The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Latkes for Chanukah

Because a couple of people asked if I had recipes. I make the world's simplest latkes, eaten with cream cheese and sugar, applesauce or occasionally cranberries or lingonberries (the Swedish variation) -- the only caveat is that we do grate by hand, because no matter how we set the food processor, the potatoes always come out mushier than we like them if we use it.


The starchier the potato, the crisper the latke. You can easily double this recipe for a crowd. Latkes may be made up to 8 hours ahead and reheated on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, about 5 minutes. Grating the potatoes, soaking them briefly in water, and then squeezing out the liquid (as we’ve done here) keeps the batter from turning brown too quickly.

1 lb potatoes
1/2 cup very finely chopped onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
Pepper to taste, if you wish
Sour cream and applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 250°F.

2. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.

3. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

4. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.

Makes 12 to 16 latkes.

Kibbet Yatkeen

These flavorful patties, which contain no eggs, are denser and more healthful than typical Western pancakes. In Syria, bulgur supplies the body in these patties, but in America some cooks discovered that oats make a suitable substitute. Of course, traditionalists insist on bulgur. Syrians tend to prefer their pumpkin pancakes savory and somewhat spicy, while Sephardim from Turkey and Greece generally like them slightly sweet. These might be served at a Syrian Hanukkah meal alongside bazargan (Syrian bulgur relish), yerba (stuffed grape leaves), spinach salad, and rice with pine nuts.

1 cup fine bulgur
2 cups warm water
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin (about 2 1/2 pounds raw) or 16 ounces pure-pack canned pumpkin
1 cup whole-wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
About 1/2 teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of Aleppo or cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Put the bulgur in a medium bowl, add the warm water, and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Transfer the bulgur to a food processor. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the oil and process until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more flour. Using floured hands, shape into oval patties about 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/2 inch thick, tapering the ends.

3. Heat 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, fry the patties, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sephardic Pumpkin Patties (Fritadas de Calabaza): This batter is looser than the bulgur version and is dropped from a spoon. Omit the bulgur, the 1/2 cup cold water, the onion, garlic, coriander, pepper, allspice, cumin, and Aleppo pepper. Add 3 large eggs, 2 to 8 tablespoons granulated or packed brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, and a pinch of ground ginger.

Syrian Baked Pumpkin Casserole (Kibbet Yatkeen bi Seniyeh): Spread the pumpkin mixture in an oiled 9-inch square baking pan. Cut into diamonds or 1 1/2-inch squares, drizzle with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and bake in a preheated 375°F oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Makes about 12 patties.

Olive Trees and Honey
By Gil Marks
Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Keftes de Espinaca

Among my favorite spinach dishes are these simple but delicious patties. Even spinach haters can't resist them, especially when they're splashed with a little fresh lemon juice; fresh juice does make a major difference in taste. Onions add a sweet flavor and textural complexity. These patties are traditional on Passover and Rosh Hashanah, corresponding to the emergence of the early and late spinach crops. To reheat the spinach patties, place in a large skillet, add 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.

3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed, cooked, chopped, and squeezed dry, or 20 ounces thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
About 1 cup matza meal or fine dried bread crumbs
About 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
Lemon wedges for serving

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and, if using, the garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, matza meal, salt, pepper, and, if using, the nutmeg. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little more matza meal. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.

2. Shape the spinach mixture into patties 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, with tapered ends. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. In batches, fry the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.


Sephardic Spinach Patties with Cheese (Keftes de Espinaca con Queso): Add 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Muenster, Swiss, Gouda, or Cheddar cheese; or 1/4 cup grated kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese.

Sephardic Spinach Patties with Walnuts (Keftes de Espinaca con Muez): Substitute 1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped walnuts for the matza meal.

Italian Spinach Patties (Polpettine di Spinaci): Add 3/4 cup raisins soaked in white wine for 30 minutes, then drained, and 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts.

Makes about 16 patties.

Olive Trees and Honey
By Gil Marks
Wiley Publishing, Inc.


