Category Archives: Recipes

Rhubarb Vinaigrette

Summertime means lots of fresh salads.  I like to make my own vinaigrettes because they are not full of preservatives and they are easy to make.

Regular followers of my blog will know that I love the quality balsamic vinegars and olive oils I get from the Liquid Gold store here in Charlottetown, PEI.  I jokingly say I have almost as many varieties in my cupboard as they have in the store!  There are so many combinations of vinegars and oils that each salad dressing is a new adventure and a new flavor.

This evening I decided to make a Rhubarb Vinaigrette because I have a rhubarb patch in my back yard.  Rhubarb pairs well with citrus and I have a bottle of grapefruit balsamic vinegar and one of mandarin orange infused olive oil.  These three ingredients along with some orange juice are the basis for my salad dressing.

Rhubarb Vinaigrette

1 cup rhubarb, sliced
¼ cup orange juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp grapefruit balsamic vinegar
½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small green onion, minced
1 tsp J.J. Stewart’s Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard Sauce
¼ cup Mandarin-infused olive oil
Pinch of fine sea salt
½ tsp minced or puréed garlic (optional)

Assemble ingredients.

In small saucepan, combine the rhubarb and orange juice. Heat over medium heat and cook until rhubarb has completely softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Let cool.  When cool, use an immersion blender to purée the mixture.

Add the maple syrup, vinegar, lemon juice, green onion, mustard, olive oil, sea salt, and garlic (if using). Stir well to combine.

Serve over your favourite salad. Keep refrigerated in covered bottle for up to 1 week.

Yield: 1 cup

For this salad, I used a simple bed of fresh mixed salad greens, slices of pink grapefruit, blueberries, raspberries, red onion, and goats cheese.  I have been growing sprouts this spring so added a handful to add texture, flavor, and appearance to the salad.  A drizzle of the  coral-red colored Rhubarb Vinaigrette added the finishing touch.

The Rhubarb Vinaigrette is very versatile as it can be used on either a fruit- or vegetable-based salad.

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Rhubarb Custard Torte

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Custard Torte

The rhubarb in my garden is ready for using.  I am fascinated by how fast it grows.  While I freeze a substantial amount for use over the winter, there is nothing like scooting out to the garden to pick some fresh rhubarb just at the time I am making a recipe.

I have my usual, regular recipes that I make every year with rhubarb and generally try one or two new ones.  One of my all-time favorites is Rhubarb Custard Torte.  We’ve been making this recipe in our family for as long as I can remember.  It’s not overly difficult to make but it does take time since there are three stages to it:  1) the shortbread base; 2) the rhubarb custard filling; and 3) the meringue.

The most tricky part is making the rhubarb custard and ensuring it doesn’t scorch while it is cooking and thickening.  To ensure this doesn’t happen, cook it at medium-low temperature and stir it constantly.  A couple of other tips when making this recipe are, first, don’t overbake the base as it will become hard and somewhat tough.  Second, when making the meringue, make sure the egg whites, the bowl, and beater are all cold and add the sugar slowly.

I love the rich, ruby red color of the rhubarb!  Use the brightest red rhubarb you can find as it will give great color to your recipe.

Rhubarb Custard Torte

Shortbread Base:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup flour
Pinch salt
2 tbsp sugar

Cream butter. Mix in flour, salt, and sugar.

Lightly spray cooking oil into 8”x8” pan and press shortbread mixture evenly into pan.

Bake in 325ºF oven for 22-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Custard Filling:
1¼ cups sugar
3½ tbsp flour
½ cup whole milk, evaporated milk, or blend
3 large egg yolks (reserve whites in refrigerator for the meringue)
2¼ cups chopped rhubarb

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and flour. Blend in the milk. Whisk in the egg yolks. Over medium-low heat, cook mixture just until hot (not boiling), stirring constantly. Add the rhubarb. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then, spread rhubarb custard over cooled shortbread base.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Meringue:
3 cold egg whites
¼ cup sugar

In chilled bowl of stand mixer, beat the three egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add the ¼ cup white sugar and beat on high speed until soft peaks form.

Spread meringue evenly over rhubarb custard, ensuring custard is completely covered.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, just until meringue starts to brown.

Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 9 servings

Enjoy with a fine cup of coffee or tea.

Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Do you have certain foods you like to have in the different seasons?  One of the springtime treats in my house is asparagus.  Last spring I paid a visit to local asparagus grower, Tim Dixon, of North Tryon.  You can read the story here.  There is something about buying locally-grown foods at the farm gate – the freshness can’t be beat.  I recently dropped by Tim’s farm to pick up my taste of Island-grown asparagus.

Asparagus is a very versatile vegetable and one of the first available in spring in our Maritime climate.  Asparagus is lovely served with a Hollandaise sauce, in a quiche, wrapped with goat cheese in proscuitto and roasted, or in a myriad of other ways.  One of my favorite ways to serve asparagus is as a cream soup.  I like to roast the asparagus first as I find the roasting brings out the nutty, earthy flavors in the asparagus.  Today, I am sharing my recipe for this soup.  While it does take a bit of time to make, the end result is so worth the effort.

Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb asparagus
1 leek, white and light green parts only
1 stalk celery
1 garlic clove
1 potato
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 bayleaf
¼ tsp dried dillweed
¼ tsp dried basil
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese

For garnish:
Croutons
Asparagus tips
Olive oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Assemble ingredients.

Trim asparagus ends. Cut leek in half. Cut celery stalk and potato into 2-4 chunks.

In large bowl, combine asparagus, leek, celery, potato, and garlic clove. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss vegetables to ensure they are well coated with the oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place oiled vegetables, single layer, on foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in oven for about 20- 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. Remove vegetables from oven and cool slightly.

Loosely chop vegetables into chunks and place in bowl of food processor.

Pulse until vegetables are puréed.

Transfer puréed vegetables to large pot.

Add chicken stock, bayleaf, dillweed, and basil.

Whisk flour into milk until smooth. Pour into soup mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ingredients well over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to ensure mixture does not scorch.

When hot and thickened to desired consistency, add Parmesan and grated cheddar cheese. Heat just until cheeses are melted.

Serve hot garnished with croutons and 2-3 steamed asparagus tips. Lightly drizzle a good quality olive oil around the garnish.

Yield: 4-6 servings

This soup is lovely served with a good quality rye bread.

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Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops
Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Today, I am sharing a new recipe for pork chops.  In addition to PEI pork, I am also featuring two other PEI products, both from J.J. Stewart Foods and Soda Company, in Stratford.  The first is a new preserve flavor — Cranberry Champagne with Crystallized Ginger — and the second is from their maple mustard line.

This is a very easy recipe to make and does not take a lot of time to prepare. It is essentially pan-fried pork chops with a pan reduction sauce made with chicken stock, orange juice, mustard, and the preserves.  This recipe is easily doubled.

Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Ingredients:
2 pork chops, fat removed
2 tsp olive oil

½ cup chicken broth
2 tbsp orange juice
1½ tsp balsamic vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s Grapefruit Balsamic Vinegar)
3 tbsp J. J. Stewart’s Cranberry Champagne with Crystallized Ginger Preserve
1 tbsp J.J.  Stewart’s Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard
¼ tsp onion
⅛ tsp garlic powder

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Over medium heat, add 2 tsp olive oil to small frypan. Add pork chops and cook, turning once until cooked to desired doneness. Remove chops from pan and transfer to oven-proof covered dish. Place pork chops in oven set at very low temperature, just enough to keep them warm while preparing sauce.

Add the chicken broth, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar to frypan. Over medium heat, cook liquid (uncovered) until it reduces to about half.

Whisk in the mustard along with the garlic and onion powders until mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the preserves. Cook until mixture becomes the consistency of syrup.

Return the pork chops to the frypan and heat for about 1 minute, turning the chops at half-time to glaze both sides.

Serve hot with the cranberry-ginger sauce mixture drizzled over top of each pork chop. Serve with potato or rice and your favorite vegetable(s).

Serves: 2

Note:  Other brands of preserves, mustard, and balsamic vinegar may be used in this recipe; however, flavor will differ.

