Double Roasted Potatoes

Typically potatoes are served for St. Patrick’s Day so I wanted to serve them but didn’t want to boil them or cook them with the corned beef.  Another recipe that caught my eye in my new book ‘Return to Tuscany’ is Luciano’s Roast Potatoes. They’re soaked then roasted then cooled then roasted again. An interesting way of cooking them-I usually just cook them once. The sentence in the recipe introduction said ‘…return them to the oven for another 15 minutes until hot and crispy on the outside’. YUM!! The flavor is great, they’re really easy to make.

I served them with these carrots and this great corned beef recipe.

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Double Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2&1/4 potatoes, peeled and cut into walnut-sized chunks (size of the whole walnut, not the small halves that you eat)
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Soak the potatoes in water for about 30 minutes. Drain then dry with a clean tea towel and put into a baking dish or roasting tin large enough to hold all of the potatoes and mix them around. Add the oil, rosemary and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands. Cook for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are soft in the inside.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and leave them to cool fo about 30 minutes.
  4. Toss again and return them to the oven and cook for another 15 until hot and crispy on the outside.

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Sformato of Carrots

Sformato of Carrots

Recently I went to my favorite bookstore armed with a gift certificate that my Grandmother gave me for Christmas. I love that they still give certificates (in the form of a greeting card) instead of impersonal plastic reusable cards. Book Revue is the ivory tower of indy bookstores. They have great guests pretty much every night giving talks or signing books, an amazing staff, an outstanding selection of new and used books all at great prices, and a wonderful coffee shop. They put Barnes and Noble to shame. I’m glad. If you’re in town stop by and support a local icon bookrevue.com.

Oops-got off the subject there. Anyway I went 2 weeks ago and browsed with a cappuccino 2 Saturday mornings ago and picked up the ‘Return to Tuscany’ cookbook. It accompanied a series on BBC which I wish I could have seen (but I believe it only aired in Britain, not on BBC America-what a shame). It’s full of great recipes. One that stood out to me was the Sformato of Carrots and the description that they author gave of the dish ‘It’s somewhere between a soufflé, a mash and a puree’. It intrigued me. So I decided that I would make the dish on St. Patrick’s Day instead of cooking the carrots with the corned beef.  I made this delicious corned beef and these great potatoes.

The author was right on with the description. It was light. It was fluffy. It was carroty. And it was pretty simple to boot. Give it a new try-it’s a great ‘something different’.

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Sformato of Carrots

Ingredients

  • 16ozs carrots, chopped
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1oz freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

For the Bechamel Sauce

  • 1.5ozs unsalted butter, plus an extra knob
  • 4 tbsp AP flour
  • 7fl oz milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the carrots until tender.
  3. To make the Bechamel sauce melt the butter in a small pan, then stir in the flour and cook over a low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously to make a thick paste. Gradually add the milk, stirring well all the time, then increase the heat and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  4. Drain the carrots and mash them finely or puree in a food processor.
  5. Whisk the egg whites until they form very soft peaks.
  6. Stir the sauce and egg whites into the carrots and mix well. Pour into an oven-proof dish and bake for 10 minutes. Dot the top with a little more butter, scatter the cheese around the top and then bake for a further 10 minutes. The top will form a crust and the carrot will be light and delicious.

Stout Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

I invited my Mom and Grandma over for dinner this past Saturday for a St. Patrick’s Day feast.  We play a mean game of Scrabble and drink a lot of wine at our get togethers-they’re always really fun. Our delicious dinner below. We had the, corned beef,  double roasted potatoes and sformato of carrots along with wine and bread. It was delicious! I will post the recipies for the carrots and potatoes separately.  They will be listed under the ‘holiday’ tab to the right.

StPatsDayTable

All too often corned beef is served after it’s been boiled to death and the fat sticks to it in a most revolting way. Unfortunately the carrots, potatoes and cabbage that people throw in with it rarely stay crispy or retain any of their original flavor-they are merely vegetables that taste like corned beef and are mushy.  Ew. Really. It turns my stomach just thinking about it.  That’s why I made the potatoes and carrots separately.

 Well I say no more!!! Corned beef can be absolutely delicious if prepared properly. The corned beef recipe makes corned beef the way I always wanted it to be-not mushy, not fatty and after being in the oven the tips of the top layer of meat are actually a bit crispy.  And the recipe is really pretty darn easy! The sauce that goes with it has a clean, slightly sweet, tangy, briny taste that allows you to alleviate the need for additional mustard all together if you want to (but I still had a blob on the side-I can’t get enough mustard). It reheats beautifully.

