This delicious baked pasta from the April 2014 issue of Food and Wine features a sauce made of roasted tomatoes, garlic, thyme and basil. The roasted tomatoes are added to sautéed onion, crispy pancetta and olives. Meanwhile, roast some broccoli. Cook the rigatoni and stir into the sauce, along with the broccoli, ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and more fresh basil. This would be a great dish for Sunday brunch or a weeknight supper.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter with only a single ingredient: cream. I used nitrite-free bacon instead of pancetta and President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives, which are all-natural. Check the labels on the ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano to make sure they don’t contain colour or artificial ingredients.

Place fresh herbs on tomatoes prior to roasting

Roast the broccoli

The roasted tomatoes form the basis of the sauce

Combine sauce, broccoli and ricotta

Place in baking dish and sprinkle with Parmigiano

Baked rigatoni with broccoli, green olives and pancetta

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

1 ½ pounds (680 g) plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 thyme sprigs

½ cup (125 ml) torn basil leaves, plus 1 basil sprig

3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ pounds (680 g) broccoli, cut into small florets and stems reserved for another use

One 4-ounce (113 g) slice of pancetta, finely diced

1 large onion, very finely chopped

1 cup (250 ml) pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano, halved

1 pound (454 g) rigatoni

2 cups (500 ml) fresh ricotta cheese

¾ cup (175 ml) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425° F (232° C) and butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33 cm) ceramic or glass baking dish. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and basil sprigs with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until softened and browned in spots; let cool. Discard the thyme and basil sprigs and coarsely chop the tomatoes and garlic, reserving any juices.

Meanwhile, on another rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and nearly crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, tomatoes and garlic and the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of butter; keep warm.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente. Drain, reserving 1¼ (300 ml) cups of the cooking water. Stir the pasta into the skillet along with the reserved cooking water, broccoli, ricotta, torn basil and ½ (125 ml) cup of the Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) of Parmigiano on top and bake for 15 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

From the April 2014 issue of Food and Wine

This delicious side dish from the April 2014 issue of Canadian Living takes only minutes to prepare and would be perfect for a spring dinner party or Easter feast. Crisp some bacon or pancetta, sauté the veggies, add a little vinegar at the end and it’s ready!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used nitrite-free bacon instead of pancetta. Look for a red wine vinegar with no sulfites added. I use Eden Organic brand.

This side dish cooks in about 8 minutes

Asparagus and mushroom sauté with pancetta

Ingredients:

1 pkg (150 g) diced pancetta

3 shallots, sliced

3 bunches (each 450 g) asparagus, trimmed and cut in 2-1/2-inch (6 cm) pieces

2 pkg (each 227 g) cremini mushrooms, quartered

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

Pinch salt

2 tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar

Preparation:

In large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, cook pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes.

Add shallots, asparagus, mushrooms, pepper and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Serves 8-10.

From the April 2014 issue of Canadian Living

This very healthy recipe from the March 2014 issue of Bon Appetit uses one of my favourite methods for cooking fish—slow-roasting in the oven. At a low temperature, the fish cooks to perfection in about 30 minutes. This all-in-one dish meal also includes chickpeas and wilted greens. The recipe called for mustard greens, but I used kale instead.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The ingredients to check for additives and preservatives are the chickpeas, cumin, honey, Dijon and capers. I use PC Blue Menu canned chickpeas, PC Old-Fashioned Dijon and Unico capers. Use an all-natural honey and make sure the cumin does not contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Mash some of the chickpeas

Place sauteed kale on top

Place salmon on top

Slow-cooked salmon, chickpeas and greens

Ingredients:

Salmon

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more

1 15.5-oz. can (439 g) chickpeas, rinsed

½ teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 bunch small mustard greens, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon (10 ml) honey

4 6-oz. (170 g) skinless salmon fillets

Vinaigrette and garnish

½ small shallot, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon (10 ml) Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon (5 ml) honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, rinsed, patted dry

Preparation:

Salmon

Preheat oven to 250° F (120° C). Brush a large baking dish with oil. Combine chickpeas, cumin, and 1 tbsp. (15 ml) oil in a medium bowl. Mash about half of chickpeas with a fork; season with salt and pepper. Transfer chickpea mixture to prepared dish.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp. (15 ml) oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mustard greens and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add honey and ¼ cup (60 ml) water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until greens are completely wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to dish with chickpea mixture.

Season salmon with salt and pepper; arrange over greens and chickpea mixture and drizzle with oil. Bake until salmon is opaque in the center, 30–35 minutes.

Vinaigrette and garnish

Whisk shallot, lemon juice, mustard, and honey in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook capers until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds; drain on paper towels.

Drizzle salmon with vinaigrette and top with capers. Serves 4.

From the March 2014 issue of Bon Appetit

This is a very simple recipe for chicken thighs, but it yields delicious results. At least four hours before starting to cook, marinate the thighs in oil, garlic, coriander and cumin seeds, lemon zest, salt and pepper. When you are ready to cook, sear the thighs, skin side down, in a cast iron skillet, turn them, and finish roasting in the oven. Indian potatoes, peas and cauliflower are an excellent accompaniment.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the spices do not contain colour and always used freshly squeezed lemon juice, as the concentrates are bitter and contain sodium benzoate.

Marinate the chicken for at least four hours

Sear the thighs skin side down

Turn the thighs and then roast until cooked through

Spiced chicken thighs

Ingredients:

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

5 garlic cloves, smashed

1½ tablespoons (25 ml) coriander seeds

1 tablespoon (15 ml) cumin seeds

1 teaspoon (5 ml) grated lemon zest

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

Eight 6-ounce (170 g) bone-in chicken thighs with skin

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the garlic, coriander and cumin seeds, lemon zest, 1½ teaspoons (7 ml) of salt and ¾ teaspoon (3 ml) of pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450° F (220° C). Heat a cast-iron skillet. Turn the chicken in the marinade and scrape off any solids; add to the skillet skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat until the skin is golden brown. Turn the chicken; transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, until the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the lemon juice.

From Food and Wine

Paillard is a term used for meat, usually veal or chicken, that is pounded thin and then quickly seared on top on the stove. This recipe for chicken paillards from Martha Stewart Living is healthy and quick to make for a weeknight supper. In addition to the chicken, it includes roasted squash and onion, and a garnish of fried sage leaves and baby spinach. And, if you’ve had a tough day, pounding the chicken can be very therapeutic!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The only thing that may contain artificial ingredients is the butter, which can contain colour. Look for a brand of butter that has only one ingredient: cream.

Toss the squash and onion with oil and put in the oven to roast.

Pound the chicken to a thickness of about a quarter-in

Fry the sage leaves

The sage should be crispy

The thin paillards sear quickly on top on the stove

Chicken paillards with squash, onion, fried sage and spinach

Ingredients:

½ small kabocha or acorn squash, unpeeled, seeded and cut lengthwise into ¾ -inch (1.9 cm) slices

1 small red onion, cut into wedges, root end attached

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

4 skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves, 4 to 5 ounces each, (113 g to 141 g each), butterflied

Red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon (15 ml) unsalted butter

16 fresh sage leaves (from about 4 sprigs)

1 cup (250 ml) baby spinach leaves

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Distribute squash and onion evenly on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil, season with salt, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer and roast until squash is tender, about 15-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, pound chicken to a 1/8 to ¼ -inch (0.3 cm to 0.6 cm) thickness (use the smooth side of a meat tenderizer, a rolling pin or a heavy pot). Season on both sides with salt and red pepper flakes. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Swirl in remaining tablespoon (15 ml) oil, then butter. Fry sage until just crisp, about 1 minute; let drain on a paper towel.

Working in 2 batches, add chicken to pan and cook until golden and cooked through, about 1 minute on each side. Divide chicken among 4 plates and top with spinach, squash, onion, and sage. Serves 4.

