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.

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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Love Match Made at Worst Cooks in America Boot Camp

by in Shows, March 19th, 2013

On this season of Worst Cooks in America, there were two competitions taking place: the one all of the recruits faced as they tried to become the best of the worst in the kitchen, and another that was Carla‘s alone, the one to win Chef Bobby Flay‘s love once and for all.

Week after week, fans watched as Carla strutted her stuff for Bobby, adding heart-shaped honey designs to her plate, making gelato and a burger with some of Bobby’s favorite flavors, and unabashedly flirting with him, all to prove to her Blue Team mentor that she’s the only girl for him. Surely not shy about her feelings, she was shameless in her romantic attempts, and even though he’s married, Bobby couldn’t help but offer her a few friendly hugs in return.

“The secret that I’m going to use is that I’m in love with Bobby Flay,” she said confidently during the premiere episode of her plan to dominate the challenges. Although her strategy may have been successful for five weeks of Boot Camp, it was ultimately too good to be true, and on Sunday, she was asked to turn in her apron. After learning that she’d be leaving the competition — and her culinary crush — only two weeks before the finale, she was heartbroken, claiming this to be “another breakup,” but she couldn’t leave without telling him, “I still love you, Bobby Flay.”

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Ravioli With Alfredo and Peas — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, March 18th, 2013

Ravioli Alfredo With PeasThe secret to stress-free weeknight cooking is having a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry that you can rely on to help piece together quick dishes on nights when you hardly have time to meal plan. When you make it to the grocery store on weekends or low-key evenings, fill up on staples you know your family uses frequently, plus a few good-to-have freezer ingredients that will ensure your dinners aren’t just simple to make but also deliciously interesting for the whole family.

Food Network Magazine puts store-bought ravioli and frozen peas to work in its recipe for Ravioli Alfredo With Peas (pictured above), a 20-minute timesaver that’s easy enough to make on a busy Monday night but impressive enough to serve to company as well. After making a richly indulgent sauce of cream and butter, add vibrant peas for a pop of color and then mushroom-filled ravioli — a next-level twist on the everyday ricotta variety — so they pick up the comforting flavors of the Alfredo. A final mix-in of nutty Parmesan cheese will thicken the sauce, while a shower of parsley adds freshness.

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Restaurant Revisited: Soup to Nuts Diner

by in Shows, March 17th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleSoup to Nuts Diner in Tavares, Fla., was in such poor condition when Robert Irvine arrived that he promptly deemed the restaurant “dangerously dirty” and refused to let anyone eat the food coming out of the kitchen. Littered with bugs and coated in dust, this 1950s-style eatery featured a cluttered dining room with tattered seating, but unfortunately for owner Sharon Whitmore, even more serious problems were in the kitchen. There, Robert found tools and equipment caked with grease, raw meat being kept at unsafe temperatures and a complete lack of management among the cooks.

For the last four years, Soup to Nuts has struggled with decreasing business, and Sharon admits that prior to Robert’s visit she was losing nearly $1,000 per month, which resulted in the foreclosure of her home. With a $10,000 budget and only two days to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reworked all aspects of her restaurant, deep cleaning every surface in the front and back of the house, demonstrating the how-tos of making a fresh menu and restructuring Sharon’s schedule so that she’d be able to abandon her 100-hour workweeks. At the end of what Robert called “one of the most-ambitious projects we’ve ever tackled,” Soup to Nuts reopened to hundreds of customers with in-control management at the helm. We checked in with Sharon a few months after the renovation to find out how her business is doing.

She tells us that in the weeks immediately following filming, Soup to Nuts was “overwhelmed with” a 40 percent increase in business, and now the restaurant is “up consistently about 20 percent over last year.”

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

by in Shows, March 17th, 2013

Worst Cooks in America Blue TeamFor 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 17th, 2013

Worst Cooks in America Red TeamFor 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