Chickpea fritters laced with rosemary are common in parts of France and Italy. For a terrific side dish that serves eight, top these latkes with a quick sauce made by stirring two tablespoons dried mint into one cup plain yogurt, and offer with fish. Or drizzle the latkes with pomegranate molasses (found at Middle Eastern markets and some supermarkets), and serve with meat or poultry.

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

1. Blend garbanzo beans, garlic, and rosemary in processor to coarse paste. Add eggs, 6 tablespoons water and extra-virgin olive oil; blend until smooth. Add flour, cumin, salt, pepper, and baking powder and blend. Pour batter into bowl.

2. Heat 6 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Cook until golden, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spatula, transfer latkes to paper towels to drain. Add more oil to skillet as necessary and allow to get hot before adding more batter. Transfer latkes to plates. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, if desired, and serve.

Makes about 24.

Bon Appétit
December 2001


Kids love using these scallion brushes to brush the dipping sauce on their latkes! Reminiscent of those savory little pancakes served as dim sum, this dish makes use of ancient Chinese wisdom: the bracing, clean flavors of ginger, vinegar and soy provide a sparkling antidote to the oily richness, as well as welcome respite from the ubiquitous sour cream.

For scallion brushes:
10-12 thin scallions
ice water
For dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon rice, Chinese black, or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
optional: chili oil to taste
For the latkes:
2-2 1/2 bunches of scallions, white and light green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons mild olive or vegetable oil, plus additional oil for frying latkes
1 teaspoon peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
about 1 1/2 lbs.Yukon Gold or russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons matzah meal or all-purpose flour

1. Make the scallion brushes. Cut off and discard the roots and all but 3 inches of the green part of the scallions. Using a scissor or a small paring knife, cut slits about 1/2-inch deep into both sections of each scallion stalk, creating a fringe. Carefully fan out the fringed edges. Place the scallions in a bowl of ice water, and refrigerate for 2 hours or until the fringed edges curl up.

2. Prepare the dipping sauce. Stir together all ingredients and let the flavors meld for at least 30 minutes.

3. Start the latkes. In a large skillet, saute the scallions over moderately high heat in the oil until tender and just beginning to brown at the edges. Stir in the ginger, garlic and soy sauce, and cook, lifting and turning, for 2 -3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool briefly.

4. Coarsely shred the potatoes, using the grating disk in a food processor. Transfer the potatoes to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible. (Don't bother washing out food processor--you'll be using it again here.)

5. Remove the grating disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about 1/3 of the shredded potatoes to the work bowl of food processor and roughly puree, using pulse motion. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the remaining coarsely shredded potatoes from the colander, and the egg, salt, pepper, baking powder, and matzah meal or flour. (You will need salt here--the soy sauce merely flavors the scallions. Putting in enough soy sauce would make the latkes too wet. Figure about 1 teaspoon of salt.) Stir in the sautéed scallions. Mix until thoroughly combined.

6. In a heavy, 10- to 12-inch skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about 1/4-inch oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Using a 1/4-cup measure, drop the batter into the pan; then flatten the latkes with a spatula. Cook no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will make the latkes soggy.

7. Regulate the heat carefully as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent the oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side. (Avoid turning the latkes more than once or they will absorb too much oil. Before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.)

8. Transfer the cooked latkes to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain. Continue frying latkes in the same way until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.

9. If you must keep the latkes warm, place them in a single layer on a rack in a slow oven (200 degrees), until they are all ready to be brought to the table.

10.When ready to serve, pat the scallions brushes dry. Guests should use the brushes to coat each latke with dipping sauce, then top the latke with the brush.

Yield: 4 servings


Crisp potato latkes are the taste of Hanukkah for most Ashkenazi Jews. But the first latkes, according to many food historians, were probably made of cheese. Today latkes based on sweet curd cheeses--farmer, pot and cottage--remain popular. Delicate and dairy-clean tasting, this version begs for a fresh complement of bright-tasting fruit. Instead of the traditional syrup or preserves, which would overpower the natural milky sweetness, serve the latkes with the easy-to-prepare cherry applesauce that follows. They make a wonderful light supper, breakfast, or brunch. Or serve the latkes as a finish to a more elaborate meal.

