Thursday, December 27, 2012


I have many food memories associated with my travels overseas; some quite fond, others not as much - there's nothing like a bout of food poisoning overseas to put the stamp of "Never Again" on a certain food! Thankfully, the good food memories far outweigh the unpleasant ones.

I was first introduced to Georgian food when I was studying abroad in the USSR in 1990 at a restaurant in Moscow called, if I recall correctly, Kavkaz. We sat around a long table and were treated to a small version of a legendary Georgian feast - small, but we were there for several hours and ploughed through many bottles of Georgian wine.

Although I enjoyed all of the dishes, especially the Chicken Satsivi, my favorite was the platter of Khachapuri which they served to us as part of the appetizer course. These cheese-filled boat-shaped breads had come straight from the brick oven and were viciously, piping hot, but we fell on them, ripping them apart and enjoying the stringy, gooey mixture of Georgian cheeses, most likely sulguni and imeruli.

I've always wanted to recreate it at home, but never got around to it until yesterday as I was snowed in by this winter storm. I knew there was no way I'd find the special cheeses without a trip into Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, "Little Odessa," so I did the next best thing: I improvised, and with pretty tasty results.


For the dough:
  • ½ cup warm water (check your package or jar of yeast for the correct temperature range)*
  • pinch of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1¼ - 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ tablespoon olive oil
For the filing:

  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, crumbled
  • 4 ounces shallot and chive Boursin (herbed goat cheese is also good, about 3 ounces)
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs - I like thyme and oregano
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • Cornmeal for dusting
  • Sea salt and cool water for glazing


  1. Place the warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and let sit until the yeast is foamy and has "bloomed," about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of flour and stir to incorporate well. Add the salt, olive oil and stir well. Add enough of the remaining flour and stir until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a rough ball.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise, about an hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 and prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper and sprinkling it with cornmeal. Mix together the filling ingredients and set aside.
  4. Once the dough has risen to twice its original size, lightly sprinkle your work space with more cornmeal. Punch the dough to release the gas and turn it out onto the cornmeal. Flatten the dough into an oblong, slightly oval shape. Mound the cheese filling on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border of dough along the edges.
  5. Fold the edges over to make a thick rim. The bread should look somewhat like a boat.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes, until the bread has started to brown on the edges and the cheese is nice and melty.
  7. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I spent the day alone, by choice, and on a whim, ran down to Price Chopper at 8 am and bought myself a turkey.

But let me back up a bit: See, I decided to let the kids go spend the holiday with their dad and his family for a change, since we usually go to my parents' house. This year, being busy with nursing school I opted to stay at home and not travel. At first, I was lured by the thought of staying at home in my jammies and foraging meals from last week's two-chicken roasted chicken dinner, but then I'd decided, last minute, to stay at home and make myself a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal just for myself, including all the trimmings and sides that I love. The bonus is that this meal came with none of the whining  from so-and-so and how she hates stuffing, and how the Other Kid sees orange vegetables such as butternut squash or sweet potatoes as the height of abhorrence or that they both detest potatoes  - yes, people, there are folks out there who hate potatoes, they are my children.

Thus resolved to have a dinner of all of my favorite holiday dishes, I dashed to the store for a fresh turkey. Not surprisingly, on Thanksgiving Day morning, there were only 3 fresh turkeys left, and I nicknamed them Gargantua (22 lb.), Gargantua the Elder (25 lb.) and Gargantua the Younger (19.5 lb.), the last of whom ended up in my roasting pan, stuffed with aromatics and lavishly rubbed with herbed butter.

To accompany it, I had roasted cauliflower, maple-glazed butternut squash, baked, buttered mashed potatoes, sausage and apple stuffing, sweet and spicy whole berry cranberry sauce and silky smooth turkey gravy. For dessert, a mini pecan pie.

The whole shebang:

Sausage and Apple Stuffing 

It's my family's favorite, with crumbled pork sausage, chopped apples, celery, walnuts, sauteed onion and sage. I've converted a few people with this one!


  • 1 package bulk pork sausage like Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans
  • 3 tart apples, I like Granny Smith or northern spies 
  • 1 bunch of celery 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped 
  • Apple cider 
  • 1 package of stuffing cubes 
  • 1 onion 
  • Sage, fresh and dried  

  1. Cook the sausage, drain and set aside. 
  2. Saute the chopped onions and celery in some of the sausage fat until slightly brown and soft. 
  3. In a big bowl, dump in a package of stuffing cubes (or use your own mixture of bread cubes and crumbled, day-old cornbread). 
  4. Add the chopped apples, walnuts, onions and sausage. Chop up 6 or 7 fresh sage leaves and add it to the mixture.
  5. Mix thoroughly. 
  6. Add dried sage, and black pepper. 
  7. Then add apple cider to moisten. Start with a cup and then go from there.
  8. Let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, though overnight is better. 
  9. Before baking, you may have to add more cider if it's too dry. 
  10. Bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 until done, 45 minutes or so.

Maple-Glazed Butternut Squash 


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup  
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  1. Peel, seed and quarter the squash, then cut into half-inch slices. 
  2. Place the slices in a large saucepan and add the maple syrup and water. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender. 
  4. Remove the squash with a slotted spoon to a serving dish and bring the cooking liquid to a boil until it has reduced and thickened. 
  5. Drizzle over the squash, top with the pats of butter and serve.

Mini Pecan Pie

For the pecan pie, you just can't go wrong with the Classic Pecan Pie from Karo Syrup. I just cut the recipe in roughly half for this smaller pie plate..

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Apple and Dulce de Leche Cake

I'm taking a short break from my extreme low-carb routine to get in some much missed baking. Although I don't have a very pronounced sweet tooth, I do love baking sweet treats for others. My kids especially love a nice moist piece of cake. The finely chopped apples in this cake help keep it moist, and the swirls of dulce de leche throughout the cake ooze out in a lovely, luscious display of sweetness. The icing is creamy and sweet, and the chopped walnuts over the top add that essential textural contrast that rounds out the cake.

Can you tell that we really really love this cake?

Apple and Dulce de Leche Cake with Dulce de Leche Icing


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger 
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples, chopped very fine 
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche - I usually use Nestle's la Lechera canned dulce de leche
  •  Dulce de leche icing – recipe below 
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring until everything is combined, then fold in the chopped apples. 
  4. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Dot the dulce de leche over the batter and then spoon in the remaning batter and snooth the top with a spatula. .Take a butter knife and drag it through the batter to swirl the dulce de leche, and make sure to smooth the top of the batter when you’re finished. 
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing.

 Dulce de leche Icing


  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 tablespoons dulce de leche 
  • Approximately 4 tablespoons heavy cream 
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar


  1. In a small saucepan, heat butter and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream over medium until the butter starts to melt Add the dulce de leche and stir for about 30 seconds, then remove from heat and scrape into a small bowl. Continue to whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. 
  2. Add the vanilla and another tablespoon of heavy cream, mix until smooth, then add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat vigorously with a whisk or a hand mixer until smooth, adding more cream until you have the consistency you like. Drizzle and spread over bars, top with chopped walnuts and serve.

A glimpse of the lovely, moist interior with oozing dulce de leche:

Monday, July 30, 2012


I've gone on a bit of a carb binge the past few days and splurged by making a variety of soufflés, sweet and savory. I'm going off a base recipe and adjusting as I go. So far, although there have been a few technical glitches here and there, these soufflés have been delicious.

Nutella souffle

Cheese soufflé

Dark chocolate soufflé

Lemon-almond soufflé

The idea behind a soufflés, both sweet and savory, is that you make a base mixture enriched with the egg yolk, then beat the whites to stiff peaks and fold it into the yolk mixture. Bake, then serve. Easy, right?

The basic recipe for a single soufflé baked in a 7-ounce/200ml ramekin calls for 1 room temperature egg, carefully separated into two bowls, so that no trace of the yolk is in the whites. Prepare the ramekin by buttering the inside liberally and then coating it with sugar for sweet soufflés, cocoa powder for dark chocolate soufflés, and bread crumbs or gated parm for savory cheese soufflés. Preheat the oven to 375.

For a savory soufflé like the cheese soufflé, you can make a standard cheese sauce from a Bechamel, then let it cool a bit and whisk in the yolk. For a single serving, I used about 1/3 cup of the cheese sauce per one yolk.

Set that aside and whip your egg white to pretty stiff peaks, adding 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar if you like to help stabilize the whites. Then fold in about half of the whipped whites into your yolk + cheese sauce base, and then carefully fold in the remaining whites in two more additions. Scoop into the prepared ramekin and bake for 15 minutes.

The base for a chocolate dessert soufflé generally uses a ganache of melted chocolate and butter, which is cooled a bit and then fortified with the yolk. Then proceed as with a savory soufflé by beating the egg whites with cream of tartar, but adding 2 teaspoons of sugar to them once they have reached soft peak stage and them beating them to stiff peaks before folding them into the chocolate mixture. Bake as usual.

For the lemon-almond dessert soufflé, I used a base of 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, to which I added 1 tablespoon of flour, almond extract, a teaspoon or so of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest. Again, add sugar and cream of tartar to the whites, beat to stiff peaks and fold into the base mixture and bake.

I am still fooling around with the Nutella soufflé. When I made it the other day, I just mixed the egg yolk with a glob of Nutella straight from the jar and 1 tablespoon of flour. That base ended up being too thick to allow the beaten egg whites to incorporate fully, so I ended up with distinct layers of Nutella + yolk and lighter layers of almost sponge cake.

