Citrus Beer Sangria

 


1/2 large navel orange, thinly sliced 

1/2 large lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 large lime, thinly sliced

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup vodka

1 ½ (12 oz. + 6 oz.) bottles wheat beer or hard cider, chilled


A tasty drink for St. Patrick's?

Combine the sliced fruit, pineapple juice, and vodka in medium sized container. Refrigerate to chill for at least 4 hours. When you’re ready to serve, add the beer and combine with the fruit mixture in a pitcher. Serve over ice and enjoy!



More Than Just Recipes

 More Than Just Recipes - Bay Weekly

By Duffy Perkins 

 
 

When you cook with Chef Alba you come away with more than just a recipe for a tasty dish, you get a lesson in culture and connection. 

Alba Carbonaro Johnson has been leading cooking courses around Chesapeake Country for years, teaching via Zoom during the pandemic but also as a guest chef at Whole Foods in Annapolis. She has one cookbook under her belt, Cucina Semplice: Traditional Southern Italian and North African Dishes, and is about to release a second one, highlighting the flavors of the Maghreb, an area of northwest Africa where Johnson grew up. Flavors of the Maghreb expands readers’ palates to Sicilian, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Berber cuisine.   

Johnson was born in Naples, Italy, but moved to Tunisia, North Africa, with her family at a young age. Growing up, her grandfather would escort her to the open-air markets to shop for the family, teaching her how to recognize fresh ingredients and bring them home to mix with pantry staples. All of the cooking was done outside on a grill or one-burner stove, and everything was made from scratch.  

Johnson’s grandfather taught her about layering flavor, attention to detail, and most importantly, how to cook from the heart.  

“I really enjoyed those experiences so much,” she says. “How do you know if fish is fresh? Look into its eyes. What about a carrot? Pick it up and bend it. He taught me that delicious food came from simple, fresh ingredients cooked properly.” 

Johnson’s instructions are full of the historical significance of each dish, and its translation throughout time. Her recipes are not simply tasty, but transformative. 

“When I teach, my biggest lesson is that I want to bring my students into my culture so that they feel a part of it,” she says. “I want you to experience the food and understand the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s.’ There are so many recipes online that you can get for free, but the important thing is that you feel a connection.” 

Johnson also knows how to cook with versatility. She learned the techniques of cucina povera, which translates to “poor cooking,” although it has nothing to do with financial wealth. “If you grow up in Italy, you learn to use everything,” she says. “And when we came to the United States, my mother continued to cook that way. Nothing goes to waste.”  

When Johnson leads cooking demonstrations, a knife is her only tool. Pesto is made in a mortar and pestle, and pasta is cut by hand. “You don’t have to buy all this equipment just to prepare food,” she says.  

Johnson’s cookbook focuses on a flavor profile that is both exotic and mundane, as Maghrebi cuisine pulls in elements from the Mediterranean, Italy, and North Africa. Lentils will be mixed into a dish with pasta and rice, while pears may feature prominently in a traditional risotto. The herbs and spices transcend the dish, whether it’s Moroccan saffron or Genovese basil. With gentle ease and skilled attention, Johnson’s recipes have the ability to transport and transcend. 

Flavors of the Maghreb is available for preorder on Amazon.

Warm German Potato Salad Alba’s Way

 

Warm German Potato Salad 

German potato salad is a warm and comforting salad made with sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, onions, and a warm tangy-sweet vinaigrette. There are several variations of German Potato salad, mine was inspired by my husband Granny.


2 pounds Yukon Golden potatoes

8-10 slices of bacon

1 medium red onion, sliced thinly

½ medium sweet onion, sliced thinly

½ cup white balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar

3-4 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt

Black pepper

Red pepper flakes

3 spring onions, finely sliced

2-3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Boil the potatoes: Begin by putting whole potatoes with skins in a pot of cold water to cook through evenly. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. I added a few teaspoons of salt in the water. Cooking time will depend on size of potatoes. Begin checking after 15 minutes of cooking. Test by inserted a skewer in the center of the potato. When tender, but slightly firm in the center, remove from the pot. Since not all potatoes are the exactly the same size or thickness, check each one separately and remove to a tray to cool as they are cooked. Let them cool and dry on a tray before peeling and slicing.

Cook the bacon and onions: In a large skillet, add the bacon slices and cook until crispy. You may need to cook in 2 batches. As the bacon cooks, transfer to a plate. Do not discard the bacon fat. When all of the bacon is cooked, add the two sliced onions in the bacon fat. Cook on medium heat until softened.

