July 18, 2014

Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

Who needs weekends for brunch? Even though my schedule has cleared up significantly, I’m still working every Saturday and Sunday. I miss weekends. No, I miss brunch. Having week days off is not all that different than having weekends off. I still get to sleep in, run errands (with less of a crowd), meet up with other friends that have weird schedules such as mine… but most restaurants don’t serve brunch on weekdays. I can’t remember the last time I had brunch. So this morning I thought I’d make my own.

Surprisingly easy to put together. I’d say 15 minutes start to finish. 20 if multitasking isn’t your forte.

eggsbenedict2

HOLLANDAISE

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
  • salt
  • water

Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave until bubbly and hot. In a magic bullet blender, pulse yolks and lemon juice until frothy. Add 1/4 of the butter to the mixture, close, then pulse until well blended. Continue adding more hot butter, slowly, and blend until homogenous. Add 1 tsp salt and pulse to incorporate. Add 1-2 tsp of water if you like runnier hollandaise.

SMOKED SALMON EGGS BENEDICT (serves 2, 2 eggs each)

  • 4  oz smoked salmon
  • 4 english muffins (2, if you want to cut carbs. just serve on 1/2 the bread)
  • baby arugula
  • 4 eggs
  • vinegar  (white wine or any other clear vinegar)
  • paprika
  • optional: chives, chopped finely (or dill. salmon likes dill.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Halve and toast muffins. Set aside
  2. While toasting, prepare SOFT POACHED EGGS:
    1. Bring wide mouth pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 tbs vinegar.
    2. Turn off heat. Crack eggs slowly and gently into the water. Cover the pot and leave heat off for 4 minutes. Drain and remove.
  3. Arrange muffins on a plate, top with a small fistful of arugula, then a layer of salmon, then eggs, then hollandaise. Sprinkle w paprika and chives

eggsbenedict

 

NOTES: 

  • Sprinkle paprika on top of the hollandaise at the end of set up. This adds a nice splash of color. I was dumb and blended the paprika in with the rest of the sauce. Has the flavor, not the aesthetics.
  • Arugula adds a nice peppery kick. Spinach is a good mild/boring alternative.
  • Thomas’ Light Multigrain english muffins are the bomb. 100 calories, develops a nice crunch on the outside when toasted, but still chewy/doughy on the inside. Love them.
  • Toss your leftover hollandaise.

Oh. and Anthony Bourdain says never order hollandaise at brunch. “No one makes hollandaise to order.” That stuff is sitting in their kitchen all day. Gross. And now that you know it’s essentially raw eggs and butter, skip it on the menu and make it yourself at home. You wont miss it.

 

July 14, 2014

The Meatball Shop: Beef and Ricotta Meatballs

Tip on salting ground meat: 1 tsp kosher salt per pound.

Works out pretty well. Seeing as you can’t taste as you go…

Other random notes on meatballs: 

  1. Eggs are for binding
  2. Bread crumbs (and I am partial to panko) are for added tenderness. Crumbled unsalted saltine crackers work in a bind. In fact I prefer this when making meatloaf. Just make sure you get unsalted.
  3. Never over-mix meatballs and always use your hands, not a stand mixer. Over working meat makes it tough.
  4. Always serve with something green! A shock of green always looks pretty next to a simmering red bowl of meaty goodness. Plus it makes me feel better to have something light and healthy while eating a pound of carne.

meatball1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1.5 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1.5 tbs dried parsley (or 1/2 packed cup of fresh chopped)
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp  crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 32 oz jar of tomato sauce
  • optional for serving: parmesan cheese, fresh greens, roasted carrots, roasted beets, sautéed mushrooms, or a large toasted roll with fresh greens and slices of cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients (except tomato sauce) in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Do NOT over mix as this results in a tough, crumbly meatball.
  2. Preheat oven to 450F
  3. Line a large rectangular baking pan with aluminum foil and drizzle with oil. Spread oil evenly with a finger.
  4. Roll mixture with your hands into 1.5 inch diameter meatballs. Golfball size. Line meatballs up evenly on the baking pan, so that they are touching.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. While baking, heat up tomato sauce (or make from scratch if you’ve got the time) over medium low heat in a 3-5qt pot, covered, until heated through.
  7. Remove meatballs (it’ll be a greasy mess) one by one with tongs so as to not pick up the excess fat. Place in pot. Mix to coat in sauce. Cover and continue to heat through over low heat, 15-20 minutes. Mix meatballs periodically, gently, so you don’t break them up.
  8. Roast your veggies at this time while the oven is hot. Reduce oven heat to 425F, roast 20 minutes (works for carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, what have you).
  9. Serve over fresh greens and roasted veggies, or on a toasted hoagie with sliced cheese

