Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Skillet-Fried Chicken

February 20, 2012

My husband has continuously asked for one dish ever since we got married – friend chicken. And being that half of my family is from the deep south, you would think that I would have some old grandmother recipe that I had made for years and, quite, frankly, didn’t even need the recipe. But the sad reality is that I had never made fried chicken before, and for only one, embarrassing reason – fear. Fear that I wouldn’t cook the chicken enough. Fear that I would spill oil everywhere. Fear that the chicken would not crisp up like you see on all of the cooking shows. And worst of all, fear I would embarrass my southern side of the family.

But, after 5 years I just couldn’t say no to my husband any longer. I figured I would give it a shot and if it went wrong, we would get take out and I wouldn’t tell a soul. Or, if it went right, I would not only be a fantastic wife, but a cook with new found confidence in doing something out of my comfort zone. Having said that, you know which one of the two was my outcome.

I won’t say it isn’t hard, or scary. It is both of those. But, once I got the hang of it, I was surprised at how crispy and delicious they looked. And even more surprised when we took our first bite and I thought had went to heaven. They were crispy, flavorful and had a slight hint of heat. With mashed potatoes and a glass of wine it was the Sunday night meal. And yes, I was completely oblivious to the caloric consequences – it was just too darn good to care.

The recipe came from Bon Appetit and was deemed the only friend chicken recipe you would ever need. They couldn’t have been more right.

A few tips I learned as a first-time fryer:
1. Don’t fill up the oil too far because it will REALLY get higher when you put the chicken in and you could risk a spill or two.
2. Use peanut oil and buy more than you think you need.
3. When in doubt, fry a bit more. This chicken is so moist, I do not believe a bit more time frying could have done it wrong.
4. Make sure to marinate overnight. It makes all the difference.
5. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, now would be the perfect time to buy one. And I promise you will use it for more than just frying chicken.

Thanks again to Bon Appetit (and my husband constant requests) for enticing me to do something different in the kitchen, and learn that I can really expand my skills as long as I put fear aside.

SKILLET-FRIED CHICKEN
4 Servings

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Cheddar Chicken

April 25, 2011

Sometimes you want to make (and eat) something simple. Something humble. Something ungourmet. Something that uses ingredients you know taste amazing, but might not be best for your diet. Something that makes you feel warm, fuzzy and “oh so bad” for eating it. I found that dish last week, from a somewhat unexpected place.

In my Real Simple, I read an article about a woman’s comfort food that her mother made – a recipe found on the box of her mother’s new blender. The recipe was called Cheddar Chicken and only included 5 ingredients – chicken, Ritz crackers, cheddar cheese, garlic and butter. Now that you have read the list of ingredients, you can surely understand my sentiment at the beginning of this post.

The dish is so drenched in butter (from the pure butter and the crackers) with a hint of garlic and the sharp, gooey cheddar cheese. It tastes nothing short of amazing. Nothing gourmet. No rare ingredients. No need to spend hours in the kitchen.

So anytime you want something that makes you feel satisfied, a bit guilty and takes nothing more than 45 minutes with your pantry staples, put this one in the oven. Serve with rice pilaf and you have a simple, flavorful dinner.

CHEDDAR CHICKEN
Serves 4

16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
wild rice pilaf and steamed green beans (optional)

Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help the crackers adhere. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with the pilaf and green beans, if desired.

White Pizza with Tomato and Basil

April 11, 2011

For Christmas this year, my sister-in-law bought me a pizza stone. But not just any pizza stone – one that you can use in the oven as well as on the grill. There is something so utterly Italian about pizza over a fire, so I knew my love of pizza needed to spill into the grilling world.

What started as a gift that I intended as a summer staple, has now turned into a year-round necessity.

The purpose of a pizza stone is to evenly distribute the heat, as well as to extract moisture to give a crispier crust. And, after experiencing various methods, I have to give the win to the pizza stone.

And a pizza stone is a great way to cook this flavorful vegetarian pizza recipe – inside or outside. The pesto adds a great flavor and the cheese and tomatoes are, well, essential to a good pizza. You can use refrigerated pesto (which is what I used to make it an easier weeknight meal) and by doing so you can put this pizza together in 20 minutes. I tend to actually roast the tomatoes, though, to bring out the flavors – but it is your call on whether you want them cold and fresh or warm and sweeter.

