Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Lattice Pie

I would put this under the heading of ‘comfort food’. If you’re in the right mood, making the lattice pastry lid is quite relaxing and the actual pie itself is delicious. Despite the amount of cream in it, it is neither too heavy or rich but just rather cheering on a cold, grey evening.

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish, (something like 26 x 18 x 5cms for these quantities of ingredients)

2 x 375g packs ready-rolled puff pastry

Splash olive oil

450g roasted chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 large leek, washed, trimmed and sliced

150g chestnut mushrooms, washed and chunkily sliced

200ml water

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

200ml white wine

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon tarragon, leaves torn from the stems and chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

1 egg, beaten

What to do…

To make the pastry topping: unroll both sheets of pastry so that they are lying flat. The ready-rolled puff pastry comes on baking paper so there’s no need to prepare your work surface. Cut each piece into long 3cm-wide ribbons (being a little on the OCD side I did actually use a ruler for this bit to ensure accuracy!) If your baking dish is rectangular like mine, one sheet of pastry needs to be cut long-ways and the other width-ways (see pictures). Weave the pastry ribbons together (again see pictures) until you have a pastry top that is large enough to cover your pie. Make sure there are no gaps in between the ribbons or your sauce will bubble through during cooking (mine did!) Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge to firm up whilst you cook the pie filling.

pastry a w Pastry b w pastry c w

 

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

In a jug, dissolve the stockpot into the water, using a small balloon whisk, creating your chicken stock.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the leeks and cook for 1 minute. Chuck in the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Add the stock, wine and double cream. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid until it thickens slightly.

Add the chicken pieces and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together thoroughly.

Once the chicken has warmed through, remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into your baking dish.

Brush the rim of your baking dish with egg and then flip the lid on top, so that the paper it came on is now facing upwards. Remove the paper and then press down over the rim to seal. Trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Brush the pastry lid with egg and then pop your pie in the oven for 30 minutes, until the filling is piping hot and the pastry is gorgeously puffy and golden brown. Serve straight away – a lovely comforting treat and quite delicious!

Tip…

Your baking dish needs to be full to the brim with the filling otherwise the puff pastry lid will sink into it. Mine did but that said, the puffiness largely covered this mistake once the pie was cooked.

Inspired by…

The lattice pastry lid was demonstrated by Mary Berry. The filling was based on but tweaked from a recipe by Shaun Rankin, www.greatbritishchefs.com.

How easy…

The lattice pastry lid isn’t difficult but takes time, so you have to be in the right mood – if you’re in a mad hurry, this is not a good idea! That said, the rest of the dish is incredibly quick to prepare and then finishes up in the oven, allowing you to tidy up and cook a bit of greenery to go with it.

Also, the necessary roasted chicken was also immediately available to me, being left over from the 2 John cooked for our Sunday Roast.

A Little Kitchen Nugget

I realised that this food blogging culinary adventure might have gone distances that perhaps we hadn’t anticipated when two distinct things happened last week.

Firstly, husband John wandered into the kitchen and tentatively enquired as to whether we might have an ‘old faithful’ for supper that evening, rather than another new foray into recipes unknown. Recognising this as a plea for some normality in a kitchen that was becoming increasingly frenetic, with recipe books strewn over most work surfaces, bags of flour and caster sugar occupying almost permanent fixtures together the food processor, whisks and remnants of previously tried dishes, I acquiesced. Cheat’s spag bol, a stalwart of days old -appearing on our table weekly before blogging – was produced that evening. Connagh, who has got used to the surprise that we call supper, was ecstatic to see this huge bowl of familiarity (not that he doesn’t enjoy all the new dishes, particularly the chocolate-based desserts). He took his bowl to the table and was poised with the freshly grated Parmesan over his supper, when he stopped, “Are you photographing this or can I just eat it?!” I’m still not sure whether to laugh or cry!

Meanwhile, the Mary Berry-inspired honeycomb ice cream definitely hit new heights (and continues to – thank you so much to those lovely people who’ve been sharing) The wee graph on my website spiked skyward, my Facebook foodie page went berserk and even the BBC liked my tweet!

So, mindful that our weekly menus need to be peppered with some ‘old faithfuls’, I continue trawling through cookery books, watching a myriad of cookery shows on television and ripping recipes from magazines. Lovin’ it!!!! (So do they really!)

Pizza!