Make the dressing: once the onions are cooked, on low heat, add the vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, cook 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. If a little more vinegar is needed, add a few more teaspoons, if you prefer a little sweeter, add a few teaspoons of maple syrup.

Slice the potatoes: Peel the potatoes. Slice the potatoes into rounds about ¼ inch thick. The potatoes should be warm when tossing in the dressing because they will absorb the flavor better. I sprinkle a little salt on the potatoe's slices.

Toss in the warm dressing: Add the slices potatoes to the skillet and gently toss using two spatulas about 1-2 minutes until all the potatoes are well coated in the dressing. Break up the bacon into small pieces. Off the heat, add the bacon pieces, spring onions, and parsley and gently mix once more. It’s best served warm or at room temperature.

 

 

Koshari (Egyptian Comfort Dish)

 

Koshari 

Koshari is a typical dish of Egyptian tradition, a unique street food to be enjoyed at home. Its origin dates back to around 1800, when Egypt, an important crossroads of cultures and foods, experimented with this simple, varied, colorful and spicy dishes. It’s a substantially filling comfort food without the use of meat. Typical ingredients are chickpeas, lentils, rice, pasta, a special mixture of spices called Baharat, and caramelized onions.

Koshari

Crispy Onions:                                                                     

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced rings                       

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil                                                 

Salt and pepper                                                        

Tomato Sauce:                                              

2 tablespoons olive oil                                             

2 cloves of garlic, minced                                                  

1 bottle passata tomatoes jar                                  

1 teaspoon ground coriander                                   

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (optional)

Koshari

1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils

1 ¼ cups cooked medium-grain rice

1 ½ cups cook ditalini or elbow pasta

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

Salt and pepper

½-1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ - 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Fresh cilantro to garnish

Preparation:


1.     Rice, Lentils, and Pasta: Rinse and cook lentils according to package directions. Rinse and cook the rice according to package directions. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Be sure to season all with salt.

2.     The onions:

Add the oil and onion rounds in a large skillet, cook on medium-low heat until soft and just golden. As soon as they begin to darken and caramelize, remove and set aside.

3.     The Sauce:

In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook on low heat for 45 seconds until aromatic. Add the tomato puree and spices. Simmer a few minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the white vinegar and cook 30 seconds if desired.

4.     Assembly:

In a large pan add the rice, lentils, pasta, chickpeas and tomato sauce. Add the coriander and cumin. Sauté everything over medium- high heat to mix and warm, be careful not to dry too much. Transfer the Koshari on a wide plate.

5.     Serving:

Garnished with reserved caramelized onion, cilantro, and tomatoes on top seasoned with salt and pepper.




 

 


Thank you for your support!

 

We had over 200 persons sign up from various parts of the country and Canada. We appreciate your donations for Feeding Ukraine and your participation.

Chef Alba

Cooking for Ukraine with Chef Alba - Supporting World Central Kitchen

To register for this online cooking classes go to:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cooking-for-ukraine-with-chef-alba-supporting-world-central-kitchen-tickets-299096093467?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch


Join Chef Alba for an online cooking demonstration. All funds collected will be given directly to World Central Kitchen to support Ukraine.


About this event

Recipes included are Chicken Kiev with Roasted Garlic Butter and Potatoes Ukraine style. All funds collected will be given directly to World Central Kitchen. The World Central Kitchen team is distributing nourishing food and fresh meals across the region, including in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Moldova and Romania. The meals World Central Kitchen serves are primarily based on local recipes.

About Chef Alba: Chef Alba is a cooking instructor, a personal chef, cookbook author, recipe writer, editor and tester, and a food blogger with over 18 years of experience. Born in Naples, Italy and raised in Tunisia, North Africa, she gained practical knowledge of traditional techniques and ingredients which she shares with her students and clients. Alba’s expertise is in Regional Italian, Moroccan, Greek, Turkish, and other Mediterranean Cuisines. Alba is currently teaching virtual adult cook along classes for Howard County Parks and Recreation, various other venues, and privately. She also teaches in person cooking classes in Annapolis for Whole Foods. Alba has appeared on FOX DC, CBS DC, and PBS Virginia performing live cooking demos. She also conducts culinary trips to Umbria and Tuscany in the Spring and Fall of each year. Alba is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, and IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals).

About World Central Kitchen: World Central Kitchen has provided tens of millions of fresh, nourishing meals for communities around the world. Your donation today will be used to support their emergency food relief efforts and resilience programs in Ukraine.

Irish Colcannon for St. Patrick's Day

 



On March 17, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is celebrated and in many cities around the world people dress in green and toast with beer of this color. In Chicago, the river has been dyed green for more than 50 years. The ironic aspect is that St. Patrick actually dressed in blue. So where does the tradition of greenery come from?

