Tag Archives: ginger

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Crackles That Crackle

I only discovered popping candy a couple of years ago, when I made the Masterchef Lolly Bag cake, and I have been looking for it in the shops ever since, because it is my new favourite thing.  Well, around about Easter, I discovered that not only was it available at Woollies, but their particular variety was super popping.  As in, I washed my hands after putting popping candy in something, and the sink crackled and cackled for about five minutes after I stopped running the water.  Awesome.

Of course, the first thing one must decide is what to put one’s popping candy in, but to me this was easy.  I mean, chocolate crackles are all well and good, especially if you take my approach and fill them with as much dark chocolate as they can hold, but their name is rather misleading, don’t you think?  Chocolate crackles are chocolatey, certainly, and they are crunchy, too, but they hardly crackle.

Well, they do when you put popping candy in them.  Boy, do they.  For best results, I recommend not telling people in advance about the popping candy, either.  (Even if one does tell people, the look on the faces of those who have never had popping candy before is quite priceless.)

This would have been my Eurovision dessert this year if I hadn’t gone all classy and stuck with proper Austrian food (Cross-Dressing Ken didn’t even make an appearance this year – I was too tired from work on the Friday, I was at a class on chou pastry on the Saturday, and I was not up for making a Cross-Dressing Ken cake that would be ready for our 5 am festivities when we got up early to vote.  Fortunately, Conchita was so fabulous that Ken was not much missed.).  It just screams Eurovision.  Though for best results, these crackles probably deserve just a little bit of edible glitter on top…

This recipe is super-easy, as befits a chocolate crackle recipe.  It makes about 16 quite decadent and rich chocolate crackles suitable for grownups – I use really dark chocolate and glacé ginger, so I’m not sure how child-friendly these crackles would be.  But you could always use popping candy in an ordinary crackle recipe if you wanted…

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Your shopping list

200 g dark chocolate (I like Lindt 70%)
75 g crystallised ginger
30 ml pistachio or almond butter
3 cups (750 ml) rice bubbles or their gluten-free equivalent
50 ml popping candy

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Recipe: Accidental Teff Gingerbread Brownies

I freely admit, this recipe did not start off as brownies.  I had been given some Teff flour, originally with bread in mind, but my wrist ganglion won’t really let me knead dough at present, so that was just not going to happen.  So then I  was planning to make cookies, on the generally sound principle that when experimenting with a new kind of flour, cookies are a fairly safe bet (they are small enough to maintain structural integrity even with a fairly non-sticky flour).

But then I realised that I kept on using things in measures of 1/3 cup, and I got all excited about making a recipe based on everything going in 1/3 cup measures and had to keep going come hell or high water… and then I realised that this recipe wanted a bit of a gingerbread personality, which means treacle instead of sugar, and then with oil replacing the butter (and I still don’t know why I did that, given that I then went and replaced the egg with yoghurt, so it isn’t like this recipe is dairy-free in any case), the whole batter started looking very cake-batter-ish, and indeed, soon took on that shiny texture I associate with brownies.

I know when I can argue with a recipe, and I know when a recipe is going its own way.  This recipe knew what it wanted, and I did not have the strength of will to stop it.

The result?  Well, it’s somewhere between brownie and cake.  Teff flour, it turns out, has quite a distinct flavour – wholemeal and nutty and something else I can’t quite identify.  It is also a little on the powdery side, though the denseness and moistness in the cake rescue it somewhat.

But do you know what’s really weird about this brownie? It tastes like a rum and raisin brownie with walnuts, despite containing none of those ingredients.  Bizarre.  Don’t get me wrong – the flavours are lovely.  They just aren’t the ones I was trying to put into the cake…

As culinary experiments go, I think it’s a success.  Though if I were writing this up as a paper, I’d probably fudge my initial aims and hypothesis a bit, to match my results.

(Come to think of it, I wrote more than one history paper as a student where I had to go back and re-write my introduction once I was done, because during the course of writing, I had argued myself around to a completely different point of view.  So perhaps this brownie is actually an essay about Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Stranger things have happened.)

