Saturday, October 31, 2009

Goodbye to Gourmet - Chickpea Caldo Verde

Chickpea Caldo Verde

Call it the last supper. When I walked out of my supermarket the other day, I was fortified with two serendipitous finds buried within my heavy grocery totes: a massive and corrugated bunch of cobalt-green dinosaur kale, and a dinosaur of another sort: the November, and final, issue of Gourmet Magazine.

Once home, my feet up and fingers flipping through the glossy pages of the end of an era, I startled to discover a recipe for caldo verde, the thick and garlic-y Portuguese potato soup, distinctive for its mermaid's tangle of kale strips floating on the surface. Was it fate? There was a deep vat of potato chunks boiling and bobbing in a spicy broth at the back of my stove. I was already making caldo verde.

Is my recipe an adaptation of Gourmet's version tucked away on page 68? Technically not. But why not say so anyway, as tribute to one of the trailblazers in bringing sophisticated world-class cooking and travel to home kitchens across the U.S.? And who knows? It might be back someday; look at Polaroid. Perhaps it won't be like a phoenix rising from the ashes; perhaps it will be a pheasant instead.

Dinosaur Kale
Dinosaur Kale
Chickpea Caldo Verde - My own vegetarian recipe, replicating the spiced flavors of chorizo without the pork.

Ingredients for Broth

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera, a smoky Spanish paprika, or other more commonly available paprika
Pinch of saffron, gently crushed between your fingertips
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ancho pepper
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, or Italian oregano
10 cups water
2 very large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Ingredients for Finishing

1 bunch kale, any variety, cut into strips after rinsing and removing thick center vein
3 cups cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a very large soup pot or Dutch oven, warm oil very briefly over low heat. Add garlic, pimentón, saffron, cumin, ancho pepper, and oregano. Sizzle mixture, maintaining low heat, until fragrant and garlic is golden but not burned. Add water, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes, depending on variety). Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a stand blender, purée broth until smooth. You can also mash a few of the potatoes to somewhat thicken it, yet keep it chunky. Return to low heat. Add kale and chickpeas, mixing to distribute. Simmer until they are heated through (around 3 minutes) and kale is slightly wilted. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Divide into bowls. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and dot with hot pepper sauce, if desired. Serves 4-6, depending on size of bowls used.
This recipe is for Jeanne of Cook Sister!, sparkling hostess of October's MLLA - 16. Jeanne's round-up will be online very soon. Do stop by for an eyeful of delicious dishes from around the world.

Been There, Done That ~
Leblebi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup)
African Peanut and Yam Soup
Lima Bean and Artichoke Soup

Other People's Eats ~
Fasolatha (Greek Bean Soup)
Spicy Mung Bean Soup with Coconut Milk
Minestrone

More Other People's Eats ~
The good folks at Blogs.com have asked me to compile a list of Top 10 Beautiful Food Blogs. My guest post can be found here. Some are well known, others are recent discoveries, all are a feast for the eyes. If I was free to cite more than ten, my list would certainly be so very much longer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brevity and Beauty - Pomiane's Eggs "Sur le Plat"

Ouefs sur le Plat

"First of all, let me tell you that this is a beautiful book. I can say that because this is its first page. I just sat down to write it, and I feel happy, the way I feel whenever I start a new project."
Opening paragraph from French Cooking in Ten Minutes

Joie de vivre. That's what the French call it. And that's what the Polish call it, too, if you were Edouard Pomian Pozerski, which is what Edouard de Pomiane was originally called when he was born in Paris in 1875. A medical doctor by training, and a research scientist by occupation, Pomiane embraced cooking as both science and art. Before there was a Heston Blumenthal or a Ferran Adrià with their avant-garde and esoteric techniques, there was Pomiane, avant-garde for his time in his scientific determination to understand the esoterics of French traditional cuisine. In demystifying cooking into a enthusiastic pleasure to be enjoyed by all, he became a popular culinary expert and lecturer whose books are still in print today. Though many of his recipes would be considered quaint or out-of-date by today's furious trends and technology, the durability of his practical instruction infused with a writing style of a beloved, mentoring, charming uncle will keep him in print for generations to come.

Pomiane is the food writer I return to when I want to laugh, expand my heart, and be reminded to embrace daily life, preferably as cook and hostess. In Cooking with Pomiane, he instructs in the finely detailed hierarchy of your guests:
"First of all, there are three kinds of guests: 1. Those one is fond of. 2. Those with whom one is obliged to mix. 3. Those whom one detests.

