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A food blog by Charlene Maguire on The Whole 9

Long Beach, Kavikas, and Aquarium of the Pacific

Sebastian and I needed a foodie adventure this past weekend…and we decided on Long Beach, an area neither one of us know too much about. So Sebastian started with restaurant.com, as they have some great coupon deals. We checked out restaurant sites and deals and ended up deciding on a place called Kavikas. It looked nice, had a yummy sounding menu, and we were able to pay $3.00 for a $25 coupon towards our meals from restaurant.com. Off we went…

This area of Long Beach was the touristy area. Convention center, The Queen Mary, and lots of places to shop and eat. We sat outside at Kavikas and got to take in the view. Sebastian got his “James Bond” martini, while I went for a cocktail with the fabulous Veev liquor. It was hard to choose from the menu…everything looked so good! We started with an Ahi tuna appetizer, then went for the two meals below….an Ahi tuna plate with veggies, rice, and greens, and some lobster and shrimp ravioli in a sake-butter sauce.

They were both delicious…and as you can see below I was actually about to lick the plate. Literally.

When we looked at the desert menu the first thing on it was Santa’s favorite…milk and cookies! Have you ever seen that on a desert menu in a restaurant before? We hadn’t. We didn’t get it however…because the chocolate lava cake was calling.

To top off the dining experience, we hadn’t yet decided what to do with the rest of our day down there. We found out that by ordering a couple of sustainable seafood items on the menu, we could get two free tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific! So there ya go…we were able to save $25 on our great meal, as well as get two free tickets over to the aquarium (which would have been $24.95 each!).

This day had two thumbs up…so if you’re ever in the mood to eat great seafood and then hop on over to the Aquaruim of the Pacific, we’d recommend Kavikas :)

Spicy Cherry Tequila Burgers

I had an interesting random thought moment the other day. I was watching the Food Network (yeah, big surprise), and thinking about some cherries I had in the fridge. Then I thought about sauce. Then out of nowhere the thought of the half a bottle of tequila I had popped into my head.

Cherries…tequila…sauce? Hmmm.

So I went onto google to see if this combination was ever actually used because something about it felt tasty. I found ONE recipe that included that combination…Guy Fieri on The Food Network with some ribs. So I decided to go with that recipe and modify it a bit to make a fabulous burger!

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup cut up cherries
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tequila (use your favorite – I used Milagro)
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add oil, onion, ginger, cherries and garlic.

Saute until lightly caramelized. Add tequila, hot sauce, sesame oil, sherry wine vinegar and soy sauce. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Get out your ground beef and put it in a bowl. Add about 3/4 of a cup of sauce and chunky ingredients. Mix well with your hands and make burger patties. Cook them on a hot grill.

For serving, Sebastian made the suggestion of sourdough…which was a good one! Didn’t find any buns on my shopping trip, so I went with sourdough bread for this time. The burger, on sourdough, with some sauce and chunks poured over it, and a little lettuce and onion…yum! Great with the side salad, a beer in a frosty mug, and if I had remembered, the sweet potato fries that are still in my freezer!

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You have much more fun cleaning out your refrigerator than I do!….I am jealous.
The recipe sounds delicious and your photos look good enough to eat! I will have to try it ….hopefully I can make it look as pretty as yours.

Mmmm. sounds delectable. especially mixed with the meat before grilling. Yeah, it’s definitely time to break out The Grill!

You’re making me hungry!

lol judith…yes I have fun with “food 911″ projects ;) Glad I’m making you all hungry!

Ok…gotta tell ya…I used the leftover sauce over a pork loin, cooked in a crock pot for about 4 hours on low. YUM.

Deliciousness, Mexico City style

Sebastian decided to do a google search to find a new restaurant for us to try.
So he did a search with “weird, crazy, whacky” or some words like that for
Los Angeles. Where we ended up from that search was a little place called
The Gardens of Taxco
.

First thing we noticed going in was that the place was pretty small, and rather dark! Low lighting but a cool atmosphere. There was some natural light that came in through the pretty stained glass windows…

When it came to the food…first…you sit down at your table and there is a bowl of pickled vegetables and a chips and salsa waiting for you. Next, there are no printed menus. There is one man who shows up at your table and in a really loud voice explains the menu choices and takes your order. He was pretty funny too…especially when he says that they have the “best mole sauce in Tooooowwwwwwnnnnnnn….” What was even funnier was that each time he went through his speech at another table you got to hear it all over again.

