Double Chocolate Brownie Bars for Easter

Gifts for friends during Easter are always fun to make. This year I decided that I would keep chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies to a minimum. I made these Brownie Bars from a recipe that I found in 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other Tempting Treats (thanks for the book Trisha).

Double Chocolate Brownies

115 grams butter
115 grams dark compound cooking chocolate
300 grams caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
140 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
100 grams white chocolate chips

Additions: I added some M&M minis to make it more colourful. I used ½ cup all together.


1. Preheat the oven at 180C.

2. Place the butter and compound chocolate into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Remove from the heat then stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly

3. Stir the sugar, salt and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Add the eggs 1 at a time and blend with a mixer after each egg addition.

4. Sift the flour and cocoa into the mix and beat until smooth.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into a silicone mini loaf tray. (I bought mine from K-Mart and it makes 6 mini loafs or brownie bars.)

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out almost clean.

The brownie bars are chewy and delicious. It’s a perfect present for Easter.


A Taste of Hamony and an Interview with Anna Gare

When I heard about A Taste of Harmony, I jumped at the chance at organising International Food Day at work.

After a very busy work week we all gathered around the Boardroom table and enjoyed some of the tastiest food from all over the world. We all walked away with full stomachs and an appreciation for the diversity that exist in our workplace. This will certainly be a tradition at work, for many years to come.

Here are some food highlights.

Liisa's version of Voileipakakku (Savoury Cake made with bread, sour cream cream cheese and smoked salmon). This was an eye catching dish.

Macri's Pasta Forno. This was Cathrine's first time making this dish. I must say she did an excellent job. It was full of hearty meatballs in a rich and cheesy tomato based sauce.

Mama Goh's Malaysian Chicken Curry. It was the first time I tasted a Malaysian version of a chicken curry. It was absolutely delicious.

Susan Lee's Beef Rendang was amazing. Big spicy chunks of beef with a rich gravy. It was like an explosion in your mouth.

Mama Calvisi's Italian Style Meatballs. All 60 of them. This was a hearty moist meatball in a tomato sauce.

KC's Chicken Enchiladas. Mexican food is great. This was really tasty. It was full of chicken pieces covered in a layer gooey melted cheese.

Anna Gare is part of the trio behind the Lifestyle Food Channels “The Best in Australia. She is one of Australia best female chefs. She is also one of the Ambassadors for A Taste of Harmony. She answers a few of my questions regarding A Taste of Harmony and growing up in a country rich in cultural diversity.

Photo courtesy of F22 Photography

1. When did you discover your passion for cooking?
We lived in an old church that was being renovated by Dad (slowly), so for years we had a temporary kitchen. From a young age I was allowed to cook and make a mess in it.
For my 11th birthday all I wanted was a proper kitchen, so Dad finished it and I prepared a dinner party for 11 guests - steak, coleslaw and potatoes!

2. How has Australia’s cultural diversity influenced your cooking style?
My parents were both born in Australia but come from a diverse cultural mix, as do most Australians! My background is Welsh, Irish, English, German and Jewish. However I grew up in Fremantle, which had a predominantly Italian, Croatian and Portuguese population.
At school, the Italian and Croatian kids always had yummy lunches, My mother, being very busy with lots of kids and working, always made Vegemite and mint sangas! I even wrote a poem about it.

Getting to the other side of Australia a bit later in life was a real eye opener for me. It was so exciting to see all the Greek, Italian and Vietnamese food shops, restaurants and deli's. My passion for combining world flavours had begun!

As an adult, I have enjoyed travelling through smaller regions where the people have stayed with their traditions, both culinary and cultural. Travelling through Italy, I was so blown away by the food and people. We could all learn a lot from some of the smaller regional areas were the people have honest and simple approaches to growing and eating food.

3. A Taste of Harmony is all about bringing people together, in your opinion what will be the perfect dish to do this?
Everyone could bring a dish from their grandmother's recipe book. Or why not challenge yourself and try a fusion dish - or as I call it a 'confusion' dish - Pork Rendang? Oriental risotto, Asian coleslaw, Thai beef carpaccio... There are no limits, only your imagination!

4. Some people shy away from trying food from different cultures? What advice would you give to encourage them to try it?

Food can be the first step in appreciating what other cultures have to offer. Sharing food, swapping recipes, learning different preparation techniques is a wonderful insight into other cultures.

