Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese

by Danica Waters

Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese remains one of my family’s Christmas morning standards, just as it has been for the last ten years.  It is not only a recipe  that is deceptively easy to make, it also happens  to be one that is easy to make ahead of the big day, which is very, very mportant.

Indeed,  I have far better things to do with my time and energy on Christmas Eve  than worry about what I’m going to feed everybody the next morning.

Like figuring out where I put all the gifts I’d tucked out of sight (and mind) during the previous year.  And then gift wrapping them all.  Every last one.

Eeeeesh.

So here it is, folks.  The most dee-licious cheese-filled danish, with a crisp-tender, yeast-based crust and a yummy lemony-cream cheese center.

Make it now.  Freeze it for Christmas.  Love your inner procrastinator.

Enjoy!

Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese

(Colorado Cache Cookbook)

1 package dry yeast

1/4 C lukewarm water

1 tsp sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 C all-purpose flour, sifted

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 C butter

2 – 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened

1 C sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice + 1/2 tsp zest of lemon

Powdered sugar, to dust danishes

 

Mix yeast, water, and sugar.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add egg.  Cut butter into flour and salt and mix well.  Add yeast mixture.  Divide into two balls and roll each out into 8×10 inch rectangles.

Make filling by combining cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice and zest.

Spread 1/2 of the filling on each rectangle in the center, and fold each long side in towards the middle, trying to make sure the sides overlap a little bit at first (they will spread).

Fold the short ends up about 1-1/2 inches.

Bake immediately at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Cool danishes on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

To serve, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into wedges.

Serves 10-15

 

Posted November 30th, 2011.

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Cranberry Nut Bread

by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post

 

I will never forget the day I first tried my hand at making cranberry bread.  I’d discovered this fantastic heirloom recipe in a fall issue of Taste of Home Magazine, and I was particularly excited because I happened to be experiencing one of those rare, breathtaking moments when the house was gleaming, the laundry was done, the kids were clean and contentedly immersed in their paper dolls upstairs, and the groceries were in-house – all before it started to snow.

I put some CD’s on shuffle, pulled out all the ingredients, and prepared for a fun afternoon of baking.  All was going swimmingly well until I actually pondered the recipe.

 

It said to put the fresh cranberries with the sugar and orange peel in a pot, and bring it to a boil.

 

No water.

 

No butter.

 

Just cranberries, orange peel, and sugar.

 

Something had to be wrong.

 

Call me crazy, but fresh cranberries look like little red leather balls.  They don’t squirt when you pinch them.  Having never worked with fresh cranberries before, I cut one open just to see if I was missing something.

 

Nope.

 

It was still the equivalent of a little red leather ball.

 

I’ll admit I am a person who tends to over-think things.  I also will reluctantly admit to having a few trust issues, which I personally prefer to label “Critical Thinking”. And my Critical Thinking Cap was spinning with visions of little red leather balls coated in a goopy sugar-brittle mess that would take weeks to clean.  Heaven knows there was nothing to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan!

 

I called my mom to see if she had any insight into the world of cranberries, certain that the recipe was missing a step or some ingredients or something.  Mom told me I had trust issues, and I should just do what the recipe said to do.

 

I told her I would enlist her assistance in cleaning up the mess if it didn’t work.

 

She said to bring her a loaf when it did.

 

It did.

The insides of those little red leather balls melted like butter once I turned on the heat; the internal pressure made the skins “pop”, and my terror visions of singed sugar-brittle turned into a ruby-colored mash that made the whole house smell like Christmas.  I was ecstatic.

 

So now we know.  And I have pictures to prove it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This recipe is an annual favorite.   It is a rich, moist, dark bread with the perfect balance of sweet-tart and savory, and it is equally delicious with a smear of cream cheese on top as it is served all by itself.  Best of all, it takes mere minutes to make, and it freezes ahead like a charm.

 

Enjoy!

 

Cranberry Nut Bread

(Taste of Home Magazine, December/January 1995 issue)

 

2-1/2 C halved fresh or frozen cranberries, divided (note:  over the years, I’ve taken to leaving my cranberries whole – it gives a chunkier, jewel-studded texture to the bread)

2/3 C sugar

2 tsp grated orange peel

2-1/4 C all-purpose flour

¾ C light brown sugar

1 Tbsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ C sour cream

¼ C butter or margarine, melted

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans preferred)

 

In a saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups cranberries, sugar, and orange peel.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the cranberries are soft.  Remove from the heat; stir in the remaining berries and set aside.

In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Combine eggs, sour cream and melted butter; stir into dry ingredients until blended.  Fold in cranberries and pecans.  Pour into two greased 8-1/2 in x 4-1/2 in x 2-1/2 in loaf pans (mini loaf pans and muffin tins work, too – just adjust your baking time accordingly!).

Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests done.

 

Photo Credits:

Cranberry photo courtesy www.vegetarian-nutrition.info via Google images

All other graphics by the Allspice Chronicles

 

Posted November 16th, 2011.

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Chipotle Cornbread

by Danica Waters

It is cold and wet today, just like the weathermen promised.  The rain is coming down in big, splashy drops and I must confess: .I absolutely love days like today.   Ella Fitzgerald is simmering on my speakers, a pot of dee-lish Lentil Soup simmering on the stove, and this spicy little number will be the perfect accompaniment to all of it.

You can make this cornbread with any type of salsa; it’s milder and more innocent with a good green chile salsa or even  a basic tomato-jalapeno salsa.  But there’s something wicked and deliberate about the smoky nature of chipotles.  Be careful – the heat will sneak up on you, so if you’re serving kids or a crowd, either use the salsa sparingly or only marble half the batch.

Enjoy!

 

Chipotle Cornbread

1 cup Yellow Corn Meal (I use Alber’s)

1 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 C milk

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 – 3 Tbsp chipotle salsa, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.

Spoon chipotle salsa in small mounds onto the cornbread surface; using a knife, swirl salsa through batter to create marbled effect.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.

NOTE Recipe may be doubled. Use greased 13×9-inch baking pan; bake as above.

 

FOR MUFFINS:
SPOON batter into 10 to 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.

Posted November 11th, 2011.

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Jam-Filled Walnut Scones

by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of wowhowsnacktastic.wordpress.com

While on the subject of tea and scones, this is an awesome little recipe you’ll want to have in your teatime repertoire.  These scones are easy to make and fill the house with a delightful smell; they’re just the thing for those stay-in-your-jammies, wintery weekend mornings when you want to treat the family (and yourself!) to something special.

 

They look as divine as they taste; the little wedges with their jewel-toned centers add visual richness and texture to serving platters at teatime.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Jam Filled Walnut Scones

(Simply Scones)

 

2 c all-purpose flour

½ C finely chopped walnuts

¼ C granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled

2/3 C buttermilk (or 2/3 C milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar)

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ C strawberry or other preserves

 

Preheat oven to 400? F.  Lightly butter a baking sheet.

 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, walnuts sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla and stir to combine.

 

With lightly floured hands, divide the dough into two equal-sized pieces and put each portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured cutting board.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges.  Transfer the 12 pieces to the prepared baking sheet.  Dip the point of a sharp knife in flour and make a slit in the top of each scone, dipping the knife in flour as needed.  Carefully spoon 1 teaspoon of strawberry preserves into the sit in the top of each scone.  Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.

 

Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Using a spatula, transfer the scones to the wire rack to cool.  Serve warm, or cool completely and store in a single layer in an airtight container.  These scones freeze well.

 

Makes 12 scones.

Posted November 4th, 2011.

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The Best Traditional Scones In The World

by Danica Waters

Right.  I know I’ve already published a really fine recipe for scones.  But I’ve gotta’ be honest and recommend that you scratch it, because THIS IS THE BEST RECIPE FOR TRADITIONAL SCONES.  Like, EVER. 

Surprises like this are what keep me fascinated with cooking:  just about the time you think you know what it’s all about, something new comes along that’s even better.  Here’s the back story:  the day before yesterday, we stopped in to my in-laws’ home for afternoon tea.  My mother-in-law, who always sets out a beautiful selection of homemade cakes and sweets to accompany the tea, was particularly excited about a new recipe she’d discovered.  Given that my mother-in-law is a fabulous Scottish cook, when she gets excited about a recipe (especially for something like scones), I pay close attention.

It seems that the author of this particular recipe took all the best elements of her Scottish grandmother’s scones and combined them with all the best elements of the official scone recipe of London’s world-renowned Savoy Hotel.  She nailed it.  These traditional scones are perfect in flavor, body and texture.  They are also beautiful to look at.

While you can easily substitute raisins for dried currants, I highly recommend using the latter if you can find them.  With the holidays coming, keep in mind that these scones would serve as a welcome accompaniment to a gift box filled with an assortment of fine teas, coffees, or even hot chocolate.  They are easily reheated and go equally well  served with butter and jam as they do served with a mild cheese (such as Havarti) and a bit of turkey or ham.

 

Enjoy!

 

The Best Traditional Scones In The World

(by FRIENDLYFOOD, as seen on www.allrecipes.com)

 

1-1/4 C all purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 C white sugar

1/8 tsp salt

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 C dried currants or raisins

1/2 C milk

1/4 C sour cream

1 egg

1 Tbsp milk

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl.  Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it is in pea-sized lumps.  Stir in the currants.  Mix together 1/2 C milk and sour cream in a measuring cup.  Pour all at once into the dry ingredients; stir gently until blended.  Note:  overworking the dough results in terribly tough scones!!!

