Quick Lemon Tahini Dressing - Tahini is made of hulled, lightly roasted sesame seeds ground to a smooth paste, and has been used for centuries as an integral ingredient in many Middle Eastern recipes such as hummus and baba ghannouj. It provides a creamy base for lemon tahini dressing, a recipe I see fairly often but which varies widely from restaurant to restaurant. This version is not only one of my favorites in flavor but is incredibly healthy and simple to make. If raw tahini is used, this is a completely raw salad dressing.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course dish.  Prep time: 2 minutes.  Cook time: 0 minutes

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Combine ingredients in a bowl, stir together until uniform, and adjust ingredients to taste.

Toss with greens in a large bowl or pour over individual salads (which looks prettier). Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, sesame seeds, avocados, grated beets or carrots, sliced onion, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Any dressing that is not immediately used can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.
 
Blueberry Orange Compote - While maple syrup is wonderful on waffles and pancakes, this flexible and easy topping is much more flavorful and not overpoweringly sweet. The only ingredient that cannot be replaced is the fresh ginger.
 
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes

3-4 cups frozen blueberries
1 chopped orange (or if not available 1/2 cup orange juice)
1/2 cup applesauce (optional)
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
zest of 1/2 orange

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced to a syrup. Serve warm over fresh waffles, pancakes, or french toast.
 
Orange Cranberry Scones - These flavorful scones are more in the American tradition because they are meant to be eaten alone. However, they are rather moist, unlike the brick-like wads of flour and shortening often found in American coffee shops. If you want a small batch, this can very easily be halved and made into only one round.

Makes 12-18
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup orange juice
zest of 1-2 oranges
2/3-1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
a few tablespoons milk substitute (such as coconut milk) and coarse unrefined sugar (such as Sucanat), for topping

Heat the oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the syrup, juice, and zest. Stir the oil in with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the wet ingredients, just until combined, then stir in the cranberries and nuts, if using. The dough should be a cohesive but sticky mass.

Gather the dough up in your hands and mold into two or three rounds on a lightly floured surface, each about 1/2" (1.25 cm) high and 5-7" (12-18 cm) wide. With a sharp knife, cut each round into 6-8 equal pieces (like a pie). Or for a scone that looks more British, pat the dough into a round about 1" (2 cm) high and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or cup 2-3" (5-7 cm) in diameter. Transfer scones to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, brush each scone with milk for a sort of egg-wash, and sprinkle the tops with unrefined sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Take care not to overcook, as they will firm up slightly as they are cooling down. These are best served warm, but will stay good for several days.
 
Citrus Zest - Zest is the peel of citrus fruits used to flavor food, most often made from oranges, lemons, or limes. I use orange zest all the time, such as in my blueberry orange compote and orange cranberry scones. The zest should only be made from organic fruits because it is the outer layer you're peeling off. You can get the zest with a grater or peeler, but is worth investing in an actual zester (as pictured above) if you use zest very often because they are extremely easy to use. Gently grate the outer layer of the peel, being careful not to scrape off any of the white bitter part underneath (the pith). Also be careful to keep your knuckles out of the way (I have made this mistake more than once). If I use an orange and don't have immediate use for the zest, I freeze it for later baking use. Where I live, it is orange season right now, so I've zested dozens of oranges and put the zest in the freezer to last me the rest of the year.
 

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