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Great British Bake Off Finale 2015

 

In less than twenty four hours time, we’ll know who will be the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2015.

The downside of this is that this year’s series of Bake Off will come to an end, so we’ll have to say goodbye to Mary, Paul, Mel and Sue, cakes, pies, biscuits, meringues, pastries and breads until we see them again next summer – though sadly we’ll have to bid farewell to the 2015 contestants forever!

 

I get lost in my own little world when The Great British Bake Off is on. I actually feel as though I’m in the midst of the tranquil English countryside where the Bake Off tent is pitched. All those pastel, candy shades of iced goodies appeal to the kid in me. And even though the bakers often feel flustered and panic-stricken, there’s something so calming about the gentle pursuit of baking. It also invokes memories of home life and family time because let’s face it, who didn’t have a mother, aunt or grandmother who didn’t whip up baked delicacies, and I remember that growing up, teatime was a pretty big deal. And of course, the show celebrates that great British tradition, afternoon tea – which I’m sure you all know I’m a huge fan of. And best of all, for one deliciously decadent hour every week, we can forget that healthy eating ever mattered!

 

I think it’s fair to say that The Great British Bake Off is my very own televised Disneyland!

Mr.D and I have loved this year’s series – not to mention it’s sister program An Extra Slice with the hilarious Jo Brand. I often find that when I’m hooked on one year’s series of any show, the following year’s will fall a little flat so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this series so much as I thought 2014 was brilliant. But this year has been equally fantastic and we thought the contestants were a delightful and mega-talented bunch. It was so hard to pick a favourite because I had a soft spot for so many of them including Alvin, Sandy, Nadia, Tamal, and Paul. We’ve been watching Bake Off since the third series and one of the things that I love about the show – apart from it developing my love of baking and further increasing my love of all things sweet – is the sense of camaraderie among the contestants and the way they’re always willing to pitch in and help each other out even though this is a competition, and this year’s series has been no different.

 

Everyone has their own idea about who will win the title of Great British Bake Off Winner 2015 but I personally cannot make my mind up between the finalists Ian Cumming, Nadia Hussain and Tamal Ray. A lot of the work they’ve done has been highly original and really had the wow factor. Some people may have thought that Ian’s chocolate well last week was too simplistic but I thought it was amazing and showed that he really thought outside the box. All three have worked hard to secure their place in the final, and they’re all so likeable that it’s impossible to decide who to root for, so I’m cheering them all on!

Tomorrow’s final is going to be a real show stopper in itself. It’ll be interesting to see what culinary creations Ian, Nadia, and Tamal conjure up. I cannot wait!

 

 

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Happy New Year from Chez Mrs. D!

I cannot believe that another new year is about to descend upon us in just over two hours time. I could have sworn we saw 2014 in last week! How has the year gone by so quickly? Mind you, I probably say that every year. Moreover how is it that Christmas has gone within the blink of an eye? We spend all year waiting for it, months preparing for it, days rushing around in a blind panic and then – it’s gone! My two week Christmas break has gone by so quickly and I’ll be back at work in a few days time. I’m sure I’ll be writing a post for 2016 tomorrow!

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I really can’t complain about this year. 2014 has been very good to us. Sure there have been some not so pleasant bits but that’s only to be expected. On the whole, life’s been pretty good. I truly hope that 2015 will be every bit as awesome not just for me but for all of us. I have so many plans for next year in terms of my personal and professional life, and there’s still plenty of things that I would like to do with this blog. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to fulfil everything I planned to do for Chez Mrs. D.  this year and I aim to complete these goals next year.

But I have to say I saw some pretty awesome things happen this year for Chez Mrs. D. From wondering if anyone would ever discover this blog to get tons of hits a day, a bunch of loyal followers and over a hundred fellow bloggers following this blog. And it’s all thanks to one blog post about Father Ray Kelly, the Catholic priest who sang a delightful rendition of Hallelujah. Thank you Fr. Kelly! I’ve seriously enjoyed every second of blogging this year and working on Chez Mrs. D. I’ve come across some fantastic blogs, interacted with some very talented bloggers, and of course as you all know, I met my first fellow blogger, Chitra from Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen just before Christmas. Definitely one of the highlights of this year. I’m really excited about what 2015 has in store for us all.

