Next Episode of Extra Virgin is
On Extra Virgin actress Debi Mazar and her Italian husband, Gabriele Corcos, invite you into their home as they share their tremendous passion for Tuscan food and for each other.
Debi, Gabriele and their daughters have just arrived at their home in Italy. Everyone is exhausted from jetlag and the stress of travel. All Debi and the girls want is to relax but Gabriele has invited friends and family over for dinner so there's no time. Instead they pick apricots off their own trees, which they will grill for an appetizer, and head to a local goat farm to buy two delicious cheeses to go with them. They make homemade ice cream for dessert and harvest cherries for a compote to ladle over the sweet treat. Then, to top it all off, Gabriele builds a fire in the heat of the day to make pasta alla Norma with grilled eggplant and Debi makes a salad with green radicchio and a lemon and olive oil dressing. It's wonderful to see their loved ones after being away from Italy for so long and the food is a big hit. In the end, the fact that they pushed themselves to stay up is probably a good thing because now, after all their hard work, and with bellies full of Gabriele's delicious Tuscan food, they will all sleep like babies.
Debi and Gabriele, their girls and "Uncle" Robert are headed to Siena to see a play that some friends are putting on and then to make their pals a congratulatory meal. Siena, although in Tuscany, is on the other side of the region, so has a totally different cuisine - but Gabriele is determined to make his friends their favorite dishes even though he's never cooked them before - it will be a challenge. As his ace in the hole, Gabriele goes to a man named Bagoga, a master of pici pasta, a hand rolled, spaghetti-like pasta that is a specialty of Siena - serving pici should give him a leg up with his mates. For the pici, Gabriele makes a simple sauce with olive oil, garlic, hot pepper and tomatoes. In addition to which he makes a lardo crustini - mashed pig fat with herbs and spices on toasted bread and Debi makes a zucchini carpaccio, with lemon, olive oil and mint. The meal is a hit and Gabriele is happy that he passed this culinary test!
Gabriele's brother, Fabio, is about to celebrate a birthday and Gabriele and Debi want to give him a party to remember. They make a plan to ride motorcycles, something Gabriele and Fabio have loved since they were kids, and cook a meal for Fabio, with all of his favorite dishes, in the track's restaurant kitchen. While driving to the raceway, Debi and Gabriele stop to make tortalone (oversized, triangular ravioli) with an adorable old couple who are said to make some of the best. From there, it's on to the track for the celebration. The ride is very scary for Debi and her girls but it's a lot of fun for Gabriele and Fabio. But what's even better is sharing a meal of porcini mushroom crustini, the tortalone with a three-meat Bolognese sauce and profiteroles for dessert. Fabio clearly appreciates all the effort that Gabriele and Debi have gone to and the thoughtfulness of making his favorite food. Buon Compleanno - which means happy birthday in Italian.
Debi and Gabriele are in Florence, by the Arno River, where they kissed for the first time eleven years ago. To celebrate what they remember fondly as the launch of their relationship, they have planned a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant. Gabriele heads home to make sure their girls are taken care of while Debi meets Robert for lunch and a little shopping. Unfortunately, Gabriele is held up in traffic on his way back to Florence and they miss their reservation. Debi is upset but she gets over it when Gabriele offers to cook her a special meal at home to make up for his mistake. Knowing that her husband's food is better then any restaurant, no matter how fancy, Debi readily agrees. Gabriele makes risotto with speck and cantaloupe, arugula salad with grilled calamari and as a surprise, zabaglione, Italian custard over fresh fruit. While Gabriele makes the dessert, Debi heads to the bedroom to freshen up for a little after dinner fun. Gabriele brings up the dessert but just as they are about to start the second, ever sexier, phase of their evening, the girls return home - ah life! It's never quite what you want it to be. But for Debi and Gabriele, it's always delicious.
Debi, Gabriele and their girls have moved from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, NYC. There's tons of unpacking left to do but Debi is eager to show Gabriele her old neighborhood - hopefully he'll love it as much as she does. Getting out of the house turns out to be a great idea - they have fun learning to brew beer, they find a wonderful butcher and a fantastic corner store. While out, Debi and Gabriele buy the supplies for their first backyard barbecue and invite some new friends to join them. But, of course, this being Gabriele, the menu is ribs, sausages braised in beer and spices, potatoes grilled en cartoccio (in foil packets) and beet and pear salad with gorgonzola cheese - Super Tuscan by any standard.
Gabriele is fascinated by all of the American food that is marketed as Italian, like a massive ham and salami sandwich that Robert brings home, which bears no similarity to any food Gabriele knows from his home country. But Gabriele is convinced that not all Italian-American food has strayed so far from it's roots and Robert offers to take him and Debi up to Arthur Avenue, the epicenter of Italian culture in New York, for some research. They make traditional pasta with a third generation pasta maker, mozzarella with a second generation deli man, they get homemade Italian salami from the local pork store, they play bocce and the visit the garden of a beautiful Italian grandma who hardly speaks any English at all. But what Gabriele really takes away from his fun-filled day is that Italian-American food is really it's own cuisine, neither completely Italian nor completely American is can be a wonderful amalgam of the two. And in honor of that concept, Gabriele makes his version of baked ziti, a beautiful cake of pasta with mozzarella, pork and red sauce, wrapped in slices of eggplant. He also makes a fresh green salad and, for dessert, cannoli with orange liquor and orange zest. Viva Americano!
