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.

Pasta With Olive-Caper Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 20th, 2013

Bucatini With Olive-Caper SauceFor a quick weeknight dinner, few meals are more efficient or economical than pasta with tomato sauce. But regardless of whether you commit to making your own sauce from scratch or you rely on store-bought jars when in a pinch, everyday marinara can get tired quickly. This week, instead of calling the dish complete with just noodles and tomatoes, dress up the sauce with vegetables, olives, fresh herbs or cheeses — any or all that you happen to have on hand — to turn an ordinary meal into something special. Even if you’re pressed for time, know that it doesn’t take long to simmer the sauce with a few additional ingredients, as, in fact, most mixtures come together in the time it takes to boil and cook the pasta.

Food Network Magazine‘s can-do Bucatini With Olive-Caper Sauce (pictured above) is the ultimate in easy-yet-elegant pasta in that it boasts a bold, flavorful no-cook sauce. After making a salty paste of smashed garlic, capers and red pepper flakes, add Mediterranean ingredients like kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese and fragrant basil, then let the heat of just-cooked pasta gently warm the mixture and soften the tomatoes slightly. Ready to eat in only 25 minutes, this go-to supper elevates the mainstays of marinara — tomatoes and garlic — into a wholly new dish, one that’s simple enough for weeknight cooking but interesting enough to offer guests. When making no-cook pasta, it’s best to reserve a few cups of cooking water before draining the noodles, just in case you need to loosen the sauce with liquid.

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Star-a-Day: Chad Rosenthal

by , May 20th, 2013

Chad RosenthalYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton BrownBobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

A father of two, Chad Rosenthal, 37, lives in Ambler, Pa., and is passionate about all things barbecue and has won several barbecue competitions in the past. Now opening a comfort food eatery near Philadelphia, this self-taught cook grew up hosting a pretend cooking show for his family. He’s now eager to turn that childhood hobby into a career.

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Restaurant Revisited: Muskrat Mayhem at Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant

by in Shows, May 19th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleIn Smyrna, Del., the Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant is indeed a family-run business, owned and operated by three generations of women: grandmother, daughter and granddaughter (Patty Gallegos, Sheila Furman and Jessica Furman, respectively). Their restaurant is known for its classic preparation of a local delicacy — muskrat — but beyond that, it has struggled to succeed, serving primarily frozen food in an old-fashioned space. If their business was to have any hope of thriving in the future, Patty, Sheila and Jessica would need Robert Irvine‘s support to revamp the menu with crowd-pleasing dishes that go beyond muskrat and to enliven the interior with a fresh, welcoming design. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team helped this family learn to work together and ultimately reopened Wagon Wheel as a made-over eatery that they could be proud of. We checked in with Jessica a few months after the transformation to find out how the business is doing today.

Her mother, Sheila, is no longer working at Wagon Wheel, so Jessica will be relieving Patty and running the restaurant immediately after her graduation later this month. “I am excited to get back to work, to do what I wanted to since the beginning: make the Wagon Wheel profitable,” she tells FN Dish. “I want to become more involved in the community and create a place that people can go with their families to have a nice dinner with a great vibe.”

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Star-a-Day: Andres Guillama

by , May 19th, 2013

Andres GuillamaYou heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month’s premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.

Andres Guillama, 26, was born into a traditional Cuban family and grew up working at his father’s restaurant. After struggling with his weight, Andres changed his daily habits and lost 150 pounds. Now living in Waynesville, N.C., he’s a childhood obesity prevention coach working with children on the basics of nutrition. He’s eager to show viewers that healthy food is indeed deliciously satisfying, and he looks forward to showing them how to prepare it at home.

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Smart Choices: Foods to Fuel Kids at School

by in Family, May 18th, 2013

Whole-grain Breakfast PorridgeNow that the days are getting noticeably longer and the weather considerably warmer, summer is on everyone’s mind, including your kids’. They’re likely eagerly awaiting a sunny, stress-free summer vacation, but before they can close the books on another school year, most will be forced to endure a few weeks of final exams, projects and reports. As moms and dads, you may not be able to help out your kids with their advanced algebra problem sets or their comprehensive timeline of World War I, but you can surely send them to school with a hearty breakfast in their bellies. Just in time for test-taking season, Food Network checked in with Julie Negrin, M.S., a nutritionist, who shared Nutrition 101 for Parents and Kids. Among other benefits, following her suggestions for serving must-have wholesome foods “can lead to kids who feel calmer, sleep better … and study more.” Read on below for some of her top tips, plus find family-friendly breakfast recipes to give your kids the fuel they need to succeed.

In place of cold cereals that are likely packed with unnecessary sugar, swap in a bowl of warm oatmeal. “Stick to whole food carbohydrates that are packed with nutrients,” Julie recommends, explaining that they “take longer to digest.” Food Network Magazine‘s Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge (pictured above) is packed with healthful ingredients like red rice, steel-cut oats and barley, plus it’s sweetened with just a single cinnamon stick, fruit and a bit of brown sugar. Since the porridge is made entirely in the rice cooker, it’s a no-fuss breakfast that requires little attention. Your child is not an oatmeal eater? Try serving Food Network Kitchens’ Whole-Grain Waffles, which can be partially prepared the night before you plan to cook them.