meatball2

July 4, 2014

Steak Fajitas and Grilled Peaches

Happy Independence Day, y’all.

I’ve reaaallly been craving fajitas. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the yankees here in NY to make this TexMex favorite of mine. Or any TexMex, for that matter. The perfect opportunity to try it out myself arose this weekend, for R’s/America’s birthday shindig. Between the chaos in the kitchen and entertaining guests, I totally forgot to take pictures. I even made roasted corn!

And what’s more ‘merican than Mexican corn and fajitas?!? Yea, ok. To balance it out, I served grilled peaches and ice cream for dessert. That sounds pretty American, doesn’t it?

Some notes:

  1. Err on the side of undercook! You can always slap it back on the grill. You can’t UN cook a tough piece of meat, though.
  2. I do not have a grill. I used a cast iron griddle. The kind that spans two stove tops, with grill marks. This thing is the bomb. 30 bucks off Amazon.
  3. Skirt steak is fattier than hanger steak. Makes for juicier fajitas.
  4. Don’t use soap to wash cast iron. Use hot water and scrub scrub scrub… Learned this the hard way five years ago. Also, never leave cast iron in the sink… dry it off when you’re done by sticking it in the oven or over the stove for a few minutes.

FAJITAS

  • 2 lb skirt steak (or chicken)
  • 1 cup lime juice (make life easier for yourself. buy a bottle instead of squeezing limes)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Marinate steak and veggies 4 hours – overnight.
  2. Heat skillet over medium high heat until smoking hot.
  3. Grill meat, 2-3 minutes per side. (I like to fold up the thinner sides a bit early so they don’t overcook)
  4. Remove and let meat rest for a few minutes while you start the next batch. This is essential as it allows the juices to redistribute into the meat. The meat also continues to cook while it rests.
  5. Slice on the diagonal, against the grain of the meat.
  6. Toss the veggies on to the grill. Cook until soft and onions become translucent.

GRILLED PEACHES

  • Ripe peaches, halved and pitted
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
  • vanilla/bourbon/whatever ice cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Brush flat side of peach half with oil.
  2. On a clean HOT grill/griddle, place peach, flat side down. 2-3 minutes. It should develop nice dark grill marks.
  3. Rotate 90 degrees, continue to grill 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a pinch of cinnamon with a few tsps of brown sugar (remember, cinnamon is sstrooonng. a little goes a long way.)
  5. Flip peach over and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover with a heat resistant bowl. A metal mixing bowl that has no plastic/rubber on it will work. Or if you have a real grill, just close the lid. 10 minutes or until soft.
  6. Remove and place in serving bowl, drizzle with honey, then serve with ice cream.

 

 

June 28, 2014

Coffee in a Carton

Anyone else excited about Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Style ice coffee?

My first thought: what do a bunch of Californians know about New Orleans coffee…

“Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Iced Coffee is cold brewed for 18 hours with organic roasted chicory, sweetened with organic cane sugar and cut with organic whole milk.”

Well hot damn that sounds good. While New Orleans doesn’t exactly conjure up images of  bucolic bliss and organic farms, I’m a shameless yuppie these days. So I’m sold.

And look at this packaging!

coffee

“…Pearlfisher created a new design for the brand that stays true to the heart of Blue Bottle Coffee and the Founder, James Freeman’s original vision, at once challenging coffee category cues while remaining modest and utilitarian. The carton cues dairy and evokes nostalgia, helping Blue Bottle’s offer stand apart from competitors.”

Evokes nastalgia, indeed… Only I drank milk out of a clear plastic pouch growing up (anyone else go to a carton-less school?). But still, I can’t wait to try this stuff.

