Our life is a freight train — a constant grind of family, jobs, chores and occasional headaches, just like everybody else’s life. Being that we live in New York City, this is somewhat amplified by the “concrete jungle” and the city’s never-ending buzz. This is not our house in Fiesole, Italy, where we can find peace by taking a walk in the olive orchard, or by simply sitting on a tree stump and waiting to spot a deer, pheasant or hare.
What works for Debi and me is to gift each other with free time: One of us takes care of it all, and the other one takes care of himself or herself. It does not sound as romantic as it is; our lifetime is always running too fast, and this is the only way we can find a pause.
Mother’s Day is one of those calendar events that is, for our family, as important as Christmas, and the girls and I always end up having a blast celebrating “Debina.”
Continue Reading Debi Mazar’s Mother’s Day Celebration
I grew up in a family of many religions, where Jewish and Catholic faith was blended accordingly. On top of that, my father is a surgeon and a researcher in the medical field, which allows him to find escape and comfort in alien-driven evolutionary theories, Aztec and Mayan end-of-the-world predictions, with a very peculiar result: Our calendar is a real mess!
I have always celebrated religious holidays with the utmost respect and truly profound conviction, even when Passover really messed up with Easter; if dad was on Passover there were no cakes or bread in the house, but if Easter overlapped, how could I enjoy a slice of colomba cake?
It was not always easy.
Continue Reading Why Gabriele Corcos Thinks Olive Oil is Liquid Gold
There is no doubt that while in Italy, truffles might be one of the most-precious ingredients you can come across. However, as you travel through the Bel Paese, you might also discover that many items can tickle your palate in the most-luxurious way without necessarily being as expensive as truffles.
Every region, province, village or piece of farmland has something special to offer, from the most vibrant produce down south to the most-amazing cheeses on top of the Alps, the fresh, cheap sardines you can buy on the docks in Livorno, and the best (and only) Prosecco in the northeast.
You might argue that hunting for tomatoes is not half as exciting as hunting for truffles, but have you ever scored 2 pounds of ripe San Marzano tomatoes in the middle of August at a roadside stand in Calabria? The moment you bite into that warm fruit you are reminded of your place on Earth!
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Ingredient Hunting in Italy
As any fan of Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin knows, for stars Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, a great passion for food and their love for one another are intimately intertwined. Their new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen (on sale May 6, 2014), paints a road map of their romance through recipes – the fried squash blossoms Gabriele made for Debi on their first date; the farro salad Gabriele’s mother made for Debi upon their first meeting – offering as many glimpses into their warm lives as authentic Italian dishes. As Debi puts it in the book’s introduction, in “meeting and falling for Gabriele, I discovered how much great food also comes from a desire to feed the ones you love.”
As their story goes, Gabriele introduced Debi to the fresh, produce-driven dishes and rustic cooking style from his native Tuscany, and together they celebrate a bicoastal, bicontinental fusion of Tuscan influence, California freshness and Debi’s New York heritage in their cooking. They happily spoil loved ones (most especially daughters Evelina and Giulia) with inspired, flavorful meals and encourage viewers (and now readers) to do the same. Start with the Heirloom Tomato Caprese shown on the cover, and make your way through to understated Mascarpone and Amaretti Cups for dessert. The chapters are cleanly organized in the order you’d consume the dishes: Appetizers, Pastas and Sauces, Salads, Meat, Fish and so on (Gabriele is such a fan that risotto has its own dedicated section) so you can easily mix and match courses in your own Tuscan buffet.
Continue Reading Signed Cookbook Giveaway: Debi & Gabriele’s Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen
We moved to the East Coast a couple of years ago, after more than a decade spent in sunny Southern California, and arrived at the end of August, just in time to catch the tail end of a very hot and humid summer.
Relocating from a California home into a Brooklyn house has been quite an adjustment (read “shock”) for all of us, dog included, but now that a few seasons have passed I can honestly say it feels we have settled down, at least for the moment.
We have left behind our pizza oven and a gargantuan barbecue that had more knobs and controls and pieces than anything I had ever seen before moving to America. I felt violated, especially when I realized there was no way I could have a pizza oven in the backyard of my new rental home. I never particularly cared for the spaceship barbecue, as I truly believe that once you have fire to cook on, you are set; there is no need for extreme accessorizing or overcomplicating the simplest way of cooking that a live fire is.
