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Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: Amp Up The Potato Salad

Russian Potato Salad

Fresh Dill

Top: Add beets, dill, carrots, peas and onions for a Russian-style potato salad (photo IdahoPotato.com). Bottom: Fresh dill is a delicious accent for any potato salad, but is often used in Russian recipes (photo courtesy PaperChef.com).

 

With Memorial Day Weekend just a week away, we’re revisiting one of our favorite cookout foods: potato salad.

To us, a basic potato salad includes quality mayonnaise, diced raw vegetables (carrots, celery, red onions, maybe some bell pepper) and fresh dill and parsley. This was our mother’s potato salad.

But these days we want more: more layers of flavor, more excitement. We try new recipes on most warm-weather weekends, and delight in the process of invention (our reigning favorite, mini whole potatoes, salmon caviar, a sour cream-mayo blend, sweet onion and lots of fresh dill).

Here are two we’ll be making for Memorial Day festivities. Both from the Idaho Potato Commission. There are links to more recipes below, for a total of 16 specialty potato salad recipes.

RECIPE: RUSSIAN BEET & POTATO SALAD

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 5-ounce can sliced beets, drained, slices quartered
    (alternatively, you can dice whole beets)
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish mustard*
  •  
    _______________
    *You can buy horseradish mustard, but it’s simple to make. Just combine Dijon mustard with prepared white horseradish. Start with a 3:1 ratio, and add more horseradish to taste.

     
    Preparation

    1. ADD the potatoes and salt to a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.

    2. COMBINE the potatoes, peas and carrots, and onion in a large bowl.

    3. WHISK together in a small bowl the mayonnaise, yogurt, dill and horseradish mustard. Add the potato mixture and gently combine.

    4. PLACE the beets on a paper towel and gently blot dry—or else your potato salad will turn pink! Fold the beets into the potato mixture very gently; do not over-mix. Serve within 1 hour for peak flavor and appearance.

     

    RECIPE #2: RED CHIMICHURRI POTATO SALAD

    The signature condiment of Argentina, chimichurri sauce is a parsley-based, garlicky vinaigrette with a verdant green color.

    Red chimichurri, a more recent development, adds paprika and red wine vinegar, which create a dark red background for the herbs. Both are served as accompaniments to grilled meat in Argentina, which makes them a great match with what you’re grilling.

    This recipe was created by Latino Foodie for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds Baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, trimmed
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, trimmed
  • 3 green onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. They are small so they should be done in about 10 minutes (be careful not to overcook or they will turn into mashed potatoes). To test for doneness, insert the tip of a steak knife into the middle of a potato. If it slides off easily, they are done. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool slightly.

    2. ADD the remaining ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Slowly drizzle in the oil while pulsing the food processor. You can make the sauce chunky or smooth, as you prefer.

    3. HALVE or quarter the potatoes. In a large bowl, gently toss the potatoes with a quarter of the chimichurri, adding more as needed. The remaining sauce can be used to marinate the vegetables or steak for the meal.

    4. STORE any remaining chimichurri in a tightly-sealed jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

     

    Chimichurri Potato Salad Recipe

    Red Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

    Baby Yellow Dutch Potatoes

    Top: Red Chimichurri Potato Salad. Center: Red chimichurri sauce, a classic Argentine condiment (photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission). Bottom: Baby Dutch yellow potatoes (photo courtesy Melissas.com).

     
    MORE POTATO SALAD SPINS

  • Arugula Potato Salad
  • Barbecue Potato Salad
  • Baked Potato Salad
  • Beer-Roasted Potato Salad With Brussels Sprouts
  • Brussels Sprouts Potato Salad
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage Potato Salad
  • German Potato Salad With Bacon & Bacon Vinaigrette
  • Green Bean Potato Salad
  • Grilled Potato Salad With Hot Dog Chunks
  • Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (especially for Memorial Day and Independence Day)
  • Smoked Salmon Potato Salad
  • Warm Potato Salad
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Rhubarb Recipes

    We’ve only ever published sweet rhubarb recipes: in compote, pie, preserves, even ice cream. Today’s tip is: Try a savory rhubarb preparation before the end of rhubarb season, typically the end of May in the U.S.

    We have a recipe for Green Salad With Roasted Rhubarb, plus links to savory recipes from sides to soups below.
     
    RHUBARB HISTORY

    According to FoodTimeline.org, rhubarb is an ancient plant with different species originating in China, Siberia and southwestern Russia. The name comes from the Latin Rhabarbarum, meaning “Rha of the barbarians.”

    Rha is the Scythian name for the Volga River in Russia, the longest river in Europe. Rhubarb was cultivated by the Tatars there (“Tartars” is a misspelling), called barbarians—which referred to foreign people who were neither Christian, Greek nor Roman.

    Rhubarb has been grown for millennia. Chinese rhubarb (Rheum officinale) was grown for its roots, which were ground up and used medicinally as far back as 206 B.C.E. Garden rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) was grown for its edible stalks (the leaves are toxic).

