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Birthday Adventures to Berry NSW

14 Oct

So Miss Wallflower turned 30 a little while ago. How does a Legal Tart celebrate the birthday of a friend. By taking a road trip to Berry and seeing a palm reader.

A friend of mine had raved about the uncanny insights of Ric, a palm reader who operated on weekends out of a shop in Berry. I have to admit that I tend to regard such things as hocus pocus. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to claim no belief in the psychic world, I have no doubt that some people do possess a gift, but I am really hard to convince.

I had come home and retold the story about Ric to Miss Wallflower and she decided we should definitely go, so I said I would take her for her birthday. A road trip was born to one of my favourite places with a progressive dining plan to be followed by a palm reading for Miss Wallflower and I.

We started off nice and early and made our first stop after arrival at the Berry Sourdough Cafe. I have to confess that I have no photos here as the service was a bit slow, so by the time my macadamia tart arrived I was salivating and simply inhaled it. It was good…very good. I hadn’t realised before arriving that the café now did lunch which looked lovely and involved a wine list…very important 🙂 After we finally got our coffee and tea we departed buying a lovely sourdough loaf on our way out.

Next stop after a brief walk about was the Savannah Cafe and Bar. The café is licensed and serves South African inspired food. I had booked a table fearing that I would be unable to get a table during the busy lunch period, but we were the only diner besides one other couple. The restaurant is located down one of the arcades and I can only guess that this is the reason the restaurant is not very busy, because the food was certainly good and the service friendly.


I had the bobotie with rice and a salad. The bobotie was arranged nicely with the sides on a plate and came out with a bubbling top just calling for a spoon to break through to the curried meat beneath. The sauce as well seasoned with a perfect mix of sweet and spice. The salad was lightly dressed and a nice fresh accompaniment. Wine was served by way of a piccolo bottle.


Miss Wallflower had the gnocchi with boar sausage. This was generously proportioned and the gnocchi was clearly hand made and was light as a feather. It was topped with a persian style fetta.


Before our palm reading we had some time to walk around and see the sights. First stop was Miss Pompadours. A fabulous little chocolate shop, where I bought some dark chocolate bark and a dried raspberry and milk chocolate bark. I have been very good with it and there is still some left…not much though 😦


Then a little visit to the Berry Tea shop. A lovely little place with great gift ideas and quirky teapots.

Our final visit for the day was to Ric who was doing readings at Global Contact.

Ric is a lovely man in his seventies, who learnt the art of palm reading as a child from his grandmother who also had the gift. I don’t want to give all of my future away, because lets be honest I am not sure I can live up to the promise of my palms, but I will say this..boys… only those with potential waterfront property in their future need apply. Ric tells me my lunar crescent means I simply have to live near water 😉


Have you ever seen a psychic


Birthday Feast: Cheats Duck Cassoulet

12 Sep

Last week was the 1st Birthday of the Legal Tart! How time has flown!

I first started this blog a year ago to give me an outlet from my legal work. Don’t get me wrong I do for the most part enjoy what I do, but there are times where I need to do something completely different, and while I still play with the idea of moving to Positano and selling tomatoes for a living, cooking and blogging seems a little less extreme 🙂

They say mindfulness is the key to happiness. Some people achieve this through yoga and meditation, others through going for a run, but my mindfulness comes through cooking and as a side bonus I get to eat the fruits of my labour and feed others.

I can’t pretend that blogging has been a completely joyful experience. There are times, largely when I am having technical issues like today, that blogging can feel like another thing on my to-do list. But when I see comments from all you lovely readers I am always glad I took the time to put down some thoughts and share a recipe.

Almost a one pot wonder!

This meal is a celebration meal. I keep promising myself that I am going to make a proper cassoulet, but time so far as worked against me. When I saw this short-cutted version I couldn’t believe my luck and marked it immediately for later cooking. You will be rewarded for your efforts with meltingly tender pieces of duck that simply fall from the bone and a rich sauce.

