Friday, December 28, 2007

Pork Chops with Apples and Butternut Squash

I bought brined pork chops from Cafe Rouge. If you don't have access to pre-brined chops, just brine them overnight in salt, sugar, and water. This meal is dedicated to Liz, who requested a recipe using fewer than five ingredients. This more or less fits the bill.

The pork should be cooked after the apples are sliced and the squash is done, as it only takes 15-20 minutes. Start doing the squash 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat (you can forget about it for the first hour, though).

Pork Chops

You'll need:
1 1lb chop/person, with plenty of fat on the outside, about 1 inch thick
1T olive oil
1T butter

Pat chops dry and pepper both sides generously. Do not salt. Heat oil & butter in a cast iron or other oven-safe heavy skillet. When foaming subsides, brown chops on both sides, about 3 min/side.


You'll need:

2 apples/person
1 shallot/person

Quarter, core, and peel apples (it's easiest in that order). Slice them thinly and set aside with a bit of lemon juice, so they don't turn brown. Also slice the shallots, thinly.

When chops are browned, remove them from the pan and add shallots, apples, salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, until apples are soft and begin to caramelize. Return the chops to the pan and place the pan in a 400 degree oven (with the squash, which should be almost done).


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2T butter, cut into small pieces
goat cheese to top (I used Bucheron)
1T whole allspice, freshly ground
1/2c walnut pieces, toasted (be really careful toasting nuts-- they burn very easily. When they're as toasted as you want them to be, remove them from the pan onto a cool plate immediately).

Start this way in advance (at least 1 1/2 hours). Toss everything together and place in 400 degree oven. When squash is tender and browned (about 1 hour), mash or put through a potato ricer into a small gratin dish.

Mix squash puree with toasted walnuts and butter pieces. Dot with goat cheese and put back in oven until cheese is bubbly and brown and pork chops are done.

Monday, December 24, 2007

UnChristmas Dinner with Maria

(serves 4+)

This began, of course, with a snack:

Hours later...

Carrot-Parsnip Soup with Tarragon Cream

You'll need:

5 carrots, roughly chopped
4 parsnips, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4c chicken broth
1/4c cream

Saute all veggies, with salt and pepper, in butter for 15 minutes over medium heat. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Puree using an immersion blender (the blender stick thing) and, right before serving, stir in cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roast Chicken in a Pot

This was based on Cook's Illustrated's recipe, published online by Marisa McClellen at Slashfood.

You'll need:

a 4-5lb chicken-- preferably free-range
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1T olive oil
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 250F.

Wash chicken. Dry well with paper towels. Season with coarse salt & pepper.

Heat oil in large dutch oven. Brown chicken, breast side down first, then flip. Brown until golden and remove. Add chopped veggies and lower heat. Cook until lightly browned. Return chicken to pot, breast side up, and cook until chicken & veggies are browned.

Cover pot and place in oven. Cook 1 hour, until breast meat is at 160F. Remove from oven. Take chicken out and tent with foil. Puree veggies and cook to reduce by half. Serve chicken with veggie gravy. Mmmmm.

Dirty Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

You'll need:

4 Russet potatoes
2 heads garlic
1/4c milk
2T butter

Slice tops off garlic heads. Wrap in foil, leaving a small opening at the top. Place in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. When done, let sit until cool enough to handle and then squeeze garlic into dish. Reserve.

Scrub potatoes well. Quarter and place in pot with salted water. Bring to a boil; cover (leave the cover slightly off for steam to escape) and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash with butter and roasted garlic. With a metal whisk or a wooden spoon, beat in milk until potatoes are desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brussel Sprouts


Brussel sprouts
1T lemon juice
1T butter
1T olive oil
3T heavy cream

Clean sprouts. Cut them in half, and then slice lengthwise (each half will be cut into 3-4 slices). As you slice, toss with lemon juice. Saute in not non-stick skillet in hot melted butter & olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper as you cook. Cook until browned. Deglaze pan with wine or vermouth; stir in cream. Serve immediately.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Blueberries

We basically followed this recipe for the meringue, but layered it with unsweetened whipped cream and fresh blueberries. It was delicious. And the egg whites get a beautiful shine from the vinegar. Thank you Maria!

Solstice Goodies

We made meyer lemon curd (pictured above with a scone from the Bake Shop), honey sea-salt caramels, and Pecorino-black pepper-rosemary shortbread. It was slightly disastrous-- the curd turned out fine on the first try-- the cans even magically sealed-- but the caramels didn't set overnight, so we had to reheat them to try to get them up to the "hard ball" stage, and then we burned the whole batch and had to start from scratch; the shortbread recipe was seriously faulty, and we had to keep adding butter until it held together as a batter. In the end, everything was delicious, but Katie & I are not bakers or candymakers. End of story. Next year for Christmas, we'll just make people dinner.

Penne all'arrabiata with arugula and basil

This is really, really easy. I even taught my sister how to do it. She is not retarded, however. She can make mac n cheese.

You'll need (for 3-4 people):

1 box penne (we made whole wheat)
1 large can tomatoes, peeled
1 large onion, sliced
lots of garlic, sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
2-3T crushed red pepper
4oz. diced pancetta
1t olive oil
2T tomato paste
6 whole allspice berries, toasted and ground (or 1T ground allspice)
grated pecorino
3-4c baby arugula
lots of basil, julienned

Heat salted water for pasta. Cook pasta while you make the sauce until al dente.

Heat olive oil in large skillet (not non-stick). Add pancetta, and cook slowly over medium flame until fat is rendered and pancetta is crispy and delicious. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon, and set aside (you don't want it cooking with the onions and getting soggy). You can easily make this dish vegetarian by skipping this step.

In pancetta drippings (or oil, if vegetarian), add sliced onions, garlic, shallots, red pepper, salt, and pepper. When onions start to release liquid, add allspice. Cook until onions are golden brown.

Add tomato paste; stir and cook 2 minutes.

Add reserved pancetta, tomatoes with their juices (break up the tomatoes with your fingers). Simmer 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, arugula, and basil.

Top with grated pecorino and serve.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicken with Sundried Tomato Basil Sauce on Savory French Toast

This dinner was invented based on the bagel I left out last night that I found lying on the kitchen counter, stale, this morning. It turned out to be an odd, but remarkable, and tasty, way to salvage stale bread. You can skip the bagel part and just do the chicken for a super quick meal.

You'll need (for two people):
1 stale bagel
1 whole boneless skinless chicken breast
2-3 eggs
1/2c flour
1T milk
2T herbes de provence
salt, pepper
3T sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
6 large basil leaves
2T butter
2T grapeseed oil
3T grated pecorino romano

In the morning:

Beat one egg with salt, pepper, and 1T milk. Slice the bagel in 3 thin slices. Soak each slice in the egg mixture, then stack then and put them, with the extra egg, in a bagel-sized tupperware in the fridge, covered.

Thirty minutes before dinnertime:

Remove bagel from fridge.

Slice chicken lengthwise, as if butterflying, but cut completely. Keep cutting to get even pieces. You should have 4 large pieces and a few small ones. Sandwich pieces, lying flat, between two sheets of waxed paper and hit them, hard, with a meat mallet to flatten-- you want each piece to be about 1/4" thick, but it's most important that they're even.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. Lay out a plate with 1 beaten egg and a paper towel with flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Heat 1T butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bagel slices. Cook until brown, then flip. This should take about 7-10 minutes; be careful bagels don't burn.

In the meantime, heat grapeseed oil in a cast-iron skillet. When oil is hot, dredge chicken in flour, then egg, then flour, and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Set cooked chicken & bagel slices aside in a warm oven. In a small frying pan, heat sun dried tomatoes with their oil. When oil begins to sputter, tear basil directly into tomatoes. Turn off heat and swirl in remaining 1T butter.

To Serve:

Place two bagels slices next to each other on a plate; top with chicken; pour tomato-basil sauce on top, and sprinkle with pecorino.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wine-Braised Caramelized Short Ribs

The first thing I did when I handed it in my final paper was go to Verbrugge's and buy short ribs. I wanted to make them the same delicious way I did last month, but then I realized, at least in the interest of blogging, I should try something new. This recipe looks delicious; I followed it somewhat. (It's from Well Fed, which is a blog I highly recommend.)

Marinate one day in advance:

You'll need:

short ribs (I made 5, which was a little over 2lbs)-- the meaty "English" cut, not the Korean BBQ kind; trim to remove all visible fat and silver skin. I'm not someone who shirks from fat (marrow, anyone?) but trust me, it's unnecessary here

fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped together
salt and pepper
good olive oil

This is the easy part-- just put your trimmed short ribs in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs; drizzle with olive oil, and rub oil and herbs into meat with your fingers; cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day:

You'll need:

1 onion, sliced
1 leek, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1t red chile flakes
1T herbes de provence
2 bay leaves

1 bottle dry red wine (cab, merlot, whatever)-- it's ok to steal a glass to drink, as long as you have enough wine to come up half-way the ribs.

1-2c beef broth (go out and buy beef broth. don't use chicken. please.)


grated lemon zest
minced herbs, including parsley

One hour before: remove marinating ribs from fridge

At least 6 hours before you want to eat:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ribs well in hot grapeseed oil on all sides in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add onions, salt, pepper, chile flakes, and herbes de provence. Saute until onion releases liquid and browned bits (fond) start to loosen. Add the rest of the mirepoix veggies and saute until garlic is fragrant. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from pot.

Return ribs to pot, bone-side-up. They should not be fully submerged in the liquid. Add bay leaves. Cover with a tight-fitting lid (if you're not sure if your lid fits tightly, put a layer of foil between the lid and the pot. If you have a cast-iron dutch oven, you should be fine) and put in the preheated oven. Cook for 2-3 hours, until meat is fork-tender. After 1 1/2 hours, check the pot to make sure there's enough liquid. If there isn't (if the veggies look dry), add beef broth, 1c at a time, stirring gently to combine.

When meat is done, let cool. Remove ribs from pot; set aside (cover and refrigerate when cool). Strain sauce through fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Refrigerate sauce, covered, for a few hours, until fat forms a yellow layer on top.

An hour and a half before serving: Remove ribs from fridge. Remove sauce from fridge; carefully lift off fat layer with a spoon, and discard. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thirty minutes before serving:
Spoon sauce over ribs. If you have lots of extra sauce, put it in a saucepan and boil to reduce it on the stove. You can thicken it with 1T cornstarch dissolved in 1T cold water. Return ribs to 350 degree oven, and bake until cooked through and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

To serve:
Top with gremolata (lemon zest & chopped herbs), and extra sauce, if you have it. Serve on creamy polenta or bean puree. (Picture above is served without gremolata, accompanied by carrot orzo with pecorino romano (sheep's milk cheese).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Trout Three Ways with Orzo and Brussel Sprout-Carrot Hash

Trout is cheap (ours was $5/lb at Andronico's) and super easy to cook. It'll take on any flavor you want, and the bones are so small that even if you leave them in, they won't bother you. You can also buy pre-boned trout, or trout fillets. I think the whole fish is more flavorful, and the heads make a great fish stock, or fumet.

The trout was already gutted and scaled; we just stuffed it with some basic ingredients, wrapped each fish individually in parchment paper, and baked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

The trouts:

1. dark soy sauce; chili-garlic sauce; fresh ginger
2. salt & pepper; dried marjoram; olive oil; fresh thyme
3. salt & pepper; cayenne pepper; cajun spice; dried oregano; olive oil; fresh rosemary

For the orzo, just cook it like pasta, and mix in some butter, parmesan, and pepper.

For the brussel sprout hash:

Slice the bottoms off the sprouts. Cut each sprout in half, and then in slices, lengthwise (so the "stem" part holds the leaves together). Toss in a bowl with lemon juice to keep from discoloring. Julienne 2 carrots and mix with the sprouts. Heat butter and olive oil in skillet and, when butter melts and foaming subsides, add brussel sprouts, carrots, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until sprouts are tender and start to brown. Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Beef and Eggplant Stew

This is an intensely flavored stew very loosely based on an Epicurious recipe. It's very easy to make and you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.

To feed two hungry people, you'll need:

1lb beef stew meat
1 large globe (regular kind) eggplant, peeled and cubed to about the same size as the meat
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5-spice powder (or cumin, if you don't like 5-spice)
cayenne or chili powder
2T oil for browning
4 cloves sliced garlic
4 inches of lemongrass, cut in half lengthwise and pounded to release yummy juices
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1c red wine (merlot or cab or whatever dry-ish wine you have on hand. cheap is fine)
1/4c hoisin sauce
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juices
2 bay leaves

Wash, dry, and trim the meat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 5-spice powder and cayenne. Dredge in flour and brown in very hot grapeseed oil on all sides in a deep heavy skillet.

When meat is dark brown, push it to the edges of the pan and add the onion. Turn heat to medium-high and saute onion about 15 minutes, until golden brown and wilted.

Add eggplant and garlic, mix to combine, and saute until eggplant begins to color, being careful not to burn garlic.

Add 1c wine and bring to a boil, scraping to release the fond (the stuff stuck at the bottom of the pan).

When wine reduces by half, add tomatoes, hoisin sauce, ginger, and lemongrass. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is fork-tender and sauce is thick, about 1.5 hours.

Remove lemongrass and bay leaves. Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spicy Breaded Chicken with Kale and Mushroom Ragout

This is tasty and (as an added bonus) almost painfully healthy-- omit the goat cheese from the ragout and there's really no fat at all. It's also easy and can be ready in less than an hour.

Spicy Breaded Chicken

You'll need:
chicken thighs
panko or bread crumbs
fresh thyme
optional marinade ingredients (see below)

Marinate: You don't have to do this, but I think if you can marinate chicken, you (generally) should. I used a simple yogurt marinade: nonfat yogurt, salt, pepper, and chili powder (I'm out of cayenne! but that would work too). I only marinated for a few hours; you can do overnight, but the flavor of this dish should really lie in the breading.

Make it: Pat the chicken dry. Dip in: flour (light coating); beaten egg (let drip); panko mixed with chopped thyme. Place chicken on lightly oiled baked sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges. In the meantime, make the veggie ragout.

Kale and Mushroom Ragout

You'll need:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn into pieces
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thickly (or any mushrooms, really. I think shiitakes have the most flavor for something like this)
2 large shallots, sliced
red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4c dry madiera wine or vermouth
zest from 1 lemon
goat cheese-- I used Bucheron, an aged goat cheese (optional)

Saute the shallots, mushrooms, salt & red pepper flakes in 1T olive oil. When the mushrooms start to brown, add kale and garlic. Stir to combine; cook until kale wilts, then add wine. When wine evaporates, add grated zest of 1 lemon. Serve as a bed for the chicken, or dot with goat cheese and serve on the side with bulgar pilaf or another grain.

Leftovers 101: Pork Tenderloin

I had two meals' worth of pork left over from the tenderloin I made the other night. I had a sandwich yesterday, with avocado, tomato, greens, and gruyere (gruyere goes well with the mustard crust, but cheddar would be tasty too), but there's only so many pork sandwiches a girl can eat.

So this morning, I used the last of the pork in my breakfast. Be sure to take it out of the fridge in advance or put it in the micro briefly to take the chill off.

Start with a medium boiled egg:

Bring salted water to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Pierce a hole in the larger, rounded side of the raw egg with a pin.
Gently lower the egg into the water using a ladle or large spoon; cook for exactly 5 minutes.
Run the egg under cold water, and then *gently* crack the eggshell with the back of a spoon.
Peel the egg very carefully (this is the hard part; the egg white will be just set, and the yolk will be totally runny).

Slice the leftover pork thinly and fan out on a plate. Cut the egg in half and place it on the pork; let the yolk cover the pork. Serve with buttered toast.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mustard Encrusted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples and Brussel Sprouts

You need:

1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed with a sharp knife
3T dijon mustard
fresh sage and thyme (or whatever herbs you want)
1 small shallot
dry bread crumbs

brussel sprouts
cooking apples (I used Jonas Gold)

a meat thermometer

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2. Clean brussel sprouts: remove end and slice in half. Toss with salt, pepper, and good olive oil. Place in roasting pan and put in oven while you prepare the pork.

3. Peel apples and cut into 1" dice. Set aside.

4. Salt and pepper tenderloin and sear on all sides in hot grapeseed oil. Let cool slightly.

5. Mix the mustard with minced shallot (about 1T), chopped sage, and thyme leaves.

6. Coat cooled tenderloin with mustard mixture and then bread crumbs.

7. Remove roasting pan from oven; mix apples with brussel sprouts, and push veggies to the sides. Place pork in center and return to oven. Cook about 20 minutes, until pork reaches 150 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes (temperature will raise to 155).

Serve with a grain-- I made a simple bulgar wheat pilaf.

Friday, December 07, 2007


This is not my picture. I stole it from Marissa McClellan's latest post on Slashfood. (Will I get in trouble for using it? Who knows.) I made latkes two nights in a row; both times, we ate them so quickly I couldn't get a picture in. The following are quasi-recipes for 2 kinds of latkes (the second looked a bit like the picture above).

Potato Latkes

Grate a bunch of potatoes. We made enough for 4 people, and used maybe 5 medium yellow finn potatoes. It's best to use potatoes that are naturally delicious-- yellow finns and yukon golds are particularly sweet and tasty. Most recipes call for russets (or another starchy potato), but I prefer my latkes light and crispy. That way I can eat more of them. Sometimes I think of them as a vehicle for that annual combo of sour cream and applesauce. Mmmm.

So grate a bunch of potatoes and one very large onion (separately). Soak the potatoes if you want, but I don't think it's necessary. Salt them with about 1T kosher salt and let them sit in a colander for a few minutes. Then squeeze them in handfuls; get as much moisture out as you can. Squeeze the onion too, and mix it all together.

Beat an egg until frothy-- this will make your latkes even lighter. Gently mix the potato-onion mixture in with the egg. Here, many people add flour and/or baking soda. I think flour makes the latkes too heavy, but it does help hold things together. Baking soda prevents the potatoes from turning purplish; if you don't mind the color change, don't use it (I think it can be a bit chalky).

Form *small* patties and fry them in 1/4" hot oil (peanut oil or anything with a high smoke point works well. Please don't use olive oil). When you place the latke lump down, press it flat with a slotted spatula. When the edges turn brown, flip and cook the other side. Remove when browned and let drain on paper towels.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

Grate orange-fleshed sweet potatoes-- Garnet or Beauregard are the best. (Even the orange-fleshed ones are sweet potatoes, not yams. Watch Alton Brown's Good Eats on this. He finally convinced me.) Grate an onion too-- squeeze out the water and set aside. If this is going to take you a while, keep the grated potatoes in water so they don't change color. Be sure to squeeze them out well before mixing with onion and egg.

Beat 2 eggs until frothy with 1T flour, 2T curry powder, 1t cayenne, 1t brown sugar, salt and pepper. Mix with potatoes and onion. Following cooking directions above for Potato Latkes.

Just a clarification: These should be eaten with applesauce and/or sour cream. Not ketchup.

Tapioca Soup

This isn't really tapioca soup, but it feels like it. This was a quick lunch (as most of the posts in the next week will be) because I'm in the middle of final papers, grading, etc. The base is Trader Joe's Spicy Corn Chowder. As it began to simmer, I added a good amount of Israeli couscous (more like little pasta than traditional couscous) and some cooking greens-- a mix of mustard and collard greens. I simmered the soup for a good 5-10 minutes; when the couscous was done, I finished it off with some freshly grated parmesan.

Spicy Breakfast Quesadilla

Lightly toast a tortilla (I used a habanero chile-sundried tomato tortilla from Trader Joe's) over gas flame. Place in non-stick pan. Top with thin slices of cheddar cheese and 1 chopped chipotle in adobo, with a little of the adobo sauce. Cover pan and cook over low heat until cheese melts. Top with avocado, salt and pepper, and salad greens; fold and serve.

Tuna and Wild Mushroom Pasta

I felt like cooking but not going to the store, so this is a very improvisational recipe.

whole wheat fusilli pasta
1 can tuna
2 anchovy filets, chopped
mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced-- my mix had porcinis which made things simply delicious. It's worth springing for some good fresh mushrooms.
1 onion, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes (I used about 2T, but you can use less if you don't like spicy)
5 fresh sage leaves
1/4c heavy cream
about 1/2c dry Madiera wine
1/2c grated parmesan

Put salted water to boil for the pasta.

Heat olive oil in a 12" skillet. Saute onions, anchovies, and red pepper flakes about 1 minute; add mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cooked until browned. Deglaze with Madiera wine and cook until wine evaporates. Flake tuna into mushrooms.

This would be a good time to cook the pasta.

When the pasta is almost ready, add it to the mushrooms and tuna with a little pasta water. Stir in cream and chopped sage. Cook until pasta is done and sauce is thick, about 1 more minute. Stir in parmesan. Serve with more parmesan on the side.

Jesse's Birthday Dinner: Alaskan King Crab Legs and Mushroom-Leek Risotto

Waiting for the pictures for this post (which were on Jesse's camera) has delayed almost a week of posting, so I'm going to write this up sans pictures, and add them in when Jesse gets around to giving them to me (hint, hint). He wanted crab and risotto for his birthday, separately. I bought the crab legs precooked at Andronico's and steamed them for a minute just to take the chill off, then served them with hot melted butter. We placed the butter dish on a glass of hot water to keep it hot and melty.

For the risotto, I basically followed this recipe with a few modifications (no truffles, for one). It's astoundingly simple and possibly the most decadent, delicious risotto ever. Three steps:

1. Cut 2 large leeks lengthwise, then slice thinly crosswise (you will have thin half-moons). Boil in 1c heavy cream with salt and pepper until cream is thickened and leeks are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

2. Slice 1 onion and a lot of mushrooms; I used a mix of various mushrooms, including porcini, which gave a deep woodsy flavor to the finished dish. Toss the onions and mushrooms with salt, pepper, and 1/4c melted butter, and roast at 400 degrees until browned (about 15 minutes).

3. Make basic risotto: dice 1 onion, saute in butter and oil, stir in 1 1/2c arborio rice and cook until translucent, then deglaze with 1/2c vermouth. Let vermouth boil away, and slowly add hot broth (you'll need about 5c), stirring, until risotto is cooked.

Before serving, combine risotto with leeks and mushrooms and 1/2c grated parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve with more parmesan on the side.

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