Chicken Paprikash w/ Hot Buttered Spaetzle

With this recipe I should point out that I am neither German nor Hungarian in heritage. I am in fact Irish…and a massive lover of food (If you’ve ever seen me you’d be able to tell trust me!) Aside from baking, this love particularly includes comfort food.  You know the type of food- dishes crafted from seemingly humble ingredients and resulting in that sublime feeling of snug…content…”Hygge” to use the Nordic phrase.

This dish was one that on my first attempt I tentatively made my way through. Most of the recipes I researched commented that care needs to be taken with the paprika, if it’s dry cooked too long it can scorch giving the dish an underlying acrid taste. Next, care had to be taken when adding the soured cream/ cream mixture. If you dump it straight into the pan with the paprika mixture there’s a very high chance of it splitting and curdling the sauce, flecking it with gloopy, white nodules. Whilst it’s still edible it is no where on par with the velvety smooth, ochre sauce that you get by taking that little additional step of tempering the cold cream mixture with a few tablespoons of the hot paprika sauce.

Now, after making it a number of times, I can navigate the recipe with that intrinsic muscle memory that is so synonymous with cooking or baking comfort food dishes. It’s very easy to see why this dish has stood the test of time.

As well as the chicken paprikash I’ve included a recipe for spaetzle. For me the two go together like every cliched pairing you could think of. Spaetzle (“Little Sparrows) are toothy little dumplings of German origin. I first had these in a Bavarian restaurant in Vermont having ordered them not knowing what to expect. When they arrived I was prepared for something like pasta from the visual. I was more than pleasantly surprised upon first bite at how chewy they were, with an addictive density smothered in rich butter. A beautiful love affair was born!

Try these out- you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

Serves 4*

*for this dish I usually serve 1-2 drumsticks and 2 thigh pieces per person.

  • 8 drumstick portions of chicken
  • 8 thigh potions of chicken
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (at a push you can use standard paprika but the Hungarian variety gives a much better flavour)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup soured cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy/ whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a jug, stir to combine the soured cream and heavy/whipping cream. Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated. Set aside until needed later
  3. In a large pan over a medium heat, brown the chicken drumsticks and thighs until golden brown. Remove and place in a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Place in the preheated oven until needed near the end of the recipe
  4. In the same pan as the chicken was cooked, add the onion sauté until softened, then add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan of chicken fronds
  5. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves and sauté with the onions for a few minutes until the garlic is lightly browned
  6. Off the heat stir in the paprika and stir to coat the pan contents
  7. Return the pan to the stove, add the chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Cook over a medium heat until bubbling. Check and adjust seasoning to taste
  8. Whilst the paprika mixture cooks, to the jug of soured cream/cream mixture add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot paprika mixture and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the jug to the main pan of the paprika mixture and stir for a few minutes to fully incorporate and thicken. The paprika sauce should now be thick and bright orange in color
  9. Remove dish of chicken pieces from the oven and pour over the paprika sauce, covering and coating all the chicken pieces
  10. Return the dish of chicken pieces and sauce to the oven and continue to bake for a further 10mins. After this time check the chicken to be fully cooked (should be an internal temperature of 165degrees F)
  11. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped flat leave parsley and serve. Chicken paprikash goes particularly well with a side helping of hot buttered spaetzle (and I just happen to include it below!)

Hot Buttered Spaetzle

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. In a jug, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley. Whisk to combine and make a well in the centre
  3. Pour in the egg/milk mixture and stir well until combined. The mixture will be quite thick and stretchy
  4. Cover and set the spaetzli batter aside for at least an hour at room temperature. (I usually prepare mine in the morning if I’m cooking them in the evening- a lengthy sitting of 3-4 hours. This helps the dough to develop both taste and texture)
  5. *This next bit depends entirely on what method you use to make you spaetzle. There are a number of gadgets that can be used for making spaetzle. These range from a sapetzle “press” (similar to a potato ricer) to a spaetzle “slider” (looks like a mandolin) but the method I use is with a spaetzle “lid and scraper”.
  6. Place large dollops of the reared batter on the lid and use the scraper to push the batter through. Admittedly this make take some more skill and dexterity but it’s what I’m used to. The main thing here is to use a method that you’re comfortable with.

    Spaetzle lid and scraper

  7.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Whilst this reaches boiling fill another large boil with cold water & ice and leave in close proximity.
  8. *Make the spaetzle according to your device method. With all the methods exercise immense caution as you’re working in close proximity to the boiling water
  9. (Lid and scraper method) Place the spaetzle lid over the pot of boiling water. Take a ladle full of batter and drop it onto the lid.
  10. Force the batter through the device. The batter will form droplets and drip in to the salted boiling water below and let them cook for 1 to 2 minutes until floating on the surface. Continue until all the batter is squeezed through the lid.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the large bowl of iced water
  11. Repeat until you have used up all the spaetzle batter
  12. In a large pan, head 5-6 tablespoons of butter until sizzling over a medium heat
  13. Drain the spaetzle of all water, add to the butter and toss to coat
  14. Continue to stir and toss over a medium heat until they start to get flecked with golden brown flecks
  15. Serve hot with chicken paprikash

• The spaetzli may be cooked a few hours in advance to the point where they are placed in the iced water. If you want to store them remove them from iced water, shake dry and place in a covered container in the refrigerator. I have made mine the day before, stored in the fridge and then cooked the evening of the following day. Still perfection!

Semlor Buns

Pancake Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday. Call it what you will- it’s an annual day with it’s roots in guilt-free indulgence before the long Lenten period of abstinence prior to the Easter celebration of faith. Having grown up in Ireland it usually meant pancakes. Stacks of pan-fried, chewy batter usually soaked in cheek-puckering amounts of Jif lemon juice and liberally sprinkled with caster sugar.

Times change and I guess so do tastes. Piles of pancakes no longer ignite childhood delight. So this year I decided to try something different and was not disappointed! Hailing from Nordic regions the “Semla bun” (Semlor pl) is a spiced bread bun, predominantly filled with an unctuous almond paste, topped with whipped cream, and dusted with a snowy layer of icing sugar (because you can never have too much decadence on Fat Tuesday!)

As with the etymology of  so many pastries and breads there are numerous versions and methods out there depending on how deep you dig. I went with the classic, and probably best known, Swedish version with some slight tweaks. The dough I use is my “go-to” enriched dough with the addition of the required ground cardamom. The inclusion of this spice not only gives the dough a depth to it’s sweet taste, but also a heady fragrance which whafts of indulgence.

The finished and filled buns are exceptional when eaten fresh and on the day. Should the need arise they can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days. But some words of caution here – the longer they are kept in the fridge the drier and tougher the buns will become. If you do this they’re best removed from the fridge about an hour before eating so they are allowed to come to their ideal serving at room temperature. Guess this means all the more reason to eat them all in one go?

Makes 12

Ingredients

Buns

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup tepid water
  • 4 cups strong bread flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg, beaten for bun wash

Filling

  • Crumbs from bun centres
  • 3 1/2oz marzipan, cooled to fridge temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Finish

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method

  1. Heat the butter and milk together in a pan until until butter is melted. Remove from heat add vanilla extract and leave to cool, stirring occasionally
  2. Combine yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in a jug. Add tepid water, mix and leave to active for 10mins until frothy
  3. In a bowl of stand mixer combine flour, salt, cardamom, cinnamon and whisk together to combine
  4. To the flour mixture addd cooled milk mixture, yeast mixture and egg
  5. Set on low to combine the ingredients. Once combined continue to form a dough and knead in mixer for 6 mins on low, or knead  by hand for 10 mins
  6. Remove from stand mixer bowl and place in an oiled bowl to proof for 45-1hr until doubled in size
  7. Remove from bowl and on an oiled surface punch down and knock air back. Divide dough batch into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls
  8. Set equally and well spaced on a lined baking sheet and allow to second proof for 30-45mins
  9. Preheat oven to 400
  10. Brush the proofed buns with egg wash and bake in oven for 10-12mins until golden
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack
  12. When buns have completely cooled, use a sharp serrated knife and cut the tops from them (about 1/2 inch from top). Set aside for later
  13. Remove the insides from the buns whilst leaving the outer shell intact and place crumb filling into a bowl
  14. Grate in cooled marzipan and add milk and cream. Mash/ stir until a paste is formed. Depending on the amount of crumb filling used from the buns, you may need slightly more liquid- what you want is a thick, spoonable paste
  15. Divide and spoon the marzipan crumb paste into each of the buns
  16. Set aside when each of the buns has been filled
  17. In a bowl add the vanilla extract to the whipping cream and whip until stiff peak stage
  18. Fit a piping bag with a star tip nozzle, fill with the whipped cream and pipe in a circular motion to cover over the filled bun holes
  19. Top with the saved bun lids from earlier
  20. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

Brazilian bakes & candies

Think of Brazil and no doubt the usual plethora of images will spring to mind- sundrenched beaches, feather-bedecked soca dancers and copious churrascaria. What doesn’t come to mind is a wealth, and often unexplored world, of baking. From breads to cakes to sweet treats there’s no shortage of tasty culinary treats to try.

So you may be asking yourself how does a Irish native, now resident in Canada, come to be waxing lyrical on all bakes Brazilian? I recently made the acquaintance of a native Brazilian via the wonders of a social media. A mutual bond over adoption matters, cultural appreciation (makes a change to hear those two words together huh?) and adventures in food was formed, and here we are! Insight from someone who grew up in a culture always trumps even the best research you can do. There is something satisfying about knowing that this is how “it” actually is, in everyday life, rather than some interpretation of “it” from the vaults of some Lonely Planet-esque archives.

The recipes here are essentially in two parts- bakes and sweets. The Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheesebread) is definitely worth trying out. Served warm from the oven they are an ideal breakfast morsel, or even snack through the day. Freezer-friendly and gluten-free they are also a handy reserve should any gluten intolerant friends swing by. The Pudim de Queijo and Bolo de Fuba Cremoso share a common theme in that they are both prepared making use of a tall blender. Apparently this is a common feature in Brazilian baking as stand mixers are not that common. For the Pudim de Queijo think creme caramel and Catalan flan. To be honest though to hold it in comparison is to do the Pudim injustice. The addition of the cheese to the flan mixture rescues it from the overpowering (and somewhat cloying) sweetness to which it’s European counterparts often fall prey. Cheese also a feature in the recipe for Bolo de Fuba Cremoso. When baked the combination of cheese, cornmeal and coconut result in veritable kitchen alchemy that allows for a crispy topping, smooth interlayer and deliciously crumbly base. Believe me, once you try a slice of this alongside a strong coffee, breakfast will never be the same again!

The Dochinos de Leite Moca here are all variations on a theme of Brazilian candies. Made using boiled sweetened condensed milk they are sure to prove popular not only with the little ones in your life but all the grown-ups. The final sweets will usually keep for a week in a container in the refrigerator. These dainty mouthfuls of scrumptuous sweetness look  (and taste) like they required hours of kitchen toil instead of the mere minutes needed in reality. The longest part is the cooling time! I cannot emphasis how much these candies are worth the minimal effort.


Pao de Queijo (8)

Pao de queijo

Makes approximately 40

Ingredients

  • 500g cassava starch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 400g grated cheese (150g Gruyère; 150g mozzarella; 100g sharp red cheddar such as Red Leicester)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line 2 cookie baking trays with baking parchment
  2. In a bowl mix the Gruyère and mozzarella cheeses, Set aside until needed
  3. Combine the water & oil in a pan and bring to boil over heat
  4. Place cassava starch in a bowl of a stand mixer
  5. With the mixer running, carefully pour over boiling liquid in stages and mix to combine
  6. Leave to cool, until you can touch the side of the bowl
  7. With the mixer running, add in eggs one at a time
  8. Add in the Gruyère/ mozzarella cheese mix in thirds and mix until combine.
  9. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold/lightly knead in the sharp cheddar.
  10. Roll dough into 3cm wide sausage shape
  11. Cut into smaller 1 inch pieces and roll into balls using wet hands
  12. Place the dough balls on lined baking trays, spacing about 2 inches between
  13. Bake at 400F for 20mins until puffed and lightly golden

– The baked rolls/ puffs are best eaten straight away, after cooling slightly.

*Once the dough had been shaped into balls, they can be frozen in a bag or under cling wrap and baked from frozen. Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 30 mins until puffed and lightly golden

Pao de Queijo (1)


Pudim de Queijo (3)

Pudim de queijo

Makes 1, serves 12

Ingredients

Caramel

  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can whole  milk (use the same can as sweetened condensed milk to measure)
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a pan over a medium heat combine the water and fine sugar.
  3. Increase heat and bring to the boil, without stirring, for about 10mins. The liquid should thicken and turn a deep amber color
  4. When the liquid has turned deep amber, remove from heat and pour into an 8inch circular baking pan
  5. In a blender mix the condescended milk and milk for 2 mins
  6. Add in eggs and mix to blend again for 2 mins
  7. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix for a further 2 mins
  8. Pour into prepared caramel pan and place the filled baking pan in deep roasting tray large enough to take the pan
  9. Cover the filled pan with aluminium foil, and fill the roasting tray with water to at least 3/4 level with the pan
  10. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 50 mins
  11. After the aluminium foil from the pan and continue to bake for a further 10 mins
  12. Remove the baked pudding from the oven and the roasting tray. Leave to completely
  13. Turn the cooked pudding out by placing a large plate on top of the pudding and quickly inverting. It may requirement a gentle shake for it to come out
  14. Keep the turned out pudding refrigerated until serving

Pudim de Queijo (6)


Bolo de Fuma Cremoso (3)

Bolo de fubá cremoso

Makes 1 , serves 12

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups fine sugar
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. In a large bowl add the fine sugar, cornmeal, flour, shredded coconut and mix to combine
  3. In a large blender combine the eggs, milk, melted butter, and baking powder, Parmesan cheese and mix until well combined
  4. Pour the liquid mixture in to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir/whisk gently to combine well
  5. Pour to cake batter (which will be quite running into a 9inch spring-form cake pan
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 mins until the top of the cake is golden brown and the sides pull away from the pan
  7. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely in the pan before removing the pan collar
  8. This cake goes particularly well with a strong, early morning coffee

Bolo de Fuma Cremoso (1)


Dochinos (2)

Dochinos de Leite Moca

Each recipe makes between 15-20

This little sweet bites were traditionally served at children’s parties, are astoundingly easy to make and even better to eat!

Brigadeiro

Ingredients

  • 300ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg yolk

To finish

  • A selection of chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles to finish

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and loosens from the pan. (It will take between 8-10 mins)
  2. Pour the hot mixture into a heat-proof bowl and leave to cool to room temperature
  3. When the mixture has cooled , grease your hands with oil and shape a teaspoon of the mixture into a round ball shape in your hands
  4. Roll the ball of mixture in sprinkles of your choice to coat and place on a lined baking sheet
  5. When all the brigadeiro have been rolled transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and allow the to chill and firm for at least 2 hours

 

Beijinho

Ingredients

  • 300ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 1egg yolk

To finish

  • 100g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Whole cloves (optional)

Method

  1. Combine the milk and egg yolk in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and loosens from the pan. (It will take between 8-10 mins)
  2. Pour the hot mixture into a heat-proof bowl and leave to cool to room temperature
  3. When the mixture has cooled , grease your hands with oil and shape a teaspoon of the mixture into a round ball shape in your hands
  4. Roll the ball of mixture in the shredded coconut to coat and place on a lined baking sheet. Stud each beijinho with a whole clove
  5. When all the beijinho have been rolled, transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and allow the to chill and firm for at least 2 hours

 

Cajuzinho

Ingredients

  • 300ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 30g unsweetened shredded coconut

To finish

  • Fine sugar
  • Roasted peanut halves

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and loosens from the pan. (It will take between 8-10 mins)
  2. Pour the hot mixture into a heat-proof bowl and leave to cool to room temperature
  3. When the mixture has cooled , grease your hands with oil and shape a teaspoon of the mixture into a “horn” shape in your hands
  4. Roll the cajuzinho in fine sugar  to coat, stud the larger end with a peanut half and place on a lined baking sheet
  5. When all the cajuzinho have been rolled,  transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and allow the to chill and firm for at least 2 hours

Dochinos (5)

 

#Recipe Caramelised Walnut & Blue Cheese Soda bread

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Soda bread was one of the first things I remember watching my mother make/bake in the kitchen. From my seat on the kitchen drainer I would watch how she’d mix and shape the dough into the thick, dense cakes and I’d hanker for a warm slice, the melted butter dripping down my greedy knuckles. Beats crumpets any day! With the minimum of ingredients it was her “go to” recipe when cupboards were getting bare- maximum flavour from minimum input. So often  was it made in my childhood house that there was no need for her to weigh or measure quantities. It was an instinctual process, hands tracing what seemed like arcane patterns and motions, guided by numerous loaves that came before.

