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.

How to Host a Large Party: Tips and Ideas From Restaurant Chefs

by in Events, How-to, March 26th, 2013

Sunday Supper at Chelsea MarketWhile you may have mastered the art of preparing dinner for your immediate family, have you learned the secrets to entertaining a crowd of partygoers at home? Shopping and cooking for, as well as serving, a meal at a big-bash party invites questions and challenges that you may not face when planning everyday eats and drinks: What are some go-to dishes that will please a diverse group of guests? How much food is needed to feed everyone? What’s the best way to serve multiple courses?

No one can answer these questions better than restaurant chefs, those who’ve made a career out of cooking for large groups of people and who know the ins and outs of preparing to host a crowd. Elizabeth Karmel, owner and executive chef of Hill Country, Elizabeth Falkner, owner and executive chef at Krescendo and a two-time competitor on The Next Iron Chef, and Hedy Goldsmith, executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Fla., showed off their exemplary party-throwing skills in New York City last weekend at the fifth annual Sunday Supper at Chelsea Market, supporting the James Beard Foundation‘s Scholarship for Fulton Youth of the Future and Wellness in the Schools. Together with more than a dozen of their chef colleagues, these ladies cooked a six-course feast for nearly 300 people that included such deliciously inspired bites as caponata with creamy burrata, pasta with sweet onions, tender jumbo prawns and pear crostata.

FN Dish was on hand not only to see the orchestra that’s needed to successfully pull off an event of that magnitude but also to find out from Chefs Karmel, Falkner and Goldsmith how home cooks can utilize similar tricks and techniques when entertaining on a smaller scale.

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Mexican Frittata — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 25th, 2013

Mexican FrittataYou may be familiar with frittatas as a weekend brunch pick, but have you ever considered introducing them to your weeknight dinner repertoire? Every bit as hearty and satisfying as a main-dish pasta, salad or soup, frittatas are similar to omelets in that they’re egg-based, but while omelets are almost always made on the stovetop alone, frittatas are sauteed, then transferred to the oven to bake, which is why it’s especially important that you start the cooking process in an oven-proof skillet. Think of frittatas as you would most egg dishes: a blank canvas through which you can showcase any number of flavors or put to work leftover ingredients you happen to have on hand. Check out two of Food Network’s favorite frittata recipes below — one creative with bold Mexican-inspired flavors and the other a traditional Italian standby — both ready to enjoy in less than 30 minutes.

A top-rated recipe made with just a handful of flavors, Marcela’s Mexican Frittata (pictured above) is a 25-minute timesaver that features bright cilantro, fresh scallions and, for added indulgence, a topping of Mexican crema — a smooth dairy similar to sour cream — and Oaxaca cheese. After cooking the beaten eggs on the stove for a few minutes, she transfers the pan to the oven, where the eggs will bake, puff up slightly and become deliciously golden brown. Marcela notes that it’s fine to serve this recipe at room temperature, so no need to worry if you can’t sit down to dinner as soon as the frittata is baked.

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Restaurant Revisited: Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAt Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering in Pineville, N.C., problems started almost as soon as they opened for business. After just six months in operation, owners Dana and David Cohen were facing losses of nearly $8,000-$10,000 per month at their Southern-style restaurant, and if drastic changes weren’t made, they’d be forced to shut down in a matter of weeks. Lucky for them, those much-needed updates were made, thanks to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team.

Even before arriving at Sweet Tea’s, Robert knew one crucial reason the restaurant was struggling: its extreme out-of-the-way location and absence of street-side advertising. It was his mission to brand the eatery as a comfortable, welcoming restaurant with Southern food to match, and to accomplish that, Robert would have to remake the menu of what he deemed to be D-rated food. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, he reopened the doors of Sweet Tea’s and gave the restaurant — and the Cohen family — a second chance at success. We checked in with Dana a few months after the renovation to find out how the business is doing.

Since Robert left, Dana and David have noticed an increase in revenue at Sweet Tea’s, and they are now “trying so hard to catch up” on bills, Dana tells us. “We need to catch up on rent, and that is the only thing holding us back.”

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

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Chet Pourciau and Alina BolshakovaFor 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 Red Team Recruit to Go Home — Worst Cooks in America

by in Shows, March 24th, 2013

Rasheeda Brown 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

Easter Baking Projects to Do With Little Chefs

by in Family, Holidays, March 23rd, 2013

Easter Bunny CakeEaster’s coming a bit earlier than usual this year, and given the stress of meal planning and shopping for basket trinkets, it’s no wonder that you may not have had time — or even simply remembered — to carve out moments and enjoy the holiday with your kids. This weekend, spend some time with your little ones coloring eggs, decorating the house with all things chicks and bunnies or baking sweet treats to celebrate the holiday. We’ve rounded up a few of Food Network’s favorite Easter desserts, like cakes in the shape of almost-too-cute-to-eat bunnies and larger-than-life Peeps, plus springtime cupcakes and cookies, to help you make the most of your time in the kitchen. Read on below for some of our top recipes, then tell us in the comments what you’re baking for Easter.

