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.

California Rice and Beans — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, August 5th, 2013

California Rice and BeansA Southern classic made with red or black beans and white or yellow rice, rice and beans traditionally includes the salty, smoky flavor a ham hock — or other pork product — and few, if any vegetables. Food Network Magazine puts a lighter twist on this Creole classic by skipping the meat and relying on plenty of roasted vegetables to beef up its rice bowl-like dish, California Rice and Beans (pictured above).

This weeknight-friendly recipe can be ready to eat in only 35 minutes, and thanks to a substitution of brown rice, is a light but satisfying supper. To start roasting earthy mushrooms, bell peppers and zucchini with walnuts for a crunchy bite, then make a puree of cannellini beans, fragrant parsley and lemon juice. The citrus will brighten the overall taste of the dish, smoothing out the bean mixture while adding a refreshing tang to the vegetables when mixed together. While Food Network Magazine opts for frozen rice, you can prepare a batch on the spot using the stove or a rice cooker. To serve, top the rice with the sweet, tender roasted veggies and creamy puree, and finish with sprouts.

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Take an Exclusive Video Tour of The Shed

by in Behind the Scenes, Shows, August 3rd, 2013

More than just a barbecue joint, The Shed is an experience, full of unforgettable people, live blues jams and, of course, a seemingly never-ending supply of saucy ribs, pork, chicken and brisket. You’ll get to see firsthand the work that the Orrisons — the first family of Mississippi Barbecue — put into making their business run smoothly when they share a sneak peek of their upcoming series, The Shed, tomorrow at 10pm/9c.

Before then, however, FN Dish is giving fans the first look at The Shed and an exclusive opportunity to hear from Brad and Brooke, the brother-and-sister founders of The Shed. Click the play button on the video above to get an insider’s look at the property’s junkyard, Brad’s never-before-seen outdoor office and a glimpse inside The Shed’s kitchen, where Hobson— the pit master — has prepared nearly 1 million pounds of barbecue.

Tune in Sunday at 10pm/9c to catch a sneak-peek episode of The Shed, then watch Monday at 10pm/9c to see the season premiere.

Meet the cast

Pizza on the Grill — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, August 3rd, 2013

Grilled Everything PizzaThis 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 weekend, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread features homemade grilled pizza.

It’s no question that frozen, store-bought pizza dough is a much-needed timesaver in the kitchen. After all, on busy weeknights, the ready-to-go variety makes it easy to skip delivery and bake pies at home. But on the weekends when you have some time to spare, from-scratch dough is worth the effort, as it promises a softer, chewier crust with a homemade flavor that just can’t be beat.

Grilled Everything PizzaFood Network Magazine starts with homemade dough in its recipe for Grilled Everything Pizza (pictured above). If you’ve never before grilled pizza, know that the secret to doing so successfully is having all of your toppings at the ready next to the grill. After you place the dough on the hot grates, the process of cooking the crust moves quickly, so you’ll want to have the sauce, vegetables and cheese prepared and within reach. Once you flip the dough, start building your ultimate pie with your favorite combination of ingredients, like tomato-garlic sauce, mozzarella, sweet grilled onions and tender shiitake mushrooms. Afterward, it’s important to cover the grill, as the trapped heat inside will melt the mozzarella and warm the vegetables. Finish the pie with fresh greens and Italian salami before serving for added texture and a peppery, salty bite. Browse these step-by-step photos to see how Food Network Magazine‘s recipe comes together.

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Caption It: A Superstar Returns

by , August 2nd, 2013

Guy FieriCome Sunday night, the final four competitors will face their last and most critical challenge of the competition: Convince Bob and Susie that their pilots should be green-lighted. In all-or-nothing pitches, Damaris, Rodney, Russell and Stacey will convey their show concepts to the network, but ultimately only three will be given the go-ahead. For the fallen rival, it will be the end of a 10-week journey, but for the hopefuls advancing, the most exciting experience will be yet to come. They’ll film exclusive, never-before-seen tapes illustrating their would-be series on Food Network, and it’s these pilots that you, fans, will watch when deciding who to vote for on Sunday night.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s episode: Guy Fieri is making a guest appearance, coaching the rivals through the filming process. Perhaps the ultimate pilot mentor, Guy won Star Season 2, so he’s well-aware of the anxiety, stresses and obstacles that surely accompany this stage of the competition. Do you think he’ll share sage wisdom with the contestants or stories from his own days filming a pilot?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out who makes the top three, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below. After the episode, check back to FoodNetwork.com/Star to vote for who you want to become the next Food Network Star.

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Best 5 Kebab Recipes

by in Recipes, August 1st, 2013

Build-Your-Own Shish KabobsOne of the easiest and most versatile grilled dishes you can make, kebabs are the ultimate family-friendly dinner because they can be built to each person’s individual tastes without trouble, and they take just a few minutes to prepare. If you’re cooking for both die-hard meat eaters and vegetarians, simply skip the beef, chicken or fish, and stick with vegetables alone for some of the kebabs. Little ones, however, may likely appreciate kebabs without any veggies at all, choosing instead simply grilled chicken or steak alone. In both cases, the kebabs will turn out hearty, seasonal dinners that are easy to prepare on a weeknight but satisfying enough to entertain with. When making kebabs, it’s up to you to decide whether to use wooden or metal skewers; just keep in mind that if you opt for the wooden variety, you’ll need to soak them in water before stringing on the ingredients. The liquid will help prevent the wood from flaring up and ultimately disintegrating on the grill. Check out Food Network’s top-five kebab recipes below to find five-star dinner inspiration from some of your favorite Food Network stars, like Ted Allen, Melissa, the Neelys and Tyler.

