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.

Geoffrey Zakarian’s Valentine’s Day Souffle

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, February 12th, 2013

Geoffrey ZakarianInstead of fighting the crowds of couples at hot spot restaurants on Valentine’s Day, treat your sweetie to an extra-special dinner and dessert at home on Thursday. Food Network’s one-stop Valentine’s Day destination has everything you need to plan a savory meal for two, while Chopped judge and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian has the ultimate confection for an unforgettable supper — a showstopping dessert that’s by far more impressive looking than it is difficult to prepare, even for the most novice bakers among us.

FN Dish caught up with Geoffrey during a live cooking demonstration at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., and he shared his tried-and-true Flourless Raspberry Souffle recipe from his cookbook, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table. He’s the first to admit that most people are “freaked out by souffles,” but he promises that there’s no reason to be. A master of souffles himself, Geoffrey first began making them in his earliest days as a chef at New York City’s Le Cirque restaurant. “That was my first job in the kitchen,” he told us. “I was a souffle chef.” There he’d prepare nearly 150 souffles every day, and he quickly picked up “all the tricks of the trade.”

Whether you’ve dabbled in from-scratch souffles before or are new to making them, Geoffrey explains that there are a few must-know secrets to pulling off this dessert successfully. Check out his top-five tips for baking up light, fluffy souffles every time, then read on to find his can-do recipe.

Geoffrey’s souffle tips and recipe

Spaghetti and No-Meat Balls — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, February 11th, 2013

Spaghetti and No-Meat BallsTofu often gets a bad culinary rap—and rightfully so. When eaten on its own, plain tofu can be quite boring and doesn’t taste like much of anything. When given an intense flavor boost in the form of bold sauces or complementary ingredients, however, it takes on rich, enjoyable flavors and becomes a go-to substitute for meat in countless traditionally beefy dishes, like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers.

In Food Network Magazine‘s recipe for Spaghetti and No-Meat Balls (pictured above), extra-firm tofu is incorporated into a mixture of garlic-laced mushrooms, sauteed onions and a pinch of red pepper flakes, which adds a hearty punch of flavor without a lot of fat. Together with breadcrumbs, the tofu binds the blend together so that it can be rolled into two-bite no-meat balls. A quick pan-fry turns the balls a deep golden-brown hue and gives them a slight crust on the outside. After simmering them in a light tomato-basil sauce, toss the nonmeatballs with your favorite kind of pasta for a family-friendly dinner than can be prepped in less than an hour.

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Tough Critics: Kid-Approved Recipes With Vegetables

by in Family, February 10th, 2013

Mini Chicken and Broccoli Pot PiesNo matter whether your child is a wonderfully adventurous eater or has a notorious picky palate, convincing little ones to eat vegetables can be a challenge. After all, you want them to not just tolerate the green things but to enjoy them as well. Instead of “tricking” kids into eating vegetables by hiding them in purees, try simply incorporating them as they are into foods they already know and love. The idea is that over time, they’ll associate veggies with their favorite dishes and realize that they’re not so bad after all. Known kid-friendly picks like pot pies, not-too-spicy chili and pasta are easy vehicles for showcasing new vegetables without becoming overpowered by them. Try Food Network’s favorite kid-approved recipes below, then tell us in the comments: How do you encourage your kids to eat vegetables?

Giada transforms a comfort food favorite — the pot pie — into a kid-friendly staple simply by shrinking its size. Imagine a single big-batch pot pie. Now picture what a scoop of that on a plate looks like to a child. It’s not exactly appealing, even though the flavors are surely top-notch, right? The key to Giada’s top-rated recipe for Mini Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pies (pictured above) is making each pie small enough for kids to eat with their hands in just a few bites. If little ones see a piping-hot pile of vegetables taking up a large portion of their plate, chances are they’ll feel overwhelmed by what’s staring back at them. Thanks to their balance of fresh broccoli florets, tender chopped chicken and a creamy cheese sauce, Giada’s pot pies, however, aren’t intimidating to even the most stubborn veggie-refusers. Best of all, this recipe takes advantage of frozen store-bought pie crust so it’s a cinch for moms and dads to prepare on weeknights.

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Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Greek Yogurt

by in Shows, February 9th, 2013

Greek YogurtSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-four competition, the focus is now on Greek yogurt, which made an appearance in the dessert basket alongside maraschino cherries, canned espresso and corn nuts.

Tangier than traditional yogurt, the Greek variety has undergone an extensive straining process so it’s noticeably thick and creamy, not watery in the least. Since it’s not too sweet, Greek yogurt is an easy substitute for sour cream in traditionally decadent recipes, plus it’s packed with protein so it’s a good-for-you alternative that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture.

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Best 5 Sloppy Joe Recipes

by in Recipes, February 7th, 2013

Super Sloppy JoesJust like the everyday hamburger, sloppy joes are blank culinary canvases, easily adaptable to your family’s favorite flavors and the current stock of ingredients in your refrigerator. Whether you make them with ground beef or turkey, tomato or Buffalo sauce, Italian seasoning or cayenne pepper, sloppy joes provide hearty, comforting dinners that make winter mealtime a cinch. This weekend, ditch the canned stuff and try fresh, family-friendly varieties instead from some of your favorite Food Network chefs like Rachael and Jeff. Our top five sloppy joe recipes below are simple to prepare on even the busiest of weeknights, and with classic and creative interpretations of the tried-and-true, there’s a sloppy sandwich below to please every palate.

