Read, Cook, Drink, Enjoy This Week’s DIY: Perky Hot Chocolate

READ: My DIY recipe in today’s issue (April 3) of the Philippine Daily Inquirer is for a perked-up hot chocolate.  It’s hot chocolate with a dash of coffee and a splash of vanilla.  Moreover, whereas my previous recipes for hot chocolate uses fresh milk, this one is made with full cream evaporated milk.

To read the entire DIY column, see page C3 of today’s Inquirer, Lifestyle section, or click on this link:

COOK: Below is the recipe for perky hot chocolate.  For more tips, scroll down after the Cook’s Tips section.
IMG_9004 DIY: Perky Hot Chocolate
DRINK AND ENJOY: This is a very thick chocolate brew.  So as not to overwhelm the drinkers, serve this in demitasse, or small cups, like the ones used for espresso.

You must also serve it immediately, because the longer you keep it the thicker it becomes.  (For more ways to enjoy, see tips below.)

Perky Hot Chocolate

½                     c sugar, or to taste

¾                     c unsweetened cocoa powder

3                      c full cream evaporated milk

½                     tsp instant coffee powder

½                     tsp vanilla

Combine sugar and cocoa powder in a large saucepan.  Pour in milk.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally.  Add the coffee and vanilla. Continue simmering until the cocoa powder is completely dissolved and liquid is smooth.

Ladle into individual cups or demitasse and serve immediately.

Cook’s tips:

  • If desired, serve this with whipped cream on top.
  • You may use decaffeinated coffee.
  • Fresh milk can be used in place of evaporated milk. However the taste will be slightly different.

More Tips:

  • If the liquid becomes too thick, you can thin it by adding more milk.
  • Make this drink even more enjoyable by adding mini marshmallows on top.
  • For those on a sugar-controlled diet: You can omit the sugar.  Cook the recipe without the sugar then remove from the heat. Sweeten individual servings with artificial sweetener such as Splenda, Equal or Stevia.
  • Store any leftover immediately in the refrigerator.

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A Visit with Ringo Starr

It was almost like being with Ringo Starr, when my cousins and I visited the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles early this year.  Here’s my article on that visit, published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Lifestyle Section’s Travel page last Saturday (March 29).

Visiting Ringo at the Grammy Museum in LA

Upon my insistence, my cousins Gina Furman and Carmencita Purugganan brought me to the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles during my recent U.S. visit. I had read of the exhibit of Ringo Starr’s memorabilia at the Grammy and being a Beatles fan, I knew this was something I shouldn’t miss.  Our plan was to view the exhibit for maybe a couple of hours. We ended up staying the whole afternoon.


Mural honoring Ringo Starr, at the Grammy Museum

How could we not?  Titled “Peace and Love”, the exhibit showcases the life and times of Ringo Starr, the charming, inimitable drummer of The Beatles and my avowed favorite among the Fab Four.

Here are all the details of his life, from his childhood in Liverpool, to his early days as a musician, to the raucous days of the rock band that changed music history, and later to his solo career as a singer, actor, artist, songwriter, winner of seven Grammy awards, and leader of his own All-Starr Band.

Indeed, viewing the artifacts, letters, photographs and videos is like discovering Ringo all over again—and learning things about him not generally known during The Beatles’s heyday.  Born July 7, 1940, Richard Starkey was a sickly child, with ailments like appendicitis, peritonitis and pleurisy causing him to miss so many school days he eventually dropped out of school.  Though his parents separated when he was just a few years old, his mother later remarried and it was Harry Graves, his stepfather, who later bought Ringo his first set of drums. He hasn’t stopped playing the drums since.

How Richard Starkey became Ringo Starr, the drummer of the band universally acclaimed as the greatest in rock music history, is a confluence of fate, talent, and being at the right place at the right time.  Fascinated by drums at an early age, Ringo started out as the drummer for a group called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.  As luck would have it, he would also sometimes play the drums for The Beatles, when they were still a fledgling band, as a  substitute for their then drummer Pete Best.  When Best was let go, Ringo became the natural choice to replace him.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

IMG_7546: Ringo Starr Exhibit at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, California

The author (far left) with cousins Gina (center) and Carmencita with replicas of the guitars and drums used by The Beatles, at the ground floor of the Grammy Museum

Prominently displayed on the ground floor of the Grammy Museum are replicas of the guitars and drums used by The Beatles.  Though taking photos of the exhibit is prohibited, visitors are encouraged to take pictures of these replicas.  Without thinking twice, my cousins and I gamely posed with the guitars and drums, pretending to be rock stars ourselves.

IMG_7549: Ringo Starr Exhibit at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, California

The author with replica of the drums used by Ringo Starr, at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, California

At the exhibit I got goose bumps upon seeing the original drum kits which Ringo used during their August 1965 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and for the recording of Let It Be, Abbey Road and the White Album. Encased in protective glass, the black pearl drum set has “Ludwig” and “The Beatles” logo prominently printed on it.  I walked around the glass case viewing the drums in absolute awe, as if they were a relic from a saint. To think that Ringo once touched these drums!