Your Shopping List

1 1/3 cups Teff flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spice (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg)
1/4 tsp dried orange peel powder (optional, or use zest of one orange)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup yoghurt
1/3 cup treacle
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/3 cup chopped glacé ginger

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Recipe: Vegan Florentines

Don’t be scared of this recipe.  It’s much, much easier than any non-vegan Florentine I’ve ever attempted, and tastes just as good.  Though I might use a bit more in the way of fruit and nuts next time.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar – the recipe was for macadamia lace cookies, and I looked at the picture and thought, ‘That looks like a proto-Florentine to me’.  And then I thought ‘Hey, I bought a whole lot of glacé fruits and also some pistachios yesterday… and I still have some Lindt chocolate and a bag of macadamias in the pantry…’

And really, that was the end of that.  My sister in law wanted vegan desserts for tomorrow – clearly vegan Florentines must be on the menu. 

The amazing thing about these Florentines is how buttery they taste and look, despite having no butter, nor any kind of weird margariney proto-butter.  Mine are a little lop-sided, but if you were the kind of person who likes to make their biscuits super-pretty, you could have at them with a round cookie cutter halfway through baking, to shape them. 

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Your Shopping List

100 g macadamias
135 g brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar (this is the equivalent of four tablespoons – if you measure the oil first, and the agave next, the agave won’t stick and it will take the last of the oil with it)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
65 g flour
1/2 tsp cornflour
pinch of salt
50 g chopped glacé cherries
50 g chopped pistachios
25 g chopped glacé ginger
50 g chopped glacé apricot or pineapple150 g good dark chocolate

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Recipe: Teeny Tiny Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Spices

I think we all knew it wouldn’t take long before I felt compelled to create a recipe modelled on those fantastic vegetable-based cakes from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache (also known as My Favourite Cookbook Ever Ever Ever).

Of course, if one is going to create a recipe full of stealth vegetables and following Harry Seaton’s methods, one must naturally provide a suitable introductory paragraph.  Hmm, let’s see…

This recipe is sophisticated, yet comforting, like the scent of your mother’s Chanel No. 5 perfume as she kisses you on her way out the door.  The chocolate and hazelnut hug you into a Nutella-flavoured embrace, while the cinnamon and ginger wink slyly at you like your favourite babysitter – the one who lets you stay up way too late and watch all the things on TV that you’re not supposed to.

(OK, I have to say that those blurbs are harder to write than they looked. Or at least, they are if you want to keep them G-rated.  The ginger and cinnamon kept on trying to slide the whole thing into some very dubious territory indeed.  Good grief.)

More straightforwardly, let’s just say that these cupcakes are lovely little bites of spicy, chocolatey goodness – far less ferociously hot than my chilli cupcakes, but still gently warming.  Just right for a winter’s night.

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Your Shopping List

75g hazelnut meal
50g rice flour
25g cocoa + 20 g for the icing1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
70 g caster sugar
1 egg
100 g zucchini, peeled and very finely grated (do this at the last minute)
100 icing sugar
30 ml boiling water
24 roasted hazelnuts, optional Continue reading

Recipe: Fruit Mince Filo Cigars

Last weekend, I was invited to a Yule celebration at the home of one of my friends from work.  It was an amazingly fun evening (I think I could become addicted to the werewolf card game, even though I’m fairly terrible at it), and also notable for the incredible quantities of potatoes and cream that found their way onto the menu.  This is, perhaps, inevitable when the host and half the guests are French, and are, moreover, from places like Normandy and Burgundy, where potatoes and dairy products are pretty big stuff.  (I am informed that they do not believe in vegetables in these regions.  Other than potatoes.)

So we had roast lamb, and we had roast potatoes, and roast sweet potatoes, and we had pommes dauphines and we had gratin dauphinoise. And there was quiche, too.  I decided that *some* sort of non-potato vegetable wouldn’t go astray, so my offering was ratatouille.  (Which, actually, I was a bit nervous about actually calling ratatouille in front of a group of French people, as I have no idea what an authentic ratatouille is like, but apparently it was acceptable).

For dessert, since we clearly had not had enough cream yet, there were crèmes brulées (we got to blow-torch our brulées at the table, which instantly elevates this dinner party to the best one I have ever attended.  Also, possibly, the most dangerous one, since the blow-torch came out after the second glass of wine for most people at the table, and when you consider that many of the guests have a tendency to gesture a lot with their hands, you will understand why this was a little alarming…), and also waffles with nuttella and whipped cream.  I had considered once again taking the high path and bringing something with actual fruit in it, but the whole Yule / Christmas in Winter spirit overwhelmed me, and it was absolutely necessary to bring something involving spices, brandy and fruit mince.

Which is when I thought of these little cigars.

I actually made these for the first time after Christmas last year, when I realised I had a bit of fruit mince leftover from my mince pies, and also some filo pastry leftover from turning my Christmas chook into handheld chicken and pumpkin filo pies, and decided to combine the two.