    It was cultivated in Britain in the 17th century and added to stews; with the advent of affordable* sugar in the 18th century, it became a sweetened filling for tarts. (Sugar, originally from India and Southeast Asia, was cultivated in the Middle East in the 12th century, then in other areas of the Mediterranean. European Crusaders brought sugar home with them. It created a stir but was a pricey import, analogous to other Eastern spices. The first printed record of sugar in English is in the late 13th century.)

    Rhubarb seeds were imported to America shortly after the American Revolution. The term “pie plant” originated in the U.S. some time during the 19th century. Rhubarb was a popular pie filling and early American cookbooks show rhubarb recipes for cobblers, conserves, sweet pies and tarts.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN SALAD WITH ROASTED RHUBARB

    We adapted this recipe from CilantroCooks.com and added a number of optional ingredients, so you can customize it to your ideal.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound rhubarb
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup seedless green, purple or red grapes
  • 1 cup of Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 2 medium cucumbers (ideally seedless)
  • 1/2 cup of blue, feta or goat cheese, crumbled
  •    
    Beef With Roast Rhubarb

    Chicken With Rhubarb Salsa

    Savory Rhubarb Soup

    Top: Beef tenderloin with roasted rhubarb. Center: Roast chicken with rhubarb salsa. Photos courtesy Bon Appetit. Bottom: Rhubarb soup from La Cucina Italiana.

     
    Optional Ingredients

  • Beets: halved baby beets or diced regular beets (canned)
  • Fresh dill
  • Peppery greens: arugula or watercress
  • Red onion or sweet onion
  • Toasted pecans or walnuts
  •  
    For A Dinner Salad

  • Grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • Grilled salmon fillet
  •  

    Fresh Rhubarb

    Rhubarb Salad Recipe

    Top: Slicing fresh rhubarb (photo courtesy CilantroCooks.com). Bottom: A recipe variation from SumptuousSpoonfuls. Blogspot.com. Their recipe roasts the rhubarb with honey and dresses the salad with a Honey Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette.

     

    For The Roasted Rhubarb Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 the roasted rhubarb
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon poppy seeds or chili flakes
  •  

    Preparation

    1. TRIM the tips (including all the leaves) and root ends from the rhubarb. Cut the stalks into 1 inch slices. Place in a greased (spray is fine) baking or roasting pan and roast in the oven at 375°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool (in the fridge, if necessary); half will be used for the salad, half for the dressing.

    2. PREPARE the dressing: Place half the rhubarb and all other dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor; blend until completely smooth. Adjust the honey if you need more sweetness.

    3. TOAST the walnuts: Spray a small baking sheet with cooking spray. Set the nuts on the tray in a single layer and toast on the bottom rack of the oven at 400°F for about 5 minutes, or until they are fragrant and slightly browned. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

    4. PLACE the vegetables in a large bowl; then add the completely cooled rhubarb and the cheese and toss with the dressing. Garnish with the toasted nuts and serve.

     
    MORE SAVORY RHUBARB RECIPES

  • Beef Tenderloin With Rhubarb & Red Wine
  • Rhubarb Potato Gratin
  • Rhubarb Butter For Basting Chicken
  • Rhubarb & Radish Salad
  • Rhubarb Salsa
  • Roast Salmon With Rhubarb & Red Cabbage
  • Vietnamese Sour Rhubarb Soup With Rhubarb
  •  
    _____________
    *Sugar originated in Southeast Asia. The people of New Guinea were probably the first to domesticate sugarcane, possibly as early as 8,000 B.C.E. The cane juice from the stalks was used as a sweetener. However, the extraction and purifying technology techniques were developed by people living in India, around 350 C.E.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bouquet Of Crudités

    At every party and dinner, we have a basket of crudités as a better-for- you option and for those with dietary constraints. For Mother’s Day, we’re adding some flower power with this Bouquet Of Crudités from Hidden Valley,

    Hidden Valley serves them with their Original Ranch Dressing; we’re making a nonfat yogurt dip.

    RECIPE #1: BOUQUET OF CRUDITÉS

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 orange bell peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 mini orange, red or yellow bell peppers (or substitute 2 more conventional size)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes (substitute radishes)
  • 6 snap peas
  • 6 six-inch bamboo skewers
  • Yogurt dip (recipe below)
  •  

    Crudites Bouquet

    Take an artistic approach to crudités with this vegetable bouquet (photo courtesy Hidden Valley).

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dip (recipe below) and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

    2. WASH and seed the peppers. Cut jagged edges into the tops.

    3. STICK the snap peas on the skewers to create the leaves. Insert the skewers through the bottoms of each pepper and put the tomato in the center as shown. Arrange in a flower pot, vase or on a plate.

