When the #SundaySupper community decided to share recipes from celebrity chefs, we new exactly what to share! I have been a fan of cooking shows for years, since back in the day when I would have to wait for Saturday when public television would air a handful of chefs whipping up their specialties. Fast forward to 2012 and to my utter joy, 24/7 you’ll find cooking show after cooking show. One of my absolute favorites is “Extra Virgin“ hosted by husband and wife Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar. They are absolutely charming, entertaining and they cook up one delicious dish after another on the Cooking Channel. With a very popular cooking show, a growing product line, fabulous website ‘Under the Tuscan Gun‘, two beautiful daughters and travels that take this busy couple around the world, I asked Gabriele how it all began and what’s next.
Where/when did your love of cooking begin?
I started baking at the age of six. My mom was a school teacher, in Italy schools r open on Saturday as well, so when my brother turned 2 and I was six my mom told me: “Tomorrow is Sunday, I want to sleep, if I hear a single sound you are grounded… ” She walked me to the fridge and showed me what I was supposed to feed my brother in the morning. There were no bottle warmers at the time, so I had to use the stove to heat up his bottle… So I figured if she let me use the stove I could use the oven as well. I opened a book, baked my first cake and then served breakfast in bed to my parents at 11 am… I stuck a piece of paper on the cake, with the price… that became my weekly allowance for the next few years.
You are a musician by trade and cook by nature. How do you balance both of these passions?
It used to be a half/half situation until a few years ago… then the music industry started collapsing (at least for me). I did not want to tour anymore, did not want to come back late at night at home… the website started picking up requiring more and more attention… As much as I felt sad because I was not playing music as much as I used to, cooking has been keeping me inspired and very creative… that is very important to me. I basically only play for fun these days.
Where do you get your inspiration from when creating a meal?
Oh, this one is hard. More than inspiration is an obsession. I am constantly trying new recipes, learning as I go, reading every book I can find about traditional Tuscan cooking… but at the same time I always discover new foods and I adapt them to my own heritage. My girls are a great inspiration, making a great dinner and feeding them right is for me a priority… it is always in the back of my mind. So when I experiment new recipes I always make sure I have a back up in the freezer or fridge in case something goes wrong 😉
On your show Extra Virgin, you share the kitchen with your wife Debi Mazar. How do you blend your two distinctive cooking styles into one delicious dish after another?
I have turned Debi in a great sous chef. She knows my way in the kitchen, and together we make a great team. We explore foods together and we talk about how to make it our own. We often go to restaurants and get inspiration from new dishes or just even the menu. Then we come home and we disassemble and re-assemble whatever recipe feels interesting to us.
I love that cooking in the Corcos home is a family affair. How do you get & keep your kids involved?
To me is like telling them my family history… plus I need them to learn because I do expect them one day to cook for me… I call it my Retirement Plan. Giulia and Evelina are very interested in everything I do in the kitchen: they like to chop, stir… they like to learn how to use appliances and knives… but they don’t like to clean. They do not mind trying new foods. Giulia (the youngest) cooks with me basically every evening, since her sister is in 4th grade and has homework to do. Sometimes we get at the dinner table and she refuses to eat what she just cooked… she looks at me and says: “I made this for you, I don’t like it!”
When people think of ‘comfort food’ in the states, it’s often along the lines of mashed potatoes & meatloaf. What would be ‘comfort food’ for the Corcos house?
Pasta! Any kind, any sauce…. spaghetti are our go to item when we need comfort.
You and Debi often entertain. What is the key to creating a great dinner party?
No secret really. People know when they come to our house that this is how we roll. We never really try to impress or make anything special… Very often friends come during the week and are stunned by the way we dine on a regular day… they cannot believe that this is just our way. We always make fresh food, always have good wine, and we are always in the mood to entertain. I think the secret is not to get overwhelmed and just stay relaxed…
You not only make cooking fun, you make it look effortless. What advice do you have for someone who might be intimidated in the kitchen?
Mishaps happen. No shame in that, it is just how it is. If people feel the pressure they should start with easy items, like pasta… The most important advice I can give is to always have a back up dish like a pasta sauce in the freezer before attempting to cook something new and intimidating… if the attempt fails there is at least something else to serve for dinner.
What is the one ingredient that every pantry should have?
Good Olive Oil and Fresh Bread.
Last minute guests, what do you serve?
Pasta is always a snap!
Not only do you make great dinners, your desserts are incredible. What makes a great dessert?
I started baking when I was six, but I would not say that it is my strength. I actually find baking really limiting… it is kind of an exact science with not much room to play around… I enjoy myself much more with entrees like pastas or meats.
What’s next for Extra Virgin? Under the Tuscan Gun? and the Corcos’?
We are waiting to hear from Cooking Channel if another season is ordered. We are confident that it will happen, but we are not jumping the gun… sitting on our hands, a bit anxious… but in the meantime I have been developing tons of recipes and we started finally working on a book. As far as the website we have about 20 new contributors that will be writing this coming year, I hope to be able to find some financing to turn it into a real e-zine… my hope is to become a serious point of reference for people interested about good food and healthy lifestyle… as far as the Corcos: we got a new puppy this Xmas… it’s like having an infant in the house. Potty training is a bitch and we are sleeping like crap!!!
