Nasu Dengaku: Vegan Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant with a Twist

DSCN2012Yield: 4 servings

Our favorite local sushi restaurant (vegan for me!) is Zushi, where Chef Kevin (Asian, despite the name) is not only a master of flavors, but also of exquisite, artful presentation.

We like to choose the Chef’s Tasting Menu and let  him delight and surprise us with whatever he is inspired to make from that day’s freshest ingredients.  He relishes coming up with vegan dishes for me.  One of my favorites is quie traditional: Nasu Dengaku or long, thin Japanese eggplant, split lengthwise and broiled with a sweet miso glaze, as Kevin has a special way even with the tried and true.

My version is a slight twist on tradition, as I add a hint of soy sauce, no mirin (as this rice wine is similar to sake and seems like a duplication of it) and a hint of ginger.  My version is not terribly sweet, though you may add a bit more agave if you choose.

Really quick and easy–no chopping is involved and the glaze is made while the epplant broils–this dish is lovely enough for a dinner party in its elegant simplicity, but fast enough for a snack.

2 Japanese eggplant, stem ends trimmed, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons sake

2 tablespoons light miso (available in Asian markets)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon agave nectar (you may add up to an addition 2 teaspoons for a sweeter glaze

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (I use a “lite” variety for less sodium)

1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I use a microplan grater to make quick work of this task)

Garnish: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds + 1 green onion, thinly sliced (I use mostly the green part)

Preheat broiler.  Place eggplant on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet (my preference to collect any glaze that runs over the edges of the eggplant.  Make shallow diagonal slits in eggplant about 1-inch apart.  Rub eggplant all over with sesame oil and broil 3 minutes on each side.  While eggplant broils, heat sake in a small cup or bowl for 30 seconds in microwave.  Whisk in miso, agave nectar, soy sauce and ginger until smooth.  Taste and whisk in more agave if desired.  Remove eggplant from oven, spoon 1 tablespoon of glaze atop each half, spreading to cover surface, and return to broiler for 2 minutes.  Remove eggplant to a serving platter and spoon any glaze in the bottom of the skillet over the top.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.  It is even quite tasty cold!



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“Righteous” Vegan Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup

“Your peanut butter-apple pancakes were righteous!”

So proclaimed Gary Loewenthal of Compassion for Animals and Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in an email last week.

He then explained that he had been invited to give a vegan cooking demo and talk at a health food store near him and asked if he could prepare my recipe and print it for the attendees, with a credit and link to The Blooming Platter.

That required no thought at all, only a resounding “Of course!” especially when he said, “One thing I loved about the pancakes is that the PB was not overpowering. I love PB but it blended beautifully.”

I haven’t made my Vegan Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup in a while, but he reminded me how good they are; and, with local apples cropping up this autumn in farmers markets everywhere, I thought I should post a link.

What a great way to celebrate the first weekend of fall.  Thanks, Gary!


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Vegan Smashed ‘Buttah Bean and Homemade Goat “Cheese” Quesadillas with Smoky Nooch-Roasted Pepita Garnish

DSCN2000With fresh Smashed ‘Buttah Beans in the fridge following a trip to the farmer’s market, some of my new homemade goat cheese on hand for another purpose, some freshly made Smoky Nooch-Roasted Pepitas, AND some south’ren salsa that came as a gift, the creation of this super easy quesadilla was all but inevitable.


Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

1/2 teaspoon vegan butter  (I use Earth Balance)

1-6 to 8-inch whole wheat or flour tortilla

1/4 cup smashed butter beans (I whip cooked butter beans with vegan butter, fresh minced sage, and sea salt and pepper to taste)

1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons Vegan Goat “Cheese” (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon salsa, prepared or homemade  (for this recipe I like a southern-inspired variety like Georgia Peach and Vidalia Onion)

2 teaspoons Smoky Nooch-Roasted Pepitas

Garnish: fresh sage sprig

To make each quesadilla, melt 1/2 tablespoon vegan butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high.  Spread half of  tortilla first with 1/4 cup goat cheese then with butter beans.  Fold in half and saute 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Top with remaining 2 teaspoons of goat cheese, salsa, and pepitas.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh sage and serve immediately.  (Note: you may top with 2 teaspoons of vegan sour cream if you prefer.)