Also on display are the outfits he wore during some of The Beatles’ most memorable moments:  the pink suit for the cover of Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band (hailed by some as the greatest rock album ever recorded);  the cape he wore for their movie Help!, as well as the high-collared coats worn during some of their live performances.

Farther down nostalgia lane, there’s a poster, almost yellowed with age, announcing the performance in Liverpool of Rory and the Hurricanes and The Beatles, when they were just starting to get famous.

Most touching are the personal items – photos of Ringo as a child, letters and postcards he sent to his mother, to whom he was still Richy, even though the world already adored him by then as Ringo.

After gawking at the drums, clothes and letters, I spent a lot of time in the listening stations, watching video clips of Ringo’s performances, from his days with The Beatles to his current tours with his band.  I couldn’t get enough of watching him sing With a Little Help from My Friends, Act Naturally, What Goes On in Your Mind, and Photograph. In fact Photograph is also the title of his book, a collection of rare pictures, never before seen snapshots of The Beatles, and personal mementos showing his evolution from Liverpool kid to teen idol to the living legend that he has become. Some photos also show the Fab Four in unguarded moments: George Harrison, for instance, washing his face at a hotel in Paris, or the four of them looking out in the distance.

But especially thrilling are the interactive stations.  In one booth, you can sing Yellow Submarine, and have your voice recorded and played back.  While I did try singing along, I didn’t have the nerve to listen to my own playback.

In still another station, you can sit in front of a drum set and take drum lessons from Ringo himself, who appears in a video screen and patiently teaches the rudiments of drum playing (as if anyone can approximate his genius.)  Of course I did try following his instructions, only to feel grateful that Ringo was only on video.  I shuddered to think what he would have thought of my clumsy attempts at drum playing.

In case anyone hasn’t realized it yet, testimonials of Ringo’s greatness as a drummer are plastered on the walls.  Praises from band mates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and other rock star greats hail Ringo’s unique talents on the drums. Never overplaying his role, he knew exactly how to hit just the right beat and rhythm so as to highlight the compositions of Lennon/McCartney and George Harrison which the world had come to love. “Playing without Ringo is like driving a car on three wheels,” George Harrison is quoted as saying.

Indeed, the man whom John Lennon described as “the heart of The Beatles” is revered by many as the ultimate drummer and the most influential the world has ever known.  We are so fortunate to be enjoying his performances in our lifetime, and to have him, a living legend, still be with us, more than 50 years after his rise to fame. That he’s willing to share his memorabilia with the world shows his generosity of spirit and is likewise a reminder of the legacy that The Beatles—and Ringo Starr—have bequeathed to the world.


Flyer announcing the exhibit of Ringo Starr's memorabilia at the Grammy Museum

The exhibit is timely too.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, when screaming fans welcomed them from the moment they first stepped on US soil, making The Beatles from then on the official icon of rock music. Besides, there’s no other time like the present to remind ourselves of the message that Ringo espouses in his exhibit: Peace and Love.

Peace and Love is on exhibit until April 27, 2014 at The Grammy Museum, 800 Olympic Blvd. and Figueroa St., between Flemings and The Farm, Los Angeles, California.  General admission tickets: US$12.95.

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Read, Cook, Drink and Enjoy. This Week’s DIY: All-Seasons Sunshine Cooler

READ: My DIY recipe in today’s (March 27) issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer is for a luscious, refreshing drink that’s perfect for  hot summer days:  All-Seasons Summer Cooler.  With four fruits in one icy beverage, it has nuances in flavor that will leave everyone wondering: What’s in this drink? You can read the entire DIY column in today’s Inquirer, page C4 or click on this link:

IMG_8815: DIY: All-Seasons Sunshine Cooler

Apple, banana, mango, papaya: Put them all together and you have this luscious drink that's as bright as sunshine.

COOK: This is one recipe that doesn’t need cooking.  But you do need to have these four fruits:  apple, banana, mango, papaya. Plus sugar, water and lots of ice cubes. What makes this drink so tempting is its color.  A bright, golden yellow, it sparkles like sunshine on a cloudless summer day.

It’s so easy to prepare too.  Here’s the complete recipe.  Be sure to scroll down after the Cook’s Tips section for more ideas.

All Seasons Sunshine Cooler

½                     c diced ripe banana

½                     c diced apple

½                     c diced ripe papaya

½                     c diced ripe mango

¼                     c sugar, or to taste

1 ½                  c ice cold water

Ice cubes

Put all the fruits in a blender. In a bowl combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the sugar mixture into the fruits in the blender. Process at medium speed until the fruits liquefy and are smooth and thoroughly blended.

Put ice cubes into two tall or four medium glasses and pour in fruit mixture, dividing equally.  Serve immediately. Makes two large drinks or four medium drinks.