Cheats Cassoulet

Adapted slightly from Gourmet Traveller

Serves 6-8

  • 2 tbsp of duck fat
  • 1 duck (ask your butcher to carve it up for you or in the alternative buy breast and leg pieces)
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 300 gms of speck chopped into 2 cm pieces
  • 400 gm can of chopped tomatoes
  • 400 gems of dried cannellini beans soaked overnight
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of all spice
  • 2 litres of water
  • Fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

1. Soak beans in water overnight in a large bowl, the water height should be about 5 cm above the beans

2. Heat duck fat in a very large casserole pot and out on high heat

3. Season duck with salt and pepper on the skin side and then place skin side down into the hot duck oil.

4. Once the duck fat as rendered slightly and the skin looks golden flip the duck piece over and cook on the other side You may need to do this in batches.

5. Place cooked duck on a plate and set aside

6. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion garlic and speck and fry off until the onion has softened.

7. Return the duck to the casserole pot with the tomatoes, drained beans, sage leaves, bay leaves, allspice and 2 litres of water.

8. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 3- 3 ½ hours or until the beans are tender.

9. Once the beans are tender remove the duck pieces into a large shallow baking dish and then top with the bean and sauce mixture.

10. Scatter a coating of breadcrumbs on the top and drizzle with olive oil before returning to the oven. Turn the heat up to 200 degrees, allow the breadcrumbs to brown

11. Serve straight from the casserole dish with a green salad and some baguette.

Childs play: Creme egg crispies

19 Jun

Have you ever been at a kids party, seen their food and wished you were sitting at the children’s table. I have, I have also been known to wait until they have become distracted by a new plaything and then help myself to their food while no one is watching. You say desperate and sad…. I say clever 😉

It is not simply that the food is in miniature, I admit I have a slightly odd fascination with miniature clothes, cookware and food. But it is also that kids food brings back memories of halcyon days stuffing my face with tasty and fuss free foods, completely unaware of food fads or fat contents.

One of those things that I absolutely loved as a child was the chocolate crackle. While I was making the recipe below Miss Meat and I reminisced about chocolate crackles and she commented how her father still loves them. I suggested  that they should still be served at adult parties, which got me thinking I might need to do a kids themed cocktail party because a chocolate crackle can only be improved by partaking  in a Bosom Caresser at the same time.

In saying that children’s food is simple and fuss free, I did fool around with the concept of a chocolate crackle in making the recipe below. In my defence it was motivated by a desire to get rid of some things left in my fridge, namely a bag of mini crème eggs. But I think it stays true to the spirit.

What’s your favourite kids food?

Crème Egg Crispies

Makes 20 mini crispies.

  • 230 gms of Cadburys mini crème easter eggs
  • 60 gms of copha
  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 50 grams of dark chocolate
  • 2 cups of corn flakes.

1. Heat the copha and butter in a pan over medium heat until melted and then add the crème eggs. You will need to keep an eye on the chocolate and stir occasionally until the eggs are completely melted.

2. Add the dark chocolate and stir until melted and combined with the crème egg mixture.

3. Turn off the heat and add the 2 cups of cornflakes and stir cornflakes through the chocolate mixture.

5. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture into patty cases. I used mini ones but you can use bigger muffin patty cases and chill until hard.

6. Serve to those who take delight in children’s party food.

Box of childish delight

The Bosom Caresser

11 Jun

This weekend was a long weekend in NSW to celebrate the Queens Birthday. I don’t have much affection for the Queen but I do covet some of her jewellery, I really think I would suit some of those tiaras. Despite my lack of affection for the English Royal Family I do appreciate an extra day off. Long weekends often mean mini breaks to destinations out of the city with friends or partners. But unfortunately my long weekend held no such adventures, so I was forced to find ways to entertain myself on a rainy long weekend, and I can’t think of a better way for a girl to occupy herself then experimenting with a titillating new cocktail 😉

There are of course slight variations between different recipes for this lovely cocktail, this is simply my preference. It says it should be served over crushed ice, however the overwhelming anticipation of the warm caress of the drink itself meant I didn’t waste time crushing ice, but rather used the ice from the cocktail shaker which worked just fine. It is not sweet, instead it has a slight warmth and a mild sourness that is all to easy to drink. Beware if drinking with strangers, the cocktail might not end up being the only thing caressing your bosom!