5. As a mum, how do you make sure that your kids are aware of Australia’s Cultural abundance?
Food has always been my passion, and I am grateful to live in a multicultural society where we can constantly broaden our cultural knowledge through food. As a young girl I remember admiring the local Italians and how their passion for food was in the preparation - for them food was not a chore, it was more of a ritual. We grew up eating simple good food, and I want to continue that.

6. Why do you think it’s important to get workplaces involved with A Taste Of Harmony?

It's a good excuse for a nosh-up and to share food by the people who know it the best! Besides, everyone loves eating! It shows appreciation for our culinary heritage and that of other people and places.

7. Do you have any advice on hosting a successful ATOH Lunch?

Visit the A Taste of Harmony website, to get suggestions of how people celebrated last year, look at their event photos, and share delicious recipes!

Make sure to check out the Taste of Harmony website for delicious recipe ideas and suggestions on how you can have your own International Day at work.


Kulinarya - Empanadas

The Kulinarya dish this month was picked by me. I wanted to pick something that I have never made before. So I picked Empanadas. This is the Filipino version which can be made with a pork, fish or beef filling. The pastry is quite sweet and it is normally fried.

When I was looking for a recipe for Empanadas I came across one of my mums cookbooks. It was so old and worn out. It was actually owned by my Lola (Grandmother). It was written in 1969.

The recip below is a translated version from the book Lutuing Pilipino.

Empanada Crust

4 cups of flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks

1. In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
2. Combine the water and egg yolks and whisk.
3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until it is combined. (You may need a little extra water for the mixture)
4. Set the prepared dough aside while you make the filling

Empanada Filling


1/2 kilo pork mince
1 can mini sausages (I used the Plumrose brand, cut them into cubes)
1 large potato (cut into small cubes)
1/3 cup pickle relish
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
ground black pepper

1. Brown the mince in a pan, add the sausages, potato, pickle relish, black pepper, and oyster sauce.
2. Stir the mixture until it is well combine and simmer for 5 minutes. Once the potato is just cooked take it off the heat and set aside until it is cooled.

To put the Empanada together you will need 3 boiled chicken eggs and 1/2 cup grated cheese to add to the filling.

Putting the Empanada together

1. Take a small ball of the dough and roll it out into a circle.
2. Add a spoonful of the mixture and top with some grated cheese and a slice of egg.
3. Fold one end of the dough over to make a half moon.
4. Pleat the top of the Empanadas and set aside for frying.
5. Deep fry the Empanadas until they are a golden brown. Make sure you watch this as there is sugar in the dough mixture, which causes the Empanadas to burn easily.

This recipe is extremely easy and the end result is a flakey, sweet and delicious Empanada.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine. Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.

If you’re interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment – we would love to hear from you!

Make sure to say hello to all our members...

And of course… Trissa of Trissalicious and Trisha from Sugarlace


Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery New York

One of the best memories from my New York trip last year was going to Magnolia Bakery. I liked it so much that I ended up going there twice. One of the desserts that I bought was their famous Banana Pudding.

This was in a small ice cream tub and didn’t look like anything special at all. While I was waiting in line to get their famous Red Velvet Cupcake, I noticed that the shop assistant kept taking trays and trays out of this Banana Pudding.

I decided to buy one. A small tub was $4.50US. I thought this was really cheap since they give you a small tub that can feed 2 people. The first spoon full nearly knocked me off my feet. How could something so unattractive taste so darn good? It was creamy, sweet and addictive.

So folks, here is the recipe for Magnolia’s famous Banana Pudding.

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups ice cold water
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups thickened cream
1 box Nabisco Nilla Wafers crushed (I couldn’t find these so I used Digestive Biscuits instead)
4 cups ripe mashed bananas


1. In a small bowl, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined. Add the pudding mix and beat well. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing with the rest of the method

2. In a large bowl, whip the thickened cream until stiff peaks form

3. To assemble the dessert, layer crushed biscuits, custard, mashed banana, cream and continue until you reach the top of the glass.

4. Chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Some of the ingredients in this recipe are really difficult to find in Australia so I have used Digestive Biscuits instead of the Nilla Wafers and Cottees Vanilla Pudding instead of the Jelly O brand.


