Ricotta Zucchini Quiche with Scent of Lemon

2 medium zucchini, grated with skin on 

1 large leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces whole ricotta 

Zest 1 large lemon

1-2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley

2 whole eggs, lightly beaten

½ - ¾ cups grated Parmesan cheese

2-3 tablespoons milk

Salt and black pepper

2 rolls of pie pastry dough, thawed in frig.

1 egg for brushing pastry

Fresh Leeks

1.  Preheat oven to 350F. In a round tart pan (or pie pan) cut a round piece parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.

2.  Sauté the grated zucchini and the sliced leek in a pan with the olive oil. Once cooked, let them cool.

3.     In the meantime, whip the ricotta in a bowl until it becomes creamy, add the grated lemon zest, and parsley, mix well. Add the cooked zucchini and leeks to the ricotta mixture.

4.     In another bowl, beat 2 whole eggs with Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of milk. Add to the ricotta and zucchini mixture.

5.     Place the dough on the base of the pan. With a fork, lightly prick the pastry surface.

6.     Put the ricotta mixture on the pastry. Cover the top with strips of pastry from the 2nd piece. Lightly brush the pastry with the other beaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven, for 30-40 minutes, or until the surface is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and serve.





This is a light ricotta and zucchini quiche, with a delicious lemon scent. Enjoy this rustic quiche Italian style, fresh and amazingly easy to prepare.




Four Onions Soup

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

2 large leeks, rinsed well and thinly sliced

6 cups hot vegetable broth or hot water


Freshly ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Slices of toasted French bread (or rustic bread)


1.    Cook the onions on medium-low heat in a pot with the olive oil until soft and barely golden, about 10-15 minutes.

2.    Next, add a ladle of hot liquid. Cook over low heat for a few minutes and reduce this liquid by half. Add another ladle of hot liquid and allow it to be absorbed. Repeat until the last ladle. The last ladle does not need to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning, add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes as needed.

3.    Preheat the oven to 350F.

4.    Pour the soup into two oven soup containers. Grate plenty of grated parmesan cheese on top and black pepper. Bake for 5-8 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve hot with toasted bread slices, a drizzle of olive oil and more black pepper.


This soup is much simpler and healthier in essence than the famous version of French onion soup, which contains wine, butter, and flour among the ingredients. This soup is prepared with 4 types of stewed onions, a good EVOO and even plain water if you like. Enrich it with freshly grated Parmesan and toasted rustic bread and it is buonissima!

Salmone e Pere for the Holiday


Salmon in Maple Syrup for the holidays


4 pieces wild caught salmon about 1-inch-thick

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon mustard

3-4 marjoram or sage leaves, minced

Salt and black pepper

½ cup vegetable broth


2 slightly ripe pears, sliced in ½ lengthwise, skin on 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons maple syrup

 The salmon:

1.     Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with a heaping teaspoon of mustard and minced marjoram or sage leaves. Brush the salmon with the maple sauce and season.

2.     Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a large frying pan. Cook the salmon in a frying pan skin side down until golden. Turn the salmon once and cook the other side to golden leaving the center slightly pink.

3.     Moisten the salmon with the vegetable broth, cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 2 minutes.

The pears:

1.     Slice the pears in half and remove the core. Keep in halves or slice into thick slices using a sharp knife.

2.     To a skillet, add the butter and maple syrup. Allow it to melt over medium heat. Add the pear slices.

3.     Let the mixture bubble in the pan and cook the pears until they turn slightly golden as the syrup reduces. Turn the pears over with tongs halfway once to cook the other side for 1-2 minutes. Once the pears are slightly golden, remove from the heat.

4.     Serve each salmon with a half or few slices of pear and drizzle any leftover maple syrup.


Salmon glazed with maple syrup is a delicious and original second course, with a taste that is a little sweet and a little salty at the same time. An amazingly simple recipe that should not be missing from your table for a holiday!



Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa e Pecorino

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa e Pecorino

Like so many traditional pasta dishes, this simple pasta recipe is made with only a few ingredients, and it is absolutely tasty! 

Orecchiette is a traditional pasta that originated in the region of Puglia, Italy. Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian. Broccoli Rabe (rapini) is a slightly bitter dark green, similar to small broccoli, however it isn’t related to broccoli at all, it is in the turnip family. I cook my rapini and my pasta in the same boiling water. First, I boil the rapini, drain it, and then cook it in a skillet with olive oil and fresh garlic. I cook my pasta in this light green boiling water (rapini water) because of its nutritional value. If my pasta sauce is too dry, I add some rapini/pasta water to the sauce. No need for extra olive oil. The other key ingredient for this recipe is using grated Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. The contrast of the rapini and Pecorino cheese is memorable. Try it!


½ pound orecchiette pasta

1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)

2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed  

Pinch red pepper flakes

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Grated Pecorino Cheese


Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

1.     Rinse broccoli rabe under cold running water. Remove all yellow and dull leaves. Trim off the bottoms of the stems to remove tough and fibrous parts. Chop Coarsely.

2.     Put the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling water with salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the broccoli rabe, drain well and set aside.

3.     Return the pot to a full boil, add the orecchiette pasta in the same water and cook until pasta is “al dente.”

4.     In a large skillet pan add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, pinch of red pepper flakes, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the broccoli rape in the skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes.

5.     Drain pasta and reserve some pasta water. Transfer pasta to the skillet with the broccoli rape and toss to combine flavors for a couple of minutes. Add Pecorino cheese and toss again, serve warm. 

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 order 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


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 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.


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)


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


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.