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.

One-on-One With the Latest Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, March 3rd, 2013

Aadip Desai and Sue MangognaFor the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.

Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

Best 5 French Onion Soup Recipes

by in Recipes, March 2nd, 2013

French Onion Soup Topped French Bread Pizzas and Salad With Dijon VinaigretteWinter comfort food at its finest, French onion soup is a hearty, complete meal in bowl that needs no adornments other than a generous blanket of rich, creamy cheese and perhaps a slice of crusty bread. The key to making any French onion soup is properly cooking the onions. Instead of quickly sauteing them until browned, it’s important to cook them over low heat for a long period of time until they’re soft, boasting a deliciously sweet taste and deep golden, caramelized color. Check out Food Network’s top-five French onion soup recipes below to find out how your favorite chefs and stars put their signature spins on this crave-worthy seasonal soup.

5. Rachael’s French Onion Soup-Topped French Bread Pizzas and Salad With Dijon Vinaigrette (pictured above) — Rachael takes the classic ingredients of French onion soup out of a bowl and turns them into an eat-with-your-hands meal by piling sherry-spiked onions and a duo of decadent cheeses atop French bread and then baking.

4. Anne’s French Onion Soup — “Caramelized onions are very sweet and require a fair amount of salt,” Anne says of her simple-to-make soup, which is why she strongly recommends tasting the broth before serving.

Get the top three recipes

DIY Dinners: Ingredient Bars to Please the Whole Family

by in Family, Recipes, March 2nd, 2013

All American Beef TacosPicture this: It’s about 5:00 in the evening and you ask your family what they want for dinner. Your spouse responds with one dish — but it’s not what you’re craving — and what your kids answer with isn’t appealing to the grownups in the house. Sound familiar?

It can be downright impossible to please everyone at the dinner table with a single meal, but that doesn’t mean you have to cook multiple recipes to guarantee everyone enjoys what they’re eating. The trick is to pick a single base dish and let each person customize it to his or her own tastes with their favorite ingredients. Family-friendly picks like pizza, tacos and baked potatoes are blank-slate recipes that can be prepped to a certain point, then finished by each person with preferred additions depending on if they are a vegetarian or diehard carnivore, or have a picky palate or simple distaste for certain foods. To serve these make-it-yourself dinners, set up an ingredient bar with toppings, condiments and more to which your family can help themselves; they’ll be able to choose how much of each component they want, plus the interactive element of mealtime will go a long way in getting little ones excited about their food.

For a traditional taco preparation, stick with Alton’s All-American Beef Taco (pictured above). He sautes ground beef with Taco Potion #19 — his signature blend of spices — and serves it in freshly fried tortilla shells before filling each with optional add-ons like crumbled panela cheese, pickled jalapeno, cool lettuce and cilantro.

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Ice Cream Meltdowns — Worst Cooks in America Caption It

by in Shows, March 1st, 2013

Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby FlayJust when the recruits are starting to adjust to the stresses of Worst Cooks in America Boot Camp and the expectations that come with each Skill Drill and Main Dish Challenge, Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay are ready to throw a twist into their list of already tricky demands. On Sunday, for the first time, the mentors will leave the kitchen during the Skill Drill while the recruits prep homemade gelato, which will be subject to a blind tasting. This means that the competitors will be wholly alone in their efforts this week, as they won’t have the security of nearby coaches or the opportunity to defend their dishes as they’re tasted.

Given the sneak-peek image above from Sunday’s all-new episode, it seems as though both Chefs Anne and Bobby are left stunned — and not in a good way — with what chilly treats their team members have scooped for them. Here, both mentors look with confusion and perhaps pure horror at the icy concoction before them, but since it’s a blind tasting, they can’t tell whose recruit is responsible for this dessert meltdown. Do you think the chefs will be able to guess based on flavor and presentation who prepared this plate, and if so, who’s most likely to have crafted this unsuccessful confection?

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Restaurant Revisited: Dinner Bell Restaurant

by in Shows, February 27th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible

Not long after Robert Irvine arrived at Dinner Bell Restaurant in Madison, Tenn., it was clear to him that this mission would be unlike any he had done in the past. “This has got to be the most desperate restaurant I’ve ever been to,” he reflected after meeting owner Tommy Kirkpatrick. Before its Restaurant: Impossible experience, Dinner Bell was just two days away from closing its doors, so it was up to Robert and his team to rescue the eatery from the brink of financial ruin. Despite initial tension between Robert and Tommy, who was frustrated with the acknowledgment of his failures, Dinner Bell ultimately reopened to a full house after a much-needed deep clean, a revamping of the menu and an interior overhaul. We checked in with Tommy a few months after the renovation to find out how his business is doing today.

