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Signed Cookbook Giveaway: Debi & Gabriele’s Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen

Extra Virgin Cookbook 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.

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How Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar Throw a BBQ

 

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.

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Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Pantry Staples for Cooking Tuscan-Style

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.

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Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Road Trip Eating Tips

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.

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Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Tips on Eating on the Cheap

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.

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Debi Mazar’s Holiday Dinner Party Tips

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.”

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Watch Extra Virgin’s Third Season Every Wednesday at 9:30pm ET

Gabriele Corcos Builds Fire Pit

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.)

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The Best of Cooking Channel 2011

Roast Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Rachael Ray's Enchiladas Suizas weren't just a crowd favorite, they were the crowd favorite in 2011.

With only a few days left until year’s end, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on Cooking Channel’s 2011 with all it’s delicious offerings.

Look back with us at the shows, recipes, food and photos you loved the most in 2011. Scroll through, see what you think, chime in with your thoughts and impressions, and make sure to let us know what you want more of in 2012.

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Debi and Gabriele: Back for More

It has certainly been a while since Debi and I served you up new stories, new recipes and new family adventures. We’ve missed you, too! But your patience is about to be rewarded. We’re back on Wednesday night at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm Pacific, and we’re bringing you a whole new season full of laughs, guests, and, of course, food; all that you’ve come to expect from your favorite Tuscan American-blended bunch, but there’s also been some changes, too…

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A Season Finale of Love, Happiness and Food!

Extra Virgin wedding kiss

The big day is here! Debi and Gabriele renew their wedding vows in the small Tuscan town of Fiesole, Italy, with family and closest friends on Wednesday’s season finale of Extra Virgin.

But there’s so much to do before the big event…

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