Smashed Peas Fennel and Mint Crostini

Smashed Peas Fennel and Mint Crostini
3 tablespoons lemon olive oil, divided                                           
1 small onion, finely minced                                                
1 small fennel bulb, finely minced (reserve greens)                       
2 cloves garlic, finely minced                                                
1/3 cup vegetable stock        
1 pound fresh or frozen peas, thawed                                            
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint
Roasted garlic sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
10-12 lightly toasted French bread slices
Fresh Fennel and Mint
In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and gently cook the onion and fennel until soft and barely golden. Add garlic and cook until golden. 

Add the vegetable stock and turn up the heat. When it comes to a boil, add in the peas and cook about 5 minutes. 

Remove from heat, add the mint and season with the salt and pepper. Use a stick blender or potato masher to make a chunky mash of the peas. When the slices of bread are toasted, add a heaping teaspoon of pea mixture. Top with crumbled cheese and fennel greens. Drizzle some oil on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Peas
This recipe can be served as an appetizer or a side dish before smashing it.   However if you like to smash some of the peas, go right ahead.

Cooking with Alba: Island of Sardinia

Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Ricotta @ Wholefoods

Cooking With Alba: Island of Sardinia
Monday September 29th, 6:30pm-8:30pm
The cuisine of the Island of Sardinia, Italy is influenced by the previous cultures that occupied it over the centuries.   The Sardinian cuisine is an interesting and delicious blend of Phoenician, Greek, Arab, Spanish, and French foods.  Enjoy new flavors of traditional dishes such as Bruschetta con Finocchietto e Pecorino, Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Ricotta, and Eggplant Arrosto. $35.

Cooking With Alba: Island of Sardinia

Monday, September 29, 2014 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Whole Foods Market, Annapolis Culinary Center
200 Harker Place
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
United States

Phone: 4102665761

New classes at Whole Foods Annapolis Md

Cooking with Alba: Modern Moroccan

Monday October 27th, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Chef Alba
Moroccan cuisine is rich in spices. Spices are used to enhance, not mask, the flavor of food. Cooking Moroccan-style food is a feast for the senses. Savor the unique taste of Herbed Hummus made with Cannellini beans, Easy Chicken Tagine with Turmeric and Ginger, and Lemon Couscous and Pistachios. $35. Click here to register online.
Monday, October 27, 2014 - 18:30 to 20:30
Whole Foods Market Annapolis

Italian Skillet Potatoes with Onion and Tomatoes

Skillet Potatoes with Onions and Tomatoes

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided                                             
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
20 yellow and red grape tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt         
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes                    
1 pound mini multi-colored potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thin
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onion; sauté until golden, 10-15 min. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook about 5 minutes.  Remove tomato onion mixture and set aside in a small bowl.  

Add additional oil to skillet, when hot; add half of potato slices to the same skillet.  Top them with even layer of tomato and onions mixture.  Top with remaining potato slices. Cook potatoes until golden brown, about 15 min. Turn the potatoes over onto a plate larger than the skillet. Flip back on the skillet, pressing down on them with a spatula.

Cook the underside until golden brown and potatoes are tender throughout, about another 15 min. Slide from the pan onto a serving platter. Serve warm, top with fresh parsley.
For an unbelievable finish, drizzle some aged balsamic on top, and then wait for your own reaction!!!!

Stuffed Olives with Sharp Provolone

Stuffed Olives with Sharp Provolone

Stuffed olives are a great appetizer and a great snack.  I purchase large green olives cut the bottoms in an "X", and the tops with off to make enough room to add the small pieces of Provolone. I add a little oil and refrigerate them.  To serve them, it's important to bring them to room temperature.

Olives can be stuffed with many other ingredients such as Gorgonzola, Feta, roasted garlic, cooked sausage.  Try your favorite ingredients!

Salmon Wrapped Goat Cheese

Salmon Wrapped Goat Cheese

This is an extremely easy recipe, so exact measurements are not necessary.

1 (6-8 ounce) goat cheese log
2 ounces soft cream cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, finely minced
1-2 tablespoons finely minced dill
A tiny drizzle extra virgin olive oil
5-6 thin slices smoked salmon
Extra dill for decoration

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except for the salmon.  Mix well. Taste for seasoning, add adjust if needed.

Find a nice round bowl or any shape deep dish; brush with oil and cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic extends outside the bowl.  Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl with the thin slices of salmon. Add the cheese mixture inside the bowl and press down gently.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about an hour.

When ready to serve, decorate with dill, a drizzle of oil and freshly ground pepper if you like. Serve with crusty bread.

Crusty Italian Bread

If you are not a goat cheese fan, try other soft cheese you like!

Apple Charlotte Alba's Way

Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte
1 loaf challah or Hawaiian bread, cut in 1/2 inch slices        
1 stick unsalted butter, softened                                     
6-8 large apples, peeled, thinly sliced (save the peels)                                   
zest of 2 lemon, divided
Juice of 2 lemon, divided
Sugar to taste
Pinch freshly ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a glass pie-dish and add a sprinkle of sugar on top.

Place a layer buttered bread, at the bottom of pan; then a layer of apples. Sprinkle zest and juice of 1 lemon, add sugar, and pepper. Place another layer of bread and butter,  apples slices,zest and juice of 1 lemon, sugar, and pepper until the dish is full. Use the apple peels to cover the top of the Charlotte to keep it moist.  Bake about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with the peels. 

Baked Apple Charlotte

This recipe is delicious with vanilla ice cream.  I also reduced a bottle of organic pear juice down to 1 cup and drizzled it over the Charlotte.  This was served at my Downton Abbey cooking class last night at Westwood Unique. It was a BIG hit!