1/2 lb. farmer cheese (a 7.5 oz. package is fine), drained
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried tart cherries, plumped in hot water 10 minutes, then drained
1/3 cup finely chopped lightly toasted walnuts
unsalted butter and mild vegetable oil, like avocado or canola, for frying
Chunky Cherry-Applesauce (recipe follows)

1. Combine both cheeses, egg yolks, and extracts in a food processor and process until well-blended and smooth. Add the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse to blend. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Mix in cherries and walnuts.

2. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the batter.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and oil in a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the skillet, and fry until the bottoms are golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Turn, using two spatulas, and cook other side until lightly browned, 1-3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plates or keep warm on a heated platter or in baking sheet in a 200-degree oven, while you repeat with remaining batter. Add more butter and oil if necessary, always allowing the fat to get hot before adding more batter. Serve with chunky cherry-apple or other fresh fruit sauce.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Chunky Cherry-Applesauce

5 Gala (or other sweet, flavorful) apples (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
about 3 tablespoons cherry preserves (exact amount will vary, not only according to preference, but according to sweet/tartness of preserves and apples; sour cherry preserves are delicious here)

1. Combine apple pieces and unsweetened apple juice in a heavy large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until apples are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cherry preserves.

2. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the mixture to a chunky puree. Taste, add more preserves if desired, and mash again. (Sauce may be prepared up to two days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve warm or room temperature. Or refrigerate until lightly chilled. Best not icy cold.


2 lbs. fresh spinach, well-washed, tough stems discarded OR 2 10-ounce packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
8 scallions (about 1 cup), trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup (packed) fresh challah or other egg bread (crusts removed), torn in pieces
1/2 cup fresh dill leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
additional butter and mild vegetable oil, like avocado or canola, for frying
Feta-Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Cook spinach in a large saucepan with 1/4 cup lightly salted water until tender. Cool, then place in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and saute until scallions are softened. Stir in spinach, season to taste with salt and pepper, and sauté about 3 minutes, or until all liquid is evaporated. Cool completely.

3. Process challah in a food processor to fine crumbs. Add spinach mixture, dill, mint, and cilantro, and pulse, using on/off turns, until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Mix in eggs and baking powder.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, drop batter by the heaping tablespoonfuls into the skillet, using the back of a spoon to flatten latkes slightly. Fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Avoid turning more than once. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the latkes to paper towels to drain.

5. Fry remaining latkes in the same way, adding more butter and oil to the skillet as necessary, and allowing the fat to get hot before adding more batter.

6. Serve with Feta-Yogurt Sauce.

Yield: about 30 small latkes

Feta-Yogurt Sauce

This sauce is also delicious served with raw or cooked vegetables, or drizzled over a salad of mixed greens.

1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek-style)
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
freshly ground pepper
salt, if necessary

Mash feta in a medium bowl using a fork. Mix in yogurt. Stir in remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with pepper. Taste, and add salt, if needed (the feta may be quite salty). Set aside for flavors to blend at least 2 hours before serving. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate until needed.)


about 1 1/2 lbs. russet (baking) or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 large eggs
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons matzah meal or all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dredging
olive or vegetable oil, for frying
2 lbs. flounder, lemon sole, or similar white-fleshed fish fillets, wiped with a damp paper towel and patted dry. (If the fillets are not small, cut them into long strips, so they will be easier to batter.)
Lemon wedges
Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)

1. In a food processor, using the grating disk, coarsely grate the potatoes together with the onion. Transfer the mixture to a strainer and drain it well, using your hands to squeeze out all excess moisture. (Don't wash out the processor yet.) Replace the grating disk with the steel blade. Return the grated mixture to the processor and add the eggs, garlic, dill, vinegar, salt, pepper, and matzah meal or flour. Process to a smooth batter. Put the batter in a large bowl.

2. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet until hot but not smoking. Spread some flour on a large sheet of wax paper or a plate. Dredge a fillet in the flour, covering it completely and shaking off the excess, then dip it into the latke batter, coating well on both sides. Quickly slide it into the hot oil. Repeat, frying a few pieces at a time, and making sure you do not crowd the pan. Fry until browned on both sides and cooked through (exact time will vary, depending on thickness of fish used). Drain on paper towels or untreated brown paper bags. Serve with Horseradish Cream and lemon wedges.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Horseradish Cream

1/2 cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
1 cup yogurt (preferably Greek-style or drain the yogurt until thickened; regular yogurt will be too watery) or sour cream
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon drained bottled white horseradish, or to taste
freshly ground pepper

Start the Horseradish Cream at least 1/2 hour before serving to develop the flavors. Sprinkle the cucumber with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Wrap in paper towels or a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. In a small bowl, combine the cucumber with the other ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can refrigerate the Horseradish Cream, but allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

Yield: about 1 cup
Dec. 2006
By Jayne Cohen


Ingredients for the Latkes:
1 lb. sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. each salt and baking powder
1/4 cup matzah meal
pinch each: salt & white pepper
2-4 Tbsp. light olive oil for frying

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 cup real maple syrup
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh coriander or mint leaves to garnish

1. Scrub the sweet potatoes, peel and shred on the fine side of a grater or in the food processor. Transfer to a wire-mesh strainer and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Let stand in the strainer or a colander placed over a bowl for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and add the matzah meal, sweet potato, salt and pepper. Let stand an additional 5-10 minutes.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce: In a small pan mix the ingredients for the sauce, heat over low heat and keep warm.

3. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet and add a small ladleful of the batter. Flatten gently and fry on both sides till golden-brown. Check to see if you like the texture of the latke, and add a little more matzah meal to the mixture, if desired. (Let the mixture stand 3 minutes before using).

4. Add more oil to the pan as necessary, and fry the remaining latkes. Place the latkes on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Pour some of the heated sauce on individual plates and arrange three latkes on top per serving, or use a serving platter. Garnish with fresh coriander or mint. Pass the rest of the sauce around to taste. Serve with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired.

Makes 10-12.

The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking
By Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer


Potatoes are a nutritious food (fat-free, low in calories, a good source of Vitamin C, an excellent source of potassium, and a source of fiber) and that they stay that way if prepared in healthier ways. With this recipe, you can enjoy this holiday without feeling guilty -- you'll actually be eating two vegetables: potatoes and carrots.

2 1/2 cups shredded, unpeeled russet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
1/2 cup grated onion
1/3 cup peeled shredded carrot
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 egg + 1 egg white
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1. Scrub potatoes and coarsely grate. Immediately place in a bowl of ice water to keep potatoes from discoloring; let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the onion, carrot, flour, chives, salt, pepper and eggs in a medium bowl and stir well. Drain the potatoes and squeeze out moisture; stir into egg mixture.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Spoon about 1/4 cup of potato mixture for each pancake into skillet, cooking 4 at a time. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, flattening with the back of a spatula and cooking until golden brown and crisp on both sides.

4. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining oil and potatoes.

5. Serve immediately with chunky applesauce and low-fat sour cream.

Makes 4 servings.

The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking
By Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer


Recalling both the miracle of the olive oil and the olive-pressing season in Israel, these scrumptious olive latkes are a new-fangled way to enjoy a latke.

2 cups finely chopped pitted green or black olives in brine, drained (or use half and half)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 Tbsp. water (optional)

1. Chop the olives finely or process in the food processor. Transfer chopped olives to a strainer and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

2. Heat 1/4 cup the oil and saute the onion and garlic till golden. Set aside.

3. In the meantime, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cumin. Beat in the eggs and onion and garlic mixture with a fork. Add the water if the mixture seems too thick.

4. Heat the remaining oil and use a small cup or soup ladle to form 3-4 small latkes each time. Fry on both sides till golden.

5. Serve with thick yogurt or sour cream.

Makes about 8.

The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking
By Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer

P.S. Organic Valley has seasonal cookie recipes, including Rugelach, Norwegian Fattigman and Armenian Mavish!

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