Dinner Bell remains “very clean,” according to Tommy, who, since the renovation, has held his employees accountable to excellence in both the front and back of the house. “Kitchen staff are expected to taste the food before each shift to ensure quality and expected to keep the kitchen in clean, working order,” he tells us. The servers “definitely look more professional than they did before the show, and Tommy is “ensuring [they] are consistently wiping the tables and table bases down, and guests are greeted with personality and friendliness.”

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Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Guide to Following Recipes

by in Events, Food Network Chef, February 27th, 2013

Iron Chef Michael SymonHow many times have you searched for the ultimate recipe only to find one that’s nearly what you’re looking for but features perhaps a single ingredient or flavor that you simply can’t bare? When that happens, do you scrap the recipe altogether, vowing to find one that’s perfect, or do you settle for the undesired taste because the rest of the recipe fits the bill? We caught up with Iron Chef Michael Symon at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and he told us that instead of an all-or-nothing approach to recipes, look at them as detailed suggestions you can use to build the dish that best suits your tastes.

“Let your palate be your guide,” Iron Chef Symon said. He was reminded of a time that his father suffered through a batch of salsa that, while it was made according to its recipe’s instructions, boasted cilantro, an herb his father doesn’t like. Looking back on the moment now, Iron Chef Symon recalled that it would have been perfectly acceptable for his father to swap in other “soft, leafy herbs” for the cilantro so as to keep with his preferences and ultimately allow him to enjoy the dish.

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Know Your Knife Skills: Worst Cooks Recruits Butcher Proper Cutting Techniques

by in Shows, February 25th, 2013

When it comes to meal prep, not much can be done in the kitchen without a knife, so it’s no surprise that Chefs Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell devoted an entire week to demonstrating basic knife skills on Sunday’s episode of Worst Cooks in America. Both mentors showed off the whats and hows of various cuts like a fillet, slice, dice, julienne and chiffonade to their team members, some of whom were even unfamiliar with how to hold a knife and admitted to a strong fear of the sharp objects.

In the Skill Drill, the recruits were tasked with filleting whole black sea basses plus chopping oddly shaped produce to practice what they’d learned, and while some proved to be successful, a few contestants managed to cut their fingers and hands on the stainless-steel blades. Perhaps the most difficult test came during the Main Dish Challenge, however, when each recruit lifted a cloche to find an entire chicken with its head and feet still attached. Chefs Bobby and Anne both detailed the proper method for butchering the bird, but Chef Anne treated her team to a spine-ectomy how-to so that they could recreate her dish of chicken chasseur.

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Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s Eggplant Parmigiana — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, February 25th, 2013

Eggplant ParmigianaDon’t let the fact that this recipe was created by an Iron Chef fool you into thinking that it’s difficult to make or features particularly unusual cooking techniques. Alex Guarnaschelli’s Eggplant Parmigiana (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine is simply a dressed-up version of an Italian classic, and is in fact easy to prepare at home.

The secret to her family-friendly dish is the garlic-laced tomato sauce, made deliciously sweet not by the dash of sugar she adds (that’s there to balance the acidity of the tomatoes) but by the onions that are slowly cooked until tender and translucent. To make this all-in-one meal, she coats slices of eggplant in herbed breadcrumbs, then fries them and layers the golden-brown beauties in a deep baking dish with the tomato sauce and a trio of cheeses including mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. After 40 minutes in the oven, the top layer of mozzarella will be melted and bubbling and each tier of eggplant will be piping hot and ready to enjoy.

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One-on-One With the Latest Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, February 24th, 2013

Team Anne BurrellFor the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.

Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

One-on-One With the Latest Blue Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, February 24th, 2013

Team Bobby FlayFor the 14 recruits competing on Worst Cooks in America, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn kitchen basics and culinary how-tos from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay — two of New York City’s top restaurant chefs and some of Food Network’s most celebrated stars. It’s up to the contestants to use the tools the chefs provide to learn how to master certain skills on their own and demonstrate progress in the kitchen. Despite their best efforts, however, one recruit from Chef Anne’s Red Team and another from Chef Bobby’s Blue Team will ultimately succumb to the challenges of Boot Camp week after week as they compete for $25,000 and bragging rights for their coach.

Check back with FN Dish every Sunday after the episode for the first interviews with the latest eliminated contestants to read their exclusive reflections on the competition, thoughts on difficult challenges, plans for the future and more.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home