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.

Best 5 Lentil Soup Recipes

by in Recipes, September 18th, 2014

Lentil Vegetable SoupThe key to making soup a meal is ensuring it goes beyond basic broth and vegetables with hearty, satisfying ingredients that will fill you up. That’s where lentil soup comes in. Satisfying and good for you, lentils are packed with protein, and they pair well with a variety of flavors and textures, from hot sauce to tangy tomatoes and nutty Parmesan cheese. Check out Food Network’s top lentil soup recipes below to find a mix of classic and creative renditions from Rachael Ray, Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten and more chefs.

5. Spicy Lentil Soup — A serrano chile and a bit of grated ginger add heat to this quick-fix soup, but the spice is balanced by a final mix-in of cool, creamy Greek yogurt.

4. Sausage, Kale and Lentil Soup — Rachael mixes Tuscan kale into a base of sausage, carrots and potatoes before adding a splash of white wine for flavor, and then adds the lentils.

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Restaurant Revisited — Military: Impossible at Green Beret Club

by in Shows, September 17th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“This is very special,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Fort Bragg, N.C., for a mission near and dear to his heart. A former member of the British Royal Navy, Robert was honored to be asked to transform the decades-old Green Beret Club, an on-base eatery for service men and women of the United States Army. While the structure of the Green Beret Club was clean and boasted a fine floor, its food could be improved, especially if they swapped in fresh ingredients in place of frozen alternatives. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reworked the menu at Green Beret Club to make sure it fit the needs of the soldiers. They changed the decor inside as well, to pay tribute to the building’s history. Read on below to hear from Mikki Morris, the manager of the restaurant, and Michelle Hagwood, who is the Family and MWR Business Operations Officer, to find out how the newly renamed Smoke Bomb Grille is doing today.

By July, Smoke Bomb Grille boasted a more than 48 percent increase in business, according to Mikki and Michelle, and “about 10 percent” of diners are new customers.

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Friends Turns 20 with Central Perk Pop-Up and Free Coffee in NYC

by in Events, News, September 17th, 2014

James Michael TylerIt was 1994 when fans first met Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Rachael and Ross, the six now-beloved friends who made up the heart of the cast on NBC’s Friends. Over the course of a decade, fans watched as this tight-knit group took their places on a cozy orange couch in the coffee shop downstairs to navigate their 20s before ultimately saying goodbye to them as 30-year-olds settled into their careers and relationships in the Big Apple. Although the show took place in New York City, James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, the wonderfully awkward barista at the Central Perk coffee shop, revealed that the set was located in sunny Los Angeles. Now, however, 10 years since Friends’ finale, Central Perk is finally getting its chance to shine on the streets of Manhattan as Warner Bros. Television Group, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Eight O’Clock Coffee team up to launch a Central Perk pop-up shop in the SoHo neighborhood.

Beginning today through October 18, fans of Friends in New York City can visit Central Perk and take in the sights and sounds of the cast’s cherished hangout spot for themselves. Complete with the same orange couch and gilded espresso machine that were featured on the Central Perk set, plus more original memorabilia from the show, like Monica and Chandler’s wedding invitation and Phoebe’s guitar, the pop-up Central Perk is located at 199 Lafayette Street and will be serving free cups of Eight O’Clock Coffee daily. Not located in New York? Look out for Eight O’Clock Coffee’s limited-edition Central Perk roast at grocery stores near you or online.

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Gnocchi with Squash and Kale — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 15th, 2014

Gnocchi with Squash and KaleAlthough summer’s juicy tomatoes and sweet peaches are nearly a thing of a past, fall brings with it an abundance of produce too: Welcome to the season of crisp apples, golden sweet potatoes and a myriad of squash, like kohlrabi, acorn and butternut. A bell-shaped squash with a thick skin, butternut squash shines in dishes from creamy soups and simple salads to rich purees and hearty casseroles, like Food Network Magazine’s Gnocchi with Squash and Kale (pictured above).

The beauty of this one-pan supper is that it starts with store-bought potato gnocchi, which means that the dish can be on the table in as few as 35 minutes. After sauteing the squash in a buttery mixture with garlic and sage, add the kale and gnocchi, then top with a blanket of nutty Parmesan cheese and finish in the broiler for a cheesy, comforting family-friendly dinner ideal for busy weeknights. Since this pan moves from the stove to the broiler, be sure to start with an oven-safe pan.

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Not-So-Crispy Rice Treats — Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, September 15th, 2014

For the Cutthroat Kitchen judges to be wowed by a dish in front of them, the offering must be not only appealing to the eyes and tastes, but it must be at least somewhere reminiscent of the classic rendition of the challenge dish. When it comes to crispy rice treats — those gooey, marshmallow-laced desserts mixed with rice cereal — the need for a crispy element is baked right into the name, so it’s no surprise that when Alton Brown auctioned off a sabotage that would threaten that crunchy texture, chefs had every reason to be concerned.

Instead of cooking with true crisp rice cereal, one competitor would be forced to work with soggy, milk-soaked cereal. How could he or she resurrect the crispy texture from such a limp state? Is it even fair to ask a chef to make crispy rice treats with mushy cereal? It turns out that it is indeed possible to turn out a solid finished dish, as the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary team tested this sabotage before Alton opened it up for auction.

