Maria Russo

Maria Russo

Maria Russo is a senior at Barnard College of Columbia University, majoring in English. Originally from an Italian-American family in southeast Michigan, she spent the first three years of college searching (to no avail) for any way at all to make pasta without a stove. Finally having access to more than a microwave, Maria enjoys cooking classic Italian dishes and baking chocolate or red velvet anything.

Best Meal I’ve Ever Cooked: Giada’s Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta, with fried pickles being a very close second.

Favorite Dining Hall Food: Nacho Bar, with extra salsa and guacamole if Wanda will let me.

Best Party Theme: Candy Land.

Daytime Indulgence: Mango Smoothie from Barnard’s Liz’s Place Café.

Culinary Pet Peeve: That last little piece of garlic peel that just will not come off.

Friday Recipe Roundup: Finals Edition


It’s finals season. You’re tired. And starving. In that last 24 hours you haven’t eaten much except chewy Sour Patch Kids, an unnamable number of espresso shots and a few of those mini pretzel-hummus cups. You’re ready for a real meal, but of course not one that will force you away from a last-minute cramming session.

I get it. This week I finished my very. last. college. exam.

Below is a list of five library-friendly superfoods that take just 30 minutes or fewer to prepare, which will surely satisfy your craving for home-cooked fare.

Maria Russo is a Small


One Pot Stop: Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme

onion soup

Yes, I know it’s practically May and that soup season may have passed, but these days I can’t help but make pots of warm, comforting bowls of soup – not so much because I’m craving something particularly warm or comforting but because they’re just so practical. I can make a quick-cooking batch one evening after class, and enjoy it for dinner that night—and two nights thereafter, and probably one afternoon for lunch as well. However, if I’m going eat soup for dinner(s), it needs to be hearty; something that will keep me full as I hole up in the library


How To: Use Vending Machine Snacks in Your Home Cooking


Whether or not we like to admit it, we’ve all been there. Probably sometime between 3:30pm and 4 o’clock.

Lunch is a distant memory and dinner is still a way’s away, but the snack attack has hit and you’re hungry.

If you haven’t had the time or inclination to pack an afternoon (after-school) snack, you’ll likely find yourself in front of your dorm or office vending machine, gazing into that treat-filled tower and clutching your one-dollar bill until you have finally decided how to spend it.

As you stare at yourself in the plastic reflection of the vending machine and …


In Season: Asparagus


Whether you like it blanched, roasted, grilled or simply crunchy and raw, asparagus is light, fresh and offers a range of cooking and eating possibilities. We’re entering the height of asparagus season, so it’s an ideal time to take advantage of this naturally sweet and easy-to-prepare vegetable. Pick up a bundle or two today, and try adding it to you salads, pastas, sides and more. It will quickly transform your most basic dishes into stunning, satisfying plates.

**All About Asparagus**

In Season: Asparagus

When to Buy: Now is the best time to start perusing the produce aisle to find the …


Impulse Buy of the Week: Strawberry Balsamic Jam


Impulse Buy: Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Store: Various locations in New York City
Cost: $7 at Lucy’s Whey, Chelsea Market

Hands down, strawberries are my favorite fruit. Ever. I love them whole, macerated with sugar, covered in chocolate, chopped in a bowl of Cheerios and sprinkled over ice cream.

Without question, balsamic vinegar is my favorite kind of vinegar. I adore that powerful taste, pungent aroma and silky texture drizzled on arugula salads, boiled down and dripped on crepes and blended with honey and cooked over salmon.

Naturally, you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a jar of Strawberry


Procrastination Cooking: Tagliatelle Bolognese


Are there any other second semester college seniors out there? I’m guessing there are and that more than a few of you are just like me – getting used to the constant, somewhat terrifying reality that life is going to change big time in just a couple short months. As you finish up your final few classes and attempt to juggle thesis writing, resumé tweaking, grad school applications, job interviews, and apartment hunting, you’re probably going to need —not just want—to procrastinate your final days on campus as an undergrad, before moving on to the “Real World.” …


Sweet of the Week: Luciano’s Ricotta Cheesecake


Dish: Rosa’s Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberries
Restaurant: Luciano’s Restaurant, Clinton Township, Michigan
Price Tag: $5.95

Let me start by saying that when it comes to Luciano’s Restaurant in southeast Michigan, I am more than a bit biased. I have been coming to this neighborhood institution for as long as I can remember. When my family and I enter the restaurant, conveniently located in a strip mall (because, really, what isn’t in a strip mall in Michigan?) just one mile from our house, the owner and employees at Luciano’s go out of their way to make us feel welcome and genuinely …


In Season: Oranges


At times mistaken for summer fruit because of their bright color and refreshing zest, oranges are, in fact, ripe in the winter. They are often lauded for their high vitamin C content, which has been linked to combating the common cold, and can be squeezed for their juices or zested for a fine mist of their fragrant flesh. The juicy fruit beneath an orange’s peel is most traditionally eaten raw and by itself but can be featured in both sweet and savory dishes alike. Their lovely citrus scent pairs pretty well with a Christmas tree too!


This Week at College: Big Sub


Barnard College is all about tradition. Every year, a few college-wide events take over campus to honor Barnard’s history, its students and more with events ranging from Founder’s Day, which commemorates Barnard’s birthday, Midnight Breakfast, a middle-of-the-night feast at which deans, faculty and staff serve breakfast to students the night before final exams begin, and Spirit Day, a day-long party celebrating students’ school spirit.

One program in particular is especially unique in its style, mission, duration, and food. Every October, the McIntosh Activities Council (McAC) at Barnard College hosts Big Sub, a food-focused, college-wide event that features a 700 …


College Town Tours: The Best of Upper Manhattan

NYC skyline

If you ask me, New York City is the college town. Though, I am a bit partial. I am a senior at Barnard College of Columbia University, located in the Morningside Heights (north of the Upper West Side, south of Harlem) neighborhood of Manhattan. For my friends and me here, the world is literally at our fingertips. On any given night, we can choose whether we want to catch a Broadway show (with student-rate tickets!), stroll through one of dozens of museums, peruse the streets while shopping and, of course, eat at one of literally thousands of restaurants of every …