See the layers? The slightly gooey Nutella layer sank to the bottom, while the egg white layers sat mostly on top.

 It was delicious, but not quite a soufflé. The next time I make it, I may omit the flour, and melt the Nutella in a double boiler with some butter or heavy cream before adding the yolk.

Dark Chocolate Soufflé

Makes 1 serving 
  • 1 egg 
  • About 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate - I used 1.3 ounces of Scharffen berger 70% cacao baking chocolate
  • 1.5 tablespoons of salted butter 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 
  • butter and cocoa powder for the ramekin
  1. Set an egg out on the counter and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare ramekin by buttering it liberally and pour in a little cocoa powder and swirl it around so that the sides are all coated with the cocoa. 
  2. Separate the egg, putting the white in one bowl, the yolk in another. 
  3. Put the hunk of chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and once it starts to melt, add 1.5 tablespoons salted butter. When the chocolate and butter start to soften and melt, take the bowl off the heat and stir briskly until it is all smooth. Whisk in one egg yolk and stir until it's all mixed together. Set aside. 
  4. Add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the egg white and beat until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and beat until the white forms firm peaks. 
  5. Gently fold the whipped white into the chocolate and yolk mixture, one third at a time until it's all incorporated. Scoop into the prepared ramekin and bake for 15 minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve immediately.

Lemon-Almond Soufflé

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • butter and sugar for the ramekin

  1. Set an egg out on the counter and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare ramekin by buttering it liberally and pour in a little granulated sugar and swirl it around so that the sides are all coated with the sugar.
  2. Separate the egg, putting the white in one bowl, the yolk in another. 
  3. Mix together the yolk, 2 teaspoons of sugar, flour, almond extract, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the egg white and beat until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and beat until the white forms firm peaks. 
  5. Gently fold the whipped white into the yolk mixture, one third at a time until it's all incorporated. Scoop into the prepared ramekin and bake for 15 minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve immediately.

Cheese Soufflé

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • hot sauce
  • 2.5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • butter and grated parm for the ramekin

  1. Set an egg out on the counter and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare ramekin by buttering it liberally and pour in a little grated parm and swirl it around so that the sides are all coated with the cheese.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring until it makes a paste. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and whisk until smooth. Add the mustard powder, grated nutmeg and a few drop of hot sauce. Add 2 ounces of the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Once sauce cools a bit, measure out about 1/3 cup of the sauce and whisk the egg yolk until smooth and set aside. You can save the rest of the sauce for other uses - augment another cheese sauce, thin with beer for a sauce for Welsh rabbit, or in a Croque Monsieur.
  4. Add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the egg white and beat until stiff.. 
  5. Gently fold the whipped white into the cheese and yolk mixture, one third at a time until it's all incorporated. Scoop into the prepared ramekin, top with reserved 1/2 ounce of shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Serve.

Nutella Soufflé recipe with my adjustments, coming soon!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seared Sockeye Salmon with Greek-ish Vegetables

I'm still going strong with the healthy eating and working out here, though it has been awfully hot lately, which means that I have been disinclined to turn on the oven. I've been eating plenty of cooler dishes, salads, lettuce wraps, the occasional avocado mashed up with salsa, which is surprisingly addictive. Some days it's worth it to fire up a skillet for a few minutes to sear a nice piece of fish.

Sockeye salmon is not for those people who are iffy on fish. It seems to me to have a stronger, more salmon-y flavor, but still has that lovely, soft and buttery texture. I've read that it is leaner than other varieties of salmon and, as such, can dry out quicker than others, so I cooked it slightly less than I generally do with salmon.

The flavor is so wonderful, that I dressed it only with fresh lemon juice and some salt and pepper, so that I could fully enjoy the lovely fishiness of it. The bright medley of Greek-ish vegetables added a refreshing touch.

Seared Sockeye Salmon with Greek-ish Vegetables 


  • sockeye salmon fillet - I had a large one, which I cut into two 4-ounce portions
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon juice
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Persian cucumber
  • zucchini
  • feta
  • oil-cured black olives
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice


  1. Chop the vegetables and toss them with crumbled feta, olive oil and fresh lemon juice, add salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.
  2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and sear the salmon skin-side down for 3 minutes, then flip and sear the other side for about 2 minutes.
  4. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the fish and serve with your Greek vegetables.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Halibut with Saffron and Smoked Paprika Aioli

I tried out a new fish this week with a lovely, delicate halibut fillet. I've only had halibut once before. When I was in Alaska, I had an amazing halibut fish and chips at Humpy's, which was the second-best fish and chips I've ever had.

