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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

FOOD FUN: Glitter Ice Cream Cones

glitter-cones-scoopsiesFB-230

Ice cream cones coated with fucshia edible
glitter
. Photo courtesy Chloe Jankowitz |
Scoopsies.

 

Celebrate July (National Ice Cream Month), birthdays and other special occasions by making glitter cones. For July 4th, you can make them in red, white and blue.

These dazzlers were created by Chloe Jankowitz, owner of Scoopsies ice cream shop in Somerville, Massachusetts.

They’re really simple and fun to make,” says Chloe.

GLITTER ICE CREAM CONES

Ingredients For 24 Cones

  • 24 ice cream cones—wafer, waffle or sugar (the difference)
  • Edible glitter/sprinkles
  • 2 cups chocolate chips—bittersweet, semisweet, white or other chip flavor
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Parchment paper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

    2. MELT 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup whole milk in a saucepan over medium/low heat, stirring frequently. Make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn! Once the chocolate is thick and smooth, turn heat to lowest heat setting. Stir occasionally.

    3. DIP the cones in the chocolate an inch or two deep, using a spoon to make sure chocolate is neatly covering the cone. Scrape the inside of the cone with the spoon, getting rid of any excess chocolate. Place the cone on the tray and let cool for a few minutes. Once the cone has cooled down and chocolate is starting to harden…

    4. POUR sprinkles on the cone while rotating it. Make sure the chocolate is completely covered in sprinkles. Repeat to finish all cones.

    5. PLACE the tray of cones in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and store at room temperature, either in an airtight container or covered with foil.
     
    If you enjoy decorating cones, consider extending your repertoire with coconut, mini M&Ms, Oreo crumbs, toffee chips and other confections.
     
    Buy edible glitter for July 4th in:

  • Red
  • White
  • Blue
  •   

    Comments

    JULY 4th: American Flag Cake

    A tasty flag! Photo courtesy SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

     

    What a great dessert surprise for July 4th!

    This flag cake originated on 17andBak­ing.com, and was reposted on SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

    Elissa, who posted the recipe at age 17 (she’s now 21), said at the time:

    “While I wish I could claim credit for it, the idea of a flag cake was completely my father’s. It was all a bit of an experiment and when I finally cut the cake open, revealing the familiar red white and blue, I was so surprised to see that it worked.”

    You can use any recipe for a three layer white cake. Elissa deliberately made the cake completely white on the outside, with a cream cheese frosting flavored with lime zest. Cutting into a plain cake makes the flag motif an even bigger surprise.

    Are you dying to make it? Here’s the recipe.

     

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Stars & Stripes Jell-O Shots

    Perfect for a July 4th celebration: red, white and blue Jell-O shots.

    All you need is a mini star silicon mold, like this one from Wilton. You can probably pick one up locally, where July 4th-themed housewares or are sold (or a good baking supplies department).

    Then, just follow this recipe on GoodCocktails.com.

    And plan ahead for red, green and white Jello-O shots for Christmas, using lime Jell-O instead of Berry Blue.

    Jell-O shots are made by substituting approximately one third to one half of the second cup of liquid added to Jell-O powder (the first cup is the boiling water that dissolves the gelatin.

    Vodka or rum are popular (flavored vodkas add another flavor dimension), but the shots can be made with any alcohol. Note that the alcohol blended into the Jell-O is absorbed much more slowly than in a cocktail, resulting in abject drunkenness on the part of those who underestimate how much alcohol they have consumed.

     

    star-jello-shots-goodcocktail-230sq

    Mix up some fireworks with these patriotic Jell-O shots. Photo courtesy GoodCocktail.com.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELL-O SHOT?

    No, the Jell-O shot was not invented by American singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer in the 1950s. He is well known for writing about it, making the recipe as a subterfuge to consume alcohol on the alcohol-restricted Army base where he was stationed.

    Jell-O shots seem like a modern concept, but Jell-O itself (flavored, sweetened gelatin) was invented in 1897. Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make desserts.

    In 1862, the first modern cocktail recipe book was published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide. You can still buy it (reprinted) on Amazon.com.

    Thanks to some pretty crafty sleuthing on the part of JelloShotRecipe.Blogspot.com, you can see a photocopy of the first known recipe for a molded gelatin-alcohol combination.

    Jerry Thomas advises: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”

    That sounds so much more charming than “abject drunkenness.”