For these three very different occasions one would prepare, respectively, an excellent dinner, a banal meal, or nothing at all, since in the latter case one would buy something ready cooked."
Guests are also drolly apprised of their own machinations when accepting a dinner invitation:
"First of all, don't expect too much. In this way you will not be disappointed at the end of the meal - a thing which is very harmful to the digestion. The day before the party, assess your host at his true value. Calculate, and I am afraid this is a little cynical, just what you are likely to get."
Pomiane is as much a raconteur, perpetually bemused by human nature, ready with the anecdote, as he is a sensible tutor who neither lectures nor condescends. His French Cooking in Ten Minutes is a no nonsense approach to the standard repertoire of the good French home cook. Filled with over a hundred recipes, many no longer than a paragraph, this 1930 publication is a wealth of good will, good humor, good taste, and great reading. No wonder he was happy.

~~~~~~~~
Eggs "Sur le Plat" - Adapted from French Cooking in Ten Minutes by Edouard de Pomiane. Scientist that he was, Pomiane nonetheless was fond of using measuring terms such as "a little" and "some." I have taken the liberty to add some numbers that work. The shallot, chives, and pepper are my additions.

Ingredients

2 eggs
3 teaspoons butter, divided into 2 teaspoons and 1 teaspoon
1/2 large shallot, peeled, sliced
5 blades of fresh chives
Salt
Pepper

Method

In an oven-proof gratin dish that has also been approved for stovetop use*, heat 2 teaspoons butter until melted over the lowest heat source. Carefully crack two eggs and tip them into the dish. (They will arrange themselves.) Maintain lowest heat. In meantime, in a small skillet, fry shallot briefly in 1 teaspoon butter. Remove from heat. Check on the eggs, continuing to cook until the whites are just set and opaque, repositioning the dish a few times for even heat distribution. (This is especially necessary if the dish is long.) Top with fried shallot and chives, then scatter with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, using pot holders to transfer dish to the table. Serves 1.

*If cooking on an electric stove, you must use a heat diffuser as a buffer between the heating surface and the dish. Alternatively, a small metal skillet very generously coated in butter or oil can be used; you can either lift the eggs out with a wide turner or serve in the skillet.
This post is for Sra of When My Soup Came Alive, hosting The Write Taste, an event featuring food writing. Though it wasn't a requirement, I did include a recipe. After all, it only took me ten minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

WEEKEND HERB BLOGGING #204 - THE ROUND-UP

If Weekend Herb Blogging was running a popularity contest, then this week's blue ribbon would have to go to the hard-shelled, shaggy-centered spaghetti squash. Three of the recipes collected here feature the unique yellow vegetable. It must have a really good PR firm. Fifteen other dishy recipes in the incredibly broad world of edible plant parts are represented here, as well. Every one of them is a winner. Do scroll down and admire the menu. Thanks very much for inviting readers into your kitchens for a peek and a taste. Please let me know if there are omissions or errors that I need to amend.

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While awaiting the first killer frost, a dedicated gardener creates
a killer recipe with a bounty of exceptionally beautiful peppers.

Baked Stuffed Busillus Frying Peppers
Rachel - The Crispy Cook
Schuylerville, New York, U.S.A.

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Fresh, fragrant dill is a novel yet natural match
for a multi-layered, multi-flavored rice dish.

Shrimp Biryani
Muneeba - An Edible Symphony
Connecticut, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~~

An early autumn harvest of Asian greens is a
filling addition to a light meal you can eat on the go.

Ham Rolls with Tatsoi
Graziana - Erbe in Cucina
Italy

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Deciding which fruit to use is only a stone's
throw away for a salad as sweet as it is savory.

Nectarine Peach Salad
Hilda - Dhanggit's Kitchen
Aix en Provence, France

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Lyrical lavender baked in biscotti adds romance
to a sweet indulgence kissed with honey.

Honey-Lavender Biscotti
Pam - Sidewalk Shoes
Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~~

Golden-fried griddle cakes studded with golden-fresh
corn kernels are but a few simple ingredients away.

Corn Cakes
Haalo - Cook Almost Anything at Least Once
Melbourne, Australia

~~~~~~~~

Scrubbing the house to prepare for a holiday is less of a chore
when fortified with protein-rich pancakes punched up with spices.

