Actress Debi Mazar is known for her roles in Goodfellas, and more recently, Entourage (not to mention about a million other TV shows and films). But she’s also an Italian food guru, thanks in part to her marriage to Tuscan-born food enthusiast Gabriele Corcos.
The couple hosts a cooking show, Extra Virgin, on the Cooking Channel, and their first cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen, hits shelves and Kindles May 6. And they want you to know Italian food isn’t all carbs and cream sauce.
“For the most part, Tuscan-Italian food is healthy,” says Mazar, a Queens native now living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “It really relies on fresh ingredients and simple seasoning—no creams or butter.” Sticking to that tradition, Mazar and Corcos use only olive oil, salt, and pepper as condiments. They’re also not afraid to go meatless (although they personally prefer meat) and have many hardcore vegan and vegetarian fans.
“In recent years, more people are asking for vegetarian than meat dishes,” Corcos explains. “For us, it’s just a matter of replacing meat in any recipe with tofu and considering it a Tuscan ingredient.”
Even though the couple are constantly whipping up meals in front of the cameras, they still carve out time to cook 90 percent of their meals at home to share with their eight and 12-year-old daughters and maintain other healthy habits, too. Mazar is a Pilates regular who loves her Vitamix, while Corcos is a runner.
Here’s what the pair—who now split their time between Brooklyn and Tuscany—stock at home, from tons of greens to beer for pre-workout hydration. Hey, when in Rome! Er, Tuscany.
My eye is drawn to the Six Point Righteous Ale. Isn’t it a crime to drink beer over wine if you’re Italian? Mazar: This question shows me you haven’t been to Italy much! They’re huge beer drinkers. It’s part of the lifestyle. They’re allowed to drink on the job and drive with an open bottle of beer. I prefer wine but my husband prefers beer. Corcos: For beer and wine, it’s a matter of what dish you’re eating. If we’re having a wonderful steak, I’ll open a nice bottle of wine. If I’m going to the gym, I’ll have a can of beer and I’m fine. There’s such a wonderful push on craft beers here. Craft beers are just coming out in Italy.
I think I’d throw up if I tried to drink beer before a workout! I’d have some of the Vita Coco I see in your door though. Why do you like it? Corcos: The kids love it. We try to convince kids to not drink regular fruit juice. Mazar: I also like to use it in my shake. I make a lot of veggie juices in my Vitamix with kale, lemon, and carrots. It adds a touch of sweetness. We also have a friend that came over and mixed it with a shot of rum on ice.
Sounds pretty good actually. I’m noticing the gorgeous greens on the top shelf. What do you use them for? Corcos: We buy every seasonal green we can get—we have kale, collard greens, rainbow chard, broccoli rabe, arugula and asparagus. We’ll use it either to be cooked or juiced or in soups. I consider greens my biggest tool when I’m cooking.
So I know you prefer meat. Why do you have the House Foods tofu? Corcos: We’ll keep it on hand for vegetarian friends. If I was making a nice light fish dish, I could switch the fish to tofu. Or I’d put it in salad with some black olives and baby greens, seared and cubed kind of like croutons.
I don’t see a lot of breakfast items other than the eggs. Is that what you eat in the morning? Mazar: He’s Italian so he likes his coffee, and he’ll have his breakfast later. I’m more American. It’s been drilled into my brain that it’s an essential. I’ll make healthy cereals for me and my kids with bananas and yogurts. I also love lox with cream cheese on a super healthy bread and fresh fruit.
Is that what the milk is for? Breakfast time? We’re big on dairy and we drink whole organic milk with no hormones. I don’t like low-fat or reduced-fat milk. There’s no point to me. He gets pissed off by some types of milk. He’s used to country fresh milk. He eats more dairy and meat. I probably eat the least meat. Except after the baby, my body was screaming for meat. —Jamie McKillop
For more information, visit www.cookingchanneltv.com and check out Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen