easy to make – The Culinary Chase http://theculinarychase.com support local Sat, 15 Jul 2017 15:54:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 double chocolate chip parfait – how to use a failed recipe http://theculinarychase.com/2017/04/chocolate-chip-parfait-how-to-use-a-failed-recipe/ Tue, 11 Apr 2017 19:34:33 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13542 It happens.  Cooks of all levels have experienced a failed recipe at least once, maybe more.  The thing is, a failed recipe has room for improvement and making it into something better the next time around.  That’s how we discover things, through trial and error.  I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies.  Like most […]

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double chocolate chip parfaitIt happens.  Cooks of all levels have experienced a failed recipe at least once, maybe more.  The thing is, a failed recipe has room for improvement and making it into something better the next time around.  That’s how we discover things, through trial and error.  I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies.  Like most cooks, everyone has their favourite recipe.  However, the one on the back of the package changed my mind.  The addition of cocoa powder made these cookies extra chocolatey (yum).   So I proceeded to follow the instructions and then it happened.  The cookie dough oozed into each other to make one massive dark blob.  How to salvage a chocolate chip recipe?

The cookie actually tasted delicious but it was more along the lines of a brownie.  The second batch I would be smart and reduce the size of the dough; same result only thinner.  Ugh!  This left me scratching my head as to what I did incorrectly and came up with two possibilities; I used too much butter or the recipe was wrong.  Since I am not going through this again, I am blaming the recipe (tee hee).   I didn’t throw out the brownie/cookie mess instead I made a parfait.

homemade chocolate chip cookies, crumbled
whipped cream

Layer dessert dishes with whipped cream and crumbled cookies. Serve immediately or place in refrigerator until ready to use.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Top off with orange zest.  Enjoy.

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hummus (with a surprising ingredient) http://theculinarychase.com/2017/03/hummus-with-a-surprising-ingredient/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 20:15:22 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13521 Most of us have, at some point, enjoyed hummus either as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment slathered over a falafel.  The recipe is simple;  grab a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), garlic, tahini, lemon or lime juice, coriander and process in a blender.  Hummus is a healthy substitute […]

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hummus - with a suprising ingredientMost of us have, at some point, enjoyed hummus either as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment slathered over a falafel.  The recipe is simple;  grab a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), garlic, tahini, lemon or lime juice, coriander and process in a blender.  Hummus is a healthy substitute for mayonnaise or butter.  That said, I went off it for a period of time as I found it boring until I decided to add anchovies…blame it on the anchovy butter I made a couple of weeks ago.  Sure, you can jazz it up by adding sumac or cumin but nothing quite took hold of my taste buds the way anchovies did.

I have been using anchovy fillets since December 2001 when I took an Italian cooking class (7 sauces for your pasta).  We were living in Singapore and I met Francesca.  Her charm, culinary experience (an instructor at The Culinary Institute of America) and natural love for her country was infectious.  I wanted to learn more.  She showed how to make a proper puttanesca sauce using anchovy fillets.  Before then I would have turned my nose up as I wasn’t a big fan of fish.  The anchovies dissolve when added to the tomato sauce with no hint of any ‘fishy’ scent, just an amazing savoury flavour.  Next time you make a beef stew, add these little guys.

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped (stems included)
2 teaspoons tahini (add more if needed)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
8 to 10 anchovy fillets (packed in oil), roughly chopped
extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and pulse. If too dry, add more olive oil. Serve on toasted bread slices or use as a dip.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Save some of the anchovy oil and add to the dip. Enjoy!

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avocado and shrimp wonton baskets http://theculinarychase.com/2017/03/avocado-shrimp-wonton-baskets/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 19:53:20 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13400 When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a […]

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When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer and I usually have an avocado on hand.  This recipe is easy to make and in roughly 10 minutes you can have the filling completed by the time the wonton baskets are cooked and cooled.   These baskets are packed with flavour and vitamins.  As always, the ingredient list can be modified to suit your own palate.

Makes 18 baskets
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 medium sized tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1/2 large lime
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
splash of fish sauce (optional but so tasty!)
18 wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 350f (180c). Place wrappers in a muffin tin and gently push down. Spray each with olive oil. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until golden crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. In a bowl combine onion, tomatoes, shrimp, garlic and coriander. Season with sea salt and pepper. Squeeze lime over the tomato and shrimp mixture,  add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, splash of fish sauce and combine.  Add avocado and lightly toss.

Fill each wonton basket with about 1 heaping tablespoonful of the tomato and shrimp mixture.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Substitute wonton wrappers with Belgium endive leaves.  Enjoy!

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homemade grainy mustard http://theculinarychase.com/2017/03/homemade-grainy-mustard/ Tue, 07 Mar 2017 21:57:50 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13378 There’s an immense satisfaction when something homemade turns out well and puts a smile on your face.  It gives that boost in confidence and lets you know you can tackle the next project on a high note.  We love grainy mustard almost as much as we do Dijon.  In the past 20 years, I have […]

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easy to make grainy mustardThere’s an immense satisfaction when something homemade turns out well and puts a smile on your face.  It gives that boost in confidence and lets you know you can tackle the next project on a high note.  We love grainy mustard almost as much as we do Dijon.  In the past 20 years, I have made a conscience effort to read food labels, understand what’s inside, and make an informed decision as a result.  So when I got it into my head to make my own mustard, I was surprised to see additives such as fruit pectin, citric acid, tartaric acid in Dijon mustard and lactic acid and flavour (no mention of what the flavour is) in grainy mustard.  Oops!  Did I forget to read the labels on these mustards?  Or did I think the additive list wasn’t too long?  It’s not as if we consume mustard on a daily basis.  Moral of the story; read the blinkin’ label!

This mustard is so delicious.  Try it on the usual suspects (sandwich, salad, meat) but also chuck it into dressings, lightly dress root veggies before roasting, add it to homemade bbq sauce, combine grainy mustard and mayo with lime or lemon juice (perfect dip for crudités).

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1 cup hard apple cider
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
lime wedge

In a small bowl add seeds and pour in hard apple cider. Cover and stand overnight at room temperature; I let it stand two days.

Pour contents into a food processor, squeeze lime wedge over seeds, add brown sugar, and purée to desired consistency. Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate 24 hours before using.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
You can substitute apple cider with chardonnay (1/2 cup wine with 1/2 cup water), 1 cup white balsamic vinegar, or 1 cup of beer.  For a spicier result, leave the jar of mustard at room temperature 1-2 days before refrigeration.  This allows it to ripen.  Mustard will keep up to one month in the fridge.  Enjoy!

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chocolate coated toffee http://theculinarychase.com/2017/01/chocolate-coated-toffee/ http://theculinarychase.com/2017/01/chocolate-coated-toffee/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2017 20:25:47 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13315 Hello 2017!  By now most of you are back to your daily routine.  Our Christmas decorations and tree are still up but it’ll all be put to bed come Friday – or at least the tree will be stripped and out on the sidewalk (garbage collection day).  Over the holidays I made my usual goodies […]

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butter toffee with chocolateHello 2017!  By now most of you are back to your daily routine.  Our Christmas decorations and tree are still up but it’ll all be put to bed come Friday – or at least the tree will be stripped and out on the sidewalk (garbage collection day).  Over the holidays I made my usual goodies as that’s what my family has come to expect and heaven help me if I change any part of that tradition (insert happy face here).  However, I did manage to introduce on New Year’s Eve a new treat – toffee.  I have never made it before and the recipe I found (slightly altered) is from Delish.  The batch I made was enough for our neighbour’s NYE social drop in and a bit left over as a sweet treat for our NYE dinner party.  These were a hit.  They were easy to make and very addictive!

This toffee recipe yields a delicious crunchy base topped with chocolate and nuts.  The texture of toffee can be soft or hard; it all depends on the cooking process.  There are oodles of toffee recipes and for an easy view, check out Pinterest toffee ideas.

1 1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cups macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
sea salt, for garnish

Grab a heavy bottomed saucepan and over medium-high heat, combine butter, sugar, vanilla. When butter has melted, stir constantly with a spatula so the butter and sugar don’t separate.  Cook until mixture turns a dark amber (about 15 minutes).

butter toffeePour toffee mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately top with chocolate chips. Let sit a couple of minutes then use a spatula to spread chocolate all over and create a layer on top of toffee.  Sprinkle nuts and top sea salt. Refrigerate until set then break into pieces and serve.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Have the toasted nuts, chocolate, and parchment-lined tray ready before you begin to melt the butter.  Use your favourite nuts to dress the toffee.  Enjoy!

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holiday party food – part 2 http://theculinarychase.com/2016/12/holiday-party-food-part-2/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 16:13:05 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13301 At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own […]

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At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own is easier than you may think.  Include your kids to help out when making Christmas bark and when your guest asks who made it they can gleefully say they helped.  The onion dip is a cinch to whip up and any leftover can be used as a spread in a sandwich, slathered on a hamburger, thinned out with milk to make a dressing, tossed with pasta.  Savoury palmiers are delicate bites and need little ingredients to enjoy.  This recipe uses my homemade spice rub but you can omit the rub and add fresh herbs such as thyme, sage or oregano and top with cheese.

Christmas bark – make and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long!).  Make a big batch and give to those who enjoy homemade gifts.

Onion dip – sure you can buy the commercial version but making your own allows you to control the ingredients and omit any additives commonly found in the dips you buy at the grocery store.

Savoury palmiers – flaky and light.  Make these ahead and pop into the oven before your friends arrive.

Well, folks, 2016 is almost over and I leave you with this little message:  the blessing of peace, the beauty of hope, the spirit of love, the comfort of faith.  May these be your gifts this holiday season.

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holiday party food http://theculinarychase.com/2016/12/holiday-party-food/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 19:51:26 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13282 Twelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  […]

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holiday-party-food-collageTwelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  We create lists of what we plan to make and yet as the date draws closer, it’s as if we never had a plan and we’re scrambling to pull it off.  Easy and simple to make, that’s my motto.  In the next few days, I’ll share some of my favourite party food with you.  Today’s post highlights the fun stuff – nibbles.

Polenta Treats – making your own polenta is easy but if you are pressed for time, buy commercial.  Assemble ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator before baking in the oven.  These treats take 10 minutes to cook!

Pork Belly Bites – this is one dish you can’t mess up.  Pork belly is where bacon comes from (bacon is the cured/smoked part) and is usually found in the meat section of your grocery store.  If not, ask your butcher.  These bites take all of 10 minutes to cook and dress up with honey and soy sauce.  Make this as your guests arrive, give them a toothpick and dig in!

Turkey Meatballs – an Asian-inspired finger food guaranteed to make your guests salivate.  Another party food to make ahead of the arrival of your guests.  Allow a few minutes for the meatballs to cool slightly before serving in lettuce cups – you don’t want your guests to burn their mouths.

greetings

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pasta with basil sauce http://theculinarychase.com/2016/11/pasta-basil-sauce/ Fri, 25 Nov 2016 21:03:01 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13221 After three weeks overseas, I am happy to be back home.  Mr. S and I love to travel almost as much as we enjoy being in our humble abode.  When away, I encounter (stumble upon) new ways to dress up old dishes.  Stumble upon; another word perhaps for getting lost.  Not that we are frequently […]

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pasta with basil sauceAfter three weeks overseas, I am happy to be back home.  Mr. S and I love to travel almost as much as we enjoy being in our humble abode.  When away, I encounter (stumble upon) new ways to dress up old dishes.  Stumble upon; another word perhaps for getting lost.  Not that we are frequently lost when walking around new cities or neighbourhoods, it’s just that what seems to be a logical route turns out to be a completely different area.  Not to fret, though, as these missteps can deliver a sense of jubilation when one sees something unique.  For us, it’s finding an enchanting historic building or a hole-in-the-wall cafe.  I don’t go out of my way looking for clothing shops, instead, I hunt down historical spots with places to eat and drink injected along the way.  In doing so we have discovered many hidden treasures and were able to eat like a local.

While in London, we headed to a unique coffee shop called the Attendant where we met our good friend Wayne.  Along the way, we spotted a cafe, ScandiKitchen, selling Scandinavian food.  As we passed by I saw their homemade granola and wondered if Wayne saw the shop.  When we arrived at the Attendant Wayne asked if we saw the place selling granola and nodded we had.  The Attendant is a converted Victorian washroom and as quirky and icky as it sounds, the decor was cool, the food and coffee was top-notch!

the-attendant

the Attendant

swedish-place

ScandKitchen

In Barcelona, unlike most tourists, we did not walk up La Rambla, but instead, veered off to the right and wandered the Gothic Quarter.  From there we made our way to La Segrada Familia.  It was lunchtime-ish and we were ravenous.  By the time we left the church, I wanted to eat.  After crossing a couple of intersections I spotted a place.  It was after 1pm and at that point, I did not care what we ate. La Barcca del Pescador was absolutely divine!  Turns out it’s been a neighborhood favourite for 40 years and only male servers dressed in white shirts with bow ties.  Sitting at the bar, I watched the chef prepare and cook food in a tiny open kitchen.  My Spanish is quite limited but we ate like there was no tomorrow.  Their marinated seafood was unbelievably tender, some served hot, some cold.  And, for the first time, our food bill was more than our drinks.  Cava was 2.40 euros a glass! Cin cin! We had more encounters like the above where the unexpected delivered lovely results.  So, the next time you get lost or feel like you are, don’t worry.  There’s most likely something around the corner that will make up for any angst.

chefla-barca

Serves 2
fresh pasta or whatever you have in the cupboard
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 handfuls fresh basil
olive oil
1/2 lemon
handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters

In a pestle and mortar add garlic and crush with a sprinkle of sea salt. Add basil leaves and pound until broken up resembling a rough paste. Squeeze lemon juice over basil and use the pestle to combine.  Add a splash or two of olive oil and stir. In a bowl add tomatoes and cover with basil sauce.  Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta according to instructions. I used fresh pasta and hand cut into 4-inch lengths.  Drain pasta and toss with tomato basil sauce.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Adjust sauce according to taste.  Enjoy!

Save

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clam chowder http://theculinarychase.com/2016/10/clam-chowder-2/ Tue, 04 Oct 2016 19:09:41 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=13070 For generations, my family has made clam chowder and I continue the tradition.  I recall my pleasure of crumbling saltine crackers atop the bowl of mom’s homemade clam chowder; not to thicken it up but, simply put, it was a tradition in my parents home.  The maritime autumn weather can be lovely and sunny but […]

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clam-chowder

For generations, my family has made clam chowder and I continue the tradition.  I recall my pleasure of crumbling saltine crackers atop the bowl of mom’s homemade clam chowder; not to thicken it up but, simply put, it was a tradition in my parents home.  The maritime autumn weather can be lovely and sunny but temperatures later in the day tend to drop off dramatically leaving me in search of a warming supper.  A chowder is simple and delicious.  It’s hearty enough to satisfy one’s appetite and easy on the pocketbook, too.

Traditionally I have used canned clams but for this recipe I chose fresh.  You can use any clam your fishmonger or grocery store offers.  I used steamer clams which are also known as long-neck clams or soft-shell clams.  Hard-shell clams are known as quahogs (pronounced co-hog) and referred as “little necks” (the smallest, 7 to 10 clams per pound), “cherrystones” (medium, 6 to 10 clams per pound) – both are good in a chowder.  The large quahog (2 to 3 clams per pound) can be a bit toothsome (chewy).  Personally, I find the little guys have the best flavour and taste sweeter.  Some cooks like to add flour to thicken the chowder but I mash some of the potatoes if I want a thicker consistency.

clam chowder
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A chowder is simple and delicious. It’s hearty enough to satisfy one’s appetite and easy on the pocketbook, too.
Author:
Recipe type: chowder
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. steamer clams, rinsed
  • 2 potatoes , peeled and cubed (roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 to 2 slices bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 carrots, chopped
  • olive oil
  • milk
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves removed
Instructions
  1. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden brown. Add a splash of olive oil if pot is dry then toss in onion. Stir and cook until translucent. Add potatoes, carrots and tarragon. Stir to combine and cover with milk. Cover and allow to gently simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.
  2. While the chowder is simmering, grab a stockpot and place over high heat. Add one-quarter cup of liquid before adding clams. This liquid can be water, white wine, Pernod etc. You don’t need much liquid to steam the clams. Cover and steam over high heat 5 to 10 minutes until the clams open up. Discard any that do not open. Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from their shells and remove and discard the skin around the neck of the clam. Keep the clam juice as you’ll want to use some of this for extra flavouring in the chowder. No matter how well you rinse and clean the clams there’s always a bit of sediment that is released when the clams open up. When adding clam juice to chowder, pour carefully or better still, use a ladle.
  3. When the potatoes and carrots are cooked to your liking, add the steamers to the chowder and stir. Add one-quarter cup of the clam broth to the chowder and stir. Taste and see if the chowder needs more and season to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped tarragon.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Make sure the potatoes are well covered with milk (at least an inch above).  If you want to use canned or bottle clams instead of fresh, add clams to chowder a few minutes before veggies are cooked.  Pour in some of the clam juice from the can for added flavour.  Enjoy!

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blueberry-blackberry fool http://theculinarychase.com/2016/08/blueberry-blackberry-fool/ Thu, 25 Aug 2016 19:23:00 +0000 http://theculinarychase.com/?p=12926 Blueberry-blackberry fool has to be one of the easiest desserts to make.  Not everyone is a fan of blackberries but mixed with blueberries and cream, it’s guaranteed to be a hit at the dinner table.  Both blueberries and blackberries are in season so look for fruit that’s plump but not mushy to touch.  A perfect […]

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blueberry blackberry foolBlueberry-blackberry fool has to be one of the easiest desserts to make.  Not everyone is a fan of blackberries but mixed with blueberries and cream, it’s guaranteed to be a hit at the dinner table.  Both blueberries and blackberries are in season so look for fruit that’s plump but not mushy to touch.  A perfect venue to find these beauties is at farmers’ markets or go to a u-pick berry farm.  I’m not sure why this quintessential English dessert is called a fool, but no matter, it’s light and simply scrumptious!  In the 15th century, the most common fruit used in a fool was the gooseberry.  The fruit was folded into a custard but I prefer whipped cream when I don’t have time.  For more fool dessert ideas, check out Series Eats.

Serves 4
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups whipped cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Cointreau or elderflower cordial

In a frying pan over medium heat melt butter then stir in maple syrup. Add berries, liqueur and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer just until berries become a bit soft and the natural juices have been released. Remove from heat, set pan aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

blueberriesWhip cream to soft peaks. Grab a dish of your choice and add a dollop of whipped cream on the bottom followed by a spoonful of fruit. Repeat process.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Top, if you like, with a simple nut brittle.  If you have any berry sauce leftover, mix with plain yogurt.  Enjoy!

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