All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an 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.

Giada’s 5-Ingredient Pesto Pasta — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 13th, 2015

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato PestoLike a traditional pesto sauce, Giada De Laurentiis’ easy-to-make recipe (pictured above) boasts a basil base and comes together with only a handful of ingredients in a matter of minutes, but there’s one key difference: It’s not tinted green, which is a usually a hallmark of classic pesto preparations. This one features a crimson-colored hue on account of the secret ingredient, sun-dried tomatoes, which Giada incorporates to guarantee over-the-top taste and texture.

To make sure her sauce is packed with flavor, Giada opts for the sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in olive oil, which ensures that they’ve picked up some of the oil’s naturally fruity flavor. She simply whirls the tomatoes with the fragrant fresh herbs and garlic to create a speedy sauce. Perhaps best of all, though, is that like a tried-and-true pesto, this sauce doesn’t need to be cooked; the heat of the just-cooked pasta will be enough to warm the pesto before serving. Follow Giada’s lead and save a bit of the pasta water after cooking the noodles, as you may need it to loosen the sauce.

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“Yeah, It’s Quite Uncomfortable. That’s Why We Do These Things” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, April 12th, 2015

It’s one thing to watch Cutthroat Kitchen competitors endure the hilariously evilicious sabotages that have been dealt them, but it’s another to attempt those challenges for yourself, experiencing the struggles they did firsthand and learning to bear them as best you can. As the judges learn on Alton’s After-Show what diabolical situations have led to chefs’ finished dishes, even they are wowed by the lengths to which sabotages have forced contestants to go just to cook a seemingly simple meal. For Jet Tila tonight, that surprise came when he tried his hand — or, rather, his foot — at wearing a 30-pound rum barrel.

“It’s really heavy,” Jet admitted, strapped into the contraption and feebly making his way around the kitchen. Alton Brown agreed that this was indeed a doozy of a sabotage; as he told Jet, “Of all the things I wouldn’t want, wearing that barrel … that’s physically grueling.” But when Jet told him just how “quite uncomfortable” this challenge was,” Alton was quick to remind him that such is the nature of the Cutthroat beast. “Yeah, it’s quite uncomfortable,” said Alton. “That’s why we do these things.”

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How to Make Blondies — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, April 12th, 2015

How to Make BlondiesYou know you love brownies, but have you ever indulged in a blondie, the sandy-colored cousin of the brownie and this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week? Like brownies, blondies are bar-shaped and turn out rich and chewy, but they lack a signature brownie ingredient: cocoa powder. When making Food Network Kitchen’s Blondies recipe, it’s up to you if you want to add a touch of chocolate decadence by mixing in a handful of chocolate chips; butterscotch chips would work well too.

For more dessert inspiration, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: How to Make Blondies 

POLL: What’s Your Favorite Herb to Cook With?

by in Polls, Shows, April 11th, 2015

HerbsMuch like spices, herbs are easy ways to add bold punches of flavor to dishes without much effort. While dried herbs can handle the long cooking times of slow-simmering sauces, like marinara or cacciatore, fresh herbs are delicate, so it’s often best to hold those until just before serving; otherwise they may darken in color. On this morning’s brand-new episode of The Kitchen, the cast took advantage of the warmer springtime weather to shed a light on what it takes to grow fresh herbs at home in a simple-to-maintain kitchen garden. When it comes to fragrant picks like parsley and cilantro, Jeff Mauro puts those beauties to work in a chimichurri, which he uses to dress up a classic hanger steak.

FN Dish wants to know — whether you prefer fresh herbs grown at home or just pick up jars of the dried stuff from the supermarket — which variety of herb is your all-time favorite. Do you prefer the citrus-based scent of thyme or the woodsy smell of rosemary? Are you a fan of the floral flavors of fresh lavender, or is basil your best bet? Cast your vote in the poll below.

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Restaurant Revisited: Zest Bistro

by in Shows, April 8th, 2015

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleJust when fans — and Robert Irvine himself — thought they’d seen it all on Restaurant: Impossible, an unprecedented mission presented itself in Illinois: Not only was Robert tasked with overhauling a restaurant, but he also had to focus on the expansive grocery store that houses the eatery. Just outside of Chicago, Zest Bistro is a four-and-a-half-year-old business located within Lemon Tree Grocer, which was founded by best friends Shaun Black and Tim Canning. While the guys thought they’d have the chops to make their double-duty business work on account of their respective pasts as a produce broker and a chef, they soon began spending far more money than they earned and were forced to look to Jessica, Tim’s wife, to help Lemon Tree. Ultimately, however, when they realized that her support wasn’t enough, it was Robert who could give them one final opportunity. In true Irvine fashion, this monstrous challenge only served to inspire Robert more, and sure enough, he relaunched both Zest Bistro and Lemon Tree with wild success. Read on below to hear from Shaun, Tim and Jessica to find out how the businesses are doing today.

According to Shaun, “Sales in Zest are up approximately 30 percent from last year during the same time period,” and Tim adds that there are “45-minute waits at times.”

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Pasta Bolognese, Geoffrey Zakarian Style

by in Food Network Chef, April 8th, 2015

Geoffrey ZakarianMuch like a classic roast chicken or towering chocolate cake, pasta Bolognese (pasta with a hearty meat sauce) is one of those recipes we keep in our back pockets for when we need a little comfort. It’s something many have made before — and successfully so — but that doesn’t mean there’s no need to improve upon the most-basic recipe. That’s where Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian comes in. At a recent demo at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, he offered eager fans a few expert tips on elevating this staple Italian sauce to the next level of craveworthy satisfaction. Read on below to learn what he does to guarantee a rich and savory sauce, and find out his choice of noodles, then get his top-rated and simple-to-prepare recipe.