Vegan Goat Cheese

14 ounces extra firm tofu

2 tablespoons light miso

2 tablespoons beer

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Process all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until completely combined and creamy-stiff.  Chill, covered, in refrigerator until read to use/serve.  (When serving as an appetizer, may be formed into balls or logs and rolled in finely chopped cashews or parsley.)


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Inaugural Blooming Platter “Vegan Q & A Tuesday” with Bryanna Clark Grogan + Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad

Based on Actor’s Studio host’s James Lipton’s famous “Q & A”–after the Proust Questionnaire–“Vegan Q & A Tuesday” is The Blooming Platter’s new first Tuesday feature on a creative force in the vegan culinary world.  Read more about “Q & A Tuesday” HERE.

Bryanna cropFeatured Force: 

Bryanna Clark Grogan

(See below for Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad recipe.)

Vegan since 1988, author World Vegan Feast & 7 more vegan cookbooks, Bryanna has devoted over 40 years to the study of cooking & nutrition.  She developed the recipes for Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, & contributed recipes to Howard Lyman’s No More Bull!Cooking with PETA. She has appeared at Vegetarian SummerFest, Vegetarian Awakening, Portland VegFest, McDougall Celebrity Chef Weekend, VidaVeganCon, & Seattle VegFest. She also runs a small library branch and likes to bellydance & read mysteries. She lives on Denman Is., Bc, Canada, with her photographer/baker husband Brian, dog Phoebe, & cats Ringo & Sadie. She has 4 grown kids, 2 stepsons and 7 grandchildren.

 1.  What is your favorite culinary word?

It would have to be “Umami”– the Japanese word for “The Fifth Flavor”, which means, more or less, “the essence of deliciousness”.  Isn’t that wonderful?

2.  What is your least favorite culinary word?

“Superfood”—there are no “superfoods”!  It’s a marketing ploy. 

3.  What about cooking turns you on?

I think part of it is the creativity and inventiveness, which often leads to a wonderful dish or meal. Sometimes I wake up thinking about some idea for a dish that I want to make. One can compare it to painting, but we cooks can enjoy eating our creations!  There is also the mystery—how will it turn out?  Will it live up to expectations?  And, in addition, there is the pleasure of discovery—learning the science of cooking, how ingredients work together, what methods improve the result, etc.

4.  What about cooking turns you off?

Hmmmm… that’s a tough one.  The clean-up, perhaps?

5.  What cooking or dining sound or noise do you love?

There are many. The “snap” of breaking celery or snap peas; the sizzle of breaded marinated tofu sliding into hot olive oil; knife on wooden cutting board as one chops onions, etc.; the “glug” of wine being poured into a sauce; the quiet clinking of dining utensils during a lull in the dinner conversation, when guests are enjoying their food so much that they cease to converse.

6.  What cooking or dining sound or noise do you hate?


7.  What makes you curse in the kitchen?

Cutting myself; spilling something messy, such as oil or tomato sauce; finding out I turned on the wrong burner; burning something.

8.  What cooking profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Rather than being a cookbook writer, from the limited amount of teaching workshops I’ve done, it might be very satisfying to be a cooking teacher.

9.  What cooking profession would you not like to do?

I would not like to do anything that entailed making the same thing, or few things, over and over.

10.  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“One of the perks here is that you can have anything you like to eat, you won’t get fat, and you can have full access to the Heavenly Kitchens, if you like.”

Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad

 Indian lentil saladServes 6

 5 1/2 to 6 cups cooked or canned brown lentils, drained (or 2 cups dried)

4 small carrots, peeled and grated

6 large green onions, chopped

3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium cucumber, diced (I use the English type that you don’t have to peel)


1 cup Mango Salsa (see homemade recipe and notes below recipe)

3/4 cup Low-Fat Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings or broth from cooking chickpeas

6 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon dried mint leaves (or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped)

1 tablespoon dried cilantro leaves (or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped)

2 teaspoons tandoor masala

1 teaspoon salt

 If you are starting with dried lentils (which do not need pre-soaking):

Pick over the lentils to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse, and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (to aid in digestion). Reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.  They should be tender, but firm, so do not overcook them or let them get mushy.  Drain them well (handling gently) and cool completely, then measure out.