The lack of yeast in the mix makes it a particularly quick and easy loaf to knock together. No kneading is required and the mixing is minimal (to avoid an overly heavy dough). So it really is just a case of mix, shape and bake.

Whilst I have kept to the basic recipe as taught to me (flour, bread soda (bicarbonate of soda), buttermilk and salt, I have as usual added my Mr. Mom’s twist. The additional of the caramelised walnuts and blue cheese add wonderful pockets of sweetness and Unmami to the earthy wholemeal dough. I serve mine here with Guinness infused butter to make it just that little bit more indulgent for a St. Patrick’s Day treat.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibhe!

 

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Ingredients

Caramelised walnuts

100g walnut halves
55g caster sugar
15g unsalted butter

Soda bread

450g wholemeal flour
175g plain flour
2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoons salt
450ml buttermilk (450ml  milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice stirred in)
100 g Cashel Blue cheese, plus extra for topping
Caramelised walnuts (see above)

Guinness Butter

1 quantity of homemade butter (See the recipe here)

150ml Guinness Stout (not draught)

4 teaspoons Irish heather honey (If you can’t find this, ordinary honey will be fine)

Pinch of salt

You’ll need 2 non-stick baking trays (or standard ones lined with baking parchment)

To make the caramelised walnuts

  • Set aside a non-stick baking tray. If you don’t have non-stick variety to hand, just line a standard tray with baking parchment.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat.
  • Stir to combine and to stop the mixture from catching.
  • Continue until the butter and sugar have melted. At this point you need to stir continuously until the syrup turns a deep shade of amber.
  • Immediately remove from the heat and tip the mixture onto the (lined) baking sheet. Using two forks separate the nuts individually so that they don’t clump together.
  • Allow the nuts to cool on the baking tray before use. (As a side note these make wonderfully tasty drinks snacks as they are like this. I often make a double batch!)

To make the soda bread

  • Preheat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
  • In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (including the candied walnuts and cheese) and mix well.
  • Make a well in the center, and add in roughly 1/3 of the milk. Mix lightly.
  • Add in the second 1/3 of the milk and again mix until just combined.
  • Add in the final amount of milk and mix until a dough is formed and there is no dry flour remaining in the bowl.
  • Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead.
  • Form into a round about 1 1/2 inch thick transfer to your baking sheet.
  • Stud the top of the loaf with a few chunks of blue cheese (to taste) and dust with flour. Score the top of the loaf in half with a floured, sharp knife. Turn the loaf 90 degrees and score again so that you have a cross shape dividing the top of the loaf into quarters, then prick each of the four quarters**
  • Bake the loaf in your preheated oven for about 45mins. Test by tapping the bottom of the loaf- it should sound hallow. (If the top of the loaf starts to brown too quickly, loosely drap some foil over it). Once baked remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • Serve with Guinness Butter (see recipe below) or for a traditional Irish after-school treat slathered in butter and jam!

To make the Guinness Butter

  • Heat the Guinness in a pan over a high heat and reduce down to 1/3 volume. You should have a denser syrup. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully.
  • Place the butter in a bowl of stand mixer, add in the cooled Guinness syrup, honey and salt.
  • Beat on medium until combined then increase the speed to high and “whip” for about 5-7 minutes until all the ingredients are fully combined and mixture is fluffy in texture.
  • Remove the butter from the mixing bowl, transfer to a dish and serve alongside the prepared soda bread.

**Although these two actions have a practical use in the making of this bread, the traditional meaning lends a much more romantic slant to them as only the Irish can. Cutting the loaf into quarters is said to be “Blessing the bread” so that it the house making it may never run out of it. Pricking each of the quarters is “to let the Sidhe (fairies) escape” in order to avoid any havoc they make reek if kept trapped in the bread. Quite how they got in there in the first place is beyond me by who am I to argue with centuries of tradition!

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