St. Patrick used clover to explain to the Irish, the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he tried to convert them to Christianity. The green color then recalls this plant and the meaning of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as a single reality. Ireland is also known as "The Emerald Isle" for its verdant landscapes, and historically speaking Catholics are identified with this color while Protestants are identified with the color orange. For this reason, the Irish flag has a band of each of these colors with another white in the middle to symbolize peace and coexistence between the two creeds of the north and south of the country.

Traditional Irish Dish “Colcannon” is one of the recipes that is served everywhere in Ireland. It is mashed potatoes enriched with kale or cabbage, common ingredients in the Land of Clover. Colcannon is usually enjoyed in the colder season and is the perfect accompaniment to the Irish Stew. There are some variations of colcannon within various households and regions. What seems to be common in all of them is the presence of generous amounts of Irish butter, potatoes, and cabbage or kale as the vegetable of choice to add volume and flavor to this tasty preparation. Accompany this dish with an excellent Irish beer, and you will have an evening of joy and delicious Irish Cuisine.

Colcannon 

4 pounds russet potatoes (7-8 large potatoes), peeled

1 head of green cabbage (I use Savoy Cabbage)

1 cup of milk or cream

1 stick unsalted Irish butter, divided into 3

Salt and black pepper

Fresh Parsley or chive, minced  

The Potatoes: In a large pot of cold water, add the potatoes and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil first, then simmer until soft in the middle when pierced with a skewer. 

The Cabbage:

  1. While the potatoes are cooking, remove the core from the cabbage, slice the leaves thinly, and put into a large saucepan of boiling water. Keep at a slow rolling boil until the cabbage is just wilted and has turned a darker green, about 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cabbage. Test it, it should be slightly undercooked.
  2.   When the cabbage is cooked, drain it well, squeeze to get any excess moisture out, then return to the saucepan. Add one-third of the butter and cover. Leave it covered and in a warm place, but not on a burner, with the butter melting gently.

Assembly: 

  1.      When the potatoes are soft, drain the water and return the potatoes to its pot. With the drained potatoes in, set the burner to low, leaving the lid off so that any excess moisture can evaporate. When they are perfectly dry, add the milk and a third of the butter. Allow the milk to warm, but not boil. The butter should be fully melted, and the pot should be starting to steam.
  2.  With a potato masher or a fork, mash the potatoes thoroughly. Do NOT beat or blend the potatoes or they will become gluey.
  3.  Mix the cabbage thoroughly through the mashed potato. Before serving, taste and season with a little salt and pepper, as needed. Top with sprinkle of fresh parsley or chives. Most significantly, make a well in the center of the mound of potato and put the last third of the butter there to melt.


Pairing Chocolate with Wines for Valentine!

 

   
Wine and Chocolate pairing

As with all food and wine pairings, chocolate and wine pairing is personal, and it often comes down to taste buds. The rule of thumb when pairing wine with food or chocolate is to find foods that complement the wine rather than match it. Perhaps the best rule with wine as with chocolate, is to indulge in what you love. Be guided by pairing suggestions, but if you find a combination you particularly enjoy, go with it!

In general, the creamier the chocolate, the lighter the body of wine. The richer the chocolate, the fuller the body of the wine.  Similar to formal wine tasting, you can experiment with a varieties of chocolates. Work from light white chocolate through milk chocolate and end on the drier notes of dark chocolate with light-bodied to full-bodied wines. By starting with the more understated nuances of white chocolate and ending with dark or bittersweet chocolate, you will keep your palate from starting on overdrive and missing the subtle sweet sensations found in more delicate chocolate choices (and wine).

What is the difference between Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate?  Milk chocolate contains 30-40 % cocoa solids, whereas dark chocolate contains at least 60 % cocoa solids.

How do I choose the best quality chocolate? Chocolate that has a glossy surface and is free from blemishes is the best quality. If the surface is cloudy or gray, this may be a sign that chocolate is old or has been subject to extremes in temperature or handling. Be sure to read the ingredients list. Example: if a dark chocolate has synthetic vanillin rather than pure vanilla, the flavor may be altered.  

 

White Chocolate and Wine Pairing Suggestions: 

While white chocolate is not a true chocolate, you may still want to include it with a wine pairing. White chocolate tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for the sweeter styles wines

ü  Brachetto d’Acqui

ü  Ice wine

ü  light Sherry

ü  Moscato d'Asti

ü  Rosé Port 

ü  Sweet Rosé

ü  Tokaji Aszù

Milk Chocolate and Wine Pairing Suggestions: 

Since milk chocolate is part chocolate, part cream, it's not only delicious but versatile to pair. Milk chocolate is made from dark chocolate that has a lower cocoa solid content and higher sugar content. 