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Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed: The Bistro’s Lobster Egg Benedict

The Bistro's Lobster Eggs Benedict
The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

A very happy Mother’s Day to all Moms out there!  I hope you are having a wonderful day and are getting thoroughly spoiled.

Today, I am sharing my recipe for Lobster Eggs Benedict with a delicious Béarnise sauce.  This makes a wonderful brunch entrée and is also perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed tray although it does take some time and organization to prepare.

Here, on Canada’s East Coast, we are extremely blessed to have ready access to fresh lobster this time of the year.  In fact, in many Island families today, they will be celebrating with lobster (many having their first “feed” of the season), whether it be lobster at home or at one of the Island’s famous lobster suppers that open early just for the occasion today.  They will then close and re-open for the season in a few weeks time.

I have gone with a yellow theme for the breakfast in bed tray using, as my inspiration, a single yellow tulip and my favorite spring-time china cup and saucer featuring daffodils.

I chose a dainty crystal glass for the freshly-squeezed orange juice.

A refreshing fruit cup with orange sections and raspberries adds both color and flavor.

And, of course, the star of the tray – the Lobster Eggs Benedict served on Ciabatta.

Can you taste that succulent lobster?  The Béarnise Sauce is rich so you don’t need a lot of it on each serving and using less is more in this case because you don’t want to “drown” or mask the wonderful color of the red lobster claws!

The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

Ingredients:

1 tbsp water
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s pomegranate-quince)
½ tbsp white wine
½ tbsp minced onion
⅛ tsp puréed garlic

1 extra-large egg yolk
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp prepared mustard (I used J.J. Stewart’s Maple Mustard with Dill and Chardonnay)
2 tbsp butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon

1-2 lobster claws and meat from the lobster’s knuckles for each serving
English muffins or artisan bread, such as Ciabatta, sliced for each serving

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

In bottom of double boiler, heat about 2” water to boiling point. Reduce heat to keep the water at a very gentle simmer.

In top of double boiler and over direct heat (not on top of the boiling water), combine first five ingredients. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

 

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Place top of double boiler over saucepan of gently simmering hot water.

Quickly whisk in the egg yolk and whisk vigorously and continuously till smooth. Whisk in lemon juice and mustard. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk until mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you want it of pouring consistency). Remove from heat and add a sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon.

Note: If mixture thickens too much, whisk in small amount of boiling water, 1 tbsp at a time, to get to pouring sauce consistency.

In small saucepan or frypan, heat ½ – 1 tbsp butter and heat lobster over low heat.

Using your favourite method, poach 1 egg to desired doneness for each serving.

To assemble:

Slice English muffin, or if using an artisan bread like Ciabatta, cut loaf into desired lengths (e.g., 3”- 4” per serving) and slice in half horizontally, using one-half for each serving. Butter each piece. Lay a layer of lettuce on each piece of bread or muffin. Add the warmed sautéed lobster.

Top with the poached egg.

Drizzle Bérnaise Sauce over each serving. Serve with a side of green salad or fresh fruit.

Serves: 2

 

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Date Squares

Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)
Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)

You may know these as Matrimonial Squares.  I have always known them as Date Squares.  Regardless what they are called, they are tasty.  Growing up, Date Squares were pretty much a staple in our household.  They are a good, wholesome square made with a tasty date mixture sandwiched between two layers of a rolled oats, flour, and butter mixture.  While these squares can be made with margarine, they are ever so much better when made with butter!  I add a touch of orange rind to my recipe as it gives them a nice tangy taste.

Date Squares
Date Squares

Date Squares

Ingredients:

8 oz dates, chopped

⅔ cup boiling water

1½ tbsp boiling orange juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond flavouring

 

1⅔ cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Scant 1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 cup cold butter

 

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

  DSC03556

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 9” square pan with parchment paper.

In saucepan, combine dates, boiling water and orange juice, and brown sugar.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, bring date mixture to a boil and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  If mixture thickens too fast, add a couple of tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and almond flavouring.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, soda, salt, and grated orange rind.

Cut, or grate, in the cold butter until mixture becomes coarse crumbs.

Press between a scant ⅔ of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the slightly cooled date mixture over crumb base.  Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over date filling.