To make the salad:

Combine the first 6 ingredients carefully in a salad bowl.

Whisk the Dressing ingredients together well, or mix them briefly in a blender or with a hand immersion/stick blender.

Fold the Dressing into the salad. Cover and refrigerate. Try to bring the salad to room temperature before serving.

To serve, I pile it on top of some organic greens and garnish each serving with sliced fresh mango and avocado.

Nutrition (per serving): 397.3 calories; 32% calories from fat; 14.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 625.7mg sodium; 1194.7mg potassium; 53.1g carbohydrates; 17.8g fiber; 12.3g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 18.6g protein; 8.4 points.



3 cups diced fully ripened tomatoes, roughly pureed in a food processor or with a hand immersion/stick blender

2 cups diced fresh mango (or use ripe peaches instead)

1/4 sliced green onions

1 tbs minced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (optional)

2 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger or one tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbs. lime juice

Mix ingredients together well and refrigerate until using in a covered container.


Commercial Mango or Peach and Tomato Salsas:

D.L. Jardine’s Peach Salsa

PC [President’s Choice, a Canadian brand] Mango and Lime Salsa

Pearson Farm Georgia-Style Peach Salsa

Victoria Fruit Salsa


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Vegan Smokey South’ren Butterbean, “Bacon,” and Sweet Potato Tacos

Yield: 8 tacos

Smokey South'ren Butterbean, Bacon, and Sweet Potato TacosI hail from the American South… make that the Deeeeeep South.  Though I have lived in Virginia longer than I have lived anywhere else, my earliest culinary roots were in MS with a side of TX.

Down there, folks like their butterbeans cooked slow and long, just like they tell their stories.  They cook their peas and beans with what will go unmentioned here, but think cute pink snout.

With beautiful local butterbeans and sweet potatoes (kept in cold storage until summer) in my Saturday farm market bag, and having recently dined on vegan Mexican food, I woke up last Sunday morning thinking that a butterbean, sweet potato, and tempeh “bacon” hash stuffed in a taco shell would be some ‘kinda good for dinner.  And I was right!

If I had had corn tortillas, I would have used them for the taco shells as a reference to cornbread, de rigeur in the South for sopping up butterbean “pot liquor.”  But, alas, all I had was flour ones leftover from our restaurant meal, and the end result was still delicious.

While virtually any salsa would be delicious–tomato or corn or why not tomato and corn?–just keep the volume turned down a bit on the heat, so as not to overwhelm the other flavors.  Still, it’s customary for southerners to enjoy their beans and peas with a hot pepper chow-chow, so I recommend some salsa for a little kick-me-up.

This is one heck of an easy and tasty recipe, regardless of where you live!

1 pound sweet potato, diced (I leave the skin on)

2 cups fresh, raw butterbeans

2 large bay leaves (or 4 small)

Sea salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

8-6 inch tortilla shells (corn or whole wheat)

7 ounces tempeh “bacon” (I use a variety called Tempeh Smoked Maple “Bacon”)

1/4 cup vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: 1/4 cup vegan sour cream, 1/4 cup salsa (homemade or prepared), 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional:  8 lime wedges

Place sweet potatoes and butterbeans in a large microwave safe bowl, add bay leaves and salt, cover with plastic wrap, and cook at full power for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain.  (Alternatively, you may simmer the potatoes and beans, partially covered, on top of the stove until tender, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time, if necessary.)  Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry tortillas, loosely folded in half, 3 to 4 at a time for a couple of minutes on each side, or until lightly golden.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm while preparing filling.  In same skillet, fry tempeh bacon for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crispy, reducing heat if cooking too fast.  Quickly, with the end of a spatula or even side of a fork, cut each tempeh strip into bite-size pieces.  Add the drained sweet potatoes and butterbeans, and saute, stirring continually and gently, for 2 to 3 minutes to combine flavors.  Fold in the 1/4 cup sour cream, smoked paprika, thyme, and black pepper, and heat through.  Adjust seasoning, including salt, if necessary.  Serve 1/8th of filling in each taco shell garnished with approximately 1/2 tablespoon salsa, 1/2 tablespoon vegan sour cream, a pinch of smoked paprika and, if desired, a lime wedge.