When you choose your food, you only choose your main course. Either beef, chicken or fish, and then he explains the offerings for each. Sebastian got shrimp in the mole sauce, and I got salmon in a lime-cilantro cream sauce (Both yummy). However, there is more. We knew we would get an appetizer and dessert as well, but that is set. What we actually got was THREE appetizers, mini ceviche, burrito, and soup (and so you know, since Sebastian doesn’t eat meat, they did substitute the chicken burrito for a spinach one, and the meat soup for veggie). The dessert was bananas in cream.

It was hard to get some nice pics of the food since it was so dark, but here’s a quick view!

It was a fun dining experience, and all the food was delicious. You might think this was expensive…and you’d be wrong! :) For both of our several course meals, Sebastian’s beer, and my margarita, it was under $70. A yum yum dining out adventure indeed!

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That’s funny, I lived in WeHo for years and never knew this restaurant existed!

Sebastian and I have a knack for finding spots like this! :)

Spot on on the recap, Charlene! Eastender, the way the restaurant is tucked away, it’s easy to miss and, ironically, it shouldn’t be missed by any means for the mere experience! I should add they had 5 or 6 beers on tap including my much fancied Pacifico.

Mango Lassi ~ A quick treat…

My neighbor came home with a bunch of delicious mangoes the other day, and gave me a few. I LOVE mangoes! They do ripen pretty fast, so other than the salsa that I’ll usually make with one, I was trying to think of something else new that might be fun.

So randomly, while I was doing something ELSE on my computer (isn’t that always the way?), I suddenly came across a recipe for a mango lassi. I’d never had one, but just happened to have the mango, yogurt, sugar, and cardamom.

So here’s the quick easy recipe…

Mango Lassi
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup chopped mango (peeled and stone removed)
4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
A dash of ground cardamom (optional)

Put mango, yogurt, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. Can sprinkle with a little cardamom. I added some fresh mint for the picture, and it was kind of good in the lassi too. Makes about 2 cups.

The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

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I love lassi’s! cant wait to get some mangoes and try this out.

It’s GOOD! I want to randomly play with some other fruit and spices and see what might happen ;)

Quinoa, Red Lentil, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

I had a flash of cooking inspiration the other night. I wanted to make stuffed peppers, but didn’t want to do the same old rice and stuff thing. I came up with a combination of tastes that I didn’t know if it would work or not. Stuffed peppers… quinoa… red lentils… portobello mushrooms. I googled for recipes, found a few, but nothing that really made me go WOW, so I decided to experiment on my own. These came out YUMMY, but bear with me as to the recipe below, because I am guessing on amounts of things from the mistakes I made :)

Quinoa, Red Lentil, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

2 green onions
2 portobello stuffing mushrooms
1 8 oz can diced tomatoes
6 green peppers
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cups veggie broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut the tops off the peppers, clean out the seeds, and set the bottoms in a baking dish that has been dribbled with olive oil.

3. Dice up mushrooms. Dice up the tops of 3 of the peppers. Set aside.

4. In a large saucepan or skillet, saute green onion, salt, and pepper in olive oil for a couple minutes.
5. Add veggie broth and bring to a boil
6. Add tomatoes, lentils, and quinoa and simmer for 20 minutes
7. Add diced green peppers and mushrooms, stir and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

8. Turn off the heat and add 1/2 of the parmesan cheese
9. Spoon into the peppers, and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on top.

10. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered or until tender/done.

bon appetit!
~Charlene

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Love stuffed peppers and just made some the other night too. I use sweet Red Peppers….They seem less harsh to my tummy than the green ones. I use a whole grain and wild rice mix. I combine this (cooked) with several variations. Some times ground beef cooked up with onion and stewed tomatoes, sometimes black beans with onions and tomato (sometimes both). Cheese sprinkled on top…and baked. Your version sound delicious, I will try it sometime soon!

Yeah…next time might make it fun by using all colors…green, red, orange, yellow. LOL ;)

Fantastic! I do mine very similarly. I use red quinoa all the time and have a delicious Moroccan Chickpea & Quinoa Salad that you might like…

http://theglutenfreekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/07/moroccan-chickpea-quinoa-salad.html

OOOooo…that looks good! Will add it to my quinoa recipes :)

The Market ~ Swanky downtown eats

In the mood to go OUT to eat? Looking for a way to find some new choices? (Other than this fabulous blog of course!) Sebastian and I signed up for this fun thing called Blackboard Eats a while ago. It’s changed a little, but is still a great way to learn about places you don’t know about yet.

Through Blackboard Eats, we got a 30% off coupon for LA Market Restaurant by Kerry Simon, which is downtown as part of the LA Live complex, and inside the Marriott hotel.

Sitting surrounded by glass walls and beautifully designed decor, we had a fabulous meal. Our server was also fun, and had no problem with all of Sebastian’s wine questions ;) And speaking of things to do with wine, we started to sip our water and then noticed the glasses…which were bottoms of wine bottles.

One of their specialties was a build your own burger, with choices from beef, turkey, veggie, and Ahi tuna. Sebastian opted for the Ahi tuna…with portabella mushroom caps for the bun.

I decided on the Venice Beach veggie burger…which also had yummy portabella mushroom…

…and of course they gave us personal sized condiments.

We both enjoyed a drink that we’re not exactly sure what it was. We ordered one thing…had a few sips and liked it, but then realized that what was supposed to be Lychee was actually a piece of grapefruit. Hmmm… well…whatever it was…it was good!

So if you find yourself downtown at the LA Live complex for a show or a game, keep this place in mind! It is pricey, but it’s a treat. Two thumbs up!

bon appetit,
Charlene and Sebastian

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Those glasses are beautiful. And I love the idea of a build-your-own-burger bar. Next time I’m in town I will have to check this place out!

I’m reading this…looking at the beautiful photos…all while finishing my
PB & J…what’s wrong with this picture! The drinks look to be as large as Sebastian’s HEAD…I’m liking that! Going to visit Blackboard Eats right now!

LOL @briannieman “Things in this photo may appear larger than they are” But it was a good size drink ;)

@Charlene- “as the chihuahua read in the rear-view mirror…” lol :) I’m with Sebastian all the way on this one. There used to be a build your own burger place called Hamptons, a couple blocks south of Sunset on Highland. Did you ever go there? I used to now and again and they had a huge cornucopia of cool build items and condiments. Unfortunately in their final years they kind of went downhill and their burgers started to taste like horsemeat, so I stopped going. All things must pass… reflections from a martini glass. Looks like margarita mix to me- probably lukewarm but plenty lethal. Hold the sodium please.

Irish Soda Bread

Well, with a name like Maguire, most people figure out that I have Irish roots. Helps if it’s spelled right though…far too often it’s assumed “Macguire,” or “McGuire,” or “McGwire.” Yep…I’ve heard it all. It’s MAGUIRE kids.

I have relatives on both sides of my family who like to dabble in genealogy. On my dad’s side, an aunt of mine found a distant relative on their trip to Ireland a few years back…a priest. On my mom’s side a lot of the Irish seems to go back to Nova Scotia. Had I known this about 20 years ago, my trip up to Cape Breton island at that time might have been a little different.

My grandmother on my dad’s side always made Irish soda bread. I’ve never been a really big fan personally…just too damn plain for me! I also don’t like caraway.

But…for those of you who have a taste for it, this recipe goes all the way back to a great grandmother. Thanks to my cousin Andrea for the recipe. Enjoy!

Nana’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
2 heaping rounded tablespoons shortening (not butter)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dark raisins
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (if you like)

1. Combine raisins in a small bowl, cover with warm water for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour to plump them up.

2. Sift and blend flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

3. Add shortening to flour mixture and blend with hands until mixture resembles a coarse crumbly meal.

4. Measure out buttermilk into a small bowl, and take out 3 Tablespoons. Put this into another bowl and add the soda to this small amount, mix well, and add to remaining buttermilk.

5. Add buttermilk/soda mixture to flour all at once and combine well (with hands).

6. Add raisins which have been well drained

7. Turn out onto a board and knead 12-15 times. Do not over knead or it will be tough.

8. Form dough into a round dome shape and cut across in the top. You can brush with a beaten egg mixed wtih a little buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if you like.

9. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes in a greased 12×12 square pan or the equivalent. When done, turn out onto a rack and allow to cool.

Tastes best still warm, with a little butter and a nice cup of tea.

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YUM YUM for sure! How about a LOT of butter?! : )

I remember, as a little boy, sitting at my grandma’s table, eating her freshly baked soda bread. The recipe from ‘the old country’ made the journey to America. Soda bread brings back lots of memories.

I remember eating it as a kid too…for the first time…with the caraway…and I spit it out! When my grandmother made it without the caraway…yes…lots of butter was the way to go :)

That looks great! Thanks, I’ve cut and pasted that. Shortning? Does that mean crisco? I have crisco a tube, but I heard the hydrogenation process just isn’t good for us. Do you think I can use olive oil or vegetable oil? What can I use other than crisco?

Yes…shortening=crisco. Yeah…it’s nasty. LOL. Maybe just stick with butter…or there is this great stuff called “Earth Balance” which is a natural healthy butter substitute, made out of oils. Don’t know where you live…but here in L.A. it’s right next to the butter at Trader Joes :)

The Margarita Burger

My folks just recently came out here to L.A. to visit…first time in the almost 7 years I’ve lived here. It took them a while, but they finally came out…and they said their still talking about it…from the views at the Getty, to the gardens at the Huntington, to the food at The Great Greek, Aroma Cafe, and my Margarita Burgers.

Huh?

What’s a Margarita burger?

Well, it’s this burger that I thought up a few years ago, and has been a hit ever since I made the first batch.

Here’s the semi-recipe…since it’s pretty much just in my head and I wing-it every time ;) I’ve found this to be the most juicy turkey burger ever… usually ground turkey can be so dry, but the addition of the “margarita” makes a big difference!

1 pkg ground turkey
2 green onions, minced
half bunch of cilantro, minced
garlic powder
1 shot of your favorite tequila
1 shot of triple sec
1 shot of fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Slices of pepper jack cheese to melt on top

Take your package of ground turkey, put all of the above in it and mix it up with your hands until it’s all in there good. Make your burger patties. Grill. They’re great with a bun or no bun…your choice. Enjoy!

Margarita Burger

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I can’t wait to try this out! I wonder how it will work using my veggie-meat? I’ve tried to make burgers with it before but it is kind of dry and crumbly, it took a lot of tomato paste to get it to stick together!

OOooo..what’s in your veggie meat? I’ve wanted to try making my own veggie burgers…and with the addition of the drink in there I’m sure it would be interesting. Let me know how it comes out!

Sounds great…I’ll definitely give it a try!

If summer ever comes, this will be one of the first recipes I will try on the grill! Maybe for Cinque de Mayo (sp?) Does Anyone have a good boozey recipe for corned beef and cabbage?…..since tomorrow is shamrock day!

HA! Hmmm…can’t think of any booze that would cook well with the corned beef and cabbage…maybe just pop a beer to drink to go with it ;)

White Wine Risotto with peas and mushrooms

Well…I’m at home today…and in the mood for treating myself to a good lunch. Oh look at that…I have everything I need to make a white wine risotto with peas and mushrooms! A vegetarian version even!¬† First things first…I need a little wine to sip…and I happened to pick up a Sauvingnon Blanc from South Africa at Albertsons yesterday on my way home called “Sebeka.” It has a cheeta on the front and a cheeta print cork even. I may not know my way around wines as well as Sebastian, but I do pretty good at my random “under $10″ finds :)

Now…onto chopping and stirring. I even happened to have some super fresh parsley thanks to a bunch that a friend of mine gave me from her garden yesterday.

The recipe, for those who wish to try…

White Wine Risotto with Peas and Mushrooms
vegetarian style (or vegan if you don’t use the cheese)

3 1/2 cups veggie broth (made with 3 1/2 cups water and one big tablespoon of “Better than Bouillon” no chicken base)
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance (next to the butter at Trader Joes!)


1 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan (or more if you’re a cheesaholic…)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over low heat. Melt the butter (earth balance) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until transclucent. Stir in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of hot broth; simmer medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Repeat¬† adding 3/4 cup of hot broth until it’s all gone, stirring often. When the rice is simmering and the mixture is creamy, stir in the peas, mushrooms, parsley, and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls and enjoy! (extra parmesan cheese if you’re like me……..)

Not bad for a Friday lunch at home…shared with my neighbor even!

I love my own cooking :D

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Super! I will have to try this recipe (and get a jar of “Earth Balance”!) when I’m cooking again since this looks like a “no-worry” risotto! It’s also making me consider purchasing a fun white blend like the Sokol Blosser “Evolution” Oregon White (around $15)! :)

You take lunching to a whole new level!!

Thanks for the recipe~

That’s a lot of work for a lunch, but it sounds incredibly ‘yum’! Love a good risotto and this looks to be a great one.

I never consider it to be work…taking lunching to the next level when I’m in the mood…cooking is just another creative expression for me :)

I love that you cook for lunch like I do!