     
    RECIPE #2: GARLIC-LIME-HERB YOGURT DIP & SAUCE

    This recipe can be served as a dip with crudités, pretzels and other snacks, or as a topping/sauce for grilled fish, meat, poultry, even burgers. You can also mix it with boiled potatoes, macaroni or shredded cabbage for a fat-free potato salad, macaroni salad or cole slaw.

    Or sweeten it and use it as a fruit dip.

    The recipe makes a small bowl of dip, or 4 sauce servings for a main course. You can use your creativity to mix and match the seasonings to your main.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (you can substitute other plain yogurt, but Greek style is the thickest and creamiest)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, basil, chives or other favorite herb, minced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the yogurt, garlic, lime juice and ginger in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

     
    VARIATION: YOGURT DIP FOR FRUIT

    1. REPLACE the garlic with one teaspoon agave, honey or sweetener of choice. (Only lightly sweeten the dip: You want to appreciate the sweetness of the fruit, not overwhelm it.)

    2. REPLACE the herb with grated lime zest or other citrus zest (lemon, grapefruit).
     
    ___________________________
    *The Hidden Valley recipe combines 1/2 cup Original Ranch Light Dressing and 8 ounces softened fat-free cream cheese, chilled until ready to serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bok Choy & Endive ~ Veggies To Grill

    We wager that anyone who likes veggies looks forward to vegetables cooked outdoors on the grill, for as long as the weather allows. Asparagus, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, onions, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini are popular.

    But why not try vegetables you’ve never grilled before?

    Previously we’ve recommended grilled cabbage, grilled cauliflower and grilled romaine for a Caesar Salad.

    Today, for your consideration: Belgian endive and Chinese bok choy (both grown in California).

    WHAT IS ENDIVE?

    Endive is one of the vegetables that were once available in the late fall. Once imported from Europe, it is now grown year-round in California.

    Endive can be grilled, added to salads, or used as “boats” to hold finger foods at parties. You can even make a type of Tarte Tatin using endive instead of apples.

    Endive, Cichorium endivia, is a member of the chicory genus in the Asteraceae family. The genus includes other bitter leafed vegetables, including escarole, frisée and curly endive and radicchio. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness. It can be served raw or cooked.

    Endive is pricey, because it’s one of the most difficult vegetables to grow. There’s a two-step growing process:

  • The seeds are planted and grow into a leafy green plant in 150 days.
  • They are then harvested, the leafy tops are cut off and the deep roots are dug up and placed in cold storage, where they enter a dormancy period.
  • The dormant roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms (similar to a mushroom growing facility).
  • The control over the initiation of this second growing process allows for the year-round production of endive.
  •  
    You can sometimes find good prices on endive, especially when the edges of the tips start to brown, reducing the aesthetic. Since they brown on the grill anyway, it’s an impetus to grill.

    Bonus: A leaf of endive has just one calorie! It’s a good source of potassium, vitamins and minerals, high in complex fiber and promotes digestive health.

    Here’s an easy recipe from Endive.com, which has many more endive recipes.

    RECIPE #1: GRILLED ENDIVE

    Ingredients

  • 3-4 heads endive, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Optional: chopped fresh rosemary
  •    

    Grilled Endive

    Endive With Root

    Top: Endive hot off the grill. Bottom: This is what endive looks like when it’s pulled from the ground. The huge taproot is grown from seeds, harvested, placed in dormancy, and then re-planted to grow the endive heads. This technique enables endive, once a cool weather vegetable, to be grown year-round. Photos courtesy Endive.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill over a medium flame. Brush each endive half with olive oil and place on grill, cut side down. After 8–10 minutes, flip and cook another 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally and lowering the flame if needed until the endives soften.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped rosemary. You can serve it hot off the grill or at room temperature.

    3. VARIATION: You can also toss cooled grilled endive into a salad. Cut it into one inch slices; mix with arugula, watercress or other bitter green; and toss with an olive oil-lemon dressing. Garnish with crumbled chèvre or feta cheese and roasted nuts.

     

    Grilled Bok Choy

    Grilled bok toy and lamb patties. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    RECIPE #2: GRILLED MISO BOK CHOY & LAMB PATTIES

    Bok choy, a member of the powerful cruciferous* vegetable family (Brassica), has even more nutrients than some of its cousins (see the list below).

    This easy dinner is a cultural fusion: Chinese bok choy (also called pak choi and Chinese cabbage) meets Middle Eastern lamb patties. The bok choy doubles as a salad and a vegetable side; the miso butter gives it a celestial flavor. The fresh herbs are icing on the cake.

    The recipe, from Good Eggs, takes 15 mins active time and 10 minutes cooking time.

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ½ cup of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped (substitute 3 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons miso
  • 3 heads bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise and rinsed
  • Lime wedge
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lamb, feta, egg, oregano, and salt and egg in a mixing bowl. Mix well with clean hands and form into patties about 1” thick and 3” wide. Set aside.

    2. MIX the yogurt, garlic, mint, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Taste and adjust salt to taste (not too salty, as you’re also using salted butter). Set aside.

