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.

Chopped Judges Dish Out Comfort Food at New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, Food Network Chef, October 12th, 2012

Amanda FreitagOn a cool, crisp Thursday night in New York City, there was no better place to be than tucked inside Chef Marc Murphy’s swanky Midtown Manhattan restaurant, Landmarc, surrounded by the entire judges’ panel of Food Network’s Chopped. Yesterday together with Chef Murphy, Chefs Ted Allen, Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sanchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant, Marcus Samuelsson and Chris Santos kicked off the first night of the New York City Wine & Food Festival with a late-night party to celebrate the show with more than 100 hungry guests.

Each chef cooked up a signature creation, and while their plates ranged from savory snacks and beefy main dishes to sweet dessert treats, they were all reinvented, dressed-up versions of classic comfort food, like pasta, sliders, ice cream sandwiches and more.

Chef Freitag, pictured above, was dishing out an oversized batch of Truffled Orzo With Broccolini and Parmigianino Reggiano. This creamy, cheesy risotto-like pasta was pure comfort in a bowl.

More photos after the jump

VOTE: Sandra Lee’s Best Halloween Costume

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, October 12th, 2012

Sandra Lee
It’s no secret that Sandra Lee is the queen of Halloween. Year after year, we watch as this semi-homemade maven redesigns her kitchen into a themed masterpiece and cooks up ghoulishly simple eats and drinks to celebrate this spooky holiday. But perhaps most impressively, Sandra dons next-level Halloween costumes that all but transform her into the timeless characters she portrays. Some of her most-memorable outfits include Alice in Wonderland (pictured above), which she sported in last year’s Sandra in Halloween Wonderland; Audrey Hepburn, complete with a sky-high bun and signature sunglasses; and a sword-yielding Lady Marian.

This year we’re asking you, the fans, to relive Sandra’s top Halloween moments and vote for her best-ever costume. Check out all 18 of Sandra’s costumes here, and then cast your fan vote for your favorite look up to 10 times per day.

For more Halloween tricks and treats from Sandra, watch this collection of videos in which she shares no-fail tips and recipes to help you host a hauntingly easy Halloween bash.

Visit Food Network’s Halloween Headquarters to find recipes for scary-good sweet treats, party-ready munchies and more Halloween must-haves.

Restaurant Revisited: Valley Inn

by in Shows, October 10th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
Valley Inn restaurant in Palos Hills, Ill., is a 40-year-old eatery with a history of success. Recently, however, the restaurant had fallen on hard times, and owner Dennis Ristucci needed Robert Irvine’s help to restore Valley Inn to its former glory. In only two days, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled a dark, dirty dining space and low-quality food before reopening to a line of hungry customers. We checked in with Dennis to see how his business is doing a few months after its renovation.

Since Robert left, sales at Valley Inn have increased nearly 85 percent. Dennis tells us that the revised menu and updated decor “have drawn new interest from the neighborhood.” Among his favorite aspects of the remodel are the more inviting entry space and improved flooring.

Today, Valley Inn’s menu is a mix of the restaurant’s original dishes and those that Robert created, and Dennis says that “customers like the combination.” Additionally, he notes that the restaurant is no longer using any frozen food. Dennis tells us his staff are “more attentive to customers” and welcome diners “with big smiles and stories about the show.” He adds that “everyone has been doing their part and cleaning, too.”

Read more

Beyond the Veggie Tray: Cauliflower’s Starring Role — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 8th, 2012

Spice-Roasted Cauliflower and Jerusalem ArtichokesNo longer confined to just meager veggie trays, cauliflower is a staple of fall produce that shines in bold, full-flavored dishes of the season. Since it’s a hearty, filling vegetable, it’s a go-to ingredient for those avoiding meat, as it can easily beef up salads, sides and main dishes alike. Think of cauliflower as the starting point to your dish and add other flavors and ingredients, like fragrant spices, fresh herbs, creamy cheeses and more, to take it to the next delicious level. Check out Food Network’s favorite three ways to enjoy cauliflower then tell us how you like to prepare it.

With just a handful of ingredients, Anne Burrell prepares Spice-Roasted Cauliflower and Jerusalem Artichokes (pictured above), a five-star side from Food Network Magazine with a crispy texture and warm flavors. She tosses the cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes — root vegetables — with a mixture of cumin and cayenne pepper and slowly roasts them until they’re tender and golden brown. Just a scoop of these beauties will round out any fall-inspired meal.

Read more

After-School Snack Solutions — School Days

by in Recipes, October 4th, 2012

Hummus Trio
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.

It’s 4 p.m. and your child has just walked in the door from school. He’s hungry — really hungry — because he ate lunch hours ago. What do you feed him? It needs to be satisfying, of course, but not so filling that he won’t want to eat dinner. Instead of reaching for bags of salty chips and sugar-laden drinks, prepare for him a healthful after-school snack.