ü  Alsace Pinot Gris

ü  Champagne

ü  Gewurztraminer 

ü  Lambrusco

ü  Light Port

ü  Lighter Pinot Noir

ü  Madeira

ü  Malvasia delle Lipari

ü  Mavrodaphne of Patras

ü  Muscat

ü  Petite Sirah

ü  Riesling

ü  Sauternes

ü  Vin Santo

ü  Viognier

Dark Chocolate and Wine Pairing Suggestion: 

Unlike Milk chocolates, dark chocolates needs more attention while pairing. Dark chocolates contain more polyphenols, which gives it a bitter taste. It requires bolder strong red wines with dominant fruit or berry notes, with higher alcohol levels.


ü  Amarone della Valpolicella

ü  Banyuls

ü  Barolo Chinato

ü  Bordeaux

ü  Cabernet Sauvignon

ü  Dry Marsala

ü  Malbec

ü  Merlot

ü  Ruby Port

ü  Sangiovese 

ü  Shiraz

ü  Vin Santo del Chianti

Handmade Pici Pasta & L'aglione Sauce

 

Pici Pasta 

The origin of Pici pasta dates back to Etruscan times. Pici represents the essence of Tuscan Cucina Povera cuisine. Pici is very thick and irregular since they are handmade one by one. Although, there are many sauces that can be made with Pici, the classic sauce is “L’aglione, a tasty garlicky tomato sauce.




Handmade Pici Pasta

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup room temperature water, plus extra if needed 
Extra virgin olive oil and semolina flour for tossing 

Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the egg and stir in the water with a wooden spoon. If the dough does not gather around the spoon, add a little more water by the spoonful until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, or until very smooth and pliable; the dough should be somewhat soft but not sticky. Flatten into a disk and rub both sides with olive oil. Let rest, wrapped in plastic for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours at room temperature.

 

Rub a work counter with olive oil. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips and roll each into a long, thin rope, using the palms of your hands. Each rope should be 1/2 inch thick. Toss each rope as it is finished with a little semolina flour and place on a tray in curling nests until ready to cook (the pici can be held at room temperature, covered loosely with a dry kitchen towel, for up to 3 hours). If you find that the dough resists and/or sticks to the counter as you roll it out, rub the counter lightly again with olive oil.

 

Fresh Baby Tomato and Basil Sauce (My version of L’aglione)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced                                   

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise   

Freshly torn basil leaves

In large skillet add the olive oil and sliced garlic; cook 30-45 seconds on medium-low heat. Add tomatoes and raise the heat to medium-high. Season with salt and peppers. Allow tomatoes to cook undisturbed for few minutes before turning. Cook 6-9 minutes more until tomatoes slightly wrinkle and some are golden. Taste for seasoning; adjust as needed. When the sauce is ready, add in the fresh basil.

Assembly

Cook the pici in boiling salted water until al dente. Strain and transfer to the skillet with sauce. Gently fold in the sauce on low heat. Top with fresh basil and serve. Serves 4.

 

Regina Sesame Cookies

Elegant on the outside, simple and genuine on the inside… experience these traditional and delicious Sicilian sweets with Coffee or with a dessert wine.

Regina cookies (Sesamini)

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest 2 oranges

Juice of 1 ½ - 2 oranges

2 cups raw sesame seeds



1.     Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.     Dry ingredients: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.     Wet ingredients: In another large bowl, add the softened butter and sugar; blend well with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs, zest, vanilla, and juice of 1 1/2 oranges: blend again.

4.     Mix: Add the dry ingredients in three to four batches; continue mixing on low speed until the dough is fairly smooth. If the dough is a little dry, add a little more orange juice a little at a time and mix well. Refrigerate the dough about 20 minutes.

5.     Form: Pinch off a piece of dough and see if it forms a ball easily. Make small golf size balls first, then roll into an oblong shape, about 1 ½ inches long.

6.     Bake: Place the sesame seeds on a plate and roll the cookies into the sesame seeds, pressing them so the seeds stay on. Place the cookies on the baking sheets keeping the cookies 1- 1 ½ inches apart. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned at the bottom. Do not overbake or the cookies will be too dry.

7.     Cool, and store in airtight containers. Baking time depends on size of cookies. The sesame seeds on cookie should be slightly golden. Makes about 2 dozen depending on size.