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Grow Vegetables Into Hearts & Stars

    It’s too late to grow vegetables in star shapes for this July 4th, but you can plan ahead for next year. While you’re at it, plan to grow and freeze some heart-shaped slices for Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.

    If only we had a small plot of land, we’d grow cucumbers and tomatoes just so we could create these heart- and star-shaped vegetables. What fun for crudités, salads, cocktail garnishes and general garnishes.

    The long plastic tube-shaped, snap-on molds are placed over young vegetables; as they grow, they take on the heart and star shapes of the tubes as the fruits grow and mature.

    They’re ideal for cucumbers, plum tomatoes and summer squash.

    When the veggies are mature, simply open the mold and harvest the fruits. Slice them diagonally to reveal the shape of hearts and stars. The plastic molds can be reused year after year.

  • Fun gift for your favorite vegetable gardener.
  • Inspiration for the kids to grow vegetables.
  •    

    tomato-hearts-stars-burpee-230

    Tomato hearts and stars. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     

     

    heart-zucchini-burpee-molds-230

    Grow your own: Crunchy cucumbers are
    shaped into stars. Photo courtesy
    Burpee.com.

     

    Get yours at Burpee.com.

    Then, plan your “molded” garden:

  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Plum tomato
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  •  
    Any other ideas for what might work?

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPE: Ceviche-Stuffed Avocado

    June 28th is National Ceviche Day, honoring one of our favorite foods. If you’re a sashimi lover and haven’t tried ceviche, today’s the day.

    Another reason to eat lots of ceviche: It’s a low calorie, good-for you lunch or first course. And it’s been nourishing man since ancient times.

    THE HISTORY OF CEVICHE

    Ceviche—shellfish cured by acidic citrus juice—has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors wrote of an Inca dish of raw fish marinated in chicha, a fermented maize beer that dates back some 2,000 years. The concept evolved into ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay), raw fish or shellfish cured with citrus juice.

    A chemical process occurs when the fish/shellfish is marinated in the highly acidic citrus juice, which denatures the protein. The result is similar to what happens when the fish is cooked with heat. Instead of “cooking,” however, the fish is cured in the marinade, which adds its own delicious flavors.

    Both Ecuador and Peru claim to have originated ceviche; both were part of the Incan Empire. But why quibble: Today, ceviche—or seviche or sebiche, depending on the country—is so popular that there are cevicherias, restaurants that specialize in ceviche.

       

    ceviche-trio_10566817_JamesCamp-DRM-230

    A trio of different ceviches. Photo © James Camp | Dreamstime.

     

    The Spanish brought the lime and onion that are integral to modern ceviche. In fact, the term “ceviche” is thought to come from the Spanish escabeche, meaning marinade. Others argue that the word comes from the Quechua (Incan) word siwichi—although we could not find this word in the Quechua dictionary we consulted.

    THE CEVICHE MENU

    There’s a whole menu of ceviche, using different types of fish and seafood and country-specific preparations. Each country adds its own spin based on local seafood and preference for ingredients like avocado. Some add a dressing of ketchup or a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise, especially with shrimp ceviche. (Frankly, we’d reach for the cocktail sauce.)

  • Ecuadorian ceviche is served with popcorn.
  • Mexican ceviche includes a dice of onion and tomato—popular ingredient of salsa fresca. Traditional seasonings include chili powder, onions, garlic, cilantro and a little sea salt. Mackerel ceviche is popular, as are red snapper, sole and striped bass.
  • Panamanian ceviche includes hot sauce and is served with saltines.
  • Peruvian ceviche combines shrimp with native sweet potatoes and/or yucca, plus onion and the native aji amarillo chile. Cancha, large and crunchy Andean corn kernels that have been toasted and salted (i.e., corn nuts), are also added. The ingredients are marinated in the juice of a Peruvian lemon related to the Key lime. Ceviche is considered to be the national dish of Peru.
  •  

    California style: ceviche in an avocado half. Photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico.

     

    But this year for National Ceviche Day, we’re going California style, adding ceviche to the well of an avocado.

    If you prefer fish to seafood, try this variation, stuffed with red snapper ceviche or tuna ceviche. If you’re wary of raw fish (even cured raw fish), try this shrimp ceviche recipe.