Now I’m going to enjoy what’s left of this year with a glass of something sparkling but before I do, I would just like to thank everyone for their support this year and wish you all a very peaceful and happy new year. I hope 2015 brings some fantastic things your way! xx

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Tenth Masterchef Winner: Congrats Ping

 

 

 

I’ve finally gotten around to watching the finals of the tenth – TENTH??? – series of Masterchef. This has been a great series with tons of amazing contestants who really gave it their all. I’m still disappointed however, that Alex, the rock n’ rolling wrestler was knocked out early on in the competition (gotta support my fellow rockers!) and I would have loved for Rani to have gone further as she did make me laugh but I think it’s fair to say that the best woman won.

 

All three of the finalists – Jack Lucas, Ping Coombs, and Luke Owen – were nothing short of awesome and really cooked for their lives (not to mention the Masterchef title!)

 

At an age where most people’s culinary skills extend no further than opening a tin of rice pudding, twenty one year old Jack amazed everyone with his flair and skills, and very rarely put a foot wrong. And Luke was a huge fan of daring flavour combinations and experimenting with food. His experiments weren’t always majorly successful but his boldness in the kitchen impressed Masterchef Judges John Torode and Greg Wallace.

 

 

But it was Malaysian-born Ping who really stood out from the moment she entered the competition. The very first dish she made – a curried chicken dish – just made me want to stick my hands through the television screen and grab a mammoth bowlful for myself. Even though Malaysian cuisine appeared to be her signature style, Ping showed her ability as a versatile cook by successfully cooking an array of non-Malaysian dishes. There was no doubting that Ping really put her heart and soul into everything that she was cooking, and her dedication, organization, talent, and the super-fast pace at which she worked were just extraordinary. As the finals approached I was so sure I knew who’d win – and I was right!

 

 

Ping says it’s her goal to introduce more people to Malaysian cuisine – she has ambitions to bring out a cook book and open a Malaysian style café – and I truly hope she achieves this. As someone who has family who hails from this part of the world, I can honestly say that Malaysian food is one of my most favourites. It’s just a shame most people don’t really know about it. The main that Ping created for the finals – nasi lemak – is the dish I always choose when I go to my fave Malaysian restaurant. There are many different variations of this dish but it basically consists of coconut rice with a variety of different side dishes. I always say that the restaurant I often frequent serves the best nasi lemak ever, and their version contains coconut rice; a spicy squid sambal; crispy fried chicken wings; deep fried anchovies and peanuts; a cucumber salad and a fried egg. This would most definitely be my last meal!

I’m so passionate about this dish that I’ve included a recipe for anyone who might want to attempt it. But be warned – it might be addictive!

 

 

I’m disappointed that this series of Masterchef has come to an end and I have to wait for another year. This has been an amazing series and I cannot wait for the next one to begin. Mr. D on the other hand, can’t wait for Masterchef USA to begin it’s fifth season as he much prefers that to our home-grown version. I like both of them and appreciate each of them for what they are but I’ve noticed that if you’re more interested in food than contestants’ dramas, then Masterchef UK it is. And of course we have the delightful John and Greg!

 

Ping hard at work

Ping hard at work

 

So congrats to Jack and Luke for doing so well to get to the finals. They seem like really cool guys who have a real passion for food and I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of them. And of course congrats to Ping. I just hope she hurries up and opens that café. Nasi lemak, mee goreng, chilli crab… bring it on!

