Fine Fixin's

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes

Confession: We love dessert. There you go, I said it. Unfortunately, we also know that when dealing with dessert, moderation is imperative, or at least imperative at times — sometimes you just need some decadence. So while Sarah still claims to have a portion of her stomach specifically reserved for sweets, we’re trying, albeit gingerly, to make some of these sweets a bit healthier. A little less decadent, and a little less sweet.

To kick things off, we made flourless almond cakes for the new year. These little chocolate cakes are made with almond meal and honey (hey, it’s not sugar) and guess what, they’re tasty — especially with ice cream (oops, but we had to, I promise. I overcooked them just a tad, making them dry). They also get some bonus points for being simple to prepare, which I always appreciate with a dessert. If you or someone you know is trying to cut down on sugar for a New Year’s resolution, we’d definitely recommend it. . . just skip the ice cream.

 

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup raw almonds (or almond meal)
  2. 3 tablespoons butter
  3. 3 tablespoons honey
  4. ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  5. 1 egg
  6. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1 pinch kosher salt
  8. 1 pinch cayenne
  9. 2 5-ounce ramekins
  10. 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (for garnish)
  11. powdered sugar (for garnish)
  12. additional honey (drizzled lightly on top for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. If using whole almonds, grind the almonds very finely in a food processor until the texture is light and fluffy.
  3. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, add 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons honey, and ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips. Microwave for 10 seconds intervals, stirring after each, until fully combined. (Alternatively, use the double boiler on the stove to melt the chocolate and stir in the butter and honey until fully combined.)
  4. In a medium large bowl, beat one egg with a whisk. Then add ½ cup of the almond meal, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch of kosher salt, 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, and the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Butter two 5-ounce ramekins. Pour in the batter, and bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out nearly clean.
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Westervin http://www.westervin.com/blog/
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NYE Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - perfect for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve presents the perfect opportunity to break out a little sparkling wine and create some festive cocktails. The folks at Serious Eats had the right idea and created a pretty tasty looking roundup of sparkly cocktails. Here at the Westervin’s, we decided to take their Sparkling Bourbon Pear cocktail and bump up the winter (it’s not that cold down here in Arkansas, so we need something to remind us it’s winter, right?) with some cranberries. Despite the maple syrup, which is added to the purée, this isn’t an overly sweet cocktail. The lemon and cranberry really give it a nice tang, which along with the champagne makes for an easy drinking sipper.

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - Westervin

 

A bubbly punch cocktail for New Year's Eve: The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler from Westervin

ingredients for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - a perfect NYE cocktail

For the Purée:

  • 2 bartlett pears, cored and sliced into eighths
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice, from two lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Large handful of cranberries
  • 1 tsp clementine zest
  • 1/2 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

For the Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer:

  • 1 cup roasted pear puree
  • 2 cups WL Weller Special, or Bourbon of your choice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

To Serve:

  • 2oz Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer
  • Ice
  • Sparkling wine
  • Cranberries and ground clove to garnish

roasted pears for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail from Westerivn

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Arrange sliced pears on parchment lined baking sheet.

Combine cranberries, 1oz water, citrus zest, and ginger in a small ramekin.

Place pears and cranberries in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are a bit caramelized.

Allow to cool and then place in blender with 2.5oz of lemon juice and a dash of ground cloves. Purée well.

Combine 1 cup of purée with 2 cups of bourbon and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. This is your mixer.

To create your cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice, add 2oz of your mixer, and fill with champagne. Garnish with cranberries and ground cloves.

Adapted from Serious Eats

The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail - Westervin

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Molasses Cookie Sour

Molasses Sour Cocktail - a holiday take on the whiskey sour

Planning on grabbing a bucket of eggnog to get you through all the holiday cheer?

That’s boring.

“Well, how about a peppermint martini?” you ask.

I’m offended you would even suggest that.

Let me help you out this season. If you follow my instructions for my Molasses Cookie Cocktail, you’ll not only impress your adult loved ones with an original drink that’s sweet yet sophisticated but also drown out all their nonsense with each bracing sip.