I know that loads of people make their own pizza and I certainly should have adopted this notion given the amount that goes down in this house, but I waited until I’d been on the planet 52 years before giving it a go! I was somewhat nervous about the whole dough-making process, which flour (00 vs. strong white bread flour) and the use of yeast (and all the different types you can get). Then the advice: James Martin advocated leaving his dough overnight, Jamie Oliver said 15 minutes, Google searches came back with anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours! So, in the end, I cobbled this recipe together and….it’s great! I’ll be doing it again but will roll out the dough a little thinner next time. This recipe is quick, easy and as ever, homemade knocks shop-bought or even delivered into touch – give it a go!

 Makes 6 – 8 medium-sized pizzas

 What you need…

 800g ‘00’ flour (I think strong white bread flour would work just as well)

200g semolina

1 level tablespoon fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast

1 tablespoon caster sugar

650ml lukewarm water

for the tomato sauce

2 tins Italian chopped tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried oregano

for the toppings

Go mad – put whatever you fancy on! Our choices are below

What to do…

Whop all the tomato sauce ingredients into a blender and whizz to mix together. Set aside until ready to top your pizza bases.

If you have a standalone mixer with a dough hook on it, chuck everything else in the bowl and let it do its stuff for about 5 minutes, until you can see the dough coming together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface.

If you don’t possess one of these lovely machines, heap the flours and salt onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Tip the yeast, sugar and water into the well and, using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix. Keep doing this – it will go through a ‘stodgy porridge’ stage but will then start coming together as a dough.

Whichever route you took to get to this stage, now knead the dough quite assertively until you have a smooth springy soft dough – this will take about 5 minutes if you used the mixer to start with and maybe 10 minutes if you’ve done it all by hand.

Flour the top of your dough and pop it into a large, roomy bowl (I used the cleaned out mixer bowl), cover with cling film and pop it somewhere warm (I stood mine just under the radiator). Leave for 1 hour.

Dust your work surface with flour and/or semolina and then cut your dough into 6 or 8 pieces depending on whether you want medium or slightly larger pizzas. Squidge each piece into a ball and then roll out into rough circles until they are about ½ cm thick. Tear off a piece of foil slightly larger than the pizza base and spread over a little oil and then dust with flour and/or semolina. Pop the pizza base onto the foil.

Do this for each pizza base, stacking them on top of one another, each separated by an oiled and floured piece of foil. You could now cling film them and pop them in the fridge until you are ready.

When you are ready, pop a heavy baking tray on the lowest shelf of your oven and heat your oven to 250°c / 500°f / gas 9.

Apply your toppings of choice and then put the pizza in, one at a time, still on their foil, on top of the piping hot baking tray. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until the pizza is golden and crispy (and the inevitable mozzarella is melted and bubbling).

Then, remove the pizza from the oven, leaving the baking tray in there ready to receive the next one. Your pizza will be firm so this won’t be difficult. Slide your pizza off the foil and dig in – the base will be lovely and crispy and the topping will be according to your individual taste!

What we had…

The point is, you can put whatever you fancy on, so I rummaged through the fridge and took out just about anything that I thought might work and that at least one of us liked. The joy of it then was that we built our own. Whilst the first one was cooking, the second one was being created and so on. We each created pizza specifically to appeal to our own tastes – marvellous!

I also made a garlic pizzetta to share so, in my blender I whizzed a couple of cloves of chopped garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of dried garlic pizzetta wrosemary. Then I just brushed the oil over the top and wodged in rosemary sprigs – it was bloody lovely!

Mine: tomato sauce, mozzarella slices, a few baby spinach leaves (I would have used basil, but didn’t have any), a few slices prosciutto and a couple of chopped up sundried tomatoes. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Gorgeous!

John: tomato sauce and then what looked like a fridge-raid: chopped up chicken, prosciutto, loadsa mozzarella slices, pepperoni, chopped up sundried tomatoes.

Connagh: tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, prosciutto, pepperoni.

Other topping suggestions, chopped ham, chorizo, sliced peppers and red onions, chillies, courgettes, anchovies, thyme…and so it goes on….

Inspired by…

James Martin initially, then Jamie Oliver and then, the yeast packet and lastly, the fridge!

How easy…

Dead easy and great fun!

Welsh Cakes

Warm, buttery, ever so light and delicately sweet, these little Welsh Cakes are a lovely teatime treat and take next to no time to whip up. A real feeling of ‘granny’s home-baking’ comes with them, delightfully crisp on the outside and softer and slightly crumbly in the middle; and they can be enjoyed either with just a sprinkling of caster sugar or with butter and jam or cream and summer fruits – I loved them straight from the pan – not all of them made it to the tin for later enjoyment with the family!