 

NASI LEMAK
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
•Oil, for deep frying
•Cucumber slices, for garnish
•Sambal chilli (recipe above)

Ingredients for the SAMBAL CHILLI:

40 gram dried red chilli

100 gram onion

25 gram garlic

5 tablespoon cooking oil

80 gram ikan bilis (anchovy)

25 gram sugar (to taste)

250 ml water 

 

Ingredients for the rice:
•250 gram rice
•275 ml water
•225 ml coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk)
•1 onion (about 125 gram), cut into chunks
•1 star anise
•1 large cinnamon stick
•Pandan leaves, tied in a knot (optional)
•½ teaspoon salt
•2 teaspoon sugar

Ingredients for the chicken wings:
•500 gram chicken wings (about 8 pieces)
•3 eggs
•½ tablespoon turmeric powder
•½ tablespoon salt
•½ tablespoon white pepper powder
•2 inch ginger, pounded
•3 tablespoon corn flour
•6 tablespoon rice flour

Ingredients for the ikan bilis and peanuts:
•50 gram peanuts
•20 gram dried anchovies

1 fried or boiled egg per serving

METHOD:

  1. To make the sambal chilli , rinse anchovies with water and allow to dry completely.
  2. Place dried anchovies in a food processor and grind into fine powder.
  3. With a pair of scissors, cut the dried chilli halfway to remove most of the seeds.
  4. Soak dried chilli in water to soften, then drain the water.
  5. Blend dried chilli, onion and garlic to form a smooth paste.
  6. To a heated wok, add cooking oil and stir-fry the ground ikan bilis for about 2 minutes till fragrant.
  7. Add the ground chilli paste and sugar and stir-fry over low heat for 10 minutes, adding water as you fry to avoid burning the paste.
  8. The resulting sambal chilli should be moist and pasty.
  9. For the rice: Put all the ingredients for the rice in a rice cooker.
  10. Leave to cook and remove onion, star anise and cinnamon stick when done.
  11. For the chicken wings: Mix all ingredients to form marinade and batter, and allow to settle for about 10 minutes. 
  12. Dip the chicken wings in mixture, and fry until golden brown and crispy over medium heat for about 2 minutes each side.
  13. For the anchovies and peanuts: Deep-fry the peanuts and ikan bilis separately before mixing together.
  14. To assemble: Serve a bowl of coconut rice with the chicken wings, egg, anchovy and peanut mix, and garnish with 2-3 slices of cucumber topped with sambal and  chillies.

 

Ireland’s Got Talent: Father Ray Kelly Rock’s The Wedding Ceremony

I have only just seen the latest YouTube video sensation that has taken the world by storm – and I’m not surprised at why it has become so popular.

Father Ray Kelly stunned guests – not to mention the bride and groom Chris and Leah O’Kane – with a little surprise that he had for them. The ‘little surprise’ turned out to be an amazing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with a few changes in the lyrics specially intended for the happy couple.

Many artists have covered this song but Fr. Kelly’s version was so beautiful it brought tears to many of the guests eyes. And yes – I did get a little teary myself as I watched it. But then again, I am such a water cart, so it really wasn’t a surprise.

Catholic priests have a reputation for being a bit ‘fuddy-duddy’. No disrespect to the priests who married Mr. D and me but we did clash a fair bit over our plans for the wedding service. Although my plans were not against church rules, I had two priests who were sticklers for tradition so anything that seemed a bit ‘out there’ was thrown out the window and tradition it was! I couldn’t really argue because it was a case of their church, their rules. So good on Fr. Kelly for putting his own spin on tradition.

It’s such a lovely story to kick start the wedding season and the run-up to Easter. It also reminds me of one of my fave films Sister Act where the power of music brought something of a miraculous change to an inner city parish… I bet Fr. Kelly’s church was packed the next day!

 

 

10 Years Of Facebook? No Way!!!

I couldn’t believe it when a friend informed me that Facebook had recently turned 10. 10? Already? NO WAY!!! At this rate it’ll be old enough to start buying drinks in no time!

 

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg started to kick some real social media butt when he introduced Harvard college kids to the social networking site. The rest of the world gradually caught on and became Facebook crazy; Zuckerberg became a multi-billionaire and was played by Jesse Eisenberg in a movie about the rise of Facebook – and the rest is history.

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There’s no denying that Facebook has become synonymous with the early twenty-first century and has changed the way in which we use the internet and communicate with family, friends, schoolmates, colleagues – even people we’ve never met! Anyone who’s got a business or product to promote has discovered the benefits of Facebook; bands, actors and authors have used it to build their fan base; we can join groups and speak to people who share our interests and we can play games with – or against – other Facebook users. And who says it’s just for kids? Even grandparents got in on the act, using it to keep in touch with grandchildren living abroad.

