"I've always been a foodie, " she tells PEOPLE of her latest project, a show on the Cooking Channel called Extra Virgin. "My grandmother got me hooked on cooking. "
When Mazar fell in love 10 years ago with her Italian-born husband, Gabriele Corcos, cooking was again at the heart of things, "We'd get in the kitchen, drink wine, get drunk, bump hips, listen to music and cook, " she says. "He was my Ricky Ricardo; he still is. "
And at 46, Mazar credits her love of food and the good life for looking great. "I like my wine, I like my bread, I like my pasta and I like my butter," she says. "Life is too short! I look great because I'm happy. "
And while the couple love cooking Tuscan-style meals (including the Margherita pizza recipe that follows) for their two girls Evelina, 8, and Giulia, 4, they also love entertaining their famous friends, including, yes, Madonna.
"She's eaten my food for 30 years; she eats well, she drinks red wine," says Mazar. "Kaballah has made her more relaxed and more confident, she'll even eat lamb now because it's biblical or something. "
Margherita Pizza 1 (28-oz.) can pelati tomatoes*
All-purpose flour, for dusting
4 (12-oz.) pizza dough balls, at room temperature, recipe follows
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Preheat a wood-fired pizza oven to very hot 4 hours before cooking. Alternately, you can use a preheated pizza stone in your home oven. It's best to heat it for 1 hour at 500º F before baking.
Add tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt.
Sprinkle some flour on your pizza peel. Using a rolling pin, stretch your dough to a very thin 10-inch round.
Using a spoon to spread, put ¼ of the sauce on the dough, and spread leaving a 1-in. border. Sprinkle ¼ of the mozzarella over the sauce.
Gently put the pizza on the floor of the pizza oven. Bake until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Top with hand torn basil.
Yield: 4 pizzas [Serves: 8 (2 servings per pizza)]
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes in a wood burning oven or about 8 to 10 minutes in conventional oven
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours
Ease of preparation: easy
*Pelati in Italian refers to skinned, whole tomatoes.
Pizza Dough 1 (.25-oz.) package dry active yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
½ cup lukewarm water (about 105 to 115º F)
4 cup bread flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
¾ cup cold water
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, lukewarm water, and ½ cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
2. Whisk together the remaining 3 ½ cups bread flour and salt in another bowl so it will be evenly distributed.
3. Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer, add ¾ cup cold water and olive oil. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on and add the flour in increments.
4. Mix the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough starts creeping up the dough hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
5. Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another hour.
6. Divide the dough into 4 equal disks. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) stretch the disks out to a 10-inch round.
7. Repeat with the remaining 3 pizza dough disks.
Yield: 4 pizzas, serves: 8 (2 servings per pizza)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy
Courtesy Debi Mazar