Molasses Sour Cocktail - whiskey sour with cinnamon, ginger, and holiday spices

But in all seriousness, we’ve actually got two yummy recipes for you that are fun to make around the holidays. One is a really versatile holiday spice simple syrup, and the other is a take on a whiskey sour utilizing said syrup that tastes like a molasses cookie. The syrup is a mix of classic baking spices and sorghum or molasses that’ll bring that dream of a white Christmas even closer to reality. While you can use the spiced syrup in any cocktail, we really like it in simpler classic cocktails, like an old fashioned or sour.

ingredients for a Molasses Sour Cocktail

Holiday Spice Syrup

  • 1 cup molasses or sorghum (we liked the flavor and nose of the Sorghum we had on hand best)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, crushed up
  • 1″ knob of ginger, sliced
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cardamom pod

Combine everything in a sauce pan on medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let cool.

Once it’s cooled down, strain out the solid ingredients. Now you’ve got a holiday spice simple syrup.

Feel free to adjust this recipe to your own tastes. For instance, Sarah doesn’t like a strong ginger flavor, so I made one version omitting ginger. You could even create a separate ginger syrup that you mix in as needed on an individual cocktail basis.

So now you’ve got this syrup, but what are you supposed to do with it? Well, add it to any drink that needs a little dash of Christmas. Take any classic cocktail that calls for sugar, and give it a wallop of Christmas cheer. At Haus Westervin, we’re pretty fond of whiskey sours, which seemed like a perfect application for this syrup. We don’t always make whiskey sours up with egg whites, but it feels like the Christmas thing to do.

Molasses Cookie Sour

  • 2oz Old Weller Antique (or bourbon of your choice)
  • 1oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz holiday spice syrup
  • 1 egg white, optional

Dry shake all ingredients to get the egg white nice and foamy. Add ice, shake again, and strain into a coupe. Add a few drops of bitters (I used some chicory pecan bitters Sarah picked up for me on a trip to Nashville) and some freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon. Top with a star anise for extra pizzazz.

Molasses Sour Cocktail - a citrusy, christmas cookie cocktail from Westervin

 

Westervin Wishlist

30 Gift Ideas for the Classy, Barbecuing Boozehound (or things you can get Brian for Christmas)

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Guy

While for the Westervins, Christmastime is mostly about taking some time off to spend with family and watching our favorite Christmas movies (or at least my favorite Christmas movie), we somehow also find time for presents. So just like Sarah did yesterday, I’ve rounded up some nifty items and wrapped them up in a handy gift guide for you. Don’t feel the need to get me everything on this list — I don’t need #allthepresents. But some of this stuff is really cool, and you may know someone who still needs a gift. Heck, maybe you need a gift. Fair warning though, many of these items are limited in quantity or handmade, so get them while they’re hot!

Image above, clockwise from top left: Tyvek Billfold $24,  Snuggle Penguin Card $4.50, Y’all Sweatshirt $50, THICK Paraben- and Sulfate-Free Shampoo $25, Anonymous Ism Socks $28, Coconut Oil Soft Shaving Cream £16.00, Fireplace Sculpture by Layet Johnson $1,800, Natural Avocado Soap $6.50, Wood Handle Umbrella $108, Beard Oil Trio $36

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Boozehound

Image above, clockwise from top left: Skillshare Premium Membership $96 (so I can take this logo design class and more), Set of Moscow Mule Mugs $14.95/ea., 12 Tables 2015 Calendar $20, Americana Postcard Set $30 for 46, Set of Julep Cups $26.95/ea., North Carolina Sourwood Honey $22, Dinosaur Drink Stirrers $16.95, Chicken Gourd Ornaments Set $36 for 3, Mint Julep Candle $28, Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Barbecuer