5. Thai Beef Skewers with Pickled Cucumbers — Soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar come together to do double duty in Ted’s easy recipe: The sweet and salty mixture is both a marinade for the beef and a dipping sauce for serving.

4. Fish Skewers with Basil Chimichurri — Melissa prefers to use a firm white fish, like cod, haddock or halibut, to make these herb-topped skewers, strung with seasonal zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

Get the top three recipes

Geoffrey Zakarian Named Culinary Director at The Plaza Hotel

by in Food Network Chef, July 31st, 2013

Geoffrey ZakarianAs the chef at New York’s The Lambs Club and The National restaurants and the leader of dining services at The Water Club in Atlantic City, N.J., and Ocean Blue aboard The Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship, Chopped judge and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is surely not one to sit still. This Kitchen Stadium superstar works best when his plate is full of projects, and it’s a good thing he does, because just this week he earned another title: the Culinary Director at The Plaza hotel in New York City.

One of Manhattan’s most iconic hotels, The Plaza boasts a prime location in the heart of the city, a 100-plus-year tradition of luxury and a reputation for culinary excellence that Geoffrey will only serve to improve upon in his new role. He’ll be in charge of the hotel’s Palm Court and Oak Room restaurants, plus the Oak Bar, The Champagne Bar and The Rose Club, in addition to its in-room dining menus. The Palm Court will likely be the first to see modifications, but they’ll be subtle. “I want to leave as much as we can in place, the way they do with the great old restaurants in Paris,” he told The New York Times.

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Mentors’ Restaurant-Style Meals to Make at Home

by , July 31st, 2013

Chicken CacciatoreEven if you’re a frequent restaurant diner, there are surely times when you want to dig in to dinner in the comfort of your home, and on these nights, you shouldn’t have to settle for average, predictable dishes. You can indeed turn out restaurant-style meals — like the ones the finalists reinvented during last week’s Star Challenge — with quick, simple recipes. This week, Food Network Star mentors are sharing their can-do versions of a few of the meals the competitors made over at Phil Trani’s restaurant. Try Giada‘s, Bobby‘s and Alton‘s top-rated recipes for chicken cacciatore, salmon and steak to enjoy professional chef-quality plates in your own kitchen.

Rodney transformed the chicken cacciatore at Phil’s into a pie, but Giada’s Chicken Cacciatore (pictured above) is a tried-and-true classic that’s full of traditional flavor and texture. After quickly browning chicken breasts and thighs, Giada simmers them in a bold white wine-tomato sauce with sweet bell peppers, onions and briny capers until the meat is cooked and tender.

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Host-Turned-Competitor Ted Allen Joins the Battle — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, July 30th, 2013


Although he’s overseen hundreds of rounds of Chopped, Ted had never before cooked in the kitchen, and he didn’t know the experiences of manipulating mystery ingredients, running through the pantry or competing against the clock firsthand. Until tonight, that is. In his first foray into battle against the Chopping Block, Ted went head-to-head-to-head with Marc and Maneet in an After Hours competition, while Chris filled his hosting shoes for the day. Ted and the judges watched three chef-competitors attempt a basket of crab legs, sweet vermouth, green asparagus and Mexican wedding cookies, before they, too, tried their hands at those ingredients with only 30 minutes on the clock.

Ted may have been the rookie contestant in the kitchen, but that didn’t stop him from tackling an ambitious dish of crab cakes, especially since the crab was frozen at the start of the battle. He quickly boiled it, making the meat easier to work with, before getting started on a vermouth vinaigrette. As is often the case among the chefs, he faced a potentially damning problem with just minutes left to cook, when his vinaigrette broke in the blender. Per the advice of peer and guest host Chris, however, Ted remade the mixture, and in the end, “it totally made the dish,” according to Chris.

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Giada’s Quick Pasta with Spinach Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, July 29th, 2013

Penne with Spinach SauceNo matter if you’re preparing a lean vegetarian dinner or a hearty beefy entree, cooking on Monday nights needs to be easy and fast. With summer camp schedules, after-work commitments and various errands, the first day of the week isn’t the time to experiment with complicated meals. Instead, reach for tried-and-true recipes — those that require hardly any prep time.

Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce (pictured above) is one such dinner, ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. The secret to her fuss-free dinner is relying on a no-cook sauce to dress the noodles. After whirling garlic, goat cheese and cream cheese in a food processor, she adds nutrient-rich spinach to create a tangy, smooth puree, which she mixes with whole baby spinach leaves and uses to top just-cooked penne. Be sure to save some of the pasta water when draining the noodles; you can use the starchy liquid to loosen the sauce. Before serving, season the pasta and finish with a sprinkle of nutty Parmesan cheese. Click the play button on the video below to watch Giada made this go-to dinner.

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Restaurant Revisited: Good Food, Bad Vices at Benner Street

by in Shows, July 28th, 2013

Benner StreetFaced with a mountain of debt, Dorothy and Thom Williams, husband-and-wife owners of Benner Street restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa., were unsure if they would see their retirement if the dire situation at their business didn’t improve. They looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to give their eatery the second chance it deserves, and when Robert arrived, he soon realized the root of Benner Street’s problems: its bickering owners, to start, plus its drab interior and poorly stocked bar. With just two days to work and a budget of $10,000, Robert helped Dorothy and Thom learn how to effectively manage a staff while he overhauled the restaurant’s design and revamped its menu. FN Dish checked in with Dorothy a few months after Benner Street’s reopening to find out how her business is doing today.

“Business is up 40 percent,” Dorothy says. “All the employees and family are excited about our new beginning and all are working toward our success.”

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