Thanks to Gina for opening my eyes to the best way to make a pizza. And thanks to Cooking Light for this great, go-to quick pizza recipe!

WHITE PIZZA WITH TOMATO AND BASIL
4 Servings

1 (10-ounce) Italian cheese-flavored thin pizza crust (you could also make this with refrigerated dough as well, but your cooking times will vary)
1 teaspoon cornmeal
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons refrigerated pesto with basil (such as Buitoni)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sliced small tomatoes (such as Campari tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup small basil leaves
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Preheat broiler to low.

Place a pizza stone in oven; heat for 10 minutes.

While pizza stone heats, place crust on another baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat crust with cooking spray. Spread pesto evenly over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pesto. Dollop ricotta, by teaspoonfuls, evenly over mozzarella. Slide crust onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven; top evenly with tomatoes, black pepper, and basil. Sprinkle with red pepper, if desired. Cut into 8 slices.

Bacon Pierogi Bake

March 16, 2011

Since my husband is from Cleveland, he craves pierogis every once in a while. Pierogies are essentially Polish dumplings and can be filled with potato, ground meat, saurkraut or even fruit. The traditional pierogis are potato dumplings sauteed with butter, green onions and topped with a dollop of sour cream. For those observing Lent, it would make a great Friday night dinner.

But for every other night during this season, this recipe gives a great twist to a traditional favorite. Baking the pierogies gives you a nice break from standing over a stove – so would thus make a great company dish. The bacon really gives the sauce its flavor, along with the creaminess of the cream cheese. It comes out of the oven as comfort food at its best – baked dumplings satisfying potatoes and lots of cheese. It still baffles me that this recipe actually came from Cooking Light, but I will use that fact as a fuel for my denial.

I used these great individual baking dishes I got from Sur La Table but I am sure you can put them all in one dish together (although if you haven’t invested in individual dishes like mine, I recommend it since there are so many uses for them!).

Thanks to Cooking Light for allowing me to eat gooey cheese, heavy pierogies and a cream sauce without feeling like I am undoing my day!

BACON PIEROGI BAKE
4 servings

1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (such as Mrs. T’s)
Cooking spray
2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange the pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Poblano Albóndigas with Ancho Chile Soup

March 12, 2011

Our soup season is slowly coming to an end, so I was hoping to crank out a few batches of this warming comfort food before spring and the grill take over. This recipe was in Bon Appetit and the moment I saw it, I knew I had to try it.

Soup itself can sometimes not be considered a meal (a la Seinfeld) but this hearty soup has meatballs, rice and fried tortilla strips. Sounds like a meal to me!

It is work, so I would do it when you have a little time (like the weekend) but it is well worth the effort. The smoky flavor of the poblanos and ancho chile powder with the tangy punch of the lime and cilantro make this dish layered in its flavors. And – hint – make extra of the fried tortilla strips because they are fantastic! (also, I sprinkled some salt on them after I took them out of the oil for extra flavor).

The wonderful thing about this dish is not only is it amazing the first time around, but it makes fantastic leftovers. Go ahead and make the full batch, and give yourself lunch for the next few days.

So, as warm, hearty soups start trickling out of your recipe mix as the weather gets warmer, try this one before you put your dutch oven to rest.

POBLANO ALBONDIGAS WITH ANCHO CHILE SOUP
4 servings

Meatballs:
2 large fresh poblano chiles (9 to 10 ounces total)
1 pound ground beef (15% fat)
1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated onion
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder or pasilla chile powder* (do not use blended chile powder)
9 cups low-salt beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice

Toppings:
3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Chopped fresh cilantro

Meatballs:
Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Char chiles over direct flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag and steam 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and peel chiles, then chop finely (should yield about 3/4 cup).

Place chiles in large bowl. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet.