With floured hands, pat scone dough into balls 2-3 inches across, depending on what size you prefer.  Place onto a greased baking sheet, and flatten slightly.  Let the scones barely touch each other.  Whisk together the egg and 1 Tbsp milk; brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.  Let them rest about 10 minutes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown (not deep brown).  Break each scone apart, or slice in half.  Serve with butter or clotted cream and a selection of jams – or even plain.

Note:  Scones can be reheated if not eaten promptly by wrapping in aluminum foil and heated through in the oven, or by simply cutting in half and placing in the toaster.

 

Posted November 2nd, 2011.

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Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake

by Danica Waters

 

Who says cheesecake is only for dessert?  This savory Mediterranean Cheesecake is undoubtedly as addictive as its sweeter cousin.  Not too rich, but substantial enough to satisfy, the rich flavor of Parmesan mingles with the mild tang of feta to hit all the right spots for all kinds of partygoers.  Unbeatable as an hors d oeuvre or as an accompaniment to soup or salad, it is also a visual showstopper, guaranteed to rock any buffet table it’s invited to.

 

This recipe is for 1 – 9 inch cheesecake, which will feed a rather large crowd.  Because it freezes extremely well, try making two smaller cheesecakes out of one batch.  Homemade Cracker Bread is a perfect accompaniment, and is also easily made ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about on party-day.

 

Enjoy!

 

Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake

(Fine Cooking Magazine)

 

1-1/2 C Panko Breadcrumbs

6 Tbsp butter, melted

 

3/4 C butter

¼ C minced green onion

¼ C chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or enough fresh spinach that has been chopped well and wilted to render approximately 1-1/2 C.

3 – 8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened

¼ C heavy whipping cream

4 large eggs

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 – 2.5 oz cans sliced black olives, drained

1 C grated good-quality Parmesan cheese

1 C crumbled feta cheese

 

Sour cream

Fresh chopped herbs

*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

 

In a small bowl, combine panko and melted butter.  Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (or use two 5-inch springform pans).  Bake 8 minutes.

 

In a medium skillet, melt ¾ C butter over medium high heat.  Add onion, parsley, and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.  Add spinach, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and set aside.

 

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, cream, and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Divide mixture evenly into two medium bowls.  Stir spinach mixture into one-half of cream cheese mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle evenly with sliced olives.

 

Stir Parmesan cheese and feta cheese into other half of cream cheese mixture.  Spread cheese mixture evenly over olives.  Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes (for 9-inch springform;  if using smaller pans, adjust time accordingly).  Let cool completely in pan.  Gently run a knife around edges of pan to release sides.  Cover, and chill.

 

Prior to serving, remove cake from springform ring.  Top with a light spread of dairy sour cream, and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

 

Serve cheesecake at room temperature with assorted crackers (try homemade Cracker Bread)

 

Note:  Cheesecake can be made up to one month ahead!  Wrap tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap, and freeze.  Simply let come to room temperature before serving.

Posted October 27th, 2011.

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Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of Cornell University

 

By now, we should all be  familiar with the wildly popular Mexican version of a Seven Layer Dip.  This recipe is an equally delicious alternative, featuring the warm, fresh flavors of the Mediterranean for an exciting change of pace.

To round out a Mediterranean hors d’ oeuvres table, try serving this delicious dip along with a platter of Falafel balls, tzatziki, a gourmet selection of olives, and some baklava.

Enjoy!

 

Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

Serves 8

1-1/2 6-inch pita pockets, cut into 12 wedges, tops and bottoms separated  to make 24 wedges in all
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Kalamata olives, finely chopped

1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/4 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint

1/2  C crumbled feta cheese

 

Make Pita Wedges:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on a large baking sheet without overlapping the wedges. Lightly brush each wedge with olive oil; bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly crisp (the pita wedges will crisp more as they cool).  Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

 

Make Seven Layer Dip:
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas until coarsely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the lemon juice and process until blended. Add the water and pepper. Process until smooth.

Arrange the spinach on a serving plate. Gently spread the chickpea mixture on top, leaving a border of the spinach. Sprinkle the oregano over the spread. Arrange the tomato on the spread. Top, in order, with the cucumber, onion, olives, mint, and feta.  Serve with the pita wedges.

Tip: The pita wedges and chickpea spread can be made up to one day ahead. Store the pita wedges in an airtight container at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate the chickpea mixture. The remaining ingredients can be chopped and stored in the refrigerator up to 8 hours in advance, but the dip shouldn’t be assembled until right before serving.

Posted October 26th, 2011.

