It’s a big day for actress Debi Mazar. Even though she’s better known for playing switchblade-sharp toughies — everything from her breakout as coke-mixing Sandy in Goodfellas to Shauna the publicist on Entourage — tonight she’ll get to show her softer side, when she and her husband Gabriele Corcos debut their new show on Cooking Channel, Extra Virgin. (The show airs at 10 p.m. EST.) Mazar stresses that the project is an organic extension of her marriage to an Italian. “We started a blog six years ago called Under the Tuscan Gun after my Tuscan mother-in-law told me, ‘You better feed my son and my grandchildren the way I fed him,’” she says. “After we started blogging, there was an outcry from people who wanted to know how to make real Tuscan cooking. We got a jillion followers and were approached to do the show.” She spent the last week flying between New York and L.A. to promote the show, but still agreed to keep track of everything she ate (“All I ever do is eat!” she says) for today’s edition of the L.A. Diet.
Wednesday, January 12
I was in New York. It was a beautiful morning and I had to do Rosanna Scotto’s show, which had been delayed the day before for this impending snow storm that never happened. My husband had his usual breakfast, coffee and cigarettes, a typical Italian breakfast, and he downed a chocolate croissant. I can’t tell you which hotel we stayed at or they’ll know he smoked in there. When I’m in New York, I want two things: Lox from Russ and Daughters and a sesame-seed bagel from H&H;. I’m from New York and you don’t get bagels this good on the West Coast. It was a little piece of heaven, you know, being on the Lower East Side, biting into that history.
So then, we went out to do some work and by the time we were done, we needed some home-cooked food, something like what we make at home. We’re friends with Giovanni, who owns Bar Pitti, and it was the closest of our two choices that day, so we went there. They have an ancient photo by the Fratelli Brothers, it’s of Florence, and we have the exact same one at home, so we feel very comfortable and at home there. Also, Giovanni’s wife, Michele, is also a New Yorker married to a Tuscan man; I call these guys the “super-Tuscans.”
I ordered cinghiale ragu, which is wild boar. When I’m doing the dishes at our house in Tuscany, I’ll see one outside and it’s like Green Acres. I’m from New York and I get so excited. You know, there’s a wild boar with its babies. When my husband eats boar, he gets virile, he’s like “get over here.” It’s so sexy. So I had that with an arugula salad. I need greens constantly, I just crave it. And I also had a glass of wine, a red Chianti. I don’t do California wines, they give me a headache.
Then we went to a reception for the show and they cooked all of my food, all of our recipes. And I had a Manhattan, as I thought it was appropriate and I needed something to lubricate myself before we greeted all these people. We ate spinach gnocchi and tagliata with arucola. There was something about the sliced beef and cocktail that felt appropriate for the cold weather. We were exhausted after that and just went right to bed.
Thursday, January 13
We woke up the next day and had a chocolate crossiant. I have to have coffee in the morning to feel at all normal, before I talk to anybody, before I do anything. At home we make our coffee using a moka pot and make hot whole milk on the side. I obviously couldn’t do that, so we had the hotel coffee, and it was just not cutting it. I drank it regardless.
We were working that day and I was in the mood for a fabulous burger and fries. We didn’t have time to go anywhere, so we ate at the hotel. I got a burger and fries and it was so bad. I could barely eat it. And the fries tasted like they’d been cooked in old grease.
We went back that night to Bar Pitti. We need food to keep us going, and I needed to fix my lack of home-cooked food, so I was like, fuck it. My husband had tripa, which I think is disgusting, and I had tagliatelle with black truffles, which was lovely, creamy, and fantastic. I had an arugula salad with shaved Parmigiano, and one and half glasses of Chianti — you know, to help survive the cold.
I drink water all day long, but I figured you don’t want to hear about that ‘cause it’s kind of boring, right?
Friday, January 14
We got up at 6 a.m. and had to pack and do some press. I ordered a really strong cappuccino. I finally convinced the hotel to make my coffee close to how I make it. And also had Irish oatmeal from the hotel, because I figured if I ate another chocolate croissant, I’d explode and oatmeal is supposed to be good for your heart, right? It was nutty and flavorful and served with fig-raisin compote.