Bosom Caresser

  • 1.5 parts brandy
  • 1 part Madeira
  • 1/2 part Triple sec

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and serve in chilled glasses.

My bosom has never been so caressed!

Birthdays! Pink Velvet Cake with Mascarpone frosting.

21 Jan

It was my birthday on Thursday and this year I decided to embrace it. I do have a tendency to suffer from Birthday blues. About a week before and a week afterwards I am….. well lets say difficult. I typically try and pretend my birthday is not happening, but then mourn the lack of birthday phone calls and presents as a reflection on my unloveableness, plunging me deeper into self indulgent despair. Last year was particularly bad when my own mother didn’t even call me for my birthday, she just sent an email. 😦

I wasn’t always like this. There was a time that I loved birthdays. As a child I was fortunate to have my birthday fall not only in the school holidays but in summer. I got dressed up in a new dress, friends were there to keep me occupied and Mutti organised food and party games. The turning point came on my 10th birthday. A short time before my actual birthday occurred, some inane smiling mother of a friend, gleefully exclaimed. ‘How exciting you are turning ten. That is double digits, you will never be a single digit again’. From that moment on I saw birthdays as a reminder of the relentless march of time, a force over which I had no control. Some would say I was a dramatic child, I like to call it sensitive 😉

These birthday blues have meant that I have always just ignored birthdays, no grand parties, no fancy dinners, just a studied attempt at surviving another birthday and the accompanying reflections on another year gone. Birthdays for me have always been the most disappointing when in a relationship. I have always thought that this person who is supposed to care about you, would not let your birthday pass without making a fuss. I was wrong. Nearly every partner has been ‘too busy’ to buy me anything or book a restaurant for my birthday, or If they do actually book something, like they promised, they organise something on the day and give me 1 hour’s notice. So on my birthday I am either inwardly sulking or frazzled and snippy.

Why am I telling you all this. Well this year I decided, NO!  I am not working on my birthday. NO! I am not going without birthday cake and NO! I am not waiting for someone else to instigate birthday celebrations. So I took the day off and went to the day spa for a few hours, but not before whipping up my very own birthday cake.

This just looked so pretty in the Woman’s Weekly magazine and I love mascarpone frosting. I made a few changes as I always do. The cake is unbelievably moist. It does make assembly a bit of a challenge and really needs to be kept refrigerated to stop it from becoming impossible to cut. Everyone loved it and the colour is just so girly and festive!

Do you celebrate birthdays?

Pink Velvet Birthday Cake

Adapted from a recipe by Fran Abdallaoui from Womens Weekly

  • 125 gms softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • ½ cups of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons coca powder
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp rose pink food colouring
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of bi carb
  • 100 gms of raspberry jam

Mascarpone frosting

  • 250 gms cream cheese
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 250 gms of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup of thickened cream

White Chocolate Bark

  • 200 gms block of white chocolate

1. Line and grease two 22 cm round cake tins

2. Sift together flours cocoa

3. Combine buttermilk and food colouring in bowl

Fabulous colour

4. Beat butter, vanilla extract and sugar with eggs until light and fluffy.

5. Fold flour and cocoa mix into butter mix with pink coloured buttermilk in two alternating batches.

6. In a small bowl combine vinegar and bi carb soda until it fizzes and then fold into the cake mixture

7. Divide mixture between two baking tins

8. Put into oven on 180 degrees for 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean

9. Allow cakes to cool in tin for a few minutes before turning out on to rack and allowing to fully cool

10. Wrap in plastic and place into freezer for at least 30 mins. This will make the cake much easier to cut

11. While the cake is cooling make the frosting

12. Beat cream cheese mascarpone and vanilla extract together until smooth and then add cream and sifted icing sugar continuing to beat until smooth. Place in fridge.

13. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Place one sheet of baking paper on a surface and spread the melted chocolate out across the paper until smooth and a thin layer. Top with another sheet of baking paper and roll into a tube before placing in the fridge to cool

14. Cut the cake into two horizontally to get two layers.

15. Place one layer down on a plate or serving stand and spread with some raspberry jam

16. Spread the frosting on another layer and place the jam and frosting together in a sandwich. Repeat with remaining layers.

Before icing

17. Top the cake with half of the remaining frosting and spread across the top and down the sides use the remaining frosting to spread and smooth the sides

18. Unroll the white chocolate tube allowing to crack and crumble.

19. Press shards of chocolate on the side of the cake and place in the fridge to let frosting get firmer before serving.

20. Slice and serve to friends and family!

Bondage, Butter and Ham: A Christmas Tale

31 Dec

Hello Readers!

I have been enjoying a few days off work and blogging and indulging in the Christmas Festivities. Here is a brief run down on how I have spent the last week.

The Christmas season commenced as it always does with me fondling a duck on Christmas eve. Once I had massaged the duck with butter and seasoning, I trussed the duck with such precision and overt delight, that my father who was observing me in the kitchen renamed me the S&M Queen. I am pretty sure I have shoes to go with that new title!

My Motto that butter makes everything taste better was proven to be correct again, with dinner one evening being thick steaks topped with a Parisienne butter prepared by Mutti. It was delicious! I will be making this butter next time I have steak.

The steak  was served as a break from leftovers. Once again the true miracle of Christmas is not the Virgin Birth, but rather that no matter how small the ham, you are still eating it on Australia day.

I got some lovely cook books, including an encyclopedia of food knowledge from the Culinary Institute of America and a cute new Apron.

Now it is all about the New Years and the challenges ahead. I am looking forward to discovering new recipes, making new foods and continuing my blogging adventure. But first we have to get rid of the Christmas leftovers.

What did you get for Christmas?

Happy 2012!

‘Tis the Season for a Tasty Tart: Fig and Cheese Tart.

22 Dec

I love a good tart……. I mean who doesn’t. Sweet or savoury, tarts are really just so tasty and versatile. Even better they are generally simple and can be made ahead.

I recently made a lovely Goats Cheese and Fig Tart from a recipe I found in Valli Little’s Simply the Best cookbook. The recipe calls for 6 small tarts and while I can’t usually resist the sirens call of miniature food, I didn’t have the small tart baking dishes required and didn’t want to go and buy another set of baking dishes for my already overcrowded cupboard, so I made one large tart instead. If you do make the smaller tarts you will have to cook them for approximately half the time. It will have only a hint of wobble at the centre but otherwise will look golden on top.

The tart has a lovely creamy texture without being overly rich and the figs add a lovely aromatic sweetness. I love figs and always look forward to them coming back in to season. The tart looks so pretty that when I placed it on the table, everyone made appreciative sounds. An attractive and tasty tart, my favourite kind 🙂

Cheese and Fig Tarts

from a Valli Little Recipe in ‘Simply the Best’

Serves 6-8

  • 2 sheet of frozen
  • 150 gms Goats Cheese
  • 240 gms of Ricotta
  • 20 gms of grated parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 125mls pure thin cream
  • 1 tbs of chopped rosemary leaves
  • 4 figs halved
  • Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle.

1. Line the base of a  loose bottomed flan/tart baking tin and a grease the sides. Line with shortcrust pastry, Cut off excess pastry

2.Prick the base with a fork and then line with baking paper. Fill the baking paper covered pastry with rice or cooking weights

3. Bake for 15 minutes on 180 degrees. Remove from the oven and lift out rice and baking paper and return the pastry to the oven for a further 10 minutes until pastry is dry.

4. Combine goats cheese, ricotta, eggs and parmesan and season to taste. Stir in the chopped rosemary and pour into the pastry shell.

Before Cooking

5. Press halved figs into the tart mixture and place in the oven for 40 mins or until there is only a slight wobble in the centre and the top is golden brown.