Bake until crumbs are golden, about 30 – 35 minutes.

Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Remove from pan and cut into squares.

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Old-Fashioned Scottish Oatcakes

 

Old-fashioned Oatcakes served with Brie and J.J. Stewart's Cranberry Champagne and Crystalized Ginger Preserves
Old-fashioned Oatcakes served with Brie and J.J. Stewart’s Cranberry Champagne and Crystalized Ginger Preserves

Oatcakes are very versatile and take such basic, simple ingredients.  A cross between a cookie and a cracker, they are savory bites and are not overly sweet.  In fact, I would describe these artisan cookies/crackers as having a nice short, crisp texture.  Scottish in origin, oatcakes probably made their debut in Canada when they arrived along with Scottish immigrants.

Oatcakes can be eaten as plain cookies or sandwiched together with jam or date filling.  They can be consumed as crackers served with various condiments such as tangy gourmet preserves and marmalades alongside cheese, such as Brie.  Here I am serving them with J.J. Stewart’s Cranberry Champagne and Crystalized Ginger Preserves made in Stratford, PEI.  You can read the story I wrote earlier on J.J. Stewart’s products by clicking here.

This product is a bit sharp and tangy and goes particularly well with a plain oatcake and Brie cheese.   Whatever preserve, jam, or marmalade you serve with these, make sure it is not runny.  It needs to be fairly thick consistency so it will stay in place atop the oatcake. Choosing a bright red jam makes these colorful savories!

Oatcakes can also be dipped in chocolate.  And, yes, they can even find their way onto an afternoon tea table because they taste especially good with a fine cup of tea.  In fact, I served them at my Tartan Day Afternoon Tea this year.

Oatcakes at Afternoon Tea
Oatcakes at Afternoon Tea

 

Old-fashioned Savory Oatcakes

 Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 cups oatmeal (not instant)

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Oatcake Ingredients
Oatcake Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350°.

With electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.

With mixer at lowest speed, gradually add the flour mixture until combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and, using a wooden spoon, add the oatmeal.  Stir well.

Roll out dough thin – between ⅛” and ¼” thick.  Cut into 2” circles or squares.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake 10 minutes.  Remove from oven an let set on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Oatcakes freeze very well.  They are a great staple to have on hand along with a good quality preserve or marmalade so, when company drops in unexpectedly, it is quick and easy to pull together some refreshments.  Set out the bottle of preserve, a stack of oatcakes, some favorite cheese, and fresh fruit and you have a savory snack food!

 

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Baked Glazed Ham for Easter Dinner

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Easter.

I’m not sure if there is one meal menu at Easter on Prince Edward Island that is more common than another.  Some families have the tradition of a roast beef dinner while others enjoy a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Others say it just isn’t Easter dinner unless baked ham is on the table.

This year, for my Easter dinner, I featured a glazed baked ham studded with whole cloves.  When I have ham, I traditionally boil it and add all the veggies to the same pot in the last 30-40 minutes and let them cook in the broth.  You can find my recipe for this comfort food meal here.

However, for Easter, I decided to make it a bit more special by baking and glazing the ham.  Hams are very economical when bought on sale and they yield a good amount of meat if you are serving a crowd or wanting leftovers — I love leftovers because it means a few days of little meal prep!

For this baked ham, I started out with an uncooked ham (bone in).  I scored the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern, cutting in between 1/8″ and 1/4″.  At the intersection of each diamond, I inserted a whole clove.

The oven was preheated to 325F and the large roaster was lined with tin foil to make clean up easier.  The ham was placed on the roaster’s wire rack.  I then poured 1 1/2 cups of root beer into the roaster, ensuring that the ham was not sitting in the root beer.

I brushed a very thin, light coating of the sweet and tasty glaze on the ham (recipe follows).

The cover was placed on the roaster and the baking began as the steam from the root beer infused the ham with additional flavor as it baked.  About 50 minutes before I estimated the ham to be baked, I applied a thicker coating of the glaze, making sure it penetrated into the ham meat through the scored lines and I returned the ham to the oven to continue baking.  About 25 minutes later, I reapplied the glaze.  When the ham was cooked, I removed it from the oven and let it rest about 15 minutes before carving it.  This makes it much easier to carve clean slices that stay whole.