 

Facebook may sound like a little piece of paradise in cyber heaven but as everyone knows there’s a downside to the social networking phenomenon which has been well-documented in the press: tales of spying on ex-partners verging on stalking to trolling and hate-campaigns to concerns about data protection and privacy and even being cited in divorce cases – it would appear that Facebook isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

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I first heard about Facebook back in 2007 when it was slowly surpassing MySpace, the social networking site du jour. I wasn’t in any great hurry to get an account because back then I wasn’t really into social networking. I preferred to go out there and do things rather than sit at my PC. I also didn’t like the ‘nosey’ aspect of it where people would know your business and where you’d get to know things about them that you wish they’d kept to themselves. Furthermore, the people I came across who were avid Facebookers were hardly an elite group I wished to join.

However three years later, I did join! Many of my friends were moving abroad and insisted that I got a Facebook account for us to keep in regular contact. I value my friendships with them so much that I did just that. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong about Facebook. Whatever the negatives might have been, I found that the positives outweighed them greatly. I got to keep up-to-date with events in my friends lives; organizing events via Facebook proved to be very convenient; I enjoyed looking at friends’ photos, and best of all I was able to find friends I’d lost touch with ages ago – and in no way is that a bad thing! Furthermore, my friends say that my posts – usually regarding my one million and one mishaps – have them in stitches.

Then last year I decided to set up another Facebook account for professional reasons in order to promote my work and network with people from the arts industries. It has been a huge success. I’ve publicized my numerous blogs and best of all been able to talk to people who share my passion for writing,  blogging,music, history, travel and the arts – basically anything that involves creativity. I’ve forged some pretty close bonds with some of the creative crowd and I’ve even been called upon to lend a helping hand which I’m always happy to do.

Have I had any bad experiences? Well I’ve had nosey parker relatives, old school foes and hideous exes trying to add me as a friend. Needless to say, I didn’t accept their friend requests. But other than that I’m glad I’m a Facebooker. It’s great when you use it the right way i.e:

don’t over-obsessively check FB fifty times a day; don’t add all the people you get on the tube with every morning just to increase your number of friends, and not go running to update your posts every time you cough sneeze or pick your spots! It’ll be interesting what will happen within the next ten years. Will Facebook have get even bigger (if possible?) Or will it go the same way as Friends Reunited? Will a new social networking site come along and cause Facebookers to close their accounts? Who knows – but we’ll see! Right I’d better go check my inbox…

So happy belated birthday Facebook.  Hope the party was awesome!

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Where did Christmas go? One minute I was shopping like there was no tomorrow in anticipation for the big day and now it’s NYE! Mr. D and I have had an awesome Christmas break. We’ve just been chilling, eating, drinking (perhaps a bit too much!) watching movies, snuggling, sleeping til whenever we want, waking up whenever we want and generally hiding away from the rest of the world – and we’ve loved it! And yes, I have written a few blog posts in that time. I’m thrilled that I took the initiative to book a few extra days off work so I don’t have to return straight after New Year’s Day. Yay me! Although talking of work, I don’t mind having to return and catch up with my colleagues and students again.  I wonder what awaits us this term…

I’m getting a little emotional realising that this is going to be my last blog post of 2013. I started this blog six months ago and I have had an absolute blast. I promised that Mrs. D’s house would be full of fun – and I think I might have been right!

It took several attempts to get Chez Mrs. D just right. I realised that the blog host was not right for me and I tried about a million times to get the style and design right. Once I’d done that I just had to wait for inspiration for writing my blog posts. Well I didn’t have to wait for very long because there was inspiration EVERYWHERE! If I’d managed to write all the posts I’d wanted to this year, I’d have had to give up my job!

I really enjoy writing for Chez Mrs. D. because it’s such a versatile blog and I can write about absolutely anything. What’s awesome is that there are many of you out there who seem to like Chez Mrs. D and appreciate the effort I put into each blog post. So a big thank you to everyone who has followed, liked or commented on this blog. It’s you guys who make it worthwhile.

Happy new year everyone. See you in 2014! xx

 

 

 

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