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Pears With Watercress and Gorgonzola

by Danica Waters

When simple ingredients can be combined in a manner that inspires not just the palate, but excites the soul, this is the true magic of good cooking.  This salad is just that magical.  It is one of the crown jewels of my personal recipe collection.  The vertical presentation is visually breathtaking; the flavors and textures are nothing short of inspired.

 

While this simple salad is intended to be a first course, beware:  it is incredibly filling.   Be sure to judge your pear size according to the way you intend to serve this little culinary gem.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Pears With Watercress and Gorgonzola

(serves 4)

 

4 perfectly ripe, smooth-skinned (not overripe, not underripe) pears

2 C watercress

2 Tbsp toasted pecan pieces

1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

2 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Raspberry or red wine vinaigrette salad dressing

Lemon juice

Honey

 

Gently wash pears with a natural fruit and vegetable wash; set aside.

Toss watercress with pecans, cranberries and gorgonzola; drizzle with salad dressing and gently toss to combine.

Core pears from bottom, leaving the stem intact.  Slice each pear in four horizontal slices; brush all sides generously with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

On individual salad plates, reassemble pears with salad mix in the middle and between each pear layer.  Drizzle with honey.

Posted October 14th, 2011.

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Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread

by Danica Waters

 

Bread with soup, soup with bread – to serve one without the other seems almost an act against NATURE. (Ok. That’s totally too dramatic.  But in any case, soup without some sort of bread – even a cracker, for heaven’s sake – seems just plain wrong.)

In contemplating the virtues of soup’s trusty, crusty counterpart, I wondered: “Is it truly possible to improve upon a savory “crusty loaf”? Really?”

Yes, it is.  And this is it.

Irish Soda Bread is incredibly easy to make, with almost guaranteed no-fail results every time.  Don’t let the golden raisins fool you:  this version of Irish Soda Bread is definitely a savory.  But the golden raisins stand out on the palate like little glimmers of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day.

This is the perfect accompaniment to Parsnip and Leek Soup.

Enjoy!

 

 

Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread

(Gourmet Magazine)

 

2 C unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling

¼ C wheat bran or toasted wheat germ (not bran cereal)(optional – it gives a lovely texture but don’t panic if you don’t have it!)

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ stick (1/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 C golden raisins

1 C buttermilk or plain yogurt

 

Preheat oven to 400? and sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour.

 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, bran or wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter and toss to coat with flour.  With fingertips rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add raisins and toss until coated.  Add buttermilk or yogurt and stir until dough is moistened evenly.

 

On a floured surface, knead the dough 1 minute, sprinkling lightly with additional flour to prevent sticking (dough should remain soft).  Shape dough into a ball.

 

On a prepared baking sheet, pat dough out into a 6-inch round.  Sprinkle round with additional flour and with fingertips spread lightly over round.  With a sharp knife cut a shallow X in top of round.

 

Bake bread in middle of oven 35 – 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Wrap bread in a kitchen towel and colon a rack 1 hour. Unwrap bread and cool 1 hour more.

 

Posted October 5th, 2011.

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The Ultimate Sour Cream Zucchini Bread

by Danica Waters (image courtesy of www.allrecipes.com)


Several years ago,  a coworker of mine introduced me to the best banana bread I have ever, ever tasted.  She said the secret ingredient was sour cream.  While my mom’s recipe for zucchini bread was already fantastic, I decided to try my hand at adding a bit of sour cream to the recipe.  The results were even more  fantastic.

Preparing for a school bake sale, I decided to make this sweetbread truly decadent,  so I added chocolate chips and dried cranberries and made mini-loaves.  I ended up having to make a second batch, as two of the mini loaves “mysteriously” disappeared when the kids came home from school.   The loaves sold out fast; they look beautiful studded with ruby-colored cranberries and chocolate chunks, and they taste even better!

Note:  if you’re making zucchini bread for a bake sale, be  sure to leave out the nuts from half of the recipe and label accordingly!  There’s lots of folks with allergies and aversions  to nuts out there…

Enjoy!

 

The Ultimate Sour Cream- Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs, beaten

2 C sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 C grated zucchini

3 C  flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 C dairy  sour cream

1  C chocolate chips

1 C dried cranberries

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 9 x 3 x 5 loaf pans, mini loaf pans, or line muffin tins with paper liners, set aside.

In medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, soda, and baking powder; mix well using wire whisk and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add grated zucchini and stir well.  Add dry ingredients a bit at a time, alternating with the sour cream; add desired nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared baking pans.  Larger loaf pans should take approximately 60-65 minutes to bake at 350 degrees F, while baking time for mini loaves and muffins should be scaled down.  Bread is done when a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Note:  Use up that zucchini!  This sweetbread freezes exceptionally well, and is great to share with neighbors, teachers, and friends!

Posted September 2nd, 2011.

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