Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Minty Lamb Shank

Minty Lamb Shank is one of the steadfast dishes at our home.  The dish is hearty, flavourful and very delicious. 

Minty Lamb Shank can be served at your family dinner table as well as to guests.  The flavour wonderfully improves as you reheat.  I therefore often cook this dish when we invite guests and prepare it the day before their arrival.  When the guests have arrived, all I have to do is to put the pan on the stove top to reheat, and I can concentrate on entertaining the guests with conversations and drinks.

I usually cook Minty Lamb Shank in the oven, but recently I have modified my recipe so that it works for slow cooker cooking.  It worked very well and was even easier to reheat the following day. 

Ingredients for 4 people
some olive oil
4 small to medium lamb shanks
salt and black pepper
1 large purple onion, chopped into small pieces
2 - 3 garlic, chopped
1/2 cup + 1 tbs mint leaves, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock - 2 cubes dissolved with 2 cups of hot water
1/4 cup white wine
1 table spoon tomato paste

Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan and place the lamb shanks inside, covering with a lid.  Fry for 5 - 6 minutes.  Turn, cover and cook for a further 5 - 6 minutes.

Transfer the lamb shanks to a ovenable tray or dish (i.e., Pyrex dish).  Lightly sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Cook in the preheated oven at 400F for 15 minutes.  Turn them over and return to the oven to cook for a further 15 minutes.  Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate lined with kitchen towel to drain off the extra fat.

With a kitchen towel, wipe off the fat from the frying pan that cooked the shanks.  Heat the olive oil on a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for 7 - 8 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the mint, thyme and bay leaves and stir well.  Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Evenly spread the half of onion mixture on the bottom of the crock pot.  Place the lamb shanks in a single layer inside, then scatter the remaining half of the onion mixture over the lamb shanks.

Combine the tomatoes, stock, wine and tomato paste well and pour over the lamb shanks.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Cover the slow cooker, turn on at high and cook for 7 hours.

For your information, when you reheat the Minty Lamb Shank the following day, simply turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours.

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If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vegan Friendly Teriyaki Tofu Burger

Once again, it has been a long time since I posted the last blog.  I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday and a great start to the new year.

On New Years Day, I made some resolutions for 2014 including to extend my cooking repertoire to vegetarian & vegan friendly dishes.  This does not mean I have suddenly changed my diet or beliefs.  I am still a very omnivorous woman!

I sometimes cook snacks and sweets for my husband's work colleagues.  Among them, there are some vegetarians and vegans.  They have never had a chance to taste my cooking as I was not considerate enough to choose ingredients which were suitable for any diet and/or belief.

I love cooking, but, even more, I love seeing people enjoying my food.  So, this year's cooking challenge is to create delicious recipes that satisfy omnivorous people, vegetarians and vegans.

As the start of my challenge, I have recently created a teriyaki tofu burger.  Caramelised sweet onion gives a hint of meat flavour, garam masala adds some natural umami, and "no-high fructose corn syrup" sweet teriyaki sauce boosts the taste of the burger.

I personally have never liked any tofu burgers before, but this was something different!  It satisfied me as a convicted meat and fish lover completely!

Ingredients for 4 people
1 12oz pack of silken tofu (I bought a tetra pack of Morinaga tofu)
some olive oi
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped finely
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
salt & black pepper (to taste)
pinch of garam masala (about 1/8 teaspoon)

(Teriyaki Sauce)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet sake)
2 tablespoons sake
2 teaspoons caster sugar

Double wrap the tofu using two sheets of paper towel, place it on a plate and cook in the microwave at 1000w for 1 minute.  Remove the tofu from the microwave and turn it over while still wrapped.  Return the tofu to the microwave to cook for further 30 seconds.

Remove the sheets of paper towel and place the tofu in a colander.  Leave it to drain any excess water for about 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts to discolour.  Add the sugar and cook for further 10-15 minutes until the onion is nicely browned and caramelised.  Remove from the heat and leave it to cool to room temperature on a plate.  Wash the frying pan thoroughly with detergent.

In a large mixing bowl, add the drained tofu, cooled caramelised onion and other patty ingredients. Using your hand, mix well until everything is well combined.  Divide the mixture into 4 (or 8 if you prefer miniature patties).