Image above, clockwise from top left: Copper Pig Cookie Cutter $16.95, Chorizo Rioja Dry Cured Salami $10.95, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey by John Currence, Stand Mixer Flex Edge Beater $22.49, Slap Sauce $6.99, Smoke by Tim Byers, Ginger Canvas Apron $80, Custom Coffee Subscription, Deep Tea Diver Infuser $9.99, Diner Cookie Jar $49.00

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Supreme

The Supreme Cocktail {Westervin Blog}

You’re sitting at home in the evening, the sun readying itself to set. The crisp air of early fall is creeping in through your open windows. Perhaps you’re sitting with your significant other or a group of favorite friends. Perhaps you’re alone enjoying a moment of quiet. Your eyes rest somewhere in the distance, unfocused and still. You reach beside you to pick up a champagne saucer filled a new cocktail creation you decided to try tonight. Its balance of sweet and tart is complimented beautifully by it’s thick, smooth texture and bright, rosy hue. With each sip, your throat warms, then your chest and your arms, and you sink a little more into your chair with each exhale. This is the life. Bring on the season of changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and frequent celebrations!

The Supreme Cocktail - tart, sweet, and perfect for fall {Westervin Blog}

What is this elixir? It’s the Supreme. The citrus and grenadine really bring out the apple flavors of Applejack or Calvados making this a great beginning-of-fall cocktail:

Supreme

1½ oz. Calvados
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. orgeat
1 barspoon grenadine

shake and strain.

Recipe from Eric Johnson, Trou Normand, San Francisco via Imbibe Magazine

Note that we used Applejack since we didn’t have Calvados on hand. I preferred Laird’s bonded variety over their regular offering, but both were good. We also whipped up some homemade orgeat and grenadine, but you can use nice store-bought versions if you don’t have some spare hours to steep almonds in sugar. And if you can’t find, or don’t want to make orgeat, just make a Jack Rose, which is another one of our fall favorites.

Perfect for the transition to fall: The Supreme Cocktail {Westervin Blog}

What you'll need for The Supreme cocktail {Westervin Blog}

Fine Fixin's

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

Westervin's Fine Fixin's: Strawberry Chiffon Pie Recipe

Summer is in full swing here in Arkansas! The sun is shining, and the humidity is through the roof. Stepping outside is like stepping into a sauna. A sauna with mosquitos… The plus side, however, is that summer fruits are plentiful! And while fruit is great on it’s own, sometimes the old sweet tooth takes over and you start craving a decadent fruit dessert. On a recent occasion, we turned to Cook’s Country for a recipe for Strawberry Chiffon Pie. It was amazing. Light and sweet, it’s perfect for summer, plus you only need to bake the crust (or buy one if you’re into shortcuts), which means you don’t have to heat up the whole house.

A Slice of Strawberry Chiffon Pie - Recipe from Westervin

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

1 (5.3-ounce) box shortbread cookies, broken into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FILLING

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons water

12 ounces strawberries, hulled (2 1/2 cups), plus 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, halved, and sliced thin (1 1/3 cups)

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 large egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled

Light and Refreshing Strawberry Chiffon Pie - Recipe on the Westervin blog

Instructions

  1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Process cookies, sugar, and salt in food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add almonds and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 8 pulses. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 10 pulses. Transfer crumb mixture to pie plate. Using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of plate. Bake until crust is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let crust cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes. (Crust can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)
  1. FOR THE FILLING: Sprinkle gelatin over water in small bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Process hulled whole strawberries in food processor until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl and press on solids to extract 1 cup of juice; discard solids. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and strawberry juice together in small saucepan.
  1. Bring juice mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Transfer to large bowl, stir in lemon juice, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  1. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk one-third of meringue into cooled strawberry mixture until smooth. Fold remaining meringue into strawberry mixture until only few white streaks remain.
  1. In now-empty mixer bowl, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in sliced strawberries. Spoon filling into crust and spread into even layer using back of spoon. Refrigerate pie for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.

from Cook’s Country, August/September 2014

Westervin Blog: Recipe for Strawberry Chiffon Pie

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Fine Fixin's

Chilaquiles Verdes

Chilaquiles in Bowl

Sarah has recently fallen in love with chilaquiles. Here’s a Chilaquiles Verdes recipe that is our current favorite to make at home. The tang from the limes and tomatillos really makes this dish. As an added bonus, it’s just as good for leftovers (and makes plenty)!