Methi and Besan ka Cheela (Fenugreek and Gram Flour Crepes)
My Experiments and Food
India

~~~~~~~

A captivating caper sauce holds its own with a colorful
collection of brassicas known for their strength and vigor.


A cluster of tomatoes still clinging to its vine is ripe for
the picking for a classic salad that epitomizes Italian flavors.

Caprese Salad
Soma - eCurry
Texas, U.S.A.

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Farm-fresh potatoes are shredded and fried to crispy
perfection in the famous Swiss version of hash browns.

Rösti
Anna - Morsels and Musings
Sydney, Australia

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There will be no crying over missed carbs when you're
served a hearty helping of a meal made with a pasta impostor.

Spaghetti Squash and Chard Gratin
Kalyn - Kalyn's Kitchen
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~~

Rounds of spicy potato filling are flattened into
fragrant circles of Indian bread that are tall on flavor.

Aloo Methi Paratha (Potato Fenugreek Stuffed Bread)
Sandy - Sandhya's Kitchen
London, U.K.

~~~~~~~~

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas when crafting gifts
of home-preserved shallots glistening in olive oil and herbs.

Shallots in Oil
Cinzia - Cindystar Blog
Lake Garda, Italy

~~~~~~~~

No one need worry about singing for her supper with
the simplest of squash dishes that's always in tune.

Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti Squash
Joanne - Eats Well with Others
New York, New York, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~~

Saying farewell to friends is a little less painful when
you practice kitchen therapy with the art of pickling.

Pickled Bell Peppers and Onions
Brii - Brii Blog in English
Lake Garda, Italy

~~~~~~~~

Healthy eating in technicolor just got even easier
with a lively vegetable mix of green, red, and gold.

Spaghetti Squash with Black Beans, Corn, and Kale
Katie - Eat This
Haslett, Michigan, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~~

A wholesome sourdough mattress cuddles seasoned corn
custard in an old-fashioned dish of English origins.

Sourdough Bread Pudding with Corn and Caramelized Shallots
Stash - The Spamwise Chronicles
New York, New York, U.S.A.

~~~~~~~

All the comforts of childhood are not to be found in
an old-time nursery favorite that fools and frustrates.

Rinktum Tiddy
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook
New York, U.S.A.


Thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once for allowing me the opportunity to host this long-running event for the umpteenth time. Weekend Herb Blogging #205 is currently being hosted by Cinzia of Cindystar Blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Comfort, My Foot - Rinktum Tiddy

Rinktum Tiddy


Never trust anything that sounds like it was named by or after a village idiot.

My Sunday started easy enough. I was up before dawn, sipping coffee, proud of myself for just starting to catch up on blogging duties. My day was all planned out before me: as soon as the sun reared above the roof, I would trot out my basket of plump and impeccable plum tomatoes. I would carefully select the finest, blemish-free specimens to arrange before the window to photograph. I would take a few dozen shots, upload them on the PC and, again, carefully select a few as finalists for this blog post. Then I would, again, trot the whole lot into the kitchen for a quick few steps before simmering them down into a sauce to be finished generously with Cheddar cheese melting into a swirl of deep orange purée, the foundation of the messy, New England nursery comfort classic, Rinktum Tiddy.

No one exactly knows who invented Rinktum Tiddy; it's one of those folkloric, traditional recipes passed down by Americans whose ancestry hailed from England, very similar to Welsh Rarebit. It seemed an ideal and easy little meal that could be slightly jazzed up for a more stylish presentation than slopped over some toast points. Why not fill ramekins with the soupy-sauce, then top them with croutons and a shower of extra cheese before sliding them under the broiler, à la French onion soup?

All was well until I reviewed my photos. I wasn't happy with any of them. Not one. So I grabbed back the tomato models from the kitchen, set them aside, and made the sauce with the remainder. I figured that while it was bubbling on the stove, I would shoot another batch of photos.

All was returned to well...until I returned to the kitchen. The tomatoes were ready to be puréed, and I had streamlined the recipe further than its already rudimentary ingredients by omitting the egg to avoid the tedious, but essential, precision of not curdling it. Nothing could go wrong, except, of course, the curdling of the Cheddar. Yes, folks, Cheddar is one of those dairy delights that's great when cold and carved off the slab, but fiendishly fickle at a temperature above tepid. I set aside the pot of cheese-streaked sauce and set about to do it again (with canned tomatoes), this time hovering over it, testing the sauce for just enough heat to melt the cheese without it seizing up. And it curdled again. Now who's the village idiot?
Rinktum Tiddy - Loosely based on this recipe, but I wouldn't recommend it without the changes I made to save it. See my note below for an alternate, nearly foolproof method. Despite the kitchen chaos, it was actually quite tasty.

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, blanched briefly in boiling water, peeled, and seeds removed
2 teaspoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, plus another
4 ounces, also shredded
2 cups croutons

Method

In a large, heavy, non-reactive saucepan, warm butter or oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, sautéeing until golden and translucent. Add tomatoes, mustard, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to luke warm. Pour into a blender to purée. Return to saucepan. Stir in a handful of cheese (from the 8-ounce measure) and return saucepan to heat, keeping it adjusted to its very lowest setting. Stir constantly and repeat until all the cheese is melted. Remove immediately from heat and pour sauce into a large non-reactive bowl. If it shows any unpleasant signs of curdling*, rub the sauce through a strainer into another bowl below it. Divide sauce into 4 broiler-proof ramekins. Toss remaining 4 ounces of cheese with croutons. Arrange ramekins on cookie sheet. Mound mixture on top of each ramekin, then slide cookie sheet under broiler, watching carefully, until cheese melts and croutons brown. Remove from oven (will be very hot), and serve immediately.

*You can also make a separate classic cheese sauce with a roux base which can be added to the tomato-onion purée (without the seasonings and mustard), then proceed with the topping. If all else fails, there's always take out.
Plum Tomato

This post, featuring tomatoes, is for Weekend Herb Blogging #204, hosted by me, presided over by Haalo, and originated by Kalyn. I'll be posting the round-up tomorrow night, New York time, unless something else curdles.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #204 - Here This Week

Tomato Trio

Are you kicking around ideas for a dish that predominantly uses ANY ingredient derived from a plant? If so, then kick one over here to Weekend Herb Blogging, the enduring weekly event, now in its fourth year, and hosted once again by yours truly.

The rules are simple, and there's plenty of time for you to create something fabulously delicious to share with the food world.

Thanks to those who have already sent in their recipes; I'll be acknowledging them formally and individually in the next day or two.

Right now (literally, before dawn), I am preparing a recipe using up the last of the northern summer's red-hot local tomatoes. I look forward, as always, to seeing your great creations as part of the round-up, scheduled to be online on Monday, October 12, New York time. See you soon!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Meme-orable Meal - Spiced Vegetable Fritters

Spicy Vegetable Fritters
Recipe for these fantastic fritters after the meme.