    RECIPE: CEVICHE-STUFFED AVOCADO

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • ½ pound large shrimp, shelled, cleaned and tails removed
  • ½ pound sea scallops
  • ½ red jalapeño or serrano chile, diced, plus 8 thin slices
  • 1 shallot, diced or thinly sliced
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped plus extra leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds (substitute diced tomato or red bell pepper)
  • 4 Avocados from Mexico, halved and pits removed
  •  
    Optional Additions (Take Your Pick)

  • Diced fresh tomato
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic cloves, minced
  • Hot sauce
  • Jícama, peeled and diced
  • Pickles or sweet gherkins, chopped
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Tomato juice
  •  
    Serve With (Take Your Pick)

  • Corn nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Saltines or other crackers
  • Tortilla chips
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CHOP shrimp and scallops into large, diced pieces and add to a large bowl. Add jalapeño, shallots and lime juice and stir well to coat. Season with kosher salt and cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for flavors to meld.

    2. ADD cilantro and pomegranate seeds and mix.

    3. TO SERVE: Prepare avocado halves and divide ceviche evenly among them. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced jalapeño or serrano peppers.

     
    MORE CEVICHE FUN

    Here’s a template to create your ideal ceviche recipe.

    What to drink with ceviche.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Orange Blossom Water

    orange-blosssom-water-cortas-amz-230

    Orange blossom water is a by-product of
    distilling orange blossoms for oil. Look for
    the Cortas brand. Photo courtesy Cortas.

     

    June 27th is National Orange Blossom Day. The small, white, delicate blossoms, once a favorite flower in bridal bouquets, are used to make orange blossom water (also called orange flower water), a clear, aromatic by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.

    While the distillate, orange blossom oil*, is used in perfumery, the orange blossom water, delicately scented like the flowers and not the fruit, is used as a calming personal and household fragrance. It is added to skin toners, bath water and spritzed from an aromatizer onto fabric and into the air (our grandmother sprayed it on sheets when ironing).

    And it’s used in foods and beverages, today’s focus. You can add orange blossom water to:

  • Baked goods and desserts: cakes and cookies, candies and confections, custards and puddings, scones…and also in crêpe or pancake batter. It pairs well with almond, citrus, cream and vanilla and cream, lemon and other citrus flavors vanilla.
  • Cocktails and beverages: in mineral water, the Ramos Gin Fizz, café blanc (recipe below) and orange blossom mint lemonade.
  • Middle Eastern, North African and Indian recipes (add some to couscous!).
  •  
    You can buy a bottle in some specialty food stores, Greek and Middle Eastern markets and online. The Cortas brand, from Lebanon, is a favorite among those who use a lot of orange blossom water.

     

    *Used to make perfume, the oil is called neroli oil. In 1680, Anne Marie Orsini, the Italian duchess of Bracciano and princess of Nerola, introduced to orange blossom perfume. She so loved the spicy aroma with sweet and flowery notes that she used the fragrance to perfume everything—her bath, her clothes, her household furnishings. The fragrance became named for her (but we found no explanation of why it’s called neroli, not nerola). The fragrance was also a favorite in the court of Elizabeth I of England.

     

    RECIPE: CAFÉ BLANC, LEBANESE HOT ORANGE BLOSSOM DRINK

    Café blanc, “white coffee” is a refreshing infusion made from boiling water, orange flower water and optional honey sweetener. Thanks to Victoria of BoisDeJasmin.com for her recipes with orange blossom water. There are links to others below, but we’ll start with this easy beverage recipe.

    “Café blanc is a bit of a misnomer because this Lebanese drink contains no coffee at all,” says Victoria. “It’s just hot water flavored with orange blossom, and it’s like sipping air perfumed with flowers. Mixed with water, orange blossom tastes not just floral, but also green, citrusy, spicy and warm. The first sip reveals a zesty freshness, but what lingers is the taste of honeyed petals.”

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey
  •  
    Preparation

     

    cafe-blanc-orange-blossom-drink-boisdejamin-230

    Hot orange blossom water: so simple to make, so refreshing. Photo courtesy Bois de Jasmin.

     
    1. ADD the orange blossom water to the boiling water, stir and taste. If you’d prefer the drink sweet, stir in the honey.

    2. FOR a cold drink, do the same with mineral water or lemonade.
     

    MORE WAYS TO USE ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER

    Fruit Desserts. Orange blossom pairs especially well with strawberries and apricots—cakes and tarts, compotes and jams, drinks. Sprinkle apricots with sugar and lemon juice and bake them in a 400°F/200°C oven until the sugar caramelizes and apricots soften. Drizzle with orange blossom water and serve hot or cold. Make a refreshing drink of apricot juice mixed with orange blossom water and sparkling water.