Roasted Tomatillos

 

Chilaquiles Verdes

 

  • 3 pounds tomatillos in the husk
  • 1 large red onion cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime
  • 1 heaping spoonful of crema or sour cream
  • 1 quart chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (or more if you like) queso fresco in large crumbles (1/2- to 1-inch pieces), or shredded monterrey jack
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Salt and olive oil, as needed
  1. Lay tomatillos, onions, jalapeños, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place the baking sheet under the broiler, until the veggies are wilted and blistered, about 10 minutes (time will vary based on the heat of your broiler). Remove the veggies and let them cool until you are able to handle them.
  3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos, squeeze the garlic from the cloves, and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Throw the roasted veggies into a blender, along with any juices that accumulated on the baking tray. Add the cilantro leaves, the juice of the lime, and the crema. Purée until the mixture is very smooth. Taste and make any needed adjustments (more salt, acid, etc).
  4. While the veggies are still in the oven, bring the chicken broth to a gentle simmer in a dutch oven. Add the chicken breasts and allow them to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Move the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot.
  5. Add the tomatillo purée to the chicken broth, taste for seasoning (note the sauce should be tangy, almost sour, so add another squeeze of lime if necessary), and bring to a simmer. Cover and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Cut the tortillas into quarters. If your tortillas are fresh, dry them out in the oven or toaster oven. If they’re stale and dried out, add them right to the pot. Stir the mixture and let simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will cause the sauce to thicken.
  7. Uncover and stir in the queso fresco or sprinkle with the monterrey jack. Cover the pot again, allowing the cheese to melt. Uncover, sprinkle with cotija and cilantro, and serve.
  8. Note: The chilaquiles are just as good — maybe better — the next day. A fried egg on top wouldn’t hurt either!

from Food 52

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A Westervin Wedding, Blog News

Put a Ring on It, Part 2

handmade wedding ring set

You may recall that way back in September we celebrated our second anniversary. However, we forgot to tell you about our rings! Each year we get a new set of rings to celebrate the ever changing married life we lead…and for fun. If you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out our original rings as well as our first anniversary rings.

oxidized silver wedding rings

For our second anniversary Sarah picked out three different rings that go together as a set, two of which are oxidized silver. I have a simple oxidized silver ring that goes along with hers. It’s one big happy ring family!

set of handmade silver wedding bands

Clockwise from Top Left: {Epherielle } { Patrick Irla Jewelry }  { Lady Faye Jewelry }  { ANDYSHOUSE }

 

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The Coconaut

Westervin: The Coconaut

 

Sometimes, when winter feels relentless, you just need a tropical drink. Here’s our current favorite tiki cocktail. It’s really easy to make as long as you have a blender.

The Coconaut

8oz Coconut Cream

7oz Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)

2oz of fresh lime juice

Add all of that to a blender with ice, blend, and serve. It makes quite a bit, so we usually halve the recipe for two drinks.

 

In no time, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical isle. Also, check out that awesome coconut mug that Sarah got me for Christmas. If you’d like one of your own, have a look at retroplanet.com.

Get Juiced

Give Us This Day Our Daily Juice

Westervin: Fresh Daily Juice Recipe

We’ve been making (or at least trying to make) juice every day for awhile now, and though we do like to experiment with what we juice every now and then, we also have a basic recipe for day-to-day juicing. It makes two pretty large glasses of juice that we usually drink around lunch time.

Everyday Juice

  • 2 Oranges
  • 2 Apples
  • 2 handfuls of green stuff! (e.g. spinach, kale, lettuce)
  • 1-2 celery stalks
  • 3-4 carrots

This is the barebones recipe that we play around with. Adding a ring or two of fresh pineapple is one of our favorite additions. Substituting sweet potato for carrots also turns out well.

Happy juicing!