This was my first time cooking halibut myself though, so I opted for a light sear in a hot pan. I'd also been imagining Spanish-inspired flavors to go with it, and whipped up an aioli with saffron and smoked paprika based off the basic 2-minute mayo technique. To continue with the Spanish/Mediterranean flavors, I made a side dish with roasted tomatoes and shallots and added olives and capers.

Halibut with Saffron and Smoked Paprika Aioli

  • 4 oz. filet of halibut
  • olive oil

    For the aioli:
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • pinch of saffron soaking in1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar (optional)

    For the tomato and shallot side dish:   
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 oil-cured black Greek olives
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • olive oil
  • sherry vinegar
  • fresh basil

Make the aioli:

  1. Using the same method as the 2-minute mayo, place the yolk, garlic, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, saffron and its soaking water, salt, pepper and oils in a wide-mouthed jar or measuring cup and puree it with a stick blender.
  2. Whisk in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. If the vinegar is too strong, you can add a pinch of sugar. At this point, I added a bit more smoked paprika too. 
  3. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Make the side dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Cut the tomato into quarters and then  cut those quarters into large chunks. Slice a large shallot into quarters. Toss together the tomatoes and shallots with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, then place in a roasting pan lined with foil. 
  2. Roast for 15 minutes, then take them out and stir and roast for another 15 - 20 minutes or longer, until they are roasted to your liking. Remove to a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Chop up the olives and capers, then add to the tomatoes and shallots.
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil and sherry vinegar and basil. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

For the fish:

  1. Let the fillet come to room temperature. Heat a sturdy saute pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. One the oil has started to shimmer, sprinkle some salt and pepper on the skin side of the fish and immediately lay that side down in the oil. Salt and pepper the top of the fish. 
  2. Sear for 3 minutes, then flip and sear for 2 minutes on the other side, plate and serve with the roasted vegetables on the side and a dollop of aioli on top.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chorizo and Eggs Baked in Green Bell Pepper Rings

Facebook and Pinterest have been huge inspirations for recipe ideas. Last week, a friend posted a photo of someone cooking eggs in bell pepper rounds and I knew that I was going to have to give it a try.

True to form, I was immediately thinking of what I'd do differently. I've been really into spicy flavors the past few days, so I thought that I low-carb play on huevos rancheros might be cool. I put sauteed chorizo and onion in the rounds, cracked an egg into it and then garnished it with cheese and included a hefty amount of ranchero sauce on the side.

It was tasty, filling and spicy enough to satisfy that craving for heat.

Chorizo and Eggs Baked in Green Bell Pepper Rings


  • 1 chorizo sausage (2 oz), the uncooked kind also known as chorizo fresco or Mexican chorizo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 bell pepper rings, about 3/4 inch high
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • pepperjack cheese for garnish about 1/2 ounce 
  • avocado slices for garnish
    For the ranchero sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped serrano pepper
  • fire-roasted tomtoes - I used 1/2 of a 14.5 ounce can of Hunts Fire-Roasted tomatoes, including the juice
  • 1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons taco seasoning - I used my homemade chipotle taco seasoning shown below
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • water as needed


  1. Make the ranchero sauce by sauteeing the onion in olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion has softened and become translucent, not brown, add the garlic and chopped serrano and saute for 5 minutes- you may substitute jalapeno or some other hot chili pepper.
  2. Add the tomatoes and the juice and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes, smashing down the tomatoes from time to time and stirring to keep it from burning. 
  3. Toss in the minced chipotle chili, adobo, chopped oregano, cumin, taco seasoning and granulated garlic. reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Check on it frequently to make sure that it isn't burning, and add water as needed if it seems as though it is evaporating too quickly. You want to keep it a sauce-like consistency, not a paste.
  4. To make the eggs, crumble the chorizo in the pan and cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Add the onion and saute. Push the chorizo and onion mixture into clumps and fit the bell pepper rings around them. If you have too much of the sausage and onion mixture, don't worry, you can do what I did and just eat that separately as you're plating your masterpiece. :)
  5. Crack an egg into each round and cover the pan and cook until the eggs have set to your satisfaction. I prefer fried eggs really cooked all the way through, but if you're a fan of eggs sunny-side up, you won't have to long to wait.
  6. Plate, garnish with a sprinkling of  pepperjack cheese, and serve with ranchero sauce and avocado slices on the side.

Homemade chipotle taco seasoning mix


  •  4 tablespoons chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt 
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder - I use a dried chipotle chili and grind into a powder in a spice grinder 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or regular garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno flakes 


  1. Mix together Store in an air-tight container - I use empty spice jars. 


  • To season meat for tacos or burritos, use 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of this per 1 pound of ground beef, turkey or tvp/other fake meat substitute. Then taste to test for seasoning You might want to add a bit more for more heat, though this is plenty hot as is. 
  •  I also use 1 tablespoon of this this in chili and in the 7-layer dip.
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