Christmas Traditions 2: Limoncello and Blackberry Trifle

18 Dec

Just because I can’t get enough of Christmas festivities, I have an early Christmas dinner at my house with my flatmates and usually 1 or 2 extra friends. It is an excuse for me to don my reindeer antlers, Christmas apron and force feed my guests food and Christmas carols until they just can’t take anymore. I only started this tradition last year with my current flatmates. Last year’s dinner was largely a triumph, although I will admit to overdoing the dessert portions and dancing to Queen hits in the early hours of the morning.

The hallmarks of a Legal Tart Christmas are that we have a Christmas cocktail and I make a Blackberry and Limoncello trifle for dessert. Other courses are subject to the individual preferences of the cook. This year our Christmas cocktail is a Pomegranate Martini.

I have mentioned Mutti’s much loved Tipsy Pudding before, this dessert is a Christmas highlight in my family and is in essence a trifle but without the jelly and with more alcohol than is probably appropriate on a holy day 😉 Trifles are a great dessert to make for dinner parties, because they can be made ahead and always look rather spectacular with all their layers. For me any chance to use Limoncello is to be seized upon as I do love this liqueur. It is absolutely essential that this trifle sit overnight. I can not stress this enough. The first time I made it I ate it that same day. I was rather unimpressed with the dessert and felt that the Limoncello was overpowering and there was no complexity to the flavours. However I had some more a day later and it was completely in love. I have been making this adapted version ever since.

I use blackberry jam, although the original recipe calls for blackcurrant as I find blackcurrant jam very difficult to find here in Sydney. I also used flaked almonds in the place of Amaretti, as I am not a huge fan of the Italian biscuit. Mutti’s trifle has flaked almonds on top and they were one of my most favourite parts of the pudding when I was a kid. I have also added cream to the top as there really isn’t a time when cream can not improve a dessert. You can use the sponge finger biscuits, ordinary sponge or madeira cake on the bottom. Just make sure any sponge or madeira cake is dried out rather than fresh. You want the sponge to hold its shape and soak up the liqueury juices.

What do you eat for dessert at Christmas?

Blackberry Limoncello Trifle

Serves 10

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Anglo Italian Trifle

  • 1 Store bought square sponge cake cut into squares
  • 250 gms blackberry jam
  • 200 mls of Limoncello
  • 750 gms of blackberries
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 100 gms of caster sugar
  • 750 gms mascarpone cheese
  • Flaked almonds
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 150 mls cream

1. Cut the squares of sponge in half and spread blackberry jam on one side before sandwiching back together.

2. Wodge and the bottom trifle bowl and continue until the bottom of the bowl in covered by a layer of sponge pieces, tightly fitted together

3. Pour limoncello minus two teaspoons over the sponge and sprinkle a small handful of flaked almonds and leave to soak while you get on with the remainder of the trifle.

4. Put blackberries into pot with remainder of the jam and the juice of the lemon and stir until warm and the blackberries are softening. Pour over the sponge.

5. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they thicken and turn pale yellow. Whisk in the teaspoons of limoncello followed by the mascarpone until combined and smooth.

6. Whisk the egg whites separately until firm but not stiff. Fold 1 spoon of egg white mix into the mascarpone mixture. Then fold that mascarpone mixture into the remainder of the egg whites and fold until combined.

7. Pour mascarpone custard on to the partially assembled trifle. Whisk the cream until thick and then spread over the trifle.

8. Toast another handful of flaked almonds in a dry fry pan and then allow to cool before sprinkling on top of the trifle.

Bring on dessert!

Christmas Food Gifts: Strawberry, Pear and Vanilla Jam

5 Dec

I approach many festive events or celebrations with the type of organisation and efficiency that you would expect from the leader of an army. Christmas is by far the biggest festive event that I participate in every year, requiring  honed skills of preparation and organisation.  I don’t like feeling stressed or frazzled….no I take that back. I like feeling only mildly stressed and frazzled. Just frazzled enough to know I am alive and achieving things, but not so much that I am crying over a bowl of cookie dough.