Continue Reading How Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar Throw a BBQ
Cooking Tuscan is all about simplicity, freshness and, ultimately, generosity. It is about working very conscientiously in the kitchen, inspired by the necessity of caring for the ones you love. Cooking is pursuing a bond with people around the kitchen table, and food is the medium by which this is achieved. “The cook” in this equation is just a catalyst — sometimes in the form of a mother or grandmother, and sometimes in the form of a restaurant chef or a farmer.
The Tuscan kitchen reflects this sentiment abundantly. Nothing is more important than the table; it should be the right size and should feel warm and familiar, something that facilitates the celebration of a meal together.
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Pantry Staples for Cooking Tuscan-Style
As a family we love taking road trips, especially after having moved to Brooklyn, where we feel a bit constricted by the “concrete jungle.” It’s fun to load up the car, punch a few digits into the nav system and go explore what surrounds the city: Long Island and the Hamptons to the east, Upstate New York to the north, Pennsylvania to the west and south.
Tradition wants that we never leave for a road trip without a couple of bags loaded with food, and possibly a cooler with drinks: When traveling with kids, it’s always better to be ready rather than to all of a sudden become slave to a tantrum because of an empty stomach. Therefore, whenever we embark on a new road trip adventure, we never leave without our mortadella or prosciutto sandwiches, the absolutely necessary slices of pecorino cheese to eat with some fruit, and the occasional yogurt, cereal bar or bag of cookies. What we carry along with us goes into our “first-aid kit” in case of hunger; otherwise we usually have tons of fun trying to figure out what to eat locally and where. We ask people on the side of the road; we read every sign posted; sometimes we even track down smells. Imagine driving on a late-summer afternoon and smelling barbecued meat and fresh corn. Wouldn’t you stop the car to smell the air and adjust your route?
When we travel across Italy it is extremely easy and safe to rely on the local Autogrill, a fantastic chain of highway pit stops where the food is prepared on the spot by cooks from the area.
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Road Trip Eating Tips
We run a Tuscan kitchen: Our pantry is usually always full but extremely humble. As far as feeding a family in a budget-conscious way, we believe that some staple foods, like canned beans and tuna, rice, pasta and canned tomatoes, and obviously the basic condiments like extra virgin olive oil and a few spices should always be available for a quick meal on the go. We shop for vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy on a daily basis, after we decide what we are going to eat for dinner — a decision that is usually made at breakfast. Knowing what is in your fridge is a great way to save money, as it helps you plan meals and consume what is available; limiting the amount of food that ends up in the garbage is a great step toward saving a lot of money.
We are big fans of leftovers. We recycle whatever vegetable is left from the evening before into a pasta sauce or a frittata, and we shred our leftover roast to make tacos (not really Tuscan but darn cheap!). We find our way to eat everything we have in the house, most of the time.
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Tips on Eating on the Cheap
For a celebrity, Debi Mazar sure knows the keys to a simple life. Despite her Hollywood status (in addition to starring in Extra Virgin along with husband Gabriele Corcos, she’s had roles in Entourage and Goodfellas, and she is a longtime friend of Madonna), this New York City-born wife and mother of two really keeps herself grounded — no doubt in part to a Tuscan-influenced lifestyle. We recently caught up with Debi to see how she maintains that relaxed spirit during the holidays and get her tips for effortless entertaining.
When asked for her essential dinner party tips, Debi starts with the decorations. The lover of tabletop design collects vintage tablecloths, napkins and dishware. Anything goes, she says, “I’ll use pitchers as flower holders,” adding that she’ll mix and match on purpose. “My style is ghetto fab and uber-modern.” The Mazar/Corcos’ tabletop in Brooklyn is a raw piece of jade marble purchased in Italy — “My Tuscan tabletop,” Debi notes. And while it may appear their house is in tiptop shape to entertain, when pressed, Debi reveals there are a few appliances on her holiday wish list this year, especially for her NYC kitchen that’s a bit rundown: “I’d like a new stove, a new dishwasher and a new fridge.”
Continue Reading Debi Mazar’s Holiday Dinner Party Tips
Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos return to Cooking Channel for a new season of Extra Virgin tonight at 9:30pm ET. Set your DVRs, smart phone alarms and old-school hand-written appointment books for 13 new episodes of food, family and fun every Wednesday.
On tonight’s episode, travel with Debi, Gabriele and their daughters to their beautiful farmhouse in Tuscany and watch Gabriele try to rally his extremely jet-lagged family into preparing an enormous feast for family and friends using ingredients sourced from their backyard. They may not be thrilled about it, but it gets us pretty great recipes (and helps them sleep better.)
Continue Reading Watch Extra Virgin’s Third Season Every Wednesday at 9:30pm ET