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.

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Alton’s Close-Up — The Next Iron Chef Caption It

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 25th, 2012

Alton Brown
After two hard-fought battles between Chefs Madison Cowan and Lee Anne Wong then Chefs Robert Treviño and Duskie Estes, the Next Iron Chef Road to Redemption wraps up tomorrow with a third and final Kitchen Stadium showdown, this time between victors Chefs Wong and Estes. The chef whose cuisine reigns supreme will join nine rival chefs in the journey to claim the ultimate culinary title on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, premiering next Sunday, November 4 at 9pm/8c.

Until the battle begins, however, it seems as though the focus in Kitchen Stadium will be on Road to Redemption host and judge Alton Brown. In this sneak-peek shot from tomorrow’s finale, Alton turns the cameras on himself for a few moments of close-up face time before revealing the Secret Ingredient. Is he simply working on a blooper real, or is this one-man show part of the battle? Will we see the Road to Redemption‘s other judges, Simon Majumdar and Iron Chef Jose Garces, in similar frames?

Before you watch Chefs Wong and Estes face off for Kitchen Stadium glory, we’re challenging you, Next Iron Chef Road to Redemption fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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Bobby and Giada Talk Food Network Star and First Days on TV

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 25th, 2012

Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Julia Moskin
When Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis took the stage at New York City’s Times Center, it didn’t take long for these longtime friends and colleagues to start passing playful, well-meaning jabs to one another. The two joined Julia Moskin of The New York Times as part of a series of TimesTalks during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and what followed was a lighthearted conversation about food, Food Network Star and their early days on the network. Never one to miss a beat, Bobby jokingly told the audience, “As you know, Giada invented Italian food,” while Food Network’s resident Italian superstar took the dig in stride before returning the favor to Bobby. She told the story of how he claimed on national television to have discovered a secret pasta-making strategy, when in fact it was she who deserved the credit.

In no time, their chat turned to the most-recent season of Food Network Star, in which Justin Warner, mentor Alton Brown’s Rebel With a Culinary Cause, scored the most votes from at-home viewers and was crowned Food Network’s newest star. Bobby and Giada, also mentors to teams of Star contenders, looked back on the season and agreed that while other contestants may have turned out better food, Justin “is a talented entertainer” and “has a real chance to make some noise” now that he has claimed the top prize.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 22nd, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

When autumn hands you a bounty of butternut squash, what do you do with it? You could caramelize it with butter, roast it until tender or serve it with pasta, but you might also puree it into a thick, hearty soup. Butternut squash pairs well with other flavors of fall, like pumpkin and cinnamon, and Michael Chiarello’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe combines them all to create an in-season bowl of comfort.

To prepare, Michael first roasts butternut squash with a sweet and tangy mixture of balsamic vinegar and molasses before adding it to a pot of sautéed vegetables, coriander and a single cinnamon stick. A pass through the blender before serving guarantees that this hearty soup will turn out thick and smooth every time. For added texture, top each bowl with a dollop of creamy mascarpone cheese and a few crunchy pumpkin seeds before enjoying. Be sure to swap in vegetable stock or broth for the chicken stock to keep this meal meatless.

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Let the Cook-Off Begin: Rachael vs. Guy Returns for Star-Studded Season 2

by in Shows, October 21st, 2012

Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri

It’s once again time to roll out the red carpet because FN Dish is announcing for the first time the star-studded cast of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off Season 2. Just like last season’s competition, this year’s showdown will feature two of Food Network’s culinary A-listers, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, leading teams of celebrities as they battle it out over the course of seven weeks for top Hollywood honor and a sizable donation to the charity of their choice.

Competing in the Season 2 cook-off is a straight-from-Hollywood lineup: Chilli from the pop/R&B group TLC; actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried; designer, author and philanthropist Cornelia Guest; actor and reality television star Dean McDermott; actor Kathy Najimy from Sister Act; former NFL player, Super Bowl champion and MVP Hines Ward; singer Carnie Wilson from Wilson Philips; and two-time Olympic figure skater and three-time U.S. National Champion Johnny Weir.

Not your average cooking show competitors, these eight finalists are amateur cooks, having spent far more time singing, acting or performing for fans than braising or grilling in the kitchen. But what it lacks in professional experience and advanced culinary know-how, this group surely makes up for in energy, charisma and downright charm.

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Put Your Paws Up: Rachael Ray Rolls Out Food Truck for Dogs in NYC

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 20th, 2012

Rachael Ray's Food Truck for Dogs

Just when you thought Rachael Ray had done it all, Food Network’s own 30-minute maven and the host of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off unleashed a “pup-up” food truck for dogs in New York City last week. This mobile canine caterer dishes out not your everyday kibble but human-quality meals like Chicken Muttballs, Beef Stroganwoof and Tail Waggin’ Turkey to packs of pooches across Manhattan. These “wet” dishes are part of the Nutrish Naturally Delish line of dog foods from Nutrish, Rachael’s own brand of dog food. We were on hand at the unveiling of this never-before-seen food truck and caught up with Rachael to find out why this truck is so important to her and learn the trick to preparing dog food from scratch at home.

