Monday, October 31, 2011

Hearty Beef Stew

hearty beef stew recipe

I know some of you had snow this past weekend (in October!!), so now is the perfect time to bust out one of my all time favourite cold weather recipes.  When it is cold outside, a hearty beef stew will warm you to your bones.  And this beef stew will make you want to lick your bowl clean.  It has a really lovely, rich flavour, because the recipe calls for veal demi-glace, which is nearly impossible to find in Canada but can be purchased at Williams-Sonoma in the US.  Fortunately, Loblaw's grocery store just came out with a line of "fancy" products and one of them happens to be a porcini mushroom glaze.  (Another alternative would be to reduce some balsamic vinegar).

Hearty Beef Stew
From Kim via an old Williams-Sonoma catalogue

2 lbs. small red and white pototoes, halved or quartered
3 lbs. sirloin steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. pancetta, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarse chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup full-bodied red wine
1/4 cup flour
3 cups of beef stock
1 tablespoon veal demi-glace or porcini mushroom glaze

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until they can be easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and set aside.

Season beef generously with salt and pepper.  In large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook pancetta for 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper-towel lined plate.

Increase the heat to medium-high.  Brown beef in batches, 3-5 minutes per batch.  Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium: warm oil.  Sauté onions and carrots for 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and sauté for 30 seconds.

Stir in flour, cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits.  Add stock, demi-glace or mushroom glaze, and pancetta.  Bring to a simmer.

Add beef and potatoes; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for an hour.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

A few days ago I signed up for an awesome food blogger event - the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!!  It was organized by one of my favourite bloggers Love & Olive Oil and another fabulous, new-to-me blogger The Little Kitchen.  The basic idea is that each blogger that signs up receives the names and addresses of three other food bloggers.  Then, we all send a dozen cookies to our three bloggers and we all receive three boxes of homemade cookies in the mail.  Finally, on December 12th, we will all post the recipes for the cookies on our blogs.  If you see me on December 13th and I can't fit into any of my clothes, you will know why.

So far, almost 300 food bloggers from around the world have signed up.  There is still time to get in on this yummy action - the deadline to sign up is November 15th.

Now, I need to figure out what kind of cookies to bake!  Don't forget to come back on December 12th to see what I decided to make!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Orange-Scented Blueberry Muffins

orange-scented blueberry muffins recipe

This weekend I got to play "team mom" for my husband's AAA Midget hockey team. They had an eight hour bus trip to get to their weekend games so I thought a few dozens muffins would be a nice treat for them. Blueberry muffins seemed like a safe bet, but I often find them a little boring.  When I found this recipe for Orange-Scented Blueberry Muffins, the orange and the crunchy topping sold me on trying it out.  I had to triple the recipe as the recipe only makes 10 good size muffins.  The recipe was extremely easy and the muffins turned out moist, with a tasty, buttery, crunchy topping. When I asked my husband what I should write, he said, "his 18 boys devoured them which is testimony enough for the muffins."  Sorry about the photo, I do not have Kelsey's decorative flair and eye for presentation of the food yet, but I am trying. Happy Baking! Kim

Orange-Scented Blueberry Muffins
by asweetpeachef

1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cups Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 whole Egg, At Room Temperature
⅔ cups Milk
¾ Tablespoons Freshly Grated Orange Zest
1 Tablespoon Milk Or Oil, Only As Needed If The Batter Is Too Thick
1 cup Fresh Blueberries, Washed And De-stemmed
1 cube Softened Butter To Grease Muffin Tin

¼ cups Granulated Sugar
¼ cups Brown Sugar
⅓ cups All-purpose Flour
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Chopped Into Small Pieces
½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter muffin tin or line it with muffin liners. Set aside.

Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and kosher salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, egg, milk and orange zest. Add, the egg mixture all at once to the dry flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. The mixture will be a bit lumpy and thick. If it seems too thick, add 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil or milk to thin, though only do this if necessary. Add the fresh blueberries and gently fold into the mixture. Do not over-mix.