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Takeout Fake-Out: Your Restaurant Favorites, Delivered

by in Recipes, September 13th, 2014

Sweet and Sour PorkEven on those nights when it seems like the only quick option for dinner is delivery, think again, because with the help of a well-stocked pantry, you can turn out your favorite takeout orders at home in a hurry — and they’re often healthier than the originals. On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, Cooking Channel’s Ching-He Huang introduced her take on a Chinese takeout staple, Kung Po Chicken; it’s ready to eat in only 20 minutes, and on busy weeknights after school and work, such a timesaver is a welcome addition to your dinner repertoire. For more homemade renditions of your favorite Asian-inspired recipes, read on below to find three classic picks, each a healthy option ready to eat in fewer than 30 minutes.

A lightened-up take on traditional sweet-and-sour dishes, Food Network Magazine’s Sweet and Sour Pork (pictured above) is made with lean pork tenderloin, and it’s quickly stir-fried instead of being battered and deep-fried, to guarantee crispy, juicy results. Mix up a tangy sauce with balsamic, soy sauce and ketchup to coat the pork, and add snow peas and carrots for freshness and bright color.

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Best 5 Apple Crisp Recipes

by in Recipes, September 13th, 2014

Apple CrispUnlike pies, which require gently rolling out two sheets of dough, crisps necessitate little more than mixing up a sweet, crumbly mixture and sprinkling it atop the fruit on the bottom. From cherries and berries to tart rhubarb and juicy peaches, the options for crisp fillings are endless, but come autumn, seasonal apples are a favorite choice. Read on below to check out Food Network’s top-five apple crisp recipes to find dessert inspiration from Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Pat and Gina Neely, Ina Garten and more chefs.

5. Baked Apple with Crisp Topping — Think of Sunny’s take on apple crisp as a composed alternative to the traditional casserole-style presentation. Instead of slicing the apples into multiple pieces, she simply halves the fruit, then bakes each portion with a brown sugar-cinnamon topping.

4. Apple Crisp — “I would love to take full credit for this recipe, but it is simply the recipe my mother made year after year when I was growing up,” Alex says. “So simple and delicious.”

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Restaurant Revisited: Spicing Things Up at Spicy Bar and Grill

by in Shows, September 10th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“Nothing here is run like a typical restaurant,” Robert Irvine admitted after arriving at Spicy Bar and Grill in Falls Church, Va., and surveying the mishandled management and poorly run kitchen. Owners Mike Loh and Floyd Bui first entered the restaurant industry with plans to keep their former jobs in the car industry and with the government, respectively, but after their third partner deserted them, they were forced to take on Spicy as their sole venture. Two years later, they were facing nearly $5,000 losses every month, and it was up to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to overhaul the interior of what he called this “very generic” interior and reform the Vietnamese menu.

Thanks to Robert’s work over the course of two days, he was ultimately able to complete his mission, and Spicy Bar and Grill reopened its doors as a welcoming space with a cohesive Vietnamese list of offerings. It’s because of the Restaurant: Impossible transformation that Spicy is set up for future success under new ownership. As of July, Mike no longer works at Spicy, and as for Floyd, he notes, “I decided to sell and move on to my next venture.”

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Vegetable Paella — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 8th, 2014

Vegetable PaellaWhile some meat-focused recipes may suffer if you remove their beefy components, paella — often made with chorizo, chicken and shellfish — isn’t one of them. This classically Spanish meal is rice based, and so long as you keep the bold flavors of spices like paprika and saffron, it will maintain its tried-and-true flavor when you swap out the meat for nearly any and all of the vegetables in your refrigerator.

Food Network Magazine’s Vegetable Paella (pictured above) is a big-batch dinner that’s surprisingly simple to prepare. This stir-fry-casserole hybrid starts with fresh veggies like fennel, baby artichokes and eggplant seared on the stove, then it’s moved to the oven for the final minutes of cooking. Because this hearty meal is made with short-grain paella rice, similar to risotto rice, it needs that time in the oven so the rice can absorb the rich taste of the tomatoes and white wine and become tender. A final addition of salty capers and sweet piquillo peppers promises next-level flavor and texture, while parsley will offer a welcome burst of freshness before serving.

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Top-Notch Chefs to Turn Evilicious in Cutthroat Kitchen’s First Superstar Sabotage Tournament

by in Shows, September 8th, 2014

Alton BrownFor most A-list chefs, certain things are expected when they enter the kitchen: quality ingredients, sufficient space to work and adequate tools to get the job done. In the first-ever Cutthroat Kitchen: Superstar Sabotage tournament, however, 16 culinary masters will learn the hard way that when it comes to Alton Brown‘s Cutthroat arena, these luxuries aren’t guaranteed.

Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 9|8c, an impressive roster of famed chefs will try their hands at eviliciousness and face off against each other over the course of four heats, plus a finale of tournament-style competition. While some of the chefs may know each other and have histories of working together, don’t expect the contest to turn friendly. In true Cutthroat Kitchen form, the sabotages will be hilariously brutal, the auctions fierce and the mind games in full effect.

Meet the chefs