The Hummus Trio from Food Network Kitchens (pictured above) takes only 10 minutes to make and is a good-for-you alternative to creamy, cheesy chip dips. Made with just blended chickpeas, tahini and fresh lemon juice, the top bowl of hummus is a light and smooth no-fail classic. The bottom two bowls are dressed-up versions of the original, one featuring nutrient-rich spinach and soft artichoke hearts, the other pine nuts and sweet peppers. This snack in particular is ideal to offer if you’re feeding kids of different ages or with various tastes, as almost everyone will find their favorite flavor. Serve the hummus with crispy pita wedges, pretzel sticks and fresh vegetables, and watch your kids enjoy easy, delicious dunking.

Keep reading for more after-school recipes

Restaurant Revisited: Whistle Stop

by in Shows, October 3rd, 2012

Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Whistle Stop restaurant in Hot Springs, Ark., he found an outdated dining space and dirty kitchen in desperate need of a makeover. Linda Todd, employee-turned-owner of Whistle Stop, needed Robert’s help to transform her restaurant into a profitable business and effectively manage her staff. We checked in with Linda to see how the restaurant is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation. Hear from the owner below then take a photo tour of the restaurant and see before-and-after snapshots of the Whistle Stop’s dining room and buffet station.

Since Robert left, the restaurant has begun breakfast service, which Linda says “is doing pretty well” so far. “We started doing breakfast a little over 2 weeks ago and it is doing pretty well. Hopefully it will continue to grow.” She also notes that Brett does not work at Whistle Stop anymore.

Read more

What to Watch: Chopped, No Kidding!

by in Shows, October 2nd, 2012

ChoppedWhat do you get when you put four teenagers in the kitchen and ask them to make a three-course dinner with out-of-the-basket ingredients? The answer might normally be chaos, a slew of questionable plates and a mess, but not on tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped. Four teen cooks are taking to the Chopped kitchen to prove that they aren’t simply culinary novices, but rather passionate, ambitious amateurs who know their way around a chef’s knife and sauté pan.

But even with their determination and savvy kitchen skills, can these four teens cook up a meal that impresses all-star Chopped judges who are used to tasting dishes prepared by professional chefs? Tune in tonight at 10pm/9c to find out which teen will survive the Chopping Block and take home $10,000.

Creamy Squash Risotto — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, October 1st, 2012

Mushroom and Squash Risotto
Now that fall has officially arrived and the temperatures are starting to dip, it is time to dig into the rich, stick-to-your-ribs dishes that we have gone without all summer long. One of those hearty meals is risotto, an Italian-style rice dish featuring any combination of vegetables, herbs, cheeses and more. If you’ve never made from-scratch risotto, know that it takes a bit more TLC than your average weeknight meal, but that the results, the tender-firm rice, smooth sauce and comforting taste, are well worth the extra few minutes of cooking.

Food Network Magazine’s Mushroom and Squash Risotto is packed with in-season butternut squash, a mix of dried and fresh earthy mushrooms and plenty of nutty Parmesan cheese. The secret to this risotto is the mushroom broth, made by steeping mushrooms in hot water and adding to the liquid a bay leaf and fragrant cinnamon. When the rice is slowly cooked in the broth, it creates a thick, starchy sauce that’s deliciously creamy. Before serving, shower the risotto with additional cheese and season to taste.

Read more

A Stateside Taste of Oktoberfest

by in Recipes, September 30th, 2012

Bratwurst With Potato Cakes
The 2012 Oktoberfest kicked off in Munich, Germany, last week with a parade and ceremonial tapping of the kegs before this two-week-long celebration of all things beer and brats began. While you may not be able to plan a last-minute jaunt to Germany to experience Oktoberfest firsthand, you can bring the festival’s best eats and drinks stateside with Food Network’s Oktoberfest menu inspired by some of the many tents and food halls found throughout the event.

Let’s talk bratwurst, a German sausage and one of the must-have meals at Oktoberfest. Though you can buy this hot dog look-alike already cooked, it’s also sold raw, and is often served alongside potatoes or sauerkraut. Inside the Burtschers Bratwursthüttn tent at Oktoberfest, bratwurst and a host of other sausages are paired with any number of beers. Food Network Magazine’s Bratwurst With Potato Cakes (pictured above) is an easy-to-make meal that celebrates traditional German flavors. Hearty bratwurst is sautéed for just a few minutes and served with crispy sauerkraut-potato cakes and a tangy mixture of mustard and sour cream.

Read more

The Great Food Truck Race Caption It: Fit of Finale Laughter

by in Shows, September 28th, 2012

The Great Food Truck Race
This weekend marks the end of the race for the two remaining Food Truck teams. Come Sunday night, either Nonna’s Kitchenette or Seoul Sausage will drive away with a win and the keys to start their dream food truck business. But before one of them can claim road trip glory, they must survive what Tyler has called “a multi-city race to the finish” — a high-stress weekend unlike any they’ve experienced before.

In this sneak-peek shot from Sunday’s episode, both Nonna’s and Seoul seem to be taking the challenges of the finale in stride, laughing off any worries about the future and the looming last elimination. Are the teams finding the finale to be easier than expected, or are they simply slaphappy after seven long weeks on the road?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out which team wins the race, we’re challenging you, Food Truck fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this LOL-worthy moment in the comments below.