Heat the olive oil in the cleaned frying pan over a medium heat.  Wet your hands with a little bit of water, then take one of 4 (or 8) tofu mixture and form it to a half inch thickness (a quarter inch thickness if you are making miniature patties) either round or oval shape.  Place it on the frying pan.  Repeat for the rest.

Cook one side 4-5 minutes or until it nicely browns, then gently turn it over.  Cook the other side also until it turns to brown.  (The tofu burgers are very fragile.  If you do not brown each side well, it is more likely to break while turning over.  Handle with much care!)

Remove the tofu burgers to a plate and wipe off the extra oil from the frying pan.

In a measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved completely.  Pour the sauce to the frying pan and bring it to the boil.

Return the tofu burgers to the frying pan and reduce the sauce almost by half while turning over the burgers several times to coat the sauce on both sides.

The tofu burgers are extremely soft when they are hot.  I recommend to serve them with some Japanese steamed rice or vegan safe burger buns, after cooling for 5 - 10 minutes.

If you would like to know my recipe for beautifully soft vegan safe buns, please feel free to ask me using the comment box.  I am very happy to share that with you!

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If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Midnight Blue Trifle

It has been almost 5 months since I last time updated my blog.  I have been too busy to translate my Japanese recipes into English.

In May this year, my mother had a cerebral hemorrhage and hospitalised.  I had to go back to Japan to look after her, as well as looking after my father who is 91 years old and left at home by himself.  Ironically, on the day I left Seattle, I was going to demonstrate how to cook my Lobster Macaroni & Cheese on KCTS's cooking show.  Sadly, I had to cancel my appearance. :-(

Anyway, miraculously, my mother has recovered steadily and has recently been told by her doctor that she would be discharged from the hospital hopefully early next month!  This means that - after we bring her home - that I will not have to go back to Japan every month.

I therefore would like to restart my project to translate my recipes into English and share them with my non-Japanese speaking readers.

As the first recipe after reopening this blog, I would like to introduce this delicious trifle.

Trifle is one of the British traditional deserts and it used to be a jumble of left-over sweets and deserts.  The one I am introducing is not a recreation of left-overs but instead is based around its original roots. I made the recipe as simple as possible by using purchased lady fingers and custard mix powder.

The only one thing in this recipe cooked from a scratch is the jelly.   I made this jelly with the blackberries that my husband and I picked in our garden.

The colour of jelly reminds me of the deep dark Autumn night,  Thus, I decided call it Midnight Blue Trifle.

It is very tasty and if you serve it to your family, friends or even important guests, no one can tell that most of the ingredients are ready-made or instant.   

Ingredients for 6 - 8 people
11oz frozen blackberries - no need to thaw
1+1/3 cup water
5 oz sugar
2 tablespoons cherry brandy (optional)
2 envelopes Knox gelatine

2 tablespoons Bird's custard powder
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 UK pint (20 fl oz) milk

(sponge base)
10-12 lady fingers
some blackberry or blueberry jam
3-4 tablespoons dry sherry

1/2 US pint of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
some grated white chocolate
some blackberries to garnish

To make the jelly, place the blackberries, water, sugar and cherry brandy (if you are using) in a pan and cook on a medium heat.  When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and cook uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes until the blackberries are nice and soft. 

Using a masher, crush the cooked blackberries, then transfer the blackberries and juice to a strainer.  Using a wooden spoon, press down firmly the blackberries to extract the juice and discard the seeds. Dissolve the gelatine into the strained juice while it is still hot, transfer to a shallow dish and chill for several hours or overnight until it completely sets.

To make the custard, combine the custard powder, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of the milk and mix well until it becomes a paste.  Place the remaining milk in a sauce pan and heat until it reaches almost boiling point, then pour onto the custard paste and stir well.

Return the custard mixture to the sauce pan and bring to the boil over a low heat stirring continuously.  Transfer the custard to a mixing bowl, cover the surface of the custard with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool completely.

With a knife, cut each lady finger into 2, spread the jam over the bottom side of one of the half and sandwich with another half.  Lay the sandwiched lady fingers on the bottom of a trifle bowl and pour the dry sherry all over.

Pour the custard over the lady fingers, then scoop the jelly with a tablespoon and place evenly over the custard.

Spread the whipped cream evenly over the jelly, sprinkle the white chocolate and garnish with some thawed blackberries.

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If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese with pictures covering every step, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese

One thing I always keep in my freezer is frozen lobster meat (langoustine, to be precise).  I buy them at my local COSTCO.  They are precooked, tasty and very convenient.  When needed, all I have to do is just defrost and I can eat as they are or add straight to my cooking dish.

Frozen lobster meat is particularly useful when I want simple dishes to be boosted and look more gorgeous, such as spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino (spaghetti simply cooked with garlic and chile).  The volume is boosted and the dish becomes a gorgeous evening meal.

This time, I added some lobster meat to a simple macaroni & cheese together with some chopped tarragon.  This is an awesome and completely different dish from the one you remember at the school canteen.

Moreover, the recipe that I created includes low-fat milk and cheese without butter!

Ingredients for 2 to 3 people
6 oz macaroni
some salt
4 tablespoons Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
1/2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon (depending on how hot you prefer) cayenne pepper
1/2 litre (2 cups + 4 teaspoons) 1 % low fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
some olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 1/4 oz low-fat Cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
10 - 11 oz frozen lobster meat (defrost and lightly squeeze to remove excess liquid)
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves

Boil plenty of water for the macaroni and add a good teaspoonful of salt.  Cook the macaroni until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, place the panko, Parmesan cheese, paprika and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Take 3 - 4 tablespoons milk, add to the flour and stir well.  Add the flour mixture to the rest of the milk and stir well until the flour mixture is completely dissolved.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for 2 - 3 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Pour the milk/flour mixture into the frying pan and, constantly whisking, bring to a boil. 
Add one third of the cheese at a time and stir well between each addition until the cheese is melted.

Add the tomato paste to the frying pan and stir well until the paste is blended and the colour of the sauce becomes pinkish.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the cooked macaroni and lobster meat and mix evenly.  (Do not cook too long or the macaroni becomes soggy and you lose the lobster's delicious flavour.)

Remove the frying pan from the heat and stir in the tarragon.

Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish greased with a little of the olive oil, sprinkle the panko mixture evenly and cook in a preheated oven at 400F for 25 - 30 minutes or until it browns.

Sprinkle some chopped tarragon and serve hot.

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Below is the Japanese version of the recipe.  If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese with pictures covering every step, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

<材料 3人分>









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Friday, April 5, 2013

Kedgeree Cake

In Britain, there are some dishes inspired by Indian cuisine.  They call those Anglo-Indian.

The recipes for Anglo-Indian dishes are generally eccentric.  I mean really eccentric!  For example, putting mango chutney in soup, or adding heavy cream to rice - ideas such as this first turned me away from Anglo-Indian dishes.

However,  once I tasted them, they were not bad at all!  I have tried most of the Anglo-Indian dishes and must say they are all very delicious!

In this blog, I am introducing to you a modified version of one of the Anglo-Indian dishes called Kedgeree.  Normally, Kedgeree is a curry flavoured pilaf cooked with smoked fish (which most British love) with heavy cream and boiled eggs added at the end of cooking.

I modified my usual Kedgeree recipe to cook it with canned salmon and, rather than adding boiled eggs, I made an egg mixture using cream and cheese, which I added into the rice mixture and then cooked in a cake tin to set as a savory cake.

Kedgeree is one of my husband's favourite Anglo-Indian dishes and every time I cook it he appreciates it very much.  However, when I made this modified version of Kedgeree, he was just so astonished by my idea and the taste.

As soon as I published this recipe in my Japanese blog, one of my Japanese friends tried it.  She and her husband really enjoyed the dish and she is now planning to add the recipe in her cooking repertoire.

Ingredients for 2 - 3 people
1 tablespoon butter, withholding 1/3 for greasing
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 - 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 - 2 1/2 inches carrot, peeled and chopped to the size of corn and peas
3 tablespoons sweetcorn, either frozen or canned
3 tablespoons frozen peas
2 cups cooked warm sushi rice (available at the oriental corner of any supermarket)
2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (about 5 oz) pink salmon, drained well
salt and black pepper to taste
3 eggs
1 oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons half & half
6 - 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Heat 2/3 of the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.  Add the carrot, sweetcorn, peas and cook for 4 - 5 minutes or until the volume reduces to half.

Put the warm rice in a large mixing bowl, then add the cooked vegetables, chives (or parsley), curry power and 3 spices.  With a wooden spoon or spatula mix the rice using a slicing action to distribute the vegetables and spices thoroughly.  Bear in mind if you mix too much, the gluten in the rice makes the mixture too sticky which is not a pleasant texture when you eat.

Add the pink salmon to the rice mixture and lightly mix so as to keep the bigger fish lumps.  Season with salt and black pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs and strain though a fine colander.  Add the cheese and half & half to the eggs and mix well.

Add the egg mixture into the rice mixture, mix and pour into a (using the remaining butter) greased and lined 7 inch spring-form round cake tin.

Arrange the cherry tomatoes cut side up and push them down to the rice.  With the back of spoon flatten the surface of the rice, then pick up the tin and let it drop from a few inches several times onto the kitchen work surface to remove any excess air.

Cook in a preheated oven at 350 F for 45 - 50 minutes.

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Below is the Japanese version of the recipe.  If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese with pictures covering every step, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

<材料 2~3人分>
生クリーム...大さじ2(私はHalf & Halfを使用)







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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lamb Chop Risotto

Originally I found the recipe for this beautiful lamb risotto in a cook-book.  In the original recipe, the stew used stewing meat and thinly sliced onions.

I modified the recipe replacing the stewing meat with beautiful chops, and replacing the thinly sliced onions with whole shallots.  I also added whole mushrooms too, to make the dish look more gorgeous - in a way like Boeuf Bourguignon and in another way like Ossobucco.

Lamb chops are usually very expensive, but if you substitute it for shoulder blade chops, you can make a beautiful meal for your special events, or to provide hospitality to your guest at reasonable cost.

Ingredients for 2 people
olive oil
2 lamb shoulder blade chops
2 large shallots, peeled
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium size dried Mexican red chile, seeded and chopped 
1 small bell pepper (any colour), seeded, removed membrane and thinly sliced vertically
4 - 6 (depending upon the size) brown mushrooms, trimming the end of the stem
1 pack (0.75 oz) basil leaves, chopped
1 small bottle (187ml) of red wine, divided to 2/3 and 1/3
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (100ml) water
salt & black pepper
4 - 6 (depending upon the size) cherry tomatoes

2 1/2 cups stock (2 1/2 teaspoons of granulated chicken stock diluted in 2 1/2 cups hot water)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
3/4 cup rice, use without washing
1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and nicely brown both sides of the lamb chops.  Remove the lamb chops to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, add some more oil if necessary and cook the shallots for 4 - 5 minutes or until they start turning to light brown.  Add the garlic, chile, bell peppers, mushrooms and basil and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes.

Add the 2/3 bottle of wine and wine vinegar and cook until the liquid evaporates and reduces to half.  Add the water, bring to boil and season lightly with salt and black pepper.

Return the lamb chops, cover, reduce and cook for 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 40 - 50 minutes.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, taste and add more salt and black pepper in necessary.  If the stew is runny, uncover and increase the heat to reduce the liquid.

While cooking the lamb chops, make the risotto.  Put the chicken stock into a pan and place on a high heat.  When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest setting to continue simmering.

In a frying pan, melt the butter and cook the onion for 3 - 4 minutes or until it becomes soft.  Add the rice and, stirring constantly, cook for 1 - 2 minutes until the rice starts changing colour to translucent.

Add the rest of wine and, stirring constantly, let the rice absorb the wine completely.  Add a ladle of the chicken stock and let the rice absorb the stock completely.  Repeat until the rice absorbs all the stock.

Remove the frying pan from the heat, add the Parmesan and season with salt and black pepper.  Cover and allow the risotto to stand for about 5 minutes.

Put the risotto and stew on one plate and serve hot.