I presented the ham with a raisin sauce and a slice of pineapple which added both flavour and color for plate presentation.

The ham was served with scalloped potatoes and a medley of stir-fried colorful vegetables.

My favorite lemon cream cheese dessert was a fitting finale to the meal.  The recipe for this Layered Lemon Dessert comes from the Company’s Coming Desserts Cookbook.

Layered Lemon Dessert
Layered Lemon Dessert

What are the foods you traditionally serve at Easter?

 Glaze for Baked Ham

Ingredients:

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tbsp honey

3/4 tbsp mustard (I used JJ Stewart’s Maple Mustard Sauce with Cranberries)

1 tbsp pineapple juice

2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp ginger

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Combine brown sugar and cornstarch together.  Add all remaining ingredients into a small saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar-cornstarch mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened.

Brush very lightly over uncooked ham.  About 50 minutes before ham is estimated to be baked, apply a thicker coat of the glaze to the ham, ensuring it penetrates into the diagonal cuts in the surface of the ham.  About 25 minutes later, apply another coat of the glaze and return to oven to finish baking.  Allow ham to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Easter Weekend Breakfast in Bed

There is nothing that says pampering more than breakfast in bed!  In fact, there doesn’t have to be a special occasion to serve a special someone a breakfast tray.  And, it doesn’t have to be overly fancy.  Toast or a croissant along with fresh orange juice and coffee will somehow seem much more special when served on a pretty tray in bed.

Today, however, because it is Easter and eggs are synonymous with the season, I prepared baked eggs as the main component for the breakfast tray.  A recipe I often use is the one I shared in the story last summer about the Burns Poultry Farm.  To add some color to the baked eggs, today I added some grated cheddar cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, onion, and green pepper.

Coffee always tastes more special when served in a fancy cup and saucer.  A single-serving sized coffee butler keeps the replenishment coffee hot.

Colorful spring tulips were specially selected to match the entrée.  Pretty good match, I’d say!

Add some fresh fruit and toast and the breakfast was complete.  A great way to start someone’s day!

Happy Easter!

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Pork Chops with Bread Stuffing and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Today, I am sharing a recipe for one of my favorite ways to serve pork chops.  It’s very simple and easy to make and uses very few ingredients, none of them uncommon or hard to find.  In fact, many cooks likely already have the ingredients in their kitchens.

I find this is a good recipe to use to tenderize pork chops and it works with any cut of the meat, boneless or with  bone in.  The soup sauce also keeps the pork chops moist.

The recipe is quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal but can also be served as company fare.  Make a simple bread stuffing (be sure to use fresh, soft bread crumbs).  Brown the pork chops quickly in a frying pan, then transfer them to a baking dish.  Top each chop with a generous amount of the stuffing.  Mix a can of cream of mushroom soup with a small amount of milk and pour over the pork chops and stuffing.  Dinner in about 1 hour.  This can be served with your choice of potato or rice but baked potato goes particularly well with this meal along with a side of your favorite vegetable(s).

Pork Chops with Bread Stuffing and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups soft bread crumbs

2 tbsp finely chopped onion

1½ tsp summer savory

2 tbsp finely chopped celery

2 tbsp finely chopped apple

1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon

2 tbsp melted butter

1½ tbsp water

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

1½ tbsp butter

4 pork chops, boneless or bone-in

 

1 – 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup

⅓ cup milk

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Combine bread crumbs, onion, summer savory, celery, apple, chicken bouillon, melted butter, water, salt and pepper.

Stir stuffing mixture well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt 1½  tbsp butter in large frying pan.  Brown pork chops, turning each once to brown on both sides.

Transfer to greased casserole dish.

Combine the cream of mushroom soup with the milk and stir well.  Set aside.

Using an ice cream scoop, place ¼ of the bread stuffing mixture on top of each pork chop.  Pour the soup mixture over the stuffing and pork chops.

Bake, uncovered, for approximately 45-60 minutes (depending on size of pork chops), until the chops are tender.

Serve with baked potato and your favorite side vegetable(s).

Serves 4

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