    3. MIX the butter and miso in a small bowl with the tines of a fork. Melt two tablespoons of the mixture in a cast iron pan over high heat. When melted and hot, tip the pan to coat the bottom of the pan with the mixture.

    4. ADD the bok choy cut side down and sear until it is a deep golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook on the back side for about a minute. Remove from the pan and squeeze a bit of lime over the bok choy. Return to the pan to finish cooking. When the bok choy is finished…

    5. WIPE the pan clean, add a tablespoon of olive oil and place the pan over high heat. When the oil is hot…

    6. ADD the lamb patties, leaving 1” in between each patty. Cook over high heat for about 4 minutes until the patty is golden brown. Flip to the other side and repeat. When both sides have good color…

    7. CHECK for doneness by inserting a sharp knife into the center of a patty. If the center has a flush of light pink, they’re ready. If the center is still dark pink, pop them in the oven (or toaster oven) at 350°F for 2-3 minutes.

    8. SERVE with the minted yogurt and bok choy. If desired, garnish with a sprig of mint or oregano.
     
    ________________________
    *The botanical family Brassicaceae, also known as the brassicas, cabbage family, cauliflower family and mustard family, consists of nutritional powerhouses that are packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). Brassica members include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna (Japanese mustard), mustard greens, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips, among others.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Cabbage Steaks

    Green Cabbage

    Grilled Cabbage Steaks

    Crumbled Blue Cheese

    Top: Take a head of cabbage (photo courtesy Good Eggs). Center: Slice it, grill it and garnish it (photo courtesy McCormick). Bottom: For better flavor, chop quality blue cheese instead of using packaged crumbles (photo courtesy KitchenHealsSoul.com).

     

    What’s next after Grilled Cauliflower Steaks? Why, its cruciferous† cousin, Grilled Cabbage Steaks.

    It can be a side, a vegetarian main, or part of a grain bowl. It’s just as delicious as cauliflower, and less expensive.

    This recipe from McCormick adds more flavor to the thick cabbage “steaks” with a zesty marinade. Crumbled bacon, blue cheese and green onions (scallions) are popular toppers. But if you prefer a vegetarian dish, use any toppings you like, from vegetarian bacon and cheese to grilled tofu and cherry tomatoes.

    An average head of cabbage can be cut into six steaks. Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.
     
    RECIPE: GRILLED CABBAGE STEAKS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 head green cabbage, cut into six 3/4-inch thick slices
  •  
    For The Marinade

  • 1 package McCormick Grill Mates Smoky Applewood Marinade (or your own marinade*)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • 6 slices bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  •  
    ________________________
    *Marinade mix comprises pre-selected seasonings, to which you add your own oil and vinegar. It’s easy to make a “freestyle” marinade from whatever you have on hand. Here’s a basic recipe: 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon each of three herbs of choice (basil, hot chile flakes, oregano, rosemary, thyme or other favorite. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (hold the pepper if using chile flakes). Or substitute lemon zest for an herb and/or lemon juice for part of the vinegar.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

    2. MIX the marinade packet, oil, vinegar, maple syrup and the reserved bacon drippings in small bowl until well blended. Place the cabbage steaks in large resealable plastic bag or a glass dish. Add the marinade and turn to coat well.

    3. REFRIGERATE the cabbage in the marinade for 30 minutes; longer for extra flavor. Then remove the cabbage steaks from marinade, reserving any leftover marinade (see the next section).

    4. GRILL the cabbage steaks over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until tender-crisp, brushing with the leftover marinade. Garnish with the bacon, blue cheese and green onions, and serve.
     
    Next up: Brussels Sprouts Kabobs?
     
    CAN YOU RE-USE MARINADE?

    For a meat or fish marinade, the answer is no. Potentially harmful bacteria that are killed during cooking will remain in the marinade. If you really want to re-use it, you can boil it first to kill the bacteria: Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

    Vegetables do not harbor harmful bacteria, so can be re-used or frozen for later use. The marinade will lose flavor each time it is frozen and defrosted, so check it after two additional uses and spruce it up with seasonings as needed.

    Here’s detailed information on marinade safety from FoodSafety.gov.
     
    ____________________________
    †The plant genus of cruciferous vegetables, Brassica, contains nutritional powerhouses that are packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). Brassica members include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others. Eat up!

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Spring Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    Shrimp Summer Rolls

    Fried Spring Rolls

    Top: Vegetarian spring rolls with shredded daikon, carrots, cucumber trips and peanuts (photo IST). Second: Vietnamese Summer Rolls (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). Third photo: Shrimp spring rolls (photo courtesy Three Ladies Rice Paper). Bottom: Chinese-style fried spring rolls (photo courtesy Davios | Boston).

     

    Spring rolls are one of our favorite appetizers at Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Even if we buy them at the take-out sushi counter at Whole Foods, they’re still $6 for two vegetarian rolls.

    So why don’t we make them at home?