5. Buffalo Turkey Sloppy Joes — Pile a buttery ground turkey-hot sauce combination and creamy blue cheese topping between soft rolls to create Buffalo-style taste and texture in sandwich form, without any wings.

4. Italian Sloppy Joes — Made with a trifecta of ground meats — beef, pork and veal — the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro’s, garlic-scented sloppy joes are served on crusty hero rolls with slices of provolone cheese and pickled vegetables.

Get the top three recipes

Chatting With the Round-4 Winner of Chopped Champions

by in Shows, February 5th, 2013

Chefs Rob Evans and Jean-Louis GerinIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won

Asking the Tough Questions: Worst Cooks Recruits Take Culinary Quiz

by in Shows, February 5th, 2013

Worst Cooks in AmericaA brand-new season of Worst Cooks in America premieres in a few weeks — on Sunday, February 17 at 9pm/8c — and you may be wondering just how disastrous this year’s crop of culinary recruits really is in the kitchen. Do they know how to deglaze a pan, or are they such beginners that they’ve never seen a skillet? Are they familiar with basic kitchen utensils like the mandolin? What’s their understanding of spices?

We were asking ourselves these questions and others, and decided to put the recruits’ kitchen knowledge to the test. Watch the video below to find out how the contestants fared in our exclusive culinary quiz and see them answer — often with hilariously shocking responses —some of the most seemingly basic cooking questions. Click the play button to hear what they had to say, then tell us in the comments: Are you rooting for Team Anne or Team Bobby this season?

Watch the video now

Perfect Fondue — Meatless Monday

by in Holidays, Recipes, February 4th, 2013

Perfect FondueIf you’re stuck in a dinner rut, try introducing simple, comforting fondue to your weekday recipe repertoire. Packed with deliciously soft, creamy cheeses, Food Network Magazine‘s Perfect Fondue (pictured above) recipe is a must-try for both first-time fondue makers and experienced cheese-melters alike.

The beauty of this recipe is that you get to pick what cheese is used based on your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. If you have cheddar left over from game-day nachos, use that, but if you happen to be cooking for a cheese monger, it may be best to melt a creamy Brie or Gouda instead. No matter which cheese — or combination of cheeses — you choose, just add it to a garlic-rubbed saucepan simmering with white wine and lemon juice and finish with a few tablespoons of flour. This binding flour will help thicken the fondue and ensure that the end result is deliciously thick and creamy. Served alongside an array of dippers like crusty bread, fresh or roasted vegetables, grilled polenta and French fries, this 10-minute recipe is the ultimate in complete, go-to dinners. Although a fondue pot may add to the wow factor of presentation, it’s not necessary to pull off a successful dish; a standard slow cooker set to low will do the job just as well. To maintain a meatless meal, skip the meaty dippers like meatballs and prosciutto.

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Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Haricot Verts

by in Shows, February 2nd, 2013

Haricot Verts With Shaved ParmesanSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-three competition, the focus is now on haricot verts, which made an appearance in the appetizer basket alongside smoked eel, cream cheese spread and quince paste.

While haricot verts sounds fancy, it actually translates to something we all know and enjoy: green beans. These French string beans are similar in color and shape to their American cousins, but they’re longer and slimmer, are slightly more tender and boast a more robust flavor than the standard variety. They stand up well to a host of cooking techniques including boiling, roasting and grilling, and because they’re so thin, haricot verts can be cooked in mere minutes. Just as the Chopped Champions chefs demonstrated in dressing their haricot verts with the cream cheese spread or a light vinaigrette, these green beans pair well with a mix of tastes and textures, though they can surely be enjoyed with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of seasonings. If you’ve never cooked with haricot verts before, pick up some at the grocery store (they’re found in the produce aisle near the standard green beans), then try them out in the easy recipes below, each ready in just 30 minutes or fewer.

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Super-Easy Dishes for a Crowd — Football Fare

by in Recipes, February 1st, 2013

BBQ Pork SandwichGame Day is just hours away, and whether you’ve been planning your tailgate-ready menu for days or have just started thinking about what you’ll serve, rest assured that Food Network has easy recipe ideas to see you through your big game bash. Perhaps more than anything else on Sunday, it will be important that you have enough food to feed the mass of hungry football fans gathering in your living room. But while you want to offer a super-large spread of eats and drinks, you surely don’t want to spend your evening in the kitchen cooking it while your friends are cheering about the latest touchdown. To make sure that you enjoy game day too, stick with fuss-free recipes for slow-cooked classics and easy-to-make sandwiches to feed the whole group without a lot of time or effort. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite crowd-pleasing recipes below, then find a complete game-day menu with Alton’s meatballs, maple blondies and Bobby’s margaritas.

While most macaroni and cheese recipes require plenty of hands-on time for cooking and draining the pasta, whisking in handfuls of cheese and milk and then transfering everything from stove to oven, Trisha Yearwood’s Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate in do-ahead cooking. She starts with precooked macaroni (what you have left over from last night’s dinner is a-ok to use), then mixes it with milk, butter and more than a pound of cheddar cheese in the base of a slow cooker and lets the machine do the work for her. Prep this meal in the late afternoon, and by the time you’re ready for dinner during the first half, all you’ll have left to do is quickly stir the macaroni before serving.

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