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.

Geoffrey Zakarian’s Vanilla Crescents — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 10th, 2012

Geoffrey Zakarian's Vanilla Crescents
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Just because this recipe was created by an Iron Chef doesn’t mean it’s going to involve oddball ingredients or a crazy-difficult cooking process. In fact, these light, vanilla-scented cookies are made with just eight ingredients, and you don’t even need a cookie cutter to shape them. After mixing together flour, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla, roll the cookies into a long log and chill before cutting and rolling the dough into two-bite crescents. If you’re a first-time crescent-shaper or are baking with little ones who are, don’t worry if your moons look more like stars, spaceships or the sun — they’ll surely be deliciously sweet anyway.

Get Geoffrey’s Vanilla Crescents recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

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Restaurant Revisited: Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri

by in Shows, December 9th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Holiday: ImpossibleOn Holiday: Impossible, Robert Irvine shifted his focus away from restaurants and onto a deserving organization just in time for the holiday season. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., to transform a local Boys & Girls Club that has given so much to its storm-ravaged community after a deadly tornado struck the region in 2011. Unlike any renovation he’d done before, this was Robert’s largest and most difficult mission to date. Robert’s challenge in Joplin was twofold: give a second life to the expansive, multi-purpose space at the Boys & Girls Club facility and cater a special holiday party for a whopping 1,000 people.

Robert Irvine on Holiday: ImpossibleIn celebration of the season, Robert completed the mission with a bit of holiday cheer, thanks in large part to the generosity of his Restaurant: Impossible team, fellow chef friends and the Lexus Culinary Masters, who increased his time and spending limits from the usual two days and $10,000 to three days and $30,000. After just 72 hours, the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin reopened with secure entrance, bright, colorful walls, a fully equipped kitchen, increased storage and other functional elements that will help the club carry out their kids-first mission.

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Best 5 Brisket Recipes

by in Holidays, December 9th, 2012

Texas Oven-Roasted Beef BrisketDuring the eight days of Hanukkah, we’ll be celebrating the festival of lights with essential recipes for parties, nightly dinners, desserts and leftovers. Today, it’s all about the star of the main dish, brisket. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top five brisket recipes, each a big-batch show-stopper packed with new and favorite flavors alike. Check out our recipes below to ensure that this all-important beef turns out deliciously tender and juicy every time, then tell us how you prepare this holiday classic.

5. Sweet and Sour Braised Brisket – For a new twist on traditional brisket, cook the beef and hearty carrots and potatoes in a mixture of red wine vinegar, brown sugar and tomatoes until they’ve absorbed those savory flavors and the meat is fall-apart tender.

4. Brisket With Carrots and Onions – Ina tops her garlic-rubbed brisket with a thick, rich sauce of flavorful pan drippings and serves it with tender potatoes and carrots.

Get the top three recipes

Buy the Book: 17 Cookbooks for Everyone on Your Shopping List

by in Holidays, December 9th, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina GartenThis holiday season, as you’re scouring the stores in search of a gift to please that cousin, brother or mother-in-law who’s returned every present you’ve ever bought them, look to a carefully chosen cookbook to finally ensure gift-giving success. There’s indeed a cookbook for every kind of eater and cook, even kitchen novices, so it’s important to consider the recipient when you’re shopping for cookbooks. Is she an entertaining guru with a flair for the fancy, or an elementary but determined baker? Does he prefer healthful, balanced meals to richly indulgent ones, or is he passionate about all things offal? Food Network’s Cookbook Gift Guide features cookbooks to impress all of them. We’ve rounded up 17 of our favorite new and noteworthy cookbooks written by Food Network chefs, famed food stars and prominent home cooks alike to help you find the best possible gift for everyone on your list.

Read on to find a few of our cookbook suggestions, then check out Food Network’s entire Cookbook Gift Guide to get all 17 of the sweet and savory cookbooks in our collection.

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Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 9th, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Rich, decadent and deliciously fudgy, this top-rated cheesecake boast three layers of chocolate goodness: a chocolate-cookie crust, bittersweet-chocolate filling and semisweet-chocolate glaze. If you’re used to relying on store-bought pie or cookie crusts to save time in the kitchen, try making this recipe at home. It comes together with just five ingredients and can be made entirely in the food processor. These peppermint-topped beauties need to chill overnight before you enjoy them, so plan ahead if preparing the bars for a party — or Santa.

Get the recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Get more cookie inspiration

VOTE: An Iron Chef Caesar Salad Showdown — Rival Recipes

by in Shows, December 8th, 2012

An Iron Chef Caesar Salad ShowdownBy now you know that Chef Elizabeth Falkner was eliminated on last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, and whether or not you agree with the judges’ decision to send her home on account of too much saffron, one thing is certain: The spheres of Caesar dressing she concocted during her final Secret Ingredient Showdown were simply beautiful. Instead of merely using from-scratch salad dressing — or, heaven forbid, bottled dressing — to top her salad, Chef Falkner took her pureed mixture one step further by piping it into mini rounds and chilling them over ice until they were semifirm. These dressing bubbles of sorts kept their shape on the plate until they were burst open, their liquid insides revealed.

