Actress Debi Mazar and husband Gabriele Corcos are partners in life and on the small screen. The husband-wife duo are debuting the new season of their show, Extra Virgin, on the Cooking Channel Wednesday, November 7.
The cooking couple opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their two daughters Evelina, 10, and Giulia, 6, their “passion for Tuscan food” with a splash of tofu, and Debi’s lifelong friendship with Madonna. And they’re even sharing two of their new recipes with our readers: Tofu Tiramisu and Tofu Gnocchi with Spinach and Sage.
CBS: Tell us about your show Extra Virgin.
Debi: “We love sharing our passion for Tuscan food with the viewers. We don’t see ourselves as teachers but rather we are sharing the style of cooking Gabriele learned as a child. Simple ingredients, great flavor mixed with a lot of fun.”
Gabriele: “You know, we began with a blog that evolved into this show and we’re having a great time showing how anyone can blend the simple traditions of Tuscan cooking into their lives.”
CBS: Tell us about your partnership with House Foods.
Debi: “I have been a tofu fan since my mother made it for her when I was a child.”
Gabriele: “When I came to the States, she introduced me to it and progressively I have learned how to use it in cooking. When House Foods came to us to suggest a partnership, we were delighted.”
CBS: Your recent hands-on cooking demonstration showcases tofu recipes. What’s your best advice to those who are afraid of non-meat recipes?
Gabriele: “Don’t be afraid of it. When I first visited Debi in the U.S., I found tofu in her refrigerator and I thought, ‘What the heck is this?’ Through the years I have started appreciating how tofu is as versatile as sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese or ricotta, and it has allowed me to develop many new recipes. It is even great as an occasional replacement for meat – I found I wasn’t sacrificing anything but rather adding to my list of ingredients I like to work with.”
Debi: “Tofu fits very comfortably into our cooking. It’s a great nutrient so it is also great for our kids. We made one of our House Foods Tofu Shirataki dishes for the kids last week and they loved it.”
CBS: You work together on-and-off-screen. How do you make it work?
Debi: “Working together is a blessing. Together we’ve created something fantastic completely out of nothing. We’re always available for our kids and we can do lots of things as a family.
We make it work by finding something special to do together whenever we have a moment. Now that the kids are in school, we have our dates during the day – a glass of wine before lunch.”
CBS: How are your daughters Evelina, 10, and Giulia, 6. What are they into?
Debi: “Evelina is becoming a techie. She’s always online and her new passion is creating comic books – with Gabriele as the monster. She’s discovered Instagram and has created an account for the dog. She has long conferences with her friends from LA, so we have to limit her time online or she’d be up all night. We’re very careful about her online activity to make sure there’s nothing overly personal in anything she posts.”
Gabriele: “Giulia is my sous-chef. She especially loves to chop – getting to use a knife – and she always wants to be the one to push the button on electric appliances.
Both girls have adapted very well to New York. It’s a pleasure to see them not missing LA, and enjoying the small things our new neighborhood in Brooklyn has to offer like walking to school, meeting up with neighborhood friends, going to the park to check out the ducks and swans and walking the dog. Sometimes we all miss the weather a little, but the move has been great for our family.”
CBS: Do your daughters love to cook as well?
Gabriele: “Guilia is my sous-chef and loves cooking; Evelina is the taster.”
CBS: What are some of their favorite dishes?
Gabriele: “It goes without saying any kind of pasta, and they love fish tacos as to them it is a way of keeping the California experience alive. They love my lasagna, any baked goods, my fresh bread.”
CBS: What’s your best advice to parents of picky eaters? What’s your best advice for parents who feel they don’t have enough time to cook home-cooked meals?
Gabriele: “Never give up. Even when we’re busy all day, we make time to prepare a good, healthy dinner. Cook on the weekends; make sauces or soups you can freeze to have during the week. Find recipes your kids love and infiltrate them with ingredients they resist.”
Debi: “Gabriele put spinach into our Sunday morning frittatas and now the kids love it. We rarely have take-out food, maybe once every two or three months, and then it’s Chinese. Generally, we don’t like to compromise a healthy dinner for time.”
CBS: With both your daughters off to school full-time, do you and Gabriele spend endless hours creating new recipes? Or are you hoping to return to more acting?
Debi: “We spend a lot of time working on our show, writing the scripts and developing the recipes. Gabriele does most of the recipe work and I really like being more in control of the creative process.
I’ve never stopped acting. I was working in LA last week on Fran Drescher’s sitcom, Happily Divorced. My latest film is Lovelace that’s just making the festivals now and I’m also in Home Alone 5 on the Disney Family Channel in November. You could say I have four jobs now: actress, Extra Virgin and being a wife and mom.”
Debi: “She’s still a very good friend and our kids are very friendly, too. Last summer, I took Gabrielle’s parents to her concert in Florence and the kids are seeing her concert here in town in November.”
CBS: Please share two of your favorite new recipes.
Tofu Tiramisu (see photo below)
- 2 cups brewed coffee
- 1 (14 ounce) package House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Medium Firm
- 1 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 14 ounces hard lady fingers
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish
Add 3 tablespoons sugar into hot coffee and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool.
Drain and add Tofu Firm to a food processor; blend until completely smooth (about 1 minute).
Add egg yolks and 1-cup sugar in a bowl and whisk until fluffy and light yellow in color. Whisk in the tofu until smooth and well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer until they reach medium stiff peaks. Fold into the tofu mixture.
Dip the ladyfingers into the hot coffee and lay them into a single layer in a 9×13 glass-baking tray. Make sure you don’t completely soak the cookies, as you want to retain some crunch. Spread a layer of the tofu on top, and dust lightly with cocoa powder. Repeat layering with cookies, tofu, and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with shaved dark chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 3 hours so the flavors can marry.
Tofu Gnocchi with Spinach and Sage (see photo below)
- 1 (12 ounce) package House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Extra Firm
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 bunches fresh spinach, washed thoroughly, stems removed (about 1-1/2 pounds)
- 5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg yolk
- Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 handful fresh sage
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drain the Tofu and then add it to a large bowl; break up with your hands until crumbly. Drizzle with olive oil, add the garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Keep working the tofu with your hands until it’s very crumbly and looks like ricotta cheese.
Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove spinach from the water and plunge in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Drain the spinach very well, and using a clean tea towel, squeeze out the extra water. Chop the leaves very fine and add to the bowl with the crumbled tofu. Stir in 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, egg yolk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and shape the mixture into balls the size of walnuts.
Butter a 13×9 inch casserole dish, and lay all the gnocchi in it, top with 2 tablespoons of sliced butter and another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Bake the gnocchi for about 20 minutes and then add to the broiler the last 5 minutes to crisp and brown the top of the spinach balls.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add the sage once it starts to foam. Sauté until it starts to brown. Serve tofu gnocchi topped with warm butter sauce.
Serves 4-6View Slideshow »»