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.

Restaurant Revisited: The Writing on the Wall at Bama Q

by in Shows, May 28th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleBefore Robert Irvine got to work on the failing Big Jim’s Bama Q in Hammondville, Ala., he talked with Big Jim himself, who, while no longer the owner of the restaurant, was able to tell Robert stories of a once-successful venture at the barbecue-focused eatery, ultimately proving that the business could be profitable. The new owner of Big Jim’s, Daniel Millican, had failed to make the business his own, leaving nearly all of the original leader’s menu, decor and practices in place. With time, Daniel had become disconnected from the restaurant after spending much of his time away at his other business, a sawmill, and Robert questioned whether Daniel wanted to be involved going forward. It took Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to inspire Daniel, overhaul the mismatched design, establish new processes for tuning out authentic barbecue and, in perhaps the most-dramatic update, change the name of the business to simply Bama Q. Read on below to hear from Daniel and his sister-in-law, Carolyn, the former assistant manager of the restaurant, in an exclusive interview and find out how his business is faring today.

Bama Q is earning almost $1,000 more per week than before its Impossible transformation, and Carolyn notes: “Everyone loves the inside of the restaurant. A lot of people are responding to the floors, the tables, the chicken wire. … It feels much more open and welcoming.”

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Best 5 Chicken Breast Recipes

by in Recipes, May 28th, 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken BreastsIt’s no secret that chicken breasts are perhaps the ultimate ingredient workhorses: They do double duty between lunch and dinner, afford themselves to easily reheated leftovers, stand up to nearly every cooking style and pair well with the flavors of countless cuisines. Because this culinary superstar is so versatile, it’s a blank canvas that can be customized to your family’s favorite tastes and whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. But chicken breasts are also easy to deem bland, which is why it’s important to dress them up so they take on the bold flavors of marinades, spice rubs, sauces and toppings. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken breast dishes below to find classic and creative picks from Guy, Ina, Bobby, Melissa and Rachael.

5. Chicken Breasts with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives — Guy makes a pocket within each of his chicken breasts and stuffs them with Mediterranean-inspired flavors before finishing them with a lemon-sun-dried tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese.

4. Lemon Chicken Breasts — With a five-star rating and more than 500 user reviews, Ina’s fail-proof chicken is baked in a succulent mixture of lemon juice, white wine and herbs. Perhaps best of all, it’s a good-for-you meal that can be ready to eat in only one hour.

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Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and Olives — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 26th, 2014

Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and OlivesWhile burgers, hot dogs and barbecue may be classic picks on Memorial Day, there’s no reason to forgo a Meatless Monday today, as it’s indeed possible to enjoy the tradition of grilling without indulging in meat. The secret is to swap in a different hearty ingredient in place of the usual beef, chicken or pork. Enter cauliflower. Every bit as hefty as a hunk of meat, cauliflower stands up well to high-temperature cooking, so it can be cooked on the grill, and it’s a natural pairing for bold flavors, which makes it easy to dress up with spice rubs and seasonings. Plus, if you slice a head of cauliflower into thick-cut steaks instead of tiny florets, the results are satisfying enough to be served as a main dish for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Israeli Couscous and Olives (pictured above) is an all-in-one dish that’s both simple to make in a hurry and packed with plenty of tastes and textures. The key to this recipe is the harissa-olive oil mixture that’s rubbed onto the cauliflower before cooking; the warm spice infuses the vegetable as it cooks, and what results is tender, smoky cauliflower every time. Because the cauliflower cooks in throwaway foil wrapping, cleaning up the grill is a cinch. Serve the vegetable with a simple side of lemon-ginger couscous studded with raisins and tangy feta cheese, and finish each plate with green olives and a squeeze of bright lemon juice.

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Playing with Fire — Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, May 25th, 2014


No matter what recipe you’re cooking, when it comes to being prepared in the kitchen, few things are more important than a quality heat source. From live flames from a gas stove to the warmth of an oven or the power from a microwave, heat is needed to make critical things happen, and without it, or with an inferior heat supply, cooking anything well can be nearly impossible. On tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown auctioned off a sabotage that would seem to spell doom for one competitor: Instead of being able to prepare a clambake on a conventional stove, one chef would have to use tiny flame cubes set within a miniature prop. Was this too much to ask of a contestant in a 30-minute round? No, the sabotage was indeed fair, as the culinary team had tested the obstacle beforehand.

Click the play button on the video above to watch how this test unfolded, and learn which elements of the sabotage were approved and why some parts weren’t successful.

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Vote for the Ultimate Picnic Dish

by in Recipes, May 24th, 2014

PicnicWith the unofficial start of summer just days away, it’s officially time to head outside and take advantage of warmer temperatures, and for many, that means moving the cooking and eating to the outdoors. On this morning’s brand-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts shared go-to tips for packing easy picnics, explaining that that these meals don’t have to be elaborate to be enjoyable. All it takes is a little planning and, of course, fuss-free foods to pull off a memorable celebration.

As you start planning your first outdoor meal of the season, FN Dish wants to know: What do you consider the one must-have plate at your picnic? Do you prefer simple finger foods like meat-and-cheese platters, just as the co-hosts do, or do you opt for heartier fare like juicy fried chicken? Is it all about the sides, like potato and pasta salads, or do you reach for the sweet treats alone? Cast your vote in the poll below, then read on to find some of Food Network’s favorite picnic essentials.

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Restaurant Revisited: Living in the Dark Ages at Cave Inn BBQ

by in Shows, May 21st, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleJust when fans likely thought that Robert Irvine had seen it all after nearly eight seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, this week he opened the doors to a themed restaurant for the first time. Cave Inn BBQ, located in Winter Garden, Fla., offered a prehistoric ambiance, complete with pictures of dinosaurs and fake rocks in the dining room and a menu of hearty, meaty plates. While Robert was taken aback by Cave Inn’s display, he couldn’t convince owner Buzz Klavans to abandon his business’ theme, and ultimately Robert and the Restaurant: Impossible crew continued the theme during the transformation. After just two days and with a $10,000 budget, the Stone Age-inspired restaurant reopened, reinvigorated with a second chance at success. Read on below to hear from Buzz to find out how this business is doing today.

“Revenue has risen about 10 to 18 percent,” Buzz says. “I’m doing my best to follow all of Robert’s advice — some things are easier said than done, especially regarding [the] back of house — but we’re trying.”

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Best 5 Broccoli Salad Recipes

by in Recipes, May 20th, 2014

Broccoli and Cauliflower SaladWith Memorial Day just a few days away, the time is now to start planning your holiday weekend menu. No matter if you’ll be hosting a neighborhood celebration or simply enjoying a cookout with your family, you’ll likely be firing up the barbecue for the first time this season and breaking it in with smoky grilled chicken, cheesy hamburgers and all-American hot dogs. When it comes to side dishes, however, think beyond such classics as pasta and potato salads, and try a vegetable-based option instead. Broccoli salad is easy to make in a hurry, and it’s a crowd-pleasing addition to potluck picnics; the secret to most recipes is letting the fresh flavor of broccoli shine and only enhancing it with complementary ingredients. Check out Food Network’s top-five broccoli salad recipes below to find traditional and dressed-up takes on this go-to favorite.

5. Broccoli and Mozzarella Salad — Made with just a handful of ingredients, Sandra’s five-minute dish is a next-level take on the caprese salad. Her version calls for frozen broccoli florets, mini mozzarella balls and juicy cherry tomatoes.

4. The Neelys’ Broccoli Salad — “This is a way of getting away from just the traditional salads,” Pat says of his five-star creation, mixed with decadent bacon and crisp red onions.

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