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.

Restaurant Revisited: Rising Sun Bistro

by in Shows, December 19th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Rising Sun Bistro in Kalispell, Mont., he learned that this French food-focused eatery was nearly $500,000 in debt. On top of that, it was being run by three owners, Jennifer Griffith, Peggy Kirby and Sally Racine Truscheit, who couldn’t put their strained relationship aside to effectively run the business. In just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team put new life into Rising Sun, adding fresh, authentic French offerings to their menu, revamping the interior design and working with Jennifer, Peggy and Sally to mend their partnership and begin to ease their debt. We checked in with Jennifer a few months after the renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Since the transformation, she tells us, sales at Rising Sun have increased nearly 27 percent and diners have been pleased with the updated French-inspired decor and communal table that Robert and his team created.

While Rising Sun is no longer serving breakfast, its dinner menu has stayed largely the same since Robert left. Jennifer says that they’ve added “a cod dish, pasta [and] boeuf bourguignon” to their list of offerings, but she notes that Robert’s “brie and caramel is a big seller.”

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The Next Iron Chef: Redemption From Alton Brown’s Point of View

by in Shows, December 19th, 2012

Alton Brown and Chef Amanda FreitagBy now you’ve noticed that after Alton announces, “Let the cooking begin,” at the start of every Chairman’s Challenge, he takes his place in his kitchen alongside the rivals as they spend each of their precious minutes prepping ingredients, cooking and plating. Instead of just watching what goes down, however, he interacts with the chefs, questions their plans for their challenge, explains their cooking techniques and comments on ingredients, all while playing cameraman. That small gray box you’ve seen Alton toting this season, propping on top of workstations, inside blenders and above stoves — that’s his very own GoPro video camera, and he’s used it to record behind-the-scenes happenings, rival chef banter and all of the flare-ups and meltdowns that a large camera couldn’t catch.

Since we can’t be in the kitchen with the Redemption rivals, Alton’s video footage is the next-best way to experience exactly what the chefs are thinking, feeling and cooking. Want to watch the challenges from Alton’s point of view? Check out this exclusive video clip (or click the play button below) of Alton chatting with Chef Marcel Vigneron and tasting the rival’s blue cheese ice cream, then browse this photo gallery to find insider images of Alton with his GoPro camera.

Be sure to tune in Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch the finale of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption.

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Champions Return to the Chopping Block

by in Shows, December 19th, 2012

Chef Rob Evans and Ted Allen on Chopped ChampionsFor even the most ambitious chefs, the thought of taking a single turn in the Chopped kitchen is daunting. But for a certain 16 competitors — an elite few who’ve already successfully conquered the chopping block once — the opportunity to do so again just can’t be missed.

This January, 16 previous Chopped winners are returning to battle in Chopped Champions, a five-round tournament that will again test their cooking chops and ability to work under pressure with baskets full of unknown, potentially odd and disparate ingredients. With dwindling time on the clock and a panel of professional-chef judges watching their every move, they’ll need to rely on more than past successes if they want to claim not just bragging rights but also a whopping $50,000 and the title of Chopped Grand Champion.

What can the chefs expect to find in their baskets this time around? Sea snails to be sure, but also haggis — a much-loved-to-hate minced-meat-like specialty featuring animal lungs, heart and liver cooked inside animal stomach — plus a few deliciously sweet and savory surprises.

Tune in to round 1 of Chopped Champions on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, at 10pm/9c to find out which of the first four chefs will become a two-time victor and earn a spot in the finale.

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As Seen on The Next Iron Chef: Geoffrey Zakarian’s Collection of Eyewear

by in Shows, December 18th, 2012

Iron Chef Geoffrey ZakarianWhen it comes to judging The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, boasting a discerning palate, a keen sense of smell and a lifetime of experience in professional cooking and eating isn’t enough; you need to look the part as well. For judge Geoffrey Zakarian, completing his ensemble requires two pieces: an Iron Chef’s jacket and a pair of knockout glasses. Unlike the jacket, which comes in just one classic shade and style, his eyewear can be changed for every episode, and throughout this season, we’ve seen just how much Iron Chef Zakarian takes advantage of that by switching between royal-blue rims, leopard-print specs and fashion-forward see-through frames week after week. He told us in this video that he brought with him more than 12 pairs of glasses to film The Next Iron Chef and after seven episodes, he’s only repeated pairs a few times.

Flip through this photo gallery to see some of the best pieces from Iron Chef Zakarian’s vast collection of eyewear, then tell us in the comments: Which of his pairs of glasses is your favorite?

Don’t miss the finale of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption on Sunday at 9pm/8c.

Get an extended preview of next week’s final episode

Set the Scene: Easy Holiday Table Centerpieces

by in Holidays, December 18th, 2012

Rosemary Christmas TreesOften when hosting holiday parties, so much thought goes into ensuring that the food for each and every course is as perfect as it can be that other aspects of entertaining, like home decoration, fall by the wayside, trumped by other, seemingly more-pressing concerns. This year, no matter how casual or elegant your get-together is, set the scene with seasonal centerpieces made from accessible, everyday products, like candles, flowers and fresh fruit. Food Network’s collection of easy holiday centerpieces features 11 must-see designs that aren’t just easy to recreate in your home, but also classic ideas that can be adapted or added upon, depending on your personal taste. Check out a few of our favorite settings below, then browse the entire centerpiece guide to find welcoming scenes to complete your sit-down dinner table, plus kitchen island countertop, buffet and coffee table.

