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! 

New Cooking Classes - Whole Foods Market Annapolis, MD - Chef Alba

Fresh Pasta Sauce from Sicily – June 21, 2014 – 12:30-2:30 pm
Sicilian cuisine is a blend of local traditions with an eclectic reflection of food introduced over centuries by ancient civilizations who settled on this island, with particularly strong medieval Arab element. Share my passion for cooking and enjoy the exciting flavors of Sicilian fresh pasta sauces such as Mezze Rigatoni with Mortadella and Pistachios, Linguini Con Pomodoro Crudo, and Orecchiette Arugula Red Onion and Ricotta.


Recipes from Beautiful Portofino – July 10, 2014 – 6:30-8:30 pm
Portofino, a humble fishing village in Liguria, Italy, became a famous international jet-set meeting place for movie stars in the 60s. There is a fascination with its beautiful scenery and its romantic atmosphere. Portofino cuisine makes the most of its ingredients provided by its land and sea, and its use of very fragrant herbs that this small, fertile region offers in abundance. It is the birthplace of pesto. In this class, let’s create some of its most popular dishes such as Focaccia Con Le Cipolle, Wine Steamed Mussels in Garlic and Marjoram, and Zucchine Portofino Style. 
Link available soon ..

What's Cooking at Westood Unique with Chef Alba

To register go to:

Sweet Onion Rosemary Gorgonzola Bruschetta
Exquisitely Italian!  May 8, 2014
Sweet Onion Rosemary and Gorgonzola Bruschetta, Chicken Scaloppini with Mushrooms in Marsala wine, Potatoes Alla Carbonara, and for dessert Baked Ricotta Orange Cheese Cake.

A Downton Abbey Dinner – May 30, 2014
Roasted Turkey Breast with Poached Plums, Buttery Ch√Ęteau Potatoes, Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette, and for dessert, Mrs. Beeton‘s Apple Charlotte. Served with Earl Grey tea!

Irresistible Pasta Sauces

Irresistible Pasta Sauces – June 26, 2014  
Mezze Rigatoni with Mortadella and Pistachio, Linguini with Olives Capers and Tomatoes, Farfalle with Bocconcini di Mozzarella, and for dessert Melon al Forno with Ice Cream.

Cooking Class in Amalfi -- Slow food and Lifestyle Rome-Amalfi

Magical Amalfi

Ancient Rome

Discover the secrets of Ancient Rome, Naples and the delights of the magical Amalfi coast in a small group setting

Experience authenticity in this memorable trip
October 11- October 18, 2014


Saturday, 4 October - Ancient Rome to the Vatican
Sunday, 5 October - Vatican, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum
Monday, 6 October - Sistine Chapel to Amalfi
Tuesday, 7 October - Amalfi coastline villages (Vietri, Maiori, Conca dei Marini Beach)
Wednesday, 8 October - Pompeii; Herculaneum; Napoli
Thursday, 9 October - Island of Capri ; Positano
Friday, 10 October -  Sorrento
Saturday, 11 October - Morning in Ravello  in Amalfi and Back to Rome

The tour includes:
·         All lodging during tour event (four  star hotels)
·         All ground transportation to and from airport and throughout the week
·         Pickup and return to airport or train station
·         Incredible daily breakfast, 7 lunches and 7 dinners with fine wine
·         Regional Italian cooking taught by a local includes the lessons and the aprons
·         Fully escorted with English and Italian speaking guides (includes Chef Alba)
·         All guests receive a specially designed event guide and Gilda's Culinarian Expeditions Recipe booklet upon arrival

·         Capacity is limited to 14 persons
·         Deposit of $500 per person is required to make a reservation to confirm the Culinary Event week
·         Reservation balance of payment is due 10 weeks prior to travel
·         Tour does NOT include airfare

For specific details on how to sign up and about the tour, please go to:

Zucchine Carpaccio

Zucchine Carpaccio

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or basil, oregano, or mint)
½ teaspoon paprika
Zest and juice 1 lemon
4 medium zucchini, rinsed, dried, cut ½ inch off each end
½ cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
Juice 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, add the oil, garlic, thyme, paprika, lemon zest together and mix well.  

With an apple peeler, slice the zucchini thinly and lengthwise. Place them on a platter. For each layer, drizzle a little of the oil mixture, almonds, squeeze of lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper on top. Repeat until you have used up all of the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Fresh Thyme

A healthful dish that can be served anytime of the year you can find zucchini. It takes minutes to prepare and requires no cooking. It can be served as an appetizer or a side dish

Ground Beef Skewers with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Beef Skewers

1 pound ground beef (80-90% lean)                
1 large sweet onion, grated  
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced                                      
Pinch red pepper flakes (or two)
2 teaspoons dried oregano                
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
2-3 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley                                                           
Kosher salt and black pepper
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 6-8 slices

Soak 12-14 wooden skewers in water for at least an hour if using outdoor grill. If using an indoor top stove grill, it is not necessary to soak skewers.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.  Take about a teaspoon of meat mixer and cook in a small skillet.  When ready, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Take about 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture and shape into small sausages like shapes. Wrap around skewers, making sure that all skewers are about the same size.  Brush the outside of each skewer lightly with oil.

Grill or cook in large skillet until the beef is nicely golden brown on all sides.  Serve with fresh lemons and yogurt sauce.

Fresh Lemon

Yogurt Mint Sauce
2 cups plain or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint
1 medium shallot, finely minced                                                                   
Kosher salt and black pepper
Drizzle olive oil       
Strain the yogurt in cheese cloth or an extra fine strainer over a bowl.  Strain overnight to remove any excess liquid.
Straining the yogurt

When the yogurt is strained, add all remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. When ready, chill for a few hours for best flavor. 

Fresh Mint

These skewers can be made with chicken, turkey, beef, pork, as well as beef. The yogurt sauce can be served independently with pita bread, with skewers, with cooked seafood. Both recipes are very versatile.  You can create many dishes by simple changing a few ingredients.