We went to the airport and were sitting in business. They served us a chicken potpie, which my husband had never had before. You know, when I was a kid, you’d get the frozen potpie from Swanson or whoever and just think it was the best thing ever, but it was disgusting. And the flight attendant came by and offered us a choice of juice, water, or Prosecco. So, we chose the Prosecco; we were celebrating. After that, I started to kind of get a headache and drank water for the next six hours.
We got home and our kids were so excited to see us. We were so happy to be home and some friends came by and expected us to cook, and we had some frozen shrimp in our freezer. So I whipped up a quickie pasta and put the shrimp on top in a red sauce with some chopped arugula. I sprinkled some hot pepper on mine. This is what we try to do on the show: Show how to make simple things for people who might be too tired to cook, or too busy. I also had two more glasses of Chianti, but the small cups, like cafeteria cups, not the big old wine glasses, and went to bed.
Saturday, January 15
Finally, my coffee! It felt fabulous. There’s no place like home. We made fresh egg frittatas and I slipped some spinach inside to disguise it for my kids. They really don’t dispute it if it’s inside of something. I toasted up some ciabatta and put warm butter on it, and we had orange juice. We have an orange tree in our garden — it’s Southern California and they’re in full bloom — so we squeezed it fresh. If we aren’t able to squeeze our own, I’ll get that kind in Whole Foods, 365 or whatever it’s called, you know it.
I then had a snack, I’m not a big grazer, but I had a fresh pineapple, so I cut it up and ate it with some tea.
For dinner, I sautéed broccoli rabe with fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil and made some more bread. I’ve had this black-truffle butter I’ve been dying to use, so I had the chance to put that on top of the ciabatta. I made a red sauce and added Italian pork sausage and cannelloni and white butter beans. I also made brown rice, ‘cause I have one kid who isn’t a bean lover, my other one is, so I served the brown rice alongside it. I also had more red wine, two glasses of Chianti. Then, I had chamomile tea with honey before bed.
Sunday, January 16
I had my usual coffee and was yearning for a Thomas’ English Muffin with all of the crags and nooks. So I had that with salted butter and some O.J. I need some form of carbs in the morning, it gives me energy.
For lunch, I prepared fresh pesto and added tomato for some tang and some color and added basil and threw it on penne and put Parmigiano on top.
Later, my husband was on the verge of getting sick. For dinner, we’d already bought tilapia and fresh cod. He’s only just discovered real Mexican food in the last year or so, and so he tried to do his own version of fish tacos. We use a beer batter with flour and just very lightly fry them. And we served them with avocado, cilantro, tomato, red onion, and a lemon and lime cilantro hot sauce in fresh, soft warm tortillas. The kids loved them! I had two glasses of Pinot Grigio.
We were doing the dishes and my husband starts going down. So I’d always heard a hot toddy is supposed to be good for sick people and I’d heard the secret is to use fresh ginger. I chopped up some ginger and we didn’t have whiskey or brandy, but we did have one of those airplane-size bottles of rum. There’s the idea that a little alcohol will clean out the system, so I added the ginger tea with the rum and lemon-honey. I tried a little and it literally went right to the bottom of my stomach, it was like, burning a hole in my stomach. So I dumped it and instead made some chamomile tea.
Monday, January 17
First, I had my coffee. It was Martin Luther King Day and my kids were home and ran up to me and were like, “What are we doing today, Mommy?” And with my husband down with the flu and one of my kids sick, I was sort of in charge of everything. So I was like, let me run to the store and get something to make. I got everything I needed to make a big pot of fresh chicken soup, with onions, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. And I made some egg noodles on the side and toasted bread with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
Then I thought, I’ll have a glass of Chianti, fuck it, ‘cause I’m stuck at home taking care of the sick. I’m basically Nurse Ratched over here. I went into my purse where I had an old bag of Tamari almonds from my New York trip. I had that with tea for a snack.
One dish we like to do is something we call “Tuscan hospital food.” It’s polpettine, which are basically little balls of turkey meatloaf done on the stove top with fresh parsley and served on a bed of leeks. I also made mashed potatoes in a pot, and peas with garlic, olive oil, and prosciutto as a side dish. My kids love the mashed potatoes ‘cause they can make faces with them. So my husband ate that before he became well-fed with NyQuil. Italians also believe a little alcohol can help an illness, so he had a glass of Chianti with his meal and I had two small glasses of red wine. Then we all had chamomile tea with honey before going to bed.