. Although he won’t be competing in the series, Bobby Flay was on hand to lead Alex GuarnaschelliGeoffrey ZakarianMarc Forgione and Michael Symon in the hour-long chat, moderating the event and posing questions to both the group and the chefs individually that touched upon their histories in the kitchen, battle records, ingredients of choice and so much more. Masaharu Morimoto, the other original Iron Chef along with Bobby, couldn’t attend the panel, but the group quickly agreed that within their circle, Iron Chef Morimoto is the preeminent master of Kitchen Stadium and that a loss in battle to him is practically a rite of passage. “Everybody has to do it once,” Iron Chef Symon joked.

Although these culinary powerhouses may be all business during competition, there was no shortage of laughs and good-natured joking at this gathering, which took place just steps away from the sandy shores of South Beach, Miami. Read on below to hear from Bobby, and find out what Iron Chefs Guarnaschelli, Zakarian, Forgione and Symon had to say about life before and after they accepted their titles, what it’s like to fall in battle and their winning moments on The Next Iron Chef.

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Best 5 Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 2nd, 2013

Tortilla SoupEnchiladas, burritos and tacos may be traditional fare on Cinco de Mayo, but when it comes to feeding a crowd this weekend, look to big batches of warm chicken tortilla soup to make entertaining a cinch. A no-fuss favorite that will impress your guests, tortilla soups are packed with bold spices and hearty ingredients like beans and vegetables; plus they become an all-in-one-meal when made with moist, juicy chicken. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken tortilla soup recipes below to find the ultimate roundup of flavor-packed favorites from chefs like Guy, Rachael, Trisha and the Pioneer Woman, then browse Food Network’s entire collection of Cinco de Mayo eats and drinks.

5. Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup With Tequila Crema — After marinating chicken thighs in a mixture of garlic, cumin and chili powder, Guy grills and shreds them, then tops the chicken with a jalapeno-laced broth, fried tortilla strips and cool sour cream spiked with tequila. Click the play button on the video after the jump below to watch him make it.

4. Chicken Fajita Tortilla Soup — Rachael brings all of the flavors and textures you look for in classic fajitas to a satisfying soup by simmering chicken tenders with onions, peppers and jalapenos in a tomato broth and serving each bowl with crunchy tortilla chips, shredded cheese and creamy avocado.

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Chefs Collaborative Celebrates 20 Years of Sustainability and Its Debut Cookbook

by in Events, May 1st, 2013

Chefs Collaborative CookbookMuch is made of the importance of eating organic, community-supported, farm-to-table cuisine, but for many chefs across the country, sustainable choices are difficult to make, oftentimes simply because of a lack of information. Chefs Collaborative, however, a nonprofit organization, is committed to educating culinary industry professionals on how to best purchase ingredients, partner with vendors and plan menus in an effort to help them offer the most-wholesome meals possible.

Founded 20 years ago on the basis that food should be “local, sustainable [and] delicious,” Chefs Collaborative celebrates the natural beauty of seasonal selections and believes that food tastes better when it’s intelligently grown and responsibly sourced. This network of more than 12,000 chefs, restaurateurs, culinary experts and business specialists, among them kitchen superstars Michael Anthony and Bill Telepan from Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern and Telepan Restaurants, respectively, has teamed up not to merely tell their peers a right way to buy and prepare their food, but instead to give them the tools and resources to do so efficiently in ways that make sense for them. Part of their mission is to “build a strong membership base of hundreds of members across the country,” and, in doing so, begin a nationwide conversation about making sustainability a key focus for chefs everywhere.

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How Much of a Basket Ingredient Is Enough? — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, April 30th, 2013

“Use a little or a lot; I heard Ted say it before,” Marc Murphy told substitute host Alex Guarnaschelli during tonight’s premiere episode of Chopped After Hours. He and his competitors, fellow judges Aarón Sánchez and Chris Santos, opted to use only one portion of what was unquestionably the out-of-place ingredient in tonight’s mystery basket: coconut-chocolate bars. With just 30 minutes to cook an entree with the candy, plus pink beans, sofrito and striped bass, the guys didn’t have time to incorporate the bar as a whole, so they picked out of it elements that would be successful in their dishes. For Marc, who in a risky maneuver set off to make a cassoulet, and Chris, who prepared a Thai-style soup, it was the coconut center that was the chosen fraction; Aarón picked out the almonds to feature in his Louisiana-inspired plate of fish and grits.

What do you think of the judges using only a select portion of a mystery basket ingredient? Although doing so may indeed be battling within the rules, should they have worked harder to utilize the candy bar as a whole, or does its unusualness make up for the fact that it wasn’t incorporated fully? If a contestant had done that during competition, would the judges have been as accepting of his or her dish?