Makes 16

What you need…

1 x 6cm cookie cutter

225g plain flour

85g caster sugar

½ teaspoon mixed spice

½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

50g butter, cut into chunks

50g lard, cut into chunks, plus a little extra for frying

50g currants

1 egg, beaten

Caster sugar to serve (optional)

What to do…

Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and salt into your food processor and whiz just to mix them all together. Drop in the butter and lard and whizz again until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add your currants and whizz to mix in. Finally, slowly add your beaten egg, whizzing until you can see the dough forming.

Tip the lot out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough comes together – it should be a similar consistency to short crust pastry.

Roll out to 1 cm thick and cut out rounds with your cookie cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Drop a small knob of lard into a heavy-based frying pan and melt over a moderate heat. Cook your Welsh Cakes in batches – 2-3 minutes each side, until they are lovely and golden brown and crisp on the outside.

Serve warm if possible but if not, allow to cool on a cooling rack, sprinkle with sugar (if that’s your serving preference) and keep them in an airtight tin (for up to a week apparently – not that we’ll ever get to test that notion!)

Inspired by…

Good Food Magazine (March 2008)

How easy…

Ever so! And really quick too!

 

 

 

Honeycomb Ice Cream

It’s another OMG moment!!!!! Mary Berry made this on Monday night and I did think, “Ooh, I gotta give that one a go!” Made yesterday and sampled today – what can I tell you – its unbelievably easy to make (and a whole lot of fun, given the honeycomb process) and tastes absolutely out of this world – I’m not kidding – give this a go – it won’t be the last time you make it! How can anything this amazing be this simple?! Thank you Mary!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 large sheet of Bake O Glide/non-stick baking paper

1 x 900g loaf tin

4 tablespoons golden syrup

150g caster sugar

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) full-fat condensed milk

2 teaspoons popping candy (optional)

OK, so we can agree: this isn’t diet ice cream but what a horrid concept that is anyway!!!

What to do…

In a large, deep saucepan, chuck in the syrup and sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the temperature to moderate and simmer for 5-6 minutes until you have a beautiful honey-coloured caramel.

Remove from the heat and tip in the bicarbonate of soda, mixing like crazy until it is evenly incorporated and foaming (reminds me of one of Connagh’s slightly dodgy childhood experiments!)

Tip the foaming honeycomb out onto your Bake O Glide or baking paper – it will naturally spread into a large circle and then just stop spreading as it starts to set. Leave for about 20 minutes, until the honeycomb has hardened and cooled down and then break into bite-sized pieces – dead easy – it looks much tougher than it actually is! Pop a third of the honeycomb into an air-tight container and save for decoration later.

Whilst the honeycomb is cooling, do a couple of jobs; firstly, fill the loaf tin with cold water and then empty it again. Line the tin with cling film (the water residue helps the cling film to stick to the tin).

Next, fill the saucepan that you used to create the honeycomb with water and then put it on a high heat. As the water comes to the boil, it will melt the residue honeycomb that is stuck to the inside of the pan – then you can just chuck it down the sink – no horrid scrubbing!

Then, make the ice cream: whip the double cream into soft peaks and then stir in the condensed milk. Tip in the remaining two-thirds of the honeycomb and popping candy, if using, and stir to disperse evenly.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin, level off the top and cover with cling film. Freeze overnight.

To serve, tip out and remove the cling film. Sprinkle with the saved honeycomb. Leave for 10 minutes to soften enough to cut, then cut into slices – don’t be mean with them – people are only going to ask for seconds!

Sooooo, soooo naughty but……sooooo, sooooo good!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

As the lady says, “Foolproof!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarte Tatin

The famous accidental fruit pudding that was created by the French sisters, ‘Tatin’! However, it’s acclaim didn’t really start gathering apace until it was introduced to Paris’ Maxim’s in the 1920’s. It has apparently never left the menu since. Anyway, this version is certainly not as glamorously presented as those of more practiced cooks, however it is quite delicious! The sticky, rich and golden brown caramelised apples together with crunchy, sweet pastry are just a heavenly combination. Mine never looks overly attractive – think homemade rustic rather than French elegance, but hey, its taste more than makes up for its humble appearance – just gorgeous!