They were amazing – astonishingly rich on the inside, but with a lovely, light, crisp pastry that made them a delight to bite into.  Also, they are surprisingly easy to make, which is a bonus.  And fantastic when dipped in double cream.  Which is not vegan, but a good cashew cream might actually be even better.

Of course, I had no idea what proportions of anything I’d used, so I figured I’d save the recipe until I had a bit more time.  Which was why I was half an hour late to the dinner party – it turned out that I didn’t, really, have that much time after all…

It was still worth it, though.  And after all those potatoes, a dessert that was low on the whole pastry/cake/pudding side of things and high on the rich, dried fruit side of things wasn’t a bad match at all.

(Though I suspect a fruit salad, while less Christmassy, would have been even better…)

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Your Shopping List

1 quantity of Easy Fruit Mince, made with cocoa butter instead of butter for vegan goodness.
1 handful each of dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, and chopped dried figs.

1 packet of filo pastry from the fridge section.  Please, not the freezer section.  I cannot stress this highly enough.  If you buy your filo pastry from the fridge, it will come out as lovely, soft, fine, layers of pastry, like fabric that roll like a dream.  If you buy it from the freezer and defrost it, it will come out like paper.  Old, crackling, crumbling paper.  And it will stick to itself and it will break when you try to unroll it and then you will end up with little flakes of pastry everywhere and nothing to roll your fruit mince in, and you will be very sad and you will wish you had taken my advice.  Which is good advice.  Seriously, get your filo from the fridge, or don’t bother.  I don’t want you to be sad, and I’m sure you don’t want that either.
Olive oil spray

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Recipe: Sweet potato and chickpea curry with roast cauliflower

This was one of those recipes you make up as you go along which then turns out to be rather good, so you sit down straight after dinner to hastily reconstruct what you did before you forget it.  It does use several spice mixes, I’m afraid, because that’s what I do when I’m cooking things that I don’t plan to turn into my own recipes… and of course, there are only two photos, because photographing my food at multiple points in the cooking process is really not something I do unless I’m planning to blog about it – which I wasn’t this time!

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Your Shopping List

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas if you have a pressure cooker, or 2 tins cooked
1-2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves
2 red chillis
2 tsp ginger puree
1 finger-sized piece of turmeric, peeled and grate
2 big sweet potatoes – about 1.5 kg, I think – peeled and cubed
2 cups of water
2 tsp Spice Fusion Thai curry blend (contains coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, ginger, pepper, cloves, fennel, cardamom and white pepper)
1/2 a cauliflower
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp Gewürzhaus tandoori masala
basmati or jasmine rice,  yoghurt, to serve

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Christmas Leftovers Recipe: Moroccan Chicken and Pumpkin Filo Triangles

I make a variation of this recipe basically every time I do a roast or slow-cooked chicken.  With only two of us in the household, we don’t use much chicken on the first meal, and while I love roast chicken, Andrew doesn’t like it much at all, so the leftovers always go into a pie.

This is another cricket lunchbox menu – I’m pleased to say that when I told my brother what was in our lunch hamper yesterday, the man in front of us turned around and said ‘That sounds absolutely amazing’, which made me feel very smug indeed.  Because it really was a very good lunch, if I say so myself – chicken pastries, zucchini pesto muffins, spinach salad with apricots and blueberries (from the Green Kitchen App, which I enthusiastically recommend to your attention if you don’t have it already), apricot and peach schnapps shortbread, and crispy filo cigars full of fruit mince with double cream to dip them into.  Yum.

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(Though apparently my presence at the cricket causes concussions and batting collapses – yesterday wasn’t a good day for the batsmen on either side, and last year, I presided over Sri Lanka’s total collapse, with bonus concussions, on day three of the Boxing Day test.  My brother wants me to come in to the MCG this afternoon to jinx the Brits, and I’m just trying to decide whether I can face the weather in the name of scientific enquiry.)

Anyway.  These are full of lovely moist chicken, and sweetly spiced pumpkin and chickpeas, all leftover from Christmas Eve Lunch, though you could make this from scratch if you wanted to.  And you might want to, because they are really delicious, warm or cold.

Your Leftovers & Shopping List

Leftover slow-cooked or roasted chicken (about half a chicken)

Leftover roasted carrots, roasted pumpkins and chickpeas, spiced with chilli, ginger, garlic and star anise; or use plain roasted pumpkins, one tin of chickpeas, and chop up one chilli, two garlic cloves and about 2cm of fresh ginger, and sauté briefly until they lose their rawness.  You want this veggie mixture to be between half the weight of the chicken and one and a quarter times the weight – essentially, you don’t want the pastries to taste just of chicken or just of pumpkin, but it’s fine if one side dominates a bit.