The morning of her birthday, Debi comes down stairs expecting Gabriele to acknowledge the special day. Instead he says he's going to get a tattoo - what a disappointment! Debi is meeting he best friend, Robert, so she and Gabriele head out in separate directions. What Debi doesn't know is that Gabriele is conspiring with Robert to throw Debi a surprise birthday party. While Robert distracts Debi with a pedicure, a boat ride in Central Park, a delicious lunch and much more, Gabriele is running around like a crazy man, buying the ingredients, gathering Debi's friends and preparing a delicious meal that starts with a charcuterie platter, continues with eggplant parmesan and asparagus involtini and ends with a beautiful birthday cake! Debi is blown away, grateful that her friends are there and ecstatic that her husband did actually remember! Happy Birthday!
Gabriele and Debi have been living in New York for a while now and Gabriele is eager to get his name known in the culinary circles of the City. To do so he wants to have a super Tuscan "coming out dinner party" for as many food luminaries as he can get to come. Debi agrees. Gabriele heads to Eataly, the premiere Italian market in the five boroughs. He wants to get inspired, see what's fresh and what sparks his imagination - it's a wonderland of Italian treats - and it works, he knows just what he's going to make ribolita (Tuscan vegetable soup), beef tartar, roasted potatoes and rabbit cacciatore. The big day comes and the guest list surpasses even Gabriele's wildest hopes - twenty-four famous foodies are there to eat including the likes of Drew Nieporent and Michael White, two of New York City's premiere restaurateurs and Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine. Gabriele has to work very hard to please such expert eaters but he pulls it off with gusto and everyone loves the meal. Gabriele has definitely announced his presence.
Gabriele and Debi are in the city for a stroll along a riverside park. As they look out over the Hudson they see majestic boats and Debi suggests that for their 11th wedding anniversary, which is coming up soon, they take a romantic sunset sail - Gabriele loves the idea. But later, back at home, Gabriele has fallen ill and Debi has to nurse him to health before they can take their cruise. First, she makes him some healthy juice. Then, with a fresh cut of beef that they've just bought, Debi makes Gabriele a traditional Tuscan broth - just like his nonna Lola used to make. Finally, with the meat from the broth and other ingredients, Debi makes Lesso Rifatto, a hearty Tuscan stew much beloved in Italy. The fortifying effects of this super Tuscan food works and the following morning Gabriele is up before Debi preparing for their boat trip with a picnic of pears and pecorino cheese, melon and prosciutto, amaretto cookies and bottle prosecco to toast their anniversary - what a romantic sail it is!
Gabriele and Debi are having lunch with their daughters, Evelina and Giulia when the girls tell them that they miss Los Angeles and their friends there. Debi and Gabriele are sympathetic to the girls but they also want them to bond to their new home, Brooklyn, and make new friends here. So they take the girls to Coney Island to show them what fun New York can be and, boy, is it fun. The girls go on rides and play games and shop along the boardwalk - it's a blast. The following weekend they throw the girls a party and invite lots of local families with kids. There is a cotton candy machine, pin the tail on the wild boar (the Tuscan version of pin the tail on the donkey) and a pi?ata. Gabriele serves delicious fish tacos with a Tuscan spin on guacamole, beet chips and a delicious and imaginative fruit punch. It's super Tuscan and super fun!
Gabriele has been hired as the executive chef at the Montauk Yacht Club on the southern tip of Long Island. He's there to check on things - make sure the dishes are being made to his specifications, reconnect with the line chefs and maybe make a few tweaks to the menu. The rest of the family is happy to be out of the city and, while they're there, visit good friends Tony Bourdain and his wife Ottavia. The restaurant is doing well but could use a lighter dish in the heat of the summer. Gabriele goes fishing to get inspired, catches some stripped bass and comes up with something great. Later, at Tony's, Gabriele prepares tuna tartar with basil, lobster arrabiata and a delicious caipirinha cocktail to cool off. Tony, a chef himself, Ottavia and Debi all love the food. Gabriele really is the man, when it comes to Montauk.
It's early afternoon at the Mazar/Corcos home and Gabriele is grilling a bisteca Fiorentina for Debi. Beside the thick cut steak, he's making grilled endive and radicchio, with gorgonzola and sage-infused olive oil, and roasted sunchokes with salsa verde. It is super Tuscan all the way and tastes fantastic. Gabriele is buttering Debi up because he wants to do a big cooking event called Meatopia. Over two thousand people attend so it will be a lot of work but she agrees. Unfortunately, the night of the event, Debi's got a red carpet affair that she must attend - she'll get to Meatopia, but late. At the meat-lovers fair Gabriele is going nuts trying to pull the whole thing together. He's got a truck with a brick oven on the back for making pizzas, on top of which he's going to place rosemary, parsley, baby arugula, lemon zest and his meat - carpaccio. To do all of that for so many people is virtually impossible but thankfully Debi shows up at the last minute and they are able to make it happen. The crowd loves their dish! Success!
No house is truly a home for Debi and Gabriele unless they can grow their own veggies and herbs. In their tiny Brooklyn backyard, Gabriele is trying to recreate a bit of the garden he has in Italy but if he's going to make it work he'll need help from some local folks who know how to make urban green. He and Debi go to Riverpark Farm to learn about creating a little garden plot in the city and then to Prospect Park with master forager Steve Brill to learn about what they can harvest in nature. Inspired by everything they see, and with some fresh ingredients they've collected, Gabriele and Debi make seared quail with a sauce from cornelian cherries and American black cherries that they gathered in the park, greens they've just picked, and polenta - it doesn't get greener than that.
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