~~~~~~

I am here. Barely. It's been rather rough-and-tumble for me lately. I wish I could report differently, but it ain't going to get better any time soon, so apologies in advance for pretty much playing phantom a while longer. (Yes, I am hosting WHB #204 October 5 - 11.) In meantime, I'm answering a meme that Swati of Swati's Sugar Craft passed on to me so long ago, it must have been in a former life. I now sent it to Rose, Martha, Ricki, Simona, Nanditha, and Jessica, to play with or leave alone - no obligations whatsoever. As you can see, it's taken me over a year to respond to this one. Take. Your. Time.

1) LAST MOVIE U SAW IN A THEATER?
I can't even remember. Really. I think it was Ratatouille. ??? I'm not kidding. On those very rare occasions when Scott and I actually go out to a flick, it's always animated kids' stuff: Corpse Bride, The Incredibles, Wallace and Grommit, Flushed Away...On the homefront, however, well, that's a different story. It's all very art house, subtitled, and sophisticated. So, every now and then, after a belly full of that, we have to run out to clear our heads with cartoons.

2) WHAT BOOK ARE U READING?
Several. I am currently juggling Le Carré's Karla Trilogy; Banville's Athena (for the third time); and I just added Camilleri's The Shape of Water. I've tried reading sequentially, but it just doesn't work for me; old multi-tasking habits die hard.

3) FAVORITE BOARD GAME?
Pictionary.

4) FAVORITE MAGAZINES?
Saveur, The Atlantic, Time Out New York.

5) FAVORITE SMELLS?
Lavender, peony, violet, scented-geranium leaves, cardamom, peach, cilantro.

6) FAVORITE SOUNDS?
The approach of a train; the syncopated tattoo of rain thumping the roof; the shriek of raptors; and the holy, surreal silence of walking in a powdery snowfall.

7) WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?
Grief.

8) WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN U WAKE?
Coffee or inky-black tea.

9) FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE?
I rarely eat fast food, but Burger King has killer coffee and fries.

10) FUTURE CHILD'S NAME?
No kids planned, but I am very fond of the Irish and Scottish Gaelic: Katriona, Siobhan, Niall...