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Stout Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

For the Brisket

  •  2.5-3lb flat cut corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
  • 1 pint Murphy’s stout
  • 1 scallion, sliced thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pinches fennel seeds
  • Splash of cider vinegar
  • A few peppercorns

 For the Glaze

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1&1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

  1. Remove brisket from wrapping and rinse. Pat dry and place in slow cooker with the fat side down.
  2. Add everything for the brisket above to the slow cooker on top of the beef, set it on low and cook for 6-7 hours.
  3. When it’s cooked and the meat can be easily separated by pushing through it with a wooden spoon remove the brisket and set it aside. Remove all of the fat that you can and discard.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Strain the liquid in the slow cooker and discard the remnants. Place the strained liquid in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Allow to boil and then simmer a while to reduce slightly.
  6. Place the brisket into a shallow baking dish, pour enough liquid over to cover it half to ¾ of the way and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  7.  Serve immediately.

Baileys Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone again.  For so many years I went to the parade in the city and it was always cold and rainy.   I haven’t been to the parade in ages now and I guess that’s ok-you can’t drink on the street anymore. Where’s the fun in that?

I’d tried to make Bailey’s cupcakes a few times and they always came out awful-either runny, not tasty, never set, hard as a rock or just flat gross. These were the opposite. While the cake is dense (almost like pound cake) the flavor’s there.  These are pretty sweet hence the small schmear of frosting.  Too much frosting irritates me anyway.

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Bailey’s Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Insert 24 liners into tin(s).
  2. In a the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat well.
  4. In a separate smaller bowl combine the Baileys water and milk. Mix well.
  5. In third bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the flour and Baileys mixture (alternating as you add) to the sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes.
  7. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake for about 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.

Frosting:

Makes about 1 cup of frosting.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp Baileys
  • 10 drops green food coloring
  • white or clear finishing sugar

Directions:

  1. Put butter in bowl of stand mixer and, with beater on low, slowly add the powdered sugar until combined.
  2. Add Baileys until desired taste/texture is achieved
  3. Add food coloring until desired shade is reached.
  4. Frost cupcakes. Finish with sugar if desired.

Note: if you put foil under the cupcakes while sprinkling the sugar you won’t lose any that falls off. Just resprinkle. See below.

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Cake recipe from cupcakerehab.com

Roasted Rhubarb with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and Meyer Lemon Sugar

Who knew that roasting rhubarb would result in such a fantastic flavor? I certainly didn’t.  It was tart. It was sweet. It was perfect. It was  a low fat dessert that is ready in 30 minutes that you can feel good about. And it couldn’t be easier.

When I saw a package of rhubarb in my store last week this recipe immediately came to mind. I knew it had ice cream with it but I wanted something more waist line friendly so I bought some of those new little 100 calorie frozen greek yogurt containers to go with it.

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Roasted Rhubarb with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and Meyer Lemon Sugar

Ingredients:

  • 20 ozs fresh rhubarb
  • 2 ozs super-fine sugar

For topping:

  • Frozen yogurt, gelato or ice cream
  • Meyer lemon sugar (recipe here )

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Wash rhubarb, dry and cut off ends. Cut stalks into halves the long way.
  2. Put the rhubarb in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold it all in one layer.  Add the sugar, toss together, then shuffle the rhubarb so it’s in a single layer.
  3. Cover with foil and roast for 15 mins. Remove the foil. The sugar should have dissolved, so give everything a little shake and roast for another 5 minutes until soft. Test softness with the back of a fork.
  4. Carefully move the stalks to a plate with a long spatula so that they keep their shape. Top with a dollop of frozen yogurt, a bit of the liquid from the pan and, if you have it, some of this meyer lemon sugar.

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Here it is finished cooking. Notice the yummy sugary tarty liquid in the bottom of the pan. YUM!

Note: super-fine sugar is NOT confectioners sugar. To make your own put the required amount of sugar into a food processor and process until very fine, but not powder.

Adapted from recipe at bbcgoodfood.com

Santa Fe Chicken in the Slow Cooker

It’s official. I love my slow cooker. I was looking around online for a new recipe and came across a chicken recipe for the slow cooker. I adapted it a bit and the recipe below was born.  Really easy and super tasty.  The chicken in this recipe was really nice and moist, easy to shred and the veggies, herbs and spices are just right for a great balance of taste. 