    Ice Cream. Soften a container of vanilla ice cream slightly, and add 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water per pint (or to taste). Mix well, chill and serve. If you make your own ice cream, add orange blossom water to the custard before freezing it.

    Puddings and Ice Cream. Anything creamy—custard, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding–can be enhanced with orange blossom water gratefully. Victoria uses it to give an adult twist to rice pudding: Rice Pudding with Vanilla and Orange Blossom.

    White Chocolate. Mix orange blossom water into white chocolate-based sauces and desserts, or into cream to make a delicious tart filling. Whip heavy cream with sugar, add a few drops of orange blossom water, fill tart shells and top with fresh berries.

    Read the full article and the discussion threads for much more that you can do with orange blossom water.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Baked Honey Chocolate Pudding

    June 26th is National Chocolate Pudding Day. Throughout history, “pudding” has meant different things (scroll down to the history of pudding).

    This recipe, developed by chef Rocco di Spirito for FAGE Yogurt, combines the old and the new: a cake-like pudding with a soft, creamy pudding-like center.

    Rocco says, “These are great for a dinner party, as they can be prepared and stored in the fridge for up to 48 hours in advance.”

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    RECIPE: BAKED HONEY CHOCOLATE PUDDING

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 cup dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
  • 4 FAGE Total with Honey split cups*
  • 16 tablespoons diced butter (two sticks of butter)
  • 1/2 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain flour, sieved
  •  

    Baked-Honey-Chocolate-Pudding-dispirito-fage-230

    Old-fashioned and modern pudding textures combine in this recipe. Photo courtesy FAGE Total.

     
    *The FAGE cups are 5.3 ounces each, for a total of 21.2 ounces. You can substitute an equivalent amount of plain Greek yogurt (2-3/4 cups) with 2 tablespoons of honey.
     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare eight ramekin dishes by thoroughly buttering the inside and dusting with flour. Place a disk of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each ramekin.

    2. MELT the chocolate, honey from one FAGE Total Honey Yogurt (or 2 teaspoons honey) and butter together over a pan of water.

    3. WHISK together sugar, egg yolks and eggs until the mixture forms soft peaks. Fold the chocolate mix into the egg mix, and then fold in the flour.

    4. POUR into ramekins and bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes, or until the puddings have risen above the ramekins. Allow to rest in a warm place for 2 minutes.

    5. SERVE: Turn out onto the center of a plate with a generous spoonful of FAGE Total Yogurt (half of the yogurt in a FAGE Total with Honey split cup). Drizzle with the remaining honey.
     
    Find more delicious recipes with yogurt at Fage.com.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th FOOD: Terra Chips Stripes & Blues

    Yes, there’s a perfect potato chip for July 4th Weekend: Terra Chips Stripes & Blues.

    These delectable chips are a blend of striped beets (chiogga beets), sweet potatoes (with some beet juice concentrate for color) and blue potatoes, which create the patriotic red, white and blue mix. They’re seasoned with a pinch of sea salt.

    If you can’t find them locally, you can buy them online. A carton of 12 bags will go quickly, we promise.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    And given the choice between a bottle of wine and a few bags of Terra’s Stripes & Blues, we’re guessing that a majority of people will go for the chips.

    JULY 4TH BEER FOR THE CHIPS

    Next task: Find an artisan beer to match. Here are some ideas for starters:

  • Brew Free or Die IPA, 21st Amendment Brewing
  • Enjoy by 07.04.14, Stone Brewing Company
  • Liberty Ale, Anchor Brewing
  • Revolution XPA, Eagle Rock Brewery
  • Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  •  

    Read the full article.

     

    terra-stripes-and-blues-chips-terraFB-230

    The most patriotic potato chips. Photo courtesy Terra Chips.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cake In A Jar

    Way back in 2009, we discovered the excellent cake in a jar from Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles. It became a Top Pick Of The Week, and one of those products that, years later, we still pine for, remembering every spoonful.

    The trend was slow in starting. After five years, in the past week we’ve received notice of two more cake in a jar products.

    DUFF’S CAKEMIX

    The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, has a custom bakery in Baltimore, a line of cake mixes and cake decorating accoutrements sold nationwide, and most recently, a bakery café, Duff’s Cakemix, also in L.A., which includes a studio where Duff wannabes can decorate their own cakes.

    The bakery offers an array of freshly baked sweets, including Dinkies (Duff’s version of Twinkies) and Cake in a Jar.