To make the crumb topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cubed butter and ground cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Mixture will be lumpy. Pour or spoon muffin batter into the buttered (or lined) muffin tin, filling until almost full. Generously sprinkle the crumb topping over the tops of each muffin cup.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until muffin tops are golden brown. Remove from heat and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicken with Rosemary Sauce

I've been trying to get better at taking inspiration from the things that are already in my fridge or pantry.  Recently, there was some rosemary sitting in my fridge that needed a home.  A little of it went into these Pumpkin Cheddar and Rosemary Muffins, and the rest went into this chicken.  The nice thing about this dish is that it comes together really quickly, which is a bonus for weeknights.  However, sometimes "quick and easy" is too quick for my hungry brain, which means I might forget an ingredient, like the chicken broth to this dish.  It was still good, but we only made two chicken breasts and I imagine that you'd want that extra liquid if you made all four.  Without the broth, the sauce reduced down to be quite thick and creamy (and delicious).

Chicken with Rosemary Sauce
From Cooking Light

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side. Add green onions, wine, and rosemary; cook 30 seconds. Stir in broth; cook 2 minutes. Add half-and-half; cook 2 minutes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Pie with Whole Grain Crust

apple pie with whole grain crust recipe

I love apple pie.  I've always preferred traditional apple pie, with a flaky crust and just apples, cinnamon, and sugar.  No funny business like crumb toppings or caramel.  Just pure apple goodness.  The apple pie that I made for Canadian Thanksgiving was different though.  N has recently developed a man-crush on Chef Michael Smith and we have been watching his old show on Food Network On-Demand (sorry American friends, it's a Canadian thing).  Michael Smith made a lovely apple pie on one of his shows, with a whole grain and oat crust.  It sounded delicious and intriguing, because he said it was easy and it actually looked easy!  On a day where I was making a full Thanksgiving dinner, an easy pie crust sounded ideal.  So we went with Michael's crust and I'm really glad that I did.  Not only was it a cinch to make, it was also delicious!  The rest of the pie is the way I normally make it, just apples.    We went to the market and asked for the best pie apples, and we were given Cortlands and Wolf River apples.  The best apples for pie are local apples, so hurry and make this one soon.

apples for apple pie

Apple Pie with Whole Grain Crust

10 apples (mixed)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch

From Michael Smith
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup or so of water

Slice the apples into eighths.  Mix the apples with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and let the apples sit while you make the crust.

Whisk the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix well. Add the water and stir just until the mixture comes together. Knead it once or twice to gather up all the dry ingredients. Add a few drops more of water if needed. Divide into two, with one ball slightly larger than the other, and form into 2 flattened discs. Chill until ready to use.

When you are ready to put the pie together, pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  I like to roll my crust out between two pieces of wax paper (plastic wrap works as well).  Place the larger disc of dough in the middle of the wax paper, cover with the other piece.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 15 inch round (12 inches if you use a regular pie pan).  Fold the dough into fourths and place the dough into a deep dish pie pan.

Fill the crust with apples.  Take a few tablespoons of the liquid that will have formed at the bottom of the bowl of apples and mix it with the corn starch.  Pour the liquid over the apples.  Roll the second disc out into a 12 inch round.  Place it on top of the pie, trim, and pinch the edges of the crust.  Poke a few vents in the top of the crust.  Bake for 1 hour at 350°F.

apple pie with whole grain crust michael smith

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gnocchi, Zucchini, and Spinach Bake

Gnocchi is probably my favourite thing ever.  It is awesome and I've loved it ever since I was a little girl.  This bake combines gnocchi with luscious, melty mozzarella and some awesome veggies.  If you want a dish that will warm you to your bones on one of these cool fall nights, this dish would be perfect.

Gnocchi, Zucchini, and Spinach Bake

1- 500g package of fresh gnocchi (it doesn't have to be fresh, just adjust the cooking time according to the packaging!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1- 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups spinach
1/2 ball of part-skim mozzarella, sliced

Start by making the sauce:  heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute until it becomes fragrant, but not brown.  Add the sliced zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes.  Next, add the tomatoes and spices.  Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi.  If it is fresh, it should take about 3 minutes to cook.  When the gnocchi is cooked it will rise to the top of the water.  Drain the gnocchi and add it to the sauce after the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes.  Stir in the spinach at the same time.