I like that this can be made in either 6 hours or 10 hours (great for weeknights after work). I would assume it freezes well but we didn’t have enough left to try.

I made a burrito/taco bar including sliced avocado, sliced tomato, lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa and large tortillas.  Husband at his like tacos and I made burritos out of mine and put them on the panini press to heat and make the tortilla crunchy.  YUM! I had 2. I was a pig. But  they’re GOOD!  And since it’s pretty low cal and low fat and since I used fat free sour cream and low fat cheddar cheese I didn’t feel so bad.

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Santa Fe Chicken for the Slow Cooker

Chicken Ingredients
  • 1&1/2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 4 oz can green chilies
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Toppings:

  • Fat free Sour Cream
  • Low Fat Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
  • Ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Avocado, sliced thin
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Place everything except the chicken listed in the ‘chicken ingredients’ in the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Place the chicken on top of the combined ingredients.
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.  30 minutes before serving shred the chicken with 2 forks (you don’t need to remove the chicken from the cooker-just stick your forks in and shred). Stir it all back together and let it all come together for the remaining 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is finishing cooking prepare the taco/burrito bar and lay out toppings.
  5. Serve on tortillas with toppings.

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Adapted from skinnytaste.com.

Roasted Jewel Veggies

I like doing my grocery shopping on Friday evening, on the way home from work.  My local Fairway Market is only about a mile away and is empty at that time so I have time to browse and pick up some fun stuff.  Last time I was there I noticed they had some really pretty maroon carrots. Next to those were golden beets.  Aren’t they gorgeous? I’d never had maroon carrots or golden beets either at home or out. I was curious how they tasted and really-they’re gorgeous!! They are delicious and pretty and just a nice change all around. I started wondering what a carrot soup made with the maroons would look like-or carrot cake. Might be fun.

I couldn’t name this post just ‘roasted veggies’. They’re too colorful for that.

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So I brought them home and peeled them and cut them up and put them on a cookie sheet with foil to roast.  Watch out-the maroon carrots’ juice stains. Wear an apron.

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What came out of the oven was a veritable stained glass window of veggies. So pretty and DELICIOUS!!

Roasted Jewel Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch golden beets, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds then halved
  • 1 bunch maroon carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 bunch regular carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly ground white pepper

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  3. Lay the veggies on the foil, drizzle with olive, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and roast for about 15 minutes.

I had to include this photo because it’s just really pretty. Look at that carrot streaked with orange-just gorgeous.

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

So a few of us with these blogs swap recipies. This swap’s theme was ‘special occasion’.  I was given this cake recipe from this blog. I’d had little lava cakes before and liked them. 

I have to admit I’m not really a fan of cake or of chocolate so chocolate cake ranks pretty low with me-I’m more of a pie and vanilla fan really but these were really tasty and I enjoyed them much more than my anti-cake self usually does.  They really are great for a special occasion and pretty easy to make.  I got out all of the ingredients and measured everything so that when I was ready I could just whip them up after dinner. There’s not much to them really.

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp butter
  • 40z dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • non-stick cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. In a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate chips and stir until smooth.  Set aside (off of hot water and stove) to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl beat the sugar and eggs until thick and pale yellow. Beat in the flour making sure it’s completely incorporated then beat in the chocolate.
  3. Spray ramekins with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the ramekins until they’re 3/4 of the way full.
  4. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 13-17 minutes until the top of the cake sets. Remove them from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Run the edge of a thin knife around the cake being very careful to not pull the cake-just to release the cake from the dish. Place a plate on top of the ramekin and slowly invert to place the cake on the dish.  Serve with marshmallows or ice cream or whatever else you like with liquid chocolate.

Notes: The original recipe called for parchment paper rounds on the bottom of the ramekin.  I discovered that you dont need those but if you still want to use them be my guest.  To make parchment circles take one of the ramekins, set it onto the parchment and trace the bottom iwth a pencil. Then take scissors and cut just inside of the pencil line. Make sure it fits into the bottom of the dish. Trim as necessary.  To  make 4 at a time take a square of parchment, fold it into 4 (be sure that the small folds are large enough to cut the circle out of) place the completed circle on it and cut around. 

This recipe makes 5-6 cakes. Unless you have that many people to eat them making that many at once is silly. I made 4 as a test and refrigerated the left over batter. 2 days later I fired up the oven, left the batter on the countertop for a while to warm up and made 2 more (it was at this point that I realized that the parchment paper rounds mentioned above were unnecessary as I didn’t use them).  It took a few more minutes to cook as the batter was cold but they were perfect.  Since it was the night before Valentine’s Day using my heart plate was appropriate.