June 21, 2014

Crispy Baked Fish Sticks + Taragon Tartar Sauce

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Trial and error fish sticks. This is what happens when I ask R what he wants for dinner. He even called after me as I was heading towards the kitchen with: “make ‘em taste just like those frozen ones I had when I was little!” Aaaarrre you kidding me?

FISH STICKS

  • 4 large fillets of white flaky fish, cut in even long strips (like cod or pollock)
  • 2 eggs, beaten until frothy
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ~2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and generously oil/butter. Place AP flour and salt in one bowl, eggs in another, and panko, parsley, and parmesan cheese in another. Pat fish dry. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess, then eggs, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and finally the panko mixture, pressing it into the fish. Space fish evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Bake 15-20 min or until golden brown and cooked through (test by cutting the largest piece in half. It should flake easily.)

TARTAR SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash white wine vinegar
  • 2-3 slices of dill pickle, minced
  • 1-2 tsp dried tarragon

Combine in a small bowl. Adjust to taste.

R likes them with ketchup. Another blasphemy. (I tried it later. It’s actually pretty tasty.) I’d like to think this is the improved version of frozen fish sticks. Fresh, tender fish, light and crispy panko breading. Took 30 minutes to make! Including bake time!

Happy eats.

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April 3, 2014

Ketchup Stir Fry Prawns + Chinese BBQ Noodles

Chang’s mom gave me this huge bag of frozen shrimp a few weeks ago and I never got around to cooking it. Every time we saw her she’d ask, “Did you try the shrimp yet?” and I’d shamefully shake my head and admit that I hadn’t figure out what to do with it yet. Stir fry shrimp and eggs? Shrimp with edamame? Overdone. That’s the extent of my Chinese shrimp cooking skills, those two recipes. Then literally out of sheer laziness because it requires no peeling, it occurred to me that I could make the ketchup stir fry prawns I’ve seen my own mother make with those giant tiger prawns. Too ambitious? Maybe. I called my mother to ask for her recipe but she was busy and forgot to call me back. 7:00pm came and went. Chang and I were getting hungry.

So I winged it.

Image

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lb fresh or thawed prawns, heads off shells ON
  • salt
  • corn starch
  • oil (high smoke point, like avocado or peanut)
  • 2 stalks green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger*
  • Sauce:
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 tbs soy sauce
    • ~2 tbs brown sugar, loose
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

*if you don’t have fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp or so of ginger powder mixed into the sauce will do.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse prawns under cold water (this will thaw them quickly, too, if they’re still frozen). Drain well. Line paper towel over baking pan and place prawns in.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  3. Dry prawns thoroughly with more paper towels (always make sure whatever it is you’re frying is very very dry. It will crisp better and you wont have as much splash back of hot oil when it hits the pan.).
  4. Remove paper towels, mop up baking pan so everything is dry. Lightly salt prawns. Coat with 3-4 tbs cornstarch. Toss and mix.
  5. Heat large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When pan is hot (you wont be able to hold your palm right over the pan for over 5 seconds if it’s hot enough), add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Slowly add prawns in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Fry until the cooked orange edges creep up and over to the top side. Flip and cook other side. Both sides should be orange, with just-golden brown and crisp shells. Remove and set aside.
  7. Drain oil so that only a thin layer is left. Add minced garlic/ginger/green onion and quickly stir until aromatic. (You WILL be able to smell it.) Do NOT burn garlic, this does not take long. Add shrimp back in and toss to coat. Spoon in sauce, not all at once, but enough to coat the shrimp. (You can always add more, but you can’t take out.). Remove and serve!

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Woohoo! Yay for winging it! I feel like a real adult now. I’m making grown up dishes! By myself! Who needs mama now?! Yea OK, technically Chang’s mom gave me the shrimp… but I made it into a MEAL! Annndddd ’cause that about hits my grown up-ness quota for the week, I served it with my favorite college lazy dish: BBQ noodles. Literally ate this 3 out of 7 nights back then.