In honor of this ingenious dish and Chef Falkner’s masterful technique in creating it, this week’s Rival Recipes battle is all about that classic Italian-American salad: the Caesar salad. But instead of Redemption rivals, we’re challenging standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian to bring their best salads to the showdown.

While both Iron Chefs are featuring classic flavors and textures in their Caesar salads, each has added his signature spin to elevate them beyond the everyday. It’s perhaps no surprise that grilling guru Chef Flay has chosen to serve a Grilled Romaine Salad With Spicy Caesar Dressing, a top-rated recipe that’s finished with grilled croutons, while classical chef Zakarian offers a Caesar Salad With Red Romaine, served with fresh lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Like Chef Falkner did in her very last battle, both Chef Flay and Chef Zakarian look to anchovy fillets to add a briny, salty taste to their dressings, but only Chef Flay mixes in a dollop of mayonnaise for a rich, creamy finish — Chef Zakarian relies on an egg yolk to offer the same texture.

VOTE NOW

Ina Garten’s Fruitcake Cookies — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 8th, 2012

Fruitcake Cookies
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Forget about everything you know – and perhaps dislike – about traditional holiday fruitcakes because this recipe is nothing like those dense, dry loaves. Ina’s cookies, merely inspired by fruitcake, are light and moist, made with four different kinds of dried fruit, chopped pecans, golden honey and a pinch of ground cloves for subtle spice. Perhaps the best part about these cookies is that they can be shaped into logs and kept in the refrigerator for a last-minute party dessert or sweet-tooth-satisfying treat – just slice as many cookies as you need and save the remaining dough for later.

Get Ina’s Fruitcake Cookies recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Show us your best cookie creations

How to Holiday Shop on a Budget: Clever Gifts for $20 and $50

by in Holidays, December 7th, 2012

It’s no surprise that between shopping for dinner parties, holiday open houses, tree trimmings, decorations and, of course, presents, it can be easy to rack up a hefty spending bill as you celebrate the season of giving. This year, as you shop for close family members, distant relatives and relative strangers alike, let Food Network’s holiday gift guides rescue your wallet from the seasonal pinch. You’ve heard it before: It’s not the amount of money you spend on a gift but the thought you put into it that counts. Food Network’s collection of both quirky and classic items makes it easy to find presents that are both inexpensive and full of heart for everyone on your list. Check out a few of our favorite gifts below, then browse our entire collection of goodies in our gift guides, organized into two price increments: those less than $20 and those less than $50. Tell us in the comments below: What’s the best, most inexpensive gift you’ve ever given?

More clever gifts

Fans React to a Fallen Favorite

by in Shows, December 7th, 2012

Chef Elizabeth FalknerThe Next Iron Chef Fan Post of the WeekShocking to say the least, Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s elimination last Sunday night was downright powerful and emotional, not only for Chef Falkner, her fellow chefs and the judges, but also you, Next Iron Chef fans. After all, given her string of successful Showdown wins and a first-place finish in the Chairman’s Challenge of Transformation, Chef Falkner seemed to be on the fast track to Redemption glory, and fans were just waiting for her to finally claim the title of The Next Iron Chef. On Sunday, however, things took a troublesome turn and, in a moment of striking déjà vu, she crumbled in the Chairman’s ingredient auction and a head-to-head Showdown against the rival she had chosen, just like Chef Anne Burrell did in this challenge last season. Despite a smart Caesar salad and fried anchovies, Chef Falkner was told that she would not become The Next Iron Chef, and within minutes, fans Tweeted @FoodNetwork and took to our Facebook timeline and blog to express their disappointment, confusion and sadness over her early exit.

Questioning Chef Falkner’s quick decline on the road to redemption, K. Patrice Williams posted a comment on Facebook (pictured above) that speaks to both Chef Falkner’s highest and lowest moments of the competition. “I can believe I cried when they eliminated her. I’m still shocked. I was convinced she was going to be The Next Iron Chef. How does someone [go from making] the best dessert any of the judges have ever tasted to getting eliminated the next week?” she wondered, echoing the sentiments of fellow Falkner fans.

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Jeff Mauro’s PB and J Blondie — 12 Days of Cookies

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 7th, 2012

PB & J Blondie
12 Days of CookiesIt’s time for 12 Days of Cookies, Food Network’s annual virtual cookie swap. Each day, visit us here on FN Dish for a peek at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from your favorite Food Network chefs.

Leave it to the Sandwich King to take what’s perhaps the ultimate American sandwich – the PB & J – and turn it into a deliciously sweet dessert. Instead of using actual peanut butter to guarantee a nutty taste, Jeff adds peanut butter chips and crushed roasted peanuts to the buttery batter, and he opts for fruit preserves in place of jams or jellies. Depending on what your family’s favorite taste is, top the batter with raspberry, strawberry or grape preserves and use a knife to achieve a swirly effect before baking these blondies.

Get Jeff’s PB and J Blondie recipe and check out 12 Days of Cookies for dozens more recipes and holiday baking inspiration. Then, join the conversation: Tell us what you’re baking this season and what your all-time favorite cookie is.

Host your best cookie swap yet with these easy party ideas