The only way to strike this stress balance is to plan ahead. As previous posts have suggested, I like to plan and write lists and plan just a little bit more. This is why I am thinking of Christmas presents in October and I aim for having all Christmas shopping completed before November is even completed. Now for over organised freaks like me, one of the things we fear most is being caught short. Caught short of food. Caught short of presents. Worst of all caught short of booze. So on top of stocking up on wine and bubbly for the month preceding Christmas, I also start putting little stocking fillers aside, just in case. Food is a nice non gendered gift, that still requires effort and love to create. This year on top of my usual Christmas biscuits, I also decided to make some Jam to give away.

Christmas Presents!

I have never made jam before and was very excited to find I could make it quite easily, so don’t be afraid. I am not a great lover of strawberry jam as a rule. I find it can be overly sweet, but the pear, although not obvious, cuts through the sweetness. I do plan on adding more vanilla to my next batch, as I felt one pod was not sufficient. There are no setting agents added to this jam. But I did add lemon peel to provide extra pectin and set, as I like a firmer set jam.

Strawberry, Pear and Vanilla jam

Makes 2-3 small jars

Adapted from a recipe by Dan Lepard on BBC online (Original Recipe)

  • 2 large hard pears
  • 500 gms of strawberries, hulled. I cut the larger strawberries in half
  • 400 gms caster sugar
  • Juice of a small lemon.
  • ½ lemon rind grated
  • 1 vanilla pod

1. Grate the pears, minus the core and pips into 500 ml of water in a saucepan.

2. Cook for 15-20 mins over high, until water almost evaporated and pear is tender

3. Add strawberries and boil until liquid has evaporated. Then add the sugar and lemon. Continue to boil the jam until reduced and sticky.

4. Stir frequently to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom.

5. When the jam is the consistency you would like turn the heat off

Firm set

6. Stir in the vanilla seeds only.

7. Pour into warm sterilized jars, put the lid on, tip upside down to create a vacuum.

8. Once opened place in the fridge


5 Sep

Hello and welcome to the first blog post for the legal tart!

I have to admit that I look for any opportunity to create an event. Even the smallest of achievements or milestones can be turned into a dinner or cocktail party if one just tries hard enough. For this reason not a single birthday in our house passes without me resorting to my recipe books or food magazines for inspirations on some party food.

Last month was the birthday of my dear friend and flat mate Miss Wallflower. Unfortunately I picked up that awful bug going around and ended up wallowing in my own self-pity with the aroma of Vicks vapour rub permeating the house to ensure that no one was under any misapprehension as to the state of my
health. So I had to beg out of my commitment to cook her a fabulous birthday dinner and put it off to the following week. This of course just gave me more
time to flick through food porn while I decided what would be a nice birthday treat.

Along came Sunday afternoon and with both flatmates returning home for dinner I embarked upon the selected menu. The menu was made a little complicated by Miss Meat (flatmate 2, the vegetarian). While I have to admit that I often don’t eat meat for days at a time, I seem to get trapped in a meat/seafood fixation when it comes to serving ‘special’ as opposed to every day meals. I decided on a Risotto, that I had come across in Madison Magazine, slightly altered to taste. I used vegetable stock instead of fish stock to ensure it was vegetarian friendly and I added chilli flakes for a bit more punch. It looked pretty in the magazine, all golden from the saffron anwith contrasting pink prawns, pleasantly the final product looked very similar to the magazine photos and equally appetising.

Finished product in soft focus

Miss Meat got roast cherry tomatoes instead of prawns adorning her risotto which she reported were delicious. Next time if I was to use vegetable stock again, I would probably use a more robust white wine instead of champagne. I feel that a white wine would have given the risotto more oomph and as a side benefit there would have been more champagne for drinking!

Dessert was a Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart that had featured in Delicious magazine months ago and since I had seen it I had been vowing to make it. I have made caramel before but never a salted caramel and was concerned that I would over salt it, and once that happens there is no going back. In addition I mistakenly bought unsalted butter instead of salted butter because that is what I usually keep in the house for baking purposes. This worked quite well as I could really salt to taste and ensure that I didn’t go too far, if you are nervous about over salting I would recommend unsalted butter.

The dinner seemed to be well received and the chocolate tart was met with much moaning in delight through mouthfuls of chocolate goodness. Always
a good sign.

How do you like to celebrate?

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