Transfer the gnocchi, sauce, and vegetables to a 8x8 baking dish. Cover with sliced mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts

One of the unfortunate things about Ottawa is that there aren't any good places to get donuts.  Sorry Tim Horton's fans, but those aren't real donuts.  So, I decided that I would need to satisfy my own donut craving.  Since I'm a little weary of frying things in my tiny kitchen, I picked up a donut pan.  This pan may have changed my life.  I can now make baked donuts at home.  I can make them any flavour that I want, and I can top them with anything I want.  To kick things off, I decided to make pumpkin donuts.  I topped half of them with dark chocolate glaze and the other half with cinnamon-sugar.  My preference was for the cinnamon-sugar version, but the chocolate was pretty delicious too.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts

2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 oz. dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.  In a separate bowl, blend together the pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, egg, butter, yogurt, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.

Cut a large hole into the tip of a pastry bag or a Ziplock bag and fill the bag with the donut dough.  Pipe the dough into the greased.

Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.  Remove the donuts and cool them on a wire rack.

While the donuts cool slightly, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Add the sugar and cinnamon to a separate bowl and mix well.  Take each donut and dip each side into the melted butter.  Then dip the donut in the cinnamon-sugar and swirl the bowl so the sugar coats it well, then turn the donut over and coat the other side.

Alternatively, melt 2 ounces of dark chocolate and vegetable oil in the microwave. Stir and return to the microwave until the mixture is smooth.  Dip the donuts into the chocolate.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Cheddar & Rosemary Muffins

It seems like everyone is talking about pumpkin.  I get it.  Pumpkin is awesome!  Most of the pumpkin recipes that have caught my eye so far have been sweet (see: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pumpkin Bars), but these savoury muffins were begging to be made.  The muffins have a gorgeous, subtle pumpkin flavour.  They are perfect for a snack and would be great with soup.  We pretty much scarfed them down; we may have eaten half a dozen after they came out of the oven (I'm not pointing any fingers, but I only had 2).  I followed the adapted version of the recipe that A London Foodie in NY came up with (less sugar and butter) and I'm glad that I did, because the muffins were fabulous.

Pumpkin Cheddar and Rosemary Muffins

2 cups plain flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp salt (kosher- use half the amount if table salt)
2 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp very finely chopped rosemary
10 oz canned pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp sour cream
2 large free range eggs
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 Tbsp liquid honey
1-1/4 cups coarsely grated cheddar

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Lightly spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with a little bit of nonstick spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and rosemary.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, sour cream, and honey until combined. Whisk in the eggs, melted butter and honey.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well and fold in until barely combined. Fold in three quarters of the grated cheese.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tin before turning them out and serving warm

More Pumpkin baking from across the blogs!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

bbq chicken pizza with caramelized onions recipe

N made this amazing BBQ chicken pizza last week for dinner and I'm seriously still dreaming about it!  I love BBQ chicken pizza, but I didn't realize that I would like it with onions!  The pizza was awesome and the caramelized onions that N added to it really put it over the top.

I have a lot of other awesome recipes coming your way in the next week or so, including the recap of our Canadian Thanksgiving celebration dinner.  It is hard to choose what to give you all next!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Adapted from

3 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1 cup hickory flavored barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 (12 inch) pre-baked pizza crust
1 onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cut up the onion into slices (any thickness you want).  Heat two tablespoons of butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Then add the brown sugar and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While the onions cook, combine chicken, barbeque sauce, honey, molasses, brown sugar and cilantro in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Preheat oven to 425°F. 

Spread chicken mixture evenly over pizza crust, and top with cheese and onions. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

I remember eating stuffed peppers as a kid and not really liking them very much, so I'm not sure what possessed me to make them.  I think I was looking for a bit of a comfort food, but with less impact on my waistline than mac & cheese or lasagna.  The stuffed peppers definitely did the trick, and now I wonder why I didn't like them in the first place.  These are filled with a spicy, wholesome stuffing of ground turkey, brown rice, and zucchini.  They were delicious (though a bit unwieldy) to eat for lunch the next day too.

Stuffed Peppers

4 large red bell peppers
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 can low-sodium spicy diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons Ranchero sauce or any spicy salsa-like sauce (try Green Salsa or Chipotle Sauce)
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers.  Carefully clean the insides of the peppers.  Set them aside.