    Yesterday, a lazy Sunday, we held a Spring Roll Brunch in our home, along with wine pairings.

    You can create a do-it-yourself spring roll buffet, but given the crowd, we enlisted one dexterous friend to help us with the wrap-and-roll.

    That said, they are easy to make and have a very high prep time:delicious factor.

    So first: What’s a spring roll?
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EGG ROLLS, SPRING ROLLS & SUMMER ROLLS?

    Identifying spring rolls can be confusing, and here’s why:

    While some countries, including China, make fried spring rolls, Thailand and Vietnam use the oncooked wrapper.

    The term “spring roll” is not synonymous with “egg roll,” which is always fried. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper that can be sliced into sections; a fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried; the wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry (most are vegetable, egg and/or meat or seafood filling). Spring roll wrappers are thinner, the shape is narrower and when fried the rolls are more finger-like. If you want to make egg rolls, here’s how.
  • Spring rolls are an Asian appetizer, eaten either Vietnamese-style, in an uncooked* rice noodle wrapper, or fried Chinese-style. They are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; but also are popular in Cambodia and Indonesia.
  • Vietnamese and Thai spring rolls use rice paper wrappers, which can be found in Asian markets. The dry hard wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, and filled with seafood; red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves; fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves and shredded carrot. They are served with a chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are not fried.

    Vietnamese spring and summer rolls are like eating a fresh salad roll, more complex in flavor (thanks to the fresh herbs) than fried Chinese spring rolls. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce known as nuoc cham, of which there are many variations.
     
    Spring rolls and summer rolls are made from a rice wrapper: tapioca starch, rice flour, salt and water. They are gluten-free and vegan. Egg roll skins are made from wheat flour and egg.

    The ingredients show through the translucent wrapper and create lovely eye appeal. You can roll anything in the soft rice flour wrappers—the stiff rice wrapper becomes soft after dipping in water. You can find the rice flour wrappers at Asian markets or the Asian products section of a good supermarket.
     
    Customize Your Spring & Summer Rolls

    Vietnamese spring rolls generally contain seafood such as cooked shrimp, accompanied by any combination of rice sticks, carrot, cucumber, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and fresh, leafy herbs: basil, cilantro and mint. Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage can be added for crunch.

    We also like adding toasted chopped peanuts (salty or honey-roasted) to half the batch, to our rolls.

  •  
    How did spring rolls get their name?

    Originally, they were special snacks served to visitors with tea at the Chinese New Year, which is the beginning of lunar spring.

    Both spring rolls and egg rolls date back to ancient China, and both are traditionally served with hot Chinese mustard or a dipping sauce.
     
    _______________________
    *Vietnamese spring rolls, or cha gio, are not fried—although some Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in the U.S. have taken to serving Chinese-style spring rolls as well, catering to the American taste for fried food.

     

    RECIPE: CHICKEN & AVOCADO SPRING ROLLS

    Ingredients For 4 Rolls

  • 4 spring roll skins
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado†, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 chicken breast (4 ounces), pre-grilled or baked and sliced thin
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup soy ginger sauce, peanut sauce or other dipping sauce (recipe below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEED, peel and slice the avocado.

    2. SOFTEN the spring roll skin in cold water for 5 seconds then place flat on cutting board. Place the sliced avocado and chicken breast, romaine and shredded carrots in the center of the spring roll skin. Gently fold over one side of the spring roll skin, fold in the edges and gently roll to the other end of the spring roll skin as though you are wrapping a burrito.

    3. SERVE on platter and serve with dipping sauce.

     
    RECIPE: DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar‡
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce, nam pla (you can substitute soy sauce**)
  • 1 garlic clove minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilies (you can use red pepper flakes)
  •  

    avocado-spring-rolls-hassavo-230

    Rice Spring Roll Wrappers

    Top: Avocado Spring rolls (photo courtesy Chiquita Brand). Bottom: Spring roll wrappers, made from rice flour (photo courtesy Rose Brands).

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the vinegar, water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chilies.

    2. COOL and serve, or else refrigerate.

     
    _____________________

    †Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

    ‡Depending on your personal palate, you can reverse the quantities of rice vinegar and lime juice. One good-size lime will yield 1/2 cup of juice.

    **Soy sauce will obviously taste different from fish sauce, but it still works as an Asian dipping sauce.

      

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    RECIPE: Chervil Sour

    Here’s something different: A cocktail based on muddled herbs. The Chervil Sour was created by Jeff Bareilles, Wine and Beverage Director at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, California.

     
    RECIPE: CHERVIL SOUR

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 15–20 chervil leaves
  • 2 ounces pisco
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the chervil and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker or pint glass. Add all other ingredients and ice. Shake vigorously until egg white is frothy.

    2. STRAIN into a coupe glass and top with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and garnish with a small chervil leaf.
     
     
    WHAT IS CHERVIL?