What you need…

for the pastry

1 x heavy, ovenproof 23cm frying pan

210g plain flour, sifted

100g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons caster sugar

3 tablespoons water

for the filling

90g unsalted butter

180g caster sugar

1.4kg Cox’s apples, peeled, cored and quartered

What to do…

Chuck all the pastry ingredients into your food processor and whizz until a breadcrumb consistency is reached. Tip out onto your work surface and knead for about 1 minute, until the dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: melt the butter over a low heat in the frying pan and then evenly sprinkle over the sugar. Arrange the apples snugly in circles on top of the sugar. Turn the heat up and cook for 15-20 minutes, gently bubbling the butter mixture until a deep golden caramel forms.

Let the apples cool a little.

Heat the oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface, creating a circle slightly larger than your frying pan. Place the pastry over the top of the apples and tuck in the edges (work quickly so that the heat of the apples doesn’t soften the pastry).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Ooooh, the lovely smell of apples wallowing in loads of sugar and butter!

Stand your frying pan on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes, allowing the tart to firm up.

To serve (with your heart in your mouth) invert the Tarte Tatin onto a serving plate, praying it comes on in one! Just so you know, mine doesn’t always come out quite in one and there might be a little apple reshuffling required! Anyway, serve hot with crème fraiche , double cream or Greek yogurt. Utterly delightful!

Inspired by…

A torn out recipe from a magazine that I’ve had in my ‘to do’ file for longer than I’ve had children!

How easy…

The making is very straightforward. However, the ‘getting out of the pan’ is a bit hit and miss for me. I shall clearly just have to persevere until I get that bit right. It doesn’t matter though! A lovely little tart it is!!!

 

Sunshine Shorties

So, today the sun came out and it actually felt like spring! I rustled these up in no time – they’re childishly simple (ideal to make with little people), ever so quick and really, really tasty – crunchy oats with a softer middle and just a hint of golden syrup – the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. And bonus: I got to enjoy my cup of tea and shorties, having photographed them, in the garden’s sunshine (rather than the studio where food has been confined to for months!) The perfect choice for a day that feels like spring really is on its way!

Makes 30

What you need…

2 x baking trays, lightly buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

125g butter

125g caster sugar

1 teaspoon golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon boiling water

125g porridge oats (gluten-free works equally well)

125g self-raising flour

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 160°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Put the butter, sugar, syrup, bicarbonate of soda and water into a large saucepan and melt. Remove from the heat and tip in the oats and flour. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Place teaspoon-sized balls on the prepared baking trays, leaving space for them to spread out. Pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. When they’ve set slightly, cool them completely on a wire rack. That’s it! Make tea; scoff delicious shorties!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Childishly simple and sooooooo quick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Plaice with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce, Asparagus and Peas

This is a really lovely, delicate and light fish supper. The sauce is quite piquant and, when tasted on its own, really rather strong. But, take a forkful that includes a little fish, greenery and sauce and the combination is fabulous: the sauce is the perfect foil for the delicate fish – it just all works brilliantly. And – bonus – you can make the sauce ahead, leaving just a few minutes cooking of the fish and vegetables just before you want to eat. It’s on the ‘favourites’ list for me!

Serves 4

What you need…

500g asparagus, trimmed

100g frozen peas

1.5kg plaice, filleted and cut into portions

Splash rapeseed oil

1 baby gem lettuce, shredded

Small knob of butter

Sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning

Olive oil to drizzle

for the sauce

100ml water

½ fish stockpot (I use Knorr)

Splash rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

4 tablespoons cider vinegar

100ml dry, still cider

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

100ml double cream

4 teaspoons chopped tarragon, stalks reserved

2 teaspoons capers

What to do…

First, blanch the asparagus. Pop in a deep frying pan of boiling, salted water and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dry the frying pan – you’ll be using it again later.

Remove the frozen peas from the freezer and tip them out onto a plate to start defrosting.

In a jug, create some fish stock by pouring in 100ml water from your kettle and dissolving the fish stockpot, using a small balloon whisk. Set aside.

Now to the sauce: heat a splash of rapeseed oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cider vinegar and bring to the boil. Pour in the cider and fish stock and bubble furiously until the stock is reduced by half. Add the mustard, cream and tarragon stalks and simmer, reducing and thickening the sauce so that it coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tarragon stalks and discard. Stir in the capers and chopped tarragon. Set aside.

When you’re about ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium and either oil a baking tray or line it with Bake O Glide. Sprinkle salt all over the tray and lay your fish fillets on top, skin side up. Place under the grill and cook for 6 minutes, checking the last minute or two to avoid overcooking.

Meanwhile, put your sauce back on a very gentle heat, just to keep it warm.

Return to your frying pan and splash in the rapeseed oil. When hot, add the lettuce and wilt for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and peas with the knob of butter and warm through for a couple of minutes. Season to taste.