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INGREDIENTS: shacha

  • dried noodles (I like the thin japanese variety, or the curly ramen-like noodles)
  • scallions (minced)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese BBQ (sha cha)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional Toppings: soft poached egg, veggies

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook noodles.
  2. Mix rest of the ingredients in serving bowl.
  3. Add and mix noodles when cooked.
  4. Top with egg and/or veggies.

Tada!

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March 9, 2014

Homemade Tostones

I’m in the mood for something summery..

afterlight

INGREDIENTS

  • green plantains (firm or tostones will be mushy and fall apart)
  • salt
  • frying oil (peanut, avocado, high smoke pt oil)
  • garlic, minced
  • lime
  • olive oil for dipping

Garlic and Lime Dipping Sauce: Mix minced garlic, olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Can be made ahead of time to let garlic flavor infuse the oil.

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and cut plantain in 2 inch thick pieces.
  2. Heat sauce pan on medium high. Add oil until ~ 2 cm deep, heat until shimmering. Test by dipping a corner of a plantain in the oil. It should immediately start bubbling. If not, the oil’s too cold. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot. When you swirl the pan, the oil should seem less viscous than when it was cold, almost a water-like consistency.
  3. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add plantains one by one and avoid crowding. Fry in batches. Flip when underside is golden brown ~ 3-5 min each side. Adjust heat as needed. If the oil is no longer bubbling rapidly, increase heat. If the oil is bubbling too fiercely, slowly add more oil, introducing it into the side of the pot and not directly over the plantains.
  5. Remove when golden brown, one by one. Place on paper towel lined cutting board so that the plantain is standing upright. With flat side of a large butcher knife or chef’s knife, pound until evenly thin (I prefer 0.5cm thickness). The back of a baking pan will do in a pinch for pounding. Just place the flat surface on top face of the plantain, and with your palm or underside of your fist, pound.
  6. Once all plantains are fried and pounded, reheat oil as in step 2. Return flattened plantains to oil, one by one and quickly fry each side until deep golden brown. ~ 1 min each side.
  7. Set aside and drain.

Tostones

February 25, 2014

Jambalaya

jambalaya

In my attempt to stay lean for engagement photos in 7 months, I’ve been eating lots of chicken and rice. Chicken and rice sounds healthy, right? Especially since I only eat brown rice? Well, you be the judge, but my idea of chicken and rice is Cuban Chicken and Chorizo Rice, Chicken Korma, Vietnamese Roast Chicken with rice fried in chicken fat… annnd jambalaya. Yea.

It’s ok. I have seven months.

Tangent: If Chang wasn’t so busy all the time, I’d totally make him follow me around the kitchen and snap photos of the cooking process. One can dream. (Yes, I dream about being a “real” food blogger with a “real” camera and a photographer husband to boot.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb chicken breast (8oz), chopped*
  • equal amounts of shrimp, chopped
  • Tony Cachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 10 oz Andouille sausage
  • 1 16oz can crushed/diced tomatoes
  • ~ 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 cups uncooked rice
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

* Brined the night before is a plus

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Season chicken and shrimp with Tony Cacheres. Set aside with chopped sausage.
  2. Heat 5 qt dutch over/pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion/bell pepper/celery to pot and sauté until tender, 3 min. Stir in garlic and continue to sauté, 1 min, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in rice. Add spices and ~1 tsp more of Tony Cacheres.
  5. Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, slowly add broth (about 2 cups for white rice, about 3 cups for brown) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and medium low. Cover and simmer 20 min for white rice, 40 min for brown (do not disturb as lifting cover lets out steam and stirring rice makes it goopy). Start out with less broth than you think you need. Easier to add than subtract liquid…
  6. Uncover and add chicken, sausage, and shrimp. Push into the rice so chicken/shrimp is just submerged. Add more liquid if rice is drying out. Recover and simmer, adding broth when needed. Another ~15 min or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
  7. Mix and season with Creole seasoning to taste. Serve.

jambalaya2

Rice is about eyeballing it. Too many varieties of rice out there to give you the perfect ratio of rice:liquid and exact cook times. Just remember not to over stir as this releases the goop-factor (technical term). Doesn’t hurt to pick up a grain and munch to see how crunchy or soft it is. Brown rice typically needs 1:2.5 ratio of rice:liquid. We don’t eat white rice in my house but typically it’s 1:2. Cooking is an art, not a science! So get to it. You’ll figure it out along the way.