Cook the rice to its specifications. While the rice is cooking, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add the onions and cook until they become translucent.  Add the ground turkey and brown it until it is almost cooked through.  Drain the accumulated fat from the pan and add the zucchini, spices, and tomatoes.  Bring the mixture to a good simmer.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.  If the pan is large enough, add the rice to the meat mixture.  If not, combine the rice and meat in a large bowl.  Mix well and then scoop the mixture into the peppers.  Put the peppers in a glass baking dish, standing upright.  Cover the opening with shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake the peppers for about 10 minutes, and then turn the oven to broil for the last minute or so to broil the cheese a little bit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chai Tea and Scones

For the book club meeting, I also made Chai tea and scones.  Kenyan style Chai tea is less spicy and sweeter than other Chai tea.  It is quite delicious.  Nigel made the scones.  I wasn't sure if he could pull off scones, so I left him a Martha Stewart recipe.  He (or maybe Martha) totally pulled them off.  They were really good, though now he is convinced that he is a scone-master.  Believe me, that will not end well for my waistline!

Kenyan Chai Tea 
(makes about 6 servings)

6 Chai Tea Bags
4 cups of milk
2 cup of water
3-4 tablespoons of sugar

Combine milk and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the tea bags to the pot and turn down to low to simmer for two to three minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the sugar. Stir well and serve.

From Martha Stewart

4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 egg
1/4 cup light cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mixing lightly with your fingers, add heavy cream just until dough holds together. Wrap in plastic and chill about 1/2 hour before rolling out.

Butter a large baking sheet; set aside. Roll dough into a circle, 1/2 inch thick for small scones and 3/4 inch thick for larger ones. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut dough into various shapes. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet.

Combine egg and light cream in a small bowl; brush tops of scones with mixture. Bake until golden brown and puffed, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegetarian Samosas

vegetarian samosa recipe

This month, my book club read "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen.  I hosted the gathering and wanted to prepare food and drinks that matched the book.  Karen Blixen's memoir is set in colonial Kenya.  However, I needed a menu that was easy to prepare and mostly finger food, since we would be sitting in my living room.  Most of the recipes that I could find for more traditional Kenyan cuisine were for full meals, so the menu turned out to be a bit of a mish-mash.  The menu: vegetarian samosas, Kachumbari, a cheese plate, scones, Kenyan Chai tea, and Coupe Mount Kenya for dessert.  I chose samosas, because they are apparently quite popular in Kenya as Kenyan cuisine has been heavily influenced by the large number of Indians who settled there for work, beginning in the early 20th Century.  These samosas were really easy to make.   They were also delicious.  We were a bit distracted by eating and "discussing" the book for me to take pictures!  More recipes to follow soon! (The bowl the samosas are in is a beautiful, handmade bowl that my parents got me in Italy!)

Vegetarian Samosas
From Foodland Ontario

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Ontario Onion, finely diced
1 Ontario Carrot, finely diced
2 medium Ontario Yukon Gold Potatoes, about 12 oz, peeled and finely diced
2 tsp each of finely chopped gingerroot and curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp each of cayenne and black pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed (I used fresh)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves (this is cilantro)
36 egg roll or wonton wrappers

Heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, potatoes and ginger; stir-fry until softened, about 5 minutes. Combine curry powder, salt, cumin, cayenne and pepper; add to skillet, stirring well and cook for 30 seconds. Add water; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender. If water is not absorbed, uncover and cook until just about evaporated. Add peas and cook a few minutes. Remove from heat; stir in coriander.

If using larger egg roll wrappers, cut in half diagonally to make 2. Place 2 to 3 tsp (10 to 15 mL) filling in centre of each wrapper (depending on size). Moisten edges of wrapper with water; fold in half to form triangle and press edges together to seal. Arrange on baking sheet and brush lightly with remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Serve with lemon wedges and chutney (I picked up some Stonewall Kitchen "Major Grey's Chutney and everyone seemed to like it, but you could make your own!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beef and Barley Soup

This beef and barley soup is the definition of comfort food - it is hearty and so satisfying.   The barley makes this soup really filling and almost more like a stew.  It is perfect for a chilly or rainy fall day (we had a few of those this weekend). (The original recipe called to use a pressure cooker, but I adjusted the cooking time in order to use a regular stock pot.)

Beef and Barley Soup
Adapted from

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds stewing beef, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can tomato sauce
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup barley, rinsed
1 bay leaf

Heat 1 tablespoon oil over moderately-high heat in a large stock pot. Toss beef with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then brown meat in 3 batches until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef as cooked, to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil and cook, stirring, onions, celery carrots and garlic with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until pale golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, water, broth, barley, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add the beef back, cover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Stir in parsley and add salt to taste.

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