    Chervil, sometimes called garden chervil or French parsley, is an annual herb related to parsley, but more delicate in both appearance and flavor. It has a faint taste of licorice or anise seed.

    Chervil is a popular French seasoning for poultry, seafood and vegetable dishes (the word in French is cerfeuil, sir-FOEY).

  • It is one of the four ingredients of the French herb mixture fines herbes (feen-erb): chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon, used to season poultry, seafood, young spring vegetables, soups and sauces.
  • These herbs are called fine (delicate) as opposed to the stronger flavors of the bouquet garni (garnished bouquet). These “hardy” herbs—more pungent and/or resinous—are used to flavor soups, stocks and stews.
  • Bouquets garni can also include some fines herbes. Popular ingredients are basil, bay leaf; burnet, chervil, parsley, rosemary, savory and tarragon and thyme. They are tied in a bunch with a string, or in a piece of cheesecloth, so they can be easily removed from the pot.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chervil sour manresa 230

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chervil bunch www.herbtable.com 230

    Top: The Chervil Sour served at Manresa restaurant. Bottom: A bunch of fresh chervil. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

     
    How To Handle Chervil

    Hardy herbs—bay leaf, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme—will stay green for a week or two in the fridge (keep them dry in the produce drawer).

    Delicate herbs—basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, tarragon—wilt and turn yellow faster, and need special attention. 

  • Remove any ties or rubber bands and trim off the root ends and the leafless part of the stem (you can save the roots to flavor soups and stocks).
  • Place the herbs in a glass with a couple inches of water, cover with a plastic bag (we use a bag from the produce apartment) and secure the bag, as needed, with an elastic band.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Let Nettle Season Pass You By

    Green Garlic Soup

    Stinging Nettles

    Green Garlic

    Top: Add nettles to soup, such as this Potato, Nettle and Green Garlic Soup. Center: Nettles. Bottom: Green garlic. Photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    A year ago, we wrote about stinging nettles. also called common nettles and wild nettles. Here’s that background article.

    Today’s tip is a reminder not to let the brief season pass you by (it ends this month, depending on your location).

    WHAT ARE NETTLES?

    Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica, are slightly bitter green herbs that grow wild in the spring. Other names are common nettles and wild nettles.

    They are members of Urticaceae, family of flowering plants, also known as the Nettle Family. The family includes other useful plants, including ramie, which is used to make fabric.

    Different varieties grow worldwide, many without the sting. Those that are picked with garden gloves (rubber kitchen gloves work, too). The sting comes from chemicals* in the plant. Once stinging nettles are blanched, boiled or soaked in water, the sting is gone.

    In North America, nettles sprout up very briefly in early spring and late fall, growing like weeds at the edges of cultivated farmland. That’s why the best place to find them is farmers markets.

    Why go after something that stings? They have charming flavor, a bit like spinach with a cucumber undertone. You can use as a substitute for cooked spinach.

    You can find numerous nettles recipes online, but we’ll start you off with some soup and pesto.
     
    RECIPE #1: POTATO, NETTLE & GREEN GARLIC SOUP

    This recipe, from Good Eggs, unites two limited spring vegetables: nettles and green garlic. The soup tastes even better the next day. Prep time is 20 minutes, total time is 45 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 pound waxy or all-purpose potatoes, rinsed well and cut into 1″ pieces
  • Salt
  • 3 stalks green garlic, white parts minced and green parts set aside
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups nettles, carefully de-stemmed and washed (substitute spinach)
  • Garnish: ½ cup crème fraîche (substitute plain Greek yogurt)
  • Garnish: ½ cup parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons chives, chopped finely
  •  
    ________________________
    *In the stinging varieties, hollow stinging hairs on the leaves and stems called trichomes inject three chemicals when touched by humans and other animals: histamine which irritates the skin, acetylcholine which causes a burning feeling, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to relay signals in the brain. They produce a rash that can be treated with an anti-itch cream, aloe vera or baking soda. But the protective chemicals doesn’t do a good job of keeping us away from nettles: They have a long history of use as a medicine and food source. Further, they need to be eaten before they begin to flower and produce other compounds that cause stomach irritation. (Perhaps serve them with some fugu—blowfish?)
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water generously—it should be salty as ocean water—and add the bay leaves and a handful of the green garlic tops. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 25-30, minutes or until potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain in a colander and cool by spreading the potatoes in a single flat layer on a tray. While potatoes are boiling…

    2. SAUTÉ the onion in a large stock pot with a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil over medium-low heat, until soft and translucent. Add the minced green garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes, until soft and aromatic.

    3. HALVE or quarter the cooled potatoes, depending on size, and add to the onions and garlic. Stir gently to combine. Add the chicken stock to the pot until the potatoes are just covered; bring to a boil.

    4. TURN off the heat and purée half the soup in a blender. Use a kitchen towel to hold down the lid of the blender and be careful of steam and hot splashes. You can also use an immersion blender. If you prefer a more rustic soup, you can lightly mash the potatoes with the back of a spoon or a potato masher, instead of puréeing.