Soup:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion with any juices and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 1 minute. Add broth and oregano; bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to very low, just below bare simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

Stir zucchini and rice into broth. Increase heat to medium and drop in meatballs, 1 at a time. Return soup to simmer. Cover and cook gently until meatballs and rice are cooked through, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat to avoid boiling, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season soup with salt and add more lime juice by teaspoonfuls, if desired.

Toppings:
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add half of tortilla strips. Cook until crisp, gently separating strips with tongs, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer strips to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, adding more oil if needed.

Ladle soup and meatballs into bowls. Top with tortilla strips and cilantro.

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

February 4, 2011

I first discovered tagines last year when I was on the search for rich, winter comfort food. I found a lamb tagine that warmed your whole body, and paired perfectly with a glass of full-bodied red wine. I knew Moroccans were on to something…

A tagine is a spicy, rich stew from northern Africa. The name tagine is also given to the vessel it is cooked in – a shallow, round pot with a unique conical lid designed to lock in moisture and flavors, cooking the food gently in a small amount of liquid. My first few tangines I used my go to – my dutch oven. But as my love for the rich dish grew, I realized I needed to do it right. So, I bought a tagine at Sur la Table. And, of course, I couldn’t buy the tagine without a Tagine cookbook as well.

Although the tagine is big, bulky, and really doesn’t have a convenient storage location, it is well worth the purchase. The meat, when cooked in this vessel, is so tender and moist – despite being on a stove for so long (a testament to the cone-shaped lid). This particular tagine was my first in the authentic cookware and has a wonderful sweetness from the dates.

So, if you have a few hours to cook on a Sunday night (keep in mind about 2 hours is completely inactive cooking time), I would give this tagine a try. Cook it in any pot you use for long cooking, but if you get hooked on tagines like me, it is well worth the investment of an actual tagine. Plus, it is just plain cool to look at!

Thanks to Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan for this fantastic recipe!

LAMB TAGINE WITH DATES ALMONDS AND PISTACHIOS
Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil plus a pat of butter)
2 onions, finely chopped (I just used one)
1-2 teaspoons ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lb lean lamb, from the shoulder, neck or leg, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz moist, ready to eat, pitted dates
1 tablespoon honey
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pat of butter
2-3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onions and saute until golden brown. Stir in the tumeric, ginger and cinnamon. Toss in the meat, making sure it is coated in the spice mixture. Pour in enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for roughly 1.5 hours.

Add the dates and stir in the honey. Cover with the lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown. Scatter the nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the flatleaf parsley. Service with buttery couscous.

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhanwala)

January 22, 2011

One of the first dates I had with my husband, I surprised him with preparing Indian food (one of his favorites). At the time, I was in a tiny apartment and really hadn’t developed the love for cooking that I have know. Reflective of that yet to be discovered passion was my sadly barren spice rack. I had the basics – cinnamon, oregano, etc. – but no garam masala or anything that sounded remotely exotic.

I remember going to Whole Foods and buying little baggies of the “rare” ingredients, as I saw them back then. I spent all day cooking, figuring out how to put together a sauce reminiscent of our nights of Indian takeout.

At the time, I was quite proud of my newly learned skills. And Rob was too, since I had clearly hooked him into yet another date with me. But, he didn’t marry me for my Indian cooking skills, since I have rarely attempted the feat since.

But, when I saw this recipe for butter chicken (our favorite dish at the old Indian restaurant around the corner), I knew I had to give it a go – if nothing but for old time’s sake.

The total preparation takes a little over an hour (and overnight marinade), so it might be ambitious for a weeknight, but it was perfect for a Sunday night. The sauce tasted exactly like the butter chicken we knew – and the leftovers the next day were even better. The only alteration I would make is to maybe shred the chicken before putting in back in the sauce, so eating it isn’t so much work.

Cooking Indian this time around was a bit different, though. I had no need to buy special ingredients because I had them all in my well-stocked spice closet (with the exception of curry leaves which I didn’t seem to miss). I had more confidence in my cooking abilities than years before. And, I had the ambition to make more than one dish by making the accompanying raita (which I recommend to help cool the heat). But, one thing did remain the same – I enjoyed it with the man I will spend the rest of my life with.

Thanks, Saveur, for this great Indian recipe that will be made frequently in our home.