11) FINISH THIS STATEMENT— "IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I’D..."
Buy a boat and learn to sail.

12) DO U DRIVE FAST?
No, I drive the speed limit (I'm not into an early grave nor a whopping traffic summons), and I'm not crazy about the guy in back of me kissing my tailpipe, either.

13) DO U SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?
You can't sleep with stuffed animals when you have the real deal; the bed is crowded enough.

14) STORMS–COOL OR SCARY?
Cool, always cool. The scarier, the cooler.

15) WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?
A Chevy.

16) FAVORITE DRINK/S?
Harpoon IPA.

17) FINISH THIS STATEMENT-"IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD…"
Learn to sail, even if I can't afford that boat.

18) DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. And I've a recipe coming up that makes wonderful use of them.

19) IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY OTHER COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?
Since it's already been nearly every other color, anyway, it's time to go back to being a brunette. I miss it. Truly.

20) FAVORITE SPORT/S TO WATCH?
Fencing. Yes, it's a spectator sport, too, but you've got to look sharp. (Go ahead and groan - I love puns and have given up apologizing for them.)

21) ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?
Swati's an all-around good soul. She hasn't blogged in quite some time - shame; she's got a natural talent for fondant cake decorating.

22) WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED?
Built-in storage. Thank God.

23) WOULD U LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN??
The short answer is yes. The long answer is complicated, philosophical, and would bore you stupid with too much information. These twenty-eight nuggets of nothing are more than enough about me for the moment.

24) MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Night owl, although my favorite times are those of twilight, the dawn and dusk.

25) OVER EASY OR SUNNY SIDE UP?
Over Easy.

26) FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX?
In bed, juggling all those books.

27) FAVORITE PIE/S?
Wet Bottom Shoo-Fly.

28) FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR/S?
Butter Pecan, Black Raspberry, Coffee.

~~~~~~~

Spicy Vegetable Fritters


Spiced Vegetable Fritters - Reprinted by Permission from An Honest Kitchen - Kathyrn Elliott and Lucinda Dodds - All Rights Reserved - Copyright © 2009

Makes 12 fritters

300g (combined weight) cauliflower and broccoli, roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 x 400g can (about 250g cooked) lima or butter beans
1 egg, whisked
1 ½ tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons rolled oats
½ bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
Canola oil for cooking

Make the fritters: Place the cauliflower, broccoli, beans and onion in a food processor. Process until they're finely chopped and starting to clump together. Transfer this to a bowl and then add in the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Mix together until it is combined - you may need to mash the mixture slightly with the back of a spoon to get the right texture. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 12 fritters - you may find it easier to mould the mixture with wet hands.

Cook the fritters: Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add a drizzle of canola oil and once this is hot gently place fritters in the pan. You'll need to cook the fritters in batches of about 4 – 5 depending on the size of your frying pan. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain and then serve.

Cooking & Storage:
These fritters can be served in lots of different ways. I like them with brown rice and a dollop of natural yoghurt, but they also work well in a wrap with salad and mango chutney. You could top them with a soft-poached egg, or have them as a side to grilled fish or meat – again with a spoon of natural yoghurt. Leftover fritters can be kept for 2 – 3 days in the fridge. They don't freeze when cooked; however, you can freeze the uncooked mixture, formed into fritters.

Lucy’s Notes:
Well, if these don’t get you eating (and loving) cauliflower and broccoli, nothing will. Delicious with the mango chutney, yoghurt and salad combo.
~~~~

Mango Chutney Yoghurt

And my auxiliary notes: These fritters, as terrific as they are (I've made them thrice), are very moist, delicate, and crumbly. I chilled the mixture first, then froze the formed patties just to solid before grilling them very, very slowly until well browned, set, and dry before turning them quickly, yet carefully, with a long, slotted turner. You won't loose a crumb, and you won't want to, regardless of dressing them up with sauce (I mixed 1 part mango chutney with 4 parts Greek strained yoghurt) or dressing them down with a scattering of sea salt.

Butter Beans
Dried Butter Beans

A big thank you to Lucy and Kathyrn for allowing me use of copyrighted material from their amazingly delicious An Honest Kitchen, available through either of their fine blogs, and an even bigger thanks to Sia of Monsoon Spice, hostess of MLLA 15. Sia wasn't planning on accepting late recipes, but I'm assuming she'll make an exception in my case and let me slip this under the door. ; P

Jeanne of Cooksister!
is hosting MLLA 16, the October round. She will be announcing in the next few days.