Da Niang Dumplings

Xiao long bao, this was the word of the day at work on Friday. Nas, Michelle, Chris and I were craving them. Nas and I kept talking about how many we were going to eat. We were even talking about the bits of ginger with the vinegar and how not to burn ourselves with the hot soup from the dumplings.

The craving took over and we all decided to go for some dumplings in China Town. Being on a budget we opted for a cheaper place for dinner. A few doors down from Mamak is Da Niang Dumplings.

Chris has always been the chief of ordering food. We have the same taste so I normally just give her the menu and let her order. The first thing she requested was the xiao long bao or soup dumplings. We were so excited, up until the waitress tells us that they were sold out. I looked at Nas and we both had a disappointed look on our faces. It was raining outside so we stayed and decided that the craving for xiao long bao will have to wait for another day.

We started with some sides and ordered the pork tongue and spicy pork ears which were both $4.00. The pork tongue was cold and I felt as if I was eating a rubber band. I actually didn't like it at all. This could be because I am used to eating tongue warm. The spicy pork ears were delicious. I felt for Michelle as she sat there waiting for some Vegetarian buns while we ate. The ears were spicy and well flavoured.

The beans stir fry with shredded pork $12.80 is a family favourite. Every time we go out we order this dish. I found this to be extremely salty. The beans were fresh and the meat was delicious, but it just had a little to much seasoning. I think a nice big bowl of rice would have fixed that.

I have never actually had a vegetarian bun $4.80. These were delicious. Full of mushrooms, cabbage and glass noodles. Michelle was pleased with this. It certainly beats watching people eat pigs ears.

Since the xiao long bao was sold out, we ordered the boiled dumplings with pork and chive filling $7.50 and some pork dumplings in a spicy and sour soup $8.50. They were both very good dishes. The dumplings were full of pork mince and chives. The sour soup was warm and delicious.

At the end of the meal we were all pretty full. The dumplings were not the best that I have ever had but the prices were reasonable.
Shop 42-42A, Dixon St
Haymarket NSW 2000
Phone: 029211 0378


Flying Fajita Sistas

It was time for another girly catch up with Els (Eileen) and Pei Pei (Chris). Gosh I love calling Chris by her Chinese name ehehe. Els made a booking for Flying Fajita Sistas. I must admit I don’t go to Glebe a lot. To be honest I was really surprised at the number of cool looking restaurants there. I can’t wait to go back and try the others.

Flying Fajita Sistas is known for their Mexican fair. The prices are reasonable and the servings are quite big. The girls and I always tend to over order. Our waitress suggested sharing a few dishes and guaranteed that we would leave with a full stomach.

We start of with the mixed platter. The platter comes with 6 different dips of guacamole, salsa, crema, pepian, queso fundido and frijoles. It is accompanied by some handmade totopas $23.90. My favourite out of the 6 was the frijoles. The dip was cheesy and it had the flavour of chilli without too much of the heat.

We also ordered the chorizo and potato balls with the mole rojo sauce as an entree. The potato balls were crisp on the outside and really soft on the inside. I liked the mole rojo sauce better than the balls. The chorizo was scarce and it wasn’t really a winner for me.

You can’t go to a Mexican restaurant without ordering a Margarita. Since I was driving that night I ordered myself a Virgin Strawberry Rita $13.50. This was a sour combination of flavours but very refreshing. The sugar on the rim added that sweetness that made this drink perfect. I will trying the alcoholic version next time.

Taquitos (Little Rolled Tacos) was another entree that we tried. These are two yellow corn tortillas, fried until crisp and topped with a choice of chicken or pulled pork. We chose the chicken $14.90. This was served with the mole rojo sauce. I just can’t get enough of that sauce.

For our main we shared the Flying Fajitas with the steak. The steak is marinated in chipotle chilli and spices. They char-grill the steak to give it a smokey flavour. It is well seasoned and after some really delicious dips, it was enough for the girls and I.

The steak and tortillas are served with sides which include salad, cheese, guacamole, crema, salsa, olives, jalapenos, pineapple, frijoles and some Mexican rice $24.90.

Flying Fajita Sistas was a great little restaurant. They even have a wall of pain that I didn't get a photo of. They have Taco Tuesday - tacos from $3.00 not to mention $3.00 tequila shots. It is best to book as they get pretty busy. The service was great and the food was delicious.

Flying Fajita Sistas
65 Glebe Point Rd,
Glebe NSW 2037

Phone: 02 9552 6522
Fax: 02 9552 6885

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