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Jerusalem Post Features Blooming Platter Cookbook/Recipes in Corn Salad Article by Award Winning Cookbook Author Faye Levy

Jerusalem Post--Corn ArticleWhat an honor and a thrill!

Last Thursday, Faye Levy, author of the award-winning International Vegetable Cookbook, along with Yakir, featured The Blooming Platter Cookbook in their Jerusalem Post article on salads made with summer’s gold: corn!

The Jerusalem Post is Israel’s best-selling English daily and most read English website.  Wow!  Thank you, Faye and Yakir.

An excerpt from their article:

“Small oval tomatoes and a chili-seasoned citrus-cumin dressing flavor the roasted corn and black bean salad made by Betsy DiJulio, author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. She serves this main-course salad on a bed of baby spinach and tops it with spiced toasted pecans. In another summertime salad, she combines corn with diced tomatoes, blackberries, onion and fresh basil, and dresses the salad with lime juice mixed with pomegranate molasses.

To cook the corn for her salads, DiJulio rubs the husked ears with olive oil, sprinkles them with sea salt and roasts them in a 200°C (400°F) oven until just a few brown spots appear; it takes about 15 minutes.”


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Vegan Mashed Eggplant (Think Jacques Pepin’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes with a Blooming Platter Twist!)

DSCN1866Have you ever made mashed eggplant, like mashed potatoes?
Oh, my!  I hadn’t–I don’t know if anyone has–but I was watching “Essential Pepin” on the Create channel recently, and his show was devoted to the humble potato.
First up: mashed potatoes.  I thought, “Really?  Who doesn’t know how to make mashed potatoes?”  But there was something about his French accent, his arthritic hands, and his assured grace and facility  in the kitchen that made me think his looked like the best mashed potatoes I’d ever seen.
I had no potatoes, but I had some small white and striated globe eggplants from a local farm that needed used, and I thought,”What if?”  What if, indeed!  You will love this simple take on a favorite family staple.
And, folks, this is NO time to skimp.  This is a decadent dish, so don’t hold back on (vegan) butter and sour cream.  Indulge, would you?
2 pounds eggplant, skin on, cut into pool ball size chunks, placed in a large cast iron skillet, drizzled with oil, and sprinkled with a pinch of salt (it is fine for eggplant to be in about 1 1/2 layers)
3 garlic cloves, drizzled with oil, and wrapped in a small piece of foil
2 tablespoons vegan butter
2 to 4 tablespoons vegan sour cream to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano)
A healthy amount of sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place skillet with eggplant along with wrapped garlic in oven and roast for 25 minute or until tender, but eggplant holds its shape.  Remove both from oven and let cool until eggplant is easily handled.  Slip off the skin (compost or discard), and place flesh in a glass or ceramic bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mash with a hand-held potato masher.  Reheat for a minute in microwave, if necessary, as you want butter to melt slowly as you mash.  Serve immediately or cool, cover, and store in refrigerator until just before serving time.  Reheat, check for seasoning, and serve.
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Vegan Lentil Salad with Grilled Zucchini, Roma Tomatoes, and Pepper Jelly-Sage Vinaigrette

DSCN1851Yield: 6 servings

I discovered a brand new and brilliant way to cook lentils, courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen: brine them to soften the skin and then bake them in a dutch oven so they don’t crash together and break apart while they simmer.  You can find their method HERE, along with some tasty salad ideas. (Note: I obviously didn’t use chicken broth.  I could have used vegetable broth, but water worked yielded lentils full of flavor.)

After trying that method, I had a beautiful bunch of them with which to do something.  I also had local red onion, zucchini and orange Roma tomatoes from my trip to the farm market.  There was nothing left to do but combine everything into a salad!

I wanted a special, but simple, dressing–some kind of vinaigrette–but I wasn’t sure what.  Scanning the door of the fridge, my eyes alighted on an unopened jar–a gift–of pepper jelly made here in Virginia.  Voila!  Then, mentally reviewing the herbs in the garden, sage somehow sounded perfectly earthy and just the right note to counter the heat of the jelly.  Voila again!  But it seemed like it needed one more “warm”  spice.  The barest hint of clove or mace was just exactly right.

This combination of ingredients makes this recipe the perfect celebration of late summer (salad) while looking forward to the cool months ahead (dressing) because I always think of pepper jelly and sage in conjunction with the festive flavors of the winter holidays.