Let seasonal herbs star in more than just your holiday roast by using fragrant varieties as the focal point of your table. The rosemary trees pictured above are light, inexpensive, and add a pop of freshness to the warm indoors. For the containers, use any small pots you have on hand. The metal vessels pictured above are quite elegant, but if you happen to have terra-cotta pots left over from spring and summer planting, put them to work here.

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Beyond Soup: New Ways to Use Butternut Squash — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 17th, 2012

Butternut Squash RisottoChances are that butternut squash made an appearance in at least one of the dishes in your Thanksgiving spread last month, but the beauty of this slightly sweet, sunset-colored squash goes beyond traditional holiday soups and salads. Light and elegant yet still satisfying, butternut squash can be imagined in any number of dishes because it can be cooked in many different ways. Whether you puree it into pasta sauce, roast it with spices, bake it in halves, or boil and mash it, butternut squash is a meatless staple that shines throughout winter. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite butternut squash preparations below, then tell us in the comments: how do you enjoy butternut squash?

For a comforting cool-weather supper, look to Food Network Magazine‘s Butternut Squash Risotto (pictured above). Unlike many risottos, this recipe requires little hands-on time since it’s made in a pressure cooker. After just a few minutes under pressure, the garlic-laced squash turns tender, the rice al dente and the sauce thick, and it’s ready to be mixed with rich gouda cheese and peppery arugula. The secret to this and other risottos is using Arborio rice, not everyday white or brown rice; the starchy Arborio guarantees a thick, creamy final product. To maintain a wholly vegetarian meal, be sure to swap in vegetable broth for chicken.

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QUIZ: How Food Network Stars Celebrate the Holidays

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 16th, 2012

Sandra Lee

When it comes to decking the halls, you can be sure that your favorite Food Network stars have no-fail recipes, easy entertaining tips and party-ready menus to help you host your best holiday ever. But have you ever wondered how these chefs celebrate the season when they’re away from the cameras? Among them, which are known for an infectious Christmas spirit, and who prefers to spend a casual holiday enjoying non-traditional eats and drinks? Do they like to curl up in front of the fireplace with their families, or are they drawn to the hustle and bustle of the season? We recently caught up with Paula Deen, Sunny Anderson, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and more Food Network favorites to find out the answers to these questions and more, and what they told us may surprise you.

Test Your Knowledge: How FN Stars Celebrate the Holidays

Think you know how the chefs celebrate the holidays? Take this quiz to find out, and learn about their plans for this season, memories of holidays past, ultimate Christmas menus and more bits of seasonal trivia.
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Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto to Judge Miss Universe Pageant

by in Food Network Chef, December 16th, 2012

Iron Chef Masaharu MorimotoNo stranger to competitions, Masaharu Morimoto is one of the Chairman’s longest-standing Iron Chefs and a seasoned veteran of Kitchen Stadium, with more than 35 Iron Chef America battles under his belt. On Wednesday night, however, the tables will turn for this king of Japanese cuisine as he trades in his chef’s jacket and takes his place at the judges’ table of the Miss Universe Pageant.

The Iron Chef will join 16 other famous judges including musician CeeLo Green and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino to oversee this annual pageant. As 89 contestants from around the world come together to compete in several rounds like a question-and-answer segment and evening gown presentation, it will be up to Iron Chef Morimoto and his fellow judges to determine who has proven herself worthy of the crown and the yearlong title of Miss Universe.

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VOTE: A Next Iron Chef Strip Steak Showdown — Rival Recipes

by in Shows, December 15th, 2012

A Next Iron Chef Strip Steak Showdown - Rival RecipesLast Sunday night, the first part of the Next Iron Chef rivals’ road to redemption came to an end when they moved from their home base of sunny Los Angeles to Las Vegas to begin the second half of the competition. For Chef Nate Appleman, this transition proved to be a moment of mini redemption, as in Season 2 he was sent home just one episode prior to the chefs traveling to Tokyo, while for others the change of scenery was nothing remarkable, just another city in which to cook. “Regardless of the setting, I’ll do what is good food and what is my style,” Chef Jehangir Mehta said.

This week’s installment of Rival Recipes celebrates this shift in the season with a play on one part of Sin City in particular: the Strip. In Las Vegas, the Strip is known to be a bustling, tourist-heavy area packed with hotels, casinos and entertainment venues of all kinds. But in the culinary world, the strip is understood to be a marbled slab of beef that is deliciously tender and juicy. Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Tim Love, two rivals who didn’t make the cut to travel to Vegas, have brought their best beef to the battle and are prepared to face off in a strip steak showdown with a New York in Cast Iron and New York Strip Steak With Serrano Lime Butter, respectively.

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Captain Brown — The Next Iron Chef Caption It

by in Shows, December 14th, 2012

Alton BrownOn last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, the remaining rivals packed up their knife kits and flew east to Sin City after five weeks of challenges and showdowns in Los Angeles. For the chefs, the move to Las Vegas proved to be a turning point in the competition, a sign that they are one step closer to claiming the only title that matters.

For Alton Brown, however, the move to Vegas was an opportunity to dabble in matchmaking — ingredient matchmaking, that is. With an altar of savory delicacies and sweet confections, he created a series of odd pairs like squid and marshmallows, chicken livers and peppermint candies, and bone marrow and fruit candies, which forced the rivals to think beyond the ordinary and create harmonious marriages out of culinary confusion.

Looking ahead to this week’s episode and the sneak-peek image above, it may seem as though Alton is once again experimenting with something new: flying. It turns out, however, that he is a frequent flier, and not just in the passenger sense. For more than 10 years, he’s been operating his own private airplane and only relies on commercial flights when there’s no other option.

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