    5. USE protective gloves, a kitchen towel or tongs and carefully de-stem and wash the nettles (we cut them from the stems with a kitchen scissors). Drain them in a colander, then chop roughly. Fold into the hot soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with a generous dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives and parsley.

     

    RECIPE #2: NETTLE & PISTACHIO PESTO

    Nettles make a delicious pesto; here are 20+ ways to use pesto.

    This recipe is from Quinciple.com, a premier meal delivery service.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup stinging nettle leaves, de-stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup packed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (substitute freshly grated Parmesan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DE-STEM the nettle leaves: Hold onto the stem with tongs and use your other hand to carefully snip the leaves with kitchen scissors.

    2. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the nettles by adding the leaves to the water for 1-2 minutes. Remove them with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place them in an ice bath (a bowl with water with ice cubes) to cool. Once the nettles are cool to the touch, strain and squeeze all water from the leaves.

    3. ROUGHLY CHOP the blanched leaves and add them to a food processor with the garlic, pistachios, lemon juice and zest, cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse into a coarse paste. Then stream in the olive oil to the desired consistency or about 1/3. Serve immediately or store in a jar for up to 5 days.
     
    MORE WAYS TO SERVE NETTLES

    Like most herbs, nettles are good for you, rich in calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and vitamins A and C. They have been called “seaweed of the land” because of their complete spectrum of trace minerals and their soft, salty flavor.

  • Have them for breakfast, in omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • Add them to soup stocks or stews, where they’ll contribute a rich earthy/briny flavor. Some combinations include nettle-potato soup (recipe above), nettle-garlic, nettle-sorrel and just plain nettle.
  • Use them instead of spinach in a nettle & artichoke dip.
  • Steam and add them to enchiladas.
  • Add them to lasagna or risotto; top a pizza.
  • Purée them as a sauce for chicken, fish and seafood.
  •  

    Nettle Pesto Recipe

    Nettles

    Nettle pesto from Quinciple.com.

  • Combine them with spinach and/or mushrooms as a side, add them to a goat cheese tart, spanakopita, quiche, etc.
  •  
    Until next spring!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cauliflower Risotto

    Having just published an article about cauliflower rice, we’re following up with this recipe for Cauliflower “Risotto.”

    This recipe is from Food Player Linda, a freelance chef in Connecticut whose innovative recipes can be found onPlayingWithFireAndWater.com. When we win the lottery, we will retain her to make magnificent meals.

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER “RISOTTO”

    Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, washed, root end trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups of broth or stock
  • 4 ounces blue cheese or any creamy cheese that will melt*
  • Garnish: minced herbs, toasted breadcrumbs (ideally panko), shaved Parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a skillet or large shallow pan over medium-low heat. Stir in the shallots and cook slowly until translucent. While the shallots are cooking…

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the cauliflower into 1″ pieces. Working in 2-3 batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor in short pulses, until roughly the size of grains of rice. There will be a combination of very fine pieces as well as larger pieces.

    3. TRANSFER the cauliflower into the pan with the shallots and turn the heat up to medium-high. Sauté while stirring, until the cauliflower begins to brown. Season with salt and pepper and add a 1/2 cup of the stock, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. When liquid has nearly evaporated…

     

    Cauliflower Risotto Recipe

    caulirisotto-230

    Top: Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Risotto recipe with anchovy breadcrumbs, via Mimi Katz Chen. Here’s the recipe. Mushroom “risotto” made with cauliflower instead of rice. Recipe and photo courtesy Playing With Fire And Water.

     
    4. ADD another 1/2 cup of stock and turn the heat down until the liquid maintains a slow simmer. Continue stirring occassionaly, adding small amounts of liquid as necessary, until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency. Remove from the heat. Crumble the cheese over the top and stir in until melted and creamy. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve.
     
    ANCHOVY PANKO BREADCRUMBS GARNISH

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 small can anchovies, including oil
  • 3 small dried red chilies†
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the breadcrumbs, anchovies and their oil, and the chilies in a food processor; pulse until mixed.

    2. HEAT the oil in a frying pan and fry the flavored breadcrumbs, tossing and toasting until golden brown. Set aside until you’re ready to garnish.

     
    ___________________________
    *Best melting cheeses: Asiago, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, Mozzarella, Provolone, Robiola Bosina (not regular Robiola), Taleggio.

    †Cherry peppers are mild, as are the larger green Anaheim chiles. The yellow-orange Aji Amarillo and the larger Cayenne chiles
    have medium heat. Thai chiles, also known as sprig kee nu and birdseye chile, are hot.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Riced Cauliflower, Cauliflower Rice

    Cauliflower Risotto

    Cauliflower Rice

    Flavored Cauliflower Rice

    Top: No rice involved—this mushroom “risotto” was made by HealthyFellow.com from riced cauliflower. Here’s the recipe. Center: JoyLoop brand is sold at Good Eggs | San Francisco, perhaps the most wonderful food purveyor in the U.S. Bottom: In the U.K., CauliRice.com sells plain cauliflower rice, plus Indian, Mediterranean and Thai flavors.

