Panetone and mascarpone

This is a great time to make this decadent dessert as there are many unsold Christmas panetones at your local grocery store.  Buy a few extra cakes; they store well and will make wonderful Valentine desserts.

Don’t limit yourself to just strawberries. Any berry or fruit will taste good. The same goes for substituting the orange liqueur.  You can also add layers of melted chocolate or Nutella in between each of the layers of the cake. There are plenty of ways to add variety and different tastes.

Panetone and mascarpone

  • Servings: 6 - 8
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  • 3 eggs separated
  • 6 Tbsps ( 90 mL) granulated sugar
  • 16 ounces (475 g) Mascarpone
  • Grated zest of 1 orange (optional) 2 Tbsp (30 mL) orange liqueur or Amaretto and more for brushing cake
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 Panetone cake, 750 g (1 1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) hulled and thickly sliced strawberries (optional)
  • 1 oz (30 g)  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • Toasted sliced almonds
  • Sifted icing sugar
  1. TO MAKE THE MASCARPONE CREAM  In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 3 Tbsps (45 mL) sugar for about 1 to 2 minutes or until pale and beginning to thicken. Add the Mascarpone to the eggs and beat until well blended.  Add the orange zest (if using) and liqueur, mix well, and set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form.  While beating, gradually add 3 Tbsp (45 mL) of sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.  Using a spatula, gently fold the egg white mixture into the Mascarpone.  Set aside in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  3. TO ASSEMBLE Slice the Panetone cake into 4 horizontal slices.  Place the base of the cake on the bottom of serving platter.  Brush cake slice with about 1 or 2 (15 to 30 mL) tablespoons of liqueur.  Using a spatula or butter knife, top with a quarter of Mascarpone cream mixture and a quarter of strawberries (if using).  Repeat with 2 more layers of each of cake placed on a slight diagonal, top with cream and strawberries.
  4. In a double boiler, stir the chocolate over hot (not boiling) water until melted. Drizzle over the cake.  Garnish almonds and icing sugar.  Serve.


Butter and sage ravioli

Ravioli burro e salvia

What better complement to the hectic shopping season than a simple yet elegant Italian dinner? Less is more when you have quality ingredients. Don’t shy away from quality pasta—fresh Ravioli makes any dish a special occasion. I used cheese and pear ravioli, but you can choose any flavour. Freshly grated, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano (real Parmesan) cheese makes you an authentic Italian in minutes. Plus, it tastes good (there’s a reason we’re so picky). You could also substitute dried noodles such as spaghetti or linguini for a weekday meal (there’s no shame in that!)

*Carla’s tip* You can add chopped prosciutto or diced, cooked butternut squash just before serving, for an alternate version of this dish.


Butter and Sage Ravioli

  • Servings: 2
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  • 1 lb (500 g) fresh or frozen ravioli
  • 2 tbsps (30 mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) butter
  • 30 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Parmasean
  • Fine salt and coarsely  black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 2 tbsps (30 mL) salt and return to a boil.  Add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until pasta is firm and slightly undercooked.  Noodles will continue cooking in the sauce. Reserve 2 tbsps (30 mL) of cooking water. Drain the noodles and return them to cooking pot and cover to keep warm until ready to use. Set aside.
  2. TO MAKE BUTTER SAGE SAUCE In a saucepan large enough to hold all of the ravioli noodles melt butter over medium heat.  When butter begins to bubble reduce heat to low and cook until butter is browned,  about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the sage and cook until the sage is lightly darkened green around edges and aromatic, about 2 to 3  minute. Toss butter sauce frequently.
  3. Add the noodles and mix thoroughly, toss to combine.  Cook the noodles in butter sauce for about 2 to 3  minutes until coated and heated through. If the mixture seems dry, add reserved water, a tablespoons at a time until the noodles are well coated.  Add about 1/4 cup (60 mL) of Parmesan and stir to  combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve with remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan alongside,  and enjoy immediately.

Rosa’s Almond Anise Cookies


My friend Rosa claims these are the best cookies she’s ever tasted. Rosa tasted these almond and anise cookies at a friend’s house long ago and helped me re-create this recipe. They’re a special home-style treat, and with a dusting of icing sugar they’re perfect for any occasion.

The Portuguese are passionate about their almonds. The versatile nut grows in abundance throughout the southern Algarve and is used to add flavour to all types of desserts and savoury dishes. Lightly toast the nuts beforehand to bring out their full flavour.


*Carla’s Tip* Keep the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (preferably overnight)  before baking, for a stronger almond flavor. It’s a baker’s marinade.
You can also drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate and add sprinkles for a festive touch.


Rosa's Almond Anise Cookies

  • Servings: 5 dozen
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  • 1 3/4 cups (435 mL) slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL)  vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) ground almonds
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) anise seeds, crushed with fingertips
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) port
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sliced almonds, skin on, or whole blanched almonds (about 1 almond per cookie)
  • Sifted icing sugar


  1. TO TOAST THE NUTS Spread the slivered almonds on a baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or just until you begin to smell almonds, shaking the baking sheet occasionally.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and oil with sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and crushed anise seeds.  Gradually beat the almond mixture into the butter mixture in alternating batches with the port, until smooth.  Add the prepared toasted slivered almonds and mix just until combined. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold enough to shape.
  3. Using well-greased hands, shape approximately 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the batter into balls.  Either roll in the sliced almonds or place one blanched almond firmly into each cookie.  Place onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) between cookies.  Bake in preheated 425F (220C) oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until the bottoms and edges of the cookies are golden brown (Oven temperatures can vary so check for colour). Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes.  Serve with a dusting of icing sugar.
  4. Cool completely and store in a cookie tin.