Serves – 8 / Prep Time – 1 1/2 hour / Cook Time – about 3 min
CREAMY MUSHROOM SAUCE
Serves – 8 / Prep Time – 10 / Cook Time – 2o
12 oz. of pelati (peeled tomatoes)
1 shallot or 1/2 yellow onion
1 handful of fresh mint
1 handful of fresh thyme
1 handful of fresh parsley
2 tbs of butter
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 tbs of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Serve dressed with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a generous tablespoon of grated Parmigiano.
Debi and Gabriele
SUNDAY SUPPER COMMUNITY …..
Below you’ll find some awesome recipes and a list of celebrated chefs from the Sunday Supper Community.
You can join the conversation via Twitter for #SundaySupper on December 2, 2012, throughout the day. In the evening, at 7 PM EST for the weekly #SundaySupper live chat. All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow through TweetChat.
Starters or Snacks :
Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog – Oyster and Brie Soup and Wine Pairings for Celebrity Chef #SundaySupper
Linda at The Urban Mrs. – Inspired by Bobby Flay, Lobster Chowder with Roasted Corn Salsa
Erin from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts – Rachael Ray’s Cinnamon Popcorn
Cindy over at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings – Jamie Oliver’s Bread and Tomato Soup
Jeff at The Catholic Foodie – Drop Biscuits – Breakfast with Chef John Besh
Renee over at Kudos Kitchen By Renee – Giada De Laurentiis’ Garlic Toasts With Red Pepper Aioli
The Main Dish:
Sheila at Cooking Underwriter – Paula Deen’s Chicken in a Crock Pot w/ Sauerkraut and Apples
Laura over at Small Wallet Big Appetite – Martin Yan’s Beef Chow Fun
Claire at The Realistic Nutritionist – Alton Brown’s 40 Cloves and a Chicken
Sarah over at Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends – Michael Symon’s Lola burger with crab tater tots
Susan at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen – Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi
Katy over at Happy Baking Days – Mary Berry’s Treacle Tart
Tammi at Momma’s Meals – Lee Drummond’s Sloppy Joe’s
Lane over at Supper for a Steal – Bobby Flay’s Rosemary Bricked Chicken
Tara from Noshing with the Nolands – Michael Symon’s Pork and Apple Scallopini
Shannon at Country Girl in the Village – Simple Red Sauce over Rigatoni. Inspired by, Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos
Kris over at In the Kitchen with Audrey and Maurene – Rachael Ray’s Muffin Tin Meatloaf
Nicole from The Daily Dish Recipes – Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pickled Pork Sandwiches
Becca from It’s Yummilicious – Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese
Alice at Hip Foodie Mom – Sunday Pot Roast with Risotto Cakes from Kelsey Nixon
Jen over at Juanita’s Cocina – The Neely’s White Turkey Chili
Brianne from Cupcakes & Kale Chips – Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis
Isabel at Family Foodie – Polenta with Garlicky Shrimp inspired by Chef Todd English
Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet – Shrimp Penne in Pesto Cream Sauce, From Emeril Lagasse
Bobbi over at Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen – Cheesy Poblano Chicken
Patti at Comfy Cuisine – Tyler Florence’s Chicken Francese
Chris from Sustainable Dad – Pork Tenderloin with Jerusalem Artichokes and Negroni Vinaigrette
Roxanne over at The Roxx Box – Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille
Sue from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz – Rachael Ray’s Spicy Corn Chowdah Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Jamie at Mama Mommy Mom – Penne with Asparagus, Smoked Gouda and Prosciutto. Adapted from, Giada De Laurentiis’
Tora over at Tora’s Real Food – Pork and beans with Alton Brown’s pickled pork
Elizabeth over at The Hand That Rocks The Ladle – Emeril’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice
Megan from I Run For Wine – Curtis Stone’s Acorn Squash Roasted with Thyme
Sandi over at Midlife Road Trip – Gabriele Corcos’s Gnocchi di Patate
Shelby at Diabetic Foodie – Orange Pecan Black Rice, adapted from Ina Garten
Katie from She likes Ruffles, He likes Truffles – Chef Fabio Viviani’s Spinach and Artichoke Risotto
Kim over at Cravings of a Lunatic – Chocolate Cream Puffs with Hazelnut Filling
Renee over at Magnolia Days – Brownie Tart
Connie at The Foodie Army Wife – Inspired by Ree Drummond – Scrumptious Apple Coffee Cake
Paula over at Vintage Kitchen Notes – Bill Granger´s Cherry Tart
Pam from The Meltaways – Savannah Sheet Cake
Amber at Mama’s Blissful Bites – Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding
Jaime over at Mom’s Test Kitchen – Southern Tea Cakes
Amy over at Kimchi MOM – Crack Pie, I Can’t Quit You
Lyn from The Lovely Pantry – Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Squares
Melanie at From Fast Food to Fresh Food – Sand Tarts
Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog