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.

Grilled Shiitake and Tofu Banh Mi — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, September 1st, 2014

Grilled Shiitake and Tofu Bahn MiChicken, burgers, brats and barbecue may be all the rage on Labor Day, but you don’t have to forgo your plans for Meatless Monday on account of the holiday. Celebrate the day with a hearty, satisfying cookout starring tofu instead of traditional meats. If you’ve never before cooked with tofu, know that while its flavor is plain on its own, tofu can easily adopt the bold tastes of marinades, rubs and sauces. Plus, extra-firm tofu is hearty enough to stand up to high heats, so it’s a go-to pick for grilling on this unofficial last day of summer. Try featuring it with barbecue sauce, in tacos or in a next-level take on the classic banh mi sandwich.

Ready to eat in only 35 minutes, Food Network Kitchen’s Grilled Shiitake and Tofu Banh Mi (pictured above) is both easy to make and packed with tastes and texture, boasting layer upon layer of earthy mushrooms, fresh produce and a creamy mayonnaise dressing. The secret to flavor in this sandwich lies in the marinade for the mushrooms and tofu, as this sweet and tangy combination features fresh garlic and hoisin sauce. Once the mushrooms are charred and nearly tender, and the tofu slightly smoky, serve them on a toasted roll and finish with a refreshing salad of cool cucumbers and carrots. Be sure to add a mixture of mayonnaise and Sriracha to the roll for a punch of flavor and subtle heat.

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“It’s Dress-Up Time Again” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, August 31st, 2014

From souffle suits to Greek-inspired togas, Alton Brown‘s not one to shy away from costumes, as the Cutthroat Kitchen host has gleefully auctioned off the gamut of creative getups. On this week’s new episode, he brought back the idea of dress-up to what he called on his After-Show “the golden American age of the ’50s.” In celebration of the casserole round, one chef was forced to don an apron and oven mitts a la those commonly worn by housewives several decades ago.

“Can I just say these are very, very sweaty inside,” Simon Majumdar noted to Alton after the judge put on the outfit. Chef Ian had to undergo this challenge, but as Alton told Simon, “things get a little bit spicier” when the same chef was forced to balance a cooked pie on one of his hands for the duration of the round. Although Chef Ian managed to present his casserole on time, Simon admitted that the double-decker of interference ultimately did the contestant in. “He’s a good enough chef not to undercook bacon and not to undercook zucchinis, and added to that, the lack of sauce,” Simon said when explaining that sabotages were likely to blame in this elimination.

Click the play button on the video above to hear more from Alton and Simon, and see Simon in costume.

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Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Co-Hosts of The Kitchen?

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, August 30th, 2014

Food Network's The KitchenWeek after week, the co-hosts on The Kitchen come together to celebrate the most-important room in the home. They share their top tips for easy, family-friendly meals, offer new takes on seasonal favorites and even welcome special guests to dish on the latest happenings in the culinary world and beyond. But as fans watching from your living rooms at home, how much do you know about the five faces you see on TV each week? Test your knowledge of Jeff, Geoffrey, Katie, Marcela and Sunny by answering 10 trivia questions, and see if you deserve the title of superfan.

How Well Do You Know the Co-Hosts of The Kitchen?

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Best 5 Doughnut Recipes

by in Recipes, August 30th, 2014

Italian DoughnutsWhether you’re craving a treat to pair with your morning cup of coffee or you want to indulge in a comforting dessert, look to doughnuts to satisfy your sweet tooth once and for all. These tried-and-true beauties are endlessly versatile, and while you may have enjoyed them only from the local bakery, they’re indeed possible to master at home. Start with a classic recipe for the batter, then dress up the doughnuts with cinnamon-sugar coatings, rich frostings or simple syrups for dipping. Check out Food Network’s top-five doughnut recipes below to find sweet inspiration from The Pioneer Woman, Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis and more Food Network chefs.

5. Apple Cider Doughnuts — Think of these easy-to-make doughnuts as dressed-up versions of the ones you likely enjoyed at the apple orchard. They’re laced with cinnamon and freshly made applesauce, and they boast a sweetened apple cider glaze.

4. Homemade Glazed Doughnuts — Follow The Pioneer Woman’s lead and let the batter chill overnight before frying it into doughnuts and doughnut holes. Once they’re ready, Ree Drummond dips them into a comforting vanilla glaze for tried-and-true results.

Get the top three recipes

Restaurant Revisited: No Laughing Matter at Uncle Andy’s Diner

by in Shows, August 27th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhile Robert Irvine is no stranger to unusual and unfortunate scenes after years of Restaurant: Impossible missions, nothing could have prepared him for what he saw when he pulled up to Portland, Maine’s Uncle Andy’s Diner: owner Dennis Fogg dressed in an ape costume with a poster advertising his business. “He’s just trying to get people’s attention,” Tina Fogg, Dennis’ wife and the co-owner, explained to Robert. When Dennis isn’t turning heads at the restaurant, he’s performing as a standup comedian, but as Robert explains of Uncle Andy’s, “I can see that Dennis likes to joke around, but what I see in front of me is no laughing matter.” He had only two days to work and a $10,000 budget to overhaul the interior at the family-run restaurant, rework the eatery’s menu and improve Dennis’ professional demeanor while working. Read on below to hear from Dennis and find out how his business was faring a few months after Robert’s intervention.

“They are, right off the hook, four to five times better than before Restaurant: Impossible,” Dennis says of the financials at Uncle Andy’s. He adds that in order to accommodate larger parties, “We installed booths to increase seating by 15.”

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Easy Pasta with No-Cook Sauce — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, August 25th, 2014

Mediterranean Summer Pasta with Salsa CrudaAside from boiling a pot of water for noodles, pasta doesn’t necessarily require the heat of the stove or oven, as sauces can come together with little more than some stirring or blending. And during the dog days of summer like these, that’s indeed welcome news, on account of the scorching temperatures outside. While pesto may be the most-common no-cook sauce, tomato sauces, too, can be served raw, especially at this time of year when tomatoes are at their ripest — and sweetest.

Melissa d’Arabian lets seasonal tomatoes shine in her recipe for light and fresh Mediterranean Summer Pasta with Salsa Cruda (pictured above). The star of this fuss-free supper is a simple yet bold combination of seeded tomatoes, briny olives, salty capers and fragrant mint; after incorporating these go-to ingredients with bright orange zest and olive oil, let their flavors marry for a bit, then top them with just-cooked noodles. The heat of the pasta will gently cook the salsa-like tomato mixture to create a warm, satisfying plate, finished with grated Parmesan for added flavor.

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“The Cute Factor” — Testing the Sabotages

by in Shows, August 24th, 2014

The mini kitchen is no stranger to Cutthroat Kitchen, as chefs have been asked to work in kid-size constraints challenge after challenge. But on tonight’s all-new episode, Alton Brown unveiled a different tiny tool capable of doling out similar great trials during the Round 3 chocolate cake test: the toy stand mixer. Would this kid-friendly apparatus consisting of little more than a short, hand-powered wooden whisk and a shallow plastic bowl be enough to serve as a chef’s sole means of mixing? After all, to make chocolate cake, a competitor would need to be able to incorporate both wet and dry ingredients.

Before Alton auctioned off this doozy of a sabotage, Cutthroat Kitchen’s culinary team tested on the mixer to make sure it was indeed possible to execute within the contest, and Chelsea, a food stylist on set, wondered, “Does the cute factor, you think, count as extra points for this challenge?”

Click the play button on the video above to see the test in action, and learn how the mixer earned an “approved” rating.

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Savor the Season: Your Guide to Canning Tomatoes

by in Recipes, August 23rd, 2014

Savor the Season: Your Guide to Canning TomatoesJust like the long days and high temperatures that are quintessential parts of summer, the time to enjoy the season’s fresh produce is limited. To preserve summer flavors as long as possible, many resort to pickling, jamming and jarring various fruits and vegetables, but when it comes to tomatoes, canning is the way to go. With just a few everyday tools, you can keep the juicy, fresh taste of sweet summer tomatoes alive all winter long, thanks to an easy-to-master canning process. Read on below to get the dish on canning tomatoes from Sean Timberlake, the founder of a DIY food site, then check out the details in his one-stop guide.

Tomato Picking: There are countless kinds of tomatoes on the market, but Sean recommends plum and San Marzano. “You’ll want to choose a tomato variety with ample meat … and you’ll want them just ripe.”

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Four-Wheeled Prizes On the Line in First-Ever Food Truck Face Off

by in Shows, August 21st, 2014

Food Truck Face OffIt’s no secret that the food truck industry has hit its stride in recent years, as the culture of traveling cooking and eating can be seen from coast to coast. Beginning this fall on the all-new series Food Truck Face Off, budding food truck operators will have the chance to break into that mobile arena, but not before they prove their staying power with a winning business model that can withstand the fierce competition.

Each week beginning Thursday, October 2 at 8|7c, four new teams will gather to present their food truck ideas to a rotating panel of proficient judges, but ultimately only two will earn the right to face off against each other for the win. Host Jesse Palmer, a former NFL superstar and a broadcast sports journalist, will be on hand to challenge the top contenders to 48 hours of no-nonsense contests, and if these future entrepreneurs want to impress Jesse and the judges, they must endure a roster of tests designed to demonstrate their powerful business mindset and impressive customer service — not to mention wow-worthy food.

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Restaurant Revisited: Holy Cow! at Country Cow Restaurant and Bar

by in Shows, August 20th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleThe situation at Country Cow Restaurant and Bar wasn’t what it seemed when Robert Irvine first arrived there. Co-owner Jenny Leonzi admitted that the calm demeanor shown by her business partner — and former husband — Kerry Benton wasn’t usual; yelling and swearing were more commonplace, and because of that, Robert was forced to investigate never-before-seen footage of Kerry’s behavior at the eatery. In the nearly nine seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, this is the first time that Robert has revealed the behind-the-scenes clips his producers collect ahead of his visit, and after watching those tapes, Robert saw the restaurant’s reality.

Before Robert could finish the two days of renovations at Country Cow, Kerry made the decision to leave the 12-year-old Campton, N.H., eatery once and for all, signing over all aspects of the business to Jenny. Read on below to hear from Jenny and learn how her restaurant is doing several months after its transformation.

Since Robert left, “sales were up $22,000 compared to June 2013,” says Jenny, who adds that “guests are loving the new decor.”

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