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Below is the Japanese version of the recipe.  If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese with pictures covering every step, please click HERE.

Bon appetit!

<材料 2人分> 










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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Orange Flavoured Hot Cross Buns

Every year I bake my home-made hot cross buns for a Good Friday breakfast, and today I baked some for tomorrow!.

This year I modified my usual recipe, adding some orange juice and zest to the dough, and orange extract to the biscuit dough and icing. I made two types, 12 of them with biscuit crosses and the other 9 have icing crosses.

Both hot cross buns are awesome!  I have been baking hot cross buns for many years, but these are definitely No.1!

So, I would like to quickly publish my newly modified recipe, so that, if you are planning to bake some tomorrow, I can share my gorgeous hot cross buns with you.

The measurements shown below are metric scales which I usually use.  I did not have time to convert the figures into avoirdupois.  If necessary, I would appreciate it if you could do so yourself.

Ingredients for 21 buns
(bread dough)
540g all-purpose flour (alternative to British plain flour) + dusting
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1.5 teaspoon salt
60g butter
60g sugar
1 egg
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 medium orange, pour into a measuring cup
milk, add to the measuring cup holding the orange juice to make it up to 260ml
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

(dried fruits)
70g raisins
40g golden raisins
40g currants

butter to grease the baking pans
1 egg, well beaten with pinch of salt for egg wash

(biscuit dough for 12 buns)
100g all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
30g icing sugar
50g butter, cubed (half inch) and chilled
1 teaspoon orange flavour extract (sometimes called orange water in the supermarket)
A little milk (enough to make the dough smooth)

(icing for 9 buns)
100g icing sugar
1 teaspoon orange flavoured extract
more or less than 1 tablespoon milk

Place all the dough ingredients in a bread machine pan according to the recommended order by the manufacture, then select the raisin dough cycle.  Add the dried fruits when beeps.

To make the biscuit dough, sieve the flour, baking powder and icing sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter to the flour, then with your fingertips or using a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour lightly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the orange extract and then, little by little milk (about 1 teaspoonful each addition) to the flour mixture, then mix the pastry until it becomes smooth.  Do not put too much milk!  As the flour mixture has quite high amount of powder sugar, it will end up becoming too sticky to roll.  Wrap the pastry in aluminium foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge, then unwrap.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to the size of 12 x 6 inch rectangular.  Using a pie cutter or knife, cut the dough into half inch x 24 strips.  

When the dough cycle finishes, remove the dough from the pan and place on a lightly floured surface.  Punch down the dough, then divide it into 21 equal sized balls.  Place 9 of them in a greased 8 inch square disposable aluminium baking pan and cover with a damp cloth and let them rest in a warm room for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  These buns are for presents and given away in the pan.

As for the rest of buns, first of all, grease well a 11 inch flan tin with butter and line the base with parchment paper.  Now, place two strips of biscuit dough on the bun forming a cross, cut the extra biscuit dough and roughly tucking each end of the cross to the bottom of bun.  Remember that the bread dough will rise but the biscuit dough will not.  This means if you tuck the cross tightly under the buns, the biscuit strips will break easily as they do not expand as much as the buns.

Place three buns close together (forming a triangle) in the centre, then place the rest evenly around the circumference of the tin.  Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let them rest in a warm room for  50 minutes to 1 hour, or until they double in size.

Brush all the buns with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven at 200C (400F) for 12 - 15 minutes.

When the buns are baked, remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.  As for the 9 buns to be given as a present, leave to cool down as they are, and as for the other 12 rolls, remove from the flan tin and cool.  Do not attempt to remove the 12 rolls from the tin without the 15 minutes cooling time, as the biscuit dough is very fragile when hot and will break.

To make orange flavoured icing, place the icing sugar in a mixing bowl, add the orange flavoured extract and gradually add the milk to make icing which is quite thick but still able to pipe.  Pipe the icing on the 9 buns forming a cross.

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Below is the Japanese version of the recipe.  If you would like to read this recipe in Japanese with pictures covering every step, please click HERE.

Bon appetit! 

<材料 21個分>



(ビスケット生地 約12個分)

(アイシング 約9個分)











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