February 18, 2014

Leek + Fennel Bisque

onion fennel bisqueAdapted from Gourmet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped (set aside stems/fronds) – 3-4 cups
  • 3 medium small leeks, light green and white parts only, chopped – 3 cups
  • 3 medium large onions, chopped – 5-6 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup white wine)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (allspice will work)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional), chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt/black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 5-6 qt dutch oven/pot over medium high Heat. Add butter, swirl to coat bottom, and sauté fennel, leeks, onions, garlic 15 min or. Salt generously. Stir in nutmeg.
  2. Add white wine and let it boil away. 1 min.
  3. Add stock, season to taste, simmer 10-15 min. Stock should not immerse vegetables.  This will end up being a thick bisque, not a runny soup.
  4. In a separate bowl, add cream and ladle in soup slowly to bring temperature up. Slowly incorporate cream mixture into pot. Continue to simmer, 15 min. Soup will thicken slightly. No need to stir.
  5. Heat separate frying pan over medium heat. Fry bacon. set aside.
  6. In batches, blend soup with caution until smooth. Last chance to salt to taste! Amazing what a pinch of salt can bring out. Once it passes that threshold of perfectly salted, all the flavors will come out. Left under-salted, this bisque will taste bland.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls. Add bacon, fennel frond for decoration, serve with toasted crusty bread.

Can be made a day or two ahead of time, chilled, and reheated slowly in the same pot.

There’s a lot of flexibility in the ratio of ingredients. I think it’s silly to throw away extra vegetables just because it does not measure out to be exactly 3 cups per fennel bulb. Just use approximately 1:1:2 ratio of fennel:leeks:onion. And obviously more of whatever flavor you like!

Keep those stems. Great for roasting fish on (so that the bottom does not burn). The mild flavored fronds also make a great garnish (looks like dill!)

February 14, 2014

Whole Roasted Dorade + Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Is fish becoming a tradition for us now??)

roasted dorade

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.01.32 PM

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb whole dorade, de-boned, head tail on (branzino works, too)
  • 1 large grapefruit, supreme
  • 2 small/1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 small meyer lemons, sliced thin
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Head medium frying pan over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Swirl. Add lemon slices. Brown each side, 2-3 min. Salt. Set aside. *according to Gordan Ramsay, caramelizing the lemon before baking does something something. I don’t know, honestly. But it looks better, tastes good.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Rub with olive oil inside and out. Salt/pepper generously inside and out. set aside.
  3. Cut off fronds of fennel. Slice bulb very thin (a mandolin is handy). Place in bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Salt and toss.
  4. Take fronds and roughly chop stems into large 3-4 inch long pieces. May need to half lengthwise to flatten the thicker stems out. Grab a handful of the fronds and stuff fish. Take left overs and the stems and spread out over a greased aluminum lined baking pan.
  5. PREHEAT OVEN 400F
  6. Supreme your grapefruit. Slice each wedge in half, long wise (making thinner slices). Add slices to fennel. Set salad aside.
  7. Scrape off remaining flesh/juice from peel over the insides of your fish.
  8. Roughly chop parsley, stuff a small handful into the fish along with the fennel fronds. Add the rest to the baking pan, spread evenly.
  9. Add one layer of caramelized lemon inside fish, add one layer of on top of the greens in the baking pan.
  10. Smash garlic cloves, peel, add 3-4 pieces inside fish, toss the rest on the greens in the baking pan. (you can halve the cloves if too thick)
  11. Drizzle baking pan greens with a bit more olive oil.
  12. Lay bay leaves inside the fish. Drizzle inside of fish with a bit more olive oil, salt, close up fish. Top fish with one more layer of lemon slices. Place fish in baking pan, right over the lemons.
  13. Put in middle rack of oven 25-30 minutes or until center flesh falls easily off the bone with a gentle prod of your fork.
  14. Serve with fennel/grapefruit salad.

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.02.09 PM

 

 

 

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