Remove the fish from the grill and leave to rest for a couple of minutes.

To serve, arrange the greenery on warmed plates and place the fish on top, skin side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then spoon the sauce around the fish. Don’t attack – it’s to be savoured but remember to get a little bit of everything on each forkful and enjoy the combined flavours – simply lovely!

Tips…

Instead of all that peeling and chopping, I buy Cooks’ Ingredients frozen chopped shallots and frozen chopped garlic from Waitrose – lovely and fresh and saves a lot of faffing about.

Inspired by…

Chef, Nathan Outlaw and my bro, who insisted that I couldn’t do this blog without this Nathan Outlaw book in my collection – good call, Martin!

How easy…

Really, really easy and a pleasure to make!

Ginger Panna Cotta with Rhubarb

A lovely light dessert with beautifully contrasting flavours: the panna cotta is light, fresh and ever so slightly tart whilst the rhubarb is lovely and sweet: the two come together in perfect harmony and this dessert takes just a few minutes to make – simply delicious!

Serves 6

What you need…

2 leaves gelatine

350ml double cream

225ml Stones Green Ginger Wine

30g caster sugar

50ml water

3 pieces sliced stem ginger, from a jar

2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into little chunks (3 sticks if they’re skinny)

What to do…

Pop the gelatine into some cold water to soften.

Meanwhile, bring the cream and ginger wine to the boil in a medium-sized pan, stirring gently. As soon as it starts to bubble, remove from the heat. Squeeze the water from the gelatine sheets and pop them into the cream and ginger wine mixture. Stir until the gelatine is dissolved and the mixture is thickened.

Sieve into a jug and then pour into 6 pretty glasses or ramekins.

Pop in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

To prepare the rhubarb, heat the sugar, water and stem ginger in a small saucepan, bringing it to the boil. Add the rhubarb and cook on the high heat for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, cover the pan with cling film and set aside, leaving the rhubarb to finish cooking in the residual heat.

When ready to serve, spoon the rhubarb and juices over the panna cottas and just dive in!

Inspired by…

Tom Kerridge

How easy…

Dead easy and it takes no time!

Brûléed Cheesecake

This is lovely, light, fluffy and quite luscious in the middle; with an extra bit of pizzazz provided by the crunchy, sweet brûléed topping – sinfully delicious and therefore very easy just to keep digging into for just that little bit more! And then of course, there’s the quite necessary opportunity to play with a blowtorch – great fun and very easy to get carried away! Give it a go!

Serves 10-12

What you need…

1 x 20cm round spring-form cake tin, lightly buttered and bottom lined with parchment paper/Bake O Glide

1 x kitchen blowtorch!

for the biscuit base

100g unsalted butter, melted

250g digestive biscuits

4 tablespoons demerara sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 egg yolk, beaten

for the filling

Zest of 1 lemon

500g full fat soft cheese

125g golden caster sugar

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

3 eggs, beaten

200ml full fat crème fraiche

for the brûlée topping

2 tablespoons golden caster sugar

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Roughly break up the biscuits and chuck them in your food processor (with the blade attachment). Whizz until they look like chunky breadcrumbs.

Thoroughly mix together the digestive crumbs, sugar, butter and ginger. Tip into the cake tin and, using a straight-sided glass, firmly press the mixture evenly across the base and 3cm up the sides. Pop in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Brush over the egg yolk and pop back in the oven for a further 3 minutes to seal.

In a large bowl, use a spatula to mix together the lemon zest, cheese, sugar, cornflour and vanilla. Using a handheld electric whisk, work in the eggs until smooth and then, returning back to the spatula, fold in the crème fraiche.

Pour the filling over the base, pop in the oven and bake for 10 minutes; then reduce the temperature to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1 and bake for a further 45 minutes or until set to a gentle wobble. Turn the oven off but leave your brûléed cheesecake in for 1 hour, with the oven door left ajar. Cool completely and then pop in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Release your cheesecake from the confines of its tin (I didn’t dare to remove the tin bottom for fear of total collapse). Scatter over the golden caster sugar and arm yourself with the blowtorch! Brûlée the top until the sugar turns a deep coppery brown – for a bit of theatre, do this at the table! Serve and enjoy the unique combination that is the crunchy sweet brûlée topping with the lovely light and fluffy cheesecake filling! Utterly delightful!

Inspired by…

My Waitrose magazine

How easy…

Very easy. The digestives need bullying into place but even if there’s a bit of crumbling going on, it just adds to the homemade appeal!

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