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If you do not have a double boiler take a pot, put about 3 inches of water in it then place a glass bowl over the rim of the pot and then follow instructions above. It works the same way. IMPORTANT: the water must not touch the bottom of the bowl.

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Source: http://www.aseasonedgreeting.blogspot.com/2012/08/molten-lava-cake.html

Thanks for hosting the swap Sarah from http://tasteofhomecooking.blogspot.com



Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

I really am loving having a slow cooker that works perfetly. After years of thinking they were all like that old one that I had (which wasn’t old really) that sucked I had pretty much sworn off of them. But not anymore!

Black bean soup. Thick, yummy, hearty, a bit of heat, delicious. That’s it. Make it 🙂

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Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped medium
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 medium smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 cup hot sauce (to taste)
  • fresh cilantro leaves chopped for garnish
  • fat free sour cream for garnish
  • chipotle sauce for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

 Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker and stir in the water, broth, black beans, ham hocks, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the soup has thickened and the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours.)

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove the ham hocks and any portion of them that may ramin in the soup (there are fat pieces and small bones so be careful to remove everything-a spider works best), let cool and discard. Puree 2 cups of the soup with a stick blender until smooth, then stir back into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste, and serve.

Note: I added some Frank’s Hot Sauce in the last step as the soup needed a bit of a kick. It didn’t make it spicy-just gave it some heat.  Add it a little at a time and stir and taste until you reach your desired heat level. When serving I added a few squirts of my Goya Chipotle Sauce, a spoonful of sour cream and cilantro. The Chipotle Sauce gave it another dimension of taste without adding too much more heat.

This soup also reheats well.

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated. Their notes:

 Editors’ Choice Cookbook Collection.  From The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

 Why this recipe works:

We found that unsoaked beans worked fine in our slow-cooker black bean soup recipe. It was well worth the time and effort to sauté the aromatics before adding them to the cooker; the black bean soup recipe that skipped this step tasted flat. As for flavor, we knew we wanted a robust smoked pork presence. We tested our way through porky ingredients like bacon, kielbasa, ham, and ham hocks before deciding that the latter contributed all the depth we wanted. Once the soup was done—eight to 10 hours later—we stripped the meat from the hocks and stirred it into the beans. (I did not do this as basically everything was off of the bone-I removed the pices of the hock from the soup with my strainer and discarded them).

PREP-AHEAD TRIPS:  can store the following ingredients together:

1. Cook the vegetables as described in step 1, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator.

2. Pick over and rinse the black beans and refrigerate.

If the soup becomes too thick as it sits, thin to the desired consistency with either water or broth.

Cranberry & Lemon Squares

I love cranberries! I remember years ago my Mom and I took a trip to Nantucket during harvest season and saw the bogs and ate everything cranberry. We even grabbed a few from the bog and ate them.  Not only are they delicious they’re good for you!

For Thanksgiving (in addition to the Caprese Platter,  Potato Bites and Kalamata olive crostini) I brought this as a dessert. Wow-what a taste!! Slightly tart from the cranberry and lemon, slightly sweet from the sugar-but just right all around. I added a bit more cranberries and lemon zest than the original recipe from http://www.southernpinklemonade.com/.

I didn’t take a photo of the dish. It was late on Thanksgiving and it looked so good that I totally forgot all about the photo. But let me explain: they’re nice squares with crust on the bottom, a layer of cranberries and then crust dotted on top.

Cranberry & Lemon Squares

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 8 ozs (2 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp-1/4 cup very cold water

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 12-14 oz package frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • juice and zest of one lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper (i put little pieces of tape on all 4 sides to keep it in place-but don’t forget to remove them before you put it in the oven!!) leaving a bit of an overhang to grab and remove the contents out of the pan after baking.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until dough is crumbled into small pieces.

Move the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Add water 1 tbsp at a time until dough comes together.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish.   Keep the remainder handy to use for the topping.

In a medium bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch then add the cranberries and lemon juice and stir to coat cranberries evenly. Port the contents of the bowl evenly over the crust in the baking dish and sprinkle with the zest.

Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the cranberries.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top and sides are brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (I put the baking dish outside on a cooling rack as it was chilly and it cooled quickly). Once cooled lift the entire contents out of the dish using the parchment paper ends, cut into squares and serve.

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