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Best 5 Rhubarb Recipes

by in Recipes, May 16th, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb CrispPerhaps most often enjoyed alongside strawberries in a flaky pie crust, rhubarb is a seasonal produce commonly available from springtime through early summer. Although it may be thought of as a fruit, rhubarb is in fact a vegetable, boasting long celery-like stalks and large leaves, plus a slightly sour, tart taste. Since it’s naturally stringy and potentially fibrous, most recipes recommend cooking it slowly until it becomes tender and pairing it with something sweet, like sugar or fruit, to offset any bitterness. If you’ve never before cooked with rhubarb, pick up a ruby-colored bunch the next time you’re at the market, and put this fresh favorite to work in classic and creative dishes alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five rhubarb recipes below from some of your favorite chefs, like Ina, Guy and Iron Chef Marc Forgione, for a mix of traditional and deliciously inventive ideas for letting this in-season pick shine.

5. Lemon Bundt Cake With Berry Rhubarb Glaze — A make-ahead dessert that’s ideal for weekend entertaining, this crowd-pleasing cake is laced with fresh lemon juice plus tangy sour cream for moisture, and it is finished with a crimson topping of red berry jam and chopped rhubarb.

4. Rhubarb Compote — The secret to making this springtime recipe quickly and easily is letting the microwave do the work for you; after just a few minutes, the rhubarb will have broken down and become soft, ready for a topping of ice cream and crispy cinnamon-scented cereal.

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Food Network Chefs and Stars to Headline the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, May 15th, 2013

New York City Wine & Food Festival 2013Just a few weeks after wrapping up the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Food Network chefs are already preparing for this fall’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, the sixth-annual celebration of all things culinary and beverage in the heart of Manhattan. For four days in October (October 17-20), the city will welcome your favorite television stars, plus restaurateurs, professional chefs and master mixologists from across the country, as they lead hands-on classes, elegant dinners, casual tastings and late-night bashes alike.

This morning, New York Magazine‘s Grub Street announced the lineup of events, and just like in years past, the 2013 festival will be jam-packed with parties to please every food fan. Before tickets go on sale next month, get an insider’s look at where your favorite stars will be cooking, eating and drinking at the festival, then start planning your weekend for the chance to meet and mingle with them.

Get the schedule of events

The Pioneer Woman’s New York-Style Chopped Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, May 13th, 2013

New York-Style Chopped SaladIf you’ve ever been to New York City, then you know there is no shortage of delis and markets in the city, at least some version of them studding seemingly every street corner in Manhattan. Along with ready-to-go products like bags of chips, boxes of cereal and bottles of soda, a now-signature sight at many of these stores is a bountiful salad bar, one that’s a far cry from the spreads of tepid romaine and vegetables from the past.

While visiting New York, the Pioneer Woman and her daughter grabbed lunch from one of these salad bars, known for a wide array of crisp greens, fresh produce, quality cheeses, nuts and dressings. After picking out their favorite mix-ins, they watched as the ingredients were quickly tossed, then hand-chopped into a wholesome meal. Ree’s daughter Alex was so inspired by the salad she ordered there that when Ree returned to their Oklahoma ranch, she re-created the experience for her daughter at home.

Video: Watch Ree make the salad

Restaurant Revisited: Drowning in Debt at Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, May 12th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossiblePerhaps one of the most-persistent restaurant owners ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, Carolyn Cuneo from Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., admitted to Robert Irvine early on that she is “not very good with change.” After her husband, George, passed away six years ago, she’s been hesitant to make any updates to the eatery, a dark, wood-covered space serving mediocre Italian-inspired food. Carolyn was in thousands of dollars of debt, which Robert realized could be attributed to the large amount of free food she regularly gave away to her staff and customers alike. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his team worked with Carolyn to rethink her management habits and ultimately reopen Mom & Dad’s as a thriving restaurant worthy of a second chance. FN Dish checked in with Carolyn a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery has been doing.

Immediately following the overhaul, Mom & Dad’s saw a 67.7 percent increase in sales. Although the growth has since slowed a bit, “business is still good and it will be a much higher percentage than prior years,” Carolyn says, adding that she’s making stellar progress on paying back her debt.

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Easy Mother’s Day Desserts for Dads and Kids to Tackle Together

by in Family, Holidays, May 11th, 2013

Lemon Tiramisu TrifleListen up, dads. Even though Mother’s Day is just a few hours away and you may not have bought the devoted mom in your life a worthy present yet, there’s indeed time left to gift her something from the heart, a present that she’ll surely appreciate. Instead of resorting to a bouquet of flowers from the local bodega, gather your kids in the kitchen and commit to making Mom an extra-special Mother’s Day dessert. While there’s a time and a place for fancy, intricate sweets, Mother’s Day isn’t it, especially if they are to be prepared by little hands. Can-do desserts are the treats of choice instead — those that deliver tried-and-true results every time. Check out a few of FN Dish’s favorite easy desserts below, then browse Food Network’s Mother’s Day Central for more recipe inspiration and entertaining tips.

A no-bake recipe that can be prepped in only 20 minutes, Food Network Kitchens’ Lemon Tiramisu Trifle (pictured above) relies on store-bought goodies like lemon curd and ladyfinger cookies to ensure that this dessert is a cinch to prepare. Once you and your kids have arranged the first half of the cookies in a dish, start layering them with lemon syrup, lemon cream and fresh berries. While the trifle is essentially done as is, it needs to chill for at least eight hours so that the flavors of the lemon, berries and cream marry and the ladyfingers become soft with syrup. This means that it’s best to make the dessert tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, so it will be ready to enjoy after dinner.

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