Healthy honey almond flax granola recipe

The Cement Truck Kitchen was in full holiday gift manufacturing mode this month. We made triple batches of this granola, gearing up for all the bags to deliver from Chanukkah through the new year’s parties.

I’ve been auditioning granola recipes for years. My family has been happy about this and is at the ready to do batch comparisons and blind taste tests.

This recipe is a distant cousin to a long ago Martha Stewart recipe.

In Cement Truck Kitchen taste tests, it’s less sweet, but still tied with Melissa Clark’s olive oil granola and Molly Wizenberg’s granola. I encourage you to make this recipe your own–replace the almonds and pecans with other nuts that you like (pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts?), swap whole flax seeds or pumpkin seeds for the sesame seeds, and mix in your favorite dried fruits.
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Plum honey butter

Unexpected items are showing up at the Boston City Hall farmer’s market. Yesterday I spotted white Concord grapes and strawberry tomatillos (both of which had a pear overtone), and these prune plums.

I bought the plums with visions of a rustic tart, but it’s a rainy weeknight with no social prospects to share such a tart and husband prefers chocolate. The plums were too tart for eating as is, so I roasted them with honey to see what would happen.

Turns out what happened was plummy sweet tart goodness. Would have made a classy dessert paired with high-quality vanilla ice cream or some buttermilk ice cream. Not so classy, I would have been happy to eat these warm right off the pan. But I’m also a big fan of anything that can be put on toasted Nashoba Brook Bakery bread, so I decided to make a fruit spread. Let me know if you try this on ice cream, and what flavor.

Plum honey butter
10 small prune plums, washed, cut in half with pits removed
1 TBS honey, plus more added later to adjust sweetness
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Heat oven to 325. Put a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, spread out the plum halves, and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

2. Roast until very soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool.

3. Put in blender, food processor, or large cup if you are using an immersion blender. Add balsamic vinegar and blend to the desired consistency. Taste and if it’s not sweet enough, add honey by the teaspoonful and blend, tasting and adjusting until it’s sweet.

4. Serve with toast or ice cream.

Tomato and nectarine open-face sandwich

I can’t stop buying tomatoes. Yesterday I went to the farmstand to buy late summer flowers.

I came home with a couple pounds of heirloom tomatoes in green, yellow, and purply red. Day before at the farmer’s market,  I went to get white peaches and nectarines and came home with tomatoes.

So that’s why I woke up thinking about tomatoes and had this for breakfast:
tomato nectarine sandwich

Tomato and nectarine open-face sandwich
Spread 2 slices of good bread of choice (9-grain bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery) with goat cheese, fresh ricotta, or ricotta salata. Top with thin slices of 1 large ripe tomato and thin slices of 1 large or 2 small peaches or nectarines. Sprinkle with torn pieces of fresh mint and/or basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Sit in the sun and enjoy.

Huevos migas rancheros

I sigh with longing whenever a California friend tells me about a homestyle Mexican meal from some no-atmosphere place in an LA strip mall with handmade tortillas and chile rellenos. My friend Stacey got tired of my whining about the Mexican food desert in Massachusetts and generously sent me Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen last fall. 

I dove right in, making sauces, beans,  and tacos for some rather festive Saturday night dinner parties. Many of these dishes were built from Bayless’s Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce, which he also recommends as a base for chilaquiles (sauce + tortilla chips+ cheese=yum) and huevos rancheros. I didn’t make either, thinking they were too casual for a dinner party.

So I had huevos rancheros on the brain. I also had stashed in the freezer some extra batches of the sauce that I made after a Costco frenzy left me with pounds of fresh tomatoes.

When I saw a recipe for migas (eggs, chorizo, tortilla chips) with a tomato chipotle coulis in the Smitten Kitchen archives, it seemed like the perfect addition to a plate of refried beans.

With my friends Iggy and Cooper hanging out in the kitchen, a cold Pacifico on the counter, and streaming KCRW providing the soundtrack, I started with the quick refried beans:

2 tsp canola oil, or any neutral tasting oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized skillet or saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat, and add onions. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until soft. Add beans, 3 TBS water, and cumin, and cook at medium heat, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beans should get soft enough that you can mash them with the back of a wooden spoon.

Next I heated up the tomato-chipotle sauce. If you don’t have Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, make the tomato-chipotle sauce from Smitten Kitchen. The migas part comes together quickly:

Migas, adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

6 corn tortillas, cut into 6-8 wedges
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 chopped pickled guindilla peppers or jalapenos (optional)
3 TBS chopped cilantro
grated jack cheese or queso fresco for garnish (optional)

In a large skillet, add canola or other neutral oil so there’s about a half inch of oil in the pan. Saute the tortilla wedges in batches until they are golden brown, and then put on a paper towels to drain. Salt the chips.

This next part goes fast, so it’s best to have the bowls ready: Put a scoop of refried beans at the bottom of each bowl, and add the tomato sauce around the edges of the beans.

Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat, add a pat of butter or a swig of olive oil, and add eggs and chips. Break up chips and gently scramble the eggs, adding salt and taking care to not overcook the eggs. When nearly done, spoon the eggs over the prepared bowls of beans, and top with peppers (if using), cilantro, and cheese. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.