A passionate dog owner herself, Rachael noticed that, in recent years, animal shelters have accumulated many unwanted dogs, so she took it upon herself to support them by donating all of her proceeds from Nutrish. “This is a way to raise a lot of money to help shelters large and small get the animals adopted,” she explained. She worked with Nutrish to create recipes similar to those she feeds her own dog, Isaboo, and makes sure that all of the food produced is wholesome and safe for pets.

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Afternoon Eats for Young Athletes — School Days

by in Family, Recipes, October 20th, 2012

Peanut-Raisin Granola Bars
Back to SchoolSchool is officially in session, and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week this fall FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.

This week’s back-to-school lesson takes us out of the classroom and to the athletic field. So many kids are young athletes as well as full-time students, and they often go straight from school to sporting practices or games. For most, these commitments come hours after they’ve eaten lunch and demand high reserves of energy and focus for long periods of time, so it’s important that kids have munchies on hand to sustain them until supper. But it can be tough to track down munchies that are not only healthful and filling but also easily packed. On days when you know that your child will be running from one activity to the next, send off him or her with a few of Food Network’s favorite snacks for athletes, easy to eat on the go and deliciously satisfying, too.

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Trisha Yearwood 2.0: The Return of Southern Flavor

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 19th, 2012

Trisha YearwoodTrisha Yearwood is back with even more Southern charm in season two of her show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. Join Trisha and her family in Oklahoma as they enjoy great music, delicious food and nostalgic stories. This season will be themed around celebrations such as Southern brunch, Sunday dinner and holiday gatherings.  The show will feature old family-favorite recipes like Miss Mickey’s Peanut Butter Balls, a No-Baste No-Bother Roasted Turkey and even lighter dishes like Corn Flake Chicken With Apple Ambrosia that are light in calories yet still full of flavor. Tune in tomorrow at 11am ET/PT to watch Trisha create delicious meals and tell great stories while surrounded by family and friends.

We caught up with Trisha to get the scoop on upcoming episodes and she told us that looking ahead, viewers can expect the return of everything they enjoyed about her first season: simple, relaxed food and plenty of family and friends in the kitchen. She’s especially looking forward to preparing dishes like a Thai-inspired salad and Black Bean Lasagna for her husband, musician Garth Brooks.

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Next Iron Chef Rivals Unite at New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, Shows, October 18th, 2012

The Next Iron Chef: Redemption
With just two weeks to go until the premiere of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, eight of this season’s rival chefs, Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Elizabeth Falkner, Eric Greenspan, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jehangir Mehta, Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel Vigneron, joined Alton Brown and reigning Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Marc Forgione, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian and Jose Garces for a night of competition-free cooking at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Though the competition will certainly be fierce once the battle kicks off Sunday, November 4, last weekend’s Next Iron Chef event was all in good fun, the Iron Chef hopefuls coming together to chat with fans, watch sneak-peek clips of the first episode and dish out late-night party bites worthy of Kitchen Stadium.

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Restaurant Revisited: Oleander Bar & Grill

by in Shows, October 17th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
For Kelli Truman and Abby Grabow, owners of Oleander Bar & Grill in Olean, N.Y., Robert Irvine’s visit to their restaurant was a much-needed effort to save the business they opened just six months earlier. This mother-daughter duo needed Robert’s help to transform the dark dining room into a comfortable space, rethink their tired menu and improve their strained relationship if Oleander were to have any chance at lasting success. We checked in with Abby a few months after Oleander’s Restaurant: Impossible overhaul to see how the business has been doing since Robert left.

In the first two weeks after the renovation, Oleander saw sales increase nearly 50 percent.

The restaurant’s updated decor has been well received by diners who “love the fresh, clean, modern look of the design,” Abby says. She also notes that “the serious burger, shrimp tempura and crab bisque are the best-selling items that Robert added” to Oleander’s revamped menu.

Though Jaye no longer works at the restaurant, Abby says that “the staff that remains is very loyal and everyone has been working together to rebuild business.”

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Marble Lane Scores 2012 Sandwich Showdown Win

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 16th, 2012

Jeff Mauro and the Marble Lane Team at the 2012 Sandwich Showdown
It was an afternoon fit for sandwich enthusiasts last weekend, as Jeff Mauro joined nearly 20 restaurants for a Sandwich Showdown at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Food Network’s own Sandwich King hosted the deliciously competitive event, which pitted sandwich maker versus sandwich maker in a battle of between-bread creations. While classic deli sandwiches made an appearance at this all-you-can-eat extravaganza, the dressed-up sandwiches — those that combined toasted, buttered bread, beefy cuts of meat, gourmet cheese and more — stole the show.

While planning for Thanksgiving dinner probably hasn’t even begun for most of us, event sponsor Whole Foods Market embraced Turkey Day leftovers with its Thanksgiving panini. Tender fresh turkey, smooth potatoes, sweet-tart cranberry sauce and more traditional staples were layered on herbed bread, grilled until crunchy and topped with a light sage drizzle.

In a showing of timeless comfort, Little Muenster cooked up a classic pairing: grilled cheese and tomato soup. Stuffed with richly decadent Taleggio cheese and finely chopped mushrooms, and served with cheese-topped tomato soup, these weren’t the everyday sandwiches from your childhood.

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