In honor of Dine L.A. week…

Sebantics and Sorchae love our food adventures. We also love to get out and “motor” in our MINI Coopers and explore in general. Over the past couple years since we first met and became fast friends, we’ve explored a lot of great places in and around this city! Dine L.A. week is starting January 23rd…so get your taste buds ready…

We’ve put together a list of places and links for you of the yum yum’s that have stood out the most to us so far. Enjoy!

Inn of the Seventh Ray – Tucked down in Topanga Valley…definitely go at night just for the romantic atmosphere outside. Gorgeous and delicious!

Abuelitas – Also tucked away in Topanga Valley, and not that far from Inn of the Seventh Ray…Mexican goodies. You might even get to sit amongst the trees with your Margarita and see some wildlife.

Malibu Seafood – Where the locals go in Malibu…you won’t be disappointed in the food…or the spectacular ocean view!

Paradise Cove – One of those places in Malibu that you just have to go…at least once.

Jin Patisserie – Wonderful little place on Abbot Kinney in Santa Monica. Go in the afternoon for tea and chocolate goodies.

Lucky Devils – Hollywood Boulevard baby! Great place for a burger and a beer.

Street - Amazing mix of cuisines and flavors…fun atmosphere! A bunch of folks from The Whole 9 crowd can vouch for this one ;)

La Cevicheria – Tiny place…off the beaten path…AMAZING Ceviche! The owner came out to chit chat with us as well and he was a sweet guy who really cares about his food.

Bottle Rock – A really great little Wine Bar in Culver City (close to the 9!) We had some amazing spanish wine and tapas plates.

Aroma Cafe – A North Hollywood local favorite. If you go once…you’ll be back. Coffees, teas, great food and atmosphere.

Ahi Sushi – Another one in North Hollywood…sushi deliciousness…try that lobster roll! Yum…

Simpang Asia – One of those little “finds” in a busy strip mall. Indonesian grocery store and restaurant…tasty little place where you can get meals served to you in Banana leaves.

Rambutan Thai – Hands down one of Sorchae’s FAVORITE Thai places. Another one of those tucked away places in a strip mall in Silver Lake. GO. Really.

Gingergrass – Motoring around in the MINI Cooper one night…we found this cute little Vietnamese place with delicious Pho! It was also a nice surprise to find Silverlake winery right across the street.

Sashi – A very “L.A.” type place…beautiful design, atmosphere, and “trendy” crowd. The food is fantastic!

Real Food Daily – If you’re a Vegan…you know this place very well. For us non-vegans, we are amazed at how good it is!

RAWvolution – Into Raw food? This place not only has a great menu, but has raw “cooking” classes as well.

Citizen Smith – We found this place completely by accident one rainy night on Hollywood Boulevard, and it was worth it! One “ginger bitch” cocktail into the meal, we didn’t care that it was cold and rainy anymore…

Mariscos Chente – Tiny amazing Mexican place on Centinela Ave. You’ll be served things on cafeteria trays, but you won’t care! Their signature fish dish and the ceviche are musts.

Xino – Up on top of Santa Monica Place, near the 3rd street Promenade, is Xino. You can sit up there and look all the way down 3rd street, and enjoy some dim sum. You can also look across and see the next listing…

Zengo – Also up on top of Santa Monica Place, within view of Xino, is this yummy mix of latin and asian cuisine.

Palace Grill – A fun, casual place to stop for a bite in Santa Barbara…and in the ladies bathroom you’ll get a fun tour of artsy tile on the walls…with paintings of naked people doing things like rollerblading and surfing….

Crossroads Cafe – A favorite for us when we’re out exploring the Yucca Valley near Joshua Tree. The seared Ahi Tuna is…well…*drool.*

Pappy and Harriets – A place you just have to go if you’re out in the Yucca Valley…music, licence plates, a beer and some eats. Then go explore the old western town which it’s a part of.

That was kind of fun…taking a little trip down the yum yum adventure story so far. We are always up for trying places we haven’t been yet…so if you have any recommendations, please share with the crowd here!

Happy dining ~
Sorchae and Sebantics :)

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Great suggestions Sorchae — some I’ve been to and some I hope to go to! A couple that also spring to mind are Street on Highland and A.O.C. on Third Street…

Great job Sorchae and Sebantics!!

Whilst walking around beautiful downtown LA during my stint as a potential juror, I was able to breeze by a few of these wonderful establishments.

I can’t wait until the Red Line reaches Culver City so I can paint the town red!!

Thanks for the links

Yummy!!

I’ll have to keep this list handy for the next time I’m around SoCal!