     

    Cauliflower rice, also called cauliflower couscous, is poised for fame. There’s no actual rice involved; it’s a grain-free rice substitute made from cauliflower, that can be used in just about every rice recipe from plain boiled to fried rice to risotto.

    Cauliflower rice—cauliflower chopped in a ricer, became popular with the Paleo Diet, and it is takes time to make it from scratch.

    Fortunately, the Paleo Diet is making people more aware of it, and small producers have begun to cut and package it. It can be found minced or pulverized, fresh and frozen.

    Who invented cauliflower rice? There may be several different “inventors” who first pulverized a head of cauliflower. The Italian supplier who makes other cauliflower products for Trader Joe’s ended up with lots of leftover florets and trim. Rather than toss them, Trader Joe’s says, “We put our heads together and came up with a new product made from this extra cauliflower.”

    Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse, a “superfood,” a term that evaluates foods based on their calorie density vis-a-vis their amount/types of nutrients. A member of the Brassica family, it is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C (also an antioxidant). It is low in calories and low on the Glycemic Index (GI). But there’s more:

  • Cauliflower contains more vitamin C per 100g than an orange.
  • It has a range of protective plant compounds (the antioxidants quercetin, beta carotene and caffeic acid) that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, a key risk factor for cancer.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps to alleviate symptoms of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Its sulphur compounds support detoxification in the liver, and promote levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • As with cauliflower mashed potatoes, you can pass it off to kids and adult finicky eaters as regular rice.
  •  
    WHERE TO BUY CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Now here’s the rub: Cauliflower rice is not yet available as widely as it should be. But it’s poised for fame and on its way: We recently spoke with a specialty food manufacturer who will be bringing it to market soon. In the interim:

     

  • Trader Joe’s imports it frozen from Italy. It was so popular that as of this writing, it is sold out and the retailer is waiting for a new shipment.
  • Joyloop Foods, in greater San Franciso, sells to some California retailers and online.
  • Paleo On The Go, a meal delivery service, packages it and sells it on Amazon.
  • You can buy Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles in a Steam In Pack. Although the crumbles are larger than riced cauliflower, you can cook them al dente and rice them.
  •  
    And of course, you can make your own from a head of cauliflower.
     
    ______________________________
    *Brassica is the plant genus of cruciferous vegetables, nutritional powerhouses packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). They include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Cauliflower rice can be buttered, sauced or otherwise made more flavorful by adding vegetables, herbs and/or spices. This recipe, from CauliRice.com, advises that homemade versions will taste more strongly of cauliflower and less like actual rice, but we have no issue with the homemade “rice.” Light seasoning, butter, etc. will mask any subtle cauliflower flavor.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper and/or other seasonings (herbs, spices)
  • Optional: cooking oil
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Food processor with an “S” blade, or a hand grater
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the cauliflower and remove any leaves. Remove the main stem and set it aside for another purpose†. The fine stems that hold the florettes together need not be removed.

    2. CUT or break the florettes into chunks so they better fit into your food processor. Attach the ‘S’ blade and place the florettes into the processor bowl. Pulse until the cauliflower is the texture of couscous (course grains) or until all large lumps disappear. Do not over-process, as this will result in mushy cauliflower rice when cooked. If you have a particularly large cauliflower, or a small processor or hand grater, you may have to do this in batches.

    3. MICROWAVE for 3 minutes. Microwaving retains more moisture than dry-frying or oven baking, and is CauliRice’s preferred method. Place the cauliflower rice into a microwave-safe dish. Add a teaspoon of water—no more, or the cauliflower rice will become too wet. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid. Cook for 3 minutes at 900 watts.

    4. LEAVE the cauliflower rice covered, and let it stand for another 2-3 minutes. It will continue cooking in its own heat. Add seasoning to taste and serve.

     

    Cauliflower Rice

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Rice

    Top: Homemade cauliflower rice from TheKitchn.com. Here’s their recipe and a video. Bottom: Cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s.

     
    _______________________
    †You can steam and slice or purée it, finely dice or slice and add to salads, add to soups and stews, etc. You can also stick it in the freezer and decide later.

     
    TO DRY FRY

    1. HEAT a tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cauliflower bits and spread evenly across the base of the pan. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. If you prefer a less crispy cauliflower rice, add a tablespoon of water to the pan about halfway through cooking—but be sure to cook this added moisture off before serving.

    2. Add seasoning to taste, and serve.
     
    TO OVEN COOK

    Oven cooking produces a drier, crunchier cauliflower rice that some people prefer, although it gives a less rice-like effect.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Spread the cauliflower pieces evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the cauliflower every 5 minutes or so.

    2. REMOVE from the oven, add seasoning to taste and serve.

      

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