Food Network Kitchens’ top-rated Easter Bunny Cake (pictured above) may look like an all-day adventure to prepare, but it actually takes just one hour to complete. The key to this recipe is starting with pre-baked cakes (pick up a few store-bought boxed mixes to make the process a cinch) and being patient when it comes to shaping them. Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how to best slice and arrange the cakes into an eventual bunny, then let your kids decorate it with fluffy frosting, shredded coconut for the look of fur and candy to add a nose, eyes and whiskers. Even if your cake looks more like a misshapen snowball than Peter Cottontail, it will surely be deliciously sweet in the end.

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Taking Orders — Worst Cooks in America Caption It

by in Shows, March 22nd, 2013

Chef Anne BurrellFor the first time in Worst Cooks in America Boot Camp, the chefs and recruits will be swapping roles in the kitchen this Sunday. Anne and Bobby will take their contestants’ places for a challenge that has them cooking against the clock, but of course the recruits are the ones who are in for the true test of the Skill Drill. With their mentors out of sight, they must communicate with the chefs via headset as they work in teams to describe the visual and flavor profiles of a dish only they can see and taste. While it’s the hope that the competitors’ abilities to discern cooking techniques and ingredients are strong enough for their mentors to re-create the dish successfully, the contestants were learning new practices just one week ago, so some of their directions may indeed get lost in translation.

In the sneak-peek shot from Sunday’s brand-new episode, Chef Anne is prepping ingredients as she’s being fed culinary intelligence from Rasheeda and Sue. It’s up to her to trust in what they’re saying about the dish and attempt to prepare the same meal with only her team’s descriptions in mind. How do you think Chefs Anne and Bobby will react to taking requests from their recruits? Are the contestants able to work effectively as teams, or will this challenge backfire on the chefs? Which team, the Red or Blue, will ultimately score a win just one week before the finale?

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Geoffrey Zakarian’s Top 10 Tips for Making a Better Burger

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, March 21st, 2013

Geoffrey ZakarianWhen it comes to building the ultimate hamburger, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is doing things a little differently. Forget about everything you know to be true about barbecuing, seasoning and flipping the meat. Chef Zakarian is introducing an all-new method that will wow you with its simplicity and tried-and-true results, so much so that you won’t be tempted to return to the dry, flavorless patties of burgers past. Chatting with fans at a recent event at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, he demonstrated his flawless technique and shared can’t-miss tips that are easy enough for the home cook to master — and you don’t even have to wait until grilling season to try them.

10. Cook hamburgers on a cast-iron skillet indoors, instead of on an outdoor grill.

9. Opt for corn-fed ground meat that features about 25 percent to 30 percent fat.

8. The ideal blend of freshly ground meat includes equal parts chuck, rib eye and either flank steak or brisket.

7. Let meat come to room temperature before you cook with it.

6. Preheat the skillet until it’s screaming hot — only then should the meat be added.

Get Chef Zakarian’s top 5 tips

Best 5 Passover Recipes

by in Holidays, March 20th, 2013

Matzo Ball SoupAs you gather your family members to celebrate the Passover Seder, offer them a taste of something new this year by switching up your usual holiday dishes and introducing creative takes on traditional recipes. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top-five Passover picks to help you pull off an entire meal — complete with casual drinks, showstopping main dishes, a sweet-tooth-satisfying dessert and everything in between — with ease. Check out our favorite recipes below, then tell us in the comments what meals your family will be enjoying this Passover.

5. Flourless Walnut-Date Cake — Rich and indulgent, Food Network Magazine‘s fuss-free cake boasts a smooth glaze of bittersweet chocolate and honey, and, best of all, it an be ready to enjoy in less than one hour.

4. Spiced Tea Punch — If you’re hosting young guests this holiday, leave out the rum from this light, fruity sipper, made with apple spice tea, bright orange juice and bubbly ginger ale, and garnished with a fragrant cinnamon stick.

Get the top three recipes

Hedy Goldsmith’s Nontraditional Approach to Desserts

by in How-to, March 20th, 2013

Hedy Goldsmith's Desserts at the South Beach Wine & Food FestivalAs the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Fla., the author of Baking Out Loud, a frequent guest on Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets and FN Dish’s own resident dessert extraordinaire, Hedy Goldsmith isn’t your average sweet tooth. She’s been known to put a homemade red-velvet twist on traditional Twinkies and even bake pies in jars, so when FN Dish visited Hedy at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival last month, we knew we’d be in for a treat — and it turns out that we were greeted with an entire plateful of treats.

Speaking to a packed room at the Shelborne South Beach Hotel, Hedy along with Josh Wesson, a New York City-based sommelier and the co-founder of Best Cellars, offered guests an interactive seminar on the pairings of desserts and beverages, both wines and liqueurs. They agreed that the key to blending any food and drink is finding among them elements that are similar and contrasting, an idea that’s similar to what Hedy follows when making her confections.

Known for expertly bridging the gap between sweetness and saltiness — the combination of which she describes as “the story of my life” — her signature creations are not typical desserts in that they’re not overly sweet, and they utilize seemingly eccentric and out-of-place ingredients. To Hedy, baking is all about “checks and balances,” not just between the amount of sugar and salt in a recipe, but also the flavors of the other ingredients she uses.

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