MURGH MAKHANWALA (BUTTER CHICKEN)
Serves 4

FOR THE CHICKEN:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. crushed red chile
flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 3″ piece ginger, peeled and thinly
sliced crosswise
Kosher salt, to taste
1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces,
skin removed

FOR THE RAITA:
1/2 English cucumber (about 6 oz.),
seeded and grated
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and finely
chopped
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh
mint leaves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
3 whole cloves, crushed
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes,
undrained
1 3″ piece ginger, washed and grated
(skin on)
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″
cubes
1 tsp. garam masala
4 fresh or frozen curry leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste

Marinate the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients except for chicken in a food processor; purée. Transfer marinade to a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 500°. Transfer chicken to an aluminum foil—lined baking sheet and spoon any marinade from bowl over chicken. Bake chicken until light brown but not cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside. Meanwhile, make raita: Toss cucumbers, tomatoes, and salt in a colander and let sit for 10 minutes. Press cucumbers and tomatoes to drain well and then transfer to a medium bowl along with yogurt, mint, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, and carrots; toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Make the sauce: In a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat, combine chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often and crushing tomatoes with a spoon, for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and transfer sauce to a food processor; purée. Return sauce to pot and continue cooking over medium-low heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces and any marinade from pan, along with 1/3 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, garam masala, and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter and serve with the raita and basmati rice.

Pork and Pineapple Fried Rice

January 17, 2011

For those who read my blog, you might be wondering where the heck I have been. Did the holidays swallow me hole? Did I bake so much I never want to see a chocolate chip again?

The true reason from my c absence is ironic really. I have been eating take out and going to restaurants the past 2 weeks BECAUSE I love to cook so much. Because I spend more time in my teeny, tiny kitchen than any other room in the house, we finally decided to redo it! Truly my dream come true.

I always try to be positive. There are those without a kitchen, or kitchens smaller than mine (although I have yet to see them). But, the terrible, outdated countertops and dirty linoleum floor had annoyed me to the point of insanity. And although I will still have a small space for my hours of cooking, it will be a pretty space. Which, truly, is all I can ask for!

My dear brother-in-law (thank you, John!) and husband (thank you, Rob!) put in new, gorgeous ceramic tile while I was on a work trip,  then my husband and I put in new trim and threshholds, put in new hardware, painted the walls a beautiful neutral color, and now the kitchen is plugged back in and back in business (no more appliances in the dining room, thank goodness!). The final step is in the beginning of February – new granite countertops.

Instead of boring you with fragments of photos, I will wait until the renovation is complete so I can give full before and afters.

Before the demo of 2011 began, I got one last recipe in – leading the way for many nights of Chinese takeout.

I am actually embarrassed to admit that since I couldn’t find Chinese sausage (does anyone know where I can find it? Findley market perhaps?), I substituted lil’ smokies. Sad, I know, but I figured it would have the same smokiness that the Chinese sausage supposedly has.

Despite my desperate substitution, the dish was amazing! Make sure to use a wok and let the rice sit for a minute to get the crusty edges that will soon become your favorite part of the dish. This one is a quickie, and can be easily done on a weeknight. Thanks to Food & Wine for this home version of take out – much better than any takeout I have had (and now I am officially a connoisseur!).

So, hears to my kitchen being open once again, and a newer kitchen on the way!

PORK AND PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE
4-6 servings

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 ounces ground pork
3 small Chinese sausages (5 ounces), thinly sliced
3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 hot red chile, seeded and minced
4 cups cold cooked jasmine rice or other long-grain white rice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup finely diced fresh pineapple

1. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the hoisin and vinegar. Heat a wok or large skillet. Add the oil and heat until smoking. Add the pork and Chinese sausages and cook over high heat, stirring, until the pork is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the minced scallion whites, ginger, garlic and chile and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice, breaking up any lumps with your hands as you add it to the wok, and stir-fry until heated through and lightly browned in spots. Stir the hoisin-soy sauce, add it to the wok and stir-fry until nearly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallion greens, cilantro and pineapple. Transfer the fried rice to bowls and serve.


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