1. Bolognese is all about the meat, and for Geoffrey, that means a blend of four varieties: He opts for equal parts pancetta, pork, pork sausage and veal.

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It’s Almost Strawberry Season, So Put Those Beauties Into Everything, Even Salad

by in Recipes, April 7th, 2015

Arugula and Strawberry SaladWe’re finally in the early days of strawberry season, which means it’s time to ditch those firm, dry, white-centered berries we know from winter and welcome in their place spring’s juicy, ruby-red beauties. While desserts like shortcakes, cheesecake and cupcakes are tried-and-true ways to put these sweet bites to work, savory favorites, too, are ideal for letting strawberries shine. If you’ve never before worked with strawberries in a non-dessert, try starting with a salad; you’ll be able to balance the fruit’s natural sugars with tangy, acidic flavors in the dressing and peppery greens, which means you won’t end up eating a too-sweet dish. Check out Food Network’s best-five strawberry salads below, each an easy-to-make pick that’s ready to eat in 25 minutes or fewer.

5. Strawberry and Mozzarella Salad — Think of this healthy 15-minute dish as a berry-focused take on a caprese. In place of traditional tomatoes there are bright strawberries instead, which pair well with the fragrant basil.

4. Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette — It takes just a few everyday ingredients and only five quick minutes to make Rachael Ray’s simple salad. The secret to guaranteeing bold strawberry flavor in her recipe is the strawberry jam featured in her dressing, plus a whole pint of the fresh fruit.

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Enter to Win a Copy of Katie Lee’s New Cookbook, Endless Summer

by in Books, Contests, Food Network Chef, April 7th, 2015

Endless Summer Cookbook“I decided to do this book because I love summer,” Katie Lee recently told FN Dish of her brand-new upcoming publication, Endless Summer Cookbook. “That’s my favorite time of year, and summer food is my favorite kind of food to cook. It’s also the season that I entertain the most.” For Katie, the more than 100 recipes in Endless Summer are all about celebrating the season’s bounty of freshness and the plethora of local ingredients near her home in the Hamptons. “Before I started writing the book, I wanted to be able to capture summer,” she explained, “so my photographer came over, and I went to the farm stand and we bought a bunch of stuff and came home and cooked. And then I wrote the recipes to go along with the food that I cooked.” Ranging from sweet treats like Light Lemony Berry Cheesecake to hearty grilled fare like BLT Ranch Burgers, plus refreshing sips like Frozen Blueberry Daiquiris, these dishes and drinks are ideal for relaxed warm-weather entertaining at home, no matter where your home is. “I’m so excited to share these recipes with people,” Katie said.

You can preorder your copy of Endless Summer Cookbook from the Food Network Store, but FN Dish is giving five lucky, randomly selected readers the chance to win a copy with a signed bookplate for free. All you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment below with your favorite recipe from Katie (see all of Katie’s recipes here).

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Spring Asparagus Tart — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 6th, 2015

Spring Asparagus TartAlong with (slightly) warmer weather and longer days, the spring season brings with it an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. From ruby-red rhubarb and a plethora of pea varieties to vibrant stalks of asparagus, there’s no shortage of produce ripe for the picking this time of year, and surely there’s a myriad of ways to put it to work in your favorite dishes. When it comes to asparagus, simply roasting the veggie is a tried-and-true method — and for good reasons; it’s a quick fix and family-friendly — but when you want to dress up these simple stalks, try pairing them with fresh lemon and herbs in a buttery tart.

Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for a Spring Asparagus Tart (pictured above) takes advantage of store-bought puff pastry to turn out this golden-brown, satisfying tart in less than an hour. While the buttery pastry provides a satisfying base with a chewy, crispy bite, the lemony spread of mascarpone mixed with chives and tarragon offers a rich, creamy bed for the asparagus. Follow Food Network Kitchen’s lead and artfully arrange the asparagus stalks in opposite directions for a stunning presentation, then round out the meal with fresh greens for big-bash events and low-key gatherings alike.

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“I Have to Eat This Stuff; Just Remember That” — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, April 5th, 2015

Canned whole chickens, vending-machine cheese, water-soaked hot dog rolls. Each of these items has been the focus of a Cutthroat Kitchen sabotage, and while they may be cringe-inducing (and downright hilarious) to fans watching at home, they’re nevertheless part of the offerings that the judges are forced to consume, as Simon Majumdar reminded us during the latest Alton’s After-Show.

“I have to eat this stuff; just remember that,” he told Alton Brown as he two looked back on a particularly doozy of a competition round on tonight’s all-new episode. The Round 3 challenge asked the chefs to make carrot cake in this spring-themed battle, and in the spirit of freshness and renewal in springtime, a sabotage forced one chef to “harvest ingredients new ingredients for their cake,” Alton explained. This involved digging through a makeshift garden for individually wrapped fixings, some classic like eggs and others not so traditional, like canned pickled carrots and cinnamon candies. “His sauce was odd, but now I know why,” Simon said of the offering from Chef Jeffrey, who was dealt this diabolical lot and called his dish Carrot Cake Surprise. “It’s Muggins here who gets to eat it,” he joked, adding of his own British sensibilities, “We never say something’s horrible. We go, ‘This is interesting’ or ‘This was a very brave choice.’ His was a very brave choice.”

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