2 tsp preserved lemon, finely chopped

1 packet filo pastry, and I strongly recommend you buy it from the fridge section, not the freezer section, because it is much, much easier to work with

olive oil spray

Now what will you do with it?

If the chicken is still on the bone, remove it from the bones, and remove the skin and any other bits that aren’t really edible (use these bits to make stock).  Shred it into a large bowl.

Chop up the pumpkin and carrots, and add to the bowl with the chickpeas and preserved lemon (and spices, if you did them separately).  Again, you shouldn’t need to season this, because you presumably seasoned your chicken and roast veg when you cooked them the first time.

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Spray one sheet of filo pastry with olive oil, and put a spoonful of the chicken and pumpkin mix onto the lower half, towards the right hand end.  Essentially, imagine the first fold, which will be folding the pastry in half lengthwise, and the second fold, which will be a triangle folding from the right hand corner up to the first fold, and aim to have your filling in the bit which will be covered by the second fold.

That was totally unintelligible so here is a picture.

filling

Once you have a triangle, flip it over along its vertical side onto the next bit of pastry, then flip it down over its diagonal onto the next bit, then across, and so forth until you are out of pastry.

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Put the resulting triangle onto a tray lined with baking paper, and spray it with more olive oil.

Repeat with the rest of the mixture and the filo pastry. (If you have excess filo pastry, I highly recommend making fruit mince cigars with the rest of it – but that’s a recipe for next Christmas, when I will actually pay attention to what I am doing so that I can write it down.)

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Bake at 180°C for about half an hour, turning partway through the cooking time, until the filo is golden and crisp on each side.  Serve hot or at room temperature – the filo will go soft if you have to refrigerate it, but it will still taste lovely.

Variations

This is obviously not a vegetarian meal, though it is dairy and egg free, and also nut free, for a change.  It’s also fairly low GI, due to the chickpeas, and would be lower if you used sweet potato to replace part or all of the pumkpin.

It’s hard to think of a likely variation, since this is all leftovers-based, but you could, of course, make a larger pie, in which case I would layer the chicken with the pumpkin separately, and perhaps add ricotta or spinach layers or both.  Diana Henry has a beautiful recipe along those lines.

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One year ago: A menu for the cricket
Two years ago: Easy pasta dinner

Recipe: Lamb, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Almonds and Saffron

I really don’t understand curries very well, which is why I’ve just bought myself a book all about curries from around the world.  You would think, then, that I’d follow the recipes in them, and indeed that was my intention, but basically I screwed up.  The curry I was going to make was a simple lamb curry with almonds and saffron, because I had diced lamb to use up, but it used twice the amount of lamb I had.  No worries – I would just halve the recipe.  Except that I forgot to do so, and once I had measured out the saffron water and started cooking all the onions and garlic and ginger – which I had accidentally doubled instead of halved anyway, hello, virus-brain! – and spices it was too late to go back without waste.

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So I decided to bulk out the curry with chickpeas and sweet potato.  After all, I don’t like stews of any kind that are just meat, meat and meat, sweet potato seemed like it would get along with all the sweet aromatic spices in this dish, and chickpeas are always a good random filler protein in my book.  Also, this lowers the glycemic index of the dish *and* makes it suddenly a lot closer to a one-pot meal (by which I mean that the ongoing Sickly Catherine feels empowered not to make a vegetable side dish now, which is a very good thing).  And then I looked at the cream added at the end of the recipe, and thought about the fact that I don’t like creamy sauces much and that I had this tin of coconut cream from goodness-knows-when sitting in my pantry waiting to be used, and…

I’m fairly sure we have lost any authenticity along the way (which is why I am not claiming that this is a Kashmiri curry, despite what the book says), but I have to say, it’s the best curry that I’ve ever made.  I strongly suspect that the slow cooker was an important part of this – the spices seemed to blend and work together rather than sitting awkwardly in different corners of the room, squinting sideways at each other.  That’s not what usually happens when I make a curry.  So, while a slow cooker is not a requirement for this recipe, I do recommend cooking it over the lowest heat possible for as long as possible if you don’t have one.

Still, next time, I *promise* I will follow the recipe properly.

I can do that, you know.