Cook’s Tips:

  • For best results use fruits that are just ripe (without being overly ripened).
  • To make the drink cool faster, chill the fruits in the refrigerator before putting them in the blender.
  • For larger servings, double the amount of the ingredients.  However, you may have to process this in batches since it may not fit in the blender.
  • Keep any leftover juice in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Blend or stir well before serving.

More Tips:

  • This is a very thick fruit juice.  If you want to make it thicker still, reduce the amount of water.
  • Conversely, if you want a thinner liquid (and to stretch the amount of servings), add a little more water.
  • So as not to dilute the juice, serve it immediately (before the ice cubes melt).

DRINK AND ENJOY: Serve this in tall glasses or in glass tumblers, with colorful straws to add to the visual appeal.

If desired thread some cubes of bananas, apples, mangoes and papaya into cocktail toothpicks and let these float on the drink.  You can also prop the cocktail toothpicks on the rims of the glasses.

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READ, COOK, EAT, ENJOY: This Week’s DIY: Pulpo a la Gallega

READ: My DIY recipe in today’s (March 20) issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer Pulpo a la Gallega

IMG_8645:  Pulpo a la Gallega served the traditional way

Pulpo a la Gallega, as prepared by Chef Luis Gonzalez of Gallery Vask

Source of the recipe: Cooking demonstration conducted at the Maya Kitchen Culinary Center by Chef Luis Gonzalez of Gallery Vask, located in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines.

IMG_8672: Chef Luis Gonzalez and Ernie Fajardo, president of Liberty Commodities Corp., at the Maya Kitchen

Chef Luis Gonzalez with Ernie Fajardo, president of Liberty Commodities Corp., at the Maya Kitchen and Culinary Center

WHO’s CHEF LUIS?  A Spanish chef from Santander, Spain.  He has worked with Juan Mari Arzak, known as the father of modern Spanish cuisine.  He also worked in El Bulli and other renowned restaurants in Spain.  He’s now chef at Gallery Vask, where he serves Spanish and Western cuisine with an Asian touch.

WHAT’S PULO A LA GALLEGA? A dish of octopus and potatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.  Said to be the signature dish of Galicia, Spain.  Rustic, hearty and comforting.

IMG_8665: Pulpo a la Gallega served modern way

Pulpo a la Gallega, prepared by Chef Luis the contemporary way

Chef Luis prepared it two different ways at the Maya Kitchen:  the traditional way, where the potatoes are simply sliced in circles, and the contemporary way, where the pulpo is served with a potato foam and crusted paprika.

See today’s Inquirer, Lifestyle section, page C3 to read my entire DIY column or click on:

COOK: See below for Chef Luis’s recipe.  When I kitchen-tested it, I used large squid because I couldn’t find octopus in the market.  Still came out so delicious.

Get more tips:  Scroll down after the Cook’s Tips section

EAT AND ENJOY: Pulpo a la Gallega is served in Spain as a tapa, or appetizer, but it’s so filling it can be your main meal. Serve with crusty bread.  The bread is great for sopping up the olive oil.

IMG_8741: Pulpo a la Gallega (cooked at home)

Pulpo a la Gallega, but using squid as a substitute, served in a terra cotta dish

Plate this in a terra cotta dish—makes it look more impressive, and more authentically Spanish.

Pulpo a la Gallega

1 1/2                kilos octopus (or 3 large squid totaling about 1 ½ kilos)

12 – 16            cups water, for boiling

2 – 3                 large potatoes

Salt and pepper

½                     c extra virgin olive oil

2                      tsps sweet (or spicy) paprika

Clean the octopus or squid, removing all the ink.  In a large cooking pot, bring the water to a boil.  Dip the octopus or squid twice in the boiling water then put the octopus/squid in the water and  let boil for one hour or until tender.  Remove the octopus/squid from the water and reserve the water. Cut off the tentacles from the octopus/squid and slice the body into thick (not too thin) pieces.  Similarly slice the tentacles into serving pieces.

Peel the potatoes then slice them into circles (around 1/8 inch thick).  Boil the potatoes in the same water used for boiling the octopus.  Cook until the potatoes are tender but still firm, then remove them from the water.

Arrange the potatoes in a circle inside two to three serving platters or shallow bowls. Put the sliced octopus/squid and the tentacles on top of the potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Makes around two to three platters.   If desired serve with crusty bread.

Cook’s Tips:

  • Remove the potatoes from the water as soon as they’re tender but still firm.
  • If using squid, after it has been cooked, slice the squid open then cut into serving pieces. This will approximate the look of the octopus when the octopus is sliced.
  • Remove the head of the squid but you can include the tentacles.
  • If desired you can sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

More Tips:

Also a great add on:  chopped cilantro.  It balances the richness of the olive oil and potatoes.

Since olive oil is a main component of this dish, it’s important that you use good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Chef Luis also recommends that you use good Spanish paprika.  This is available in specialty shops and delis, as well as in the condiments section of large supermarkets.

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