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 Zucchini Recipes

by in Recipes, June 12th, 2013

Grilled Zucchini Salad With Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette and Shaved Romano and Toasted Pine NutsWhether you grow it in your backyard garden, shop for it at the farmers’ market or just pick it up in the produce aisle, zucchini is a can’t-miss vegetable this time of year, as this mild, versatile squash is at its peak of freshness during the warm summer months. Simply sauteed zucchini with olive oil and seasoning is a go-to standby, but when you want to dress it up or feature it in creative ways, think beyond everyday preparations and check out Food Network’s best-five zucchini recipes below. Some of your favorite chefs, including Ina and Bobby, showcase this seasonal pick in their top-rated dishes for comforting gratin, quick salads and more can-do plates that are elegant enough to serve to company but easy enough to prepare on a weeknight.

5. Zucchini Gratin — Ina uses just a handful of ingredients to make her big-batch casserole, laced with a buttery sauce and finished with cheesy breadcrumbs for a textured topping.

4. Zucchini Corn Fritters — The secret to making Food Network Magazine‘s quick side dish is salting the zucchini after you shred it and letting it rest before combining it with sauteed corn and onions; this process will draw out much of its moisture, so when you fry the zucchini, it becomes deliciously crisp and golden brown.

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Crisp Mozzarella Sticks — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, June 10th, 2013

Crisp Mozzarella SticksThink back to the mozzarella sticks you ate as a child (or last weekend at the sports bar): the frozen-then-baked sticks whose skin was soggy and cheese tough, or the grease-laden logs overpowered by the taste of dried herbs. Now forget them entirely, because these mozzarella sticks are nothing like those. Light and fresh, once-indulgent cheese sticks have been made over and are now not only healthy but deliciously satisfying, too.

The secret to making Food Network Kitchens’ Crisp Mozzarella Sticks (pictured above) is using wholesome ingredients in each component of the dish. To make the coating, stick with ground whole-grain Melba toasts for texture and add whole-wheat breadcrumbs, plus fresh oregano and a dash of cayenne for flavor. After a double-dredge process in an egg-garlic batter and this dry mixture, the part-skim string cheese will be generously coated in a thick, crunchy crust. It’s important to let the sticks chill in the freezer before baking them to golden brown so that the cheese doesn’t melt as soon as it meets the heat. Served alongside a bowl of marinara sauce for easy dunking, these eat-with-your-hands beauties are a timeless, kid-approved favorite.

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Restaurant Revisited: Lost in the Woods at Pinehurst Country Lodge

by in Shows, June 9th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleRoger Murray, the owner of Pinehurst Country Lodge in Greeley, Pa., had no experience in either working at or owning a restaurant before he purchased the business just six months ago. Although he was once prosperous in the corporate world, Roger’s venture into the culinary industry proved less successful, and he was facing a $350,000 debt when Robert Irvine arrived to rescue him from despair. Strung with unattractive holiday lights and offering a menu of unpalatable food, Pinehurst Country Lodge was in desperate need of the design and menu revamps that Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible team was ready to provide. After just two days and with only $10,000, Pinehurst reopened to a bustling crowd and offered guests a menu of freshly prepared meals. FN Dish checked in with Roger a few months after Robert left to find out how his eatery is doing today.

“Business has picked up since the filming,” Roger tells us. “Overall I’d give it a 10 percent bump revenue-wise but consider my bottom line to be expanding more than that.” Pinehurst is indeed making more money than it was before its transformation, and Roger adds that he’s now seeing income from the bar.

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Stretching the Value of Steak — Weekend Cookout

by in Recipes, June 8th, 2013

Skirt SteakThis 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 Friday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread features juicy grilled steak that won’t break the bank.

No matter if you’re buying filet mignon or flank steak, the price of beef can leave a sizable dent in your wallet, especially if you’re shopping to feed a crowd. But even though it’s a splurge item for many, steak is indeed a can-do meat for your next weekend cookout; the trick is knowing what to buy and how to stretch it so that you get the most for your money.

Choosing the Best Cut
About that filet mignon — skip it. Stick to the flank or other budget-friendly cuts like hanger or skirt steak. These pieces of beef are every bit as flavorful as their expensive counterparts, but they’re thinner, so they’re more prone to overcooking. To remedy that and dodge chewy meat, simply keep the cooking time to a minimum. In his recipe for Skirt Steak (pictured above), Alton cooks the beef on hot charcoals for just 60 seconds on each side, then keeps it wrapped in foil for 15 minutes; the direct-heat method ensures that the meat develops a charred crust, while the aluminum tent helps it become tender. Click the play button on the video below to watch Alton make it.

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Caption It: Alton Means Business

by , June 7th, 2013

Alton Brown and Giada De LaurentiisWith only 11 weeks of competition between their premiere performances and the finale, Food Network Star hopefuls have the narrowest of windows to leave a lasting impression on the Selection Committee. It’s up to them to find their culinary hooks quickly, sharpen their kitchen skills and ultimately convince the mentors of their staying power on the network. With Daniela’s early departure last week, the contestants learned that most will not enjoy the time they need to prove their progress, and come Sunday, their star potential will be tested in a new way during live demonstrations at a Burger Bash-inspired event.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from this weekend’s episode: Alton’s delivering what appears to be a not-so-gentle remark to the competitors during evaluation. Do you think he’s speaking to the entire group, or is he singling out one finalist who’s especially struggling? After just two weeks of competition, should the mentors demand progress, or should they understand the time it takes to learn and improve? How long is too long to wait for a finalist to demonstrate growth, on the plate, on camera and on stage?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what Alton’s saying, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this evaluation moment in the comments below.

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Mall Food Made Better on Tyler Florence’s Upcoming Food Court Wars

by in Shows, June 6th, 2013

Tyler FlorenceTyler Florence is on a mission this summer to shine a light on one area of the restaurant industry that’s rarely the focus of inspired eats: shopping mall food courts. In his brand-new series, Food Court Wars, Tyler judges teams of budding entrepreneurs with focused food points of view as they face off in malls across the country for the chance to open their dream eatery.

With Tyler — a longtime professional chef and restaurant owner — at the helm, it won’t be enough for the teams to turn out quick-service meals. These groups of spouses and friends must demonstrate their management skills and business-minded expertise, plus their abilities to offer the highest-quality food, if they want to earn their own business and run it rent-free for an entire year. Each week, they’ll battle in challenges that test their original marketing ideas, purchasing know-how and basic food preparation skills before the most-profitable team can claim the win.

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Best 5 BBQ Ribs

by in Recipes, June 6th, 2013

Backyard Baby Back RibsAlong with hot dogs, burgers and potato salad, tender, juicy barbecued ribs are a cookout classic and ideal for relaxed, casual entertaining. Whether you like pork ribs or beef, a thick coating of saucy glaze or a simple dry rub, there’s a rib recipe to please every palate, and Food Network’s top-five picks below are five-star favorites that won’t disappoint. Check out these top-rated barbecued ribs from Sandra, the Neelys, Alton and more Food Network chefs to find out how to make their no-fail recipes at home.

5. Seattle BBQ Beef Ribs — Before grilling the ribs with a tangy topping of store-bought barbecue sauce and molasses, Sandra precooks them by boiling the rack in a mixture of vegetable broth and apple juice, ensuring that the meat turns out moist and is ready to eat in a flash.

4. Sweet Cola Ribs — The Neelys say, “The smoke and indirect heat leave you with deliciously tender ribs while the cola packs a punch of unexpected sweetness.” The key to making their recipe is not adding the cola glaze until the end of cooking, so as not to burn the sugars.

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