Your Shopping List

2 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 cup hot water
8 green cardamom pods
2 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
3 onions
3 cloves of garlic
about 2 cubic inches of ginger root
2 dried chillis
500 g cubed lamb shoulder or other stewing lamb
salt and pepper which I entirely forgot to put in, but you might want to
500 g sweet potato
Either 1 cup of dried chickpeas, partly cooked (of which more later) or 1 tin of chickpeas, which you will add at the end of the recipe
120 g blanched almonds
270 ml (a medium-sized tin – don’t get too hung up on measuring this) coconut cream

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Recipe: Mulled Citrus Juice to Kill a Virus

honeyin2Being sick is very boring.  I spent most of today asleep or dozing as I tried to muster the energy to actually do something. I’m not very good at using sick days to actually rest.  Somehow, my sick days always develop these to-do lists.  Not that I’ve managed to action anything much more elaborate than ‘make breakfast’ and ‘eat lunch’.  ‘Have shower’ is still waiting to happen. 

‘Make lemon drink’ has been an all day project that is now nearing completion.  It’s actually not a long recipe, but there has been a lot of napping in between steps.  ‘Drink lemon drink’ will be the next move.  ‘Write about lemon drink’ is probably a mistake, but I feel guilty when I don’t blog every few days, and surely everyone needs a curative recipe or two in their lives…

Anyway.  I have no idea whether this drink has any curative properties in real life, but it does make me feel better.  This is probably half placebo and half that whole palliative effect of hot drinks on sore throats.  But all that vitamin C and honey and stuff can’t actually hurt, now, can it?

Your Shopping List

2 lemons
1 lime
1 orange
750 ml water (you don’t have to buy this)
1 stick of cinnamon
7 cloves
1 piece of fresh ginger weighing approx 35 g
1 tsp maple sugar or ordinary brown or raw sugar
honey, to taste

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Recipe: Carrot Cake With the Lot (or do I mean banana cake?)

decoratedI have this favourite carrot cake recipe which is full of glacé fruit and spices and all sorts of goodies.  And then I have the Green Kitchen cookbook, which has a carrot cake recipe which is sugar-free and full of spices and even more fruit and all sorts of other goodies.  I couldn’t decide which to make for (yet another) birthday party, so I decided to cross them and make them both at once.

A sensible person would probably have decided to do this by averaging the two recipes out somehow.  Not me.  I added the spices together to make it *extra* spicy (nobody ever puts enough spice in carrot cake), and then gleefully decided that if one recipe had dates and glacé fruit and raisins and pineapple and the other one had dates and banana, we should definitely have all of those things.  The recipe narrowly escaped having hazelnut meal in it, too, even though I don’t like hazelnuts, just because there was an open packet sitting there, looking inviting.

Then, having filled the cake with glacé fruit and ginger, I virtuously turned around and made the batter sugar-free.  Because that makes sense.  I spent quite a lot of the cooking process, in fact, giggling and throwing up my hands, exclaiming “I have no idea what I’m making!”.  This amused Andrew no end, which is probably why we are still married, because it’s an intrinsic part of my cooking process and I suspect it could get quite annoying…

My favourite bit in the whole process was the part where I looked at my date-banana-maple-syrup-oil-pineapple-spice-flour-egg mixture and realised I had created a really nice banana cake batter, to which I was about to add a world of carrots and fruit, potentially wrecking the consistency entirely.  So this, O my readers, is an extra special recipe – it came from two cakes and it produces two cakes!  You can stop the recipe halfway and make a virtuous and sugar-free banana cake, or you can continue the merry madness and have Carrot Everything Cake!  The choice is yours.

Choose wisely.

Your Shopping List (which can basically be summarised as ‘all the edible things’)

12 fresh dates
3 ripe bananas (no need for them to be over-ripe, but if that’s what you’ve got, that’s fine too)
4 tinned pineapple rings
1/2 cup canola oil, or any other not terribly strongly-flavoured cooking oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp mixed spice (I used the Gewürzhaus Apple Cake Spice mix, which is just heavenly)
NB: stop here if all you want is banana cake
4 carrots
300 g mixed glacé fruit, such as apricots, peaches, pineapple, pear, orange, or really anything but ginger or cherries
75 g glacé ginger
125 g raisins
 
For the icing
400 g cream cheese (half full-fat and half light makes your life easier, and also provides a modicum of virtue to the situation), or use a dairy-free mock-cream cheese such as tofutti
100 g honey
zest of 1 small lemon; juice of half a lemon
 

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