From Martha Stewart Living

Cooking fish wrapped in parchment paper—en papillote—yields great results. The fish is moist and tender and is cooked with a minimum of fat. This recipe from the March 2014 issue of Food and Wine calls for striped bass, but any kind of thick fillet would work. The fish is topped lemon slices, salt and bay leaves (I used thyme instead), wrapped in parchment, and baked for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, you sauté onions and garlic and then add tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, hot peppers and ground coriander to make a delicious, fresh-tasting salad.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Ground spices may contain colour and anti-caking ingredients, so check the label.

Place lemon slices on fish and drizzle with olive oil

Wrap the fish in parchment paper and bake

Serve the baked fish with Lebanese salad

Ingredients:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 medium tomatoes, cut into ¼ -inch dice

2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped

1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish

2 jalapeños, minced

1 fresh hot red chile, seeded and minced, plus sliced chile for garnish

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Kosher salt

Four 6- to 7-ounce skinless striped bass fillets, about ¾ inch thick

8 thin slices of lemon

4 fresh bay leaves

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 7 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, jalapeños, minced red chile and coriander. Season with salt; let cool.

Arrange 4 large sheets of parchment paper on a work surface. Season the fillets with salt and set one in the center of each sheet. Top each fillet with 2 lemon slices and 1 bay leaf; drizzle with 1 tablespoon each of the remaining olive oil. Bring up 2 opposite sides of the parchment over the fish and fold to seal. Fold up the edges to create a packet.

Transfer the papillotes to a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly puffed.

Mound the tomato salad on plates. Carefully open the packets and set the fish on the salad. Garnish with the parsley sprigs and sliced chile; serve. Serves 4.

From the March 2014 issue of Food and Wine

Everyone should have a good spaghetti and meatballs recipe in their arsenal, and this one from the Barefoot Contessa is a classic. The meatballs, which contain three kinds of meat, are simmered in a savoury tomato sauce. Serve on top of cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with lots of Parmesan cheese. This recipe takes a little time to prepare, but your family and friends will love it!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

White bread, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, red wine and canned tomatoes may contain preservatives, colour or sulfites. The bread and bread crumbs should contain only natural ingredients. I used a wedge of President’s Choice Parmesan cheese and red wine from Frogpond Farm that had no sulfites added. Buy whole nutmeg and grate it on a microplane grater – it will taste much fresher than pre-ground nutmeg, which can include anti-caking chemicals. I use Unico canned tomatoes, which contain only tomatoes and salt.

The meatballs are made with veal, pork and beef

Make about 15 meatballs, two inches in diameter

Brown the meatballs well

Saute the onion and garlic in the same pan

Deglaze the pan to incorporate the delicious brown bits, aka fond

Simmer the meatballs in the tomato sauce

Serve atop cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with Parmesan

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
¼ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

1 ½ pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs.

Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

From Family Style by the Barefoot Contessa

This dish from the Barefoot Contessa is just as tasty as fried chicken, but is much healthier because it is baked. Chicken pieces are dipped in wine and mustard and then coated with panko, which are Japanese breadcrumbs. The recipe calls for a whole chicken, cut up, but I used chicken drumsticks and thighs instead. I found a half cup (125 ml) of mustard and a half cup (125 ml) of white wine to be much more liquid than I needed, so consider cutting the quantities in half. I cooked the chicken for 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for, as it was not done in 50 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Panko usually does not contain preservatives, but check the label to be sure. Make sure your butter does not contain colour and look for a mustard without sodium benzoate or sulfites; I use President’s Choice Old Fashioned Dijon. I used a white wine from Frogpond Farm that has no sulfites added.

Dip the chicken in a mixture of wine and mustard, and then in the panko

Press remaining panko onto the chicken

Crispy mustard-roasted chicken

Ingredients:

4 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon (15 ml) minced fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups (500 ml) panko (Japanese bread flakes)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons (30 ml) good olive oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup (125 ml) Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon

½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine

1 3½- to 4-pound (1.75 to 2 kg) chicken, cut in eighths

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C)

Place the garlic, thyme, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt, and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour the mixture onto a large plate. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard and wine.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper.

Dip each piece in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides, and then place skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on a sheet pan crumb-side up. Press the remaining crumbs on the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and bake for another 10 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serves 3-4.

From Foolproof, by the Barefoot Contessa

This delicious beef stew from the February 2014 issue of Canadian Living has a Moroccan twist, thanks to the fragrant spices and addition of prunes and apricots. It would be great for a pot luck dinner or a casual supper, and it tastes even better the next day! Serve with couscous or crusty bread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check you spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. I have not been able to find an all-natural beef stock, so I used Imagine brand organic chicken stock and it worked fine. I used wine from Frogpond Farm that had no sulfites added. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce is all-natural. Dried fruits often contain sulfites to preserve colour, so check the label carefully.

Onion and celery flavour the stew

Toss beef with salt and pepper before browning

Brown the beef well

Simmer the stew for 1.5 hours

Sweet and sour beef stew with prunes and apricots

Ingredients:

1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

1.35 kg stewing beef cubes

½ tsp (2 ml) each salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp (10 ml) ground ginger

½ tsp (2 ml) each cinnamon, and ground allspice

2 bay leaves

3 cups (750 ml) sodium-reduced beef broth

1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine

1/3 cup (75 ml) cider vinegar

2 tbsp (30 ml) packed brown sugar

2 tsp (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce

4 carrots, chopped

2 white turnips, peeled and cubed

½ cup (125 ml) pitted prunes, chopped

½ cup (125 ml) dried apricots, chopped

2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour

2 tbsp (30 ml) cold water

Preparation:

In large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 tsp (5 ml) of the oil over medium heat; cook onions and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Scrape into bowl.
Toss together beef, salt and pepper. Add remaining oil to pan; heat over medium high heat. Cook beef, in batches and stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes.

Stir in garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion mixture, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and bay leaves; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in broth, wine, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-½ hours.

Stir in carrots, turnips, prunes and apricots; cook, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Whisk flour with cold water; whisk into stew. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serves 10. To make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

From the February 2014 issue of Canadian Living

This delicious combination of pork tenderloin with braised red cabbage and apple is from Lucy Waverman. The pork is sprinkled with spices and seared. The cabbage and apple are sautéed and then bathed in wine, vinegar, sugar and stock. Place the pork on top and simmer until the pork is done. While the pork rests, add more wine, vinegar and stock to the pan, reduce the sauce, and whisk in a little butter at the end.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check your spices for colour or anti-caking agents. I used a red wine from with a sulfite level of lower than 10 parts per million, Imagine organic chicken stock, butter containing only cream and a balsamic vinegar with only naturally occurring sulfites.

Rub spices into pork tenderloin

Place seared pork on sauteed red cabbage and apple

Reduce sauce while pork rests

Pork tenderloin with red cabbage

4 cups (1 L) red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 tsp (5 ml) ground fennel seeds

1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander

Pinch cinnamon

1 lb. (500 g) pork tenderloin

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

1 apple, peeled and diced

½ cup (125 ml) red wine, divided in half

3 tbsp (45 ml) balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 cup plus ¼ cup (310 ml) chicken stock

1 tbsp (15 ml) butter

2 tsp (10 ml) fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add cabbage and bring back to a boil. Boil 1 minute, drain and refresh the cabbage with cold water. Drain well and set aside.

Combine fennel, coriander and cinnamon. Sprinkle over pork tenderloin, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet large enough to hold pork, or cut the meat into large sections to fit into the pan. Add pork and sear on all sides until browned, about 2 minutes a side. Remove pork and add apple and cabbage.

Sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup (60 ml) of wine, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Add pepper flakes and ¼ cup (60 ml) of stock and return pork to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover skillet and cook tenderloin for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a touch of pink is left in the centre.

Remove pork and cabbage from the pan. Let pork rest 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, add remaining vinegar, wine and stock to the pan. Reduce on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until thickened. Whisk in butter to finish.

Slice pork and serve with the red cabbage and apple mixture. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with parsley. Serves 4.

From Lucy Waverman

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