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Sandra Lee to Host the World’s Largest Bake Sale

by in Events, Food Network Chef, April 30th, 2013

Sandra LeeNew York City may be known for its myriad of posh bakeries, cupcake hot spots and sought-out dessert destinations, but tomorrow, there will be just one place to go to find the ultimate collection of sweet treats: Grand Central Terminal. Sandra Lee is lending her voice to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and hosting the World’s Largest Bake Sale alongside fellow Food Network chefs Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay, plus Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and others. In the heart of Manhattan at this 100-year-old landmark, these food superstars will dish out thousands of classic and creative baked goods donated by local chefs, and all proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength as they work to end childhood hunger in America.

Want to pick up a few treats and meet Sandra, Bobby and Guy? Support Share Our Strength’s World’s Largest Bake Sale by stopping by Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal in New York City from 10 am until 7 pm tomorrow, May 1. If you’re not in the area or can’t make it to Grand Central tomorrow, read more about the event and find out how you can help the #WorldsLargestBakeSale on Twitter.

A World of Flavors, Something Different, and Chicken, Chili and Chowder on Triple D Tonight

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 29th, 2013

Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and DivesOn tonight’s all-new episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (10pm/9c), Guy’s hitting the road in search of classic comfort foods across the country. His first stop is The Stockyards: Smokehouse & Larder in Toronto, where he’ll sample the ultimate indulgent burger and a next-level BLT. Later he’s off to Burbank, Calif., for real-deal chili at Chili John’s before he heads back east. In Philadelphia, he’s visiting Sidecar Bar & Grille, known as much for its french fries as its nontraditional clam chowder filled with a secret ingredient: gnocchi.

Before you tune in to tonight’s premiere, don’t miss Guy in a marathon of some of your favorite Triple D episodes. He’ll be stopping by Phoenix’s Chino Bandido, an eclectic hot spot combining Chinese and Caribbean fare in almost 100,000 different dishes, then setting off to find restaurants from coast to coast that refuse to stick to the norm. In Lesage, W.Va., he visits a hot dog stand serving customers in reclaimed school buses. In Miami, Fla., he’s digging into the French-inspired escargot at Scully’s Tavern, a local a dive bar.

Take the trip with him starting at 6pm/5c — follow along and bookmark the restaurants as he goes, and try your hand at the recipes.

From north and south to east and west, Guy’s been everywhere. Next time you’re traveling, download the On the Road app or check out this map to find all of Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives destinations.

Go behind the scenes with Guy

Brown-Bag Lunches Made Better — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 29th, 2013

Hummus and Grilled Vegetable WrapWhether you pack your lunch every day of the week or are looking to form the habit in an effort to salvage your paycheck, it’s best to have on hand a selection of lunch recipes that aren’t just crave-worthy but also filling and easy to pack, to avoid getting stuck in a PB&J rut. So often the star of the brown-bag lunch is a sandwich built with salt-laden deli meats and cheeses on slices of soggy bread, but with these highest-rated recipes for dressed-up sandwiches and salads from some of your favorite Food Network chefs, you can pack a midday meal that’s anything but ordinary. Check out recipes from Ellie, the Sandwich King and the Neelys below, then tell FN Dish in the comments: What’s your favorite dish to pack for lunch?

A five-star recipe that can be made in minutes, Ellie’s Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap (pictured above) combines good-for-you ingredients in an easy-to-eat sandwich that’s light but satisfying. The key to executing this dish quickly is having all of the ingredients ready and simply waiting for assembly. After quickly cooking the zucchini and slicing bell peppers and red onions, start building the wraps by spreading the bread with store-bought hummus and layering the vegetables inside. Add a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts to guarantee a welcome crunchy texture in each wholesome bite.

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Restaurant Revisited: Creepy in Clearwater at Smitty’s Restaurant

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhile there were indeed substantial problems with the food as well as the interior design at Smitty’s Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., the gravest issue came in the form of bugs — an entire infestation of cockroaches, in fact. Overrun with these crawly creatures, husband-and-wife owners Gus and Evi Gialelis’ business faced certain closure if Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team couldn’t locate the source of the swarm. But to do so they’d have to rely on a professional exterminator, something that would significantly drain the overall renovation budget.

“I have never come across a restaurant this bad in my whole career,” Robert told Gus and Evi, who felt personally defeated in the wake of their struggling business. He initially questioned whether “this may be the one restaurant that’s too far gone,” but Robert’s not one to walk away from a mission, of course. And in just two days, he reopened the doors at Smitty’s to a welcoming, clean restaurant that was dishing out quality food. FN Dish checked in with Evi a few weeks after the reopening to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Smitty’s has seen an increase in business since the show taped, and Evi says she’s noticing many first-time customers at the restaurant.

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