    The latter presents an opportunity to send a special occasion “slice” of cake in a Mason jar, which keeps it moist and fresh for five days (not that there will be any left by then).

    So gift challenges are solved: You can send cake in a jar as a birthday gift, or to celebrate any occasion. There’s currently a seasonal red, white and blue Star Spangled Cake In A Jar.

       

    confetti-cake-duffscakemix-230

    Confetti Cake is sweet and celebratory. Photo courtesy Duff’s Cakemix.

     
    You can buy them in two, four or six units, and in two sizes: 8 ounces ($14 for two jars) or 16 ounces ($20 for two jars). The eight-ounce size is more than enough, but the larger size will keep for five days and affords the opportunity for continuous celebration.

    Flavors include Chocolate With Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Chips, Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream, Marble With Chocolate And Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla With Vanilla Buttercream.

    We received a sample of the Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream. The confetti says “celebrate”; the recipe was a bit on the sweet side for us, but should be just the thing most American palates are looking for.

    Order them online at DuffsCakemix.com.

     

    jar-open-chicagocake-230

    Skip the wedding cake; almost everyone will
    prefer cake in a jar. Photo courtesy Chicago-
    Cake.com.

     

    CAKE CHICAGO

    We then received news that one of our favorite artisan bakers, Cake Chicago, is selling cake in a jar.

    Cake Chicago began life as a wedding cake specialist, subsequently branching out into daily treats like cookies, bars and chocolate truffles.

    So it’s no surprise that their cake in a jar achieves a higher standard. Just look at the elegant layers in the jar, perfectly fitted.

    We’d give these as wedding favors and serve a dessert that most guests will prefer to wedding cake. As you can see in the photos, the perfectly-fitted layers and make an excellent presentation.

    Like Duff’s, the jars can be wrapped in grosgrain ribbon, and tags can be added for quantity orders.

     
    Flavors include:

  • White buttermilk cake with raspberry conserve and Italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filing
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
  •  
    The price is the same as Duff’s: $7.00, with a two jar minimum (8 ounce size only). Order online at Cake-Chicago.com.

    And if anyone out there wants to send us a gift: More cake in a jar, please! It’s a happy way to enjoy a nice piece of cake.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Eclair Day

    June 22nd is National Chocolate Éclair Day. Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts has gone beyond mere classic chocolate, announcing the launch of a global éclair program helmed by the great Johnny Iuzzini, James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Le Méridien guests worldwide can indulge in a variety of modern twists on the Parisian pastry.

    Chef Johnny will create eight seasonal éclair recipes, inspired by his travels through various Le Méridien destinations (tough job!). Each hotel will offer modern takes on three signature éclair flavors—chocolate, coffee and vanilla—as well as one locally inspired flavor.

    You’ll find Maple Bacon Éclair and Texas Honey Pecan Éclair at Le Méridien Dallas, and Dulce de Leche Éclair, infused with coconut, at Le Méridien Panama. In Germany, Le Méridien Munich will offer a savory éclair with goat cheese, cranberry and pumpernickel crumbs, while Le Méridien Bangkok will feature a citrus-inspired treat with mango, lime and ginger.

    How do we get onto the global Le Méridien éclair tour?

     

    eclairs-iuzzini-lemeridien-230

    Chef Johnny Iuzzini gets groovy with éclairs. Photo courtesy Le Meridien Hotels.

     

    ÉCLAIR HISTORY

    An elongated, finger-shaped pastry made of pâte à choux (puff pastry), filled with whipped cream or custard and topped with ganache or a glacé icing (glaze), the éclair is known to have originated in France around the turn of the 19th century. \

    The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word “éclair” in the English language to 1861. The first known recipe for éclairs appears in the 1884 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, edited by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln (and later by Fanny Farmer). “Éclair” is the French word for lightning. It is suggested that the pastry received its name because it glistens when coated with confectioner’s glaze. We would suggest that it is because they are so popular that they disappear as quickly as lightning.

    Many food historians speculate that éclairs were first made by Marie-Antoine Carême (1874-1833). This brilliant man, cast out by his impoverished family at the age of 10, made his way in the world to become the first “celebrity chef.” He is considered to be the founder and architect of French haute cuisine; an enormously popular cookbook author and chef to Talleyrand, the future George IV of England, Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Baron James de Rothschild. The elite clamored for invitations to dinners cooked by Carême.

    We can only dream…and live vicariously by reading his biography.

      

    Comments

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