3 cups cooked French lentils

1/4 cup diced red onion (if desired, cover with  soymilk and drain before using to remove a little of the bite)

2 orange Roma tomatoes, diced (red is fine; the orange ones were just so beautiful at the farm market)

1 6-inch zucchini, sliced in thirds lengthwise, lightly salted, grilled 2 to 3 minutes on each side, cooled, and diced (I used my Lodge indoor grill pan over medium-high)

Sea Salt to taste (don’t be stingy!)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pepper Jelly-Sage Dressing (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients except dressing.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Drizzle with dressing and gently toss to evenly distribute.  Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate to allow flavors to marry before serving.

Pepper Jelly-Sage Dressing:

1/4 cup pepper jelly (I use a locally made brand)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon mustard

6 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Pinch garlic powder

Tiny pinch of ground clove or mace (a bare hint is all you want but it adds a little somethin’-somethin’!)

3 tablespoons fresh sage, minced or chiffonade (I like the latter, simply stack and roll 3 to 4 leaves and thinly slice into tiny ribbons)

In a small bowl, whisk together pepper jelly, vinegar, and mustard.  Whisk in olive oil in a slow stream and keep whisking until it emulsifies (thickens and comes together).  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and clove or mace to taste and then whisk in sage.



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Happy Birthday, Joooolia! Vegan Potato and Beet Salad a la Julia Child

DSCN1837This jewel-toned salad is a real gem!

I admit that the color is a bit shocking, courtesy of some beautiful fresh beets, but it looked right at home on the bountiful buffet at this year’s birthday bash for Julia Child.

For the last 4 years, 10 or so of our foodie friends gather to fete the ‘ole gal on the Saturday evening closest to her birthday, making the 2013 iteration of this favorite pot-luck party on August 10.

My contributions were this salad and my new Vegan Luscious Lavender and Creme de Cacao Ice Cream.  Ooh-la-la!

Guests are asked to bring a French dish (and something tasty to eat too–hahaha), one inspired by Julia Child, or one made according to her actual recipes.  We scarcely do any advance coordination, but the meal is somehow always perfect and so beautifully presented.  The group is made up of one vegan (moi), some vegetarians, and some out-and-out carnivores.  But the food is almost entirely vegetarian/vegan.

Lovely dishes brought by our guests included:

  • Fresh juicy cantaloup slices (with or without prosciutto–sorry!)
  • Broccoli aspic (a recipe from Julia Child)
  • La Salad Hericot Vert (with candied walnuts, arugula and radicchio)
  • Ratatouille
  • Beet (not “beef”!) Bourguignon over Lentils
  • Salmon (sorry again!), courtesy of my husband with my homemade basil Pistou (French pesto)

My Vegan Potato-beet salad, a riff on one of Julia Child’s, was a top favorite among at least two of the guests, though everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Be sure to use a neutral tasting mayonnaise, or it will overpower the other flavors.  I am a fan of Nayonaise for some dishes, but feel it is too strongly vinegary and spiced for this dish.  Vegenaise is a better choice in this case.

4 cups quartered new potatoes (at our local farm market, they are called “creamers”), boiled in salted water, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes, and drained

7 beets, peeled and diced (about 2 1/2 cups), cooked until tender, and drained (save juice for another purpose) [I place them in a bowl, cover them with water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and microwave for 15 minutes, but avoid a steam burn when removing the wrap!)

1 cup haricot vert (green beans), trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces, and simmered just until tender, about 7 minutes, then shocked in cold/iced water, and drained

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1/4 cup green herbs, finely chopped (I highly recommend a blend of 2 or more, e.g. basil, chives, tarragon, parsley)

2 cups neutral tasting mayo, prepared or homemade (not too tangy, sweet, etc., I like Vegenaise for this recipe)

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl, combine all vegetables, drizzle with vinaigrette, toss well, cover, and chill for several hours.  Sprinkle with herbs, fold in mayo, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Chill until serving time and garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs.


1/4 cup sherry vinegar (in truth, whatever vinegar you have will be great)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together vinegar and mustard.  Then whisk in olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified.  Season to taste and whisk again.  (Or just combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.)


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